Early Morning Thoughts

Random thoughts as I sip coffee at 5:30 in the morning on August 3, 2017:

  • I had a wonderful mother-in-law and father-in-law. I miss them.
  • This Kona blend coffee is pretty good.
  • Sometimes, like today, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. for no apparent reason. I specify “a.m.” because I don’t usually sleep at work. Usually.
  • Grudges are heavy things to carry around.  I avoid heavy things. Bad back and all that.
  • Most political posts on Facebook are still really good at inflaming and dividing, not so much at informing and inspiring. You will never argue or insult someone to your side.
  • Too many people I know and care about have died from cancer this Summer. Too many people I know and care about are fighting cancer right now.  Cancer sucks.
  • Tell the people you love how you feel about them while you can.
  • Baxter is a 10 lb. Yorkie that can snore like a bull mastiff.
  • If you can read this, thank a teacher. Over 50 addendum: If you can SEE this, thank your eye-doctor. Thanks Shane.
  • Have a good day friends!

 

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday.  I no longer bring flowers or even cards.  She has a limited amount of space in her room and already enough clutter. Besides, the purpose of the flowers and cards are lost on her.  We will probably celebrate with donut holes from Krispy Kreme. She still can appreciate some donut holes.  Loves ’em as a matter of fact.

Lucy has her spot in the dining/sitting area of the observation area of the nursing home.

She regally occupies the same chair everyday.  She gets upset if someone has taken her place in the center of the room.  I joke that she is holding court.  That is probably not that far from the truth.

Most days when she sees me, she kind of knows that she should know me.  She doesn’t know my name and has not known it for a couple of years.  But, something in her memory recognizes me in some form. Maybe it is my face. Maybe it is only because I smile at her and make eye contact when I come into the room. She smiles back and says “Well, you came to see me!”.

Usually, I will have one or both of my sons with me when we visit her.  Collectively, according to her, we are “That man and those boys.”  Although on a visit to get a mental evaluation recently, she told the doctor in a surly tone that I was “Her husband” as she was giving me an angry sideways look. She never liked to go to doctors and it was plain that it was definitely all my fault she was there.

The woman I knew growing up is almost gone. Almost, but there are moments that her personality shows through the terrible, inexorable dementia. She has always been tenacious. The last of eight siblings.

She knows she is a mom, but usually not that she is mine or my sisters’ mom.  She usually claims other residents as her kids. And that is okay. It has to be.

I will visit her this weekend.  I will bring donut holes.  And I will celebrate Mother’s Day.

 

 

Weather Coverage Responses On Facebook. Or Why I Am Becoming A Curmudgeon.

Pretty much me. Sometimes. When I am exposed to a certain amount of stupid.

I am turning into a grouchy old man. I know this. I accept this. Please note, there is a rant to follow.

It makes me feel better, okay?

The evening of March 29, 2017 saw a round of severe weather come through Arkansas. Nothing unusual about that at all. It ’tis the season for that here in this part of the country.

We had active tornado warnings.

I looked at the Facebook Live feeds from a couple of the local stations.  This is a good thing, by the way.  A way to get live broadcast information if your power goes out streaming to  your mobile device.  I am all for the use of social media and streaming in the case of active warnings. I believe it is a tool that that the potential to save lives.

Let me stop here to say that it has been a few years since I worked in broadcasting, so maybe I forgot how dumb some people are.  I mean, I have talked to my fair share of people via telephone and email during my time in radio and TV that sometimes they could and did say things so stupid that it gave me Forest Whitaker eye:

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments as they scrolled in during the THV Facebook Live stream.

The majority of folks posting to the live weather coverage video were complimentary and thankful for the information being given to them.  But, see they had to break in during Survivor.  A reality TV show was interrupted to tell someone about an active tornado warning.

Now, most sane, rational people with any modicum of brain processing ability would understand that this was the correct thing to do.  Nevermind the FCC mandate that specifies broadcasting in the public interest, lives could be at stake.  But no.  Seeing which person who can eat the most bugs or worms and run an obstacle course is obviously more important to some people than, oh I dunno, A TORNADO WARNING!

Here are actual screen captures of some comments:

First, it was a warning. See unlike you Miss Commentator – who by the way if you don’t live in the world of unicorns and fairy tale dreams full-time, you at least spend most of your summers there – the rest of us realize that:

1 – Severe weather situations are a fluid thing and they change. Often very quickly.
2 – People will tune into the coverage at different times, so they have to repeat information.

Yeah. See?  No. Probably not.


Sure. We will just forget about the warnings. Who cares about those folks anyway. I have covered this.

I mean sure, a lot of us WILL go outside and look during an active warning.

I didn’t say it was smart, just that we will do it.

Ok. Rant done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cola Question

At the end of this post will be a question.

Before we get there, let me tell you about going out on calls with my dad way back in the early 1970’s.

Dad was a veterinarian who owned and practiced out of the Conway Animal Clinic. He practiced on both large and small animals until he had to sell the practice in 1976 due to disability (if you get into an physical match with a horse, usually the horse wins) . Many times with large animals like cows and horses he would go out on call to treat the critters.

This one time in particular, dad went out on a call out towards Vilonia. Most of the time, especially before I started elementary school, I would go out on calls with him. I don’t remember the specifics about that call, but I do remember us stopping on the way back in to the clinic to get a soda. I was five years old and it was 1971.

Dad pulled his maroon 1968 GMC long-bed pick-up into the gravel parking lot of the Squirrel Hill Grocery on Highway 64. I remember dad getting me a big bottle of RC Cola.

Now, as I remember it was a hot dusty day and that soda tasted like sweet, sugary, carbonated heaven.

It was not the last time I had an RC Cola. I know I have had several since then. But, as far as I remember it had been decades since I had last tasted an RC.

So, today I am shopping at Kroger and decided I wanted a cold drink for the drive home. In the aisle that sells the refrigerated cold drinks and soft drinks I spied a 20 oz. bottle of RC Cola. So, for nostalgic reasons, I picked one up and put it in the buggy. (Note: for you non-Southerners, “buggy” is used regularly in place of “shopping cart”.)

I checked out, put the groceries in the car, and got in and put my seatbelt on. Then I spun off the cap to my RC, tilted it back and expected to be transported back to the bench seat of daddy’s truck on a hot summer day in 1970 in the dusty parking lot of an old gas station.

Which leads me to my question I referenced at the beginning of this post: Has RC Cola always tasted like flat Pepsi?

Why I Reach Out To People Posting Hoaxes On Facebook

Dear Friend,

Hi.  You may have just happened upon this post, but I suspect you came here from a link I posted on my timeline, or maybe in reply to your post, or in a private message. I probably did it because of a Facebook post you made that is not true, a hoax, or a scam.

Now, I know you most likely posted what you did because you thought you were being helpful to your fellow man. You just wanted to help. That is admirable!

So with that in mind, please realize I am sharing this with you with no malice in mind and it is not to show you up or make you feel foolish. It is done with the sincere intent to help.

I’ve been doing this online thing for a living since 1997. In addition to other hats I wear at my job, I teach courses in online security and on social media topics.  So, I am expected to know a few things about the subject.  That said, I can usually smell an Internet hoax or Facebook scam from a mile away.

Why I am passionate about falsehoods and hoaxes being posted? The reason I get all fired up about those kinds of posts are because they spread lies and misinformation, and in some cases those posts can be harmful to others. At the very least, it is perpetuating un-truths.

And finally, YOU are responsible for what you post. Even if you are sharing someone else’s content.

So, I am asking you to help spread the truth! Always check the post to see if it is true or from a valid source.  Here are a list of sites that will be very helpful in determining if a what you thinking of sharing is legitimate or not:

That is a good starting point.

I also highly recommend this article from Forbes:

How To Avoid Spreading Hoaxes On Social Media

 

So take this in the spirit in which it is offered. And if I can ever help you in anyway with determining if something is legit or not before you post it, just let me know!

All The Best

Butch

P.S. I am serious about contacting me if you have a question!

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A Friend Remembered

*Note, the name of the subject of this writing has been changed in honor of privacy to his family.

One hot Summer night in 1981, I was leaving my then girlfriend’s house to get into my dad’s 1972 GMC  pickup truck and drive back home. Home was down the street a half mile. Because I technically could not legally drive yet at 15,  I had to beg dad to let me drive the truck to her house. I guess he figured that the truck was already beat up pretty good and I wasn’t going to do much damage even if I took out a mailbox or two.

So, as she was walking me to the vehicle parked in her parent’s driveway, two idiots in gorilla masks jump up from the bed of the truck and yelled loudly.  I don’t know who screamed with the higher vocal pitch, me or the young lady. I could have killed those idiots.

One of those idiots was Joe Powers and the other was Matt.  And we were thick as thieves in those days.

Matt was possessed of a quick wit, an even quicker smile, and a goofy, endearing sense of humor. It seemed everyone loved him back then. And in those days, he was one of my best friends.

Jump on back to 1975.  My dad was still in practice and owned the Conway Animal Clinic.  A family brought in their bassett hound to get neutered, hit it off swimmingly,  and thus began the friendship between my folks and Matt’s folks.  Such good friends in fact that my folks bought a house within a stone’s throw from Matt’s parents house.  Actually, it was a bottle rocket shot in distance, but that is another story.

Matt was small for his age. At 9-years-old I was already his equal in height when he as 12. I was foisted on him and I am sure it was no fun having to entertain a kid when you are practically a teenager!  But, the years erased the differences, so by the time we were in our teens we were almost like brothers. When you added Joe to the mix, we were trouble.

We spent hours with a basketball at my house with my General Electric 8-track player blaring out tunes while we played horse or one-on-one. When it snowed, there we would be sledding down the hills in our neighborhood. It was also alleged that we may have been involved with throwing snowballs at cars from atop the hills down on highway 65. Alleged mind you.

We would spend all night, just me, Matt and other friends talking and listening to the radio in his living room. Summer days spent fishing or swimming in Lake Beaverfork. And without a doubt, Matt’s front yard was the best for games of spotlight, kick the can, or football.

This is how I like to remember him because these were good days.  Bad days were coming soon for Matt. A series of events sent him on a downward spiral.  I won’t go into all the details, because it not the focus I want here.  I will say this though, mental illness and addiction are horrible.  He passed away from this world in 1986 at the age of 24.

During the good days, Matt was liked and loved by many.  On the night when a personal tragedy struck my family in 1982, he was the one who stuck by me that entire night while I grieved. He taught me how to water ski.  He was the one who almost got me mugged in New Orleans in 1979 when we snuck outside the KOA park into a bad part of town. I will always remember that lopsided grin that would foretell another, probably, bad idea he was thinking up that would end up being a great memory. 

Matt, I miss you man. Love you brother.

The Renfroe Files: 1982 World’s Fair With Robert, Elmo, & The Wampus Cat Band

Granted, it has been about 35 years ago as I type this, but somethings you don’t forget.  I remember you didn’t go to sleep around Robert Saunders and Elmo Irby. Which is why I did not sleep for about 48-hours.

Let me back up a little bit.  I was in my high school band.  Yeah, I was the kid who got talked into playing a baritone back in 6th grade instead of the much more portable trumpet as I had originally set out to play.  So I was the guy who had to lug a good sized case on and off the bus until I could drive. At least I didn’t get talked into playing the tuba.  You clarinet and flute players had it made.

During my Sophomore year in high school, we found out that the Wampus Cat Band had been selected to march in the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. I think we sold candy bars as a fundraiser, but I am not for sure.

Anyway, in the summer of 1982, an unruly mob of teenagers, a few parents, and our just promoted band director Mickey Siler boarded a couple of chartered buses one muggy evening and set-out for an overnight drive to Knoxville.  We drove during the night I think because the folks in charge thought we might actually sleep during the trip if we drove at night. Thereby keeping the shenanigans/noise level down.  Nice try.

It was a pretty tight schedule, as I recall. We were to arrive at a FEMA styled trailer park where we would be housed then went off into the fair to wander about doing the rides, exhibits and attractions.  The first night was when I found out you did not go to sleep around Robert and Elmo.  As soon as I drifted off, cold water right in the face. Jerks. Nice. Nod off again, ice down the underwear. Ok, I would show I could stay up as well.  And I did.  We marched the next day, then wandered around the park with me in an exhausted daze.  I think Gaylon Ross kept me awake when we would sit so I did not get left at the World’s Fair and miss the bus ride home.

The plan, like the drive to the fair, was to load everyone on the buses in the evening for a ride back.  I remember sitting on a rock wall waiting to board the bus, when a parent approached me and ask if I felt okay. Apparently I looked kinda peeked.  I had been up for a long time, and honestly answered that I had felt better. Looking at me, I guess she thought I was nauseated, because she gives me a Dramamine.

You know what happens when you give a Dramamine, which has drowsiness as a known side-effect, to an exhausted 16-year old? Well, I don’t either because I basically blacked out.

When I say I do not remember getting on the bus, I am serious.  I don’t remember anything until we pulled into the Conway High parking lot early the next morning and to my perception, no time had passed at all!  It was like time-travel! I remember one fella saying they actually checked to see if I was alive, because I would not wake up when we stopped to eat.

If I ever have to do a long road trip and I don’t have to drive, I might try that trick again. Better than flying!  But I still wouldn’t go to sleep around Robert or Elmo.

 

 

The Renfroe Files: The THV.Com Controversy

grandma-finds-the-internet-meme-blank-11During my time at KTHV Television in Little Rock, we had a slight problem during the first few years I was there. That was the domain name of THV.com.

The problem wasn’t the domain name THV.com. I would have loved to have that domain. The problem was we did not own the domain THV.com.  Someone else had snatched that domain name up prior to my arrival to KTHV in 1999.

But the real problem was this: When people put in THV.com into their browser they were taken right to a hardcore pornography site.

Yeah.

You do not know how uncomfortable it is to have to show your general manager why we are getting complaints from people who thought we were running a porn site.  I remember the day well when I had to show our GM Susan where THV.com went and what it showed. She took it pretty well even though her webmaster’s face was the color of an over-ripe tomato.

And you can actually get used to talking to people, even little old ladies, who are calling you to tell you how insulted they are by “your porn website”.

The domain was owned by a company in Canada. When we inquired about purchasing the domain, they wanted a pretty big sum of money.  So,  instead of ponying up we just continued to answer emails and phone calls to explain why someones kid, spouse, or grandma was seeing porn when they visited “our” website.

I am glad to say that someone did cough up some money and purchased the domain THV.com. Last I checked it went to a site that sells home improvement products.

But if you are reading this post years down the road and it goes to some place that makes grandma clutch her pearls, it’s not the TV station’s fault.

Or mine.