🧩 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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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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 wake…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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