Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the category “Journal”

Poor Biff’s Almanac – Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1 with Turkey

The week of Thanksgiving is a good time to pause and reflect.  Such introspection helps us realize certain things.

For example, on the Monday before Thanksgiving, it is easy to realize who has used their vacation days judiciously throughout the year and who hasn’t.  The office today was populated solely by schmoes like me who had used up most of their vacation days before today.  On the plus side, it was very quiet, making it much easier to take a nap without being disturbed.  On the minus side, there wasn’t enough ambient noise in the office to wake me up in time to go to lunch.

The quietude today enabled me to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving, for those of you who didn’t know, is to be the official start of the Christmas  shopping season.  If you go to any store on this, the Monday before Thanksgiving, looking for Thanksgiving decorations, prepare to be disappointed.  Outside of a freezer full of turkeys and precarious stacks of canned cranberry sauce and Stovetop™ Stuffing, the only evidence of Thanksgiving you are likely to see are big “countdown to black Friday” signs.  They might as well put up signs saying, “Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving!  Prepare to give us your Christmas money!”

And just for the record, Biff loves Stovetop™ Stuffing!   If I find out it’s on the menu, my eyes light up just like the kid in the commercial when he finds out his mom is making Stovetop™ Stuffing for dinner.   But where me and the Kraft corporation part ways is the whole “Stovetop™ Stuffing instead of potatoes” campaign.  I’m sorry, but if anyone tries to come between me and my potatoes, things are going to get unpleasant very quickly.  And if you want to see Biff in a quandary, make me choose between Stovetop™ Stuffing and potatoes.  You’ll see me as indecisive as the midwestern rube on the Let’s Make a Deal show dressed as a scarecrow, trying to choose between the hundred dollar bill that Monty Hall is holding and whatever’s behind the curtain that the lovely Carol Merril is standing in front of.  Vegas has potatoes as the odds-on favorite, but never discount the lure of the curtain (or  Stovetop™ Stuffing).

Where was I?

Oh yes … Thanksgiving.

Well, it’s nearly upon us.  I will be enjoying my annual Thanksgiving – slash – family reunion in Alabama again this year.  The table will be loaded to the point of collapse with fine, traditional Southern Thanksgiving foods.  One of my favorites (in spite of waxing poetic about Stovetop™ Stuffing just now) is homemade cornbread stuffing and giblet gravy.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had honest-to-goodness Southern giblet gravy, but it is so good as to make grown men cry.  I can attest to that, being a grown man.  And also having people at Thanksgiving asking me why I’m crying.   To which I retort, “You shut up!  I’m not crying.  You’re crying!”

Giblet gravy makes Biff a little emotional.

I don’t know what exactly is in giblet gravy, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to know.  Just as it makes grown men cry with sheer joy, it also makes them clutch at their chests and gurgle like a slow-draining sink while their faces turn the same shade as the canned cranberry sauce.  I am pretty sure it is about 90% liquefied turkey fat, and 10% “other” (consisting of a medium onion, diced boiled egg, a few spices, and perhaps a little more turkey fat just for good measure).   I have survived about 40 servings of cornbread dressing and giblet gravy in my life and people back home are starting to look at me in awe.   I have already beaten the over-under and I’m not sure who has 41 servings in the betting pool, but I’m definitely going in for another serving this Thanksgiving!  Wish me luck!  I’m going in!

Speaking of canned cranberry sauce (which we just were … you can scan back over the article if you don’t believe me) … just what the heck is THAT?  I was a little put off of the whole cranberry thing when, as a child of about 6, I was witness to a horrific event.  I was in the kitchen when my aunt removed the end of the cranberry can with the can opener and then shook the can over a little white serving dish.  I watched in fascination and horror as the cranberry colored cylinder slowly emerged from the can with a cringe-inducing scchhhhlllooooorrrrpp!! and plopped onto the serving dish.   It jiggled for a moment and then was still.  I may have turned a little green at the sight and so vowed then and there that I would not eat whatever that was, but would instead double up on the cornbread stuffing and giblet gravy.  Mercifully, I did not have to witness where giblets came from or I would not be the omnivore I am today.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving and that you truly have much to be thankful for this year!

 

 

Advertisements

A Sunday Evening Ramble

Biff Hiking #3

Time To Pay

I can’t ramble far tonight, because its early evening and it’s already dark outside.  Thank you, Daylight Savings Time!    I love it when it is dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.  And as much as I enjoy that “extra hour’s sleep” in the fall, I know I will pay dearly for it next spring when you come back around like the Grim Reaper to get it back … with interest.  You, DST, are like the IRS of time.

You’re like, “Hey, remember that hour I loaned you last fall?”

And when I say, a little warily, “Yessss?”, you say,

“Yeah.  Um.  I’ll be needing that back.”

“Oh.  Okay.  Sure.  No problem.”

“Well, there’s a little problem,” you say with a sympathetic smile, much like the loan shark who’s about to break your knees with a cudgel.

“What little problem?” I ask naively.

“Well, there’s the interest.”

“Interest?  I didn’t know there was interest.  I’ll be glad to give you back the hour you loaned me.”

You chuckle.   “Well, yes, I’ll be taking that hour back.  Along with every hour of your life for the next three weeks.”

“Nooooooo!” I yell, lifting my hands up at camera that’s rapidly panning backwards through the rain and the despair.


The Pilgrims Landing at Galveston Rock

The weather here in Dallas is decidedly un-autumn like.  The temperatures are in the 70s and 80s (~ 23-27 C).  The sun is bright as hell, requiring the use of sunglasses.  The grackles (our local bird of choice) are sleek and healthy looking.  The leaves are slowly changing colors and falling, but only out of boredom.  The breezes are light and southerly.  Flowers are in full bloom.

It makes me think that if the Pilgrims had landed here in Texas rather than Massachusetts, those first winters of theirs may have been much more pleasant.  They might have also started saying “y’all” and “fixin’ to” and “dern tootin’“.  Although I can’t imagine William Bradford landing at Galveston and saying, “Howdy, Pilgrim.  I’m fixin’ to mosey on over there to that big ‘ol rock over there.  Y’all tie up them ships and sidle on over there directly and we’ll have us some barbecue and whomp us up some vittles.  Dern tootin’!

The history of America might have turned out a whole lot different if it had actually happened that way.  At the very least, we might all be eating wild hog for Thanksgiving, rather than turkey.  Or some kind of jerky.  Or maybe chili.


R.I.P. CDs

I went into Barnes & Noble today to buy a CD for someone as a gift.  I was disappointed.  CDs have apparently gone the way of the dodo, the woolly mammoth, and the solvent 401K.  In the large room in the back that has been chock full of CDs for as long as I can remember, the CD section consisted of some sad little shelves in the back, and offered only “Best of …” CDs and Christmas music.  The rest of the thousand or so square feet was dedicated to DVDs and, ironically, vinyl albums.

Those of you who have been reading my humble little blog for a while know that I have written before about how bemused I am that such an archaic and inferior music-delivery system has made a comeback in a big way.  But I did not think that CDs would disappear so quickly.  I looked for a CD the other day at Target.  They don’t even sell CDs any more!  What is the world coming to?  (Waves my buggy whip in the air angrily.)

So it is official.  The age of the CD is over.  Time of death:  2017.

Toe tag ’em, boys, and get ’em down to the cooler.

 

An Open Letter To My Fellow Bloggers

Panicking

Hey!  You know what’s a full time job?

Reading other peoples’ blogs.

Man!  I try to keep up.  I really do.  The more people I follow, the more things pop up on my “Followed Sites” stream.  And I try to read them.  I try to be a good follower.  I am liberal (though sincere) with my likes.  I even try to comment once in awhile.  But after an hour or two of that, it dawns on me I haven’t written anything in my own blog.  So I click the “Write” button and start to dash something off.

But then I have to deal with Bloggers Guilt.  That’s the feeling of guilt you get when you’re writing in your own blog and realizing that dozens of posts by fellow bloggers are slowly scrolling down into oblivion in your “Followed Sites” stream.   There’s no keeping up.

So I read and like and comment in a slapdash manner.  That makes me the equivalent of that flaky, unreliable friend that you can’t ever count on to show up on time or be where they’re supposed to be.  And when you are moving and need someone to help you, they’re no where to be found.

I’m sorry.  I don’t want to be that way.

Please accept my sincere apologies!

And if you could all stop writing for about a month so I could catch up, that would be great.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, I Hardly Knew Ye

time-machine-8

Well, here it is Sunday evening again and once again I am sitting here wondering just where in the heck today went to.  One minute I’m awakening to the smell of coffee brewing (because I set the coffeepot timer the night before) and facing the day with wide-eyed optimism, and the next minute the sun is setting below the rooftops to the west of me and I am running around in a panic going, “No!  This can’t be happening!  My to-do list is practically untouched!

But, I shouldn’t be surprised.  It is this way every Sunday evening.  Whatever government agency is in charge of regulating the speed of time does not like us wasting our time on the weekends being unproductive.  They want to get us back to Monday morning as quickly as possible so that we can once again be productive members of society, and not the weekend slackers that we would definitely be all the time if we ever won the lottery.

Be that as it may, I did get a few things done today.  Nothing that matters in the grand scheme of things.  They were just the sorts of things we fill up our days with; the things we look back on and smile and say, “Well, I got a few things done, at least.”  But these things are self-replenishing.  We do them … and then an hour or a day or a week later they need to be done again.   And, what’s worse, they’re not the sorts of things that anyone notices that we did.   They only notice them if we fail to do them.  So we do them not because it brings us pleasure to, but because we avoid the unpleasantness that would result if we didn’t do them.

Either way, it Sunday’s over and it’s time to get back to being a productive member of society.

Another Saturday Ramble

Biff Hiking #3

The Parable of the Static Squirrel and the Rambling Acorn

Apparently, rambles are a popular topic (tag) here in the blogosphere.  I think that is because we writers (or, at least, us people who fancy ourselves writers) have a lot of difficulty thinking of topics to write about and so we just start writing in the hopes that something will come to us.

Result:  Instant “ramble” post.

It occurred to me as I was writing that, that that it is erroneous to believe that something will come to us when we begin to write.  It is more accurate to say that when we start to write, we stumble upon something to write about.  It is highly unlikely that an acorn will be out for a ramble and will happen upon a squirrel who is sitting motionless on his haunches on the ground hoping for an rambling acorn.  No, the burden is on the squirrel to become an adventurer and go off in search of an acorn.  Acorns are notoriously antisocial and unadventurous and so must be found and encouraged to come out their shells and to become, oh, I don’t know, an oak tree or something.

Enter:  the squirrel, stage left.

I don’t know what the hell that was all about, but lets move on before I stretch that metaphor so thin that you can wrap chicken breasts in it and pound them with a meat tenderizer.

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!

I went to a high school football game last night.  If you have never been to a high school football game in Texas, you have missed out on quite a spectacle.  It is a Very Big Deal® down here.  Except for the absence of television cameras and sideline reporters and wall-to-wall company branding, you could easily imagine that you are attending an NFL game.  The stadiums are huge.  The crowds are huge.  The bands play energetically and amazingly.  The cheerleaders are professional quality.  The spirit girl squads look like a Dancing With the Stars episode is about to break out.  The players are going at it tooth and nail wearing professional looking gear.  There are announcers.  The giant scoreboard video monitors play animations and replays.  The fans are enthusiastic.  There are hot dogs and popcorn and nachos everywhere.

And all this for only 8 dollars!

Once, a few years ago, my dad came down to visit us from his home in a northeastern state and since he happened to be here on a Friday when there was a game, we took him to our high school football game.  About 30 minutes into the Texas HS Football Experience™, he looked at me and said, “Is this a special game or something?”  I replied that no, it is not.  In fact, the opposing team wasn’t even in our conference and so the game essentially meant nothing.  And he said, a little incredulously, “You mean every game is like this?”  And I said, “Oh, no.  Some games are much bigger.  If we play our hated cross-town rivals, you would think the circus (and ESPN) had come to town”.

Three-fur Saturday

It is a little known psychological fact that humans are predisposed to grouping things into threes.  It’s call the Power of Three.

Have you ever noticed when you spontaneously reel off a list of things to someone, like a list of examples of your favorite foods, or a list of your favorite books, they are almost always lists of three?  It’s because three is the smallest group of things that the human brain needs in order to establish a pattern.

Weird, isn’t it?

Anyway, here’s your third part of this ramble post.  Don’t thank me.  My brain made me do it.  I would have been perfectly happy to stop at two.

 

 

Re: Small Talk (and Other Hazards)

Sinking_Boat_clipart_image v2

“When I go to a party and try to launch small talk, it displaces its own weight and we sink with all hands aboard.”

 – Hildegard Dolson

From “I Love a Nice Liar“, 1967


 

I stumbled across this quote from Hildegard Dolson the other day whilst reading a compendium of humor writings and I immediately identified with it, for I am not now, nor have I ever been, good at small talk.

It’s not that I think small talk is beneath me.  Far from it.  I envy people who are good at it.  But whenever I try to engage in small talk, my brain cuts all ties with my mouth, wishes it well in its future endeavors, and waves from the dock as the S.S. Blathering Mouth drifts, rudderless, out to sea.

I can only watch and listen helplessly (and aghast) as my mouth strings together the most preposterous thoughts using the most motley, mangy collection of mongrel words ever to have escaped the confines of a thesaurus.   I can only hope that people assume I am under the influence of strong narcotics, for I would hate for them to think that this is my actual brain talking.

Random Tidbits (11/05/2017 Edition)

 

Random Tidbits.png


The Fall of my Discontent

Today I would like to bundle up in a warm coat, perhaps don some gloves, and go for a tramp through the fallen leaves and the brisk autumn air.  I would like to see my breath when I exhale.  I would like to look forward to a warm, steaming beverage when I finally get in out of the chilly air.  However, Mother Nature with her long history of not caring what I like or don’t like, chose to have it be a sultry 90 degrees (32 C) today and about 60% humidity.  The sun is so bright one must wear sunglasses.  Wearing anything thicker than a T-shirt will cause one to run the risk of heat stroke.  And the only refreshing beverage that sounds good right now is iced tea or perhaps Gatorade.


Tired and Feeling Low

Can anyone explain to me how every autumn, like clockwork, the tire pressure warning light in my car turns on?  It is usually on or around the first “cold” snap we have (cold being a relative term).  I will be driving to work and the light will come on.  I will check the pressure and, sure enough, each tire is anywhere from five to ten pounds under what it should be.  This happens on multiple cars over multiple years, so I don’t think it is because I have a wonky car.

I understand all about air expanding and contracting as temperature rises and falls.  I understand about materials becoming more brittle as temperature falls (and so perhaps not holding a seal as good as it should).  I understand that tires just lose a little pressure in the course of performing their duties of hitting potholes, speed bumps, and armadillos.  It is just the uncanny timing and precision that has me a bit nonplussed.


Aye!  Candy!

Halloween candy has a strange attribute.  In the weeks leading up to Halloween, when walking through the store, the candy displays looks so inviting, so delicious, so irresistible.  The stacks of bags of candy corn and fun-sized versions of everything from M&Ms to Baby Ruths to Kit-Kats to anything you can imagine make our eyes light up.  We are happy just to run our hands over it and ooh and ahh about how wonderful it all looks.

Then, in the week after Halloween, when it has been reduced to a third of its cost before Halloween, when it now lays in disorderly piles on clearance racks and tables, when the M&Ms are mixed with the Kit-Kats and the Nerds are jumbled in with the Twizzlers, it all just looks so tawdry and unappealing.  I think it is like waking up after a night of alcoholic excess and finding someone less-than-attractive laying next to us in bed (not that that has ever happened to me, but hey!  I watch TV and movies too!).

Suddenly, what just yesterday was enticing and alluring and beguiling, is suddenly tawdry and gaudy and meretricious.  The thought of eating any of it is actually a little nauseating.

But we buy it anyway … because it’s 75% off.   And who knows when we’ll be able to buy a pound of candy corn for ten cents ever again?


Four-Lorn

It just occurred to me that I could have gotten four small individual blog posts out of this, rather than one package of four posts.  But this way I can sell in bulk and pass the savings on to you, my Dear Reader.  So, later, when you are at home and wondering to yourself, “Why did I buy four of these when I really only need one?”, you can think clever marketing.

Or, more accurately, you can thank my laziness.  I don’t have the time or the energy to create four different posts, with all of the concomitant activities of finding clever (ha!) artwork, thinking of effective tags that will get me lots of reads, and trying to think of pithy titles that will grab the attention of rapidly-scrolling readers.

So, my laziness is your gain.   And has all of the appeal of Halloween candy the week after Halloween.


 

How Not To Write a Blog Post

Sleeping in Brain 2

I guess the only way to get back into this writing thing is just to roll up my sleeves and post something.  I keep waiting for inspiration to strike me, but that is kind of like waiting to win the lottery (without buying any tickets) or waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right to appear (while never leaving one’s room), or even Waiting for Godot (if you’ll pardon an obscure reference).   No, I’m just going to have to write something the hard way … by actually writing it.

When I was a youngster, I heard the expression, “Nothing succeeds like success“. I have pondered that expression off and on my entire life, wondering exactly what it means.  I finally decided it was a rather cynical way of saying, “Of course successful people know how to succeed.  What they did worked for them.  Someone else might do the exact same things and fall flat on their face.

But I also chose to take this positive nugget away from that tired old saw:

In order to succeed at something, you must actually do that thing.

We live in a culture that assures us that we can succeed at things simply by  believing that we can.  How many movies and books and songs are there that tell us we can have something simply by believing something hard enough and sincerely enough?  How many artists do we see on those “best singer” type shows that, when asked why they should win the competition, sob and sniffle and say, “Because I just want this so badly!”

Well, that’s not how life works.  I really wish that it did.  If it did, I would be a wealthy and adored published author, living on my nearly-inaccessible lighthouse off the coast of Maine.

But I’ve never been delusional.  I have known all my life that if I wanted to be a published author that I would have to work at it morning, noon, and night with the obsession of a bee making honey.  But I allowed myself to get distracted by things like earning a living, eating, having a nice home, etc.  Writing not only took a back seat to other things, it had to follow along by hitching a ride on the rear bumper of a dilapidated old Trailways bus that was hundreds of miles behind.

This blog is a metaphor for my writing “career”.  I don’t put much effort into it, but expect success anyway.  I expect each little post to grow and thrive and blossom and to become some amazing, brilliant sunflower, big enough for everyone to see.  But the fact is, I don’t water it or fertilize it or even look at it much.

That’s not exactly a recipe for success.

So, I could rewrite the “nothing succeeds like success” aphorism to say

Nothing fails like not striving for success.

 

 

The Blind Shall See …

 

man with spiral glasses 2

One of the sucky things about getting older (and that is a very long list) is that the eyesight begins to go.

(Wavy flashback lines go here)

I was diagnosed very early in life as being blind as a bat.  This became apparent when my Mom took my brother and I to see the Harlem Globetrotters when they performed in Jackson, Mississippi.  About halfway through the game I asked my Mom, “What are all those blinking lights up there by the ceiling?”

She looked at me incredulously.  “Do you mean to tell me you can’t tell what those are?”

“No, Ma’am,” I said.  “All I see is a bunch of fuzzy, blinking lights.”

My brother decided to get in on the incredulity act.  “Are you telling me you can’t read those ten foot tall numbers on the scoreboard?”

“Those are numbers?” I asked, incredulously.  We were all getting in on this incredibility thing.

A few days later I found myself at the eye doctor attempting to read the eye chart … and failing.  I could not see the giant, foot-tall letter “E” that he was trying to get me to see from just a few feet away.

Long story short, I was diagnosed as being legally blind due to being incredibly near-sighted.  Even the doctor was incredulous.  It was a big week all around for incredulity.  Luckily, at age 8, I had not driven myself to the eye appointment since I was now legally blind.

(Quick, wavy lines as we flash forward … because we need to wrap this up.)

It is a well known fact that, as people age, they become more farsighted.  We know this because movies and TV shows are filled with the joke of old people holding reading material as far away from their face as possible so they can read it.  People joke with each other in these situations, “Do you want to to go hold that across the room for you?”  This is followed by much laughter (most of it feigned).

So, because of that, all my life I have believed that, as I got older, my eyesight would get better because my creeping farsightedness would begin to cancel out my nearsightedness.

I found out that it doesn’t work that way.  All that happened is that I became both nearsighted and farsighted at the same time.  I had to wear contact lenses for my nearsightedness, and also reading glasses for my newly acquired farsightedness.

I complained about this at my eye appointment today and my doctor suggested I wear a different prescription contact in each eye.  I was skeptical.  I had a mental image of me walking around in circles all day long.  But I thought, “What the heck? What do I have to lose?”  So I tried it and he fitted me with a pair of sample contacts.

I feel like a beam of light shone down from me on high and a heavenly host began to sing.  I could see far away.  I could see close up.  I could actually read my phone without wearing reading glasses.  I could read traffic signs.  I was able to work at my computer without wearing reading glasses.  In short, I feel like I did many decades ago when I got my first pair of glasses.

I remember yelling as loud as I could, “Mom!  Come in here quick!”

“What?” she asked, alarmed, as she rushed into the room.

I pointed up at the ceiling and said excitedly, “Look!  There’s a fly!  On the ceiling!”

She did not share my excitement.  She did not realize I had never seen a fly from far away before.  Or anything, for that matter.

And now I can see both far away and close up for the first time in decades.  This is a great time to be alive!

 

 

The Heat Is On …. (cough cough!)

fire

It finally got cold enough to have to turn on the heaters.  Here in Dallas, that means it dipped all the way down to about 46 degrees (8 C).  While that may not seem like much to those of you in more northern climates, down here it means that it’s time to stoke up the ol’ furnaces.

There are some seasonal rituals that people like, such as the first time that the leaves need to be raked, the first time the walkway needs to be shoveled free of snow, or the first time the lawn needs to be mowed in spring.  I suppose some people even like lighting the furnace for the first time every year.

I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the house to be nice and toasty warm on a cold winter’s night.  In fact, I prefer it.  But the first time the heater is fired up every year fills me with dread.  And that’s because when I fire up the heater for the first time in nine months, it must first burn off 9 months worth of dust, pollen, mold, and who knows what else that settles into the furnace and the ductwork over that nine months.  It is a nice, funky pong that smells something like an old, used sponge that  caught on fire, smoldered for a bit, and was then doused with the stagnant water from a leaf-clogged rain gutter.

So that was the smell that awakened me at about 2 o’clock this morning.

On the plus side, it was nice and toasty warm.

 

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: