Monday, October 26, 2015

THE GOING STEADY BRACELET, NINTH GRADE

If you look close enough and use your imagination you can see the bracelet on Rhondas left wrist. No, not him. Way in the back back there. With the poodle looking hairdo.




I'll tell you about that bracelet. I went to Gibsons to get it. They had silver and gold. I couldnt decide, but ended up settling on the gold. No one, no one at all had a gold bracelet.
I got it home, and started having buyers remorse.
"Who buys a friggen' gold bracelet?" I thought. "She'll probably break up with me the minute she sees it. I'll be the laughing stock of Bedford Junior High"
So I put it in this wooden box on my dresser that I kept mercury from broken thermometers in, because mercury is cool stuff to play with. Matches are fun to play with too. If you take a big book full of matches, and keep it closed while you light one end, the flames will shoot out both ends when you light it. When you get the thermometer close enough to an open flame, the thermometer will crack in half. If you keep heating the mercury in the bulb, most of it will come out of the broken glass tube and you can collect it.
You just have to be careful, you know, not to cut yourself on the broken glass.

The next morning I opened the box and the gold bracelet wasnt gold anymore. It was just silvery metal, and not even shiny, and looked like it had been around for about 20 girlfriends, the silver plate all wore off.
And that is how I came to learn that mercury will eat gold plate off of jewelry, and Rhonda got a not-gold bracelet.


Friday, October 23, 2015

COMMON CORE


I flunked math classes in 9, 10, and 11 grades. I had to take remedial math in 12th grade.
I thought math was stupid.
Then I got a job as a chef that required me to do numbers in my head. I got pretty good at it too.
And what I learned to do in my head is what common core is trying to teach kids.

I even had a job as a cashier a few years ago.
What I learned to do as a cashier is exactly what common core tries to teach the kids.
I ring up $3.67 and the customer gives me a twenty. Do I subtract 3.67 from tenty to count out the change?
No.
I count up from 3.67.
I give him 3 pennies and say "Three-sixty seven plus three makes 3.70.
I give him a nickel and a quarter and say “Thirty makes 4.00”
I Give him a one "One makes five”
I give a five and a ten, “Five makes ten and ten makes twenty” and spit spot, I just gave him his change, counted up.
That’s common core.
I had customers smile at me and say “I haven’t seen that in years” and they are right. Not because of common core, but because kids have become dependent on calculators. 



Its like 999 plus 722. I don't vision in my head adding 9+2 carrying ones and stuff. 
I very quickly see "1000 plus 721".
What do you see in your head when you do this problem?
That is what they are trying to teach the kids.

Anyway, I’m still no math whiz. But I understand what they are doing.
My nephew Dave has a great explanation on this, but I can't remember what he said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SHRIMP CREOLE

I’d been working Luminaria's double shifts for like five days.
8:00 am to 10:00 pm, no break.
On day six, my buddy that delivered laundry gave me a couple pills. Lets see, what were the names of those pills? Cant remember, just that they were 100mg something, and time release, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
I took one and man, it really kicked. I was everywhere, chopping onions, making stock, pot,pot,pan,pan, cook,cook, and yapping to the waitresses about 90 miles an hour.
I started cutting meat; Filets, cut cut, New Yorks, cut cut, Top Sirloins slice cut. Wrap it stack it tag it and into the cooler and now its time go go go fry some chips.
It got to be about lunchtime. I really wasn’t hungry, but figured I better get me something to eat.
Bear with me here.

I went and got a big ol’ plate of Shrimp Creole and rice, and chomped down on it. I ate it fast—there was no time to eat—and just before I took the last bite I saw the big bus tub of fat from the meat I’d been cutting and decided it needed to go out to the fat barrel RIGHT NOW.
Because I was really zooming, ya know?
So out to the back dock I go to the fat/grease barrel and I flipped the lid off and looked inside and the smell hit me and the sight of about 10 million maggots all crawling in the grease and fat and I blew all that Shrimp Creole out into the barrel, projectile vomit right through the nose, and stood there and shook shook shook for about 3 minutes.
I shook, and repeated over and over "Goddamn, Goddamn, Goddamn" while the rice fell out of my nose.
Then, back to work.
To this day I cant eat Shrimp Creole no more.
And it was quite a while before I ever took any speed again.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE KINGDOM OF JONES

Oh, these darn Confederate flags.
People like to try to say these flags are innocuous, and are just there to celebrate history, and commemorate the south’s brave and valiant effort to assert states rights.
They will try to tell you that the flag does not represent slavery, and that not all of those who fought for the south were fighting for slavery.
But slavery is and was the central issue of that war. Not everybody in the South fought for the South. Many had better sense than to throw themselves into an unjust and immoral cause.

Take the Kingdom of Jones. Jones County, in the heart of Mississippi was an anti-secession stronghold. They drew up their own Constitution and formed a militia and managed to keep an entire county free-- the "Free and Sovereign State of Jones"—for the duration of the war in the heart of the confederacy. The American Flag flew over the courthouse. The local paper, The Natchez Courier, reported that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy.

I’ve posted before about my allegiance to ol’ Dixie. I fully understand southern pride. Living in Detroit in 1968 I claimed to be a George Wallace fan. I didn’t fully understand what he stood for, but he seemed to stand for the south, and that was good enough for me.

I tell my friends when I was a boy and the family went to Six Flags, I always wanted a Confederate flag. You could buy them there in the 1960’s. They were such handsome flags.
But was always afraid to ask mom and dad to buy me one.
“Why were you afraid” my friends ask.
“I was afraid because I always sensed that even though it was a good looking flag, there was something wrong with wanting one”
Some of my friends will say “Pshhaw, there is nothing wrong with wanting a Confederate Flag!”
They may be right, but I don’t think so.
The fact is, after about 1971, you couldn’t BUY a Confederate Flag at Six Flags.
Why not?
I guess because at Six Flags someone figured out there was something wrong with selling them.
Even NASCAR, a typically redneck institution if there ever was one, banned Ol’ Dixie from being sold at its events, and has recently asked its attendees not to fly it no more at all. Haha! That went over like a lead balloon.

When I was 4 years old I could see across a field a new High School being built. It was a school I would have attended if we had not moved to Detroit when I was 5.
That school opened in 1962, in the middle of the Civil Rights movement in this country. It would be an all white school for many years, and the mascot they adopted was the “Rebel”, and the symbol, a Confederate flag.
Do you think this is just a coincidence? Do you think it was just southern pride? Or could it have been a thumb in the eye to the Civil Rights movement? A statement issued by an all-white community?
I’ve been wondering just how many schools named themselves “Rebels” and chose the Confederate Flag as its symbol during those turbulent times in our country. I cant find that kind of data anywhere. I can tell you there was another school in the same county that chose the same name and symbol in 1965. I don’t believe there have been any since. I'm sure there haven't been. probably not since about 1966 has a community had the audacity to be so obnoxious.
In the 1980’s both of those schools decided to do away with Old Dixie. It was the students that voted on it. So there is hope for the country.

Last night in Tennessee, the city council voted 19-1 to not fly the Confederate Flag at the courthouse.
Oh thank God.


In related news my FB feed has been jammed with memes indicating outrage that the NAACP wants to blow up Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the Stone Mountain Association wants to put a Memorial to Martin Luther King right on top of Stone Mountain. It will be a replica of the Liberty Bell, and commemorate King’s “I Have A Dream “ speech, where he says " Let Freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
I think that’s better than blowing it up, but its funny…
The NAACP don’t like it. They just want to blow it up and get it over with.

Monday, October 19, 2015

ANOTHER GUN CONTROL OBSERVATION

"It doesn't matter how weak, ineffective, or watered down; or how brilliantly genius and potentially lifesaving a legislation might be....the NRA will come out against it.
In the words of LaPierre, NRA President:
 "We cant let them win anything, because a win for anything is a defeat for us."
Bulletholes. 1/7/2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

ONE DAY THE DESERT WILL REPAY YOU


Kirzai needed to cross the desert. He had only so much water. There was a whirlwind in the desert. He entered it and found an old man, beside a camel, dying from thirst.
The old man opened his eyes, looked at Kirzai intently for a moment and then said in a hoarse whisper: "Is it ... you?"
Karzai laughed and shook his head.
‘What, don’t tell me you know who I am? Has my fame spread to the desert of Syr Daya? But you, old man, who are you?”

The old man said nothing.
Karzai gave him his water. Now he could not cross the desert and would have to go a different way. But he didnt worry. He just did what he needed to do.
The old man drank and said “One day, the desert will repay you.”

Years passed. Karzai was an old man now. He had to cross the desert. A whirlwind came upon him. He began to die of thirst.
Just then, a young man appeared. Karzai peered through the whirlwind. Could it be himself, 30 years younger?
“Is it…you?” Kirzai asked.
‘What, don’t tell me you know who I am? Has my fame spread to the desert of Syr Daya? But you, old man, who are you?” the young man said.

Karzai searched his memory. What to tell the young man. There was so much he would like to say. He would have wished to speak to the young man of many things, but could only find these words:
"One day the desert will repay you."


From "THE FEAR OF THE FUTURE AND THE HABIT OF WORRYING" by Jacob Needleman
Gathered and condensed from "Alive on All Channels"

Thursday, October 15, 2015

OLD FOLKS BOOGIE

A couple years a ago I had to put my sister, who was only 52 years old, into a Nursing Home.
The Woodbridge Rehabilitation Center, they call it.
It’s a long story. Her first day there was horrible, and through tears she asked me “How can you put me here?”
And I told her I had looked around the day before, and it looked like my kind of place, and that she would get some physical therapy for the neck surgery she had. That was the only goal anyone had in mind. Just get a month of rest and care that the Texas Rehabilitation Hospital had not been able to provide, and you'll be ready to go back home.

You wouldn’t believe all the women in a nursing home. The ratio must be 10 to 1, women to men.
And my sister took a day or two, but she calmed down, and started getting the care she needed.

A few days later I went to see her and was surprised to find she was in great spirits, and she giggled to me that there was a lot of senior action going on behind closed doors at the Woodbridge Rehabilitation Center. She had also noted the ratio of women to men.
“I know!” I said “I told you I could really have a time down here. And the best part is that half of these guys are still just as lame as they have been all their lives. They have no idea what to do about it.”

As sad as it is to be reminded of my sister passing early this year, it's a bittersweet joy to find this forgotten note scrawled in a draft stage. To remember how she thought we were putting her away and her big laugh; to go ahead and post it up right now.
Bittersweet.

MONSTER TRUCKS

OK, I understand how it is that a guy in a truck with the $1000 special lights package--running lights, fog lights, deer lights, spot lights--can't seem to use the turn signal.
I get that.
But how is it that a dude in a 2500 series-- monster tires, diesel engine, super shocks, ranch hand with winch, titanium rear end and dually wheel wells-- cant go more than 1 MPH in the apartment parking lot, practically comes to a stop at the speed bumps, and makes every effort in the world to maneuver two of his wheels from touching the speed bumps?
Am I missing something here?

Monday, October 12, 2015

HALLOWEEN, 1974

I met her Halloween Day, 1974 in the school smoking area. She suddenly appeared right beside me in her miniskirt and rabbit fur jacket. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her put a cigarette between her lips. I continued to stare straight ahead, not looking for any trouble. I could smell her Herbal Essence shampoo though, and another glance out of the corner of my eye determined that yes, this chick was really stacked.
But its hard to stay out of trouble for long. Suddenly, this chick slugs me in the arm, and in a fake French accent asks:
“Mon amie, are you not going to light my see-ga-rette, oui?”


That was the start of a years-long relationship, a weird relationship that started that night. Come to find out her mother was French, barely spoke English. I went and picked her up that Halloween Night, and whoa, she had a friend, and they wanted to go parking. And I spent the next two hours hopping from the front to the back seat with these two girls, neither of which would let me, you know,  but I got to tell you I was having the time of my young life.


Over the next two years I would almost bang this chick, but not quite. And the thing is, all my buddies were banging her, and when we would gather around, and they would talk about her, they would always say “Bulletholes knows. He does her all the time” and I would have to try to claim that no, I wasn’t "doing her". The implication being that I wasn't near as big a slut as they.
They didn’t believe me, but it was the truth. It was the truth mainly because for some reason every time we nearly made it, it just didn’t happen, usually because she would up and decide we ought to wait. 

Wait for what? I don’t know. 
And as far as I know, she was doing the same thing to these other guys, they just didn’t want to admit it.


But anytime anyone brings up “The Owl and the Pussycat” my mind immediately goes to the night I took her and a bottle of Annie Green Springs to the drive in to see Barbra Streisand and George Segal. It was pouring down rain, and you couldn’t even see the screen. There were no other cars there. Had the place to ourselves. For 95 minutes I tried everything I knew to do, and some other stuff I just made up. In the end it was no joy.
To this day I still run into guys that want to talk about her ("You fucked her ALL THE TIME") and when I tell them the truth, they just laugh. They don’t believe me for a minute.



"Sorry honey, not tonight"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

KISS

I wish I’d been there 
when you first kissed for real, 
when you first felt that heat, 
and each time after… 
as evolution’s witness 
to your darling, Darwin mouth. 

How many of your kisses 
must have fallen to extinction… 
soft-bellied and shy-eyed kisses, 
sabertooth kisses, sweet 
kisses lost to drought and famine 
before these you bring me now… 

These that have survived, 
these which move and mate with mine 
with their low, cat growls, 
these that have in them long, 
wet strands of the DNA 
of every kiss of yours that came before.
Peregrine

Thursday, October 08, 2015

FIRST TIME FLYER

I flew last week for the first time in ten years. Its nerve wracking. I mean, my whole life I’ve been challenged by being in the right line, at the right time, in the right place. That’s how I ended up in the library instead of gym in the first grade. It never got better for me. I always manage to grab the wrong stuff from the wrong place too. That’s how I came to be wearing hip pads where the knee pads go in 7th grade football.
And the most confusing thing in the world to me? Detailed, step-by-step instructions.

So you, experienced traveler, must be able to imagine what a nightmare it was for me, if only in my mind.
I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. I wasn’t sure if I should drop my bags off and then go to remote parking. I lucked out, chose correctly  and went to remote parking first. It was pitch black, 4:00 in the morning dark. The lady said just go down this aisle, park, and the van will be along to pick you up.
Really? How can I trust that? I visioned myself standing there for 30 minutes, past my flight time.
But no, by the time I got out of my car, there was the van.

Once in the terminal, I stopped to see the statue "One Riot One Ranger", and thought about my dads story, the one I swear I heard a million times about Capt. Jay Banks. I looked around to see if there was anyone there I could tell my story to. I guess I'm glad there was no one there to tell.

I stopped at a Kiosk. It said I could get my bag checked there. I punched in my Confirmation number and it spat out one of those big bar code strips to put on your bag. On the outside it had detailed, step by step instructions for peeling the tape and applying to you bag. I started to peel the tape, and a lady stopped me. I was doing it wrong.
Big Surprise.

In line now for the big TSA screening and check in. Am I in the right line? How can I be sure? I see a sign that says "Priority". No one is in that line. Its probably not for me. I step up to the man that wants to see my boarding pass. I hand it to him. He keeps looking at me, expectant. I stare back at him, eyes glazed.
"Your drivers license?" he says, and points to the big sign that says
'PLEASE HAVE YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE AND BOARDING PASS READY"

How the hell did I miss that? He is very kind though, glances at my picture, nods, and says ""Ah Mr. Renfro! Have a nice trip!"
Thinking back now, and the amused way that he said it, I have wonder were there other Renfro's that failed the DL presentation test? Maybe its not just me. Maybe its genetic.

By now I have identified the lady in front of me as being a pro at this. She is kicking off her shoes, removing her ten rings, 14 bracelets, 6 necklaces, watch, and is now removing certain items from her carry on, and into the bus tub. I do what she does, except I don't have a belly button ring to remove.

I catch her eye.
"Ma'am, what about my medicine. Do I have to take my medicine out of my carry on?" I hold up the big baggie I have all my medicine in. I'd heard you were supposed to do that. But then I had read it was supposed to be in a 1 quart bag. Mine is a gallon. I have lots of medicine. This worries me.
"No" she say, in a thick but friendly New Jersey accent. "We used to have to, but not anymore. Make sure you take the toiletries out."

After stepping out of the Rotating X-Ray machine that I've heard pretty much tells them everything there is to know about you, an Agent pulled me to the side.
"Mr. Renfro, do you have something in your right rear pocket?"
"I don't think so"
"Do you mind if I check?"
"Oh please do."
Gingerly, the Agent reached into my pocket and pulled out two sticks. They were the two sticks from the Corny Dogs I'd eaten the night before.
He smiled at me.
I grinned back and said "Huh. I wonder how those got there?"
"We will have to throw these away Mr. Renfro. Do you mind?"
"Yes, please do."

So, that was my trip in a nutshell. The return trip?
It was just as bad. The SEATAC Airport has a whole different system.

Even when I returned home, I didn’t trust the return to my car at Remote Parking.
“How will they know where I’m parked? I cant remember” I said to no one in particular in the Van.
I tried to ask calmly, but I’m sure my eyes were a little wild. One could smell my fear.
The lady sitting across from me tried to calm me. She made a downward motion with outstretched hands, and said “Don’t worry. They just do.”
“I guess I got trust issues, Huh?” I said.
“Ya think?” she said, and smiled at me kindly.

Thanks to David at LIVE AND LEARN for inspiration for this post.


"YOU CAN'T TAKE THESE WITH YOU ON THE PLANE"

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

NOOKSACK FALLS

video



I had a great vacation in Bellingham Washington, visiting my daughter.
Here we are on our way up Mount Baker.
Run into a couple Sasquatch.
On the way home we stopped at Nooksack Casino.
I taught my daughter to gamble.
We put 20 dollars in.
After 6 spins we were at 100 dollars.
She had 40 and I had 60.
We hit the button and got out of there.
It only took about 3 minutes.

Monday, October 05, 2015

SHENANDOAH



Jacob Anderson: I know how you feel about this war, Pa. I guess we more or less feel the same way, but I don't see how we can sit by and ignore it anymore. Now you say it's not our business, not our fight, but we're Virginians and I believe that anything that concerns Virginia concerns us.
Charlie Anderson: What are you going to do? You gonna keep your slaves or let them go free?
John Anderson: You know I don't have any slaves, Pa.
Charlie Anderson: That's right, John, you don't have a slave to your name, do you.
Charlie Anderson: Suppose you had a friend that owned slaves and suppose somebody was going to come and take them away from him. Would you help him - fight to help him keep them?
Nathan Anderson: No sir!
Charlie Anderson: Your name's Nathan, isn't it?
Nathan Anderson: You know my name, Pa.
Charlie Anderson: I seem to remember something about...
Charlie Anderson: I was talking to Henry.
Charlie Anderson: Well, what do you think?
Henry Anderson: Well, no sir, I wouldn't.
Charlie Anderson: Why not?
Henry Anderson: I don't see any reason to fight for something I don't believe is right and I don't think a real friend would ask me to.

Charlie Anderson: Why we have this same conversation every Saturday before Sunday meeting, I'll never know, but I'm going to pray to the Almighty that this will be the end of it.

CHANGE IT


"If you change your perception, you can change your reality"

Thursday, October 01, 2015

ON WELFARE

“If by helping two somewhat deserving people, I inadvertently help one that isn't, who cares?
This isn’t, after all, Vietnam.”

Bulletholes