🧩 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 🧩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 email@example.com. 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