🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Empath Life 🤗
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 were a part of the daily for which I served as a copy editor and page designer.
I admit, I’d joined in the fun. The paper was a joke. It looked ugly. It was poorly edited, poorly designed and poor written. Its primary color was this ugly shade of pink. A pink newspaper? Ugh.
So one day, I applied for the job. I figured the bar was so low, I couldn’t possibly screw it up any worse. (Incidentally, this is also how I became a basketball coach … after watching my son’s team lose 43-0.)
That’s how I found myself about a month later as a 22-year-old newspaper editor with a camera at a high school football game. I had no formal training as a photographer, and back in the late 1990s, cameras weren’t what they are today. First off, they were filled with film, which meant you had no idea what you’d shot until you got back to the newspaper office and found a photographer to actually develop the shots in the dark room.
The olden days, kiddos. Look it up.
My strategy to ensure I had a good shot to run in the paper with every story I had that lent itself to photos was simple — and extremely costly: Shoot the hell out of it. I routinely went through multiple rolls of film on every sports shoot, and I greatly annoyed the photographers who had to develop my shots. I’d like to think I’m partly responsible for the fiscal decline of the industry, though I doubt that’s true.
Here’s the thing: It worked. The paper became more visually appealing, which was part of its renaissance and enabled it to become a lot less of a joke and a lot more of a community resource.
I say that because it illustrates that I don’t always do things conventionally, and I never have.
I was thinking about that today when I was working on my side gig as the CEO/President/Grand Poobah of Johnny Boy Marketing. A fellow freelance marketer handed off an assignment to me to ghostwrite a letter for a person who recently has become head of an academic program at a prestigious university. I’ve written speeches and letters for people throughout my marketing career, and I enjoy taking on that person’s personality to showcase them, not me, in what they say or write.
That’s not easy when you’ve never met the person, which was the case with this assignment. I had an audio interview my colleague had done with her, her resume, her LinkedIn bio and some information about the program she’s now leading.
So I started writing.
Here’s the thing: I had absolutely no clue where I was going when I started writing. I don’t plan. I don’t outline. I don’t even sketch it out in my mind. I just … write.
No one would teach an up-and-comer to do this. I, myself, wasn’t taught to do this. I just sorta do it because I know it works and I don’t fight against myself anymore.
A colleague at my last job asked me how I go about designing the really pretty flyers and such that I can churn out digitally. (I can’t draw a straight line in real life). She asked me if I could teach people to do it. I told her I could try but that it wouldn’t be of any value. I literally have no idea what I want something to look like when I start designing. My way of designing is similar to my way of writing. I don’t plan. I don’t outline. I just … design. And it always seems to work out.
With today’s assignment, about two sentences in, the idea popped in my head of a relay race, that this person was being handed the baton to do something great with the program, but that she couldn’t be doing it if the person who’d run the previous leg hadn’t done his work. And who ran that previous leg? Why, the outgoing program leader, the faculty and the former students. Boom. Analogy.
By the time I finished, this theme carried through the entire letter. Did I mean for that to happen? No. It just sorta … did.
I say all that because it speaks to a larger thing about what I’ve learned about life, and maybe it’s something you — faithful reader — could learn, too. I worry about a lot of stuff. Less than I used to, because I’m learning, but still … a lot of stuff. What I’ve learned is that I don’t really need to worry about much if I’m feelin’ my shit and in my intuition.
I’m blessed to be an empath. I say that because so few empaths feel that way. I listened in on a weeklong empath conference online last week in the midst of all my daily work, and what I heard was seminar after seminar after seminar of how to cope with being an empath and how to get by and the struggles we all face.
And I get that. I was there. For more than 40 years, I didn’t even know about being an empath, didn’t know what an empath was, and I suffered mightily because of it. But finding out about it didn’t help. I was then in the middle of a community that largely saw itself as victimized by the world. And we are! The world sucks and we feel it all.
But I’m not a victim. I don’t let this world happen to me anymore. Those seminars are good if they teach you how to manage the shit. And at my best, I do exactly that. I manage my shit and happen to the world instead of allowing the world to happen to me.
Feeling my way through life? That’s what I do. That’s who I am. I am blessed with a really good brain that can think logically and plot and strategize and do just about anything except math with letters in it. But that brain isn’t at my core. It helps, but it’s also incredibly unreliable. I can overthink anything. But if I’m in touch with The Feels? Just like writing, just like designing, if I’m feelin’ it, it’s best for me to just start doing it.
Does it always work? No. Sometimes my writing or designs are spectacularly bad … at first. That’s usually because I’m tired or not hooked up with my feelings and intuition. If I do what needs to be done to get that shit together, I’m good 99.99% of the time.
I like that about me.
Technology is useful, right? I mean, this morning I saw this BBC news report from 1994 on this whole internet thing. Contrary to the newspaper execs my 22-year-old self shared meeting space with back in the day, it certainly wasn’t a fad, huh?
Tuesday, about 18 seconds before a 5.1 magnitude earthquake shook those near San Jose, Calif., 95,000 people who’d downloaded and signed up with an app called MyShake knew it was coming. I hope they were, as most folks are these days, tethered to their phones.
The app was developed by scientists at UC Berkeley’s Seismology Lab, which sounds like a cool place to work. The hope in the future is that it will give you a tad more than 18 seconds to do whatever you’re supposed to do when an earthquake hits. I probably should review that elementary school lesson at some point.
The app uses the same technology that is pissing off cops and medics who are repeatedly having to make runs to amusement parks. The new iPhone has an emergency system in which rapid deceleration or twists or turns triggers a call to the authorities if not disabled within a certain timeframe. Turns out rollercoasters decelerate pretty rapidly and make unnatural twists and turns.
With MyShake, the sensors are used to detect movement, and the data is then filtered through an artificial intelligence neural network, which sounds nightmarishly frightening, to see if it matches what signals the beginning of an earthquake.
That’s freaking amazing, isn’t it?
I have a love-hate relationship with technology, but it’s not because of the technology. Any technological advancement is neutral. It’s how us stupid humans use it that makes it good or bad. We started off with that internet thing being largely good for humans. Now, it’s horribly divisive and allows for the rapid spread of misinformation and the proliferation of outright stupidity.
But detecting earthquakes early? That’s pretty cool. Just keep it away from the stupid people and maybe we can thin the herd a bit.
It warms my heart to see Facebook, err… Meta struggling. Ditto for Google, err… Alphabet. These two tech behemoths have been selling you and me as their product for too long now, and if there’s anything good about the pending recession and the current inflationary pressures, it’s that people are spending less money buying us from them.
Both companies’ Q3 profits disappointed, though they still are shockingly high. Meta is in worse shape, considering the fact that the place it relies on to learn enough about you to sell is being abandoned by huge swaths of people. There’s still not a popular Google alternative. That Chinese-owned TikTok is eating Alphabet/Google spawn YouTube’s lunch is great, but it really shouldn’t make you feel much better.
I was thinking about all of this and our current political climate in relation to the aims of the Revolutionary War. In that, we threw off the shackles of a repressive government that was taxing the hell out of us and not listening to what we were saying. The government was working at the behest of big business (The East India Trading Company) to the detriment of We The People.
All these years later, I’m wondering what exactly the Revolutionary War accomplished. Sure, it’s nice to not have to give a crap when the queen dies — though a disturbing number of you Muricahns appeared to have given a lot of craps about that — but it seems like we’ve just exchanged masters. Our government taxes the hell out of us and is horribly inefficient with that money, and while we say we are a representative democracy, no candidate for state or national election has appeared on the ballot in almost a decade who would accurately represent me. Worse, every one of them on both sides of the aisle is bought and paid for by some sort of industry, and most often, multiple industries.
It just seems like a pretty screwed-up system when the government has to take action to cool down an economy by implementing measures that are going to hurt the average citizen. I understand why it has to be done. It’s probably the right thing to do right now. But that doesn’t make it good.
That it hurts Meta and Alphabet is great, though there are real people who are going to lose their jobs because of it. What happens when those paychecks stop coming? Are they going to lose the homes they overpaid for when things were too hot? What happens to those who make the products they aren’t able to afford? And then what happens when those people lose their jobs and stop getting paychecks?
We like to think of our democracy and form of capitalism as some great success story. I’d like to suggest that there is a mountain of evidence to say it isn’t and never has been.
Welcome to Issue No. 11 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. Most married couples enter marriage having heard at least once that marriage is work. Very, very few…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Watching American fall is mildly amusing.
- Dude. Fall. Period.
- So much good music to listen to.
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🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
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 email@example.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
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