Weirdest Job I Ever Interviewed For

Disclaimer: So since I am talking about a lawyer who knows how to sue people, let me just say right here that NO NAMES or other descriptors that may be used to identify this person, agency or employees of said agency will be used! I will be as general as I can. Please don’t sue me, I want to retire in 10 years. Thank you.

Back around 2005 or so, I was still the Webmaster at KTHV 11 in Little Rock. I had a call one day asking if I would be interested in coming to work for an attorney in the central Arkansas area. Ok, nothing weird about that. I had had job offers come in out of the blue during my time at THV, and usually dismissed them on the spot. I was pretty happy at that point with my work situation and the people I worked with.

So, this assistant to the attorney calls me and asks me if I would be interested in coming in to talk about a position. A former boss of mine always said if someone calls you about a job and you are interested that it never hurts to talk. I was intrigued enough to come in and chat.

I also need to add that I never actually spoke to the attorney, but only to his assistant.

So, without going into a great deal of detail, this lawyer maintained a website. Not for his practice, but for his hobby and his collection of things pertaining to his hobby. It was a pretty cool hobby and he had collected some very interesting items. It was explained to me that he thought of it as an “online museum”. What it really was, was a vanity site about his hobby.

“Ok”, I asked, “Where is the site hosted?”

“Come again?”, the confused assistant asked.

“Hosted means where does it live. Most sites like this are hosted using a hosting company.”

“Oh it is hosted here!”

“What?” I said with obvious surprise. I am smooth like that.

“Yes”, the assistant said, “We host all our sites here in these offices, and also our email servers.”

*DING DING* Alarms start to sound in my head.

Even in 2005, webhosting was cheap and very simple to use. The advantage to using a webhost to serve your website to the world was much simpler than maintaining your own server. Not the mention safer from online attacks and better able to handle traffic spikes. Not that I thought his hobby site got much traffic.

“Well, if you don’t mind me asking, why would he do that? Webhosting is inexpensive and a much better platform for maintaining a website.”

Without a change in facial expression, the assistant said “He likes to maintain control over all the aspects of his websites, including the machines we host it from”

*DING DING DING DING* The intensity of the mental alarms ramp up. This attorney sounded kind of weird and very much like a control freak. I have worked for control freaks before. 

Let me take a minute and talk about control freaks. If you ever have a boss or manager that comes to you and prefaces what they are about to throw out there with “You know, I am not really a micro-manager or anything like that, but….” Get ready. After that “but” some epic control freak micro-managing stuff is about the rain down on your head. I know from experience. Now back to our story.

“Sooooo, I asked cautiously, I would maintain all the websites and the email servers for the practice…”

“Oh no”, he interrupted, “You would only be working on the one site.” referring to the ‘museum site’. He continued, “We actually have a person who maintains the site for the practice. And I should clarify, you would not technically be working for the practice, you would be working directly for Mr. ********. You would also not be under any of the company health plans or a part of the benefits package.”

*CLAXON SOUNDS – SIRENS – DANGER WIL ROBINSON! -ABORT ABORT ABORT!!!*

I managed to keep a straight face. “So, uh, he wants someone who will work for…him… but not the actual practice, to maintain his… hobby site?”

Also keeping a straight face, the assistant said. “Yep.”

“With no health care or benefits package?”

“Nope.”

“Ah, well. I assume the pay is….” I trailed off.

“$*very low pay* an hour”, the assistant said.

“$*very low pay* an hour! ” I stammered, incredulous. “I am sorry, but that is…”

“Ridiculous?”, he said. “I know. Sorry to have you come down man.” For the first time, the assistant looks apologetic. “See, he likes your website at KTHV and wanted me to find out who maintains their site and reach out to you to see if you will come to work for him. He is not a guy who likes to hear ‘no’ from the people who work for him, so I reached out to you. So sorry to waste your time.”

“No problem” I said and shook the guy’s hand. “But it is going to be a hard pass from me.”

“Yeaaah” He said, “Kind of what I expected. To be honest with you, I am looking to get out of here too. It is kind of …crazy working here.” And for the first time I saw the weariness that comes from being in a job working for such a demanding employer show on his face.

I wished him well.

Grill Fried Chicken Wings

It used to be, when I wanted to fry up a batch of chicken wings, I had to break out the big Dutch oven, a big jug of oil and get ready to make a mess.

Not now. I fry chicken wings on my pellet grill. Much less oil and mess, just as tasty!

Here is the recipe:

3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded

Brine:

  • 1/4 cup Salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce

Breading:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 2 quarts water in large bowl or container. Add the chicken wings and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or you can do up to 3 hours. I do around 2 hours.
  2. Mix the flour, corn starch, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, 1 tablespoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Remove chicken from brine. Dredge chicken wings in flour mixture in batches, pressing to adhere. Place chicken on wire rack over sheet pan.  Refrigerate chicken, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  3. Now you know your grill better than me. But, I do my grill at about 400 – 425 degrees (Fahrenheit in case you are wondering) and use indirect heat. Since I use a pellet grill, this part is easy for me.
  4. Place chicken, fatty side up on the flats, on the grill.
  5. After about 30 – 40 minutes, brush with the vegetable oil, close the lid and go another 30 – 40 minutes until the wing temp hits between 180 and 200 degrees. DO NOT FLIP.

Toss in your favorite sauce or eat as is.

 

Joey

I loved my in-laws. Dwayne and Ruth were just good people who raised good people.

Let me tell you about my first serious conversation with the woman who would be my mother-in-law.  You may think it would be about me dating her only daughter, but it wasn’t.

It was about Joey.  

Joey Lynn Heffington was born April 28, 1969 as the youngest of four kids and was a perfectly normal baby boy.  When he was still a baby, barely a toddler, Joey contracted meningitis. Meningitis is an infection that caused Joey to have severe inflammation of his brain. A terrible story made short, after a long hospital stay, and brain surgery Joey was able to operate at about the level of a one-year old for the remainder of his life. 

So, Ruth tells me the story about Joey and watches me for my reaction.  I guess I gave the right one, because Ruth and I got on pretty good from that point forward. I think I passed a test that day in her eyes.

Joey lived most of his life at the Conway Human Development Center where he received around the clock care.  He had some pretty serious health issues throughout his life, and would have to take trips to the hospital from time to time.

Joey survived Covid-19 in the Summer of 2020.  However, he passed on unexpectedly during the night of his 52nd birthday on April, 28 2021.

Now comes the “God details” of this story. Because of Covid-19, Debbie had not been able to go see Joey for a little over a year.  However, this year she was able to go see Joey on his birthday and bring him a little toy. He passed that same night just a few hours later.  Debbie got to see her little brother one last time after a year of not being able to lay eyes on him.  I am not a big believer in coincidence. I think my wife was given a gift when she thought she was on her way to bring her little brother a gift.

I believe Joey is with his mom and dad now. Whole again. Praise God.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

That Was A Bad Idea

Never, and I mean never underestimate the ability of teenaged boys to make bad decisions. Put a group of teenage boys together and that potential goes up exponentially.

It was in the late summer of 1981 when that group of teenaged boys decided to get in my dad’s not quite finished batch of homebrewed muscadine wine.

At this point let me say: Hi. I am Butch Renfroe and I was one of the teenaged boys in this story. There were three of us, which is I guess the bare minimum of what could accurately be called a “group of teenaged boys”. 

Ty, Joe, and me. Last names are not used here, but let me just say that if you knew me at all back then, you know who the other two guys are.

Anyway, let me set up the scene for the drama that is about to play out here with this list of bullet points:

  • Mom and dad were out of town to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma
  • I was told to not have any company over and that my older sister would be checking in on me
  • I did indeed have company over after my sister checked in on me then went back to her house
  • Dad had a batch of muscadine wine brewing
  • Bad choices ensued

My folks had earlier in the summer acquired a large amount of muscadine grapes.  Most of the fruit was made into jelly and canned, but enough was left for dad to mash up and put into two huge stone crocks that were made for home wine making.  Dad had mentioned a couple of days before that he would probably be bottling up the wine as soon as he got back into town. 

As I showed my friends the two big crocks of unstrained, unfiltered wine. Someone had the great idea of sampling the batch. After all, there was a whole lot of wine here and surely my dad would not miss a little bit being pilfered. So we, being the untrained but highly motivated types, decided to filter the wine through a couple of clean dishtowels into one of those old Tupperware 2-quart plastic pitchers that most of your folks had in the 70’s and 80’s. I think this process got most of the lumps out. Mostly.

Being the sommeliers in training we were, we served the vintage over ice in yet another great Tupperware item popular back in the day: the 32 oz. tumbler.  We sampled, and it was not bad to our sophisticated young palates. So we all got our big tumblers full of wine and sampled it. Then we sampled some more. Then some more. Again.

It was at this point I need to point out that this was a school night. See, the reason I had not accompanied mom and dad to Oklahoma was because school had just started. Besides the school work I may miss,  I was also in the marching band and we were busy learning our new routine for the season. But the important take away is: It was a school night.

Back to the narrative.

Things got fuzzy real quick.  Much fun was had by all. Lots of laughing and joking and carrying on. Ty and Joe at some point stumbled down the hill to Ty’s house where Joe would spend the night.  I was attempting to retire to bed because as I have pointed out, it was a school night.  My sister might cover for me, but I had no doubt that if the school called to enquire about any absence, I might get in trouble. So, with that knowledge, even in my highly altered state I decided that come what may, I was going to get on the school bus in the morning and go to class. 

I attempted to go to sleep, but my bed decided to start doing spins and twirls. At least that is what it felt like whenever I closed my eyes. After a few minutes of my bed doing somersaults, my stomach started sending me subtle messages like, “You idiot!” and “Bad idea, Sparky!”.   Finally, my stomach had enough and told me things were about to happen. Really bad things.

While throwing up is never fun, the dry heaves are another thing altogether.  After driving the porcelain bus for… oh I don’t know …an eternity or so… I managed to get back into bed and pass out. I slept for what felt like at least 10 minutes of good quality sleep before an air horn started going off right beside my ear. At least that is what the alarm clock sounded like to me.  

My head. What had I done to my head? There was some bass player from a metal band in my head pounding out rhythmic riffs with every beat of my heart. And light! Oh my how the light hurt my eyes. I could only open them just a bit and the morning sunlight streaming through my bedroom curtains was like a little ray of God’s judgement!

My head hurt. My eyes hurt. My hair hurt!

I managed to get into the shower and get dressed.  The bus trip to school was hell. When did the people on here get so loud?  

I am not sure how I made it through the first half of the day. At one point, I passed Joe in the hallway between classes. He looked like I felt. We just looked at each other and never said one word, the but look we gave each other spoke volumes. Basically though, the look said, “We are stupid” and “That was a very bad idea”.

By the time lunchtime rolled around, I had started to feel human again and thanks the the near miraculous constitution of a teenager, by the time I got home I felt fine.

I managed to clean everything up from our night before, and mom and dad got home the next day.  If dad ever got wise to the fact that we drank about a gallon of his wine, he never let on. But let’s face it, I learned a lesson anyway and any punishment he could have legally doled out on me would have paled in comparison to the pain of that first, horrendous hangover. 

To The “Not My President” People

Just something that came to mind this inauguration day 2021.

“Well, they may be YOUR president, but they ain’t MY president!”

Yes they are. You may not like it. You may dislike or even despise the person in the Oval Office, but if you are a citizen of the United States they are indeed your president. For better or for worse.

Before you think I am attacking a particular political party or ideology, this is a sentiment I have seen displayed equally by passionate Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. Sounds just as inane to my ears no matter who says it.

Here is the deal folks, the office of the President of The United States is much bigger than the person who is the current occupant of the position. The office is bigger than your politics. They are indeed your president. Deal with it.

Look, you may not like your boss at your job, but they sure as heck can make all the decisions and tell you what to do. As long as you work for that company that boss is at, they call the shots. Saying that they are “Not my boss.” sounds kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

I am not sure when this all started. I know I remember hearing in pre-internet days. Probably at college when some whiny student was railing against Ronald Reagan.

Anyway, Trump was my President. Biden will be my President. Just like all the people who held that office during my lifetime. From LBJ to Biden, they have all been my President.

Just my thoughts on this day. Have a good one. – Butch

Grudges Are Heavy Things

I know of an estranged mother and daughter. I have an idea about what caused the estrangement, but not all the particulars. Honestly, the particulars really are not all important to my point.

My point is this: Grudges are heavy things. They weigh on the soul, especially on the grudge holder’s.

I have never actually met the daughter in this situation, but If I were to speak to the young lady who has the grudge against her mother, I would make the following points:

  1. You may feel you have every right to be angry. They may have hurt you. Forgive anyway.
  2. You or your mother are not ever guaranteed tomorrow, or the next minute even.  Forgive now.
  3. You don’t have to forget what happened, but the past cannot be changed. Forgive. Talk. Find a way forward.

A fellow I know wrote a song with following lyrics:

“Nothing’s worth losing
Especially the chance to make it right

And I know that we’re gonna be fine
And the tattooed mistakes
Are gonna fade over time
As long as we live, time passes by
And we won’t get it back when we die”

Talk to your momma.

 

A Conversation With Thurg The Caveman On Masks

I saw someone share this photo on Facebook today, and I shook my head in disappointment.

The image was of a woman holding a sign that says “If you’re wearing a mask, why would you care if I am not? Your mask works, right?”

The people posting this sentiment seem to think that we are wearing masks to protect ourselves, the mask wearer. Many times it has been shared through multiple media and social media platforms that the purpose of the masks is to keep the spread down by protecting others from any virus we may have. The logic used is that if enough people wear the masks, that along with using social distance guidelines we can keep the spread rate down, especially from those who are potentially asymptomatic who may be shedding the virus but otherwise not feeling any ill-effects from the virus.

But then I realized, that we were using words like “asymtomatic” and other words with more than two syllables.  I thought maybe if we broke it down to language a caveman could understand, they might understand the concept.

So, here goes nothing:

“Thurg no like masks! Thurg not wear mask. Thurg no afraid to get beer virus!”

“You mean the coronavirus, Covid-19.”

“That what Thurg said, dummy! The fake beer virus they all say so bad. Anyway, Thurg not afraid of weak puny fake virus, so Thurg no wear mask! Thurg got his freeedommm!”

“Ok Thurg. You know the mask is not to protect you, right? It is to keep you from spreading to other people.”

“Thurg not believe that! Thurg watch man at magic video on the eBay place. He tell Thurg it is lie!”

“So you watched a video online that was slanted to align with your previously held beliefs and bias to make you feel better about your decision to not wear a mask.”

“Thurg not know what you just say. Thurg confused.”

“I know Thurg. I know.”

I don’t think Thurg can be helped.

One video from PBS Digital Studios explains why wearing a mask helps. Too bad Thurg and others like him will never watch it.

 

The Day I Taught A Mormon How To Buy Booze

I work for a public television station.We are also an agency of the state of Arkansas. We aired a live call in program last night where viewers could call in and ask a panel of experts questions about the Covid-19 virus that as of the writing, we are at the beginning of the pandemic.

Anyway, there were about 15 of us on the phone bank, and we were all fielding calls continuously for about an hour and 10 minutes. Usually, it would be mainly volunteers on the phones, but because of restrictions we imposed, we needed station employees to man the phones.

Towards the end of the program, the following call took place:

Me – “Thank you for calling Arkansas PBS, do you have a question for the panel?”

Lady – “Yes sir, I am a Latter Day Saint (Mormon). I know nothing about alcohol. We have not been able to find any hand sanitizer, so my daughter brought home a big bottle of vodka. Can we use that as hand sanitizer?”

Finally. A question I can actually answer.

Me -“Well, I will submit your question to the panel, ma’am. But, I actually think I can help you out.”

Lady – “That would be lovely! Thank you!”

Me -“Ok, look on the bottle and tell the the proof. It will be number right before the word “proof”.”

Lady – “Hmmm. Ok, 80 proof.”

(At this point I am doing a Google search on recommendations on hand sanitizer strength)

Me – “Ok, so what you do is take the proof number, and divide by 2. That is basically the percentage of alcohol. So your vodka is 40%. The FDA recommends at least 60% in hand sanitizers.”

Lady – “So it’s not strong enough?”

Me – “Strong enough for a Moscow Mule, but not hand sanitizer.”

Lady – “…..”

Me – “Uh, no ma’am.”

I went on to explain that if her daughter goes back to the liquor store to purchase Everclear PGA or anything over 120 proof.

So basically, I got to teach a Mormon how to purchase hard liquor.

My work is done….

Belle: Ode To My Dog

She had one tooth in her head, was mostly blind, was almost deaf, had a weak ticker and she had an absolute love for her people that filled a whole house from one tiny dog.

She was our girl.  Lilly Belle LaRose.  She usually went by Belle, but alternately she was called Smelly Belle, Miss Belle, and sometimes Squirrel Girl.

I was commuting to work when Debbie called me to say that the clinic called and that Belle had passed away during the night.

This makes two blog posts in a row where I am talking about losing my dogs.

We bought her for Baxter, you know.  We had had Baxter for about three months before we decided he needed a buddy.  We found Belle in Russellville with a nice older couple whose Yorkie had given birth to one little pup. Belle and Baxter became a duo. The Pit Yorkies I dubbed them.

She loved us. Me, Debbie, Bradley and Ryan. And Baxter.  Everyone else could just go away as far as she was concerned.

We noticed in the past week that she was not feeling well. On Monday, March 18 Deb took her to the veterinarian where she was diagnosed with a UTI and put on fluids and antibiotics and kept overnight. They called Debbie with the news Tuesday morning.

I am going to miss that little dog that followed me all over the house like she was on a string. The one who wanted nothing more than to be with her people.

If you were down for a nap, she was more than willing to jump in and nap with you. Watch TV? Sure, right by me in the recliner.

The house feels really empty now.

 

Baxter: Ode to my dog

January 7, 2019

Debbie took Baxter to the vet that afternoon. He had a fever,  had been coughing and wheezing and seemed to be really slowing down.  I mean, he was down to three legs, so a bit of a slow down was expected. But you could tell he was not feeling himself.

An x-ray confirmed the worst. Our little guy was eaten up with cancer in his lungs. He was suffering and struggling to draw breath. Debbie knew what we had to do. She called me at work with tears in her voice, “How soon can you leave work?”.

35 minutes later I was at the Chestnut Animal Clinic.  The boys had come by earlier to say goodbye. Debbie met me with our little guy in her arms.  He saw me and his stumpy little tail wagged a bit. I took him and held him while they gave him the sedative that would put him to sleep before they administered the drug that would let him be free from the pain.

He went to sleep licking my arm.  Right to the end, in his last moments of consciousness he was giving love. Just like he always did.

They took him away after he had gone to sleep to put the catheter in his foreleg to administer the drugs that would stop his heart.  Debbie held him while he breathed his last breath and relaxed peacefully.

September, 2005

I didn’t really want a Yorkie.  I had my eye on a West Highland Terrier.  But Debbie fell in love right there with a pound and a half of dark fur, black eyes and equal parts cuteness and energy. They said his name was Baxter.  Baxter came home with us.

After a couple of months, we decided dogs work best in pairs, so we brought home Belle. Baxter and Belle it was. The Pit Yorkies!

 

Mr. Buddy Dog 

Our boys bonded with Baxter immediately.  Baxter loved  Brad and Ryan too, but really bonded with Brad. After Brad moved out, he would look around for Brad in the morning until he figured out Brad wasn’t in the house.

Baxter had the temperament more like an old Lab as he got older. More Lab like than the terrier breed he was. He even walked like a big old Lab as he would come over to get petted. Head down, and kind of swaying side to side as he would walk. He lumbered. As much as a 10lb dog can lumber

He was always ready to greet the day by heading outside to go on squirrel patrol.  Birds were ok to him, but those squirrels just bugged him to death!

Through the years, he could delight us, make us laugh and yes at times exasperate us to no end. But he was always happy to see us and be with us. He was always down to help you take an afternoon nap and to test your egg cooking skills.

Now, as I type this a day after he is gone, I still expect to see him.  Belle is looking around for him this afternoon. And him not being here has left a very large hole in our hearts. Amazing how a dog that weighs less than 10-lbs. can leave such a big hole.

He was known by many names besides Baxter: Buddy, Mr. Buddy Dog, Señor Captain Buddy Dog, The Bax Attack, and Captain Doodle Von Pootskillet. But mostly he was Baxter. My buddy dog.

He gave us unconditional love for 13-years. And it only cost us our hearts.

We miss you little man. Rest well.