Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Union Shower

Just posted pictures over at the Official Val & Jeff Wedding Site of Val's shower hosted Thursday by her Union U. co-workers.

Civil War buffs die a little inside

Driving the Atlanta-to-Jackson route to see my lovely fiancee has given me plenty of time and opportunity to discover the wonders of the open road in Georgia and Tennessee.

Around mile marker 91 on I-24 south of Murfreesboro is this billboard, a true gem of advertising for Stones River Civil War park:



The message? If you don't want to happily explore the area where your ancestors died in agony for a lost cause, then what's wrong with you?

You're the best, around

Speaking of classic 80s cinema ...

Nothing's gonna keep you down! Yeah!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

100 Things About Me, 71-80

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150 | 151-160 | 141-150 | 161-170

71. Since my last About Me, I got engaged, June 17, 2006, to the best fiancée a guy could ever hope for.

72. I swallow my gum every time. Extra Sugar Free, the pink kind that you can blow bubbles with.

73. Don’t tell me a secret. I’m going to tell someone. Especially my fiancée. Unless you are my fiancée. Then it goes to the grave with me.

74. My final GPA at Union University was 3.050. After my first semester of my freshman year in ’93 it was 2.250. Midterm it was 0.500. Obviously I was having a brilliant time.

75. I have a weak (or is it strong?) gag reflex. For instance, when brushing my teeth, when I brush my tongue it causes me to sound like a cat coughing up a hairball.

76. A more embarrassing example: I have a weak stomach, too. I can’t watch horror movies that focus on gore instead of scares. It mainly goes back to my pre-teens, watching Night of the Living Dead at a midnight movie party at the Scenic Hills Recreation Club. I was eating Boston Baked Beans, reclined on a chair, and when those zombies started with the disemboweling, my own bowels didn't want to hold the candy anymore and decided they need to leave by going back up. I threw up right next to the chair, and let me tell you, that’s a little embarrassing around your other pre-teen and teen friends, not to mention the food looked really nasty on the ground. I also can’t eat Frosty’s because of one bad experience when I was like 10, and can’t have a root beer with a meatball sub because one time I had to vomit while eating them, even though the reason I did the latter had nothing to do with the former. Yes, it’s all mental. Thank you Dr. Jung.

77. My favorite arcade game is Galaga. I could plug quarters into that game for hours and never get tired of it. Doubling up my fighters in the last moment before the bonus round is one of the great joys of my life. (Yes, I’m 30 years old.)

78. I hate Eminem personally, but think his music has a nice beat and I thought 8 Mile was a good film. This doesn't make me hip. It makes Eminem a dork.

79. I won the Scenic Hills Elementary spelling bee in sixth grade, and celebrating on stage I did the Pee Wee Herman dance. In the Shelby County bee, I lost on "bedlam" and finished around 69th out of 200. To this day I swear I heard the guy pronounce it "bethlem" and I spelled it as such. Since when do guys with speech impediments get to work spelling bees? I will never forgive this infraction.

80. In high school, me, Steve and our friend Paul from church used to drive in circles around I-240 in Memphis, just to chat and listen to music, which was being played on a portable stereo in Paul's lap that he changed CDs with as he drove. Safety was not priority No. 1. And it certainly seems that at this point we long ago gave up on finding chicks.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

80s movies

The guys at Filmspotting ask this week:

"Every film made between 1980 and 1989 is going to be wiped from the Earth. Your mission: save one."

At first I thought, the 80s weren't a spectacular period for movies worth saving, but then again, there are a lot of flicks that I would miss.

Don't forget that The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi came out in the 80s, not to mention Wrath of Khan and the third, fourth and fifth installments of the Star Trek collection, all of which I own. (Yes, even The Final Frontier.)

See? This gets difficult. Now let's run through some of my favorites from the decade that I see and quote often:

Top Gun
Ghostbusters
The Goonies
The Princess Bride
The Breakfast Club
Back to the Future
Glory
E.T.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Right Stuff
Airplane!
The Untouchables
Die Hard
The Natural
Spaceballs
Field of Dreams

In the end, however, I'm going with Raiders of the Lost Ark. The mix of action, drama, humor, Harrison Ford and a sassy dame in distress, Nazis, historical relics and mystery, bad guys' faces melting off ... the movie has EVERYTHING!

You, though, may disagree, so feel free to comment and tell me why I'm a big stupidhead.

A Spot Of Humor

Courtesy Grif.net:
For his upcoming Sunday sermon, the minister asked his congregation to prepare their hearts for the message by reading Mark 17 at least once during the week.

The following Sunday, as he stood to begin his sermon, he asked for a show of hands. "How many of you read Mark 17 once this week?"

Every hand went up.

The minister smiled and said, "The Gospel of Mark has only sixteen chapters. Which brings us to the title of this morning's message, 'The Sin of Lying''"

Courtesy Media Research Center, David Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Osama Bin Laden Isn't Really Dead"
10. He's appearing in Atlantic City this weekend with Tony Danza

9. He's been updating his MySpace page all week

8. Called Mike and the Mad Dog this afternoon to complain about the Giants

7. He's captain of the Muslim team on the all new "Survivor"

6. New issue of "People" has photos of him canoodling with Nicole Richie

5. Empty case of Yoo-Hoo was recently discovered in lawless border region of Afghanistan

4. Spotted at Al-Qaeda's annual "Lunatic Father-Son Cookout"

3. During Fashion Week, he unveiled his fall line of turbans

2. Why do you think Whitney and Bobby split?

1. New tape featuring Osama declaring Jihad on tainted spinach

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back to Pinson Mounds

Pictures from this weekend with Val are now up!

For a preview, last Thursday, Val and I revisited the site of our second date (*coughfirstkisscough*) atop Saul's Mound at Pinson Mounds State Park south of Jackson. For comparison, here we are April 27, young and carefree and heavy "in like":



Five months later, engaged to be married in five weeks:

An unexpected extended stay

It's not how we planned it, but it turns out that Val got to spend an extra day in Atlanta with me courtesy the Northwest Airlines worker restriction policies!

I dropped her off at the airport Sunday at 3 o'clock, walked through the line to get to security, said our goodbyes when I couldn't go any further, went home and she went to her gate. I get home, kick back, turn on football, check my computer at 5:30 to make sure her flight went off, and nope, the website said her flight was cancelled. The weather was pretty stormy, but the website said that the cancellation was due to crew restrictions, so I'm guessing the flight crew had been working too long and there wasn't anyone else to take over.

I went back to the bedroom where I had my cell phone and oops, Val had left me two messages! Turns out she couldn't get another flight out last night and her bag was left at baggage claim by Northwest, so I hurried back through the rain to the airport and picked her up.

After working the 5a-10a shift this weekend, today I'm working the 5a-1p shift, then I'll go home, pick up Val, take her to the airport again, and see if she can't get back to Tennessee. After all, it's another 33 days before the wedding, and still about 40 until she moves to Atlanta permanently, assuming Northwest ever takes off again.

Naturally, I'm driving back to Jackson on Thursday. Her co-workers are throwing her a Union-wide shower, and I get to be there, too!

We had a great weekend, of course. Went to the North Georgia State Fair on Saturday, had lunch with Amy and Michael yesterday, and Val had plenty of opportunity to tell me where to start putting stuff in our new apartment. Pictures to follow soon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's all Bush's fault, too, I'm sure

You're going to hear this story all weekend long, and it doesn't mean bupkus:
War price on U.S. lives equal to 9/11
... U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now match those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next. Add casualties from chasing terrorists elsewhere in the world, and the total has passed the Sept. 11 figure.

Why is that meaningless? To put it in context, here's a headline you didn't see in 1945: World War II Deaths Surpass Attack On Pearl Harbor by 400,000.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Change of address

It's over. It's official. I am living in a new apartment, my and Val's first home together. Okay, she won't really be living here for another 45 days or so, but that won't give me enough time to create the "bachelor stink," defiling the place with all sorts of gross guy stuff in the kitchen and bathroom.

The movers came on Tuesday (two hours late, of course), but within a few hours they had taken everything out of my old place and dropped them in my new place, so I can't complain. It was a lot easier and several hours shorter than when my brother Scott and I moved me three years ago. Two Men And A Truck? Easy. Two Exhausted Brothers And A Broken U-Haul? Not so much.

Now, just because I'm moved in doesn't mean I'm done moving. Oh no, I just boxed everything to bring here. Val still has to make the final decisions on what actually stays. She'll start this weekend, so I need to line up all my boxes for formal inspection.

There are many items I know to be doomed, but I just can't part ways on my own. I need tough love. It was hard enough tossing my Captain America and Spider-Man action figures the other day; it darn near killed me to have to toss my Han Solo standup that Stephanie bought me a full decade ago. He deserved better, but I had to make quick, hard choices this weekend while hopped up on anti-Strep drugs. I probably was merely hallucinating the Leia-in-a-bikini standup next to Han. Get away from me, slut Leia, I'm an engaged man!

Today I went back to the old place to clear everything out and decide whether or not to clean. I did not. Besides, has anyone ever gotten back their deposit? I tell ya, it's a conspiracy by apartment companies in the same way that stores pretend that you'll get all those rebates back in three weeks once you stamp them twice, make five copies, send in the third copy, get the UPC code notarized and then do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around before mailing the form. All I'm sayin' is, no matter how much I vacuumed, mopped and scrubbed, I wasn't getting that deposit back.

I did mop the washer/dryer area, but that's only because it was dang filthy, and I dusted the baseboards and corners of the walls, but that's the extent of my cleaning. In fact, what's the over/under on how much the company charges me for cleaning? Keep in mind, my last place charged me $60, so I have established precedent in leaving a place in the kind of condition only that creepy Buffalo guy from Silence of the Lambs who tucks in his genitals could appreciate.

This would be a good time to point out that I'm still on drugs, and tired, so I'll sign off now.

This week's schedule: Driving to Jackson Thursday, bringing Val to Atlanta with me on Friday evening, and she flies back to Memphis early Sunday evening, where her incredibly helpful parents will drive her back to Jackson that night.

Here's a picture of Jeff The Box King on Tuesday morning. Pardon the Cardinals shirt with Red Sox cap. It's a dichotomy I'm proud to represent for a lifetime. (Wouldn't want to sweat through my Boston shirts, anway.) Also, pardon the fat neck. My lymph nodes were inflamed something fierce! (Or, I gained a few pounds, which is unlikely since the doctor's scale says I haven't. Take that, No. 4 combo large sized at Wendy's!)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Streptococcal

And the answer to the "What's Ailing Jeff" question is: Strep Throat.

I would like to credit my wise fiancee for calling this back on Wednesday, when I thought I had a cold and others were beginning to think I had something more serious, like mono.

Why was this such a good call on Val's part? Because I didn't even have a sore throat until this weekend.

I went to the after-hours care of my HMO on Sunday, and after two hours of waiting patiently in the waiting room, I went back to the doctor's office, he shoved two swabs down my throat and ten minutes later gave me antibiotics and said I'd be fine within 48 hours. Just like that, after a week of suffering. Guess I should have done this a while ago, eh?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pathetic

Did I forget to mention earlier this week that I posted many of the pictures from Jacksonville on our official wedding site? Sorry. I also had intended on posting all of the pictures on my Geocities site this week. My bad.

You might say I've been distracted, and this time it's not just because I'm getting married six weeks from today.

No, the ol' Jeffmeister has been sick. Ill. Ailing. My immune system is getting pummeled like every random schlub in RoboCop.

It started last weekend in Jacksonville when I woke up with a bad headache last Saturday. Saturday night, again, a headache, and Sunday morning I couldn't stop sweating. Sunday night, I took some Tylenol before bed to deter the headache. I ended up sweating so badly that I couldn't lay on the couch anymore and sat in the recliner on top of a towel because I was sweating so badly the pillow was drenched.

Since then, I've had that bad headache (feels like my brain is trying to pound a hole in the back of my skull using a mallet) a few nights, swollen lymph nodes, a need to sleep and an occasional woozy feeling. This is unlike every other cold I've ever had. No sinus problems, no vomiting, no urge to watch soap operas and eat Bon Bons on the couch.

So my time with Valerie this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday wasn't exactly a party. If I wouldn't have been more miserable not seeing her, I might have not gone at all to Jackson this week. Instead, she pampered me and made sure I didn't try to be all manly and hide the fact that I was feeling pathetic.

Who knew that the first time we got to play doctor, she actually was forcing me to use a thermometer, take medicine, call my HMO and get plenty of sleep? Even worse, my gag reflex prevented me from taking the thermometer under my tongue, so I had to place it under my armpit. My temperature? 101.5. I was a little surprised how high it was, in fact.

I didn't even make it to Memphis this week. I crashed at Val's Thursday and Friday nights while she slept on the couch because of a very loud and very annoying cricket behind her bedroom wall that generally shows up about 2 a.m. Instead of my normal Friday routine of sleeping late and driving back to work at 4 a.m., we said our goodbyes after lunch and I drove on to Atlanta yesterday evening to get some sleep before work. I didn't have a headache, but after taking some Tylenol I did go through three towels I was sweating so badly, despite being cold at the same time with a fan blowing on me and the AC on high. I would wake up once an hour to change towels and dry off, then slip back to deep sleep.

All this, and I get the keys to our new apartment after work this morning and officially move the big stuff on Tuesday morning. Yeek. Not ideal conditions to pack and get ready. What I really want to do is nap on the futon, watch football, nap some more, talk to Val throughout, then sleep some more until I work the 4a shift again on Sunday. Yeah, I'm feeling a little pathetic.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Jacksonville to Jackson

A quick FYI, the Howell Cowboys Caravan just dropped me off back home in Atlanta and is back on the road towards Memphis (and Val still has to drive to Jackson, too - eek).

As you'd expect, we had a blast, had lots to do, see, eat, no time for sleep, and yeah, the Cowboys lost but at least it rained, right? (/sarcasm)

But even then, as you can see from the picture below, good times were had by all. Or at least from what you can see of me and Val. I'll still vouch for everyone else.

I'll write more later, but I got three hours sleep last night, drove most of the way to Atlanta and now I need a nap. My schedule this week: Working 5a-1p Tuesday and Wednesday, then right up to Jackson by dinner time Wednesday. Leaving Memphis late Friday night, I'll get back to work at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. Fun!

46 days and counting ...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Out of the pocket for a few days

The Howell Cowboys Caravan is currently en route to Atlanta for the night, where Val and her Dad, brother, sister and nephew will pick me up and head to Jacksonville tomorrow morning. We're staying at her uncle's, with such plans as going to the beach and rooting for Dallas to beat the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, before driving back on Monday.

Dad is driving up to meet us Saturday, so that he'll finally get his picture with Val that somehow we never got in New York way back in June.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Like a good neighbor

In today's installment of "Things I Never Thought I'd Be Doing Six Months Ago," I called State Farm today to combine our policies. It should be pretty surreal when the paperwork arrives next week or so saying "Jeff and Valerie Rushing." Has a great ring to it, doesn't it?

This may be one of my favorite things about our engagement, is combining OUR lives, whether policies or shopping for things for our new place, even just being on the e-mailing list of her Mom's family. Why didn't anyone tell me it was so great to be getting married? I would have sent Val a MySpace message years ago! (Okay, that was a hyperbole. I apologize.)

Also, head over to the wedding site, where we updated the section of baby and kid pictures with lots and lots of adorable little Val and Jeff photos. We scanned a lot more, but you'll have to wait and see them at the wedding!

Oh yeah, something else from yesterday. I'm trying to figure out if I was being hazed by the X-Ray technician. He put me in some really, really weird position on my side. He said, "Lay on your side with your knees touching," and I did that. No, he said that wasn't right, then adjusted me so that my arms were over my head, my body was twisted and my legs were barely bent, like I was trying to mimick an Olympic swimmer in mid-butterfuly stroke. I can't wait to hear the test results. "Mr. Rushing, it looks like your back is crooked as a Louisiana politician. Are you sure you can walk upright without your torso falling off?"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"In sickness and in health"

In this installment of "Things I Never Thought I'd Be Doing Six Months Ago," working to make the second part of that above vow more frequent than the former, I got off my Proud Man pedestal and went to the doctor for a pre-wedding checkup on Tuesday. No need to test the waters of my health like the Crocodile Hunter scouring the waters of the Pacific.

(Too soon?)

Before marrying my precious Valerie, I decided I needed to refill my Epipen and inhaler prescriptions, have my lower back pain looked at, and ask what I can do about my snoring, which Dad always tells me is awful and I don't want that to become an obstacle when Val and I are married and finally get to sleep in the same bed every night (which is totally a bonus to this whole wedding thing!).

First off, a bit of negative, a bit of positive. My blood pressure was a little high, 132/82, but nothing to panic about. But at least my weight was less than I thought, so I've got that going for me! Mmm, where's that Snickers bar ...

Renewing the prescriptions was easy. My old Epipen had expired, so Dr. Mobley added it without a problem. In addition to my usual Albuterol inhaler used for emergencies he added Qvar, which is a steroid inhaler (no track or baseball for me!) that I will take daily as a preventative. For allergies he prescribed Nasarel, a nasal spray that's snorted twice daily. The first time I used it tonight I could feel it dripping down the back of my throat, and it was nasty.

For my back pain he prescribed Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory to reduce the pain I feel throughout the day, no matter if I'm sleeping, walking, sitting or even watching "Big Brother," which usually only causes pain by shrinking my brain. I now see that Naproxen is really just Aleve, so maybe he could have just told me to go to Walgreens and buy a bottle? I'm hoping all the pills in my prescription are less expensive with my $10 co-pay than the name brand. I'd hate to think that an HMO would do something misleading to make extra money. (/sarcasm)

In addition to the meds, the doc sent me down to get my back X-rayed, so I put on the sexy paper gown and had a few doses of that sweet, sweet radiation. Results will be sent in a couple of weeks. Instant results on how I looked in the gown varied from shock to horror to slightly impressed.

For my snoring, they referred me to a sleep clinic. I'm guessing I'll be laying in a strange bed with wires attached and told to sleep and, oh yeah, snore like usual. No pressure or overthinking that, eh? I'm sure I'll just go right out. Maybe they provide a calming hammer to knock me out.

I don't care. Whatever it takes. My Val is worth any effort to make sure our quality of life is as perfect as possible as we begin to share our lives together.

52 days and counting ...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Not my sweetie, but funny

Courtesy Grif.net, Words Women Use:

FINE
This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

FIVE MINUTES
If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given 5 more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

NOTHING
This is the calm before the storm. This means "something," and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with 'Nothing' usually end in "Fine"

GO AHEAD
This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it.

LOUD SIGH
This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing."

THAT'S OKAY
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

THANKS
A woman is thanking you. Do not question it or faint. Just say you're welcome.

Mmmm, sausage

In September's Lark News, prayer or pizza?
Jim Harris, normally a heavy sleeper, has been waking up at 2 a.m. out of a dead sleep. He is convinced God wants him to spend the wee hours in prayer.

But his wife, who is "miserable and grouchy" as a result of the wake-ups, has another idea.

"He eats too much frozen pizza before bed," she complains. "I'm at the end of my rope. If God wants him to pray, how about telling him in the afternoon?"
Perhaps it was cold pizza that inspired half the books of the Bible in the first place? I hear David was a fan of Canadian ham and peppers.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day weekend

Plenty to add this week to my ever-growing list of "Things I Never Thought I’d Be Saying/Doing Six Months Ago."

First off, not only did Valerie and I get engaged on June 17, she's now wearing Engagement Ring 2.0, a new band for her diamond that now features two other diamonds. It also matches the wedding band that we got at the same time, and both of our bands are waiting to be worn in 55 days and counting ...

Since we don't have a shot of the actual moment we were engaged in New York, how about when I could put the new ring on?



What's most important? The ring still has that special sparkle:



Apparently the ring can also harness the power of the sun:



For comparison, here is her hand with the original engagement band in June.

What else couldn't I see myself doing as 2006 began? For one, Saturday before game time I was reassuring my fiancee, a Tennessee Vols fan, that her team will be just fine. (As a Memphian and son of a U. of Memphis grad, let’s just say that "hate" wasn’t too strong a word for how I would describe my feelings for UT while growing up.)

On Thursday we finished our wedding counseling, our third and final session with Bro. Ray. We went over how to handle in-laws, plus the actual wedding ceremony, what we'll say, what he'll do, that he'll hopefully get my name correct. (He called me "Keith" when we walked in the room. Apparently he's got four weddings to prepare for and they're starting to run together. At least he remembers Val.)

In more wedding preps, my groomsmen's gifts came in last week and I went ahead and dropped them off at Val's parents', and we got our unity candle.

This week I also abandoned my contract with T-Mobile and started a family-rate plan with Val on Cingular. Now that I've joined her there, we don't have to worry about minutes anymore, because frankly just three hours a day wasn't cutting it!

Now, pictures of adorableness! Val and her parents' babies, Sam and Patches.



A freshly shaved Patches did NOT like the flash of my camera.



Next weekend, no driving for me! Thursday evening, Val, her Dad, brother, sister and nephew are driving to Atlanta for the night. Friday we drive to Jacksonville to watch the Cowboys' opener next Sunday against the Jaguars, with Val's uncle and cousins who live in town, and Monday we mosey back.

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. As usual, I'm laboring, but how can I complain when life's so good and I'm getting married in 55 days! (In case you needed reminding one more time.)