Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Ramble”

Saturday Ramble

 

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I have not done one of these rambles for a while.  Or much of any writing at all, for that matter.  I won’t bore you with the details.  I’m sure you’ve suffered through similar dry spells yourself.  Every writer has.  And if there is a writer who hasn’t, we all hate that writer.  Stop showing off!  It’s bad enough that we struggle to write … we don’t need to be scoreboarded, too.

Today, as the title implies, is Saturday.  It is a nice pre-autumn day.  By that I mean the thermometer is well below the normal temperature of a hundred degrees (~ 37C) and is a much more reasonable 82 (28 C).  However, it is still nice and toasty outside if someone were to do something foolhardy like, say, mow the yard.  It’s the kind of day where you can sunburn very easily because it doesn’t feel so very hot, but the sun is beating down directly on you from a sneaky angle that lulls you into lowering your guard (and sunblock) for awhile.  Next thing you know … BAM! … you look like a lobster.

But I haven’t been outside much today, so I am safe from the wiles, seductions, and charms of the sun.

However, even as I write this, the suburban air outside is filled with the sounds of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and electric edgers.  It is like living at an air port consisting of tiny little gas-powered airplanes that are constantly taking off, landing, and doing fly-bys.  But I will not be shamed into mowing my yard today.  I mowed it last week and it has had the decency to not grow at all since then.  I would go outside and thank it, but I don’t like to encourage it.  Profuse praise is a form of fertilizer.

I’d like to write more, but every blogging how-to article I’ve read said to keep things short and pithy.  People don’t want seven course meals any more.  They want fun-sized Snickers® bars.

Here … have a Snickers® bar.

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Poor Biff’s Almanac — Saturday Evening

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It’s been quite awhile since I sat down and just pounded out a rambling, “I don’t really have anything to write about” post.  So, here I am.

I apologize in advance.

It is Saturday here in Dallas.  I suspect it is also Saturday nearly everywhere else in the world, so I can’t claim any sort of uniqueness there.  That particular well is also dry in terms of inspirational writing prompts.  So, shall we move on?

It was a quiet day today and, given the craziness of the past month, that was a good thing.  I enjoyed sleeping late, getting up, having a cup of coffee, and being in no hurry to be anywhere or do anything.  I did eventually get moving and took care of a few things around the house and ran a few errands.  However, I think I would been just as happy back at home, wearing pajamas, sipping a cup of coffee, and taking a slow, desultory stroll through the internet or maybe staring at a good book without really comprehending anything I was reading.

And why not?  It was near 100 degrees today (37.8 C) and steamy.  There is nowhere to go within 50 miles of here that doesn’t involve spending money (and lots of it) or finding myself rubbing elbows with ten thousand other people who also felt compelled to get out of the house and find something to do.    My inner hermit was trying to persuade me to just stay home.  And so I did, for much of the day.  Always listen to your inner hermit.  They know what’s what.

I took a stroll around the neighborhood this evening when the sun began to set and the temperature dropped down to the low 90s (33 C).  There was a slight breeze, so it was almost pleasant (except for the 75% humidity).  It was eerily quiet and deserted.  I didn’t see anyone else while out on my walk.  I would occasionally hear the hiss of a water sprinkler or the very distant sound of a lawn mower, but it was eerily silent.  I was reminded of a Twilight Zone episode I saw one time in which a man was walking around his neighborhood and it was completely deserted.  I felt that way tonight.  I half expected Rod Serling to step out from behind a tree to narrate the growing creepiness.  Sadly, he didn’t.  I would have asked for his autograph.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had been walking along these concrete sidewalks for two decades.  Small children that used to walk or run along these sidewalks to go to school or to trick-or-treat or to fund-raise for their school band or scout troop were now grown, graduated from college, and busy being adults out in the real world.  This realization did not put a spring in my step.

It put me in mind of a passage from Mark Twain’s “Life On the Mississippi” in which he, after many years, returned to Hannibal, Missouri where he had spent his boyhood.

Naturally, I was a good deal moved. I said, ‘Many of the people I once knew in this tranquil refuge of my childhood are now in heaven; some, I trust, are in the other place.’ The things about me and before me made me feel like a boy again– convinced me that I was a boy again, and that I had simply been dreaming an unusually long dream; but my reflections spoiled all that; for they forced me to say, ‘I see fifty old houses down yonder, into each of which I could enter and find either a man or a woman who was a baby or unborn when I noticed those houses last, or a grandmother who was a plump young bride at that time.’

I circled back home as the sun set and the light faded.  My inner hermit commanded me thusly.

 

 

 

 

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

I am discombobulated.

Spring Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Saturday (Finally)

Busy Office Worker

I have not written one of these rambling almanac posts of mine in a while.  I find that when I write too many of them in a row, it reminds me how insufferably dull my life is.  If I space them out a bit, I can trick myself into believing that I live a life that, though not exactly exciting, rises to the level of having a normal level of activity.  I like to have just enough excitement in my life wherein people stop grabbing my wrist to check for a pulse..

But lest I, in my attempts at light comedy, lead you to believe that I am completely sedentary and near comatose, nothing can be further from the truth.  I always seem to be on the go.  My life is filled with a seemingly never-ending series of activities.  I feel I rarely have time to sit and take a breath and relax.  And yet, when considering all of those activities and trying to glean through them to find something to write about, I find that the vast majority of them are embarrassingly dull and workaday.  The word “banal” comes to mind (only because it has always been a favorite word of mine and I try to work it into conversations frequently.)

I know I am not alone in this.  I think a vast number of us in the world, whether we blog or not, have our lives filled with the ordinary, the mundane, the banal, the prosaic.  Our lives are filled with …. well … with life.  By merely existing, we are given a never ending to-do list that consists of such exciting things as taking out the trash, vacuuming the carpets, paying the bills, mending things that squeak, replacing things that no longer do what they’re suppose do (or, conversely, have started doing things they’re not supposed to), cleaning up the endless series of messes that Life puts on our desk with a sticky note on it that says “Please take care of this”.  So we sigh and we take care of it, because that’s what we do.  The alternative is chaos and bedlam and a surefire path to end up on an episode of “Horders”.

And I don’t know about you, but I have spent my life avoiding chaos and bedlam.  I like things around me to be quiet and serene and pacific.  I know others thrive on bedlam and, if it is missing in their lives, they will create it.  I’ve never understood that, but I have always shrugged my shoulders and said something along the lines of “to each their own”.  I’m sure they, in turn, can’t understand why I avoid pandemonium.  They associate noise and mayhem with life being lived to its fullest.

I suppose that difference is, as the saying goes, what makes the world go round.  I just wish it would go round a little quieter sometimes.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Still Tuesday, Rambling Man, Lanz and Speer

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Tonight’s Background Music is provided by David Lanz
Album: Cristofori’s Dream
Best Song: “Spiral Dance

For those of you keeping track, today is Tuesday.  More importantly, it is Tuesday evening, which means that, for all intents and purposes, Tuesday is over.  Tuesday gave us its all.  It fought the good fight.  It left everything out there on the field.   But at the end of the day . . . well . . . it was the end of the day.

You may be wondering among yourselves just what the heck was up with that first paragraph.  “Where was he going with that?” you may be asking yourselves.  And who can blame you?  Heck, I am asking myself the same thing.

By now you are realizing (too late to help you, of course) that you are in the middle of some stream-of-consciousness rambling while I fumble around in the dark looking for something to write about.  Anything to write about.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I must leave no cliche unturned in my quest for something to write about.

I can hear the rumbling and murmuring as my readers get restless (and restive), wondering if I’m every going to get to something worth reading.  I fear you may be disappointed.

Did I ever mention that I got to see David Lanz in concert one time?  It was in 1988 when he played at McFarland Auditorium on the SMU campus.  I was a big fan of his from his partnership with Paul Speer and their albums “Natural States” and “Desert Vision”.  Lanz came to town flogging his newest solo album at the time, “Cristofori’s Dream” (sans Speer).  I loved the concert, particularly the song “Cristofori’s Dream” and the way he set up the song with a story of sorts about how Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano.  But missing from the concert was Paul Speer’s gritty guitar underlayment.  It was like listening to an a capella version of a Van Halen song.  Still, Lanz is a phenomenal piano player and can really write a good song.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this thing up before it goes off the rails even more than it already is.

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

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

It’s been quite a day in Biff-land.

In Praise of Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

There Will Be Hail to Pay!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Photo Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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Poor Biff’s Almanac: Tuesday Evening Edition (and Some Talk of Disco Music)

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It was another good day in Biff-land.  And by good, I mean I survived it without experiencing too much corporate absurdity.

Or maybe the reality is that I’ve been subjected to corporate surrealism so long that it is now my normal and I just don’t notice it any more.  I sure hope that isn’t true!  It was never my intent to become one of the inmates at the asylum.  I thought I was merely passing through.  But I’m sure all of the inmates say that when they first arrive.

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I am embarrassed to admit that I am listening to the soundtrack from “Saturday Night Fever” at the moment, in particularly the Bee Gees (“Stayin’ Alive”, “How Deep is Your Love?”, “Night Fever”, etc.).  I didn’t even know it was on my iPod, but here it is.  Boy, this sure takes me back!  Saturday Night Fever came out when I was at the height (or depth) of my teen years.

You never would have believed it, if you’d known me back then, that I would ever have been caught dead (or severely maimed) listening to disco music.  I was staunchly in the “Disco Sucks!” crowd back then.  Around my friends or in my car, I listened to real rock (as we referred to it back then) at top volume.  I listened to Nazareth and Rush and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Rush, Boston, Kansas, Yes, and Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, and the Who (to name some of them).  I sneered most superciliously and derisively at disco or anything disco-like.

I’m sure I was just overcompensating.  My aversion to disco was mostly to hide the fact that I couldn’t dance a lick.  And I that was painfully shy around girls.  So, given those two handicaps, disco was anathema to me.  But secretly I liked it.  I was (secretly) a big fan of the Bee Gees.  I think their music was amazingly complex to be dismissed as being so simplistic.  Their harmonies were stunning.  And they invented voice vibrato.  Their melodies were engaging and complex.  Even their lyrics, in spite of having to fit into a disco format that demanded overly-simplistic phrasing, were surprisingly sophisticated (again, given the format).

But like anything that becomes popular, disco music began to become a parody of itself and it was easy to wean myself off of it.  But even now I cannot listen to “Stayin’ Alive” without walking like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever as he walked down the street carrying the paint cans.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to a little Who to cleanse my palate.

 

The Ascent of Biff

man climbing ladder

Today was a good day.

But then again, most Fridays are.  Almost by definition.

However, a good day is not the same as an exciting day.  There is not much excitement to be had while sitting in an office working on month-end financial reports, updating schedules, reviewing staffing, and knocking out a few mandatory on-line training modules that were due.

I console myself by telling myself that a million years of evolution led to my being able to sit in a climate-controlled box while manipulating ephemeral concepts and abstractions on non-permanent media to be stored in equally abstract locations as a safeguard against the eventuality that someone somewhere someday may want to audit these things.

We all know that that’s not going to happen, but it’s important that we all buy into the fantasy or else it unravels and falls apart before our eyes.   Our very society is built upon the vague fear that we may be audited someday and asked to prove that all those hours we spent in our climate controlled boxes were, in fact, value added.  We all know they weren’t, but that too is part of the ruse that we all buy into.

In other news, I successfully passed my online training module on Ladder Safety by successfully answering 8 of the 10 questions correctly on the assessment following the 30 minute training video.  Never mind that no part of my job requires that my feet leave the ground.  However, I am now certified to climb ladders of up to 12 feet (excluding articulated ladders) provided:

  1. I have the correct PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
  2. I have a properly certified “ladder buddy” to spot me while I am more than 1 foot above the floor
  3. The ladder conforms to UL/ALI/ANSI/CSA standards and has the proper markings
  4. There are no non-ladder-certified people within a ten foot radius of said ladder at the time of my ascent
  5. The area in which the ladder is in use is properly cordoned off from incidental foot traffic.

This is definitly NOT what I had in mind when I used to dream of climbing the corporate ladder someday.

 

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Friday Roundup

writer

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.

 

 

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