The most boring/relaxing job in the world

This has got to be either the most boring or most relaxing job in the world.

Here’s what happened.

On Monday our neighborhood had a major power outage. Somehow I power-napped through the loud BOOM which I’m told happened about 6 p.m. I got up about 6:45 ready to make dinner and watch a DVD movie…but obviously nothing of the kind was going to happen so I went out back to the alley to supervise the APS¹ guy fooling around with the power lines. (Turns out he didn’t actually need my help.)

I considered lighting some candles and doing some romantic candle-light snacking and reading like my parents set up for us back in Erie in the old days. And then I remembered that it was still 105° out!

But it’s a dry heat, I thought, before slapping myself.

A few of the neighbors settled for a dinner across the street at the Spoke & Wheel, where the lights were still on. Power was restored about 9pm.

The next day I noticed that two of the large utility boxes were all police-taped and there was a thick hose connecting them with who-knows-what. In fact, there was about 50-feet-worth of hose-like cabling.









I then noticed a vehicle marked with VET-SEC emblems and a security guy sitting inside. Over the course of that day, that night, the next day, I visited with him from time to time.

Turns out APS has set up continuous security for the electrical box setup. Yep, these folks have to stay on duty, 24×7, in 12-hour shifts, to keep an eye on the boxes. One agent explained that this was partly to make sure no one inadvertently (or advertently) messed with the boxes, and partly to make sure no one tried to steal anything…like someone thinking there might be copper wire.

By day, the agent — sometimes a man, sometimes a woman — sat in an folding chair in the shade until it got too hot. By evening the person stayed in the car watching videos, listening to music or reading from their tablet.

I checked to make sure they had plenty of water, but of course they were well-supplied. I figured they wouldn’t mind a couple minutes of conversation since they weren’t really required to do anything but sit there and watch for thieves and pranksters. I wondered what they did for bathroom needs and was told that they could drive over to the Circle K for a few minutes as long as they phoned in. If they were going to be more than, say 15 minutes, they might have to get a relief agent.

One evening, about 1 a.m. I moseyed on over to say ‘hi’ and chat with the agent (don’t ask why I was up) and found him engaged in watching a movie. To his credit, he was wide awake, aware of my approach and seemed to enjoy a quick conversational break.

He would be there all night until his relief came about 8:30 a.m.

I dunno…would you be able to sit in a car for 12 hours? On the one hand, you are stuck there with no actual duties other than to be there. On the other hand, what a way to catch up on your GOT or Downton Abbey‘s!

¹APS: Arizona Public Service — one of two power companies in Phoenix
Note:  As of Friday afternoon, 4 days later, they’re still on duty.
Update: As of Tuesday, 13 Aug,, 15 days after the original outage, they’re still on duty.

“What a smasher”–musical notes on 𝑨 𝑻𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝑯𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒚

A Taste of Honey is the 1961 British film adaptation of the play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. She wrote the screenplay, aided by director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones, Look Back in Anger), who had directed the play on the stage. It is considered a prime example of that gritty genre of 1960s British New Wave filmmaking called “kitchen sink realism.”

A Taste of Honey is basically a love story set in working class Manchester, England, between soul mates that “questions the social tensions stemming from different opinions in working class, race, gender, and sexual orientation in Britain during this time period” — notably, inter-racial relations and homosexuality (which was still banned in the UK before 1967!). The film makes it pretty clear about the latter, but in rather sly and sideways references to avoid censorship.

It took me quite a bit of hunting around to figure out the meaning of the title since it’s not mentioned anywhere in the film and doesn’t really seem to fit the movie’s strange mixture of darkness and playfulness.

According to one source, the title of the play is taken from the Bible, meaning a period of happiness. It’s not entirely clear which biblical source is meant but Proverbs 24:13 comes pretty close.

What particularly struck me, though, was the ongoing musical theme of children singing their rhymes in the street throughout the story. This is clearly intentional. As one commenter said, “these playful melodies serve as a reminder of the innocence of childhood, in stark contrast to the sordid atmosphere of the neighborhood.”

Oh dear what can the matter be

Three old ladies got locked in a lavat’ry

They were there from Monday to Saturday

Nobody knew they were there¹

Later we see the kids running around and chanting:

I say, what a smasher

Look at Gertie getting fatter!

Find a stick and throw it at ‘er

I say, what a smasher,

Look at Gertie getting fatter

Find a brick and throw it at ‘er.²

Now, the song “A Taste of Honey” has its own rich history, seemingly unrelated to the play or film. Originally written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play it was later recorded by Herb Alpert in 1965. (The original song was instrumental; lyrics were added a few years after the play debuted.)

A taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

I dream of your first kiss
And then I feel upon my lips again

I will return, yes I will return
I’ll come back for the honey and you

Interestingly there was a pop band called A Taste of Honey who created the magnificent soul rocker “Boogie Oogie Oogie”³ in 1978. I have a particular interest in this version because I was working as a low-level marketing guy for an audio/video production agency that had an agreement with the group to produce one of those new-fangled videos of the song. (The idea was that we’d go and videotape a performance and then promote it to clubs around Erie, PA. MTV wouldn’t come along for another three years. But either I left the agency for a real ad agency job or, more likely, the video just never came to fruition.)

¹ Sung to the tune of “Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be (Johhny’s So Long At The Fair)”, also known as “Seven Old Ladies”—a seemingly endless series of verses.
² The “smasher” verse may come from a well-known toothpaste advertisement of WW2: “On seeing a good-looking girl, [one would say]: ‘I say, what a smasher— Two fried eggs and a bacon rasher!’” (seems to come from the mid-1940s)
³ The band says the idea for this song came when they played a show at a military base. It was a tough crowd, and the audience was not responding to their songs.
By the way, Shelagh is pronounced like “Sheila” (at least that’s how Murray Melvin says it)


𝙎𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨: reboot

I’ve been updating and upgrading my 2000 eBook, Stories I Never Told My Family, for purposes of a Phoenix Public Library “author fair.”

My original disc—which I sold on Amazon and at book fairs—had a wide variety of stories, satires, photos, wordplay, “listicles” (as we now call them), a journal of my trip to Dubai for an airshow, a goofy recipe and a few poems or “pomes.” The whole idea of using a CD, rather than a printed book, was so I could use different typographies, inset photos in the stories, color treatments and other graphical ideas I had. I also had a concept that I would actually create all the elements from scratch (other than manufacturing the CDs and jewel cases).

For the library event I thought I’d add a number of stories I’ve developed over the past 19 years.

What a project though! I’ve spent hours…

(1) buying and burning new discs, (2) buying and printing new labels for the discs, (3) transferring new discs to old jewel cases (to keep the printed insert)…and then, I realized that on my original discs I had just shoveled all the various versions onto the disc—sometimes with 4 or 5 revisions. Stupido!

Fortunately, this time I bought “RW” CDs so I can treat them like a USB drive and go back and forth with revisions. The guy at Best Buy who helped me find the CD labels kept mentioning that no one really uses CDs anymore…in fact, most new computers don’t even have a CD player. Nevertheless, I like the idea that a CD can have a printed graphical insert, a graphical disc, an ISBN bar code (which originally took as long to create as the whole dang CD)—all in a handy format that tells what it is. Much as I like USBs, they’re easy to lose and don’t advertise the contents.

As I started burning discs I found myself making all kinds of revisions to the disc info: more informative titles, creating folders, updating copyright dates, etc. It’s amazing how many revisions one can make if you’re a fussy craftsman.

Now, if only I could get my community college students to do that.

In case you’re interested, here’s the Table of Contents


01 Foreword-Forewarning

Original CD items:

  • On Becoming Eight Again

  • On the Freeway of Love
  • If I Were King of the World (list)
  • 4th of July
  • Xmas (Cover story: an account of a particular lively Christmas morning)
  • Body Language (satire on what men think women think)
  • Playing Favorites (party game)
  • Flaming Bologna Surprise (pseudo recipe)
  • The Tao of Wile E. Coyote (pseudo philosophical humor)
  • Corinthians: Paul’s First Chain Letter (see papyrus, below)
  • Bad Valentine’s Day songs
  • Poems (“Saturday Night at the Arby’s Drive-Thru,” “Song for a Hammock,” etc)
  • and more!

Biblical Humor

  • Biblical Quiz (So you think you know the Bible? 19 basic questions that’ll show you don’t)
  • Corinthians chain letter: the papyrus (jpg file)
  • Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons
  • New biblical scrolls discovered!

Political satire

  • Jesus: Making Judea Great Again

Refrigerator Poetry

  • Delicate Goddess
  • Drool Road Boy

Individual Items

“The 3 Best Days in a Student’s Life” (hint: not senior year)

“Dead Ants Tell No Tales” (ant extermination project)




“Holy Wine Wars” (wine satire: religious vs pagan wines)






“Ionic Chakra Alignment” (New Age alt med)

“Non-Remembrance of Things Past” (memoir: university literary prize winner)

“One Mile from Home” (text and pix from north-central Phoenix)

“Route 666” (how not to get your kicks)

“Spam-ku” article (reprinted from Verbatim magazine)

“The Terrier Who Couldn’t Bark” (written by “Chili,” a Jack Russell terrier)

“Victoria Day-sequel version” (movie treatment where the end comes first)

“Women are like cigarettes”

Special Offer:

The CD itself is too large to post anywhere, but if any of the items listed above catch your fancy, just contact me and I’ll send ’em to you via email…no charge.



Yeshua – Making Judæa Great Again

Illiterate 1st century Jewish herder: I swear to you on the Torah, man, Yeshua tells it exactly like it is…he’s gonna make Judæa great again!

Illiterate 1st century Jewish dung seller: I dunno, I see him walking around with a dozen men as dumb as we are who don’t know much about anything but fishing, mumbling and collecting taxes. Sometimes he’s tellin’ everyone he’s the Son of God or sometimes Son of Man and sometimes he’s just “I am who am” – whatever that is. Sounds like the same-old-same-old.

Illiterate herder: No man! He’s gonna drain the Sanhedrin. He’s standing up to the Pharisees, smiting the Sadducees…fighting for the little guy, herders and dung mongers like us. He’s bringing back the pyramid-building jobs that the Edomites stole from us and keeping the Ammonites and Moabites out of our promised land, bro. Woo hoo, he’s gonna give the Temple back to the Jews!

Illiterate dung seller: Well, so far all I see is a lot of hillside rallies with stale bread ‘n befouled raw fish. I say . . . send ‘im back to wherever he come from, the illegitimate fig-curser.

Hillside crowd (chanting): Send ‘im back, send ‘im back, send ‘im back…

Adapted from comment by Jean-François Gauthier at  Jesus & Mo.

4 New Words You May Need…

….that I <ahem> just made up.

“chill buds” (noun phrase) — replaces the old-school “homies” or “bro’s.” “I’m hangin’ wi’ my chill buds¹ before we head out for the rave.”      

“Stay out of my parking space”: “Mind your own business.” “Get out of my face.” “Don’t crowd me.”

Inspired by a remark made by a community college administrator who used to have a reserved parking space, for which she paid extra at a certain university, but where she had to continually roust intruding vehicles. She kept saying (to herself): Stay out of my damn parking space!

“bathalon” (noun) — remaining in a bath or jacuzzi wayyyyy too long while attempting to do various different tasks such as texting, reading magazines, checking emails or clipping toenails (ewwww!)

Although this is derived from ‘biathalon’, a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting where the contestant with the shortest total time wins, a bathalon is also related to ‘marathon’ — a long distance race. So a bathalon actually combines biathalon and marathon. How cool is that!

tariffist (noun) — someone who advocates increasing economic tariffs, especially with the connotation of “striking terror with tariffs”






¹Refers to the second of six official levels of partying:
  • Posted (alone at home, i.e. not partying)
  • Chillin’ (2-6)
  • Kickback (5-10)
  • Party (20+) — know most of the people but probably not all; optional drugs, but alcohol always
  • Rave (100+) — may not know anyone; drugs are mandatory
Note: as with “Duuuude!” only people under 25 are allowed to use this phrase.

But sometimes you need a bathalon bud so you don’t need to bathalone.

Friday Flyday

…in which we take a break from all the smarmy politics going on to look at some more quirky photos from the Cam about town.”

Arizona Canal: looks like the new presidentially appointed Duck Force is heading upstream to take care of business.







Meanwhile, if you can’t see the moon from your house, you can catch a glimpse from the reflection in your neighbor’s 2nd floor window.








Something you never want to come home to: a fly infestation. After consulting with a friendly extermination company, we determined that one or more of my bay window house plants somehow became a fly nursery. After exiling all the plants to the front walkway and hitting up the helpful neighborhood landscape company (Whitfill Nursery), I got just about every kind of fly trap and glue mat available.Within two days, the problem was (more or less) solved. On the plus side, I got some excellent shots of flies frozen in the act of trying to be pests.









Back to the canal, ya just never know what sort of weird debris you’re gonna find on your morning bike ride. Someone left behind some 30 dental floss holders, along with various lotions and, yes, a folded-up bra.  One can only imagine…or better yet…let’s not.

Here we have, in a totally different spot, an odd assortment of what might be described as “lady stuff” — some lady shoes, a black eyeshade and a girly purse. I would tell you more but, frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to do a hands-on forensics exam.

Ruh roh…busted!

all photos © 2019 Jim Veihdeffer
Bonus: full moon and water line break at 12:35am (I should really have been tucked into bed but I fell asleep in my easy chair and happened to wake up just in time.)




Ask the Witch-Answer Guy: Part 6

A concerned public servant who desires to remain anonymous wishes to know:

Q: “How much longer will this WITCH HUNT go on for? Despite their best efforts, names that I won’t bother to name…except they’re bad, very bad, the worst, totally FAKE, even worse than Mexicans and that Cryin’ So & So…they can’t seem to let it go, they just keep fishing.”

A: First off, you don’t need the superfluous* “for” at the end of the first sentence. Next, if you start with a “witch” metaphor you can’t end with a “fishing” metaphor. But to answer your question: The “hunt” will go on till the cover-up is “up.”

Oh, and can you lose the lame all-caps typing?

All text as received via email, except for italics, which the Witch-Answer Guy might have inserted.
* unneeded, not necessary, redundant, gratuitous