🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕
The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close to the kitchen window.
The plan was simple:
- Put a ladder up near the tree.
- Climb a few rungs.
- Start the chainsaw.
- Chop off the limb.
- Hack the limb into fireplace-sized pieces.
- Wait for winter.
Plans are funny, aren’t they?
Now, in reviewing the plan, there was one major flaw: The chainsaw chain was getting pretty dull. It’s not that this would have necessitated a run to a store or anything. I had another chain in the garage, and I was fairly confident I could change it in 15 minutes, tops. Instead, I thought, I’ll change it after this limb.
The less-than-sharp chain failed to cut straight through the limb. It got about halfway through and got stuck. I had to wiggle the saw back and forth to get it free and, in the process, the limb sort of cracked.
No problem. I can handle that. But instead of pausing at that point to take the signs of the chainsaw gods and go change the chain, I kept going.
This was when things went awry. Instead of the saw going straight through the second half of the limb, one part snapped first, which meant that rather than fall straight down, the limb sorta swung.
… Directly into the ladder.
That’s when my brain got super efficient.
There was this moment I realized that I was, in fact, going to fall, and my brain smartly did what it should have done: Send an urgent message to my arm to get the chainsaw as far away from my body as possible. I’m pretty sure I actually chucked it a bit, but I’m not certain of that. What I am certain of is that the revving slowed down and I still have all digits and appendages.
With that problem largely taken care of, my brain switched to the next most urgent thing: The ground and the fact that the falling ladder was between me and it.
“Sorry bud,” said the brain, “But you’re not getting out of this unscathed. Yet remember those karate lessons you took when you were 12 and 13? Now’s a good time to recall what you learned.”
And so it came to pass that, at the moment of really solid contact between my right shin, left knee and the ladder, I tucked my head and executed one boss forward roll.
Better still? Wifey Poo was outside pulling weeds, and though she failed to see the start of the fall, she looked up just in time to see her hot hubby perform this extremely sexy ninja maneuver.
Now, I’d like to think that, were I a few years younger, I could have done what I learned to do back in the day in Sensei Takahashi’s classes, which is to pop up from the roll and prepare to fight. Alas, I’m 48, not 13. So I ended up on my butt and was able to watch first-hand as the swelling on my right shin began, as well as check out the awesome dent in my left knee.
All is well. Ice helped, as did Aleve when my body chose to remind me later in the day that I am, in fact, too old to be falling off of ladders and not paying some sort of price. But when I think about what could have happened vs. what did happen, yeah, I’m OK with the outcome.
There were a few moments while sitting on the ground doing a systems check following my ladder escapade that I wondered if I would be able to make the Shinedown concert that night.
Thankfully, I did.
I absolutely love Shinedown, especially live. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them, all of them with Boy The Elder. This time, Boy The Younger and Wifey Poo came along for their second SD concert. Brent Smith and company give an awesome show. They connect with the crowd as no other musician I’ve ever seen can. The Hollywood Casino Amphitheater was absolutely packed with 18,000 people who rocked out.
I have this mental list going as of late of musicians whose work is something more than mere music but rather a reflection of the thing that is what human life should be all about. Shinedown is at or near the top of that list. Their music sees through the bullshit and speaks to the heart of what life needs to be. Their latest album, Planet Zero, is a commentary on that. But for nearly 20 years now, their work has evolved to become some of the most inspired music I’ve ever heard.
To be there and share that with the rest of the Core Four was epic. To watch my boys totally in it together, singing every word, jumping up and down, was priceless. To be their with Wifey Poo and listen to Daylight performed live … that was everything to me. She very much saved my life. She very much always made sure I saw the daylight. More than once. Hell, more than twice.
For those not in the know, this section of my website is called “A Puzzle Known as Life.” That’s taken directly from a Shinedown lyric, in their song 45.
In a box, high up on a shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life/Wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight.
I have taken that box down over the past year and dealt with what’s in it. It’s been hard. It’s bee ugly. But in the process, I’ve figured out where to place a lot of life’s puzzle pieces.
Yet it’s a big puzzle. There are lots of pieces remaining. And hey … surprise-surprise, I’m still here.
Last night? Last night was amazing.
The morning after a weeknight concert is always challenging, even more so now that my job is a must-work-from-work one and my regular start time is between 7:30 and 8 a.m. No one is checking up on me, but still …
There was a time — and it wasn’t all that long ago — that I would feel incredibly guilty for having a day in which not much work got done. I worked incredibly hard and learned it’s possible to suffer from burnout without working 50, 60 or 70-plus hours a week. I thought by keeping my hours down and working hard, hard, hard for every moment I was there, I was doing the right thing. I suffered because of it. My family suffered because of it.
Nowadays, I know that I’m blessed with the ability to do a full day’s work in less than the hours that make up a full day. So there are days in which I do that. I do what a reasonable person would be expected to complete, and then I slow down. I talk to my co-workers. I do some skill-advancement work. I, dare I say, goof off a little bit and occasionally pay the bills or read an interesting article on the interwebs?
My output and quality remains sky-high, but I have mental capacity and stamina to be more present after work and on weekends.
Oh, if only I could go back in time and talk to Younger Me.
So today, yeah, I’m fallin’ asleep at my desk, metaphorically. But was it 100% worth it to stay to the very last second of the concert last night?
Liner Notes 45Shinedown from the 2003 album ‘Leave a Whisper’ Lyric to remember In a box, high up on the shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life, wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight. Quotable “The box is your memories, the things in your life you’ve kept very…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- That post-concert high ain’t wearing off anytime soon.
- There’s more music out there I haven’t listened to.
- There are more memories to make with the C4.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…Keep reading