This TV runs on kerosene

“Please leave the humor to me.” I’ve used that line many times, especially toward my brother-in-law, Jeff Romero, a lawyer who used to be the district attorney in Albuquerque.

He’d start in with lawyer jokes (yes, lawyers know them all; they hear them, spread them, laugh at them and feel unloved if someone fails to tell a lawyer joke in their presence).

One thing about Jeff, a man who has made quite a good living, was his reluctance to buy new stuff.

What particularly puzzled me was his insistence on keeping a pre-historic TV set, possibly the same one used by the Flintstones.

You know the kind I’m describing, always emitting a greenish tint, having knobs and rabbit ears, and a rounded screen that you might expect to find goldfish swimming in. That kind of TV set. Jeff is like my in-laws, Max and Bertha Jimenez, about whose set I said must have run on kerosene.

When I made the same statement to Señor Counselor, Jeff corrected me and said it in fact “runs on whale oil.” Now I’m not necessarily Señor Everything New. No sir. I like to allow things to perform their services before replacing them. But that’s iffy in itself. How many times have you bought something electronic and when it broke, tried to have it repaired, only to discover that “you have last month’s model. Those aren’t made anymore”?

But back to the TV sets of my brother in law and my compadres. When I visited Max or Jeff, I invariably would tell them, “Your TV is so old that about all we can get are reruns.” How old were their sets?

  • So old that when I got invited to watch the Super Bowl in 2010, all we could get was the game between Green Bay and Kansas City, and the Roman numeral was I.
  • So old that the halftime entertainment was a Lucky Strike commercial.
  • So old that we got the original late movie, True Grit.
  • So old that the New Mexico governor delivered a PSA on TV to remind us to observe the 55 mph limit. That governor was Toney Anaya.

Another relative — this time my son Ben — made my arrogance about things old and new come back to bite me. You see, he and other family members chipped in to buy me an iPad for my latest, recent birthday. I turned as old as Max and Jeff’s TV sets.

Well, a feature on this highly sophisticated, compact piece of electronic equipment apparently was a bit of free engraving. When Ben phoned to ask if I liked the iPad, naturally I said yes, what I could understand about it.

“Look a little closer, Dad,” Ben said. So I inspected every crook and nanny of the iPad and finally found, in tiny print, the words “Powered by Kerosene.”

To which I say, “Benjamin Vernon Trujillo, leave the humor to me.” But strangely, iPads apparently come with no instructions, and I haven’t learned how to make the thing function.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe my new toy does in fact require a few ounces of kerosene to get the thing fired up. But where do I find this fossil fuel? Got it! I’m sure Jeff or Max has a bit of kerosene to spare.

• • •

“I’ll bet you’ve never seen a cleaner campus,” my friend David Kruse told me as we drove past the Wagon Mound Independent Schools complex. “It’s always been spotless,” he said.

Well, I was impressed. That was about 25 years ago. What do the grounds and the school look like now? Spotless! It prompts me to modify slightly that eternal question, “If a tree falls in the forest …”

In this case, I want to ask, “If a cigarette butt falls on the Wagon Mound school grounds and there’s no one to see it, did it really fall?”

But this kind of observation is difficult to make without the requisite comparisons. Daily we see Las Vegas campuses in need of manicuring, and, to be fair, there are some well tended. But I refuse to believe there’s a cleaner campus anywhere than that found in Wagon Mound.

Wanting to know to whom I should give credit, I asked Superintendent Albert Martinez for the names of the custodial crew. They are Henry Maestas, John Romero and Perfecto (Perf) Olgiun. So proud of their efforts was Superintendent Martinez that he pushed for recognition through the Ben Lujan District Award, named after the New Mexico Speaker of the House.

Last year, Maestas, Romero and Olguin received the Silver Level Award, and this year, they walked off with the Gold Level Award. And that’s no surprise, considering how hard the three men work to optimize school cleanliness, safety and health.

• • •

As hundreds of graduates of Luna Community College and Highlands University walked across the stage to receive their diplomas Saturday, they appeared to be of all ages. That’s how it should be.

But elsewhere, in a recent celebrated case, a 15-year-old girl, not even out of high school, now owns an associate’s degree in language arts: a real college degree, from Western New Mexico University.
We should say congratulations. I guess.

The student, Allegra Hernandez, a Deming High School student, is on course to enter college with 72 credits already under her belt. She’s completed the bulk of her college studies through the magic of something called dual-credit courses.

We can “wow!” at her ability to juggle her regular high school course load while completing college courses (theoretically harder, more in-depth and more challenging).

I encourage all to congratulate a girl with such discipline, not to mention academic smarts.

But aside from the issues of physical, mental and emotional maturity of kids of such tender years, there remains one question:

What does that say about the rigor of the coursework? Does this hyper-precociousness mean that soon kids who haven’t begun to shave will be teaching courses in chemistry, calculus, anthropology, world lit and PE?

2 thoughts on “This TV runs on kerosene

  1. Ben Moffett

    Observations: I believe the credit courses for college are tuition free — at least they were. Saving a couple of years of tuition by studying in high school is big money and a head start on a secure future. #2 — You are not too old, Art, if you call they fuel in your old lamps “kerosene.” Back in my pre-electric days we called it “coal oil.”

  2. Art Trujillo

    Yes, Ben, I can remember coal oil. Can go one even better: We used to have a flat “fogon” (accent on the second syllable), powered by coal and kindling. But I understand the next generation of iPad will be unable to run on those.

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