🧩 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 a child was how I reacted to the homeless well into adulthood. My heart hurt for those I saw on the street, but those were Dangerous People who had made Bad Choices and probably didn’t Just Say No. Every once in a while, I’d push out of the confines of my upbringing and respond to a homeless person’s request, but there were instances that didn’t go well. The one I remember most is the gentleman who asked me for money for something to eat while we were walking to Great America Ballpark in Cincinnati, and when I offered him the bag of peanuts I was holding, he stammered for a few seconds before saying, “Uh, yeah, I’m allergic to peanuts.”
Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t.
And then one day in 2019 I was in Savannah, Georgia, on a work trip, the only person from my company at a seminar on something or other. I left the conference one evening and was walking down by the water. I had a lot on my mind. I was in the midst of a really dark period in my life and was hurting … hurting … while I walked around in my own little world, trying to figure things out. That’s when a guy named Steve asked if I had any money for him to buy some food.
I told him I did, handed him $5 and asked him if I could sit down. Honestly, I just wanted someone to talk to. He seemed surprised but agreed. Over the next half hour, we talked about how he’d ended up where he was. He told me of having a successful job up in Boston with a wife and a child, a job that suddenly went away. They scrambled to find a way to pay the bills, but ultimately they lost their home.
They made their way down South in hopes of finding a fresh start, but that fresh start flamed out. A promise of a new job fell apart. The one person whom they could stay with then lost his job. All of them were now without a place to live.
Was he telling the truth? Maybe. Maybe not. But what he said to me as I shook his hand and prepared to move on really hit home: “You’re the first person today who’s actually looked at me.” It was near 7:30 p.m. He’d been out there since daybreak.
My attitude toward the homeless has changed dramatically since my youth. I truly believe none of us is more than three or four bad breaks away from being in a similar situation. Many of us are lucky enough to have family to help us out in tough times, but that help definitely has its limits. More than that, mental health and addiction care in this country is abysmal, and things on both fronts aren’t getting any better.
Is it anyone’s fault that they have a severe mental illness that affects their employability? No. Is it anyone’s fault that they’re addicted to a drug or alcohol and that that addiction has such a strong grip on them? Perhaps. But there’s always … always … more to the story.
So now I’m doing something. I’ve started a GoFundMe to raise money to create homeless helper bags. Each bag is filled with about $20 in stuff, plus a few things that don’t cost a dime — a handwritten note that tries to inspire hope and let the recipient know he or she matters and is seen, a copy of the book I wrote that was published in 2010, of which I have about 50 sitting in my basement collecting dust. The book is fiction, centered on the theme of discovering purpose in suffering.
My goal is to raise $500. So far, I’ve raised $405. That’s allowed me to buy enough stuff to fill about 12 bags completely and have a stock of supplies for future bags. I need more money to get warm socks, which are the most expensive item in the bag, and I’d love to get some more food items and fast food gift cards to put in there, too.
Listen, I don’t think I can change the world by doing this, and I’m not looking for any pat on the back or anything like this. I just want to do something. I want to help someone. This stupid, fucked-up nation is too rich to have a homelessness problem like we do. It’s sad and should be much more embarrassing than we seem to find it. There are literally hundreds of thousands of human beings facing the coming of winter without a place to be warm overnight, without food to stave off hunger. That’s disgusting and disgraceful for the wealth that exists in this country.
I’d love it if more people would support this effort. The $500 goal is just a start. Any money raised above and beyond that is going to go for the same stuff — more money = more bags. If you can help, please donate here: https://gofund.me/a574f8ae
So what’s in the homeless helper bags? Here’s my list and the number per bag.
- Drawstring bag – 1
- Warm winter gloves – 1
- Warm wool socks – 1
- Bottled water – 2
- PB Crackers – 2
- Tuna/crackers package – 1
- Toothbrush – 1
- Toothpaste -1
- Wet wipes – 3 (individually wrapped)
- Lip balm – 1
- Tissues – 2
- Sunscreen – 3 (small individual packets)
- Comb – 1
- Lotion (unscented) – 1
- Hand warmers – 2 pairs
- Deodorant – 1
- Personal note – 1
- Copy of my book – 1
- Ziplock bag to hold all the toiletries – 1
I took my boys to play minigolf last night in winds approaching tropical storm velocity, it seemed. My boys are completely different when it comes to playing games. Boy The Younger loves playing games, would play games 24 hours a day were there only a willing participant to play with, and he really doesn’t care who wins or loses. Yes, he tries to win, but he recognizes that one person does not win every game in which he competes.
Boy The Elder treats any game as if it’s the Hunger Games and only the winner lives on. It had been a minute since I’d played any sort of game with BTE, and last night I remembered why. When he was a young BTE, there were a few weeks in which we had Family Game Night. It lasted only those few weeks because I refused to play any more games with a kid who was going to react as if someone had drowned his dog just because someone else said “Yahtzee!”
BTE is, in a word, competitive, and that serves him well in many situations in life. It’s not the most conducive to a friendly game of anything. Last night’s mini-golf match was no exception. BTY was on and hitting putts from all over the place. I was doing OK, I guess. BTE was … not. There were more than one or two occasions of club slamming, a disgruntled second shot cleared not only our hole but half of the next hole and I picked up a few muttered cuss words. BTY and I just looked at each other and smiled. We know … this is just how BTE is.
In the end, BTY won by four strokes over me, who beat BTE by four strokes.
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
- Fall. God, I love fall.
- Some big stuff coming up in our family. Stay tuned.
- My bulldog, Luna.
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🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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?…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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