Wednesday, July 29, 2015

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things they have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made a victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. Listen to Rat Kiley. Cooze, he says. He does not say bitch. He certainly does not say woman, or girl. He says cooze. Then he spits and stares. He’s nineteen years old — it’s too much for him — so he looks at you with those big sad gentle killer eyes and says cooze, because his friend is dead, and because it’s so incredibly sad and true: she never wrote back.

You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty. Listen to Rat: “Jesus Christ, man, I write this beautiful fuckin’ letter, I slave over it, and what happens? The dumb cooze never writes back.” 

― Tim O'BrienThe Things They Carried

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

THIS IS HOW DAVE MOWS GRASS FIGHTS THE CANCER

"I want to take a minute to thank my cells.

I began treatment for metastatic papillary renal cell carcinoma in September of last year using a targeted therapy drug called Pazopanib. I take three pills a day, and without them I would be dead. Since then, I've had new scans about every two months. My scan in November showed that my healthy cells had recaptured a huge amount of territory, with all of my tumors shrinking by 40 to 50 percent. Since then, the story has been different.

If you've never seen a CT scan, the liver is the easiest organ to spot. It's huge, and it's a dead-even shade of gray from one side to the other. And if you happen to have cancer that has metastacized to the liver, the tumors are easy to spot, too. They are a darker gray with a well-defined border. I have at least six spots between the two sides of my liver, but there's one in particular which has been my benchmark because it is the largest and easiest to spot as my doctor scrolls through the cross-sections of my body. I'd like to talk about that spot.

Since that second scan in November, I've grown very accustomed to the phrase, "It could just be slice variation." Every time Cristina Renfro and I go to Highlands to learn the results of my latest scan, we hear that I had some slight shrinkage in a few places and the rest stayed the same, and that we should be very glad for that. We have been!

As it turn out, though, all those instances of, "It may have shrunk a millimeter or two but it could just be slice variation," have added up to real millimeters. When I was at M.D. Anderson, my doctor pulled up my original scan from September, my June scan, and the scan they took in July, and put them side-by-side on one huge computer monitor, all showing that one big spot. The difference between my original scan and the recent scans was very obvious, but then my doctor dragged measurement lines in an X across the spot on my June and July scans. The long dimension was 48mm on my June scan and 46.5mm on my July scan. I beat my doctor to the punch by stating that it could just be slice variation, and she agreed, but then I told her I very specifically remembered that spot being 51mm on my November scan. We didn't have that scan to look at, but I am positive that was the number. Going from 51mm to about 47mm is not slice variation; it is shrinkage. That spot has been shrinking half a millimeter per month for eight months. Take a second to let that sink in.

That number, half a millimeter per month, got me thinking about what is happening inside my body at the cellular level. I'm seeing the most horrific trench warfare imaginable, where both sides are being bombarded with a powerful chemical compound that strangles the life from the sickest cells but torches the healthy cells at the same time. It is a bloodbath happening on a hundred fronts, day after day, month after month, with years to go before it will be over. It is a terrible fight.

I'm doing what I can do here on the outside. I make a conscious decision to keep living every day, no matter what I feel like. I exercise. I eat. I'm kind to every person I meet, or at least I try to be. I love my wife and my son with all of my heart. I surround myself with people who give me energy and try my best to give the same energy back. These are the things I can do on the outside. The real heroes, though, are on the inside. The real heroes are my cells. They are soldiers on the Ostfront, dying by the billions but slowly beating back a strong and determined enemy inch by muddy inch. I want to thank those cells. I want them to know that I understand the horror they are facing. I want them to know how huge half a millimeter is to me and how much I appreciate every day of life they give me. I don't know what else to say to my cells before sending them into the meat grinder. I can't give them any more courage than they already have. I can't make their fight any easier. All I can do is honor them by living every single day as well as I can. It's not much, but I will definitely do that!"



Monday, July 20, 2015

BLANK MAPS




"I think that one of these days you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there."

J.D. Salinger

Friday, July 17, 2015

THE FRANZ KAFKA INSURANCE COMPANY



I sold one of my cars. Called the insurance company to remove that car from my policy. “You have to come down here to the office to do that” the lady said.
“Where is your office?” I asked.
“Irving”
“Oh my”

Now Irving may only be 10 miles away, but for me that’s like light years. Plus, I cross over into Dallas County, something I avoid at all costs. After sleeping on it for a night, I decide to call back. When I added that car to my policy I didnt have to go to Irving. We did it over the phone just fine.

So I called, and when the lady said “You have to come down here to the office to do that” I was ready.
I asked her “Why? Why to I have to come down there?”
“Because you have to sign the paper” she says.
“Well, I had to sign to add the car on. They faxed the paper to me. Can you fax it to me, and I’ll send it back?”
“Yes, that will work “ she says.

This makes me happy. I wont have to go to Irving. She puts me on hold, and when she comes back she says there is a problem with their fax machine. Can I call back tomorrow?


So I call back the next morning. The phone ring and rings, no answer. I call again and again. Finally, an answer. They transfer me, but they transfer me to a phone that keeps ringing. Finally a computer answers, and I end up in a recorded voice computer loop. Its as endless as a Mobius strip.
I hang up and call back. No answer.

So at lunch I drive to Irving. I surrender. The bastards won.
I walk in the door to the office. Behind the desk is a  giant cockroach, who looks up and says "Can I help you?"
For some reason it doesn't surprise me at all to see a giant cockroach sitting there.
Tell the cockroach I need to remove a vehicle from a policy. I’m seated in front of his desk. As he pulls up my info on the computer I tell him: “It’s a shame I have to come down here to do this. That I can’t get it done over the phone.”
“Well sir, you have to sign a paper, that’s why” he says.
“No, you can fax the papers to me, and I fax them back, that’s what the lady that doesn’t ever answer her phone said”
He nods, prints off one sheet of paper and hands it to me, using his little cockroach hands, for me to sign. We talk about the weather a moment while I check the details, and the cockroach takes a sip of his coffee.
I sign it, and as I’m handing it back to him I say “It really is a shame I had to come down here”.
“Mr. Renfro, you didn’t HAVE to come down here. We could have done this over the phone.”

Kill. Me. Now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

OUR POLICY


After a few weeks of contemplation we have finally established our official position on the Confederate Flag:
“I fully support the flag known as “The Confederate Battle Flag” to be flown at automotive junkyards, displayed on bottles of whiskey, at Charlie Daniels Band concerts, and all KKK rally’s, as long as it is displayed properly”.

Monday, July 13, 2015

FAST EDDIE

When I was working at Fort Worth Hyatt, there was a pastry chef that came over to help us on a big party. I got to talking to her, and she's  telling me about this crazy cook they have in Dallas. 

"Fast Eddie we call him" she said.
"Fast Eddie ?" I asked. "This guy doesn't happen to look like a Mexican Kamikaze fighter pilot on a bad batch of crank, does he?"
"Why yes, he DOES!" she says.
"And he's faster than any human could ever possibly be?"
"YES!"
"Is his last name *****?" I say.
"YES!" she says. "How do you know Fast Eddie?"

Man, Eddie and I worked together at Luminarias in 1975 for about 2 years. Sweating our ass during the Friday and Saturday rush, whistling the "Bridge Over The River Kwai" theme to try to take a little pressure off.
 So I found Eddie in 1988 working at the Dallas Hyatt.
Fast Eddie. That guy was fast, and crazy weird.
And in 1988 he was just as fast, and crazy weirder than ever.
Is that hilarious or what?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

BACK TO PRACTICE

I was standing around with some of my musician friends. They were having a little jam practice session at Gilly’s house. Buddy wasn’t there, but Buddy knows all these guys.
Anyway, we’re standing there during a break, and I’m not a musician, so I started asking about all the equipment they had. They all had all sorts of gear. 15 guitars, 10 amps, cables and pedals everywhere. One guy had a whole box full of pedals.
“This one does this” he tells me “And that one does that, and the Bad Monkey gives you this, and the Cry Baby gives you that”.
I was pretty impressed, but I had to ask:
“So why doesn’t Buddy have any of this stuff?”
Man, all five guys with guitars kinda look at me, and then they look down at the floor, and the boxes full of pedals and there is a long silence…finally one of them says, almost as if he is confessing a great sin:
“Well, Buddy doesn’t need all this stuff”
They all nodded their head.
Break was over.
Back to practice.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

NICE PANTS


Here’s a picture of Hillary Clinton with a confederate flag in the background. But its not political.
Its been posted by Dinesh D’Sousa, the guy that gave us the “Obama 2012” movie, and another one “What Would The world Be Like Without America” or something like that.
He would like you to believe this is in her dorm room or something. Apparently, he is reduced to photo-shopping old Life Magazine pics from June 1969, the one with Joe Namath on the cover, and the interview with Hillary inside.



Here is one from that issue, hands up, with no confederate flag. When you do a Tin-Eye Reverse Image search you get 182 returns without the confederate flag, but only one with.  For a smart guy like Dinesh, you’d think he would be smarter.

Oh, here's one, hands down. Nice pants.



Monday, July 06, 2015

THE ROAD

I cant recall the last time I read a new book all the way through. I'm about halfway through Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". Tight terse style with short sentences, incomplete even, very spare. Very sparse.

“Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.
You forget some things, dont you?
Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”


“He thought that in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime but he took small comfort from it.”

Sunday, July 05, 2015

THE AFTERMATH

From PBS Newhour Friday, July 2nd, regarding the Supreme Court ruling lifting state bans on Same Sex marriage. (click here)

This Bakery had an employee quit when she found out the shop would make cakes for LGBT Weddings.

JAN KISH, OWNER: Right. Because we support the gay community, she feels that she doesn’t want to be part of that because of her religious background. And that’s fine. You know, that’s her moral stance, and she has a right to that.
PAUL SOLMAN: You didn’t try to talk her out of it?
JAN KISH: (smiling) I asked her for two weeks’ notice.
BOTH: (laughing)

God, I love this country.