Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Dallas”

Biff’s Backyard Photography: Pre-Autumn Edition

A few days ago I was feeling guilty for not using the camera that I just had to have several months ago.  I was also feeling guilty for not posting in this blog for awhile.  So I put two and two together and said, “Hey!  Why not take some pictures and post them on this little blog of mine?”  And so, here I am.

The problem with that idea is that I live in a very non-picturesque part of the world.  I am surrounded by literally hundreds of square miles of suburbia.  So, I have to take pictures of what I can find (which isn’t much).  It’s like looking through a thousand pounds of grass clippings hoping to find a rose.

Anyway, below is what I came up with.  How I envy people who live in interesting places!


I found this little fellow in the joint between my fence and my house.  He thought he was hidden, but I managed to sneak a picture of him.  Geckos are very plentiful here, and I encourage them any way I can.  They eat a lot of things that I don’t want inside the house (like roaches and june bugs).  All that twiggy stuff in the background is the remnants of some Virginia creeper vine that I tried to eradicate a few years ago.  However, I couldn’t get rid of all of the tendrils it put down since apparently Virginia creeper glues itself to the wall with the equivalent of two-part epoxy.

IMG_0834bImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This is the last canna lily of summer.  It has not bloomed fully yet in this picture.  It is amazing how lush these things look in spite of it not having rained in over two months.  I used to think that canna lilies were exotic and delicate, like orchids.  I have since come to learn that they are basically weeds here in Texas and throughout the Deep South and will grow anywhere and everywhere.  They will grow up through cracks in the sidewalk.  They will take over entire sections of your yard and choke out everything else.  All they need is about two drops of water a month to look like what you see here.

IMG_0839a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here’s another gecko (a different one).   I think he panicked and thought he was a chameleon for a moment.  In his mind he probably thinks he is as red as the brick he is on.  I didn’t have the heart to disillusion him.  I often feel the same way when I’m at work.  I think I am the same color as the cubicle walls and that no one can see me.  I am almost always wrong in this thinking.

IMG_0844a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This is the view looking into the side of a stack of firewood.  It seemed appropriate to the rapidly approaching Halloween season.  Would you stick your hand in there?  I sure wouldn’t!  Firewood is a favorite lair location for black widow and brown recluse spiders.  They’re the reason I let geckos have the run of my house.

IMG_0852a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

I’m not sure what these berries are.  They appear periodically in one of the scraggly trees in my backyard.  I haven’t figured out the cycle at which these things appear.  It seems to be random.  Apparently the birds love them, because I never see them on the ground.  The tree itself is not very attractive, but it provides shade, and in Texas, that is like a goose that lays golden eggs.

IMG_0853.JPGImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

So there you have today’s installment of “Biff’s Backyard Photography“.  I hope you enjoyed.  And for all you people who live in interesting or picturesque locales, count your blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Comes to the ‘Burbs

Practically overnight, this tree turned from green to bright yellow.

Autumn happens quickly in Dallas … you have to be ready for it or you’ll miss it.

Notice the trees in the background are still green.

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Image Copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Scenes From Downtown Dallas

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent several hours Friday in downtown Dallas visiting the Dallas Museum of Art.  After visiting the museum, we walked the short walk to Klyde Warren Park.  The picture below is a view from the outside of the DMA looking towards KWP.

01 KWP from DMA.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Klyde Warren Park is very unique in that it is built on 5.2 acres of “land” that was created over a freeway.  The Woodall Rodgers Freeway (aka Spur 366) has always run through a concrete valley carved out of Dallas between I-35 on the west side of Dallas and highway 75 on the east side.  They recently put a top over a portion of this sunken freeway and built a park on it.

Here is a picture taken from the edge of the park facing East.  You can make out traffic on the freeway in the center of the picture.

03 KWP and Woodall Rogers.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is a zoom on the above picture to show the traffic more clearly driving under the park.

03a KWP and Woodall RogersImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This was my first visit to the park and I was really impressed.  They did a very good job of this.  Throughout the decades I’ve lived near Dallas, the downtown area did not have much in it to attract visitors at nights and on weekends.  It was a joke here that they rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock.  Except it wasn’t much of a joke.  Downtown Dallas was built for business and commerce, and outside of business hours it was largely deserted.

However, within the past five or ten years Dallas has made a concerted effort to attract visitors and residents to downtown Dallas.  They built a lot of condominiums, both traditional, and high-rise ones such as Museum Tower, shown in the next few pictures.

04 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In the photo below, it’s hard to believe that there are about 8 lanes of freeway traffic about 20 feet below!

05 Museum Tower from Klyde Warren Park.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

06 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

07 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In addition to these new high-rise condominiums, there are a plethora of other beautiful office buildings.

08 IMG_0320.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is the Hunt Oil Building.

09 Hunt Oil Building.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Back at Klyde Warren Park, we decided to eat at food truck alley.

02 KWP Food Truck Alley.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

About 12 food trucks were lined up along the park offering anything from ice cream to barbecue to lobster.  I chose a nice chicken quesadilla with a spicy avocado drizzle on it.  It was very tasty!  Unfortunately, the weather was not very spring-like but instead was 99 degrees in the shade with the humidity nearly 80%.  It was quite steamy!   It was still a nice visit to the park, though.  I’m sure I’ll be going back soon!  (Probably in the autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

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: 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.

 

 

 

Wacky Wednesday

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Fun With Alliteration

clown-with-balloonsSince blog posts  with alliterative titles seem to be very popular, I thought I’d give it a go.  You might remember my less-than-stellar post from yesterday entitled “Two-fer Tuesday”.  It may not have been original or captivating, but it was definitely alliterative.  And what is alliteration but a form of repetitiveness?

So what shall I talk about tonight that is wacky?  Oh … I know … how about some wacky weather?  We’ll just make this Wacky Weather Wednesday.  How much more alliterative can it get?

Even though we are in the dead of winter here in Dallas, the temperatures have been near 80 (~ 26 C) for the past week.  People are walking around in short pants and short sleeves.  Yesterday I drove home with the window down in my truck.  I hadn’t really planned on doing that, but “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers came on while I was listening to my CD player and according to the law, one must roll their vehicle windows down at that point, hang the left arm out the window, and do the head bop.  Air guitar is normally recommended, but not while driving.

Due to the warm weather, things are starting to bloom.  The first thing to come up was, of course, the crab grass.  It will pretty much pop up any time the temperature rises above absolute zero.   Tree leaves are budding out.  The hyacinth are pushing their way up out of the ground.  Birds are starting to think about flying north again even though they still have some vacation days they need to burn off.  If this keeps up, I will need to get outside and mow the law before the first week of February is over.

But I decided today that I am going to stop railing about our lack of winter this year here in Dallas.  There are worse problems to have.  At least we don’t have any volcanoes here in Texas.

Tomorrow we will eagerly await for the appearance of Waxahachie Phil, our local weather-predicting armadillo.  He will emerge from his burrow on Knobbler’s Gob and take a look about.  If he is bitten by a mosquito, he will go back inside and we are doomed to six additional months of summer.  If there are no mosquitoes, he’ll go back inside his burrow anyway because he doesn’t like taking questions.  He is sort of the Bill Belichick of armadillos.

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Dallas Weather Conspiracy Revealed

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It is another frigid, freezing day here in Dallas.  It is a mere 15.9 degrees (-8.94 C), though the weather site says it feels like 16.0 degrees (-8.89 C).  I guess it is the heat index that makes it feel so much more warm and balmy.  But as we all know, it isn’t so much the heat that gets you; it’s the humidity.

I’m joking of course.  Cold is cold.  And I know Dallasites have a reputation around the world for being weenies when it comes to cold weather, and particularly when it snows.  (See my earlier post on this subject here.)

But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Dallasites, as a rule, are pretty hardy folk.  After all, we deal with summers here that last 6 months long and which routinely inflict temperatures on us of 105 degrees (40.6 C) or more.  Such a thing is not for the faint of heart.  And though the rest of the world doesn’t think we do, we actually look forward to winter.  In winter, Dallas, for a few short months, becomes like “normal” parts of the world.   The average temperature falls down into a range where people can go outside and engage in normal activities without the fear of dying from heat stroke or dehydration.  In winter, there is an upsurge in the number of people one sees bicycling, jogging, walking dogs, picnicking, hot air ballooning, or just being outside and smiling.  We even look forward to the occasional snow day.  We love waking up and seeing everything blanketed in the white stuff.  Every snow day feels like a holiday here and it fills people with elation and joie de vivre.

Unfortunately, Dallasites do not know how to drive in ice or snow.  That isn’t because we are worse drivers than are found elsewhere.  It’s just a lack of practice on our part, as well as not really having the proper equipment.  We don’t have snow plows to clear the streets.  We don’t have special snow tires, or snow chains.  Hell, we barely keep ice scrapers in our vehicles!   There just isn’t that big of a need for them.

But here is the secret I promised you.  People in Dallas drive poorly in the snow and ice on purpose.  I mean, if we suddenly became very proficient at driving in the snow … if a day of snow was no more debilitating than a day of light rain or sunshine … then the city would go on as normal on those rare days when we get an inch or two of snow.  And that means we would not get to enjoy those rare days of snowfall we get but once or twice a year, because we would have to go to work or school just like we would on a “normal” day.  And, after enduring 6 or more months of 100+ degree temperatures, we feel like we deserve a snow day once in awhile.

Everyone is in on the scam.  Even the city governments and businesses.  Even the TV meteorologists beg everyone to just stay home when it snows.  That is why no one here invests in snow equipment.  Cities don’t buy snow plows.  We buy just enough salt and sand to keep the bridges from being death traps, but otherwise we just sort of throw up our hands, and like the bad actress who only got the role because she sleeps with the director, we say in our best tragic voice, “Oh dear!  However will I get to work today?  I’d better stay home in my pajamas and drink hot cocoa today.”  [Stage direction:  Place back of hand against forehead for dramatic effect.  Collapse on fainting couch dramatically.  Await smelling salts.]

So, please, feel free to ridicule us all you like about how a light dusting of snow shuts down the entire city.  Hell, we even make fun of ourselves for that!  We laugh at how incompetent we are at driving in snow.  But just please don’t rat us out.  I beg you, let us have this!

It’s all we’ve got.

How to Break Dallas

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Some of you might have heard on the news that we here in Dallas had a major weather event today.  It was horrible!  Roads were closed.  Cars piled up on the side of the road.  Businesses closed.  All of the weather people and news anchors took to the air to wring their hands, pull out tufts of hair, and rend their clothing.  Roving reporters were dispatched to every corner of the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex to cover this weather disaster.  They stood on bridges overlooking roadways that were littered with the broken remains of semi trucks and cars.  You could practically feel the reporters wanting to cry out in despair, “Oh!  The humanity!”   And as I watched them standing on those bridges, I kept thinking to myself, “Please don’t jump, Mr. Distraught News Reporter Person!”

What was this weather event that caused so much chaos in one of the largest, most educated, most technologically advanced cities in the Western Hemisphere?  Was it a massive tornado?  Was it a fracking-induced earthquake?  Was it torrential rains?

Why, it was no less than a trace of snow!  It flurried big snowflakes for maybe an hour.  The temperature was so cold that the snow was dry and powdery when it hit the ground and so it mostly blew away and accumulated in grassy areas.  The roadways remained mostly dry.  It piled up on car windshields, but blew away like powdered sugar at the slightest breeze.

It took me twice as long to get home from work as it usually does because a major bridge I have to cross had been constricted from 3 lanes down to 1.  When it was finally my turn to cross it, the bridge was almost completely dry.  Two cars sat on the bridge in the closed-off lanes about 30 yards apart with no apparent damage to either vehicle.  Perhaps they just panicked and parked there.  In fact, every accident I passed looked to be a case of a driver seeing a snowflake hit their windshield, them screaming in terror, and then driving off the road, up on the curb and into an embankment, bridge abutment, or median.

I love Dallas.  There is a lot to be proud of here.  It is a very dynamic, cosmopolitan, can-do kind of city.

But we lose our collective minds when a single snowflake hits the ground.

Stay strong, Dallas!  You’ll get through this tragedy!

 

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