🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Beautiful Skies ⛅
Two Terms For 2022 ✌️
Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash at the annual Green vs. White Field Day, and she was a terror in a gym class game of tag.
I have this memory of Sarah — we couldn’t have been older than 8 or 9 — running across the cracked and pebbly asphalt of the kickball area on the playground at full speed, her hair spread out behind her in the breeze she was creating as she cut through the air, a red ribbon of some sort keeping it back and out of her face.
Sarah passed away earlier this month, I learned yesterday.
The last thing I want to do is to suggest I knew Sarah. I didn’t. We might have walked the same halls and shared some of the same classrooms for 13 years, but that was, shockingly to me, 30 years ago. And it wasn’t as if we were tight back then, either. Sarah was a face in the crowd — a friendly face with whom I would sometimes share some conversation or maybe even just a “Hey” as we passed in the halls, though our school frustrating lacked that common decency in most instances.
I say that to juxtapose it against the strong sadness I’ve felt since learning of Sarah’s death. I hadn’t seen her for three decades, had maybe only commented on her Facebook posts and read hers on mine over the past dozen years or so. She did reach out to me back in 2015 with some really kind and supportive words when I was going through some struggles with my health.
I watched Sarah’s journey from afar, as most of us seem to do with a lot of people these days thanks to this fake bullcrap we call connection through social media. I saw that Sarah had moved to the Pacific Northwest and had shed the extremely conservative upbringing I saw her as having as a young child. I remember her younger brother and perhaps even her being teased somewhat because they were allowed to watch only PBS on TV — and this was the days when programming was very tame and on only four channels, max.
Sarah became what I lovingly call woo-woo, and seeing her fully embrace it encouraged me to embrace my own woo-woo side. She was a healer, a massage therapist who brought joy and solace to people physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When I heard of her death, I went to Facebook and scrolled down her page. She truly did to inspire others.
“Best rule for a simple life,” one post read, “Care with no reason. Love with no expectation. — Ritu Ghatourey”
I failed to remember I had commented on that post. “Ahhhhh, expectations,” I wrote 11 weeks ago. “The root of so much discontentment. I try not to have expectations of others. Not an easy skill to master, I have found.”
Sarah responded that same day with a thumbs-up and “It’s for real — Buddhists say expectations lead to suffering. All things considered in and around the world, I’m a work in progress too. And you’re a dad – and a loving husband … Wow. I just run really fast and speak French to my cat.”
I responded. “It warms my heart to know you still run really fast. You were THE SHIT in elementary school when it came to beating the boys in races.”
She laughed. Or, at least, she Facebook-laughed.
Eleven weeks ago. And now she’s gone.
Sarah was more than just a fast runner and a thoughtful healer. She was smart. We rarely shared classrooms in middle school and high school. Sarah was in the smart classes most of the time. I didn’t discover my brain until junior year of college, and we still don’t get along all that well. But Sarah … Sarah was sharp. I remember with a smile the way she talked in elementary school, with a sort-of lisp and very purposeful pronunciation of words when she was asked to read aloud in class. Isn’t it funny the things we remember about other people? I wonder if I’m weird in these remembrances and what others would say about me if I were to leave the Here for the There today.
A lot might have changed for Sarah from the time I knew her, but some things appeared to stay the same. A person in her Now life broke the news to her friends on Facebook that she had died, and the words that came back from those in that Now life are familiar.
“Oh sweet Sarah. You changed my life in so many ways.”
“Sarah was such a beautiful loving person.”
“She lived bravely and was someone I was always grateful to call a friend.”
“An amazing soul.”
“Such a kind and gentle soul.”
“A lovely soul with incredible talent and ability to empathetically connect with so many.”
“Sarah was such a funny, bright soul that always lifted me up! She used to draw cartoons for me and slip them under the door!”
“She was kind, giving and so funny! I will miss hearing from her and our quirky conversations.”
“A great friend and healer to me when I really needed it.”
The Sarah I knew? She wasn’t yet all those things. Not fully. She was becoming. Her journey took her far, far away from our childhood hometown. I hope she found happiness and love there. It seems as if she brought it to many.
Your race is over now, Sarah. Enjoy what comes Next until I can say, “Tag! You’re it!”
Wifey Poo loves beautiful skies. It’s becoming something of a family joke. Boy The Younger and I will look up and see what, to us, is a perfectly ordinary cloudy day and say, “Oh, isn’t the sky beautiful!?!?” just how Wifey Poo would say it.
But it really isn’t a joke.
Wifey Poo sees God’s majesty in those skies. When the sun’s rays break through the clouds and stream down toward us in expanding beams, she sees Creation. She sees purposeful design that belies coincidence. When there are big, white, billowy clouds creating up-for-interpretation shapes — the kind of clouds that make you want to lie down on your back and just watch them pass overhead — she finds joy and peace and comfort and, again, purpose.
I saw such a sky when I was driving to work today. It’s supposed to be another scorcher today, one day after record-setting temperatures yesterday. But this morning, it was merely warm and the sky was beautiful. A patch of clouds parted just enough to allow a perfect fan of early morning sunlight to spread out in majestic beams that fell across the Missouri River as I crossed the bridge on I-364.
I thought of Wifey Poo. I thought of Sarah. I though of God and creation.
It truly was beautiful.
If there are two words/phrases that mark what 2022 is all about, the might just be “inflation” and “supply chain problems.” We’ve heard about them, read about them and, in some ways, experienced them when we try to buy anything from gasoline to houses to groceries.
Yesterday, I saw these things in a different way. I returned to the office after being on the road last week and out sick with a disgusting ear problem Monday and was immediately reminded that there would be an all-day pricing meeting starting at 9 a.m. My job was simple: Take notes on the stuff that was being discussed and get to know why the prices on our products were or weren’t changing.
We spent eight solid hours going through 550 lines of an Excel spreadsheet, with each line representing a product or product variation we sell. The sheet included historical sales of that product, expected sales in 2023 and expected cost increases we face to do what we do to get those products to those who need them. The goal, then, was to see what price we needed to sell that product to maintain the margins we need to be a successful business.
Folks, it ain’t pretty. Dave is in charge of procurement. It’s fascinating to listen to him talk about all he has to do to get what we need to where we need it. Yesterday, I heard about how we arranged for air shipping to get a product here quicker than it could be brought by boat, only to be stymied by the typhoon hitting Asia and keeping that plane grounded. I learned that Malaysia is a mess and that there are substantial shipping delays on anything coming out of there. I saw first-hand the fallout from our last president’s trade war with China and the added costs on goods because of tariffs slapped on stuff in response to his petulance.
But beyond all of that, what I saw was upward pressure on prices. The cost of making just about everything we sell is going up — and, often, substantially. I think the largest cost increase I saw was about 25%. It’s naive to think any business can just absorb that responsibly, but the result is that the product at the end of the line costs more to the person that needs to use it.
Seeing inflation and supply chain issues the way I saw it yesterday was definitely an eye-opener and made me realize that the worst is yet to come.
Soul Comforts A just-because gift An accidental nap Shared fries A hidden note, found A joined passion A soft hand Communicated desires A hug, freely given A safe landing place A secluded table Memory-filled songs Appreciation, openly stated Take me away from here Take me away Take me Take A common blanket A slow dance…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Alice in Chains concert tonight!
- FINALLY fall weather tomorrow!
- Going to KC with Boy The Younger this weekend.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Gubment 🦅Dawg Party 🐶Flying African ✈️ We as modern Muricans tend to just accept that it’s the gubment’s job to educate our children. Of course, when other countries that aren’t our friends do that, we call it “indoctrination,” but that’s a topic for another day. The topic for today is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bloody Hell 💂Circus Moments 🤡Silence 🤫 OK, people: I’ve got a bone to pick with you. But first, a little digression. What in the bloody hell does that phrase mean? “A bone to pick with you?” That sounds absolutely disgusting. And if you’re wondering why I said “bloody hell,” well, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩24 Hour Video 😡Rubik’s Kid 🧊Dilbert Doofus 🤪 There are two things I cannot stand in the working world — and in life, in general. The first is people whose lack of preparedness turns ordinary stuff into emergencies. The second is when people criticize the result of something they previous approved.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mormon Billionaires 💰Bigger Packages 🍌Birds Really Aren’t Real 🐦 Can we just get on with blowing the tits off the world with nuclear weapons or something and end this stupid thing we call the human race? Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic, but when I take a look at the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Muricah The Evil 🦅You Buy You 💰Big-Ass Van 🚚 I find it rather humorous that Muricah warned China not to send arms to one side of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and that we issued this warning with a straight face. I’m quite sure most Muricahns believe their country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Salve 🩹Car Wash 🚗💧Light Removal 🎄 I try not to venture too often into a Wal-Mart, especially on the weekend. I cling to slim hope for this nation as it is, and I find Wal-Mart trips do not help my grip. Alas, this weekend, Boy The Younger was under the weather…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CC, BCC, FU 📧Basketball Poll 🏀Andy Rooney 🎙️ This week has largely been a Shit Week marred by Shit People. What are Shit People? They aren’t exactly easy to define, but one hallmark of a Shit Person is his rampant use of the CC function at work to passive-aggressively play power…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chill Day 🛋️Busy Weekend ⚾Halftime 🏈 I’m not working today. Not only am I not working at my day job, I’m not doing any work for my side gig today. I’m not planning on doing much of anything, actually. And I don’t feel guilty about that. This weekend was insanely busy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Pharma Sucks 💊Work Rules 🧑💼Big Weekend 🏈 Spend any time in front of the television and you’ll see ads touting the latest drugs that you shouldn’t take if you’re allergic to and that you most definitely need to ask your doctor about. Now comes a study showing that the people…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top 5 🎈Symphony 🎻Living Eulogies 💗 Top 5 things overheard in Missourah last week as a purported Chinese spy balloon made its way over the state en route to its rendezvous with an F22’s missile: Despite my high-brow upbringing in Suburbia, New York, I’m not what anyone would call A Symphony…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Space Walk 🧑🚀Bye-Bye Brady 🏈Failure Rate 🐿️ When Boy The Elder was just Boy and devoid of a younger brother, we had a nickname for him: Pokey Joe. BTE didn’t do anything fast, but more than anything, what he did incredibly slow was get out of a car. That would suck…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Raccoons 🦝February 💘Man Nips 🕺 Today I bring you the story of a raccoon who got his balls stuck to railroad tracks. But the reason you think I’m bringing you this story is not the reason I’m bringing you this story. You think I’m bringing the story of the raccoon Neil…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tyre Nichols 😔Tattoo Day ✒️Nephew Hoops🏀 I was a white kid in suburbia, New York, in 1988 when the gangsta rap group N.W.A. came out with its album Straight Outta Compton, featuring the song Fuck Tha Police. It was scandalous, at the time, to suggest that the police would be anything…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Concert 🎵Sick Wife🤒People Suck 🖕 Within the 24 hours in the run-up to Snowpocalypse 2023, the estimates on the Weather Channel app for our snowfall total ranged from 1 to 10 inches. That’s like going to the doctor and being told you have anything from a splinter to terminal cancer.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mission: Failed 👎Ho 🤣Handy Family 👍 It has to suck to work at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Why? It took exactly 75 minutes for all of 2023 to be a failure. Let me explain. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in any sort of corporate planning process…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Houston 🖊️Sad clown 🤡Taco Seasoning 🌮 Houston, Missourah, is not unlike a lot of other rural Missourah towns through which I’ve driven and bears a resemblance to the Small Town USA in which Boy The Elder did a lot of his early growing up and to which Boy The Younger came…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Definitions 📖Missing Bourbon 🥃Mysterious Knocks 😵 I generally abhor any writing that starts with, “Webster’s dictionary defines …” Webster’s dictionary defines “ceiling” as a noun meaning “the overhead inside lining of a room.” The implication is that it’s a limitation, a max, a point of demarcation between what’s out there and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Annoyance 😠Disappointment 😞 When Boy The Elder was Boy The Only in our home, he watched one of the Air Bud movies featuring a basketball-playing dog. Or maybe it was football. Or soccer. By the time that series was over, that dog had played them all. Anyway, whichever Air Bud…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thor’s Blurry Hammer 🍆Pigeon Delivery 🕊️Idiot List 🤪 Thor is really, really good with his hammer. And by that, I mean that Thor the walrus in Scarborough, England, is really good at masturbating and ruining New Years Eve. If you haven’t heard about this story, stop reading stupid news like politics…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bruising Basketball 🏀Poke ☝️Six?!? 🔫 I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What There is Like! ⛅’Modern Policing’ 🚨Xylophone Time! 🎵 When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grace Ashford! 📰Idaholy Shit! 🥔Story of the Year! 🍆 The three most influential people in my life as a journalist are, sadly, all part of the Great Newsroom in the Sky now. Professors Michael Perkins and Bob Woodward (AKA Bob Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward) helped educate me at Drake University, and Lisa Warren was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poor Puppy 🐶Romeo and Juliet 🤴👸Meta Mistake 🙊 Disturbing news out of Washington, D.C., today as Republican Congressman-elect George Santos (if that’s his real name) brought a 6-month-old puppy to the house floor and screamed “Hey, look at me!” before slitting its throat and lapping up its squirting blood like a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Pretty Good Rant 😠Tesla Plunge 🚗Missed Lasts 😥 Those of you who regularly read my drivel (I see you, DirtySciFiBuddah) might have become aware of the fact over the past year or so that I am not a huge fan of our world’s modern institutions. All of them might, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Incomplete 🕮Frustration 😠Bowl Bust 🏈 To say that I know how to write is like saying I know how to breathe. No one considers that they know how to breathe. They just … breathe. No one is particularly good at breathing or bad at breathing. Again, they just … breathe. I’ve…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 15 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩2023 📅Helping 🧠The Universe 🔭 I’m not much for long-term plans and goals. This isn’t to suggest I don’t think they’re important. I just think that spending a lot of time on them is futile. What’s the saying? Man plans, God laughs. Something like that. Anyway, I’ve learned through experience that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading