🧩 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 email@example.com. 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 🧩Anniversary Changes 💍Near Death Experience 💀Dreamcatcher Drama 😳 All relationships change over time. Friendships, parent-child, boss-employee, husband-wife … no matter the relationship, the only constant thing is change. My marriage has changed mightily since it began. When Wifey Poo and I said our vows on March 22, 1997, we were –…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Why The Blahs? 😷Anniversary Plans 💍Unpleasant Warnings 🐍 Feeling blah is complicated when you have my medical history. For many people, feeling blah as I’m feeling right now is a clear indication that some sort of illness or infection has invaded the body. But for me — and for many others…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dentist Visit 🦷Basketball Sucks 🏀Found Husband 👨 No one truly likes going to the dentist. I’ve had people push back on me when I’ve said this before, but when I lay out the following scenario, well, it’s pretty much checkmate: “You just had the most well-respected doctor in the world tell…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Gubment 🦅Dawg Party 🐶Flying African ✈️ We as modern Muricans tend to just accept that it’s the gubment’s job to educate our children. Of course, when other countries that aren’t our friends do that, we call it “indoctrination,” but that’s a topic for another day. The topic for today is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knicks Memory 🏀JBM LLC 🧑🏼💼Brain Drain 🧠 My most memorable interaction with Paul Silas occurred when I was a 17-year-old kid with big dreams of being a sports reporter. I’d talked with Paul before — his wife and Mother Dearest were active in the local Make A Wish Foundation chapter and…Keep reading