🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 science fact, it’s an intriguing theory that each and every decision you make creates a different reality from the one had you chosen the opposite or had the opposite thing happened.
I remember first thinking about this sometime around 2001, when I learned that, prior to my arrival as the publisher of a newspaper in a small Ohio town, the mayor had been killed in a freak car accident with a deer. It seems as if the mayor and a colleague were returning from an event somewhere at night when the deer was struck by a car traveling in the opposite direction. The deer flew in the air, spun around and was smashed by a car traveling in the opposite direction in which the mayor was a front-seat passenger. The deer’s antlers went through the windshield and killed the mayor.
My thoughts instantly turned into how randomly not random that was. Any number of things that would have altered the timeline by a fraction of a second would have led to a different outcome. Had the mayor stopped to shake one more hand before leaving or noticed he needed to tie his shoes, had the driver fumbled his keys before starting the engine, had the deer paused to look at a squirrel climbing in a tree before proceeding down that road, there’s a high likelihood that the accident never happens.
Which makes you think about predestination.
Today would have been my first son’s 22nd birthday. For four months before his birth, we knew Jacob would likely not live long. That’s what happened on Dec. 20, 2000. Jacob was born, we held him and loved him, and then, roughly five hours later, he died.
To say that this event — and all the events leading up to it — changed lives is irrefutable. I am fundamentally a different person in many, many ways, I realize. Had a tiny flap in a duct in Jacob’s bladder not sealed over the tube that takes urine away and out of the body, I would be different today. That flap, when it formed, was hardly bigger than the head of a pin, and yet the enormity of the changes it caused is hard to quantify.
I’m sad. I’m sad today because my son isn’t here, because I wasn’t able to watch him grow up and have no idea what kind of a person he would be. That timeline doesn’t exist for this John. For this Wifey Poo. Who Jacob’s brothers are as humans is different because they had a brother they never knew who lived and died. We most definitely are different parents because of that experience, so it altered those boys’ timelines as well, which means it altered their adulthoods and the lives of those they meet and grow to love.
Right now, my office door is closed and I’m sitting here alone. Why? Because my workplace insists on piping Christmas music through the speakers throughout the building. I used to love Christmas music. Now, its presence is unwelcomed. I’m not merry. I’m fine, yes, but do I join in the holiday cheer like I once used to? No. I don’t like that fact, but it’s true, and after years of fighting against it to no avail, I choose to accept it and try to stay out of the way of everyone else’s joy. I do not want to be that guy who brings others down.
I have been blessed to have many woo-woo experiences that would lead some to think I am insane. I believe I’m not insane, but I certainly accept that the jury might still very much be out for other people when I tell them I’ve had some of the experiences I’ve had. One of them that I had this year leads me to know in my heart that Jacob is good, he’s proud of his mom and dad for the race they ran, he wants us to be happy and he’s waiting for us in what I call the There. He’s not a baby. He’s not a boy. He’s not a 22-year-old man. There are no bodies There. But there definitely is a There, and he’s waiting. That brings me comfort.
I am Here. And Here is pretty good. I have an amazing family that, along with me, makes up the C4. We’ll soon add a daughter-in-law to the mix. The C5 will be even better.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a part of me that wonders what a C6 would look like. Would there even be a C6? Would Boy The Elder be Boy The Younger and Boy The Younger not in existence had Jacob lived? Wifey Poo and I talked about have two kids … never three. I don’t doubt that things have worked out according to some cosmic plan and that even the randomness of all that has happened probably isn’t random but just beyond the limitations of my human brain to comprehend.
When it came down to it, the mayor didn’t stop to shake another hand or tie his shoes. The driver didn’t fumble his keys. The deer did what the deer did, and those things that are on top of his head ended a man’s life. In the randomness, there is a sense that there has to be some sort of plan, right?
I have heard many stupid things in the past 22 years. That God needed another angel and so He took my son at birth. That God had a plan to use Jacob’s life for good. That it’s a blessing Wifey Poo and I were young when this happened because that meant we could have more kids. That we were due smooth sailing with those future kids because we had faithfully walked through Jacob’s life. It’s all bullshit and brings no comfort.
What does bring comfort? Well … honestly … today? Nothing. This isn’t to suggest I’m despondent. I’m not. I accept this day for what it is. It’s nice to get some texts and emails from some people who remember … who remember Jacob and who remember us on this day. But that doesn’t fix anything. It’s good, but it doesn’t make things better, if that makes sense.
Somewhere, perhaps, there’s a timeline that exists with a John whose child didn’t have a tiny flap of skin seal off his bladder and so there was no damage to his kidneys and no underdeveloped lungs. Who knows what that John’s life is like? Not me. Not anyone Here. We all love to think that our lives would be better had the horrible things not happened to us, but hey, who’s to say Jacob wouldn’t have been some nutjob serial killer, right?
There’s really no point to any of this. I’ve learned that when I feel the need to write, I write. I don’t try to figure out why I’m supposed to write, and I don’t try to force a moral to a story that might not have one, that just is.
Jacob lived. Jacob died. The experience changed everything in my world. I miss my son, so on what would have been his 22nd birthday, I stop for a few moments to remember the time I had with him and look forward to a time when I believe that, in some form, we’ll be together again.
The general scientific consensus is that five times since this planet came to hold life, some force wiped the majority of species from existence. None of this mass extinctions happened when anything close to a human was around to screw things up.
This is why I scoff when I read things like how, after four years of negotiations, nearly 200 countries agreed to a “historic deal” aimed at fighting the planet’s “extinction crisis.” It’s cute that we think we can actually stop this from happening … as cute as it is arrogant to think that our irresponsibility is the main cause for this extinction happening.
I’m not suggesting humans are good for this planet. We’re not. We are the single most destructive living creature this planet has ever seen, the only one that murders, rapes and pillages for sport. We are blessed with the most evolved brain that’s ever existed on this planet, and we use it for things like TikTok challenges and mass shootings.
Rather, what I am suggesting is that, well, we’re just really not all that important. This planet is going to wipe out the majority of life as we know it whether we do anything or not. We might be accelerating that extinction precisely because we are so shitty, but there’s nothing we can do that is going to stop this from happening.
The agreement reached Monday shows how stupid we are. We think that by putting 30% of land and sea across the globe “under protection” by 2030, we’re going to make a difference. We think that if we curb nutrient runoff from farms and reduce the rate of introduction of invasive species by 50%, we somehow are going to stop the mass extinction. We actually believe that if we double biodiversity funding to $200 billion, we’ll survive.
Of course, this is a United Nations effort and there’s nothing binding any of the nearly 200 nations to actually doing the things they say they’re going to do, which is just going to go to prove the point that humans suck when nothing actually changes and most nations don’t do squat.
As much as I love life and think people are pretty cool, I don’t think whether we do this UN stuff or recycle our cans or buy an electric vehicle that we’re doing anything substantial for the survival of our species, let alone the survival of all species. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do these things. If it makes you feel good, hey, go for it. Just don’t think you’re creating a brighter tomorrow because of it. You’re not. That’s a fallacy and arrogantly puts humans in a spot the species hasn’t earned.
If history is any indication, there’s a far greater likelihood that some massive volcano is going to blow and make most life — especially fragile human life — unsustainable on this planet. Let’s pop the popcorn and wait for the shitshow to begin.
Top 5 Things You’ll Learn If You Read This Whole Thing There have been five previous mass extinctions.We’re in the middle of the sixth.We evidently don’t know about 90 percent of the species on our planet.Knowing where babies come from is a relatively new thing.Humans aren’t that special. What if you really are nothing special?…Keep reading
St. Louis recently was ranked the second most sinful city in ‘Muricah out of 182 surveyed, according to Wallethub. We trail only Las Vegas.
We led the nation in the “anger and hatred” and “excesses and vices” categories. For the first one, the study looks at things like sex offenders per capita, violent crimes per 1,000 residents and hate groups per capita. In the latter, it’s determined by obesity rates, excessive drinking and the number of fast-food chains per capita.
So we are fat, drunk, Whopper-eating sex offenders who belong to the KKK and like to beat people up. Lovely.
But we do have an arch!
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Crossed-fingers we can get to the No. 1 most sinful city spot!
- Some long weekends coming up.
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🧩 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