Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Dallas Weather”

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.

 

 

 

 

Hello Summer, My Old Friend

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And by “friend”, I mean “Bane of my Existence”.

In Simon and Garfunkel’s classic song, when they sing “Hello Darkness, my old friend“, you can hear the despair and resignation in their voice.

I feel the same when I welcome summer back to Texas.  From the very first time the thermometer hits 96 (35.6 C) … as it did today … you know it will not be going down again for at least 4 more months.  It will only be going up.  There might be nights when the temperature will creep back down into the mid to low 90s (34 C), but that will be at 2 o’clock in the morning.  It’s not like I’m going to get up in the middle of the night just to go outside just to enjoy some air that is only slightly cooler than it was at noon.  Even if I did, the mosquitoes would carry me away and inject me with a cocktail of West Nile, Zika, Chikunguny, or Dengue (dealer’s choice).

Tomorrow it is supposed to be 98 degrees (36.7 C) with a heat index of 108 (42.2 C).  And it’s only mid-June, folks!  There’s lots more summer fun on the horizon.

I really need to move further north.  I wonder what property values are like at the North Pole.

Caution: Angry Weather Ahead

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If you are a regular reader of my blog (and modern internet triangulation techniques may have located this individual who is living in a small hut in the Azores), you know that I complain quite a bit about the weather here in Texas.  It’s hot.  It’s cold.  It’s dry.  It’s rainy.  It’s hail-y.  It’s tornado-y.  And it is often all of these things in the same day.

For example, while I was outside mowing the yard today, it was 87 degrees (30.5 C) at 60% humidity.  It was miserable.  And the ground was dry as a bone and hard as a brick.  This heat persisted until about 6:00 when the temperature suddenly began plummeting.  Within an hour it was down to 63 (17.2 C), which was a drop of 24 degrees (13.3 C) in an hour.  And we are on our way to a low tonight of 50 (10 C).  Rains have rolled through and soaked the area.

Also, again, if you are a regular reader of this blog (or, I should say THE regular reader of this blog), you know I have a weakness and an affinity for flea markets.  For the past several weeks we had been planning a trip over to Canton, Texas, home of the First Monday Trade Days, the largest flea market in the region.  Since this is the weekend of the first Monday of April, it was this week.  However, for one reason or another, we decided not to go today.

Imagine my surprise and horror when, later in the day while our local temperature was plummeting 24 degrees, Canton was being pummeled by tornadoes!  We watched the TV in horror as the very place we might have been standing was strafed by a very large tornado.

It just reminded me that, no matter how much I might dislike the weather here in Texas, there is always someone somewhere else in Texas having a worse go of it than me!

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Ode to Saturday; To Hail and Back; A Photo Finish

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Tonight’s Background Music is provided by Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues fame).
Album:  The View From the Hill
Best Song:   “Promised Land” … though they’re all good.

It’s been quite a day in Biff-land.

In Praise of Saturday

For one thing, it is Saturday, which is my favorite day of the week.  What’s not to like about Saturday?  It is virtually the only day of the week that affords me the luxury of sleeping in a little.  Though I often do get up early on Saturdays, there’s usually nothing that compels me to.  The alarm clock is given the day off.  Even if the cat wakes me up demanding to be fed, I can usually feed him and go back to sleep without much difficulty.

Another thing to like about Saturday is that I have time to eat a proper breakfast.  It may only consist of a bagel and a cup of coffee, but it is a breakfast fit for the gods because I get to eat it leisurely while reading something or watching TV or surfing the internet; not grabbing something frantically as it pops out of the toaster and then gulping it down as I run out to my truck to go to work.

And not only do I get to eat a leisurely breakfast, but the Science channel actually wises up and plays back-to-back-to-back episodes of How It’s Made.  They lose their minds again later in the day and begin to play schlock until the following Saturday, but I enjoy it while I can.

Another good thing about Saturday is that, even though I always have a good long list of things that need doing around the house, I can start and stop them at my discretion.  I can also just leave the house without having to send out an email to the department telling them that I’m going to be out of the building for a bit.  I just get in my truck and go.  That’s about the closest many of us get to tasting true freedom.

And finally, another good thing about Saturday is that it is far enough away from Monday that I don’t spend the entire day lamenting the end of the weekend and the looming threat of Monday.  For this one day a week I can pretend to live a life of indolence and leisure.   But Monday morning is always eager to remind us that we have mortgages, utility bills, insurance payments, food bills, etc. etc. etc.

There Will Be Hail to Pay!

If you were one of the five people who read my blog from yesterday, you may remember that I was discussing my doubts as to whether or not it would rain.  I was wrong.  It rained.  As some of my relatives in Alabama might say using one of their quaint rustic idioms, “It rained like a cow on a flat rock.”

There was much thunder and lightening.  The storm warning sirens went off.  There was very loud rain and wooshing winds.  When the calm of morning arrived, I could see from my handy-dandy rain gauge that I bought just a few weeks ago, that we got just over an inch of rain in about 2 hours.  Sweet!

I was lucky, though.  There were areas nearby that got 3-inch diameter hail.  I happened to drive through one of those areas later in the day and took the following pictures.

Here you can see that the hail very nearly stripped this tree of all it’s leaves (which can be seen on the ground underneath).  I just took a single picture of one such tree.  There were hundreds and hundreds of trees like this.  The hail had already melted away by the time I took these pictures, making it look like the trees just spontaneously shed their leaves.

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Here you can see some leaves surrounding a storm drain where they were washed to.  Again, this was just one of dozens of such drains.

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I stopped and took this picture through the fence surrounding a back lot of a luxury car dealer.  Pretty much every car on their lot looked like this.   And there were several dealerships that were affected by the hail.  There were dozens of cars that had had their rear windows shattered.

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This was a flower bed outside of a business.  It was nearly obliterated by leaves.  You can see some pink sticking up through all the leaves.

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And this was just a random fire plug I found which caught my eye.  No storm damage here.  It looks white in the picture, but it was painted silver.  I liked the look of it against the red brick.

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A Photo Finish

And finally, I finally decided to get myself a real camera.  Many, many years ago (okay, a few decades ago), I had a Canon AE-1 SLR 35mm camera and I loved that thing.  But it was eventually rendered useless by the digital age and so for the past 15 years or so I have had a series of point-and-click cameras and phone cameras, all of which were universally disappointing as cameras.

Phones especially make abominable cameras.  I am continually frustrated by things like the camera taking the picture about 10 seconds after I click the button.  Or there being so much glare on the display that I can’t see what I’m taking a picture of.   Or it focusing on random items in the background instead of what I want to take a picture of.

Finally, I’d had enough of trying to get my phone’s camera to behave and decided to buy a real camera.  I used to quite enjoy photography in my youth and I let technology ruin that for me.  But now I feel like the technology has finally caught up to the experiences I used to enjoy back in the 35mm film days.

I bought a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and though I’ve only gotten to play with it for about 20 minutes so far, I really like it.  I wanted an DSLR camera to mimic my Canon AE-1 SLR.  I like the SLR rather than the all-in-one cameras because I like looking through the viewfinder to compose the shot rather than looking at the display.  I like seeing what is actually going to end up in the image in real time.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with a lot of camera talk, but I hope to present a few photos now and then that I’ve shot with my trusty Canon T6.  For now, here is a sample of a picture I took earlier today.

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Poor Biff’s Almanac — Friday Roundup

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It was a good week in Biff-land.  Most of it was spent within the bosom of the taupe-colored walls of my office at work.  However, elsewhere June was busting out all over, even though it is only early March.  Apparently June was misinformed and, eager to get an early jump on things, decided to bust a move. Unfortunately, she is just going to have to gather up her skirts, reload, and prepare to bust out again at a later date, because it is far too early in the year for that sort of behavior.

As I drove home from work today, I passed a hill (just an embankment, really) and it was already lush green and dotted with crimson clover, bluebonnets, firewheels, and other assorted Texas wildflowers.  It was a very beautiful sight!  I was nearly tempted to pull over to the side of the road, get out of my truck, and recreate the opening scene from “Little House on the Prairie” in which they are all running down the hillside of wildflowers while dodging the scrolling credits.  However, I may have mentioned that this is Texas and the sight of something gamboling down a hillside in spring may have resulted in gunfire because something huntable is always in season here.  And anyway, gamboling is illegal in Texas.  One must go up to the casinos in Oklahoma for such debauchery.  (And so now you know about my gamboling addiction.)

The weather chappies (and chappettes) a few days ago promised us a weekend full of rain.  I awoke this morning to a dense fog (one that was not all in my head this time) and so things were looking promising.  However, that burned off quickly and we were left with a warm, sunny day.  It is beginning to look like our weekend of rain is going to get … well … sunned out.  (Can rain be rained out?)  This is disappointing to us all, for the sprint is on to get as much rain as possible between now and mid-May to fill up the lakes before the giant taps in the sky are turned off and we are forced to endure the next five or six months of extreme dryness.

Be all that as it may, I am going to try to force myself to enjoy this beautiful, gorgeous, extremely clement weather.  It will be difficult, but I will do what I can.  No promises, though.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Down the Rabbit Hole (of Weather)

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Tonight after dinner I went for a walk around the neighborhood.  The fact that it was pitch black outside at 7:00 in the evening was the only thing that reminded me that we are still officially in winter.

But this is Texas.  When it comes to weather, north Texas is like a rabbit hole and we are all like Alice.  Bewildered.  Disoriented.  Perhaps a little cross.

As I walked through the neighborhood, I was nearly deafened by the sound of a thousand crickets singing their mating songs to one another.  Bunnies darted hither and yon as I got too close to them.  Birds were singing (even though it was dark).  There was just enough light to see that flowers were blooming, grass was greening, and trees and bushes were making an ungodly mess all around them as they engaged in fornicating as only trees and bushes can.

I walked along without a jacket, but just  a long sleeved shirt.  About halfway through the walk, I wished I’d worn a short sleeved shirt.  It was probably about 78 degrees outside (26 C).

Back at home I flicked on the air conditioner because it was a little muggy in the house.  It is not unusual this time of year to run the heater in the morning and the air conditioner later in the day.  Or to have to wear a coat to work, but to come home with the coat off and ones’s shirt sleeves rolled up.  Or to drive to work with the car heater on, but to drive home in the evening with the windows down.

We are truly down the weather rabbit hole.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Wednesday Night Edition

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If I haven’t written much in my blog the past few days, it is because there hasn’t been much to write about.  Now, I know what you’re going to say.  You’re going to say, “Well, Biff, that’s never stopped you before!”  And you’d be right, of course.  A lack of interesting material has certainly never deterred me from writing absolute blather for several paragraphs.  And tonight will be no different, so I apologize in advance.  You might want to put on your smock and safety glasses.

It is unseasonably warm here in Dallas today.  (Weather talk is the last refuge of the desperate writer).  It hit a high of about 80 F (26 C) today.  This is wreaking havoc.   I saw a mayfly yesterday, which is a full 3 months early.  Usually they are on back-order until at least late March.  So, if I see a June bug this week I will just have to throw up my hands dramatically, or maybe even melodramatically, and exclaim, “Well now I’ve seen everything!”  Or perhaps, “This is madness!”  Or maybe even, “OMG!  There’s a June bug tangled up in my hair!”  Getting a June bug in one’s hair is every Southerner’s worst nightmare, even more than rattlesnakes, black widows, or rabid raccoons.  Getting a June bug tangled up in your hair will make you injure yourself in horrific (though admittedly comical) ways.

In other signs that it is entirely too warm outside, there were crickets outside wailing so loudly last night that I thought the compressor in the air conditioner was about to go out.  I went outside to investigate and found out that it was not a compressor about to losing its bearings (who isn’t?), but just a lonely cricket.  But that boy could fiddle!  I wished him well on his romantic pursuits, turned to go back inside, and nearly tripped over a bunny.  All that was lacking was a faun and a skunk to be able to recreate the spring scene from Bambi.  As I walked back inside, I could smell the hyacinth blooming … or perhaps it was the generous dose of Flonase I had taken a few hours earlier in a desperate gambit to do a little breathing before turning in.

But it’s just as well.  I’ve discovered that too much oxygen makes me hallucinate.

 

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac: Saturday Edition

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It is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday.  All is quiet.  I am the first one to awake, though I have overslept as if I were a man of leisure.  Due to an apparent mix-up at the hospital at my birth, I am definitely not a man of leisure.

I am sitting at the little table in the kitchen area, staring out the bay window at the wasteland that is the back yard.  Crows are cawing somewhere nearby.  They travel in gangs throughout the neighborhood, being obstreperous and harassing the more law-abiding birds such as mockingbirds, blue jays, and grackles (though I have my doubts regarding the behavior of grackles).

Outside, everything is still mostly brown:  the cedar fence, the leaves from last autumn (yes, yes … I know!  I need to rake them up!  Sheesh!  I don’t need to be lectured.), the bare tree skeletons, the dead-but hopefully-just-hibernating grass, and the patches of dirt where dogs (now deceased) wore the grass away down to the clay, leaving places where nothing will grow, not even dandelions.

And yet, there are signs of spring.  Our recent spate of springlike (and early summer-like temperatures) have made some of the plants begin to show hope and greenery.  However, I could tell them (since I am old and grizzled and wise, having suffered through 30+ years of Dallas weather), that their hope and optimism are misplaced and ill-advised.  Sure, it may be 84 degrees (29 C) today, but someday soon, when we least expect it, Mother Nature will cackle maniacally (not unlike a crow) and suddenly send a Blue Norther through town, plunging temperatures down into the teens (-10 C).  Where will your misplaced optimism leave you then, you leafing rose bush?  You budding mulberry tree?  You greening crepe myrtle?  (You dandelions are of no concern to me … you deserve what you get for being a blight on mankind.)

I apologize for talking so much about the weather in these blogs of mine.  There isn’t much else to talk about here in Dallas.  Dallas is the largest small town in the world.  To be so huge, there is surprisingly little to do here.  So we talk about the weather.

 

 

 

Random Tidbits (1/28/2017 Edition)

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Here are this week’s leftovers.  I’m clearing out the refrigerator.  If nobody reads them, they’re going in the trash.

 

1

The weather here in Dallas the past few days has been beautiful, which is disappointing.  By beautiful, I mean it has been in the high 50s (~13 to ~15 C).  The sun is so bright one has to wear sunglasses in the car at all times (as I mentioned in a post a few days ago).  It is warm enough you don’t want to wear a jacket, but if the breeze picks up to more than one mile per hour, you are suddenly freezing to death.  So you have to wear a jacket.  But then the sun makes you burn up.  In the car, there is so much sunshine pouring in through the windows and heating up the cabin that one sometimes has to turn on the air conditioner, even though it is quite chilly outside.  Strange days, indeed.

2

There was an expedition to Hobby Lobby to pick up something for … some other thing.  I can’t remember.  I’m a man.  I have the memory retention of a gnat.  But there I was.  As I usually do when at Hobby Lobby, I announce, “I’m going to the man aisle” and I depart thither.  Unless a man is a painter or a calligrapher or a scrapbooker or something like that, there is only one aisle in Hobby Lobby that is “man friendly”.    We all go there.  When a new man appears on this aisle, we do the single head nod at each other.  It is our universal greeting.  It is our little way of saying, “Hey … welcome to the man aisle.”  What is on the Man Aisle, you ask?  Car models.  Ship models.   Airplane models.  Glue.  Paint.  Xacto knives.  Toy trains.  Slot car racers.  Airbrush equipment.  I can’t speak for the other men, but I like to look at all the models and think, “I could build that.”  And then I think, “If I had any skill.  Or patience.  Or hand-eye coordination.  Or an attention span longer than a gnat.”  And then, as if to prove my point, my attention wanders and I find myself reading the label on a package of model putty for no particular reason.  All of us who are exiled to the Man Aisle know better than to wander even an aisle away.  If we do, we will find ourselves on the jewelry making aisle.  Or the caligraphy aisle.  The women who are there look up at us as if to say, “Shouldn’t you be in the man aisle?”  And so we return to that aisle … even though we’ve all looked at these same models twenty-nine dozen times.

3

I found myself in Trader Joe’s today.  I’m not sure what to make of that place.  It is a poky little place that is about a quarter the size of a traditional grocery store.  Everything is a little cramped and claustrophobic.  There are lots of foods I don’t recognize from companies I’ve never heard of.  Packaging is simple and generic looking.  Some of it looks like it might have been made in someone’s garage.  There are a lot of interesting people there.  Hipsters, mostly.  And little old ladies in fur stoles carrying tiny dogs, looking for all the world like aged stars from the silent movie era.  Lots of men with gray ponytails.  Everyone is talking on their cell phones.  I mean … EVERYONE.  Nearly everyone in the store looks down on their luck, but the vast majority of them go out and get into BMWs, Lexus’, Audis, etc.  I really have no idea what is going on there.   Such an odd vibe.  They have excellent chocolate covered raisins, though!

 

4

I went to Half Price Books today to “sell” them some of my old books that I no longer want.  It was quite a load!  I didn’t weigh it, but I’d estimate I took them 20 to 30 pounds of books.  There were all sorts of things; anything from old computer games, to paperbacks, to college textbooks.  Even a set of encyclopedias!   Now, I know the drill at HPB.  They’re there to make money.  They sell stuff very cheap, so I don’t expect to be able to retire at what they pay me for my old books.  Today I got a little over ten dollars for my books, so about fifty cents a pound.   That is a fair price to pay to save myself the pain and anguish and guilt of throwing books into the recycling bin.  I just can’t bring myself to do it.  So I pay HPB to do it for me.

5

The doorbell rang today, causing widespread panic and confusion.  The doorbell never rings.  No one visits anyone here in Dallas.  Besides, doorbells are an anachronism.  People just text nowadays and say, “We’re here!”  I had almost forgotten what the doorbell sounded like.  At first I was like, “What is that weird bonging sound?”  Then I realized it was the doorbell.  So I answered it.  There was no one there.  There were no packages laying by the doorstep. I walked out to the street and looked both ways.  No one was in sight.  No cars were driving away.  Then I caught a flash of red jacket catty cornered across the street.   Two boys in their early teens were darting away.   It was just a prank.  I wasn’t upset.  I was just amazed that kids still do that.  I thought that died out in the 1970s.  I’m glad to see kids nowadays showing some gumption.

================= That’s All, Folks! =================

 

A Sunday Morning Ramble

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Here we are at the unofficial halfway point of the weekend.  It’s funny:  as long as it seems to take for weekends to get here, they always seem to go by so quickly.  I’m sure there’s a passage somewhere in Einstein’s book “A General Theory of Relativity” that explains this phenomenon, but I was trying to read it in the original German.  Inasmuch as I only know about six words of German (and I am nearly certain none them appear anywhere in any of his writings), my attention span faltered, and then tripped, and fell into a deep physics-related sleep (or possibly a coma).

It is a beautiful day here in North Texas.  It will be around 60 F today (9 C), sunny, and springlike. The only possible downer is that later today the wind will be gusting at around 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hours, or 30.4 knots, or about 94,080 furlongs per fortnight).  However, I don’t mind high winds too much.  It should move along the remainder of those pesky leaves that have been blanketing my front yard since just before Christmas and which have been duly noted by the homeowner’s association.  But knowing my luck, rather than move them along, the wind will probably just deposit even more leaves from neighbors’ trees from up and down the block.  So, someday soon, I will be standing in my front yard holding a rake (very American Gothic-esque) and saying, “But there’s not even a silver maple tree anywhere around here!  Where the heck did all these leaves come from?”  This is exactly the sort of inexplicable phenomenon that spawns myths like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and neighbors who clean up after their dogs.

Moving on ….

I got new bedroom furniture yesterday.  I only mention that because it might help the coroner write a more thorough report.  All my life I have heard people say things like “I love new-car smell!”  Or, “I love the smell of new furniture!”  I was never a fan of such aromas, even before I knew what they were.  Most people just love the insinuation, the ambiance, the symbol of newness and freshness.  I, on the other hand, feel my sinuses closing up and my lungs recoiling in horror.  Now I know that new-anything smell consists of volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde,  ethyl acetate, and acetone.  And I slept all night in a London fog of such lovely compounds!  So I shall be the first person in America who shall, on the coroner’s report, have his cause of death listed as “new furniture”.  Hopefully, the chalk outline of me on top of my mattress can be laundered out.  My glowing obit shall contain the expression “He died as he lived … gasping for breath and fumbling blindly for the Claritin-D.

On a brighter note, the preparation for the arrival of the new furniture forced a deep cleaning of the room such as it hasn’t seen in awhile.  The dust bunnies put up a good fight and the vacuum cleaner struggled mightily, but in the end there could only be one victor … and it was the furniture salesman, Victor, who made a handsome commission off the sale of the VOC-riddled furniture he unloaded on an unsuspecting consumer.

So I plan to spend the day outside, breathing in giant lung-fulls of Dallas air (which consist primarily of pollen, mold spores, dust from west Texas, and mosquitoes).

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