Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “comedy”

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Biff Wins the Day

writer

I often wonder why we pronounce Wednesday as “Wins day”.  Or “Wynn’s Day”.   Or “When’s Day?”.  Or “Wind stay”.   Or any other number of phonetical ways to spell it.   We never pronounce it Wed-nes-day … unless we are being silly.  Which I often am.

Never underestimate the laziness of humans when it comes to speech.  When it comes to the spoken word, we will abbreviate, truncate, abridge, shorten, clip, trim, dock, prune, curtail, pare, lop, and bastardize until what comes out of our mouths bears not the slightest resemblance to whatever collection of letters we use to represent said sound.

But making sounds is easy.  Writing is hard.  And since humans as a rule are quite lazy, why don’t we truncate the way we write down sounds and leave the sounds alone?   Instead we will minimize the sound of a word to the point that it retains none of its original meaning, while giving its written-down form enough letters to fill up a small pamphlet.

No wonder no one writes any more.  It flies in the face of our basic laziness.

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

You might have noticed that there has been a slight gap between my last post and this one.  A tiny little gap of … oh … about 21 days.  For those of you who enjoy math puzzles, that’s three weeks.

What led to this gap, you ask?  Was there a medical emergency?  Did a Texas tornado sweep my house away?  Did my computer fall victim to a Windows update?  Was I merely lazy?

It was none of those things, but it was lots of other things.  Life, mostly.  For example, there was a week-long vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico.  That took up a lot of my time.  I’ll try to post pictures someday soon if I can work up the energy and enthusiasm.  (Remember when one could blame the Fotomat for not developing one’s vacation pictures in a timely fashion?  Now we just have to admit that we’re too lazy to move them from our phone to our laptop.)

Let’s see.  What else?  There was that haircut I got a few weeks ago.  Ummm … and I had to take my slacks to the cleaners.  And … let’s see …. I got the oil changed in my car.

Hmmm … what else?  It seems like there was something.

Oh!

I know.

I moved my daughter 1500 miles away across the country so she could start her new job.

I knew there was something!

One day I’m sitting on the beach with my feet in the surf, trying not to think about sharks, flesh eating bacteria, or jellyfish.  The next day I’m loading five metric tons of clothing, books, cat toys, and furniture into a ten-foot rental truck and hitting the open road.  (By the way, four of those metric tons were about fifteen flat-packs of unasssembled furniture from Ikea.  I’m pretty sure when scientists finally discover what is at the center of black holes, they will find an Ikea flat-pack.)

What a week it was!  Driving a groaning rental truck up and down the sides of the mountains in Tennessee and Virginia, dodging runaway semi trucks (or … at least … they appeared to be runaway trucks judging by their high rate of speed), hitting bumps guaranteed to reduce boxes of laminated particle-board to so much sawdust, assembling said sawdust into something resembling furniture, flying home in a state of exhaustion and stupefaction.  Then returning to work the very next day.

So, think of this post as my note from home that goes something like, “Please excuse Biff from his past 3 weeks of posts.  He has been running a fever.  And frankly we’re not even sure he belongs to us.

 

All That Jazz, With Some Exceptions

Jazz

It is Friday; a day that, by its very nature is almost always a good day.

Today was no exception.  Except that it was an exceptionally good day.  I accept that except for a few exceptions, today was exceptional, which is not the exception, except in a few rare exceptions.  So, except for exceptional exceptions (which I accept), expectations were high for an exceptionally non-exceptional day, which is in itself exceptional.

It was also hot.  It hit 103 today (37.78 C).  I found this out the hard way.  I have been putting in a lot of hours at work lately so rather than take lunch today, I thought I’d just go sit in my car for a few minutes, recline the seat, and listen to a little quiet, contemporary jazz.  Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “hot jazz”.  Well, I’m here to tell you, today’s jazz was smoking hot!  It is hard to fully appreciate Boney James or Tom Scott or Richard Elliot or Gerald Albright while slowly cooking evenly on high heat.

I turned on the air conditioning and that made for some cool jazz … but it definitely turned the guilt knob all the way up to eleven.  It is hard to relax while extravagantly and obscenely wasting the earth’s precious resources.  So, I heaved a heavy sigh, turned off the jazz and the air conditioning, and schlepped back across the lava-like parking lot and back into work.  I sat in my fabric-covered box and worked on obscenely complex spreadsheets.

To think I once upon a time considered becoming a jazz musician.

But … hey …. spreadsheets are cool, too.  Like jazz, they tend to be free-form and highly improvisational.

Except jazz is jazzy.

Spreadsheets are .. well … not.

 

Solving For X

Red-X-Icon

I went through most of today feeling sort of gobsmacked, much like the fish that float to the surface of a lake when an efficiency-minded fisherman decides to fish with dynamite.

What caused this smacking of the gob, you ask?

Well, it was caused by the fact that I didn’t have to go to work for four whole days due to the July 4th holiday weekend and today was my first day back at work.  Like most people, I loved every minute of being off.  However, there is a dark side to being off from work.  And that is:  you have to go back to work at some point.  And the longer you are off, the more of a shock to the system it is when you have to go back.

I have always heard people say things like, “Man, I loved being on vacation, but after X days I was ready to come back to work.”   The variable X ranged anywhere from one week to four weeks or more.  I have been unsuccessful at figuring out what that X is in my own life.  In the course of my long career, I have been off anywhere from one or two days at a time to nearly three weeks on a row.  In none of those instances did I ever say I was ready to go back to work.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  The longer I am away from work, the less ready I am to go back.

I’m pretty darn sure I was supposed to have been born into the “idle rich” class.  I would love to spend my days practicing falconry, assessing polo horses, taking up yachting, playing chess with living chess boards, having tea on the east lawn, and losing large sums of money in Monte Carlo and laughing it off as being just part of the game.

What I’m NOT suited for is being awakened harshly every morning at 6 am by an obnoxious alarm clock so I can shuffle off to create ephemera for amorphous clouds of management in order to satisfy vague objectives.  When I get home at the end of the day and am asked “How was work?“, my usual answer is, “I’m not sure.“, though sometimes I will answer, “There’s no way to tell.”  To-do lists were created, tasks completed, and then dutifully checked off of the list.  But if someone were to storm into my office and say, “Biff!  Show me what you’ve been doing all day!“, I would have to gesture vaguely towards our company’s server farm and say, “I rearranged the alignment of millions of microscopic bits of magnetic particles.”  More than likely, that person would say, “Good job!  Keep up the good work!” and then would de-materialize in front of my eyes.

This easily explains why I’ve never been able to find the quantity of days in a row I’d have to be off from work before I’d say, “Man, I’ve really enjoyed being off from work for 75 years, but I think I’m ready to get back to work now.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Sunday … er … Monday Morning

I am discombobulated.

Spring Forward

Due to this being a 4-day weekend for me, I have gotten my days all mixed up.  It is always amusing to me that, obsessed as I am with time, it only takes me 2 or 3 days of being off from work to get my days so mixed up that I don’t even know what day it is.  I shudder to think what I would be like if I were off from work for a month or longer.  I’d probably forget what century I am.  (This is still the 20th century, right?)

When I say I am obsessed with time, perhaps that is overstating it.  I wear a wristwatch and I constantly refer to it.  I am fascinated with the passage of time and why some patches of time go quickly, and others go like cold molasses.  How do we get from one moment to the next?  We do nothing and yet somehow time washes by us like we are standing still in a slowly moving river.  Things drift by us through no machinations on our part.  We stand inert, and the flotsam and jetsam of life and time drift by us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but always doggedly and relentlessly.

I know time (or the telling of it) is a human construct to help us communicate things to one another and to mark off the passage of hours and seasons, but I have always tried to keep fastidious track of it.  I always know what hour it is during the day, and very often the minute within a 20-minute window.  That may be because I am at work and marking off the minutes until I can leave for the day, like a prisoner marking off the days on his cell wall, anticipating the day of his release.  I am also usually on top of what day of the week it is, and, to a lesser extend, what day of the month it is.   What year it is gets a little fuzzy in my head sometimes.  If someone were to suddenly and without warning ask me what year this is, I am just as likely to say “1987!” as I am the correct year.

However, as aware as I am of the passage of time and my fastidiously noting the hour and minute that I happen to be in, if I have off from work for any length of time, I begin to lose all sense of time.  By day four of a seven day vacation, I no longer know what day of the week it is.  I usually have only a vague notion of what hour it is by wherever the sun is in the sky.  The month?  Forget about it!  Year?  Well, I’ve already confessed my difficulty with years.

It makes me wonder, if I were independently wealthy and did not have to work for a living, would I simply stop noting or caring what hour or day or month it was?  Would entire years drift by me without my noticing them or bothering to give them names?

I don’t know, but I’d sure like to find out!

 

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

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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.

 

Crazy From the Heat

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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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