Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the category “Journal”

Poor Biff’s Almanac: Four Day Weekends, Summer Heat Arrives Early, Artful Pursuits

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Through the clever use of comp time and a Memorial Day holiday, I was able to take a 4-day weekend this week.  It is already Day Three and I am wondering where the time went.  I am not the first person to ask why weekends go by so fast, and the workweeks so slow, but it is just one of those rhetorical questions like “Where did I put my car keys?” or “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”  The questions are asked, but no answers re expected because, really, no one knows.

But in spite of the weekend going by really, really fast, it has been an enjoyable one so far.  On Friday I went down to the Dallas Museum of Art with my daughter and we had a wonderful day of it.  The only slight pall that was cast on the day was when we walked over to the adjacent Klyde Warren Park to partake of some victuals at the row of food trucks moored alongside.  That also was a fun experience … except for the 99 degree temperature and the 75% humidity.

Some might be incredulous that it is so hot in May.  However, I would point out that it is late May (nearly June).  Obnoxious Summer has pushed sweet, pretty Spring out of the way while announcing her ascendancy with scorching, searing laughter, brimstone and  flying monkeys.  But we Dallasites just quietly capitulated and went about our business with resignation.  We go through this every year.  We know there is no escape.  This will be our life for the next 5 or 6 months.

Hopefully I will work up the energy to post some pictures I took of may day on Friday.  However, after three days off, atrophy is really taking a toll on my energy levels.  Or maybe it is the searing heat.  Or maybe it is just who I am.

Now where did I lay those car keys?

 

Just Scratching the Surface — Beware the Lowly Chigger

Itching Man 2

I have lived a long time and have experienced the joy of being stung and bitten by a wide variety of insects.  I have had allergic reactions to various agents.  I have had rashes and lesions.  If something can cause itching, I have no doubt been exposed to it or attacked by it.

But I’m here to tell you, there is no itch in this world like that caused by the bite of the dastardly chigger.

As revealed in my lasts few blog posts, I have taken up photography as a hobby.   In order to find something interesting to photograph this past weekend, I went slogging through a nearby wildlife preserve.  I managed to get a few chigger bites.  Fortunately, I only got a few of them.

A chigger bite will make you want to scratch down through the skin, and any underlying tissue, and right to the bone.  Often even that is not enough.

I consider myself a fairly strong-willed person.  I can and have resisted all sorts of temptations both physical, emotional, and spiritual.

But I, for the life of me, cannot stop scratching these infernal chigger bites!  I try.  It takes every bit of will-power I have.  I have to squeeze my eyes shut tightly.  I have to clench my teeth.  I have to sit on my hands.  My eyes water.  My fingers twitch, just dying to sink my nails into these maddening whelps on my skin.

As an added bonus, chiggers have a predilection to biting people in very intimate areas, so scratching in public requires much subterfuge and caginess.

Over the counter medications only offer very limited relief (usually about 2 minutes).  Hydrocortisone.  Alcohol.  Witch hazel.  Antihistamines.  Vodka.  Nothing works for very long.

One finds one’s self contemplating insanities to relieve the itch.  “I wonder,” I found myself thinking at one point, “If I held a lit candle to my skin if that would lessen the itching?”  But then realizing how crazy that sounded I sought to strike a more reasonable tone in my internal dialog, “Well, not directly against the skin.  Like half an inch away.  Maybe an eighth of an inch.  Maybe the burning would be less distressful than this damned itching!

Fortunately, chigger bites usually only last about two weeks.  Ha ha ha ha ha !  Two weeks!   Ha ha ha ha ha!

I may need to be sedated.

 

 

 

 

 

Help Stamp Out Non-Relaxing Weekends

Biff in Stamp

It was a good weekend in Biffville.  I achieved the perfect balance of getting things done and not doing too much.

In this modern age, even after our forefathers and foremothers fought so hard to bring us the five-day workweek, we tend to violate the spirit of that hard-won battle by filling up our weekends with chores and errands and to-do lists and must-do lists, obligations, duties, and drudgery.  Now, I realize we can’t completely shirk our responsibilities on the weekend, but I do try to maintain a balance.  For example, what’s wrong with taking a well-deserved nap after mowing the yard?  Why not, after fixing that phantom-flushing toilet, engage in a little calligraphy or philately or toy-trainery?  (It is too a word!)

Do I always follow my own advice?

No.

But, gosh darn it, I try to!

Maybe I should take up philately.  I need a hobby I can stick to.  Or vice versa.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Saturday (Finally)

Busy Office Worker

I have not written one of these rambling almanac posts of mine in a while.  I find that when I write too many of them in a row, it reminds me how insufferably dull my life is.  If I space them out a bit, I can trick myself into believing that I live a life that, though not exactly exciting, rises to the level of having a normal level of activity.  I like to have just enough excitement in my life wherein people stop grabbing my wrist to check for a pulse..

But lest I, in my attempts at light comedy, lead you to believe that I am completely sedentary and near comatose, nothing can be further from the truth.  I always seem to be on the go.  My life is filled with a seemingly never-ending series of activities.  I feel I rarely have time to sit and take a breath and relax.  And yet, when considering all of those activities and trying to glean through them to find something to write about, I find that the vast majority of them are embarrassingly dull and workaday.  The word “banal” comes to mind (only because it has always been a favorite word of mine and I try to work it into conversations frequently.)

I know I am not alone in this.  I think a vast number of us in the world, whether we blog or not, have our lives filled with the ordinary, the mundane, the banal, the prosaic.  Our lives are filled with …. well … with life.  By merely existing, we are given a never ending to-do list that consists of such exciting things as taking out the trash, vacuuming the carpets, paying the bills, mending things that squeak, replacing things that no longer do what they’re suppose do (or, conversely, have started doing things they’re not supposed to), cleaning up the endless series of messes that Life puts on our desk with a sticky note on it that says “Please take care of this”.  So we sigh and we take care of it, because that’s what we do.  The alternative is chaos and bedlam and a surefire path to end up on an episode of “Horders”.

And I don’t know about you, but I have spent my life avoiding chaos and bedlam.  I like things around me to be quiet and serene and pacific.  I know others thrive on bedlam and, if it is missing in their lives, they will create it.  I’ve never understood that, but I have always shrugged my shoulders and said something along the lines of “to each their own”.  I’m sure they, in turn, can’t understand why I avoid pandemonium.  They associate noise and mayhem with life being lived to its fullest.

I suppose that difference is, as the saying goes, what makes the world go round.  I just wish it would go round a little quieter sometimes.

 

A Field Guide to Dishwater

overcoming_writers_block

I have sat here for over an hour staring at this screen trying to think of something interesting to write about.  I was unsuccessful.

So then I thought I’d try to think of something less interesting to write about.  Again, I came up empty handed.

I suppose I could write about something that is downright uninteresting to write about, guaranteed to be as dull as dishwater and half as entertaining.  But I believe that is called “my journal”, and I still haven’t gotten over my fear of posting anything too personal on this here internet contraption.  I don’t know why I worry, though.  As dull as my life is, I’m pretty darn sure I don’t have to worry about identity thieves or stalkers.  Such miscreants would no doubt take up a collection and give it to me, saying, “Here, Dude.  Go buy yourself a life.”

So what is left to the man who’s life is too dull to write about?  And now you know how and why fiction was created.

Elegy for the South

peach-clip-art-coredump_Peach

According to my quite depressing stats page, it has been 9 days since I last posted anything on this blog.  It is painfully obvious that this here humble blog of mine is not on cruise control yet.  I’m not sure what the opposite of cruise control is (expiring free-fall?), but whatever it is, that is what my blog is on.

Some of you may be wondering where I have been for 9 days.  I flatter myself, of course, to think that anyone wondered.  Self-flattery a hobby of mine.  The flatter the better.

Well, to answer the question that no one asked, I was on business travel last week.  Most people that get to travel for their jobs get to go to exotic places, like New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Las Vegas, San Francisco, etc.  I get to go to unexciting places like Podunk, Georgia.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Georgia.  I grew up in Alabama and Mississippi and I consider Georgia to be in the blessed trinity of the Deep South.  But glamorous it was not.

As I drove from Atlanta far out into the treed hills surrounding Podunk, I noticed through the rental car window the red clay, the towering pine trees, the magnolias, the mimosas.  The ground underneath the pines was brown with a bedding of pine needles.  The air was thick with the scent of pine and magnolia and honeysuckle.  I saw a patch or two of kudzu.  The air was warm and humid.  All of this conspired to give me flashbacks to growing up in Mississippi.

Georgia, like Alabama and Mississippi, is beautiful.  Outside the big cities, the pace of life in the Deep South is a peculiar kind of slow, on the surface seeming to be dawdling, plodding, and lackadaisical.  But it is none of those things.  It is a deliberate kind of slowness, measured and ponderous, inspired by sweltering heat and thick humidity.

People are a little more friendly.  Southern accents abound.  And I don’t mean those fake Southern accents you will hear in movies and on TV.  I mean an honest-to-God Southern accent, lyrical and lilting, seemingly unschooled and unpolished, but in reality ingeniously cadenced and nuanced and efficient and seductive.

But Georgia, like Alabama and Mississippi, has been overrun with modernity.  There are Targets and Krogers and Hiltons and Sports Academies and Chili’s and Dillards.  Stand in the “good” part of town and it is indistinguishable from any other mid-sized or bigger town in America.

Such a pity.

Our culture is becoming homogenized.  Generally, that is a good thing.  High quality and good service and variety have become uniform across the land.  But the price we paid for that was a near complete loss of regional identity.

If, rather than boarding a 737 for a 2 hour flight to Georgia, I had been somehow teleported from the suburbs of Dallas to my destination in Georgia, I would have been at a loss to tell you where I’d ended up.  Had I even left?  Was there a reason to go back?

I have been watching the dissolution and the erosion of the Deep South all of my life.  Some of that is for the better.  I am more than eager to see poverty and racism be eradicated.  But it saddens me that the good has been erased with the bad.

But I can close my eyes and smell the magnolia and honeysuckle and, for a moment, I can forget that I am surrounded by homogeneity and indistinguishability.  The bland is replaced with the colorful.  Modern aloofness is replaced with Southern hospitality.  The corporate is replaced with the homespun.  Hotel lobby chairs are replaced with front porch swings.  Bottled water is replaced with sweet iced tea.

But only for a moment.

The Art of Goofing Off

Goofing off

It is a quiet Saturday here in Biffville.  So far it has been a near-optimum mix of taking care of the perpetual list of chores and taking it easy.  Normally I feel guilty for taking it easy, but not today.  It has been a long, hard week and my brain (and body) is telling me to just relax a little and recharge a little before next week, which is going to be just as long and just as hard, if not a little more.

It made me wonder why we don’t allow ourselves to recharge.  Why do we always feel guilty for leaning back, putting our feet up, putting our hands behind our heads, and just closing our eyes for a bit?  Is it our culture?  Our upbringing?  Something innate within us?

It just makes me curious why lolling (not LOL’ing) is held in such disdain.  I’m not talking about someone who makes a career out of it.  I’m just talking about the person who, after a long day or a long week, wants to just sit in a hammock or a chaise lounge and do nothing for a bit.

We’ve all discussed the “Murphy’s Law” moment that describes the situation where, even if we’ve been working hard for hours, when we stop for just a minute to catch our breath, that’s when the boss walks by and sees us.  Even in that folkloric story, the primary theme is the fear of being caught resting.

In contrast, I’ve known people in my life that lifted being lazy to an art form.  It was just who they were.  They would go months or years without having a job.  They always seemed to mysteriously disappear if a group of people started talking about taking care of something that needed to be done.  Their sole topic of discussion seemed to be the vague and ephemeral illnesses or ailments or conditions that kept them from working or participating in anything that smacked of work.  Everyone knew their only ailment was that they were bone idle.  And yet, they always seemed to have enough to live on.  They truly are as the lilies of the field, neither toiling nor spinning.  Neither are they stressed or overworked or exhausted or stretched as tight as a rubber band.  So who is the smarter?

I don’t have it in me to be lazy, but I sure would love to enjoy a little idleness from time to time without feeling guilty.

 

 

Rusting On My Laurels

angif-rest-on-your-laurels

This is my 124th post (yay me!), which is about 120 more than I thought I’d be able to create when I first started this journey at the beginning of the year (2017).  Sticking to projects is not my strong suit.  I get bored easily, which, I suppose is just a euphemism for “I’m lazy” or “I have a very short attention span“.

But honestly, I never thought I’d get this many posts written.  (high fives myself)

So I’ve been wondering when it gets easier.  When will I be able to just sit down and dash off something and post it?  When will I post 2 or 3 times a day just because I have that many interesting things to say?

It’s a struggle to write even once a day.  My days don’t change much from day to day.  I’m firmly ensconced on the work-home-sleep-work treadmill.  Whatever flashes of brilliance or genius I have while in the car on the way to or from work tend to either get forgotten by the time I am sitting in front of the computer, or else when I really start to ponder them and try to flesh them out as a blog post, they take on a sort of ridiculousness or insipidness that makes me just wad them up and throw them in the trashcan (figuratively speaking).

But if there’s one thing I’ve discovered, blogging is definitely a “what have you done for me lately?” medium.  One can post every day for a month and the likes and the follows roll in (relatively speaking), but stop posting for a single day and they drop to zero quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.  It’s definitely not like a musician who has a hit song or an actor who’s on a hit TV show that goes into syndication.  The royalties don’t keep rolling in decades after the song or show was first released.

So, there’s no resting on one’s laurels.  It is, to borrow a phrase from academia, publish or perish.

The problem is, I don’t have enough interesting thoughts or experiences to post every day.  I may have to resort to just making things up.

But I’d hate to be mistaken for a journalist or politician.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Still Tuesday, Rambling Man, Lanz and Speer

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Tonight’s Background Music is provided by David Lanz
Album: Cristofori’s Dream
Best Song: “Spiral Dance

For those of you keeping track, today is Tuesday.  More importantly, it is Tuesday evening, which means that, for all intents and purposes, Tuesday is over.  Tuesday gave us its all.  It fought the good fight.  It left everything out there on the field.   But at the end of the day . . . well . . . it was the end of the day.

You may be wondering among yourselves just what the heck was up with that first paragraph.  “Where was he going with that?” you may be asking yourselves.  And who can blame you?  Heck, I am asking myself the same thing.

By now you are realizing (too late to help you, of course) that you are in the middle of some stream-of-consciousness rambling while I fumble around in the dark looking for something to write about.  Anything to write about.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I must leave no cliche unturned in my quest for something to write about.

I can hear the rumbling and murmuring as my readers get restless (and restive), wondering if I’m every going to get to something worth reading.  I fear you may be disappointed.

Did I ever mention that I got to see David Lanz in concert one time?  It was in 1988 when he played at McFarland Auditorium on the SMU campus.  I was a big fan of his from his partnership with Paul Speer and their albums “Natural States” and “Desert Vision”.  Lanz came to town flogging his newest solo album at the time, “Cristofori’s Dream” (sans Speer).  I loved the concert, particularly the song “Cristofori’s Dream” and the way he set up the song with a story of sorts about how Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano.  But missing from the concert was Paul Speer’s gritty guitar underlayment.  It was like listening to an a capella version of a Van Halen song.  Still, Lanz is a phenomenal piano player and can really write a good song.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this thing up before it goes off the rails even more than it already is.

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Et tu, Monday?

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Another Monday is behind us.

A word of advice:  Don’t ever let Monday circle around and get behind you.  Always keep Monday within eyesight.

It was not a bad day as Mondays go.  I am still suffering from a cold … or allergies.  It is hard to tell which.  It all started last Thursday morning when I thought to myself, “Hey, I think I’ll take off on Friday.”  This was because I had put in a boatload of hours last week and had my 40 hours in by Thursday noon.

Well, as soon as I’d said that, even though it was an internal monologue, the cold (or allergy) goblins said, “What?  Who said that?  It’s showtime!”

Long story short, by the time I headed home Thursday after work, my throat was killing me.  I spent all day Friday in bed, laid out with whatever this is.  Saturday and Sunday is just a fog of hazy memories.  So, my long weekend turned out to be no weekend at all.

The moral of this story is:  If you’re planning on taking a day off of work, don’t tell anyone about it … not even yourself.  Those darn eavesdropping allergy goblins will ruin everything for you.

 

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