🧩 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…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 🧩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 🧩’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