Five Things

Now that I’m back to blogging, I’d better catch up on a long overdue task. My office colleague Arto Bendiken pinged me with the Five Things meme, so here goes: Five Things you probably didn’t know about me:

  1. I’ve climbed down an 800 foot smoke stack. Not sure I can tell this story… but what the heck, it was a long time ago…

    As a young co-op student working at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates, my co-op colleague Eric Garris came in one morning and informed me that the Plant Manager wasn’t in that day, and this was our grand opportunity to take the elevator to the top of the smoke stack and look around. So we squeezed into the rickety old cage elevator, and rattled our way to the top of the 800 foot structure. We looked around a bit, discovered some Playboy magazines up there, and decided to head on down. (I’m afraid of heights.) Getting back in the elevator, we pressed the down button, over and over. The elevator fought hard, but wouldn’t move. After a couple tries, we heard a boom from below, and the elevator was dead.

    Couple minutes later we discovered the elevator had a phone. They were calling, “Who the HECK is up there!!!”. “Uh, hi! It’s the coops! :)”…”You idiots, you burned out the elevator motor!” Turned out, we didn’t realize the elevator locks when it reaches the top, and you have to unlock it before it will move.

    The bad news is that they told us we had to climb down an emergency ladder that scales the entire inside wall of the smoke stack. I begged for them to fly in a helicopter, but no-can-do. I was in tears as I climbed out of the elevator, and made the hair-raising swing over and onto the ladder. (After Eric, of course– I wasn’t about to have him falling and knocking me off the ladder…)

    After, I don’t know, a few hours (?) we made it down, both covered in soot and looking like those cartoons characters after an explosion.

    Next morning, the plant manager was about to fire us, but then we were saved by an idea! About a month later, me and Erik appeared on the cover of the company wide “Safety” magazine. The article read, “On a routine inspection of the smoke stack, coop students Matt Henderson and Erik Garris found themselves stuck in a malfunctioning elevator. Due to their familiarity with safety procedures and training, they were able to safely escape the situation!”

  2. I’ve trekked to the Base Camp area of Mount Everest.

    My wife, three friends and I (and a German guide) spent two weeks trekking from Lukla (a mountain city in Nepal) to the base camp area of Mount Everest. Since all the expeditions had returned home, we foregoed going to the actual base camp, instead choosing to climb the nearly 6000 meter peak of Kala Patar.

    Climbing that mountain, with 50% oxygen in my blood, must have been the most difficult physical thing I’ve ever done. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the top, pulled out the camera, snapped a picture of Everest, packed up, and headed down.

    A few weeks later, back home, I had the film developed, and discovered that the very peak of Everest was obscured in the photo by the bill of my hat! Three. Weeks. Of. Trekking. and I get a chopped off picture of Everest.

  3. I’ve been cussed out by ex-Van Halen lead singer, David Lee Roth.

    My high school best friend, Todd Stover, and I were major fans of David Lee Roth, and traveled around (anywhere practically) to see him play. We drove one weekend to somewhere in Alabama, and given that the floor seating was first-come / first-serve, we camped out for hours at the door, to be the first in line.

    We ended up first row, and they sat everybody down on the floor, as we waited for Cinderella to come out (they were the warm-up band). The guards working the stage told us that many of us were heading to the hospital within an hour. “What???!!!” They told us that as soon as the lights went out, everybody sitting on the floor would stand up, and rush forward, and that many of us would get crushed against the barrier.

    Sure enough, lights out, and I experienced something I never want to experience again. I had no control of my body, as I was lifted a few inches off the ground by the mass of people and moved left, right, left and right again. I watch as my friend Todd drifted off in the opposite direction. We waved bye-bye to each other. Pretty soon unconscious bodies were being passed overhead to the guards. It was unreal.

    I got shifted left, and eventually spit out on the side next to the big speakers. I decided to leave the floor, and climb up into the seats. (I didn’t really pay attention to who I was sitting next to.)

    So eventually Dave comes over, jumps up on the speaker, and sings, “…Reach down, between my legs, ease the seat back…” Then, SMACK, he gets hit with a ball of ice in his face.

    He stops the music, mad as can be, and gets them to shine the spotlight down on us — on ME! He looks at me and starts cussing me out. I’m in shock. I can’t repeat all he said, but it included what he’d do to my GIRLFRIEND. My girlfriend!!!??? I look to my left, and there’s this fat girl sitting there eating a bucket OF ICE! So Dave sees this girl, and assumed I’d thrown the ice!

    After the concert, back at the car, my friend Todd says, “Oh man, can you believe what happened to that dude that threw the ice!!”. “Yeah, Todd, I can believe it…”

  4. I was a European Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gold medalist.

    Ok, it was the senior division, blue belt, ad the 73 kg weight class, but I beat everybody to become the European BJJ champion last year.

  5. I love country music. (Hey, I grew up in Duluth, Georgia. What do you expect?)

    The sappier the better. It’s one of the things I miss most about the United States. There just aren’t any country music stations in this part of Spain. Thank goodness for iTunes.

And with that, the meme stops here. 🙂

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