Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Ramble”

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.

 

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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!

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.

 

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).

 

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.

Poor Biff’s Almanac: Post-Thanksgiving Edition

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

I’m not sure how the past week went by so quickly.  Perhaps I slipped into some sort of turkey-induced coma and I’m just now waking up.  I have vague recollections of:

  • putting nearly 1500 miles on the odometer of my car
  • mingling with multitudes of people who, in spite of my doubts, I have come to understand are my relatives
  • consuming more calories per day than a rugby team
  • going to bed at 8 PM simply because there was nothing else to do
  • drinking coffee so strong that I swear I developed a mild case of X-Ray vision after drinking a cup of it.

Still, even with all that, it is hard to believe that time could pass so quickly in rural Alabama.  Normally time there runs about as slow as molasses in January.  And yet, here I am, back in Dallas and back in the same rut I was in before I left.

As I predicted in my previous post, I did indeed get to enjoy some cornbread dressing and giblet gravy.  In fact, I had it two days in a row.  That may have clogged my one remaining artery, so if I start babbling incoherently (more than usual, anyway), just let me know.  In fact, all the food was absolutely wonderful.

Well, okay; I lied.  When people bring covered dishes, there are invariably those dishes that fail to meet expectations.  For instance, when I was going through the line I saw a pan of green beans that had delicious-looking slices of bacon on top of them.  I was excited.  I love green beans and I love bacon, so obviously this was a dish that I would enjoy immensely.  What can go wrong with green beans cooked with bacon?  Plenty, apparently.  The beans were sweet.  SWEET!  Who puts sugar in green beans?  I was incensed.  I ate them, of course, because in my family, wasting food is the eighth deadly sin.  In fact, based on some punishments I received as a child, I think it may be number one on the list (with a bullet).  I came to believe that my relatives would rather me regularly practice the other 7 deadly sins rather than scrape my uneaten oatmeal into the trash.  To this day I cry out in horror when a french fry slips from my fingers and drops between the seat and the console in my car, never to be seen again.  “Oh!” I cry to the heavens while rending my clothing, “If only I were envious or lustful at this moment rather than the wastrel that I obviously am!

Moving on ….

However, there were things that made up for the sweet green beans.  For instance, someone brought a sweet potato casserole with a sweet glaze containing fresh-hulled pecans.  Sweet potato casserole is always a fan favorite, but this one was so heavenly that I thought a riot might break out when it was announced it had all been consumed.  Later it was discovered that someone had licked the dish so clean that the blue cornflower pattern on the CorningWare™ had disappeared.  The culprit was never caught.  (Helpful Hint:  Ginger ale can remove ink stains from the tongue.)

I had my annual slice of pecan pie.  I love the taste of pecan pie, but each slice contains enough calories to feed a small country, so I limit myself to one per year.  I do love pecans, though.  I nearly succumbed to my addiction and bought a bag of in-shell pecans at a country store, but the $38.50 price tag caused me to stagger and fall into a stack of bags of Jim Dandy grits.  I consoled myself with a two dollar bag of grits.  And an RC Cola.  And a Moon Pie.

Well, that is about all of the stream-of-consciousness recollections I can conjure up of the past week.  If I think of more stuff I’ll write some addenda.  But for now I’m going to go do a couple of sit-ups and try to start unclogging my arteries for next year.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

 

A Sunday Evening Ramble

Biff Hiking #3

Time To Pay

I can’t ramble far tonight, because its early evening and it’s already dark outside.  Thank you, Daylight Savings Time!    I love it when it is dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.  And as much as I enjoy that “extra hour’s sleep” in the fall, I know I will pay dearly for it next spring when you come back around like the Grim Reaper to get it back … with interest.  You, DST, are like the IRS of time.

You’re like, “Hey, remember that hour I loaned you last fall?”

And when I say, a little warily, “Yessss?”, you say,

“Yeah.  Um.  I’ll be needing that back.”

“Oh.  Okay.  Sure.  No problem.”

“Well, there’s a little problem,” you say with a sympathetic smile, much like the loan shark who’s about to break your knees with a cudgel.

“What little problem?” I ask naively.

“Well, there’s the interest.”

“Interest?  I didn’t know there was interest.  I’ll be glad to give you back the hour you loaned me.”

You chuckle.   “Well, yes, I’ll be taking that hour back.  Along with every hour of your life for the next three weeks.”

“Nooooooo!” I yell, lifting my hands up at camera that’s rapidly panning backwards through the rain and the despair.


The Pilgrims Landing at Galveston Rock

The weather here in Dallas is decidedly un-autumn like.  The temperatures are in the 70s and 80s (~ 23-27 C).  The sun is bright as hell, requiring the use of sunglasses.  The grackles (our local bird of choice) are sleek and healthy looking.  The leaves are slowly changing colors and falling, but only out of boredom.  The breezes are light and southerly.  Flowers are in full bloom.

It makes me think that if the Pilgrims had landed here in Texas rather than Massachusetts, those first winters of theirs may have been much more pleasant.  They might have also started saying “y’all” and “fixin’ to” and “dern tootin’“.  Although I can’t imagine William Bradford landing at Galveston and saying, “Howdy, Pilgrim.  I’m fixin’ to mosey on over there to that big ‘ol rock over there.  Y’all tie up them ships and sidle on over there directly and we’ll have us some barbecue and whomp us up some vittles.  Dern tootin’!

The history of America might have turned out a whole lot different if it had actually happened that way.  At the very least, we might all be eating wild hog for Thanksgiving, rather than turkey.  Or some kind of jerky.  Or maybe chili.


R.I.P. CDs

I went into Barnes & Noble today to buy a CD for someone as a gift.  I was disappointed.  CDs have apparently gone the way of the dodo, the woolly mammoth, and the solvent 401K.  In the large room in the back that has been chock full of CDs for as long as I can remember, the CD section consisted of some sad little shelves in the back, and offered only “Best of …” CDs and Christmas music.  The rest of the thousand or so square feet was dedicated to DVDs and, ironically, vinyl albums.

Those of you who have been reading my humble little blog for a while know that I have written before about how bemused I am that such an archaic and inferior music-delivery system has made a comeback in a big way.  But I did not think that CDs would disappear so quickly.  I looked for a CD the other day at Target.  They don’t even sell CDs any more!  What is the world coming to?  (Waves my buggy whip in the air angrily.)

So it is official.  The age of the CD is over.  Time of death:  2017.

Toe tag ’em, boys, and get ’em down to the cooler.

 

Another Saturday Ramble

Biff Hiking #3

The Parable of the Static Squirrel and the Rambling Acorn

Apparently, rambles are a popular topic (tag) here in the blogosphere.  I think that is because we writers (or, at least, us people who fancy ourselves writers) have a lot of difficulty thinking of topics to write about and so we just start writing in the hopes that something will come to us.

Result:  Instant “ramble” post.

It occurred to me as I was writing that, that that it is erroneous to believe that something will come to us when we begin to write.  It is more accurate to say that when we start to write, we stumble upon something to write about.  It is highly unlikely that an acorn will be out for a ramble and will happen upon a squirrel who is sitting motionless on his haunches on the ground hoping for an rambling acorn.  No, the burden is on the squirrel to become an adventurer and go off in search of an acorn.  Acorns are notoriously antisocial and unadventurous and so must be found and encouraged to come out their shells and to become, oh, I don’t know, an oak tree or something.

Enter:  the squirrel, stage left.

I don’t know what the hell that was all about, but lets move on before I stretch that metaphor so thin that you can wrap chicken breasts in it and pound them with a meat tenderizer.

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!

I went to a high school football game last night.  If you have never been to a high school football game in Texas, you have missed out on quite a spectacle.  It is a Very Big Deal® down here.  Except for the absence of television cameras and sideline reporters and wall-to-wall company branding, you could easily imagine that you are attending an NFL game.  The stadiums are huge.  The crowds are huge.  The bands play energetically and amazingly.  The cheerleaders are professional quality.  The spirit girl squads look like a Dancing With the Stars episode is about to break out.  The players are going at it tooth and nail wearing professional looking gear.  There are announcers.  The giant scoreboard video monitors play animations and replays.  The fans are enthusiastic.  There are hot dogs and popcorn and nachos everywhere.

And all this for only 8 dollars!

Once, a few years ago, my dad came down to visit us from his home in a northeastern state and since he happened to be here on a Friday when there was a game, we took him to our high school football game.  About 30 minutes into the Texas HS Football Experience™, he looked at me and said, “Is this a special game or something?”  I replied that no, it is not.  In fact, the opposing team wasn’t even in our conference and so the game essentially meant nothing.  And he said, a little incredulously, “You mean every game is like this?”  And I said, “Oh, no.  Some games are much bigger.  If we play our hated cross-town rivals, you would think the circus (and ESPN) had come to town”.

Three-fur Saturday

It is a little known psychological fact that humans are predisposed to grouping things into threes.  It’s call the Power of Three.

Have you ever noticed when you spontaneously reel off a list of things to someone, like a list of examples of your favorite foods, or a list of your favorite books, they are almost always lists of three?  It’s because three is the smallest group of things that the human brain needs in order to establish a pattern.

Weird, isn’t it?

Anyway, here’s your third part of this ramble post.  Don’t thank me.  My brain made me do it.  I would have been perfectly happy to stop at two.

 

 

Random Tidbits (11/05/2017 Edition)

 

Random Tidbits.png


The Fall of my Discontent

Today I would like to bundle up in a warm coat, perhaps don some gloves, and go for a tramp through the fallen leaves and the brisk autumn air.  I would like to see my breath when I exhale.  I would like to look forward to a warm, steaming beverage when I finally get in out of the chilly air.  However, Mother Nature with her long history of not caring what I like or don’t like, chose to have it be a sultry 90 degrees (32 C) today and about 60% humidity.  The sun is so bright one must wear sunglasses.  Wearing anything thicker than a T-shirt will cause one to run the risk of heat stroke.  And the only refreshing beverage that sounds good right now is iced tea or perhaps Gatorade.


Tired and Feeling Low

Can anyone explain to me how every autumn, like clockwork, the tire pressure warning light in my car turns on?  It is usually on or around the first “cold” snap we have (cold being a relative term).  I will be driving to work and the light will come on.  I will check the pressure and, sure enough, each tire is anywhere from five to ten pounds under what it should be.  This happens on multiple cars over multiple years, so I don’t think it is because I have a wonky car.

I understand all about air expanding and contracting as temperature rises and falls.  I understand about materials becoming more brittle as temperature falls (and so perhaps not holding a seal as good as it should).  I understand that tires just lose a little pressure in the course of performing their duties of hitting potholes, speed bumps, and armadillos.  It is just the uncanny timing and precision that has me a bit nonplussed.


Aye!  Candy!

Halloween candy has a strange attribute.  In the weeks leading up to Halloween, when walking through the store, the candy displays looks so inviting, so delicious, so irresistible.  The stacks of bags of candy corn and fun-sized versions of everything from M&Ms to Baby Ruths to Kit-Kats to anything you can imagine make our eyes light up.  We are happy just to run our hands over it and ooh and ahh about how wonderful it all looks.

Then, in the week after Halloween, when it has been reduced to a third of its cost before Halloween, when it now lays in disorderly piles on clearance racks and tables, when the M&Ms are mixed with the Kit-Kats and the Nerds are jumbled in with the Twizzlers, it all just looks so tawdry and unappealing.  I think it is like waking up after a night of alcoholic excess and finding someone less-than-attractive laying next to us in bed (not that that has ever happened to me, but hey!  I watch TV and movies too!).

Suddenly, what just yesterday was enticing and alluring and beguiling, is suddenly tawdry and gaudy and meretricious.  The thought of eating any of it is actually a little nauseating.

But we buy it anyway … because it’s 75% off.   And who knows when we’ll be able to buy a pound of candy corn for ten cents ever again?


Four-Lorn

It just occurred to me that I could have gotten four small individual blog posts out of this, rather than one package of four posts.  But this way I can sell in bulk and pass the savings on to you, my Dear Reader.  So, later, when you are at home and wondering to yourself, “Why did I buy four of these when I really only need one?”, you can think clever marketing.

Or, more accurately, you can thank my laziness.  I don’t have the time or the energy to create four different posts, with all of the concomitant activities of finding clever (ha!) artwork, thinking of effective tags that will get me lots of reads, and trying to think of pithy titles that will grab the attention of rapidly-scrolling readers.

So, my laziness is your gain.   And has all of the appeal of Halloween candy the week after Halloween.


 

How Not To Write a Blog Post

Sleeping in Brain 2

I guess the only way to get back into this writing thing is just to roll up my sleeves and post something.  I keep waiting for inspiration to strike me, but that is kind of like waiting to win the lottery (without buying any tickets) or waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right to appear (while never leaving one’s room), or even Waiting for Godot (if you’ll pardon an obscure reference).   No, I’m just going to have to write something the hard way … by actually writing it.

When I was a youngster, I heard the expression, “Nothing succeeds like success“. I have pondered that expression off and on my entire life, wondering exactly what it means.  I finally decided it was a rather cynical way of saying, “Of course successful people know how to succeed.  What they did worked for them.  Someone else might do the exact same things and fall flat on their face.

But I also chose to take this positive nugget away from that tired old saw:

In order to succeed at something, you must actually do that thing.

We live in a culture that assures us that we can succeed at things simply by  believing that we can.  How many movies and books and songs are there that tell us we can have something simply by believing something hard enough and sincerely enough?  How many artists do we see on those “best singer” type shows that, when asked why they should win the competition, sob and sniffle and say, “Because I just want this so badly!”

Well, that’s not how life works.  I really wish that it did.  If it did, I would be a wealthy and adored published author, living on my nearly-inaccessible lighthouse off the coast of Maine.

But I’ve never been delusional.  I have known all my life that if I wanted to be a published author that I would have to work at it morning, noon, and night with the obsession of a bee making honey.  But I allowed myself to get distracted by things like earning a living, eating, having a nice home, etc.  Writing not only took a back seat to other things, it had to follow along by hitching a ride on the rear bumper of a dilapidated old Trailways bus that was hundreds of miles behind.

This blog is a metaphor for my writing “career”.  I don’t put much effort into it, but expect success anyway.  I expect each little post to grow and thrive and blossom and to become some amazing, brilliant sunflower, big enough for everyone to see.  But the fact is, I don’t water it or fertilize it or even look at it much.

That’s not exactly a recipe for success.

So, I could rewrite the “nothing succeeds like success” aphorism to say

Nothing fails like not striving for success.

 

 

The Heat Is On …. (cough cough!)

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It finally got cold enough to have to turn on the heaters.  Here in Dallas, that means it dipped all the way down to about 46 degrees (8 C).  While that may not seem like much to those of you in more northern climates, down here it means that it’s time to stoke up the ol’ furnaces.

There are some seasonal rituals that people like, such as the first time that the leaves need to be raked, the first time the walkway needs to be shoveled free of snow, or the first time the lawn needs to be mowed in spring.  I suppose some people even like lighting the furnace for the first time every year.

I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the house to be nice and toasty warm on a cold winter’s night.  In fact, I prefer it.  But the first time the heater is fired up every year fills me with dread.  And that’s because when I fire up the heater for the first time in nine months, it must first burn off 9 months worth of dust, pollen, mold, and who knows what else that settles into the furnace and the ductwork over that nine months.  It is a nice, funky pong that smells something like an old, used sponge that  caught on fire, smoldered for a bit, and was then doused with the stagnant water from a leaf-clogged rain gutter.

So that was the smell that awakened me at about 2 o’clock this morning.

On the plus side, it was nice and toasty warm.

 

 

Putting the Monday in Mundane

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You can’t say “mundane” without saying “Monday” first, unless you’re just being a smart-Alec and deliberately mispronouncing it.

The two words are so similar sounding that I wonder if they didn’t start out as the same word but then diverged over time .  I could Google it, but I’m overcome with mundanity.  Which is just a fancy way of saying I’m lazy.

Before I go any further, here is the link to tonight’s background music.  It is David Sanborn’s The Dream.  I love me some David Sanborn while I write.  It helps chase away the mundaneness.

As the title of this blog implies, today was Monday, and it was also mundane.  You might say, “I had a bad case of the mundanes.”   (Sorry, that was an obscure “Office Space” reference.)

Where was I?

Today was a day full of PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets.  I started out my career with a degree in engineering and spent decades designing some marvelous, highly technical, and extremely complex products, but somehow I’ve managed to find myself in a job where I only refer obliquely to engineering in PowerPoints and spreadsheets and hallway conversations.  It is the equivalent of a plumber being called out to a house where there is geyser in the upstairs bathroom due to a burst pipe.  But, instead of doing any actual plumbing, he presents to the homeowners a slide deck proposing a statement of work and presenting a preliminary plan of execution.  There is a slide outlining a list of potential risks to cost and schedule, as well as any cost avoidance opportunities that may be realized.  There is a slide mapping needed skills to available staff.  A high-level, time-phased budget is presented with material milestones.  There are several slides covering  any applicable building and plumbing codes, as well as an environmental impact assessment.    There are slides covering legal and contract considerations.  There is a mandatory safety slide.  Then there are some boilerplate slides on ethics, diversity, and team-building.  Finally, the plumber stands up and tells the homeowners they have 30 days to review the provided materials and to make formal comments through the plumber’s change management software and to accept the terms and conditions, whereupon formal negotiations on cost and schedule can begin.

I don’t understand how all of this managed to happen to a once-enjoyable career.

But I do now understand why modern office buildings don’t have windows that open.

 

 

A Man Walks Into a Bar …

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I thought if I waited long enough between blog posts that one or two interesting things would happen to me and that I would actually have a backlog of things to write about.  Sadly, that turned out to not be the case.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  When I decided this morning that today would be the day I would post on my blog again, I had so little to write about that I found myself looking back through my archives of things I’ve already posted in order to plagiarize something from myself to post.

Is this, then, where I am in my life?  Am I on that long stretch of highway where there are no memorable sights to see, no interesting little towns to drive through, no witty billboards to look at, no curious animals off on the horizon to comment on?  Not even a cloud that looks like a frog playing tennis?  Just mile after mile after mile of sagebrush and flat terrain and cloudless sky?  And not even really a discernible destination to drive towards.  Just driving in this direction because that’s the direction the road is going in.

I have often said that I am very thankful for the fact that, when I was in my teens and twenties, there was no such thing as the internet.  There was no social media.  There were no blogs.  There was absolutely no practical way to get your writings in front of readers short of physically handing them to your friends or family and saying, “Hey, read this and tell me what you think.”  However, nothing will turn you into a pariah faster and more assuredly than handing your writings to people.  But though I hungered back then to get my writings out into the world, I am still glad there was no way to do that.

I cringe to think back on some of the things I wrote back then and imagine the horror of what would have happened if I had ever posted them anywhere for the world to see.  No, everything I wrote on my trusty  Olympia typewriter back then just moldered away in my desk drawer, never to be read by anyone (not even myself).  If any of that had found its way onto the Internet, I would live my life constantly cringing and sweating and tugging at my collar nervously, living in fear that someone would walk up to me someday and say, “Hey, I stumbled across that short story you wrote back in 1982.

However, I do envy the old me in one regard.  I actually had things to write about back then.  I had crazy friends that I did crazy things with.  I had tragic, comical, and always one-sided romances with girls that I admired from afar (and who did not know I existed).  I did crazy things like street racing, freight train hopping, cycling 40 miles on a whim in the summer heat to a lake (and this was before cycling was even a thing), jumping off of a boat in the middle of a lake while drunk off my ass so I could swim back to shore, sinking a car up to its doors in the mud 40 miles from nowhere on a freezing New Year’s night, etc.)

Then somewhere along the line we outgrow the craziness of our youth and become Responsible Citizens™ and we work every day for 40 years without fail because we were told that if we do, that would be cake and ice cream in the break room and maybe free T-shirts if there were enough to go around.

I always like to keep my blogs humorous, so here’s a joke written by 20 year old Me


A man slides up into a bar and says, “Hey, man.  Beer me.”

And the barkeep says, “Sure thing, man.  What kind?”

And the man says, “Anything you got as long as it only costs a dollar.”

And the beer dude says, “You know what you can get for a dollar?”

“No, what, man?”

“The hell out of here.”

“Man, you’re a trip!  Gimme some skin!”

They slap palms and laugh and the bartender gives him half a beer for a dollar.


Here’s that same joke written by that same man thirty-some-odd years later.

A man walk into a bar and he says, “Hey, Bartender, I’ll have a beer.”

And the bartender says, “Here you go.  That’ll be 7 dollars.”

The man pays him seven dollars and drinks his beer.

The bartender says, “Would you like another one?”

And the man says, “Nah, I have to get home.”

And the bartender says, “Well you have a good day then.”

“Thanks.  You, too.”

 

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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