Friday, April 25, 2008

Stupid People.

It's been a pretty busy week, so I don't have much for you in the way of good stories or pictures. I've been driving, doing events, and trying to stay caught up on boring admin work. My back is getting much better, but I'm still pissed about it. The weather all week was perfect for sleeping in the car and I could have easily made arrangements for taking showers. I could have spent very little money on hotels this week. However, I decided to do the responsible thing and get a room each night so I could sleep in an actual bed and (hopefully) return to my normal spry self soon. So on one hand my back feels much better, but on the other hand, that's a lot less money going into my IRA ... or to the bar.

Anyway, I've been heading back west this week and now I'm in St. Louis for my last event before wrapping up this trip and hightailin' it toward the house. By mere coincidence, my parents also happen to be in St. Louis for a funeral. I don't see my parents very often, so I was pretty pumped about getting to meet up with them. They got here yesterday. I had originally planned on getting here today after driving in from Nashville, but last night I got all excited and I wasn't tired, so I just drove straight through and got here around 2am. When I got out of the car at the hotel, I suddenly realized that I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was check into a room, find out which room my parents were in, and go to bed.

Before I paid for a room, I wanted to make sure my parents were indeed at that hotel. I was pretty sure they were, but you never know. So I asked the front desk guy if there were any guests checked in with the last name Rushin. He gave me a momentary blank stare and asked if I was a guest there. I told him, "Not yet. I want to make sure I'm in the right place." He replied with, "I can't release that information. Do you want a room?" I resisted rolling my eyes at him and proceeded to state my case. I said, "Look, my parents are here and I was supposed to meet up with them tomorrow afternoon in town. I've found myself here a bit early and I want to let them know I'm here. If they're at this hotel like I think they are, I'd like to have a room here too."

At this point, most of you are probably thinking the same thing this guy was. He looked at me like I was stupid and asked, "Can't you call them or something? Don't they have a cell phone?" Now, I'll give him that. I would have asked the same thing. So I calmly replied, "Well, here's the thing, they're deaf. They don't have cell phones because ... well ... it wouldn't really do them much good So no, I can't call them."

Then he sighed and asked me for my ID. I gave it to him. Then he typed on the keyboard a little and then said, "Alright, yeah, this must be them. Last name Rushin and there's a note for housekeeping that they're hearing impaired." Sweet. I felt like I was getting somewhere. So then I told him I'd take a room. He got all that going and then told me that since the parking lot was full, I'd have to park my trailer in the back. I walked back and checked out where he wanted me to park. It was fine except there was no way my parents were going to see it when they came outside in the morning. I had been planning to leave a note on my car letting them know what room I was in. I told him this and he just kinda stared at me. So then I asked him if he would give me their room number so I could just slip a note under their door. He replied with, "Oh, no, I can't do that. Security reasons."

Okay, let's get one thing straight right now. I'm not a difficult person. I understand things like this. But I already explained my situation to this guy. It was late. I was tired. I was not in a good mood. So I said, "Alright, I understand that, but I've already told you I can't get ahold of them and I need to let them know I'm here." So he offers this helpful solution, "I tell ya what, call this number on your cell phone and I'll just put you directly through to their room."

Seriously. That's what he said. I gave him my best "you're-an-idiot" look and said, "That's awfully nice of you, but like I told you before, they can't hear. How do you expect them to know the phone is ringing, let alone pick it up and talk to me on it?" Then he started to get a little huffy with me and irritatedly said, "Well, if you'll just leave them a voicemail, the light on the phone will blink until they check it."

I wish I could come up with an effective way to convey the heavy silence that accompanies pure paralyzing displeasure as a result of another person's phenomenal incompetence. Throughout this whole ordeal, my anger had been slowly soaring at about the rate that a feather would fall to the ground. Except instead of gently landing on the floor, my rage hit the roof. On the inside, I completely lost my shit. I was this close to just letting that moron have it. But just as I opened my mouth to let out a wicked stream of profanity, I somehow collected myself. I closed my mouth, took a deep breath, and and proceeded to speak to him in a calm and clear manner.

"Sir. I don't think a voicemail is going to work either. I've already told you this. They ... can't ... hear. Yes, they will see the light blinking, but they won't be able to do anything about it. They can't hear the phone ring, they can't hear the voicemail, THEY ... CAN'T ... HEAR. I am not making this up. You saw the note that was left for housekeeping. You saw my ID. I have the same last name. They are my parents. I need to leave them a note. I know you're just doing your job, but this is not a typical situation. Would you PLEASE help me out here?"

He gave me a resigned look and said, "You're not going to let this go, are you?" I shook my head and said, "I need to let my parents know where I am, otherwise I might not get to see them." So he sighed and typed some more and said, "Can you do this for me? Verify some of their information?" I replied with, "Sure. If that'll make you feel better." And I rattled off their address. He sighed again and said, "Alright, I'm not supposed to do this, but they're in room 150, right down the hall from you."

Finally! Was that so hard? I bid the poor idiot adieu, collected my things, left my parents a note, and hit the sack. At nearly 3am. Only to be woken at 8am by my mother who would not stop pounding on the door. I crawled out of bed, put on some clothes, and hugged my mom. She had no idea what I had gone through to see her this morning and I didn't have the heart to tell her that knocking two or three times would have sufficed. I was just stoked to see her. A little while later, as I was checking out of my room, the front desk lady asked if everything had been alright with my stay. "It was just fine," I told her. "Just fine."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Last week was an excellent week. I didn't have any events, but driving home just to turn around and head right back east seemed like a hell of a lot of time in the car and not very much fun. So I wandered over to Tennessee to hang out with some old friends for a few days. Wednesday was Kellen's birthday and he just happened to be in Tennessee too. And guess who else just happened to be in Tennessee? Widespread Panic. Yeah:

Before Incredible Dancing

After Incredible Dancing

It was a pretty fun show. The next day Kellen and I parted ways. He was heading down to Orange Beach to see ... three more Panic shows. You could say Kellen likes Panic. I had to make my way eastward for some events this weekend, but not before stopping in Knoxville Thursday night to see Galactic (again) and then Perpetual Groove. It's not like me to go to shows by myself, but two bands I really dig just happened to be playing on the same night in the same city and I found myself thinking, "I can't pass this up."

So Galactic was first. Not long after they started playing, I noticed this guy:

Not really the kind of person I would expect to see in the middle of a Galactic show, but hey, he seemed to like it, so more power to him. He was a surprisingly agile dancer for someone walking around with a cane.

Toward the end of the show, I was getting all excited and having a great time when I saw this little dude out of the corner of my eye:

I was over-stimulated. Beside myself. So excited. Holy crap! A sweet ass Galactic show AND a cute puppy! That show ended pretty early, but luckily I found some people who were also going to Perpetual Groove, so we had some beers and did a happy walk over to the next venue. Pgroove is one of my favorite bands, so I was stoked to be at that show. Okay, so I was stoked to be at all of the shows, but I was more stoked for Pgroove. That show was everything I hoped it would be. As far as the music goes. The light show was sub-par, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

So, after FOUR (Galactic opened for Panic) great shows in two days, I shouldn't complain, but I will. My back is KILLING ME. Seriously. This shouldn't be happening. Getting out of bed hurts. Putting on clothes hurts. Driving my car hurts. I'm pissed off about it because I had today off, for the most part, and I was planning on riding on some of the sweetest trails around in the Pisgah National Forest. It was going to be so awesome. But there is no way my ass is getting on a bike feeling like this.

Oh well. I guess I'll just lay here eating my flan (God bless those Mexicans and their weird yet delicious dessert) and watching Family Guy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweet Birthday Cards!

Four of my friends have birthdays today:
  1. Kellen
  2. Becky
  3. The Pope
  4. My Uncle Frank
I'll just call #3 and #4. But for #1 and #2, I painstakingly crafted these one of a kind e-cards:

The first one is Kellen's. The second one is Becky's. I hope they like them. I worked as hard as I possibly could while still sitting on my ass.

E-cards: when you care enough to hit "send."

Monday, April 14, 2008


Not much excitement to report since my last post. I guess it's all down hill after a rockin redneck party weekend in the north Georgia hills. I spent most of last week in Atlanta where I did far more drinking than I had originally planned and thus, far less riding my bike. I did have some good times with some good people though. From Atlanta I headed to Birmingham for another weekend-long event, which was also very much fun, although significantly less eventful than my previous adventure. It rained like hell the first night and started to get cold, so I put myself in charge of making a hella sweet fire:

I did manage to get in a much-needed mountain bike ride on a really cool trail. I started out on what I think must have been the crappiest section of trail. It was a ~3 mile climb on a rocky fire road and I wasn't too excited about it, but I figured that it was better than not riding. Finally I got to the top and got to descend for about 2 miles, which was fun, but it still wasn't the singletrack I was craving. Finally at the bottom of the fire road I started riding through some actual trails. It was pretty rocky, but still fun. Then, toward the end, just before it started getting too dark to see the trail, I reached a 2 mile long section of trail that was as smooth and flowy and fun as any trail I've ever been on. It was the best ride I've done in a long time, and I was glad that I saved the best part of the trail for the end. I was really tired by that last two miles, and that section of sweet trail lifted my spirits, enough so that I didn't even mind having to ride 3 miles on the road to get back to my cabin.

I don't have any events scheduled this week, but I have to be in Raleigh on Friday. It's a long ass drive to go home and then come back out east, so I'm crashing with some old friends from OKC who have relocated to Manchester, Tennessee. Another one of my surrogate families, I guess you could say. This weekend will mark the start of a pretty busy week, 6 events within 7 days and each of them are 3-6 hours apart. So that's gonna be lots of driving and talking to strangers and not much down time, so I'm trying to make sure I'm caught up on random stuff before then. Oh, and I get to help Kellen celebrate his birthday on Wednesday in grand fashion, so I'm sure you'll hear about that soon enough.

Sorry for the boring post. At least I'm not telling you about the difficulties I encountered while eating a salad. Sorry, Chris, it's been awhile since I've made fun of you for anything.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Monkey Fists and Roasted Peeps

Okay, first of all, the Yonder Mountain show last week was fabulous. Turns out, I had my hopes up for good reason. See how much fun we had:


I had to go work at an event in North Georgia this weekend that was organized by the Wild Turkey Federation, or as I like to call it, the WTF. It was basically a weekend of outdoors-related clinics and classes for women. It was AWESOME.

I knew this event was going to hoist the bar a few notches and set a new standard for atypical events as soon as I rolled up the mile-long driveway to the Wildlife Club. I creeped along not really knowing what I was looking for when shotgun blasts punched the air around me. Holy Shit! I kept going, just hoping they weren't shooting at me. Before long the clubhouse appeared and I figured out where I was supposed to set up. While I was setting up, I noticed that I was definitely an outsider there. I was the only person not wearing at least one item of camouflage clothing and I didn't have any Confederate flag stickers on any of my stuff. Several people eyed me suspiciously as they rode by with shotguns mounted to their four-wheelers. I got all my stuff set up and then the local bike shop guy and I had to give two presentations on mountain biking. Then we got women set up on bikes and Mike, the bike shop guy, took them out on a ride. While they were gone, I had some time to check out what else was going on around us.

I walked up to the clubhouse in search of some water. I opened the front door and stepped right in the middle of what appeared to be a pretty intense round of ... get this ... Possum Tossin. They were throwing stuffed possums into various buckets to score prizes. I tried to walk around that whole racket and found myself in the middle of yet another wildlife-based activity. These women were sitting around learning how to fashion elegant and useful baskets out of deer antlers. I overheard some other women who were waiting on their next classes to start.

One woman asked another, "What class you waitin' on?"
The other woman replied, "Monkey Fistin."

Don't give me that look. You think you're confused? How do you think I felt standing there in a camo-clad PETA nightmare wondering if I had heard correctly?

I started talking to some of the organizers of the event who were hanging around overseeing everything. They suggested that I stay and camp with them that night around the bonfire. I told them I'd think about it. As I walked back out onto the porch, I was greeted by a large jolly fellow who also insisted that I stay for the evening festivities. He informed me that he'd be providing the main entertainment of the evening. He told me he was a storyteller and that tonight, he knew he wasn't playing to no group of Scouts, so he was gonna be pushin the envelope and keepin everyone on they toes.

I walked back to my trailer thinking to myself, "This is gonna be soo good. There is no way I'm missing this."

So, I pitched my tent over with all the other tents and then went back to the clubhouse to await the pushing of the storytelling envelope. The last of the evening's classes were still wrapping things up, so I stood outside and talked to the lady in charge of the whole she-bang for a little while. She was actually pretty cool and we were having a pretty good conversation about nothing in particular when I let my curiosity get the best of me. There was a slight pause in the conversation, so I turned to her in all seriousness and asked, "What's Monkey Fisting?"

I cringed as I awaited the answer. I just knew it was going to be something stupid and I was going to get dragged into it. She got all excited and told me all about Monkey Fisting. She told me it was really neat and that it only took about ten minutes to learn and that I just had to learn to do it myself. She really didn't give me a choice. She took me by the elbow and dragged me in to find the guy who could teach me about Monkey Fisting. You're probably getting worried now because I haven't told you what Monkey Fisting is. Turns out, it's actually kinda neat and is potentially useful. Monkey Fisting refers to the act of tying a Monkey's Fist knot in a rope. This guy was pretty passionate about Monkey Fists and knots in general, so now I know a lot more than I did before about knots and ropes and the practical uses of both. So there you have it. I know some of you are probably relieved to find that Monkey Fisting is nowhere near as inappropriate or harmful as it sounds. I also know that there are a few of you out there who are actually disappointed at the same news.

By the time all that was done, the bonfire had been lit and that large jolly man from before was just getting warmed up. When I got over to the fire, the first thing I did was looked around the circle to figure out just who was drinking beer and who wasn't. I inserted myself near the beer drinkers and soon found myself taking long cold swigs of Milwaukee's Best. Keepin it classy. I could try to use words to describe the scene that took place around that fire, but this will work better:

You won't be able to see much in the video, so this photo will help you to better imagine the scene to go along with the sound:

I'm not even sure what to follow that up with. I was standing there with my camera wishing any of my friends had been there so I could look at them in disbelief and silently mouth the words "Are you seeing this?"

I stood there the whole time getting excited about when this dude was gonna "push the envelope." I was overwhelmingly disappointed when I realized that his idea of "pushing the envelope" was telling a story that ended with a moral advising listeners not to light a match in a tent where you had just farted.

After the story telling was done, most everyone went off their separate ways except for about 8 of us who stayed around the campfire to roast marshmallows. Someone had the most brilliant idea to bring marshmallow peeps to roast. I can't believe I've never thought of that. It was incredible. We'd all been drinking so anything any of us said was just hilarious to everyone there. I woke up in my tent the next morning and realized that really only some of the that stuff was funny, but one thing was for sure: roasting marshmallow bunny peeps is one hell of a bright idea.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Over it.

Alright. I'm over the Bleh. I'm still having a hard time being consistently productive during my time here at home though. The last few days have been filled with long periods of general uselessness punctuated here and there by relatively short bursts of productivity. So, as usual, I'm going to be cramming the next few days trying to get everything done that needs doing before I leave for Alabama and Georgia. For example, I've got to deal with this crap fest we normally call the garage:

Anyway, I'm happy to report that I'm writing this post from my now-functioning MacBook. Turns out the hard drive had just crapped out. The good news was that it got replaced under warranty for no charge. The bad news is that there was no hope for data recovery. I lost all of my SUPER TOP SECRET files. Oh well.

Most of my week was uneventful. Although I think I could classify Sunday as A SUPER GOOD DAY. I got up around noon and Pip asked if I wanted to go down to Cafe Rue Orleans for some Cajun brunch. Of course I did. We sat next to the window and watched the rain drench College Ave. The coffee was great and the food was even better. My crawfish corn bisque and crab cakes hit the spot, although Pip's grits were looking pretty tasty. We both had work to do on bikes, so we came home and hung out in the garage for a little while. I was trying to finish building up a sweet ass new bike, but it kept giving me grief. I cussed at it a lot and ultimately ended up throwing a piece of cable housing down and storming away from the whole lot. That was NOT SUPER GOOD, but not enough to ruin my SUPER GOOD DAY. Pip and I cruised on down to meet up with two other dudes to go on a road ride. The weather was still a little gloomy, but at least the rain had stopped. About halfway through the ride, the weather turned from gray to great and my pal Kevin snapped a few photos:

We climbed some big hills that I would have avoided if left to my own devices, so here's a cheer to riding with stupid boys. I had mentioned during the ride at some point that I was on Day 8 of not drinking, so after the ride we moseyed on over to Common Grounds were I proceeded to take a flying leap off The Wagon in true Ross style. We had a few beers and a little food before heading home to get cleaned up so we could go back to Dickson Street for even more beers and good times. I'm not gonna say it was a crazy night or anything, but it did involve Jagermeister, awkward situations, Irish Car Bombs, and that song about Luckenbach, Texas. Oh, and I gave my sister's phone number to a cross-country runner from Zambia who wouldn't leave me the hell alone. I finally crawled into my bed around 1am and just before I passed out I thought to myself, "Man, that was really a SUPER GOOD DAY."

Last time 'round, I promised to post some pictures of my week with Maggie. Problem is, we didn't take that many. But here's a couple with a video thrown in for good measure:

Maggie apparently missed the memo about Blue Jersey Day.

This is my new coworker TJ.

And here we have Maggie's ringing endorsement of kayaking. Sorry I screwed it up with my fat finger.

That's all I've got for now, but I'm going to catch the Yonder Mountain String Band show tomorrow night at George's, so maybe I'll have some good blog fodder after that. I've got my hopes up for this one, especially if I can convince Helen to take a break from stupid grad school to go with me. Really, who needs an MBA?