Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Funny”

Biff’s Weekly Top Five, Jan 20 2018

pool-snooker-ball #5

I am starting a weekly feature of providing my top 5 favorite things I’ve read on WordPress for the past week.  These will usually take the form of single-sentence quotes, though some may be multi-sentence. 
Most of them will be humorous, because that’s what I’m all about. 
They are presented in no particular order.
I invite you to visit the blogs I’ve linked to and give the bloggers some love (and likes).  I’d rather you give THEM the likes than me.  Enjoy!

#1

“Aintright isn’t a massive fan of golf, partly because he nearly fractured his skull many years ago when trying to retrieve his ball from under the windmill, but also because when he hears the words ‘walk’ and ‘fair way’ in the same sentence he automatically starts looking for his car keys.”

Post Title & Link:     Golfers won’t be putt off

Blog Title & Link:     The Summerseat Skylark

Posted on:                 January 13, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

I’m not much of a golf aficionado and so I nearly skipped over this post in the Humor stream because it mentioned golf.  However, I was lured in by the pun and was not disappointed.  I also love “bureaucracy runs amok” stories, and this one delivered on that count as well.  This post suits me to a tee!

 


#2

“Procrastinators unite! But, maybe tomorrow, or next week.”

Post Title & Link:      Friday:) From Chaos To Organized

Blog Title:                  TONI ANDRUKAITIS

Posted on:              January 19, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

This is Toni’s hilarious take on that special drawer we all have in our house … the one that contains the thousand little bits of this-and-that that make us question our sanity for keeping it.

 


#3

“It’s not an easy life, of course,
the life of the aesthete,
but it helps to nibble fruitcake,
and wear satin on one’s feet.”

Post Title & Link:     The calculated life

Blog Title:                  LONE WORDS (Poems etc. by Catweazle)

Posted on:                January 7, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

I’m not much of a poetry aficionado, but Catweazle’s poems are right up my alley.  They are short, pithy, and very witty (as opposed to merely funny).  It is relatively easy to be funny, but it takes skill to be witty.  I invite you to peruse Catweazle’s offerings.  They are all quite charming and amusing!

 


#4

“I once got completely freaked out because I found a lump on my shoulder. Naturally, after years of watching medical shows, I assumed the worst. “Oh my God,” I thought. “It’s shoulder cancer! It’s an absorbed Siamese twin! It’s…wait, there’s one on the other side. What the…?”

It was my collarbone.”

Post Title & Link:      I Sing The Body Eclectic

Blog Title:                JENNIFER INGLIS (Writer-ish)

Posted on:                January 20, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

This was truly funny!  It was an essay on how our bodies and our brains constantly plot, like Pinky and the Brain, to thwart our quests for normalcy.  I’m sure we can all relate to Jennifer’s description of how her feet attempt to trip her up with every step, how her brain convinces itself that a collarbone is an absorbed Siamese twin, and how her nostrils refuse to work as a team.   And her description of her experiences with a Neti pot had me laughing out loud.  Her essay is a wonderful read … because it describes most of us.

 


#5

“According to Inspector Fuzz, the police are deploying standard crowd-control measures, such as tear gas, water cannons, and a series of public-address systems broadcasting lengthy lectures on modern macroeconomic theory.”

Post Title & Link:     News Flash: Mobs Riot to Celebrate Richard III Debate Contest Result

Blog Title:                 The Punnery’s Commentary

Posted on:                January 21, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

 I clicked on this link simply because of the title.  I do love me a good title!  And this one had everything:  The “News Flash” splash to grab your attention, the shock of the word “riot”, followed by the comedic sucker punch of “Debate Contest”.  Brilliant!  The faux-news report itself was awesome and I found myself wishing that someone would turn this into a YouTube video.   An awesome read!  

The Punnery’s Commentary contains a host of humorous “news” stories that are just the sorts of dry and subtle humor I like to read.  Go check it out.


 

So there you have it:  my second installment of Biff’s Weekly Top Five.  I hope you enjoyed it!  And remember … go to the blogger’s sites and show them some love and appreciation!

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Poor Biff’s Almanac — Et Tu, Saturday?

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

I’m starting to wonder why I look forward to Saturdays so much.  I literally spend the five days leading up to Saturday yearning and pining for Saturday, leaning into it, counting down the minutes.  Saturday morning is like a miniature version of Christmas morning and I am like a small boy eager to rush to the Christmas tree to see if Santa has left me that toy train that I have been pining for.

But in reality, every Saturday morning is the same.  It is filled with vacuuming and dusting and laundry and emptying out trash and recycling bins and fixing broken toilets and trying to remove mysterious stains from the carpets.  In the summer, Saturday mornings are filled with mowing the yard in 100 degree heat, edging, trimming, weeding, fertilizing, sweeping, cleaning out garages full of brown recluse spiders, hauling detritus to the solid waste disposal facility.  And then after that, I go inside and do all of the OTHER things I mentioned previously.

So, really, what does Saturday offer me that the five days leading up to it don’t?  After all, Monday through Friday I spend in a climate controlled facility staring at a computer screen.  The most strenuous thing I do is create a pivot table in Excel or struggle with copying a pie chart over from Excel to PowerPoint, or being locked in a battle of wills with a conference room overhead projector.

Given that, you’d think I would spend the weekends yearning for the weekdays.

But I don’t.

So after pondering it for awhile, I realized that the reason I look forward to weekends is because, even though I may be doing unpleasant things, I am doing them on MY time, in the order that I want to do them.  I don’t have anyone sending me emails that say, “Have you had a chance to remove that stain from the living room carpet?  The deadline for having that done was ten o’clock and that was in the critical chain for being able to make it to Target by noon.

Furthermore, if I decide to be lazy and NOT remove the stain from the carpet, I don’t get dinged for it at my annual performance review and receive the dreaded “M” rating (for “Meets Expectations“).

So, even though Saturday is filled with things I’d rather not be bothered with, at least I can chose when and in which order I will be bothered by them.  And if I decide to sit down and write a post on WP instead of unclogging the garbage disposal, who cares?  I am the boss of me!

And I give myself a very solid M.

 

Biff Rambles On … Friday, Josie & the Pussycats, Rush, & Literate Felines

Biff Hiking #3

I am speaking to you this morning through the miracle of “scheduled posts”.   If I were to actually write a post this early in the morning, it would sound like complete gibberish.  You would no doubt think that my cat had walked across my unattended keyboard, back and forth, for an hour or so until an accidental blog post appeared.  And I would be more than a little perturbed that it would be better than anything I could have written.

And it would have been written by a cat!  Think of all the “likes” that would garner!

But as much as I hate to disappoint you, this blog post was not written by my cat.  I am pretty sure she is illiterate.  I only say that because the only thing I have ever seen her read is old “Josie and the Pussycats” comic books.  I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure she is only looking at the pictures.

Now is as good a time as any to admit that I had a crush on Josie for a brief period of time when I was a wee lad and their cartoon came on every Saturday morning.  Up until then I had been completely faithful to Daphne on the Scooby Doo show, but when I first saw Josie with her lovely red hair and her little cat ears … well … what can I say?  I was swept up in her music and her stage presence.  But the dalliance was brief (only a single season).  After all, how could I resist Daphne with her long red hair?

I was always a little confused by the fact that J&tPC’s music had a bass and a keyboard line, but nobody in J&tPC played bass or keyboard.  They managed to get all of that sound out of just an electric guitar, a drum set, and a tambourine.  It is still one of the mysteries of modern music.  People sometimes wonder the same thing about Rush.

(Note to Alex, Geddy, and Neil … I love you guys!  Big fan!  I saw your Moving Pictures tour.  Please don’t hate me!  It was just a joke.)

If you’re still reading at this point, you’re probably beginning to suspect that perhaps my cat really did write this after all.  This post is all over the place!  Sorry, even though it’s not REALLY early in the morning, my brain seems to think it is and so it is just sort of stumbling around in a fog.

Okay, I’ll wrap this up and let you get on with your Friday.   I wish you good things today.  Like bagels or donuts in the break room.  Or an extra french fry at the bottom of the bag.  Or finding a five dollar bill in the pocket of a coat you wore last winter.  Dream big!

How Not To Fly Under the Radar

Biff in Flying_Car #1

Even though I was trying to keep a low profile this week, Thursday managed to find me anyway.  I attempted to fly under the radar, but that leads to getting tangled up in clotheslines, barbed wire fences, and those strings of triangular banners that adorn the fronts of used car lots.

Do you want to know how not to make a good impression?  Show up draped in strings of used car lot banners.

And I am so tired of starting conversations with, “Oh, this?  Funny story ….”

Anyway, everything I wrote above is just an example of a little something I call “humorous writing” and what makes it humorous is that I could not possibly lead a more boring life if I set out to do so with a vengeance.  The only way I could be more boring would be to speak only in Latin while describing obscure chess moves in a Holiday Inn conference room to an audience consisting of nothing but crash test dummies dressed in beige jump suits.

Even then, I’m not sure that that wouldn’t be more exciting than a typical day in the life of Biff.

How bad would it be if the crash test dummies got up and walked out of my lecture?

And how difficult would it be for someone to crash such a gathering?

And what if a car DID come crashing through the wall of the Holiday Inn and into the crowd of crash test dummies?  Would someone yell out, “Oh, the faux humanity!”

Could any useful crash data be gathered?

Do crash test dummies make good witnesses?  Or would they choose to remain silent?

Would the police draw chalk outlines around all the dummies?

And when the police interviewed the driver, would he say he was listening to a podcast of some guy speaking in Latin about obscure chess moves, and that caused him to nod off behind the wheel and crash through the Holiday Inn?

Well, I’m putting an end to this before it gets even MORE silly.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — The Alarm Clock Giveth and the Alarm Clock Taketh Away

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

It was another quiet day in Biffville (population:  me).

That is not to say it wasn’t busy.  It was.  It was VERY busy.  But it was the kind of busy that just makes time pass by and doesn’t really leave anything behind (like, say, a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment).  It was the kind of busy that suddenly, right after you wake up, makes it late evening.  This can leave one feeling a little disoriented.  One minute you’re slapping the snooze alarm and struggling to sit upright in bed, and the next you’re making sure the alarm is set as you turn out the light and crawl back into bed.

I think we can all see the problem here.  It is alarm clocks.

If our lives weren’t regulated by these obnoxious little so-and-so’s, life would be much sweeter.  A little more chaotic, perhaps, but a lot more pleasant.

For instance, I could get up at ten AM every morning the way my mind and my body would prefer.  That would be bliss for me!

However, I might find that there’s no coffee in the house, because the thousands of people it takes to get coffee from the coffee plantations of Peru and into a little red bag on my kitchen counter ALSO slept in and just couldn’t be bothered to carry out the mundane, tedious, monotonous tasks required to successfully carry out this miracle of the modern world.

But that wouldn’t matter, because there would be no electricity to power my coffee pot because the thousands upon thousands of people that it takes to get oil out from underneath the Gulf of Mexico, refined, and to the power plant that generates my electricity to power my coffee pot would have ALSO slept in and so that entire, beautiful, perfect chain of events that turns Gulf-of-Mexico sludge into coffee would have come unraveled and fallen apart.

Long story short:  No coffee for Biff.

So, buzz on, Ye Noble Alarm Clock!  Wake us from our peaceful slumbers and send us out into the world to do things we don’t want to do so that we can enjoy the fruits of the labors of others who also got up and did things they did not want to do.

All of humanity is being driven by our mutual dissatisfaction of what we do, and our mutual desire to have others continue to do what they don’t want to do.

It is a house of cards.  But for Gosh Sakes!  Please, nobody stop doing what you’re doing!

 

Captain’s Log: Monday

sailing-ship-cartoon-silhouette-hi #1

The reefs and shoals of the Strait of Monday have been successfully navigated by the S.S. BiffSockPow.  Repairs to the ship are underway.

All unessential crew (which is apparently all of them) have been given liberty and told to please not get involved in drunken brawls or with people of dubious character.  Unfortunately, that means that the crew cannot associate with themselves, and that is making for some feelings of isolation among the crew.

The ship’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Buck Uplads, has published a bulletin in which he advised them to, “just grow up, ya big babies!”  Results have been mixed.

While in dry dock, the ship is being subjected to a long overdue hull-scraping to rid it of a year’s accumulation of barnacles.  It was assumed this was covered under the ship’s extended warranty (which cost a pretty doubloon), but apparently it is considered routine maintenance and I was presented with a bill that took the wind out of my sails.

I told the port maintenance authority that I could not afford such an extravagance, and to please put the old barnacles back on the hull and that I would try to get another 20,000 leagues out of them.  They did not seem happy and informed me that my old barnacles were showing signs of wear and that if I did not have them replaced it constituted a safety hazard and might void the ship’s warranty.  But I silenced them by telling them that I had lost my booty while suffering from a bad case of the doldrums when in the horse latitudes.  They nodded and said that would explain my long face.

The ship was eventually returned to me, the crew staggered back aboard, and preparations were made to set sail towards the Sea of Tuesday at first light tomorrow.

A Short Sunday Morning Ramble

Biff Hiking #3

It is Sunday morning and the world is stretching and yawning and rubbing the sleep out of its eyes.  I have not even gotten that far yet.

It’s only 9 AM and already the world is passing me by.

Just before I woke up this morning, I was dreaming that it was still the Christmas holiday and that I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be or anything I needed to get done.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I awoke and realized that there were places I need to be and things I need to get done.  Sometimes I’m not sure dreams are all they’re cracked up to be.  Sure, they’re nice places to escape from reality for awhile, but like a good book, they always end and then deposit you right back in the real world from whence we came.  Which in turn (prepare yourselves … this is a multi-layer metaphor) is like an amusement park ride.  It’s fun, thrilling, exciting, exhilarating … for about 2 minutes, and then you’re right back on the ground trying to decide if you want to stand in that long line to do it again.

Perhaps it would be better if we didn’t dream at all and so when our eyes popped open in the morning, there were no expectation or prejudices about what the day will be bringing us.

On the other hand, what fun is life without the occasional good book, cozy dream, or roller coaster ride?

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — My Weekend So Far

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

It was a quiet Saturday here in Biffville (a suburb of Dallas).

Weekends always start Friday evening with such promise, optimism, and hope.   However, those things evaporate like morning dew as soon as the rising sun hits them on Saturday morning.  Not long after staggering out of bed and towards the coffee maker, it becomes apparent that there will not be much in the way of progress or accomplishment this day.   Gone is the big dream of finally cleaning out the attic, replaced by the more attainable dream of having both eyes open at the same time and pointing in generally the same direction.

Coffee restores a little bit of my Friday evening optimism, but not much.  My dreams of writing prolifically throughout the weekend are put on hold while, instead, I attend to such mundane tasks as laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, getting a haircut, talking to various people on the phone, and filling up the car with gas.

Eventually, Saturday evening rolls around and I can finally sit down at the keyboard.  I stare at it for upwards of 30 minutes, trying to remember what exactly it was that just yesterday evening  seemed like such a brilliant idea for a blog post.

Perhaps I should have written it down.

But that doesn’t work either.

I have received cryptic notes from myself before that I stared at like an Egyptologist who was the first to set eyes on hieroglyphs.  I scratch my head as I read cryptic words that are the equivalent of a bird with a cat’s head.  Alligator body with a dog’s head?  Koala on a pogo stick?  A wheel of cheese on an escalator?  What the hell was I trying to tell myself?  If only I could decipher it, I might perchance get a blog post out of it.

But it is too late.  My energy and enthusiasm of Friday night has dissipated into a sort of inert lump of lethargy.

And that’s where blog posts like this one come from.

 

Biff’s Weekly Top Five, Jan 12 2018

pool-snooker-ball #5

I am starting a weekly feature of providing my top 5 favorite things I’ve read on WordPress for the past week.  These will usually take the form of single-sentence quotes, though some may be multi-sentence. 
Most of them will be humorous, because that’s what I’m all about. 
They are presented in no particular order.
I invite you to visit the blogs I’ve linked to and give the bloggers some love (and likes).  I’d rather you give THEM the likes than me.  Enjoy!

#1

“Two Dead as Restoration Hardware Catalog Falls Off Coffee Table”

Post Title & Link:     Two Dead as Restoration Hardware Catalog Falls Off Coffee Table

Blog Title & Link:    Gerbil News Network

Posted on:                 January 12, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

This was actually the title of the blog post and not a line from the post, but I thought it was awesome.  It’s the sort of line I wish I’d written myself.  The post itself is very funny, too.

 


#2

“I believe that when you go to bed for the night, you should stop shouting at your husband.”

Post Title & Link:  Ask Me Anything. I’m a Billionaire.

Blog Title:              DOES WRITING EXCUSE WATCHING?

Posted on:              January 12, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

This was one of the best and most accurate (and funniest) descriptions of what cryptocurrencies are and how they work.  It should be the Wikipedia entry for cryptocurrency.

Bonus points for the blog post title itself.  Very funny!

 


#3

“Switzerland may be famously neutral and their knives more functional than deadly, but their aloof contemplation can be withering.”

Post Title & Link:     it is Rapperswil, not rapper swill

Blog Title:                 TRASK AVENUE

Posted on:                January 12, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

This is easily one of the best travelogue posts I have ever read.  Maybe even THE best.  And by “best, I mean hilarious.  It makes me actually want to go to Rapperswil and drink some huckleberry gin and go up to look for my contacts at the summit where Rapperswil Castle sits majestically. 

The quote above wasn’t the funniest line from the post, but most of the humor was multi-sentence and I needed something single-sentence.

 


#4

“I live in a small house, but I just discovered how roomy it really is. I took down the Christmas tree.”

Post Title & Link:     Still alive and thinking

Blog Title:                 Monica’s Pen

Posted on:                January 12, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

A warm, cozy, humorous post about something we all struggle with:  coming up with ideas to write about and the inspiration to get it written.   (Happy birthday, Monica!)

 


#5

“On my deathbed I’m not going to think, ‘boy, I wish I ate less junk food.’ I feel like I’m more likely to think, ‘maybe I shouldn’t have tried cocaine.’ I’m certainly still going to be ruing my decision to go to grad school.”

Post Title & Link:     Life is Sweet

Blog Title:                 Welcome to the Cubicle

Posted on:                January 12, 2018

Biff’s Comments:

 This is one of those introspective post-new-years posts that we can all relate to.  It is written in a very humorous way that makes us nod our head and smile because we see ourselves so clearly in in the writer’s words.

Bonus points for the blog title.  I am always drawn to anything referencing cubicles.  I think cubicles are a singular sign of humanity’s collective insanity.

 


 

So there you have it:  my first installment of Biff’s Weekly Top Five.  I hope you enjoyed it!  And remember … go to the blogger’s sites and show them some love and appreciation!

A Ramble About Rambling (Now With Cheez-Its

Biff Hiking #3

Or

“A Rambling Rambler Rambles About Rambles”

Look, I know we all dislike “ramble” posts.  But sometimes the only way to cure writer’s block is to just get up and go for a ramble  I’m sure there are several of you who wish I would just up and ramble away, but that’s not quite what I meant.

One of the problems of having a blog while leading a spectacularly uninteresting life is that it is hard to find things to write about.  Often I will just sit here staring at this darned blank “Write” screen and go back over my day minute by minute, hoping to find something, anything, to write about.  The conversation in my head goes something like this.


There was that time I was on the phone and wrote down something on a sticky note, but when I went to stick the note on my wall it just fell off, because I had used an ordinary notepad instead of a sticky one.

Um … no … I don’t think so.

Oh, how about when I was driving at lunch and I saw that sock laying in the middle of the road and I was like, “What?  Why is there a sock in the middle of the road?

No … keep looking.

Remember when I stopped working on that report and I leaned back in my chair to stretch and almost toppled over backwards, but I caught myself just in time, and I was like, “Whoa!  I almost fell over backwards.”  But I didn’t.  That was sure something, eh?

Umm … I think we should just save that one for when we’re REALLY desperate for something to write about.  Keep thinking.

Oh, I know!  Remember when I went down to the vending machine to get a package of Cheez-Its™ and I was putting my money in, but it kept returning that one quarter and wouldn’t take it, so I just kept putting it in over and over until I was like, “Hey, what the heck?” and I was getting really torqued off, but then I noticed I had already put in enough money so that’s why it kept returning it and then I was like “dur-hay!” and just got my Cheez-Its™ and went back to my desk?

Wow!  Dude.  We really need to work on getting you out of the building more often.  Come on.  Surely there’s something you can write about.

Well, there were those two Cheez-It™ squares that were still joined together.  I guess they didn’t break them apart at the factory or something, so I got a double-square Cheez-It™.   How cool is that?

You know what?  I give up.  You’re on your own.


 

A conversation like that can go on in my head for an hour or more with not a word making its way down onto the computer to be posted in this here blog.

Now do you know why I like to ramble away sometimes?


Author’s Note:  I didn’t receive diddly squat from the Kellogg company for endorsing their fine Cheez-It™ product in my blog.  However, I’m sure I could be persuaded to write Cheez-It™ themed blogs regularly (if you know what I mean … wink wink nudge nudge).

 

Tastes Kinda Like Victory

 

0 - Man Asleep on Desk

I am ready to declare victory on my New Year’s resolution to write sporadic, disjointed posts on my blog with no sense of regularity, and interspersed with days upon days of inactivity.

Nailed it!

You can’t see me, but I’m giving myself a high five right now.

I can now cross that resolution off the list.  Normally it would take an entire year to amass enough blog posts to determine if I had been successful or not, but I think 4 blog posts in ten days is a statistically significant sample and it certainly allows me to extrapolate where I might be 355 days from now.  Oh yeah!  Looking good!  There’s really no need to write any more posts.  I think we can all see where this is heading.  Pardon me while I take a victory lap around my living room.

Ow!  Dang-it!  Stubbed my toe on the coffee table.   Give me just a second …

Please Stand By

 

Okay.  I’m back.  That table leg must have hit a nerve just right because it caused my eyes to sweat profusely. Ha ha!  Who would’ve thought that the toe bone is connected to the eye bone?  I may not know much about anatomy but … well … I know that song.  Parts of it anyway.

Okay … enough silliness.  I know my blog readers well enough to know that you don’t come here looking for levity, jocularity, or interesting topics.  I’m pretty sure you think of my blog like an 8 AM Monday morning meeting.  That is, you only go if there are doughnuts.

Sorry, no doughnuts today.  There are, however, some little packets of faux Parmesan cheese left over from the pizza party we had last month.  Feel free to tuck in.  I’m pretty sure they don’t have an expiration date.

This, then, is what this blog has come to.  Don’t we deserve better than this?  Don’t we deserve something better than packets of faux Parmesan cheese?  Sure, there may also be a packet or two of red pepper flakes, but does that really make anything better?  Is it too much to ask to get an occasional doughnut?  Even those weird ones that no one ever eats?

Rest assured that I shall send a strongly worded email to the management to let our demands be known.

In the meantime, let us enjoy these packets of Dijon mustard and lite mayonnaise that were left over from the company picnic back in August.  What is the worst that could happen?

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — On Sundays, Linux, and Cagney

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

 

What is it about Sunday nights that just makes them suddenly appear out of nowhere?

One minute you’re driving away from work on Friday afternoon thinking you have a never-ending weekend ahead of you in which to finally knock out that never-ending to-do list that’s been hanging over your head since 1985 … and the next thing you know it is Sunday night and time for bed and the only accomplishment you can claim without laughing is that you finally managed to polish off that box of Christmas cookies you got as a gift and were worried you wouldn’t be able to finish before they went stale.

But enough about my accomplishments.  I don’t want to come across as bragging.  Sure I’m humble, but I don’t want to flaunt it.

Actually, now that I think about it, I did manage to complete something.  It wasn’t on my to-do list, but I accomplished it anyway.  It was on a to-do list I had back in, I think, 2014 or 15, but that I accidentally threw away in 2015 while executing a New Year’s resolution I’d made myself to clean up my home office.  That “clean the office” activity also lost steam after I’d thrown out the to-do list.  At that point there was no evidence that I’d ever made it so I felt confident in abandoning it.  The coppers had nothing on me, see?  Yeah.  Nuttin’ at all, see?  Yeah.

OMG, where was I?

Oh yeah, the thing I managed to accomplish tonight.  Yesterday, I excavated a relative’s old Dell laptop out of the depths of my office closet.  Since I am an electrical engineer, all of my relatives think that I collect old, defunct, or obsolete laptops.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Relative:  “Hey, you’re an engineer.  You should take this old laptop of mine.  I got a new one.”

Me:  “Oh … um … thanks.  I guess.”

I haven’t the heart (or the courage … or the brain … or some other Oz character) to tell them that I know next to nothing about laptops outside of how to turn them on and swear at them while they do interminable Windows updates.  My inability to speak up has netted me a cache of useless laptops.

Anyway, I took this aged Dell laptop that weighs an impressive 20 pounds (whose lap was THAT designed for?) and is abysmally slow and fired it up.  It booted after about 30 minutes and then set about doing about three years of Windows updates.  I just left it and came back to it the next day (today).  Then, while laughing maniacally while lightening lit up the room intermittently, I installed Ubuntu 17.10 (with Gnome) on it.

Take that, Microsoft!  Your precious laptop is now a Linux machine, see?  Yeah.  A Linux machine, see?  You coppers will never take me alive, see?  Yeah!

[Why the heck to I keep slipping into a Jimmy Cagney mode?]

So yeah … I now have a 20-pound Dell laptop running Linux.  Sure, it boots about 30 minutes faster than Windows did.  Sure, the cooling fan doesn’t run as fast as a 747 jet engine’s any more.  Sure, the new Gnome desktop is pretty.  Sure, it’s got LibreOffice on it (which is almost as good as MS Office … just like a Kia is almost as good as a Lamborghini).  But it still weighs 20 pounds.   And looks like something from the 1980s.

But now I can write “Extensive Linux experience” on my resume.

And, really, isn’t that what life is all about?

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Post Christmas Edition

 

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

Today was the first normal Saturday I’ve had in about 5 or 6 weeks.  Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and all of the hullabaloo surrounding those things, I have been out of my routine far longer than is good for me.

Yes, I am a creature of habit.  I can’t seem to stop myself.

But even today doesn’t quite count as “normal”.  I spent a portion of the day de-Christmassing the premises.  This involved getting a lot of empty boxes and bins down out of the attic.  These are the same empty bins I put up there only about 2 weeks ago after decorating the house.  And the same ones that I took down from the attic a week before that (albiet full).

I am getting quite adept and moving boxes and bins up and down out of the attic.  I wonder if that is a marketable skill?

Today, I took down the yard decorations.  When I put them up about two weeks ago, it was about 25 degrees (-4 C) outside.  Today, as I took them down, it was about 63 degrees (17 C).  It is bad enough deconstructing Christmas decorations in and of itself.  It is sort of a depressing ordeal.  That is because, while dismantling life-sized, light-up plastic snowmen and large faux light-up Christmas presents (designed to withstand the outdoors), and brilliant fuchsia metallic Christmas trees (also designed to withstand the outdoors), one cannot help but be a little melancholy thinking back over the joyous activities of the past few weeks.   And now it all seems a bit gaudy.

But then couple that with unseasonably warm temperatures and … well … it seems a trifle disrespectful.  It seems as if even Mother Nature has turned her back on Christmas.  I can almost see her, dusting her hands and going, “Well, that’s the end of that!  Time to move on.”  I don’t know why, but she is wearing an apron and looking suspiciously like Mary Poppins in this image in my head.  (Hey … I can’t control the way my mind works!)

So, even though I very much want life to return to normal here around chez Biff, it is proving difficult.  I want to put Christmas behind me, but it keeps calling me and leaving me awkward voice-mails.  It is proving to be a very messy break-up.

Okay … Let’s Do This

Man-Typing-Silhouette-2400px

I can’t believe that it is already the 4th day of the new year and I have only written two blog posts.  For those of you who like to do complex math problems as a hobby, that is only a half a post per day.  Or, for those of you who like pointless acronyms, 0.5 PPD (Posts Per Day) .

At this rate, I will only have 182.125 blog posts completed at the end of 2018.   That would be tragic!  Of course, that is a significant improvement over 2017, but I’m not one to let math get in the way of my emotional tirades.

Now, my more astute readers are now saying, “But Biff … this is the 3rd blog post of 2018, so that means your PPD is now 0.75, which means that by the end of 2018 you will have written 273.1875 blog posts.

Really … who says things like that?

But you make a good point.  I would be quite happy with 273.1875 blog posts within a year.  However, I am a little curious as to what that 0.1875 post would look like.  That is three sixteenths of a blog post and I’m guessing it is one of those posts wherein in hit the “Publish” button accidentally before I’ve finished writing it, but I’m too lazy to go back into it and finish it.

If ever there was a time that I should not click the “Publish” button, it is right now for this very post … but I’ve got my PPD to think about.

2018 Day Two: I Remember Where I Work

Today was my first day back at work since December 14, which is a whopping 18 days off.  I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that I have not thought of work a single time since December 14 (except for being glad that I wasn’t there).

So, when I hopped in the car this morning and started driving, it is a miracle that I headed off in the correct direction.  I could just as easily struck out in the wrong direction and ended up at a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble or in Fort Worth while staring out the windshield in bewilderment while saying, “Hmmm … this doesn’t seem right.  This is an open field.”

I won’t take any credit for having the mental faculties to get to work this morning.  It was purely muscle memory.  That happens when you drive to the same place every work day for 8 years.  Therefore, my brain had nothing to do with it.  My brain was, in fact, trying to thwart the enterprise by telling me stridently that this endeavor was hopeless and that we should just go back home and go to bed.  But I reminded my brain that this was the price for spending too much on Christmas.  I then set about to ignore my brain.

I managed to make it through the revolving door in only one revolution and without losing my briefcase or a glove or my sanity.  I wandered through the hallways in a daze.

giphy-downsized.gif

It was like deja vu.  It sort of seemed familiar … and yet totally alien, too.

I stepped into my office and was about to set my briefcase down but then, just to make sure, I took a few steps backwards out into the hallway.  Yep, that was my name on the door.  Just making sure.  It never hurts to be careful.

I fired up the ol’ computer.  I stared blankly at the login screen.  It seemed to be wanting some sort of password.  Hmmm.  What could it be?  This serves The Company right for making us change our passwords every 45 days (while making sure it contains at least 12 characters, a mix of alphanumeric and special characters, a mix of upper and lowercase letters, nothing even vaguely similar to something we’ve used in the past, and no words found in the dictionary).  Hell, it’s a miracle I remember it from day to day, let alone after an 18 day sabbatical!

I finally managed to get logged in.  My email inbox was packed with emails sent by people before the holiday break who wanted everyone in the company to think they were busy the week before Christmas.  Who ARE these people?  Should I recognize these names?   There’s only one way to resolve this.

<Select All>

<Delete>

There.  Problem solved.

Now, what was I doing before the holidays?  I seem to recall some sort of spreadsheet.  Or maybe it was a PowerPoint.  I’m pretty sure there were numbers in it.  And a graph of some sort.

Maybe I’ll just hide in my office and hope everyone else is in the same boat as me.

[Note to self:  Next Christmas, leave notes for myself before Christmas to remind me after Christmas what I was working on.]

 

 

Rambles With Biff — The First Writer’s Block of the New Year

Biff Hiking #3

It is only 19 hours into the new year and already I am struggling to think of something to write about.  I hope this is not a harbinger of how things are going to be in 2018.  So I’ll just start off with a ramble because it’s a cheap trick effective method for coming up with a topic to write about.

Weather … ‘Tis Colder in the Mind to Suffer

First I’ll talk about the weather.  Regular readers of this blog will be quite familiar with how much I complain about the oppressive heat here and how we really only have two forms of weather here:  (a) hot and (b) scary.

But once in awhile Mother Nature will toss us a curve ball … that has spikes on it … and explodes.  This time she has tossed us some extreme cold.  Now, I realize that compared to everyone north of us, this is just typical winter weather.  It might even be laughably mild to someone in, say, International Falls, Minnesota.  But to us Dallasites, when the temperature gets down into the teens (~ -8 C), it is like the apocalypse.   It is even worse if it gets down that low and stays there for more than a few hours.  This time she has sent us temps in the teens and 20s and she has left it there for several days.  For your typical Dallasite, it feels like the end times.

It is so bad that I had to dig out a winter coat that I almost donated to the Salvation Army a few months ago because I have not needed it for about 4 or 5 years and thought I never would again.  But I’m wearing it now!   It is getting a good workout, along with gloves, scarves, and a toque.  And if you think the weather is frosty, try wearing a Green Bay Packers toque down here in the heart of Dallas Cowboys territory.  I have been teased mercilessly.  But I don’t care.  I would wear a Pretty Pretty Pony toque in this weather if it was all I had.

To Diet, To Sleep — Perchance to Dream

Now that the holidays are over, I can return to my normal sleeping and eating patterns.

It is a pretty common topic here in Blogville to discuss post-holiday dieting.  Don’t worry.  I’m not about to resolve to go on a diet.  I’m not going to give you my recipe for tofu fritters or grilled breast of hummingbird.

No, I don’t think it counts as a diet if I just go back to eating normal amounts of food.  Over the holidays it was not uncommon to eat three meals a day of about 2,500 calories apiece … and to spend the time between meals gorging on chocolates, cakes, pies, etc.  Is it sad that I am actually looking forward to scaling back to a mere 2,000 calories a day?  My body will thank me.  My clothes will thank me.  I will thank me.

The grocery store, on the other hand, may go into mourning and send me a polite inquiry, asking me if all is well in the Biff household.

Ay, There’s the Nub

So there you have it.  The perfect cure for writer’s block is just to start typing and hope something comes to you.  What dreams may come?  You never know until you start writing and see what your brain is capable of thinking up.

Biff’s Top Five Posts of 2017

pool-snooker-ball #5

Self-promotion does not come easy for me.  In fact, it is antithetical to my personality.  However, every “How To Blog” article I have ever read says that one must be relentless in one’s self promotion.  So, I am going to hold my nose and do this.  I apologize up front to everyone.

Here are my top 5 blog posts from 2017 according to my stats page.  I excluded my “About” page and other miscellaneous things that never change.


Numero Cinco (#5)

There was a tie for fifth place between the following two blog posts:

I Was Wrong … and I’m Glad I Was

Posted:  December 29, 2017                                   Views:  46

In this post I waxed philosophic and with thankfulness and gratitude about the past year of my blogging activity on WordPress.

How To Have An Existential Crisis For Fun and Profit (and Maybe a Few Yucks)

Posted:  December 15, 2017                                          Views:  46

In this post I attempted to give some insight into a humor-writer’s brain and thought processes.  It was really me expounding upon the old saw “write what you know”.  But what is a writer to do when he or she has strip-mined everything they know for every single word possible and have run out of ideas?  This post doesn’t offer any answers, but it was very cathartic to me.


Nummer Vier (#4)

T’is the Season — To Crank Up the A/C

Posted:  December 4, 2017                                   Views:  51

The weather here in Dallas is a writing well I keep going back to over and over again.  I know everywhere in the world thinks they have the most unique weather there is, but the Dallas weather changes so often it makes my head spin.  Anyway, I don’t think the weather theme was the cause for so many hits on this post.  I think it was my attempt to be humorous and to come up with Texas-themed Christmas carol titles.


Uimhir a Trí (#3)

In a Vacuum, No One Can Hear You Blog

Posted:  July 8, 2017                                   Views:  54

I have no idea why this post broke the top 20, let alone the top 5.  It was just me moaning about how hard it is to blog frequently and consistently.  The ideas dry up.  One becomes repetitive.  One tries new things only to find the reception tepid or non-existent.  I know these things are not unique to me.  I am not special, nor do I deserve special consideration.  Everyone who blogs struggles with these things.


Номер два (#2)

Haircut Roulette

Posted:  March 12, 2017                                   Views:  57

Again, I have no idea why this post struck a chord with my readers.  I would have placed it down around 127th place.  I was merely bemoaning the fact that the guy has cut my hair for the past 25 years up and moved away, and how hard it was for me to find another barber who could cut my hair to my liking.  I guess it is just one of those universal things we all go through in our lives.


[Insert drum roll here …]

Tau Tuatahi (#1)

An Open Letter To My Fellow Bloggers

Posted:  November 15, 2017                                   Views:  232

As you can see, this was by far my most-read blog post.  It was also my most commented on and my most reposted blog post.

In it I wrote about how hard it is to keep up with everyone else’s blog.  There are just so many wonderful writers, photographers, and artists out there who post so many awesome things!  It is nearly impossible to keep up.  I guess this really struck a chord with everyone, because it generated a lot of hits.  And thank you to everyone who reposted it for me!  That certainly helped.


Well, there you have it … my Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017.  I started to make it a top ten, but I am feeling lazy.  Besides, taking my own advice from my number one blog post, I didn’t want to make it even harder for you to keep up with everyone’s blog.  🙂

Happy New Year, Everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful 2017, and I hope you all have a fantastic 2018.  Thank you all for everything!

 

 

 

 

2017 – A Reminiscence

fathertimeteaches 2017a

Well, 2017 is on life support and only has a few hours left to live.  It is customary for people (especially people with blogs) to reminisce about the year that just ended and to make wild-ass promises about the upcoming year.  Since I am a people, and especially since I am a people with a blog, I am required by law to post such a blog.

Reminiscences 

2017 was a very good year for me.  I was in good health.  My job, though uninspiring, affords me such luxuries as food, clothing, shelter, central air, hot-and-cold running water, electricity, and internet service.  I feel guilty when I complain about anything, because quite honestly, I have nothing to complain about.  When I let life’s nuisances and annoyances get to me, when I wail and gnash my teeth and rend my clothing, I feel quite silly and ungrateful because I have it better than the vast majority of people in the world, either now or in the past.

The theme of 2017 for me was minimization and simplification.  As we go through life, we tend to accumulate stuff.  These things slowly take over our lives and consume us.  We find ourselves spending the majority of our waking hours maintaining, managing, upgrading, and declaring our fealty to the useless things we accumulate.  Well, in 2017, I said “no more!”  I have begun shedding the things in my life that no longer serve me or bring me joy.

But enough philosophizing.  I meant to reminisce instead.  Below are some of my reminiscences about 2017.

Blogging

Though I was not new to blogging before 2017 rolled around, this was the first blog I put any real effort into and kept up with anything approaching consistency.  As a result, I met some really wonderful people, got to read some fantastic blogs, and received lots and lots of encouragement.  That has absolutely been the best part of blogging for me.  I love the community of bloggers who support each other, encourage each other, read each other’s stuff, and have a great time together.  I wish we were not spread out all over the world, for it would be a real hoot to get together with you all at a picnic or a pizza party or somewhere just to eat and laugh and talk and have a wonderful time together.

Projects

I half-completed a few things this year.

  • Almost completed restoring a vintage 1950s vacuum tube radio.  It fell victim to my Short Attention Span (SAS).
  • Nearly completed a model of a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500.  (Another SAS victim.)
  • Attempted to teach myself how to cartoon (Realized very quickly that I am not a cartoonist, nor will I ever be.)

I had more success with a few other projects.

  • Built a Virtual Private Network (VPN) using a Raspberry Pi computer board
  • Painted two oil paintings under the tutelage of a Bob Ross certified instructor
  • Managed to write 200+ posts for this here blog
  • Bought a Canon T-6 camera and took up photography (still not good enough to post anything, though)
  • Cut the cord.  I now no longer have cable or a land-line phone, though I still have Internet.  This has saved me over $150 a month!  I have not missed cable TV one little bit.

Other things were a complete disaster or ended in abject failure.

  • Meant to clean out the garage — didn’t even get started
  • Ditto on the attic
  • Decided to stop collecting old books and so tried to get rid of my collection of 800+ books.  Found out old books are worthless.  I may end up tossing them in the recycling bin.
  • Failed miserably in my resolution to read a book a month.  I only managed to read about 3 or 4 books this year.  I realize this is pathetic, but I shall do better this year.
  • Failed miserably in my resolution to finish writing a book this year.  I only wrote half of two novels.  Perhaps if I put these two failed attempts into a single binder, that would count as an entire novel.  Hmmmm.   We’ll call that one a near miss.

 

Life Events

I’ll put all of these in the Win Column.

  • Remained employed
  • Remained healthy
  • Did not lose anyone close to me
  • Got a new roof on my house to replace the hail-damaged one.  Insurance picked up huge portion of it (though I still had to fork out significant $$$)
  • Daughter got a job and moved all the way across the country and is now self-sufficient

 

Wild-Ass Promises

Here are my wild-ass promises for 2018.  (Some might call them delusions.)

  1.  Finish writing one of the two novels I started in 2017.  (Bonus points for finishing both of them.)
  2. Continue writing consistently in this blog.  The adjuncts to this will be to grow my readership and to continue growing my circle of blogging friends.  Most of the fun of blogging is meeting new people!
  3. Clean out the attic and garage.
  4. Continue my path towards minimization and simplification.
  5. Try to lead a more interesting life so that I will have something to blog about.  (This one goes into the Fantasy column.)

 

I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year’s, and I hope 2018 is wonderful and successful for you all!

 

 

I Was Wrong … and I’m Glad I Was

Man-Typing-Silhouette-2400px

It is almost one year to the day that I kicked off this blog with a promise to myself that I would actually do it.  And maybe even stick to it for a little while.  You can read my promise to myself (and my lack of faith in same) at the following link:

Higher Resolution … or Highly Resolute … or Just High

Overall, I would rate my progress over the past year as a solid “E” (i.e. exceeded expectations).  I honestly thought I would only get six or eight posts into this thing before I gave it up.  That had been my track record up until then and I saw no reason why the pattern wouldn’t repeat.  After all, I have lived a life made up of started-but-never-finished projects.  It just seems to be part of my DNA.

But I am happy to report that I have not only stuck with this blog for an entire year, but that I have written over 200 posts, have had over 2,000 visitors, and have received over 4,700 views.  Those numbers far, far exceed what my expectations were when I started this little venture.  After all, I only started this blog to try and become more regular in my writing.  Therefore, I figured that my record at the end of the year would be more along the lines of 8 posts, 21 visitors, and 63 views.  I also assumed that most of those visitors would be me checking my blog from different IP addresses.

Anyway, I want to thank you all for allowing me to have such a stellar year.  The best part of it all is not my stats, but the friends I have made, the amazing blogs I have gotten to read, and the knowledge I have gained.

You all make blogging fun!

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — What Day Is This?

Poor Biff's Almanac Graphic (Colored) #1

Hello, Everyone!

I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage.  I have been off from work for about two weeks and as I explained in a post back in July, I have lost all sense of time and timeliness.  I don’t know what day of the week it is, what the date is, how many days are left before I’m supposed to go back to work.  Heck, I hardly even remember what year it is!  Christmas has compounded that issue somewhat.

Though I am enjoying the heck out of being off from work, there is a slight price to be paid.  The first price to be paid is the nagging question, “Why can’t my entire life be like this?”  I know there are very obvious answers to that, not the least of which is, “Because.

Still, it is frustrating.

The second price to be paid is a constant feeling of disorientation and discombobulation.  The past few weeks have been filled with questions such as the following.

  1. Why is this TV show coming on on Tuesday night?  Oh .. wait … it’s Friday.
    .
  2. Wow!  Chic-Fil-A is open on Sunday!  Oh … wait … it’s Tuesday.
    .
  3. This milk is still good.  It doesn’t expire until the 22nd.   *spewing*  Ugh!   This is the 29th!
    .
  4. I don’t have to set the trash out by the curb for another 4 days.  OMG!  They’re here!
    .
  5. This 75% off coupon doesn’t expire until the 27th.  Oh … wait … that was 2 days ago.

And a dozen other things like that.

In addition to those things, I am starting to feel a growing sense of uneasiness about going back to work.  The following worries are starting to haunt my every waking moment.

  1.  Will I remember all of my passwords on my first day back?  I can’t seem to remember them at the moment.
    .
  2. What was I working on before I left for the holidays?
    .
  3. What if I accidentally miscalculated the number of vacation days I had left in 2017 and I actually owe the company money now?
    .
  4. What were the names of the people I work with again?
    .
  5. Did I have any meetings scheduled for my first day back?  If so, what were they about?

My only hope is that all of my coworkers will be going through the exact same thing I will be.

My Favorite Holiday Quotes From Fellow Bloggers, Volume 2

Here is my second volume of these!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Backstory:  While reading holiday posts from other fellow bloggers, I had the brilliant idea to capture some of my favorite quotes from some of the posts I’ve read.  Below are the ones I have so far.  I’ll add to it as I read more posts.

Be sure to visit their awesome blogs!

mailbox &amp; Presents


“I doubt if there will even be peace on earth, especially when Monopoly comes out.”

“Christmas Already?” at nothinglikeadane


“You know, all I really want for Christmas is a few hundred more blog followers. ”

“Grinchy Christmas Musings and a Holiday Party to Remember” at Popcorn and Pigtails


“I spent the morning watching the kiddie-winks in our local church nativity and answering the question ‘so, Mary, what are you doing now then?‘ at a rate of 10 per hour.”

“The Gift of Laughter” at Mary. She Wrote.


“Thinking up what comes next is hard when you’re dying on the inside from lack of sleep and screaming children.”

“Christmas morning” at J.R.Polkinghorne


 

“They Were Terrible, But Handy” at Struts and Frets

[It’s visual … you just have to see it.  But well worth the visit! – Biff]


 

“Today, e-cards are about as cutting edge as AOL or Netscape Navigator (remember those?)”

“Why I don’t like e-cards.” at Dream Big, Dream Often

 


 

 

 

My Favorite Holiday Quotes From Fellow Bloggers, Volume 1

 

While reading holiday posts from other fellow bloggers, I had the brilliant idea to capture some of my favorite quotes from some of the posts I’ve read.  Below are the ones I have so far.  I’ll add to it as I read more posts.

Be sure to visit their awesome blogs!

mailbox &amp; Presents


“You have to be in good shape to hit the mall, though, because the mall hits back.”

“Reindeer Games” at Charron’s Chatter


“My house basically looks like Ghost of Christmas past, present and future came in and threw up in here.”

“Holiday Help” at Carbie Courtney


“I promise to behave myself this year and not to take anything out of another person’s basket – unless, of course, they got the last good item and I have to.”

“Dear Santa” at Humor Columnist Blog


“Hook’s Drug Store! Hook’s Drug Store! Hook’s Drug Store! They say power comes in three’s.”

“The Xmas Gifts That Almost Weren’t!” at Sparkyjen


“And nobody’s smiling. Why is no one smiling? It’s Christmas, you jerks. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year and yet all these people out here acting like feral animals.”

[bonus quote]  “You’re like an emo Krampus.”

“Stop. You’re missing Christmas.” at Chick Writes Stuff


“… I was expecting to see a mob of surfing Santa’s in Byron but alas that has not happened.”

“That’s Festive…” at Element’s I Love…


“I pronounce it care eh mel and the say carmel. It’s an age old argument.”

“Daily Prompt: Bliss” at The Bag Lady

 


“I used big brown boxes as a kid. We put on shows, made a backyard fair, flattened them into stupidly fast ways to slide down wet grass in the spring, and generally used them as canvases on which we drew our childhoods.”

“Big Brown Box” at Trimbathcreative’s Blog


“Icy rain can be quite beautiful… Don’t worry, the broken leg was totally worth it!”

“after-eight-moments-151” at Cyranny’s cove


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alistair and Alexis Christmas Special, Episode 8

Vintage Christmas 10_shopwindows_hz

Link to Episode 7

I felt the time had come to do a little Christmas shopping.   The previous year I had put it off until the very last minute and it had been a disaster of epic proportions, rivaling the Jamestown flood, the stock market crash of 1929, and the closing down of the last Choc-o-dillo candy bar factory when I was a boy of ten.

I come from a long line of Callington men who were not good Christmas shoppers.  It must be a particular gene we are missing, for there has been a continuous line of ill-conceived and tone-deaf gift ideas dating back to when the very first Mr. Callington presented to the very first Mrs. Callington a whale-boned corset, which the salesman at the store had assured him were all the rage in Paris that year, but to which Mrs. Callington took extreme umbrage to on Christmas morning.  As there were no return policies at that time, the corset was given to the dogs as a chew toy and Mrs. Callington was instead given, as a palliative, a summer home in the Hamptons.  Things have not improved much in the 150 years since.

Therefore, when I climbed into the back of the limo without my customary joie d’ vivre in tow, James seemed a bit surprised.  He seemed even more surprised when I asked him to please take me to the mall.  Callington men, as a rule, are not the sort to go to malls.  My ancestors were no doubt turning over in their graves in dismay (or at least raising their eyebrows) at the mere suggestion that an heir to the Callington name and fortune was even considering such a thing.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.  As the famous chappie once said (and I paraphrase), “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the mall up with our American bread.”

After confirming that I had indeed said mall, James drove me thither.

That is how I found myself standing in the middle of the Heather Meadows Mall looking down the long promenade towards Mackadoo’s upscale department store at the far end of the mall.  Throngs of Christmas shoppers surged here and there like human eddies in a slow-motion river of humanity.  Tennyson no doubt had shopping malls in mind when he wrote:

And down the river’s dim expanse,

Like some bold seër in a trance

Seeing all his own mischance–

With a glassy countenance

Did she look to Camelot.

But if I am to make it to Camelot (or, as we call it locally, Mackadoo’s), I must pass hundreds of little stores, all of which were after the money I had allotted to spend on Christmas, plus more that I had not allotted to spend.  If previous years were any indication, these ruthless merchants who peddle joy and cheer mercilessly would want about 50% more than I was planning on spending.

I stood and racked my brain trying to think of what to get for Alexis.  Perhaps a nice plush robe or elegant nightgown?  Or maybe a pre-made basket of soaps and lotions and loofahs and other assorted bath items that women never seemed to actually use but instead just gush at upon opening and then set them in the bathroom like a $29.95 air freshener.  But one thing is certain; I mustn’t forget the jewelry!  I remembered with a shudder the Christmas three years before when I had forgotten the jewelry.  No amount of pre-basketted bath items could make up for such an oversight.  There were no robes so plush or so soft that they would compensate for a total lack of jewelry.  And of course, the personal foot spa had just been salt on the wound at that point.  It was the final present to be unwrapped and it was obviously too big to be a ring or a pendant and so it had been opened with skepticism.  Then came the stunned, pained expression of someone who had just received a foot spa instead of a tennis bracelet.  It became known among our circle of family and friends as The Christmas of the Foot Spa Chutzpah.

Well, I wouldn’t be making that mistake again.  I might make some other mistake, but I wouldn’t make that particular one.  I thought briefly back to the year I had gotten her the gaily decorated basket of what was billed as holiday sausages and cheeses.  The potential debacle of holiday sausages had only been avoided by the subsequent appearance of a ruby necklace.  Even the fact that they were lab-created rubies had been enough to obtain absolution for the sin of holiday sausages and a sprinkling of some non-dairy cheese-like products and sesame sticks.  Besides, in all likelihood, the holiday sausages had been lab created as well.

The children were easier to shop for.  At least, they used to be.  I reflected fondly over previous Christmases and birthdays.  I loved going into toy stores to pick up Evangeline a book or a doll or a bead-stringing set.  Edrington was always ecstatic to receive a car or truck or train or, more recently, electronic games in which he could pit dinosaurs against each other.  I would get down on the floor with them on Christmas morning and together we would play for hours with Evangeline’s dolls, each of which came with their thousand microscopic accessories (each painstakingly taped, tie-wrapped, or sewn-in to the box) or with Edrington’s trucks or train set.  It would be a grand time!  Their faces would be beaming and angelic and they would often hug me, albeit distractedly, with their eyes never leaving the toy they were playing with, but at least it had been some acknowledgement that I was quite adequate as a masculine accessory to the house.

Okay.  Enough reminiscing.  It was time to get shopping.  As a wise shopper once said, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”.  These were obviously the words of a seasoned Christmas shopper.

I stepped out of the calmness of the sort of shopping tidal pool I had been soaking in and found myself swept away in a fast current of grim shoppers with set brows and comic-book-hero grimaces.  One would think they were saving the metropolis from some masked, tights-wearing menace rather than trying to get the last of the year’s latest smart phones or celebrity scents.  I allowed myself to be carried along towards Mackadoo’s, bobbing along like a piece of flotsam (or perhaps jetsam) in the teeth-gritting rip-tide of people.  I noted with dismay the passing of several stores I had meant to go into, but couldn’t seem to tear myself from the current in which I now found myself, swirling relentlessly and helplessly towards Mackadoo’s, where I was deposited unceremoniously in front of, and almost on top of, a table piled high with wind-up weather-channel radios, solar powered card-shufflers, and furry slippers with reindeer antlers on them.

A well-meaning girl wearing a sparkling red knit dress that emphasized her elf-like stature, suddenly encased me in a cloud of Musque du Homme, perhaps to ward off any aphids or green fly that happened to be infesting the area.  Coughing, I reached down to pick up the few wind-up radios and reindeer novelty slippers I had accidentally knocked to the floor when I’d been ejected from the surging crowd.

“Would you care to try some Musque du Homme?” asked the wraith-like girl in the tight knit dress trimmed in white faux fur, a Scylla dressed to attract passing ships.

“I think I just did,” I said, coughing, while I re-stocked the wind-up radio table with inventory from the floor.

“If you’ll present this card at the men’s scent counter,” said Miss Scylla, handing me a 4 x 6 card made of heavy, expensive stock and apparently steeped in a vat of Musque du Homme for a week, “You can get the one-quart size spritzer of Musque du Homme for the special holiday price of only $34.99.”

“Ummm, thank you,” I said, taking the card.  Though I prided myself in never being rude to anyone, I felt as if I should be handling the card with tongs in order to prevent the permanent scentification of my fingertips.

“Are you crying?” asked Miss Scylla, suddenly very solicitous (even more so than her job description required her to fake).

“No,” I said, pressing my eye into my shirt sleeve.  “It is allergies.”

“Yes,” nodded Miss Scylla sympathetically.  “It has been very dry this year.  There is a lot of pollen and mold in the air.”

“And musk,” I said, pressing my other eye into my other sleeve.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Miss Scylla brightly, “But the cedar count is way up.  My dad is having an awful time of it right now.  So that’s probably what you have since you’re about his age and all.”

I smiled a wounded smile.  A sort of et tu, Brute? smile that was lost on Miss Scylla, who viewed all men over the age of 28 as contemporaries of her father and several interred presidents, many of which graced modern currency.

“Yes, no doubt it is the cedar,” I said, blinking my eyes and taking several deep breaths to try and rid myself of the olfactory delusion that I had been taking a tour of a petroleum refining plant or taking part in a Limburger cheese tasting contest.

“Well, you have a happy holiday,” said Miss Scylla, slipping back into the chirpy, smiling harlequin mask for which she’d been hired.

“You, too,” I said, mustering a smile and then creaking away from the wind-up radio stand, suddenly feeling 90 years old due to the off-hand remark of a 19-year-old musk-spraying nymph.

I stopped at a nearby counter and set down the accursed musk-reeking card while I fumbled in my coat pocket for a handkerchief to try and wipe away the funk on my fingers.  I halfway expected my fingertips to be changing color, as if I’d gripped an iodine-laced murder weapon that the DA would be shining ultra-violet light onto during a cross-examination.

“I see you would like to take advantage of our special on Musque du Homme,” said a young man’s voice.  I stopped my out-out-damn-spot! ministrations to my fingers and looked up to see a perfectly tanned young man with perfect teeth, perfect eyes, well-tailored clothes, and a beaming bonhomie disposition.  I figured that, having just managed to escape Miss Scylla, this must be her colleague, the young Mr. Charybdis.

“Well, actually …” I began.

“This is an excellent fragrance,” said Mr. Charybdis, beaming charismatically at me.  “I got some for my dad last Father’s Day and he loved it.  Wears it all the time.  And this is an excellent price.”

“The thing is …” I began, attempting one more time to get the train back on the rails.

“This stuff has been flying off the shelves.  In fact,” he said, reaching under the glass counter containing an array of brightly-colored boxes, blinding halogen lights, and price displays made of faux brass letters, “This is our last one.”  He hoisted it proudly out and set it on the counter as if he’d just pulled a rabbit out of a hat and was waiting for applause.

“I’m not actually …”

“Would you like it gift-wrapped?” asked the boy Charybdis, and I was almost certain I’d seen a gleam of light reflect off of his perfect teeth.

“No, I …”

“We also have an unadvertised special today.  With every quart of Musque du Homme you buy, you can get a six-ounce bottle of either Saddlehorn or Pommelhorse, both very masculine scents, for a mere 19.95.”   He indicated with a game-show-model wave of his hand two pyramids of brightly-colored boxes with the names he’d just mentioned.  Both boxes were festooned with masculine iconography on them as if to say “Serving Suggestion.”

“I’m not really …”

“Oh, and I forgot.  You get this little bobble-head elf wearing chaps.  Isn’t that cute?  Great stocking stuffer.”  He flicked the elf’s head with his finger to make it bobble.

“I just came in for a nightgown …”

The boy Charybdis’s expression suddenly changed as if he’d realized with dismay that he’d been using the wrong sales technique.

“Oh, I see,” he said.

“Or maybe a bathrobe,” I said, feebly realizing my mistake but helpless to correct it.

“Well, the lady’s department is on the next floor up,” said Charybdis with the aloofness of a sales person who realizes all hopes of a sale have vanished.  He hefted up the jug of Musque du Homme and returned it to its place in the showcase.

“It . . . it’s . . . for my wife Alexis, you see,” I stammered.

“Yes, sir,” smiled Chaybdis politely.

I decided that the time had come for a strategic retreat and so I turned and walked away from the counter.  What else could I do?  Some verbal pits could not be dug out of.  Better to just cut one’s losses.  Years from now after Miss Scylla and the young Charybdis were married and had two beautiful, perfect children, they would no doubt look back on this amusing episode of their youth and laugh.


Copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You … Yet Another Christmas Post

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Hello, Everyone!

I have been so busy writing and posting my Alistair and Alexis Christmas Special, that I have not had a chance to actually write any blog posts about how I feel about Christmas.  So here it is in a nutshell:  I’m all for it.

I know it is all the rage nowadays to be cynical about Christmas, to be snarky and satirical about anything and everything to do with Christmas.  Hey, I have been guilty of that myself.  For decades I just called my hip, edgy  Christmas comments “comedy” and believed in my head that I was entertaining everyone around me.  But with age came wisdom and I realized that I was just being a jerk and a Scrooge.  Even if you don’t enjoy something, depriving others of their right to enjoy it is just plain mean.

I love Christmas for the most part.  What’s not to love?  Getting to visit loved ones.  Christmas cookies and cakes and drinks.  Presents.  Joyful, happy music.  Everyone (for the most part) happy and in a good mood.  Pretty decorations.  Being off from work.  These are all wonderful things and worthy of our thankfulness.

And, yes, I recognize that there is a lot about Christmas to dislike.  The over-commercialization.  The relentless and brutal over-exposure to all things Christmas starting in September (see over-commercialization above).  The stress of trying to get everything done, often with very limited time and very limited resources.  The demands (often imagined) that everything must be absolutely perfect or else Christmas is ruined.  And sometimes we are even forced to make nice to people we don’t particularly care for.

But, honestly, a lot of these things are self-inflicted.  I have learned to tune out the commercialization and just concentrate on the things that matter to me.  I deliberately do not pay attention to or participate in anything to do with Christmas until after Thanksgiving … and usually about 2 weeks before Christmas.  That keeps me from getting burned out on the concept of Christmas.  It also keeps me from becoming what I thought was a Christmas comedian (i.e. snarky, cynical, and satirical).

So, while I’ll never be one of those over-the-top Christmas lovers who begin their preparations in August, I do love the season and all it brings.  Simple is better than complicated.

I hope everyone has an absolutely wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year!

 

The Alistair and Alexis Christmas Special (A Shameless Plug)

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What better way to relax and get away from all of the stresses and craziness of the holiday than with a comic novel about the stresses and craziness of the Christmas season?

All of his family’s money can’t seem to buy the easy-going Alistair a moment of peace and quiet from Alexis (his wife’s) grand ideas and complex schemes for the Christmas season.  Alexis  is determined to not only outdo their Christmases from previous years, but to also to top whatever the neighbors are doing to celebrate the season.  Alistair does what he can to keep his beloved wife happy, but it is mostly dumb luck that keeps him on Santa’s “Good” list.

Below is a handy list of links to the Alistair and Alexis Christmas Special, Episodes 1 through 8. I am writing new episodes as fast as I can and hope to have another one out very shortly.

I hope you are all enjoying a very merry Christmas season so far!

 

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

 

 

 

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