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Chainsaws & Ladders — Sept. 6, 2022


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕
Shinedown 🎸
Sleepy 😴


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:

  1. Put a ladder up near the tree.
  2. Climb a few rungs.
  3. Start the chainsaw.
  4. Chop off the limb.
  5. Hack the limb into fireplace-sized pieces.
  6. 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.

Yeah. Well.

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?

Absofuckinlutely.


SoS2 — 45, Shinedown

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…

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Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. That post-concert high ain’t wearing off anytime soon.
  2. There’s more music out there I haven’t listened to.
  3. There are more memories to make with the C4.

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Outrage? — August 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…

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Life Expectancy — August 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…

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Mysterious Brain — August 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…

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Homeschoolin’ — August 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!” An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the…

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Mexican Pato O’Ward — August 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…

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Pig Problem — August 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…

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Three-Screen Guy — August 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…

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Orange Coffee — August 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…

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Cemetery Wandering — August 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…

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Bye-Bye, BTE — August 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨‍👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…

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The Taxman Cometh — August 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…

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Peanut Man — August 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…

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Rivalry — August 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩‍🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…

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Fossil Fun — August 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…

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Hit By Pitch — August 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…

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Empty — August 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…

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Frog Dive — July 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…

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Cyclical Forces — July 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…

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Hypocrisy — July 28, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…

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Birthday Eve — July 27, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…

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Angry Weather — July 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…

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Big-Drop Thoughts — July 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…

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Branson — July 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…

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Told Ya — July 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑‍💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…

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The Muricahn Way — July 20, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…

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Baseball News — July 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…

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Brakes & Boxes — July 18, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly. Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at…

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Firestarter— July 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…

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Future Wife — July 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…

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Population Growth — July 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…

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Ouchy Obituary — July 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…

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HOV Lane — July 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…

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Gamblin’ With The Judester— July 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…

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Grandma — July 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨‍👦‍👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…

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Unproductive — July 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…

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Stuck By Patriotism — July 4, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…

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Div — July 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩‍👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…

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Car Guy — July 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨‍🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…

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Objectively Speaking — July 1, 2022

🧩 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…

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Booby Beep — June 30, 2022

🧩 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…

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