Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the month “June, 2017”

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Stimulating Simulations … or Simulating Stimulation

simulation-737006

It was a quiet day if Biffville.  I spent most of the day with my head buried in a spreadsheet that was so complicated that I began to doubt my sanity.  After all, no sane person would attempt to simulate real life within the pivoting matrices of a recalcitrant spreadsheet.  That’s what Visio is for.  With Excel you can, at best, create some crude 2-D simulations of rudimentary real-world processes.

Later in the day, I began to question my own existence.  I have read that the universe as we know it is just some grand simulation that a race of super beings is running for purposes we cannot fathom (my guess is a government grant).  If that is true, then why am I creating simulations within an Excel spreadsheet that approximate portions of real life … or what we think of as life?  Are there little people running around in my spreadsheets who believe they are thinking, living beings, but who are, in reality, merely references to other tabs and other cells (and probably the wrong ones, at that)?

It was too much for my feeble brain to churn on so I was glad when 5:00 rolled around and I was able to flee the scene of so much simulation.

Or did I flee the scene?  Perhaps I’m still there and the grander simulation is able to have me in both places at once: at my desk at work and also at my desk here at home.  Is the code of my life re-entrant?  Or is my stack about to overflow?

Perhaps my employer misunderstood me at my job interview many, many years ago when I mentioned that I wanted a job where I was constantly stimulated.  Perhaps they heard “simulated”, for I am pretty sure the past several years have just been a poorly constructed simulation.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac: Clearing Out the Backlog

Caution!  Long, rambling post ahead!  Please have a spotter.

writer

It has been a while since I posted anything on here.  You may pick only one from the following excuses.  (Please don’t be greedy.)

  • I’ve been too busy.
  • I’ve had nothing to write about.
  • My carpel tunnel syndrome flared up (an old caber-tossing injury)
  • I’ve been out of town attending Banjo-Con
  • I have been unbelievably lazy (even more than usual)
  • My lethargy biorhythm was in phase with my apathy biorhythm and there was a resonance in my indifference biorhythm

But I’m here now and I’m willing to give this thing another shot if you are.  After all, what do we have to lose, except a few minutes of our lives?

The Weather Report

It was a good weekend.  It rained over three inches in a span of about ten hours from Friday night into Saturday.  This dropped the average daytime temperature from 100 (~38 C) down to the low 80s (~28 C).  That is about as close as one can get to heaven in Texas in the summertime.  As an added bonus, it was too wet to mow the yard afterwards.  That was like winning the bi-fecta (rain + no mowing).

One Man’s Trash

On Saturday I went estate sale-ing.  (Hey … I said it was too wet to mow, not too wet to go to estate sales!)  I found a few things that qualified as “finds”.  I found some children’s books (including “Stuart Little” from the 60s that I think may be first editions.  At about 25 cents a pop, I was willing to take a chance.  I found a CD of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” for a buck.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve never owned this on CD, since I’m as avid a fan of Pink Floyd as ever longed for a giant inflatable pig.  I do, however have it on vinyl.  Little good that does me.  I don’t have a turntable mounted in my car.

But the find of the day was a print of the Mary Petty painting that appeared on the October 20 1962 edition of the New Yorker.  The print itself is copyrighted 1962, so I think it is from that era.  I didn’t know what it was when I saw it since it did not have any of the New Yorker tagging on it.  It just looked like a print of a painting and I liked it a lot, so I bought it.  I haggled the haggard owner down to a mere eight dollars.  The frame that I need to buy for it will cost much, much more than that.

Mary Petty New Yorker Cover

The above is not an direct image of the print I bought.  It’s just something I found on the Internet.  Image is copyright 1962 by Mary Petty.

Book ’em, Biffo

As if sifting through other people’s belongings were not enough fun, I also went to Half Price Books (HPB) on Sunday.  I didn’t really intend to buy anything; I was just killing some time.  However, for me to say I didn’t intend to buy anything when going to HPB is like jumping in a lake and saying “I did not intend to get wet.”  I am never so weak as when I got into HPB.  I ended up buying William Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, & The Mansion) in paperback.  I read The Mansion many decades ago when I was in high school and it didn’t make much sense to me at the time, but then I found out much later that it was the final book in a trilogy and that explained my confusion.  Not that Faulkner has ever written a hard-to-understand novel before.  Anyway, I’m going to give it another chance.  I don’t usually buy used paperbacks since they don’t age well, but the Faulkner estate keeps the prices of his new books so high that I have been forced to buy pre-loved versions of them.

I also found a paperback version of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novel, “Busman’s Honeymoon“.  I love Dorothy Sayers’ writing and especially her Lord Peter Wimsey novels.  As I stated above, I don’t usually buy used paperbacks, but this particular book looks like it just rolled off the presses yesterday even though it was printed in the 90s.  It was a steal at $3 (even though I have the receipt).

I also browsed through the clearance CDs and came away with a handful of finds (each for about $2).

  • The Rippingtons (featuring Russ Freeman) — Black Diamond
  • John Jarvis — Pure Contours
  • John Jarvis — Whatever Works
  • Dave Koz – Off the Beaten Path
  • Nelson Rangell — Playing for Keeps
  • David Benoit — Full Circle
  • The Bangles — Everything
  • Peter White — Caravan of Dreams

That last CD was such a fantastic find for me that I was nearly beside myself with excitement.  For those of you who don’t know, Peter White is best known for his multi-decade collaboration with Al Stewart (of “Year of the Cat” fame).  He is also a helluva guitarist in his own right and has lent his considerable talents to a huge variety of artists, such as Basia.  But the reason I was so excited was because not only do I love Peter’s music, but he wrote the song “Caravan of Dreams” about a club I used to go to in Fort Worth all the time back in the late 80s and early 90s.  Ah, man!  The Caravan of Dreams was the best venue ever!  It was a very small, very intimate club.   I remember one time (wavy flash-back graphics go here) …  I had never been there before, but I heard on the radio that Kirk Whalum was going to appear there during his “The Promise” tour, so I bought tickets on the phone (this was before the internet).  I got there and handed my ticket to the hostess and asked her where my seat was and she said, “Anywhere you want.”   I could hardly believe it!  I got a table right by the stage and so when Kirk came out and started playing I was like 4 feet away from him!  I had the same experience when Acoustic Alchemy played there.  Acoustic Alchemy also honored Caravan of Dreams in a song called “Reference Point”

So, yes, Peter White liked Caravan of Dreams enough that he wrote a song about it.  I only wish I could have seen him perform that song at that venue.  That would have been beyond awesome.  Damn!  I miss that place.

 

The Dismount

Okay, that’s about all I have for now.  I could ramble on, but frankly this thing has gone on long enough.  I have probably lost half of my readers, who have rambled off to find something to eat or to re-hydrate or just to shake their heads and say, “What the hell was all that about?”

For those of you who stuck it out this far, I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go re-hydrate.

 

 

 

Crazy From the Heat

[Background Music:  “107 In the Shade” by Alex Bugnon]

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

On the way home from work today, the readout in my car for the outside temperature read 102 degrees (38.9 C).  Earlier I’d looked up the temperature online and it said the heat index was 117 degrees (47.2 C).

If there had been any doubt in anyone’s mind that summer was here, it was removed today.  The doubt was literally baked out of them.

This is the time of the year when Dallasites (and Texans in general) become hermits.  I mean, honestly, what can you do outside when it feels like 117 degrees?  What can you do that won’t kill you or make you wish you were dead?  I can’t think of anything.  There are no sports, no hobbies, no chores … nothing that I would care to do when it is 117 degrees.  Absolutely nothing.

Speaking of bizarre activities, it is not unusual to see people out jogging when it is well over 100 degrees.  Jogging!  I can only conclude that they are insane.  The heat probably made them snap and they just tore off their clothes (luckily they were wearing jogging outfits underneath) and just took off  running down the road like madmen.  I feel sorry for them.  I think the city should drive around in buses and when they see onw of these poor, unfortunate souls, they should get out the tranquilizer gun, tranq them, and put their unconscious bodies in the back of the air conditioned bus to cool off and regain their sanity.  Once they’ve regained their senses, they can be set free in a mall or big-box store somewhere where it’s air conditioned.

And, just for science, perhaps they could tag their ears and track their migratory patterns.  Since there is science involved, there may be grant money to be had.

 

 

 

 

Vintage Technology: The Bone Fone

Move over MP3 players!  The Bone Fone is here!

(Please try to contain yourself.)

Bone Fone #1

This past weekend I was flipping through a vintage magazine (a March 1980 edition of Panarama, which was a magazine all about the TV industry).  When lo!  My eyes fell upon a Bone Fone ad!  (See full advertisement at the bottom of this post.)  I was instantly teleported back to the late 70s when I was a teenager.

Back then, there was no Internet, so we  were forced to read magazines for entertainment and also so we could be told by the cognoscenti what we were supposed to be buying in order to be considered cool.  I could barely afford the magazines themselves, let alone any of the products that the advertisements promised me would make me the coolest kid in the world, so these magazines kept me in a perpetual state of hopeful despair.

Sometime during that era, I saw an ad for the Bone Fone and was instantly fascinated.

This proved once and for all that advertising works.  My teen-aged male eyes were drawn instantly to the picture of the pretty woman in the ad (just as the advertisers knew they would be).  This woman was wearing what appeared to be the world’s most awkward and poorly designed ascot.  Obviously I did not notice the ascot at first.  It took a few minutes for my adolescent brain to realize there was something other than a pretty girl in the ad. But eventually I noticed the Bone Fone.

Intrigued, I read every word of the ad.  The Bone Fone utilized the principal of bone conduction, which is actually a real thing.  I thought, “This may be the greatest invention in the history of mankind!”  This was several decades before the invention of ear buds, so the very notion that you could wear a device that would allow you to hear music when no one around you could was simply astounding!  It was mind boggling.

I wanted a Bone Fone so badly I could taste it.  I bought the story of its invention, as told in the ad, hook line and sinker.  Of course, I also believed those little ads in comic books that said I could buy a pair of X-Ray glasses that really worked.  I was a highly desirable demographic for advertisers peddling cheap, crappy, and borderline fraudulent products to gullible and highly susceptible teen-aged boys (of which I was one).

But … Alas!  The $69.95 price tag (plus $2.50 shipping and handling) put the Bone Fone well out of reach for me.

Time went by.  I eventually forgot about the Bone Fone, though I would occasionally think of it and wonder if it truly worked as advertised.  I read a few message boards about the Bone Fone this weekend and saw mixed reviews.  Some people said they worked just fine.  Some said it was completely worthless.  Now I’m more curious than ever.

A quick look on eBay this weekend showed me that these things have held their value amazingly well.  Prices ranged from $69.95 all the way up to $99.95.  Perhaps I should have invested in them way back when I could have gotten in on the ground floor.

Unfortunately, I still can’t afford one.  Some things never change.

 

Bone Fone #20

 

 

 

 

Less Cool Advertising: Thanks, Windows!

Something else I saw at the Dallas Galleria yesterday.  There was a large rotating video display hanging over the ice rink.  Apparently one of the panels was suffering through a Windows update.  I’m glad Windows doesn’t single out my devices for punishment!

Broken Display #1Image ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Broken Display #2Image ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Advertising: Free Chris-Craft Boat With Purchase of Wristwatch

I saw this in the window of one of the stores I walked past at the Galleria yesterday.  I forgot which store it was.  Sorry.  They all kind of blur together after a bit.  But how cool is this?

Wristwatch & Boat

Apparently, if you buy this (probably very expensive) wristwatch, you get this really cool miniature of a classic Chris-Craft boat.  It even comes in a handy carrying case, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Now, I wear a wristwatch and I very much like complex mechanical objects as much as the next engineer, but what I’d really, REALLY like is this miniature boat.

But not enough to buy the watch to get it.

And for the record, I don’t know anything about boats or boating.  I just like miniature things.  And cool carrying cases.

 

Sunday Round-up: Special Father’s Day Edition

Cowboy roping steer

It was a wonderful weekend in Biffville.  And why wouldn’t it be?  After all, it was a weekend.  A weekend, I tell you!  Need I say more?

Well, I must say more, or this post will be entirely too short.

The best part of the weekend was, of course, that I did not have to go to work.  That left lots of time in which to enjoy not being at work.

Secondly, it was Father’s Day weekend, so I got to do lots of out-of-the-ordinary things like sleep in, not mow the yard, and eat at whatever restaurant I wanted to for multiple meals.

Regarding the sleeping-in …. I do so love not having to get up at the crack of dawn in the morning.  I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination.  But the down side to sleeping in is that by the time I wake up, shave, shower, dress, and consume enough coffee to become sentient, a sizable chunk of the day is missing and so I have to scramble to cram the rest of the day’s activities into whatever time is remaining in the day.  It is very stressful.  Relaxing does not come naturally to me.  I have to work at it and stress over it.

Regarding not mowing the yard, I think this is self-explanatory.  I have met one or two people in my life who purported to enjoy mowing the yard, but though I did not call them a bald-faced liar right to their face, I did edge away from them slowly while smiling so as not to unnecessarily agitate them.  If someone would lie about something as benign as yard mowing, who knows what else they are capable of?  One shudders to think.

(And by the way, before any of my readers in parts of the world who enjoy moderate, temperate climates get your torches and pitchforks, I am not speaking of you.  I am talking of people who live in Texas.  Doing any sort of work outside in Texas in the summer is akin to dirt farming on the surface of the sun.  I’m sure even _I_ would enjoy mowing the yard somewhere where the temperature was below 100 and the humidity was not 99.9%.)

Regarding getting to choose the restaurants this weekend, that proved to be more stressful than it was worth.  I like food.  Nearly any kind of food.  Furthermore, I am perfectly happy eating the exact same meal every day for decades on end.  On the other hand, others are not so indiscriminate.  Every time I pick a restaurant, what follows is a litany of, “We just ate there last month.”  “What, there again?”  “Their food is too spicy (or not spicy enough).”  “That’s so far away.”   “The service there is lousy.”  “I once knew someone who worked with a person who read a reviewer on Yelp who said they knew someone who had a brother who’s kid went to school with a kid who got sick there one time.”   And it goes on and on.  But then when I don’t pick a restaurant, the toe-tapping begins and the impatient sighs.  So, when it’s my turn to choose a restaurant, the stress usually ruins my appetite.

Also, I got some cool gifts today.  A Bob’s Burgers “World’s Greatest Dad” mug.  And a copy of William Faulkner’s “Collected Stories“.  Okay, that last one I picked out myself, but when I said I’m going to the bookstore, I was instructed “Get something you want and don’t talk yourself out of it this time“, and so it counts as a gift.  I think.  I need to retake the on-line training module concerning gifts and gratuities.

But all in all it was a great weekend.  I hope all you other dads out there had a great weekend, too!  In fact, I hope EVERYONE had a great weekend!

 

 

Photography: Pigeons at the Dallas Galleria

Pigeons at the Galleria.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

These young lovers were caught billing and cooing in the shrubbery outside one of the entrances to the Dallas Galleria this morning.  Far from being embarrassed at having been caught in mid-bill (or mid-coo) they just looked up at me as if to say, “Do you mind?

I did not mind.  In fact, I took a photo of the loving couple.  They were unflappable, as evidenced by the fact that they did not flap their wings and fly away.  In fact, I got about two feet away from them to take this photo.  Then I continued on in to the Galleria.

It felt odd, though, being followed by a pair of eyes (one eye per pigeon) as I went along my merry way.

Camera:  My aged phone

 

Boring Backyard Photography: Morning Glory

Here are some photos of a Morning Glory vine that has taken up residence on a rose trellis beside my house.  It has nearly choked out the rose bush that is growing there.  There is a single yellow rose growing near the ground that is nearly obliterated by the Morning Glory.

Morning Glory #1Image ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #2.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #3.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

I love how Morning Glory looks, but it redefines the phrase “invasive species”.  No one plants it.  It just appears.  It suckers you in with its pretty purple flowers.   You see it growing and think, “Well, that’s pretty.  I think I’ll let it stay.”  The next thing you know, your entire yard is covered in Morning Glory.  The plant you see in the photos above appeared and grew to the size you see in about 2 weeks.  I have seen it growing in cracks in the concrete of major freeways.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos I took of it before I try to remove it to find the yellow rose (of Texas?) beneath it.  And when I find it, I plan on saying, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”  No one will laugh but me, but I’m sure the rose will be grateful.

Meanwhile, the Morning Glory will say, “Curse you, Biff!  You may have won this time, but I will be back!

And it will, too.

 

Camera:  Canon T6

 

Boring Backyard Photography: Bunny In Grass

Bunny in Front Yard #1.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This little fellah thinks he’s hidden in the St. Augustine grass in my front yard.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that even I, with my poor eyesight, was able to discover him like he was in an entry-level version of “Where’s Waldo?“.  But I was kind and let him believe that he was hidden.

Although, now that I think about it, me stopping to take his picture might have ruined my attempts to let him believe he was a ninja bunny.

Camera:  Canon T6

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: