Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

The Ascent of Biff

man climbing ladder

Today was a good day.

But then again, most Fridays are.  Almost by definition.

However, a good day is not the same as an exciting day.  There is not much excitement to be had while sitting in an office working on month-end financial reports, updating schedules, reviewing staffing, and knocking out a few mandatory on-line training modules that were due.

I console myself by telling myself that a million years of evolution led to my being able to sit in a climate-controlled box while manipulating ephemeral concepts and abstractions on non-permanent media to be stored in equally abstract locations as a safeguard against the eventuality that someone somewhere someday may want to audit these things.

We all know that that’s not going to happen, but it’s important that we all buy into the fantasy or else it unravels and falls apart before our eyes.   Our very society is built upon the vague fear that we may be audited someday and asked to prove that all those hours we spent in our climate controlled boxes were, in fact, value added.  We all know they weren’t, but that too is part of the ruse that we all buy into.

In other news, I successfully passed my online training module on Ladder Safety by successfully answering 8 of the 10 questions correctly on the assessment following the 30 minute training video.  Never mind that no part of my job requires that my feet leave the ground.  However, I am now certified to climb ladders of up to 12 feet (excluding articulated ladders) provided:

  1. I have the correct PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
  2. I have a properly certified “ladder buddy” to spot me while I am more than 1 foot above the floor
  3. The ladder conforms to UL/ALI/ANSI/CSA standards and has the proper markings
  4. There are no non-ladder-certified people within a ten foot radius of said ladder at the time of my ascent
  5. The area in which the ladder is in use is properly cordoned off from incidental foot traffic.

This is definitly NOT what I had in mind when I used to dream of climbing the corporate ladder someday.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac: Thursday Evening

writer

When last you heard from this intrepid reporter, I had only managed to make it a mere 60 percent through the workweek.  However, since my last report, my shrewd investments have paid off and I now find myself a full 80% through the workweek (a little less if you take into consideration the eroding effects of capital gains taxes).  This means that nothing stands between me and being 100% done with this workweek except for Friday, and I shall make short work of that soon enough.

So did anything interesting happen to Biff today?  No, not really.  I have wrung every last post possible out of my workaday world.  There is only so much spreadsheet humor and PowerPoint humor to be had, no matter what price one is willing to pay.  From what I have been able to ascertain, no one is willing to pay a single farthing for any humor at all related to MS Office products.  Even the cease-and-desist letter I received from Team Microsoft, Re: MS Office Products Humor, was itself humorless.

It was not a good day for office humor.

 

Spring Has Sprang

Sun and gardner

I have successfully made it to mid-week and a little beyond.  More precisely, I am 60% done with my workweek.  It is time to start making the list of all of the things that I’ll say I’m going to do this weekend, but end up not doing.

For instance, I need to put down some weed-n-feed in the front yard to send a strong message to the dandelions that they’re not welcome here, while at the same time sending an engraved invitation to the St. Augustine grass to please stop by at its earliest convenience and to stay as long as it likes.  So far, the grass is being fashionably late.  In fact, if it were a goldfish, it would be floating upside down at the top of the fishbowl and I would be rubbing my eyes with my fists and saying things like, “But it’s just sleeping, isn’t it?”

The trees are all doing well so far.  In fact, I noticed a redbud in the back yard that I did not know I had.  Welcome to the neighborhood, little buddy.  You’re welcome here as long you keep making those pretty red blooms.  Once the blooms are gone … well … we’ll just have to see.

The crepe myrtles are creating snowdrifts of their pollen or blooms or whatever that stuff is.  And, like real snow, it’s pretty at first, but quickly becomes annoying when it gets wet or turns brown or gets into places where you prefer drifts of crepe myrtle pollen not be.

So, yes, everything is blooming.  And those are just the plants that I can identify!  There is a veritable Garden of Eden in my back and front yards, assuming the Garden of Eden was filled with flora (a latin word meaning weeds) that is native to Texas.  And why wouldn’t it have been?  Did not God say to Adam and Eve after the unfortunate Apple incident:

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    blah blah blah …
It will produce thorns and thistles for you”

Hey, if that doesn’t describe land in Texas, nothing does!

 

Habits: the Good Die Young

dying young

It’s amazing how quickly good habits can atrophy when we have to give them up for a mere couple of days.

I had been good for months.  I wrote in this blog, if not every day, certainly every day or two (or three).  However, being away from it for a mere week while on a trip has virtually erased my ability and desire to sit down at dash out a blog post.  I am embarrassed to admit how many hours I’ve spent staring at this laptop screen over the past three days, trying to think of something (anything) to write.  Alas.  Words escape me.  I have an acute case of linguistic blockage.  Or, as they say in Esperanto, la bloko de verkisto.

Bad habits, in contrast, persist long after we stop doing them, even if we stop for years or decades.  We are always one slip-up away from returning to a bad habit.

For example, I can write every day for ten years, but if I miss a single day after that ten years, then I am very likely to never return to it again.  On the other hand, I can pop my knuckles every day for a mere couple of months, but if I miss a single day after those months, on the second day I will break out in a cold sweat and my mind becomes obsessed with popping my knuckles to the exclusion of all other thoughts.

So what am I trying to say?

I’m saying that I gave up some very important knuckle-popping in order to force myself at gunpoint to grind out this horrible blog post.

Pity is expected, but likes are preferred.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac: I’m Back

writer

Although I’m sure no one noticed that I’ve been away, I wanted to announce that I’m back.

This isn’t your usual I-gave-up-blogging-a-year-ago-but-now-I’m-back-for-a-single-post-before-I-leave again post.  I’m sure we’re all familiar with those.  I have been guilty of that myself.  But this isn’t that.

No, I was merely out of town for a week and wasn’t able to post my usual drivel on here.  I’m sure you were all devastated.  I’m sure the Internet was lit up with people posting on all the social media sites, wondering just what in the heck happened to good ol’ what’s-his-face.  Boff.  Or Piff.  Or something like that.

I was offline for a week because I went to Alabama (but not with a banjo on my knee) to visit the land of my forebears (and two cats).  A fine time was had by all and excessive amounts of calories were consumed in the form of eggs & bacon & grits, biscuits and molasses, red beans and rice, cornbread, baked sweet potatoes (with butter), pecan pie, Moon Pies, sweet tea, and potfuls of Luzianne coffee (with chicory).  It was all I could do to stagger back to Texas under the weight off all them vittles that were, by all accounts, sticking to my ribs (just as my mother warned me they would).  I may have to replace the suspension on my truck.

And now I’m back in Dallas.  I have put myself on a strict lard-free diet to counter the effects of a week of down-home Southern cooking.  But I’m here to tell you … I would kill right now for a slice of genuine Alabama pecan pie and a steaming mug of Luzianne coffee.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Friday Edition

Poor Biif Featured

I made it to another Friday!

Every Monday morning when the alarm goes off at the unnatural hour of 6 a.m. and one of my eyes opens (I can’t ever get both eyes to work as a team until about 10 a.m. Monday morning), Friday seems like some mythical event foretold in some ancient prophecy no one really believes in any more.  As I shave and brush my teeth (with the difficulty level set at 10, because of the aforementioned non-cooperation of my eyes) I am giving myself my usual Monday morning pep talk.

Friday is a real thing,” I tell myself.  “It will be here in a mere five days.  Just five days.  I can do this!  I got this!

This is followed almost immediately by, “Aw, who am I kidding?  We all know that by the time Wednesday gets here, time will have slowed down so much that it will actually begin to go backwards and we will have to reset our calendars to be the day before.

And yet, somehow Friday always arrives and I am always surprised and amazed, as if it were a surprise birthday party that my friends planned so cunningly that it was actually a surprise.  On Friday mornings, when the alarm goes off at the unnatural hour of 6 a.m., I always jump, surprised, and then smile and I feel like I should say, “Oh!  You guys!  You really got me good!

I then jump out of bed and reenact the “Good Morning!” song from the 1952 hit musical film “Singin’ in the Rain”.  I play the part of Donald O’Connor since I look better in light gray than dark gray.  Besides, everyone wants to be Gene Kelly.  I don’t have to fight to be Donald O’Connor.  Plus this is St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought it was more appropriate to pick the more Irish-sounding name.

I then wake up and realize that Debbie Reynolds is really the rack I hang my robe on.  And that I’m not Donald O’Connor.  And that I can’t sing.  Or dance.

But I don’t care, because it’s Friday!

 

 

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Today’s Rejected Blog Post Ideas

Poor Biif Featured

Okay … here we go.  Dinner’s out of the way.  The pajamas are on … which is perfectly acceptable because I have to wear business casual all day long (don’t judge me!).  A hot cup of coffee sits beside the computer.  Basia is playing through my headphones (which is what happens when you put your iPod on shuffle).  The mental list of all the things I should be doing have been pushed to the back of my brain where they won’t pose a danger to anyone (especially me).  Now comes the search for something to write about.

I went back through the game tape of the day looking for anything at all that’s worthy of being written about.  Here’s the list of what I came up with after thinking about it for a few minutes.

  1.  That guy who cut me off in traffic on the way to work.
  2. The person I accidentally cut off on the way to work because they were driving in my blind spot.  Leviathan (my truck) is very unforgiving of people who hover in my blind spots (of which there are many).
  3. How the weather is very similar to what it was yesterday.  And the day before that.  And the day before that.  (Repeat that about 20 more times in your head; my fingers are tired.)
  4. An essay on whether or not I should be concerned about how, every time an organizational announcement comes down via blast email from on high (i.e. from Corporate … and you can’t see me, but I’m genuflecting towards our corporate headquarters), I don’t recognize the names of any of the people they mention.  Or their titles.  Or their organizations.  Or anything, really.  Am I that far down on the org chart?  Who are these people?  Am I somehow inadvertently working for a different company than the one I think I am?
  5. Another essay (or perhaps a haiku) about how, when I went to the vending machine for a snack, I saw a Zagnut candy bar hanging precariously from the dispensing screw.  Obviously someone had been deprived of their much-needed Zagnut.  So I was faced with a moral dilemma.  If I put in my money and pushed C7, I would get two Zagnuts for the price of one.  But would that be ethical?  Perhaps the victim of the Zagnut vending mishap had run back their their desk for some more change.   I would be depriving them of the opportunity to retrieve what they had already paid for.  But what if I walked away with a different snack, but someone else came along and did what I was thinking about doing?  Then two out of three people would have been screwed out of double snacks.  I finally decided on Peanut M&Ms.  I can’t stand coconut and so I don’t even like Zagnut bars.  But it’s hard to turn down a two-fer deal.
  6. My musings about whether or not, if someone were to quietly die during a typical meeting, if anyone would notice.  And if someone DID notice … would they envy the dead person?  They’d be like, “Wow, Bob doesn’t have to have his financial reports in by COB Friday.  Lucky!”   (For those of you who don’t speak Corporate Acronym fluently, COB = Close of Business)
  7. My contemplations while sitting at a red light on the way home about whether cities deliberately mis-time their traffic lights to maximize fuel consumption so as to increase revenues from gasoline taxes.  (Biff can be very cynical while sitting in traffic.)
  8. And now I’m wondering if Basia understood English enough to know  what the songs were about that she was singing.  I love her voice and her accent but I always wonder what people think about when they’re singing songs in a different language.  I mean, their managers could have them sing a song that’s wildly inappropriate and the singer would never know.  It doesn’t matter.  Basia is awesome.  Even if she didn’t  understand a word of the songs she sings, she still sings them as if she does.

Well, now you can see why it is so hard for me to write blogs that attract readers.

 

 

Have This Blog Back Before Midnight

Writer Cartoon

Okay … here we go.  It’s blog time!

[Stares slack-jawed at computer screen for 45 minutes.]

Oh, who am I kidding?  Blogs are for people with interesting lives.  There are only so many ways I can re-package and re-sell this lump of beige … lumpy … insipidity.  It’s like I’m trying to sell you a Pet Rock™, except that I’ve already sold you the same one 55 times before.  Oh, sure, you make a pretty good gift face, but in your head you’re thinking, “Wow … this is the exact same rock this guy gave me yesterday, except this one has not the same rock written on it in purple Sharpie.™

I should just give up.

Poof!

Hey!  Who are you?

Why, I’m your Fairy Blog Mother.

Oh cool!  Can we sing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”?  I love that song!”

No … Blog.  Blogmother!  Try to focus.

Ow!  Hey!  You whacked me with your wand.  That wasn’t very nice.  And it hurt!

Oh, suck it up, you big baby!  I only have a minute.  I have 759 more disillusioned bloggers to visit tonight.

Wow!  That many?

Yes, and that’s just tonight.  Tomorrow I’m pulling a double shift to try to clear up the backlog a little.  You think you’re the only blogger who lives a bland, vapid, nugatory life?

Hey!  I’m standing right here!

Like I said, I’m a little pressed for time tonight.  I don’t have time to come up with euphemisms.

So how does this work?  Are you going to cast a spell on me or something?  Make me interesting?  Make my life glamorous and fascinating?

Again, I am a fairy blogmother.  You keep confusing me with that other company that has a much bigger budget.  And that gives their employees benefits.

So … no magic?  I’m not suddenly going to be interesting?

Nope.

So … what?  Do I get like a pep talk or something?  Where you convince me that my life really is interesting and that I just need to look deeper inside myself?

No, I’m not going to lie to you.  You’re life is pretty dull. I was watching the tape to prepare for this visit and I nodded off three times.  One time I even hit my head on the monitor.

So I guess I’m at a loss as to what exactly you’re doing here.  No magic.  No pep talk.  What exactly does a fairly blogmother do?

You’re looking at it.  You got this fine post out of it.

What?  This?  This is all I get?

What did you have before I got here?

Good point.  So what’s the wand for then, if you don’t do magic?

This?  This isn’t a wand.  It’s a chopstick.  I was having chop suey before I got here, but I must have dropped the other one when I poofed.

Well, thank you fairy Blogmother.  I couldn’t have done this post without you.  I may never forgive you for that.

Think nothing of it.

Oh, don’t worry.  I won’t!

Hasta la vista, Baby.

Yeah … ciao.

I won’t be back.

Don’t let the door …

Poof!

Ah well … that’s that then.  It’s not as cool as a glass slipper … but it’s something.

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Sarcastic Edition

Poor Biif Featured

Okay, WordPress … I’ve learned my lesson.   Again.

I learned (again) that fiction posts are the moles and skin tags of WordPress posts.  Point well taken (again), WordPress.  I shall concentrate on other, more popular, types of posts.

Hey, how about those Kardashians, huh?  (Did I spell that correctly?  Spellcheck doesn’t seem to like it.)  I liked them on Star Trek, but haven’t really kept up with them since then.

Hey, how about that weather, eh?  That is some kind of … um … weather … event.  We’re having.  Pretty much.

Hey, how about that big sports thing that happened today?  You know … that one with the … um … thing.  Where that sports person … you know … did that sports thing.

And … oh my gosh!  Politics!  What in the world is up with that?  It’s like … politicians are all like …. whoa!  And stuff.  Am I right?

I was going to post a picture of what I had for dinner, but I forgot to save the box.  They call it “Salisbury Steak”, but I’m pretty sure there are no cows on the Salisbury plain.  It just isn’t economically feasible.  Plus they’d be grazing in Stonehenge and and that thing’s not a suitable pen.  They can walk right between the posts.

And hey … speaking of posts … here’s another one!

 

 

 

 

 

Cracks in the Clay

Short Fiction by Biff

Lonely-plant-penetrating-dry-clay

The Texas sun beat down on my old faded red Ford F-250 like rain on a tin roof, but instead of water, it was heat.  I just sat there sideways on the driver’s seat with the door open, one foot resting on the stepside, waiting for the inside of the truck to cool off a little, but there weren’t enough of a breeze to do much coolin’ off.  The cicadas wailed so loud I couldn’t hear myself think and the sound made it feel 15 degrees hotter’n it probably was.  It was already 110 if it was a degree.

I adjusted my cowboy hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.  I wanted to smoke, but I had give ’em up just about a month ago and I didn’t want to start back.  That was why Amy had left, because I couldn’t seem to stop smoking.  I did finally quit, but by then she had done left and took up with somebody else.  So here I was.

I felt the sweat trickle down my back as I stared out over the acre of waist high weeds that was smack in the middle of nowhere, smack in the middle of the 16 acres my granddaddy left me right before he died.

I reached over and pulled a beer out of the Styrofoam cooler I had sitting in the passenger seat, popped the top, and sat contemplating the field of weeds.  The tall grasses were already brown and raspy from the heat and no rain.  The devil’s tongues were tall and green with red blushes and stickers that’d go right through jeans and into your hide like a pincushion full of hot needles.  Devil’s tongues always grow where nothin’ else will.  Yellow sunflowers stretched up over it all, having clamored up over the fray, curious to see what was up there.  It was as if they had give it all just to see what was going on, but then were disappointed at the view of all the mess and chaos and so just give up, their heads drooping a little

Grandaddy would be spinning in his grave if he knew this field looked like this.  When I was just a young’n, Mama would bring me here and there was always a field of corn or beans or peas or okra, every row as straight as if he’d planted them using a plumb line, everything tall and green and lush.  He always had a bushel of something for Mama, even before Daddy ran off, but he sho nuff did after Daddy up and left.  We never went hungry, even if it was just snap beans or okra.  We may not have ‘et high on the hog, but we for sho didn’t starve neither.

And now look at it.  A goat would starve in this field.  Or get ‘et.  Grandaddy used to try to teach me how to farm, how to grow things, how to make the land give up something to be ‘et, even if that old black clay was as stingy as the devil himself.  I think he was hoping I’d take over and keep this patch turning out food someday, but I was 12 way back then and thought farming was for suckers.  Then Grandaddy died and his land all went to hell, but ‘specially while I was locked up down in Huntsville.  But I’m out now.  I give up smoking.  But not before Amy give up on me.

I looked at the beer in my hand.  I done very nearly give up alcohol too, but not quite.  It was the one thing I inherited from Daddy, other than being worthless.  Mama used to tell me I wasn’t, but all you had to do was look at Daddy to know he was about as worthless as they come.  And ever’body says I’m the spittin’ image of him.  His worthlessness is in my blood as sure as this beer is in my blood or these cracks are in this clay.

I slid out of the truck and down on to the ground and I could feel even through my ol’ wore out boots that the ground was hard as concrete.  It was covered over here and there with thin pads of dead grass, bleached nearly white from the sun.  Two inch wide cracks spread out all over the black clay, like a windshield shattered by a rock, before getting’ swallered up by the weeds.   I’m sick and damn tired of being worthless, but I’ll be damned if I know how to go about turning this patch of weeds into a field of anything anybody’d want.

How barren can a man be?  Baked by the sun of his own worthlessness, the weeds of his lesser self flourishing, while the bounty of what he could be withering and passing away into the nothingness of baked clay.  Cigarettes and alcohol and foolishness growing and crowding out what should be there instead; the love of a woman, that look in her eye when she looks at you proudly, that way she touches your arm when you’re too tired to even get up off the front porch step, all your strength laying out there in that field you just plowed or seeded or harvested.  But that little touch … that little look … the way she tucks her hair behind her ear and just sits next to you on the step, waiting for you to have enough strength to talk again.  She doesn’t realize that that IS what gives you the strength.  It is that touch, that look, that smile that keeps you moving forward, keeps you getting up after getting knocked down, keeps you taming a field that the devil is hell bent on taking away from you.

But Amy’s gone now.  She got tired of the foolishness. She got tired of me.

And now it’s hard to get back up after being knocked down.

.

.

©2017 by biffsockpow.wordpress.com

 

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: