Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the month “January, 2017”

Two-fer Tuesday:  Words That Aren’t Words

2-fer-tuesday

It is Two-fer Tuesday, which is the day I offer you two of something, where one would have been more than sufficient.  And since two-fer isn’t actually a word, I thought I’d share with you two other words that are not really words, but that are widely used (at least here in Texas and throughout the Deep South).

Disclaimer:I was raised in the Deep South and I live in Texas, so I am allowed to talk about our odd words and phrases.  🙂

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Nother

(nŭth′ər)
[Adjective]

(1)  The most common usage of the word “nother is as a synonym for the word “other”. For example:

“That’s a whole nother story.”

(2)  In some cases, this word is actually just the second part of the word “another”.  When written down, it is indistinguishable from “another”.  However, in many Southern dialects, it is just a stylistic inflection when saying “another”.  For example,

“I’d love uh nother biscuit, but I’m fuller than a tick on a hound dog.”

It manifests itself as a slight pause between the “a” sound (pronouced “uh”) and the “nuh-ther” sound.  In some Southern dialects, the “nother” part is actually pronounced “nutter” or “nudder”.

 

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Purt

(pert)
[Adverb … sort of]

(1)  Ironically, the word “purt” on its own is meaningless, even in the South.  It is always paired with the word “near”.  When used with near, as in “purt near”, it means “almost” or “very nearly”.  The closest definition to the word “pert” on its own is “pretty” in the sense of being moderate.  For instance, in the phrase:

He purt near ran over me with that tractor.

which means “He came very close to running over me.”

Some other examples:

I purt near won the sack race.    [I almost won the sack race.]

She purt near burnt the biscuits.   [She almost burned the biscuits.]

Clem: “Are you almost done?
Jed:  “Purt near.”   [Yes, nearly.]

Anyway, there you have it.  Two words that aren’t really words for Two-fer Tuesday.  I hope you enjoyed!

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Comments are always welcome.

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Random Tidbits (1/28/2017 Edition)

random-tidbits

Here are this week’s leftovers.  I’m clearing out the refrigerator.  If nobody reads them, they’re going in the trash.

 

1

The weather here in Dallas the past few days has been beautiful, which is disappointing.  By beautiful, I mean it has been in the high 50s (~13 to ~15 C).  The sun is so bright one has to wear sunglasses in the car at all times (as I mentioned in a post a few days ago).  It is warm enough you don’t want to wear a jacket, but if the breeze picks up to more than one mile per hour, you are suddenly freezing to death.  So you have to wear a jacket.  But then the sun makes you burn up.  In the car, there is so much sunshine pouring in through the windows and heating up the cabin that one sometimes has to turn on the air conditioner, even though it is quite chilly outside.  Strange days, indeed.

2

There was an expedition to Hobby Lobby to pick up something for … some other thing.  I can’t remember.  I’m a man.  I have the memory retention of a gnat.  But there I was.  As I usually do when at Hobby Lobby, I announce, “I’m going to the man aisle” and I depart thither.  Unless a man is a painter or a calligrapher or a scrapbooker or something like that, there is only one aisle in Hobby Lobby that is “man friendly”.    We all go there.  When a new man appears on this aisle, we do the single head nod at each other.  It is our universal greeting.  It is our little way of saying, “Hey … welcome to the man aisle.”  What is on the Man Aisle, you ask?  Car models.  Ship models.   Airplane models.  Glue.  Paint.  Xacto knives.  Toy trains.  Slot car racers.  Airbrush equipment.  I can’t speak for the other men, but I like to look at all the models and think, “I could build that.”  And then I think, “If I had any skill.  Or patience.  Or hand-eye coordination.  Or an attention span longer than a gnat.”  And then, as if to prove my point, my attention wanders and I find myself reading the label on a package of model putty for no particular reason.  All of us who are exiled to the Man Aisle know better than to wander even an aisle away.  If we do, we will find ourselves on the jewelry making aisle.  Or the caligraphy aisle.  The women who are there look up at us as if to say, “Shouldn’t you be in the man aisle?”  And so we return to that aisle … even though we’ve all looked at these same models twenty-nine dozen times.

3

I found myself in Trader Joe’s today.  I’m not sure what to make of that place.  It is a poky little place that is about a quarter the size of a traditional grocery store.  Everything is a little cramped and claustrophobic.  There are lots of foods I don’t recognize from companies I’ve never heard of.  Packaging is simple and generic looking.  Some of it looks like it might have been made in someone’s garage.  There are a lot of interesting people there.  Hipsters, mostly.  And little old ladies in fur stoles carrying tiny dogs, looking for all the world like aged stars from the silent movie era.  Lots of men with gray ponytails.  Everyone is talking on their cell phones.  I mean … EVERYONE.  Nearly everyone in the store looks down on their luck, but the vast majority of them go out and get into BMWs, Lexus’, Audis, etc.  I really have no idea what is going on there.   Such an odd vibe.  They have excellent chocolate covered raisins, though!

 

4

I went to Half Price Books today to “sell” them some of my old books that I no longer want.  It was quite a load!  I didn’t weigh it, but I’d estimate I took them 20 to 30 pounds of books.  There were all sorts of things; anything from old computer games, to paperbacks, to college textbooks.  Even a set of encyclopedias!   Now, I know the drill at HPB.  They’re there to make money.  They sell stuff very cheap, so I don’t expect to be able to retire at what they pay me for my old books.  Today I got a little over ten dollars for my books, so about fifty cents a pound.   That is a fair price to pay to save myself the pain and anguish and guilt of throwing books into the recycling bin.  I just can’t bring myself to do it.  So I pay HPB to do it for me.

5

The doorbell rang today, causing widespread panic and confusion.  The doorbell never rings.  No one visits anyone here in Dallas.  Besides, doorbells are an anachronism.  People just text nowadays and say, “We’re here!”  I had almost forgotten what the doorbell sounded like.  At first I was like, “What is that weird bonging sound?”  Then I realized it was the doorbell.  So I answered it.  There was no one there.  There were no packages laying by the doorstep. I walked out to the street and looked both ways.  No one was in sight.  No cars were driving away.  Then I caught a flash of red jacket catty cornered across the street.   Two boys in their early teens were darting away.   It was just a prank.  I wasn’t upset.  I was just amazed that kids still do that.  I thought that died out in the 1970s.  I’m glad to see kids nowadays showing some gumption.

================= That’s All, Folks! =================

 

A Lot on My Mind This Morning

59755

It is not unusual for me to wake up with weighty matters on my mind.

For instance, this morning I woke up with a 15 pound cat standing on my head with all four feet.

This happens sometimes.  I generally wake up in the morning laying on my stomach, my head turned so that the side of my face is on the mattress, and my pillow completely covering my head with only a little bit of an air gap to allow me to breathe.  This is my Fortress of Solitude.

Cats are nothing if not opportunists, so when they see someone with a pillow over their face, it is not in a cat’s nature to let“I dare not” wait upon “I would”.  No doubt he thought to himself, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly” and quickly ascended to the throne.  However, he failed to take into account my patented Breathing Gap™.

I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps he was just trying to find a perch that afforded him a better view of the sunrise.  But if he could tell time, he’d have known that that was still a way away.

 

Glaring Error

1ff8ed2ff81509fde0a01d08c023d9ed_cute20sun20with20sunglasses-sun-with-sunglasses-clipart_1000-847

Some of the greatest minds of the last hundred years have argued vehemently against the notion of Intelligent Design.  They have presented many cogent and well-reasoned arguments.  They have, using logic, proven to their own satisfaction that there could not possibly be an Intelligent Agent behind everything that surrounds us.

But I’m here to tell you that they are all wrong.  Every one of them.  Dead wrong.

How can I be so certain?

It’s simple.

How could anything but some Grand Designer create a world in which, while you are driving to or from work in the morning in winter, the sun shines directly into your eyes no matter which direction you are driving in, no matter what angle your sun visor is tilted, or how low or high you adjust it, no matter if you are driving up a hill or down?  The winter sun mysteriously pivots, turns, and gyrates in the sky so that it is always beaming directly into your eyes.

There simply has to be an Intelligence behind that.

Either that, or it is entirely possible that, during the winter months at least, I am the exact center of our solar system.

Big Wheel, Keep on Burnin’

car-swerving

I saw something on the way to work this morning that one doesn’t often see.

Like most stories (or, more accurately, anecdotes), this one starts out with the hackneyed phrase “I was minding my own business …”  I read that that is a good opening sentence in the “Helpful Hints” section of the “Blogging for Fun and Profit” book I found at the used bookstore for 25 cents.  Anyway …

I was minding my own business while zipping along the five-lanes-in-each-direction freeway, on my way to work.  Apparently “my business” was to be going too slow for the prevailing traffic conditions, even though I was doing about ten miles an hour over the posted speed.  But in my defense, I was listening to “Summertime Dream” by Gordon Lightfoot on the CD player, and the song was admonishing me to slow down and enjoy life.  Okay, maybe not explicitly, but it was implied.  So I was taking it slow (at the poky speed of 75 miles per hour).  I was on a trip on down to worker-land, where time gets logged, with a straw boss tallying up the hours.  (That was just a little something for you Gordon Lightfoot fans out there.)

Suddenly, traffic began to slow down (as it often does, for no apparent reason).  In the lane just to my left I began to see two eight-inch-wide black stripes on the pavement running parallel to each other.  They paced me for a bit and then made a graceful parabolic arc away to the left and off the road.  There was no burning wreckage at the end of the marks, so I’m assuming the driver that created them managed to regain his composure and continue on his merry way.

The cause of these skid marks was a little odd.  There, right in the middle of the road was a metal wheelbarrow.  It was upside down, resting on the rim of the barrow part.  It was just sitting there innocently while cars weaved and swerved and darted around it.  I managed to make my way by it with no problems.   I kept looking at it in my rear view mirror.  Everyone seemed to be avoiding it okay, though I’m sure there were plenty of salty monologues being delivered to no one in particular.

At about that time, the inside of my truck was suddenly filled with the acrid smell of burning car tires.  Apparently, whatever vehicle had made those thick rubber skid marks on the freeway just in front of the wheelbarrow had done so just moments before I arrived.

Egad!  What a smell!  It instantly reminded me of the year of my youth when I lived with my uncle, aunt, and cousins on their farm in rural Alabama (VERY rural).  My uncle apparently believed that the way to dispose of a cow that had expired was to surround the dearly departed with about three dozen car and truck tires and then set the rubber pyre (see what I did there?) on fire.  You might say it was a funeral tire. (I did it again …anything worth doing, is worth doing twice in a row for maximum comic effect.)

The tires would burn for days and days, creating a plume of black smoke that could be seen from outer space (or at least from Demopolis).  The air was filled with the pong of burning tires.  It became a topic of discussion around about those parts for as long as the plume was visible.

What’s really bizarre, is that at the time I didn’t think there was anything bizarre about my uncle’s behavior.  Why WOULDN’T you bury a dead cow under a pile of old tires and set it on fire?  Made perfect sense to me.  At that innocent time in my life I believed that grown-ups held all of the secrets of the universe in their minds and that if they did something, then there was no reason to question the sanity of it.  But we grow up.  We realize grown-ups are fumbling around in the dark for answers just like we are.  I must admit, though … I’ve always been curious as to the sequence of thoughts that led from “Hmm … ol’ Bessie died” to “I’m gonna bury her in tires and set the whole shootin’ match on fahr.

But the real point I’m trying to make is that it’s funny how an aroma can take you instantly back to a distant time of your life with such clarity that it is startling.

Not quite as startling as suddenly encountering a wheelbarrow in the middle of the road at 75 miles an hour.  But nearly.

Monkee Business: Auntie Grizelda (A Review)

more-of-the-monkees

I have a confession to make.  I like the Monkees.  I have never admitted this to anyone before.  You can understand my shame.  When I was a wee lad my older brother had several of their albums and that was my introduction to them.  I was quite surprised a few years later to find out that not only did they make music, but they had their own TV show!  They were aired as re-runs on Saturday morning when I was a kid.  Of course, they weren’t reruns to me.  They were fresh and new and exciting  and unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard before.  Later on in my life I saw “A Hard Days Night” by the Beatles and I was incensed (incensed!) that they were so blatantly ripping off the Monkees trademark zany antics.  Just goes to show you how subjective history is.

At any rate, because it is the 50th anniversary almost to the day that this song debuted on the Monkee’s TV show (and in order to shamelessly pump up my blog hits), I’m going to review one of my favorite songs from the Monkees, “Auntie Grizelda.”  You can find the song here, and the lyrics here.

“Auntie Grizelda” features the forgotten Monkee, Peter Tork, which is why I was probably initially drawn to it.  I identified with Peter in some way I can’t explain.  He always seemed to be the odd man out, even in a group as strange as the Monkees.  He didn’t say much.  He seemed to be in a perpetual state of bewilderment, which, in my youthful innocence, I attributed to his pure heart and his innate naivety.  As an adult, however, I was made to understand that he was supposed to be the “high” one.  I like my interpretation better.  Peter  was also (usually) the last one to get the girl.  And on top of all that, he played the bass guitar, which is arguably the least chick-magnet-y instrument you can play in a band.

The gist of the song is Peter talking to some unnamed girl about her aunt and how she (the aunt) hates Peter and disapproves of their being together.  On it’s surface, the song is just sort of a funny series of insults about Auntie Grizelda.  Lines such as

No bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizelda

This is one of my favorite lines from the song and one of the best insults I have ever heard.  It is a subtle wind-up … and then the pitch … and boom!  You just got insulted.  Then there is:

She couldn’t budge a smile and do it for free

But the song isn’t just a collection of insults towards Auntie Grizelda, it is Peter begging the girl to please don’t be like her Aunt.  He is trying to tell the girl that, though it’s harder to be your own person while being raised under an oppressive thumb, she must make the effort or else she will end up bitter and judgmental like her Aunt and, ultimately, alone.

I’ve never quite understood Peter going off in the middle of the song into a series of gutteral noises and gibberish.  It certainly makes the song unique and memorable!  My only interpretation is that his frustration at not being able to get through to the girl he is talking to finally gets the best of him and he just snaps.  He is doing the equivalent of burying his face into a pillow and screaming to give vent to his frustration.  Or, another explanation is that they were the Monkees and he was just trying to live up to the band’s shtick and to stop being in the shadow of the other three Monkees.  But whatever the reason, he made for a memorable moment in Monkee history and one of the more stand-out songs that the Monkees ever recorded.

Additional Links

Here is an alternate video which apparently is a clip from the show.  However, the video has nothing to do with the lyrics.  It is pretty random.

Here is another clip from the show which just has the Monkees running around and imitating the Beatles from “A Hard Day’s Night”.  The sound quality isn’t that good, though.

And here is a bizarre clip of an elderly Peter Tork singing “Auntie Grizelda” live on stage.  He sort of sleepwalks through it and actually seems to forget the lyrics at one point.  Oh well … I can’t say anything about memory lapses!

And here is some random information about the song.

Recording Date:  October 23, 1966

Lyrics by Diane Hildebrand

Music by Jack Keller

Song appeared on the 1967 album “More of The Monkees”

Recorded at:  American Studios, Studio City

The song appeared in Season 1, Episode 18 of the Monkee’s TV show on January 16, 1967. The show was entitled “I Was A Teenage Monster”

 

 

 

 

Random Tidbits (1/22/17 Edition)

random-tidbits

The following are just some random thoughts and ramblings that were left over from the weekend.  None of them were, on their own, enough to warrant a blog post.  So I will just bundle them up and put them on the clearance rack and mark them way down.

1

I just watched comedian Wayne Cotter on Johnny Carson (original air date:  1/31/92).  He was pretty funny, as always.  But what really struck me as funny as that I used to own that exact same tie he was wearing.

2

I had lunch at Taco Cabana today because, as a Texan, we are required to eat Mexican food at least once per week (no excuses).  I made the mistake of asking for some tortilla chips with my meal.  They charged me a dollar fifty (!) for a tiny little cardboard dish that is the same size Sonic serves their Frito chili pies in.  It contained about 15 chips (so about ten cents per chip).  On top of that, they were so paper thin and flimsy, every time I tried to scoop up a tiny bit of guacamole or sour cream, the chip would just break.  So I’d try it again.  And again.  Until there was nothing but tortilla chip crumbs all over my guacamole.  I was perturbed, to say the least.  Every other Mexican restaurant in Dallas gives free tortilla chips, and they are capable of supporting the weight of a butterfly without shattering.  Get your act together, Taco Cabana!

3

I had to go buy a new pair of sneakers today.  Like most men, I hate shopping for clothes, and especially shoes.  Someone recommended that I try DSW; claiming that they had a good selection.  They were not lying on this point.  The S and W in DSW stands for Shoe Warehouse.  I walked in the front door and immediately blue-screened.  In the men’s section, there were no less than about 40 styles of men’s sneakers.  Once I had rebooted myself a few times (which is odd, because I was looking for sneakers, not boots), I found myself overwhelmed by the selection.  I ended up buying a pair that looked almost exactly like the pair I went in with, except they were cleaner and didn’t squeak when I walked.  The squeaking was what drove me to buy a new pair of sneakers in the first place.  How can one sneak while wearing squeaking sneakers?  At work on Friday, my sneakers sounded like a seagull with croup.  My new ones are quiet.  Back to stealth mode.

4

No less than four times today, I had to switch the thermostat in the house back and forth between heating and air conditioning.  I hate Texas winters.  It’s like playing weather roulette. Just spin the Wheel o’ Weather and see what comes up.

5

I passed some trees in a parking lot today that were covered with ten thousand grackles.  I think the unseasonably warm weather has caused them to think it is time to migrate back north again for the summer.   Boy, are they going to be in for a rude awakening!

———————-

That’s it for this edition of Random Tidbits.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

 

 

A Sunday Morning Ramble

american-gothic-inspiration1

Here we are at the unofficial halfway point of the weekend.  It’s funny:  as long as it seems to take for weekends to get here, they always seem to go by so quickly.  I’m sure there’s a passage somewhere in Einstein’s book “A General Theory of Relativity” that explains this phenomenon, but I was trying to read it in the original German.  Inasmuch as I only know about six words of German (and I am nearly certain none them appear anywhere in any of his writings), my attention span faltered, and then tripped, and fell into a deep physics-related sleep (or possibly a coma).

It is a beautiful day here in North Texas.  It will be around 60 F today (9 C), sunny, and springlike. The only possible downer is that later today the wind will be gusting at around 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hours, or 30.4 knots, or about 94,080 furlongs per fortnight).  However, I don’t mind high winds too much.  It should move along the remainder of those pesky leaves that have been blanketing my front yard since just before Christmas and which have been duly noted by the homeowner’s association.  But knowing my luck, rather than move them along, the wind will probably just deposit even more leaves from neighbors’ trees from up and down the block.  So, someday soon, I will be standing in my front yard holding a rake (very American Gothic-esque) and saying, “But there’s not even a silver maple tree anywhere around here!  Where the heck did all these leaves come from?”  This is exactly the sort of inexplicable phenomenon that spawns myths like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and neighbors who clean up after their dogs.

Moving on ….

I got new bedroom furniture yesterday.  I only mention that because it might help the coroner write a more thorough report.  All my life I have heard people say things like “I love new-car smell!”  Or, “I love the smell of new furniture!”  I was never a fan of such aromas, even before I knew what they were.  Most people just love the insinuation, the ambiance, the symbol of newness and freshness.  I, on the other hand, feel my sinuses closing up and my lungs recoiling in horror.  Now I know that new-anything smell consists of volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde,  ethyl acetate, and acetone.  And I slept all night in a London fog of such lovely compounds!  So I shall be the first person in America who shall, on the coroner’s report, have his cause of death listed as “new furniture”.  Hopefully, the chalk outline of me on top of my mattress can be laundered out.  My glowing obit shall contain the expression “He died as he lived … gasping for breath and fumbling blindly for the Claritin-D.

On a brighter note, the preparation for the arrival of the new furniture forced a deep cleaning of the room such as it hasn’t seen in awhile.  The dust bunnies put up a good fight and the vacuum cleaner struggled mightily, but in the end there could only be one victor … and it was the furniture salesman, Victor, who made a handsome commission off the sale of the VOC-riddled furniture he unloaded on an unsuspecting consumer.

So I plan to spend the day outside, breathing in giant lung-fulls of Dallas air (which consist primarily of pollen, mold spores, dust from west Texas, and mosquitoes).

Come On, Brain! Try to Keep Up!

 

brain-in-wheel

I’m a pretty intrepid dude.  I can face pretty much anything with coolness and unflappability. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is (or will be) a starship class named in honor of my intrepidity.  But I have to admit, when I am moving my mouse cursor up towards that write-icon-50 icon in the upper right hand corner of my screen, I am filled with angst and trepidation (which I found out is not a starship class.  Who would want to serve on a starship in the Trepidation class?).

Hey, I can blather-write free-associate and commit stream o’ consciousness with the best of them.  In fact, it’s kind of my shtick.  It’s what I do.  It’s in my wheelhouse (on the bridge of my Intrepid Class starship, which is permanently dry-docked in my mind undergoing unspecified repairs and upgrades).

So what is it about that dreaded write-icon-50 icon that makes me quail and flinch?

Perhaps it is because, unlike the really popular, really good bloggers here on WordPress, I usually have no idea what I’m going to write about when I click that icon.  I just start typing and hope something comes to me.  This blog post is a perfect example of that.  I just start typing as fast as I can and hope my brain can keep up and that I can get to the end of the post before I realize I have nothing to write about or before I get distracted by something else.

Now, if you’ll forgive me, my fingers have crossed the finish line and they are going to go enjoy a quick sauna while they wait for my brain to arrive.

 

 

How Not to Excel at Your Job

excel-errors-1

You may remember from my last exciting post that our intrepid protagonist was waxing philosophic (i.e. babbling) about it being Wednesday.  Well, that was then; this is now.  Wednesday is so yesterday.  Thursday is trending.  Thursday is the new Wednesday.  And, using the tortured metaphor from yesterday’s post, we are now past the Continental Divide and we are trudging through Oregon (i.e. Thursday), even though we haven’t quite reached the Willamette Valley (i.e. Friday) yet.  But you can see it from here if you squint really hard and make binoculars of your fists.

But not to worry.  I am not going to continue to torture yesterday’s poor Oregon Trail metaphor.  It has suffered enough.  As have you, Dear Reader.  So, let’s move on, shall we?  The less said about it the better.

It occurred to me today as I sat in my taupe colored box at work struggling with uncooperative PowerPoint bullets … (“If I wanted pips, I would have chosen pips!  I would like a simple round bullet, please!”) … it occurred to me that there is nothing worse than inheriting someone else’s work.  I mean, we are all guilty of creating things we are less than proud of,  such as incomprehensibly complex spreadsheets that only we can understand (and that even we struggle with sometimes).  We create these Frankenspreadsheets ostensibly to make some part of our job easier, but in the end they end up taking on a life of their own and creating more work for us, because, in addition to our regular jobs, we now have to maintain and update this mind boggling Rube Goldberg contraption of a spreadsheet.  We get to the point where we are afraid to touch anything inside it because the cells and formulas are so complexly interwoven and interlinked that the slightest change will result in  an eye full of cells displaying the dreaded #VALUE! admonishment.

But there is something worse.  Much worse.

And that is …… inheriting someone else’s monstrosity of a spreadsheet because they did something selfish and inconsiderate like retiring or taking a better job. Worse still is having everyone in the company begin to refer to it as “your” spreadsheet.  No matter how many times I declare loudly and definitively that this is NOT my spreadsheet, that I would never create such a convoluted labyrinthine piece of garbage (not that I’m not capable of it), people still keep referring to it is Biff’s spreadsheet.  And, eventually, just like the tar baby in Southern folklore, you find yourself helplessly attached to this torturous piece of inscrutable codswallop.

So every time the Boss sticks his head into my taupe colored sensory deprivation chamber and says, “Hey, how soon can you have this month’s numbers cranked into your spreadsheet?” I am tempted to rear up on my hind legs defiantly and shout, “I am not an animal!”  But what comes out of my mouth instead is something more along the lines of, “As soon as I figure out this circular reference.”

 

That is the kind of biting retort that people say when they have mortgages and dependents and a looming retirement.   The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that someday this monstrosity of a spreadsheet will get passed on to its next victim.  I think that makes me merely a carrier for this virus-like spreadsheet.

And that’s not nothing.

 

 

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