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Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022

woman with white sunvisor running

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Sadness 😥
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

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…

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Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Alice in Chains concert tonight!
  2. FINALLY fall weather tomorrow!
  3. Going to KC with Boy The Younger this weekend.

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Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄My Two Skillz 🔪 I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing.…

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Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…

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Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…

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No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…

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What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…

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Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…

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Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…

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Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…

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Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩‍⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…

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Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…

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Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…

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Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…

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Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…

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How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…

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School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…

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Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…

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Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…

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Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩‍⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…

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Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition

Welcome to Issue No. 9 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 johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…

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Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨‍👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…

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Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…

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Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…

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Corneal Complications — Oct. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩‍⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…

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Mattress Shopping — Oct. 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…

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So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…

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Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…

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There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2

Welcome to Issue No. 8 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 johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…

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Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…

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Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…

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Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…

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LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹‍♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25

Welcome to Issue No. 7 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 johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…

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iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…

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Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨‍👦‍👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…

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In It — Sept. 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…

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Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…

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Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…

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Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…

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F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…

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Change of Plans — Sept. 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…

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Why Run? — Sept. 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃‍♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…

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Stephen King — Sept. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…

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