Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the month “September, 2017”

I Keep Forgetting to Buy a Lottery Ticket, So Here I am Again For Another Blog Post

Lottery-winner

In lieu of winning the lottery and retiring to my private lighthouse off the coast of Maine, I thought I’d come write this blog post instead.  It’s almost as good.

It reminds of of a time when I was a young doofus at around the age of 9.   One day I received a piece of mail that was actually addressed to me.  [Side note:  For you youngsters, back in those days “mail” consisted of pieces of paper that were wrapped up in other pieces of paper, affixed with a small, colorful piece of paper saying that you had paid the United States Post Office to manhandle, abuse, and mislay said pieces of paper, and then hand delivered to someone … eventually.  It was a beautiful system, really, before it was supplanted by email and the internet.)    Anyway, back to the story.

I hardly ever got mail (even back then), so I was a bit gobsmacked.  It was addressed to me and everything.  I tore into it eagerly and found a bunch of brightly-colored pieces of paper assuring me that I had absolutely, positively, guaranteed, sho’ nuff no foolin’ won one of the following prizes.

A multi-caret diamond ring

A genuine ruby pendant

A polishing cloth suitable for polishing jewelry

I was beside myself with exuberance.  I had won!   Me!  A regular, everyday, 9 year old doofus from the backwaters of Mississippi.  Imagine that!  There must indeed be a benevolent force in the universe that looks out for doofi (the plural of “doofus”).

I could barely contain my excitement as I sent off my pre-paid envelop to the sweepstakes company … along with my payment for a year’s subscription to “Gem World Magazine”.  Though I had to deplete my stash of paper route money to subscribe to the magazine, it was only fair since they were sending me valuable jewelry.  It was the least I could do.  And just imagine the look of joy on my Mom’s face when I presented her with her own genuine diamond ring or, worst case, a ruby pendant.

The ensuing days and weeks drug by as slow as molasses at the South Pole, but my eagerness, enthusiasm, and anticipation did not flag at all.  I was the very picture of confidence and optimism.  If ever my hope began to fail me, I just pictured how happy my Mom would be upon receiving her diamond ring or ruby pendant.

I got my first edition of Gem World Magazine in the mail, so I know they had gotten my claim for my guaranteed prize.  That bolstered my enthusiasm, since now I was just waiting for my prize to arrive.

And then one day it showed up.  I tore into the envelope eagerly.  I was practically shaking in anticipation.  Imagine my joy and my excitement when I opened up my very own . . . felt polishing cloth.  It measured about 4 inches by 6 inches and was a pale sky blue.   Other than the fact it was perfectly rectangular, it looked like something that could have been picked up off of the floor of a sewing factory.

That was the day I realized I was going to have to toil for a living, because Providence did not often smile upon poor children growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a Southern backwater.

It was that valuable lesson in life that makes me forget more often than not to pick up a lottery ticket on the way home from work on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Why should I when I have this perfectly acceptable blog?  I think of this blog as the felt polishing cloth of life.  It may not be a diamond ring, but by golly, you could sure give it a good shine if you had one.

 

 

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My Compact to Compact My Compact Disks

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This is sort of a follow-on blog to my blog of yesterday in which I made a compact with myself to downsize, minimize, and simplify my life.

To put that into action, I decided today that I would go through my CD collection and get rid of as many of them as I could stomach doing.  I should preface all this by saying that there is no earthly reason why I should be hanging onto them at all.  I have ripped them all onto my hard drive and can listen to them any time I want.  Furthermore, the  CDs themselves have for years been packed away on a nearly-inaccessible shelf in my home office closet.  In all that time I have only had to get to them once or twice, and that was usually to add even more CDS to the pile after I’d bought and ripped to my hard drive.

For some inexplicable reason, we can form emotional attachments to these little plastic disks and their beautiful jewel cases and colorful inserts.  As I went through the stacks, I encountered the very first CD I ever bought back in the late 1980s (America’s “View From the Ground”, which was one of my favorite vinyl albums from my college days).  There were CDs I’d received as gifts from friends and family members.  There were CDs that I listened to for hours on end at various points of my life and that are now indelibly associated with those times.   There were CDs that had taken me decades to find and buy (for example, Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” or Harry Chapin’s “Verities and Balderdash”).  So, for some irrational reason, it is hard to part with them.

Do I need those disks to be able to listen to that music?  No.  I do not.  But they are like photos of periods of my life now long since past.  It is hard to bring myself to get rid of them.

But I did it.    Sort of.

I dug all the CDs down out of the closet.  I didn’t count them, but I estimate there are about 700+ CDs.  I went through them one by one and said “yes” or “no” and put them in the corresponding pile.   This system broke down a little when I got to my Yes CDs (particularly “Tales From Topographic Oceans”), but I was soon able to recover and move on.

Again, I did not count them all, but I estimate that I put about 300 CDs in the “get rid of” pile and about 400 in the “keep” pile.   So, my efforts to cut my collection down to a manageable 50 or 100 CDs was a failure.  But … I am getting rid of about 300 of them, and that is a good start.  Maybe in a few months I can get rid of another 2 or 3 hundred.

Here are the ones I’m getting rid of.

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Here are the ones I’m keeping.

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They are just in this shelf temporarily (and, yes, alphabetized by artist).  Tomorrow they go back into the closet.  I will try again in a few months to whittle them down to a mere 50 or 100 … or preferably zero.

Next up on my to-do list of things to get rid of …. my massive book collection!  Will Biff be strong enough to do this?  Stay tuned and find out!

 

 

2017: A Space Oddity

or

How Not To Buy Things

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I am at a point in my life where I am trying to downsize.  I have spent many decades accumulating “things” (which sounds better than “junk”).  There is only one word to describe this stuff.  Detritus.

Or flotsam.

Or jetsam.

Or junk.

(Okay, there are lots of words to describe this stuff …. even “stuff”).

Then one day you cross some threshold and you realize you’re never going to need that factory AM/FM radio you had replaced with a Pioneer AM/FM/Cassette deck in your 1984 Mustang (which you haven’t owned in at least 20 years).  You’re never going to need that package of two replacement belts for a 1990s vintage Kenmore vacuum cleaner (which has been in a landfill for at least a decade).  You’re never going to need that tub full of old USB, printer, and power cables, none of which fit any modern electronic device.  You’re never going to need that ice-maker connection kit that came with a refrigerator you bought when you rented your first duplex in the mid 90’s.

No, all of this stuff is less than useless.  It is taking up valuable space.  It prevents you from finding things you are actually looking for.  (Oh, why oh why does the most useless junk float to the top of any junk drawer?)   And, worse still, all this stuff anchors you to shoals that you will never escape from as long as your hull is covered with these insidious barnacles.

So, I have reached that point in my life where I have no trouble throwing these things away.  (Okay, I have a little trouble throwing them away … but I am getting over those hesitations more and more every day.)

But the other side of that coin is that, in order to empty out those junk drawers, mysterious boxes in the attic, and groaning shelves in the garage, you must stop adding new stuff to the pile!  This part is much harder than getting rid of things that are unarguably useless.  Our entire society is based upon us being good and faithful consumers.  Merchants prey upon our weakness by making things in stores look so inviting.  They are the painted ladies down by the docks when the ships put down anchor.   (I play the part of a hapless, gullible sailor in that metaphor.)

But I am getting better at resisting the come-hither gesticulations of the bright, attractive, products upon the well-lit and comely shelves at the stores I frequent.

Tonight, I resisted the urge to buy the following:

  • A softbound version of William Faulkner’s work of staggering genius “The Sound and the Fury”.   (The $20 price tag made me start and bolt like a frightened deer.)
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  • A Criterion DVD of “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk.   (The $26 price tag had me staggering like a drunkard around the video section of Barnes & Noble while rending my clothing.)
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  • A Criterian DVD of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” with Kris Kristofferson. (The $49.99 price tag had me clutching at my heart and making gurgling noises like a man who had just finished a bacon fat, lard, and Spam salad.)
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  • A Panasonic beard trimmer.  (The $100 price tag had me sobbing like a child whose ice cream had just fallen off the cone and plopped on the ground where it was promptly eaten by the dog.  Besides, my old one works just fine … except that the battery only lasts for about three and a half minutes, so I have to trim fast.  This can be a challenge while staring bleary-eyed at the mirror having just woken up in the morning.)

So, I can’t decide if I am trying to minimize and simplify my life . . . or if I’m just a cheap bastard.

I prefer to think of myself as a shrewd consumer.

 

 

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — If Today Is Tuesday, Can Wednesday Be Far Behind?

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

We’ve made it to Tuesday with no help from anybody.   High fives all around!  By golly, we deserve it!

Ahh, Tuesday!   A day that has somehow become synonymous with tacos.  Thank you, Alliteration!  (And Rosa’s Cafe!)

And while it may be Taco Tuesday, I still chose to eat a burger at Whataburger.  Yeah, that’s right:  a burger!  What can I say?  I’m a rebel.    Nobody tells ME what to do!  Not even Rosa.  (Sorry, Rosa.)  I’ll have tacos, not on Tuesday, but on Wednesday just to prove that I’m my own man.  Actually, I’ll probably eat at Whataburger again.  I may be my own man, but I am also a creature of extreme habit.  Sure I want to stop at Wendy’s or Chic-Fil-A or Rosa’s Cafe, but I can’t.  The car won’t stop until it comes to a stop in the drive-thru of Whatburger.  Curse you, habituality!

The only other thing Tuesday is known for is being the gateway to Wednesday, which, as you know, is the portico to Thursday, and Thursday is the antechamber of Friday.

And that’s what I like about Tuesday . . . it leads inexorably to Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Now In Color

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

I was so bored this past weekend that I used a freeware graphics program to color my Poor Biff’s Almanac graphic.

So tonight’s question, dear readers, is this:  how bored do you have to be to use a freeware graphics program to color in a stupid graphic?

Answer:  Pretty damn bored.

You might have also noticed that it is now transparent (the graphic, not my motives).  Now, the bits of the graphic that are not actually in the foreground are invisible and so allow my wallpaper theme to show through.

So, not only was I bored enough to color in the graphic, I was bored enough to eliminate everything that wasn’t actually graphic.

Man, I gotta get a life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Ramble

 

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I have not done one of these rambles for a while.  Or much of any writing at all, for that matter.  I won’t bore you with the details.  I’m sure you’ve suffered through similar dry spells yourself.  Every writer has.  And if there is a writer who hasn’t, we all hate that writer.  Stop showing off!  It’s bad enough that we struggle to write … we don’t need to be scoreboarded, too.

Today, as the title implies, is Saturday.  It is a nice pre-autumn day.  By that I mean the thermometer is well below the normal temperature of a hundred degrees (~ 37C) and is a much more reasonable 82 (28 C).  However, it is still nice and toasty outside if someone were to do something foolhardy like, say, mow the yard.  It’s the kind of day where you can sunburn very easily because it doesn’t feel so very hot, but the sun is beating down directly on you from a sneaky angle that lulls you into lowering your guard (and sunblock) for awhile.  Next thing you know … BAM! … you look like a lobster.

But I haven’t been outside much today, so I am safe from the wiles, seductions, and charms of the sun.

However, even as I write this, the suburban air outside is filled with the sounds of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and electric edgers.  It is like living at an air port consisting of tiny little gas-powered airplanes that are constantly taking off, landing, and doing fly-bys.  But I will not be shamed into mowing my yard today.  I mowed it last week and it has had the decency to not grow at all since then.  I would go outside and thank it, but I don’t like to encourage it.  Profuse praise is a form of fertilizer.

I’d like to write more, but every blogging how-to article I’ve read said to keep things short and pithy.  People don’t want seven course meals any more.  They want fun-sized Snickers® bars.

Here … have a Snickers® bar.

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Well … There’s That …

I read somewhere that short posts are better than long posts.

ant with big post #1

Poor Biff’s Almanac — A Laborious Day

writer

That title is a lie.

I did no labor today.  Or very little labor.  Honestly, I did as little as possible.  I am taking a little sabbatical from our society’s constant pressure to constantly be doing something.  Go to work.  Mow the yard.  Vacuum the carpet.  Shampoo the dog.  Wash the car.  Go buy groceries.  Take those shirts to the dry cleaner.  Fold those towels.  Unclog that drain.  Fix that squeaky floorboard.  Replace that burned-out bulb.

It never ends!  And on those rare occasions when I flop in my favorite easy chair (which also needs to be steam cleaned) and reach for my laptop (which really needs to be backed up and have all the latest updates installed) and navigate to my blog (which I haven’t posted anything in for two weeks), I am made to feel guilty.  No, not by anyone in particular.  Just by Society (with a capital S).  Society frowns upon downtime, even while telling you to take more of it.  Society stares at you like a disapproving schoolmarm when you sit down for a moment to rest (Rest is for the weak!), even after she just told you to rest for a moment to get ready for that Next Big Chore that’s waiting for you.

If one more person tells me that I need a hobby, I think I will make a Biff-shaped hole in the wall and run screaming down the street.  Who has time for a hobby?  And even when I sit down to work on a hobby, there is that schoolmarm-ish Society looking at you disapprovingly again as if to say, “Shouldn’t you really be cleaning out the attic instead of sitting there fiddling with those doo-ma-flitchies?”   I have found hobbies to be very stressful.  There is nothing like sitting down to enjoy a bit of hobby-time to make you remember all of the other things you should be doing instead.

So, I am rebelling.   I am taking a page out of 11-year-old Biff’s playbook.  Man, I knew how to shirk responsibility back then!  I was a master at it.  Nobody could avoid responsibility like I could back then!  My mom could barely get the CH sound of the word “chore” out of her mouth before I was bolting serpentine down the street like a rabbit who just had a canon go off near his warren.

If you need me, I’ll be sitting in my pet-stained chair, not writing a blog, not updating my laptop, but just listening to iTunes and staring off into space.

Oh … and by the way … happy Labor Day.

 

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