Monday, April 30, 2007

Stars & Stripes Forever

Grandma & Grandpa
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
When I was in Iraq, I bought two American flags and had them flown in F-16s on actual missions. The first flag I gave to my parents, who are building a flag box to put it on display. The second I gave to my paternal grandparents.
My grandparents live in a rural area about 15 miles northwest of Evansville, Indiana. Their house is out in the woods, and looks like something out of a magazine. There's a deck that extends half-way around the house overlooking the pond, and a quaint courtyard with a gazebo. This house is the setting for so many great childhood memories for me.
When they got the flag, my Grandpa, a Captain in the US Army Air Corps in WWII, retrieved his old flagpole, which for years had sat rusted in a storage shed beneath the garage, sanded it down and repainted it. (He's totally a do-it-yourself kinda guy.) He sank the flagpole at the end of the driveway, and even installed proper lighting so it would be illuminated at night. My Dad took this picture the other day and sent it to me. Seriously brought a tear to my eye.

"It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same."*

Over the past few months, I've noticed a trend. My tastes are changing. Unfortunately, for most of my life, I've let society shape my opinions and preferences. Movies and magazines have led be to believe the only attractive girls are between 21 and 25, 5'10", blond, and weigh 98 lbs. But I'm finally starting to realise real women aren't like that (possibly due to my own expanding gut and increasingly wrinkled face). Not only do those physical "imperfections" not bother me anymore, I'm starting to find them attractive. There's beauty in the blemish.
Nevertheless, I still feel the need to live up to some semblance of attractiveness. I don't put a lot of stock in what others wear, but I doubt my clothing budget will decrease any. The other day, I bought a pair of $300 Prada sunglasses, but do I look any more like the model wearing them in the magazine then I did without them? Hells, no!
The gym factor is a little different. I mean, I HAVE to work out to stay in good standing at work. Still, every time I look down at my flabby gut and my noodle arms, I hate myself a little more for not spending an extra hour at the gym. Even so, nothing stops me from buying a pint of Ben & Jerry's every time I go grocery shopping. It's like a tight-wire act trying to balance living my life with meeting the standards of people I don't even know.
The other day, my Mom told me how happy she was that she'd lost 14 lbs., and I started talking to her about how I hope she's doing it for herself because she doesn't have to impress anyone because she's a great person and if someone doesn't like her if she can't fit into a particular size of jeans then blah, blah, blah... Yes, I actually lectured my Mother.
Some might say I'm just lowering my standards and expressing fears of loneliness because I'm 32 and still single, without even a hint of a potential significant other anywhere on the horizon. Does that bother me? Sometimes. But really, I think I'm still maturing and growing and learning about the fairer sex (and my own sex). It's probably not going to end anytime soon, either. I'm glad I never settled for someone who didn't meet my emotional needs just because she was hot. (Not that the hot ones were knocking down my door or anything.) I don't want to look back on my life and regret all the time I spent trying to impress people. I think I'm going to return those sunglasses.

*Fabienne, from Pulp Fiction.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Yesterday on the plane, I finished reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The book began as a two-part article for Rolling Stone back in the late 90s, and I remember reading it and thinking, "Man, this stuff is unbelievable!" And I'd be lying if I said it didn't have some part in my becoming a vegetarian.
The book covers a wide range of topics related to the fast food industry. It begins with a history of the modern American franchise, telling the stories of Carl Karcher, founder of Carl's Jr., and Ray Kroc, who expanded the McDonalds chain. He moves onto advertising, and how fast food chains market specifically to children. There are chapters on the workforce at an average restaurant, the struggles of franchisees, the difference between natural and artificial flavoring (there isn't much), the pull of the major corporations in federal government, the effect of large livestock yards on local ranchers, and the globalization of fast food chains in Germany and China. But the most disturbing part would have to be the safety and sanitary conditions inside the meatpacking plants. I put the book down more than once to keep myself from getting nauseated.
Did you know that a single fast food burger contains meat from dozens, maybe even hundreds, of different animals? Or that the USDA cannot demand a recall of meat that has been proven to contain E. coli bacteria? (But it can consult with a company and suggest that it withdraw its meat.) Or that McDonalds franchises where there are suspected union sympathisers have been shut down without notice, only to re-open with an entirely new staff? Or that every year, more than one-quarter of the meatpacking workers in this country--roughly forty thousand men and women--suffer an injury or work-related illness that requires medical attention beyond first aid, with thousands more going unrecorded due to pressure from supervisors to keep the disassembly line moving quickly?
The book has been compared to The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and with good reason. It's definitely a wake-up call. Reading the entire book only cemented my position to no longer eat meat, and has made me reconsider the urge to grab an order of fries from McDonalds or a bean burrito from Taco Bell. I don't normally read non-fiction, but this is an important book that I recommend to anyone who pulls into a drive through on a regular basis.

Swat Team

There were bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. My arms look like I have a case of the measels or something.
But I should start from the beginning. As I mentioned, I was in Florida for the past week participating in an Air Force exercise known as "Silver Flag." It's for airmen in more support-oriented skills (i.e. civil engineering, services, communications, etc.) to help prepare for war-time taskings. I've been dreading this trip ever since I found out I was going, but it really wasn't too bad.
We stayed in cabins that looked like something out of an 80s teen horror flick. We spent the first four days in class, getting refresher training on our contingency assets. Thursday was an all-day exercise that went surprisingly well. We only spent an hour in our gas masks, and each exercise input went off without a hitch. The instructors had high marks all around for our class, which made us all very happy.
Class each day only lasted from 7 AM to 4 PM. We weren't allowed to leave the site, so there was lots of card-playing and reading. Plus, I got at least nine hours of sleep each night. I ate nothing but MREs all week, meaning I probably won't poop for at least a month. The weather was gorgeous the whole time, except for a quick thunderstorm Thursday night, which ended up being a blessing because it forced an early end to the exercise.
But here's where my story gets a little hard-to-swallow. I didn't take a single picture the whole time. I had my camera in my bag, but failed to take it out even once. I know, I know... This isn't like me at all, but for some reason, the whole thing just slipped my mind. I know I promised pictures, and I apoligise; but honestly, there wasn't much to see. There were lots of tall pine trees, and me in uniform. And, of course, the bugs. That's about it.
Anyway, I'm home now, and I'm so glad to be taking a shower by myself and sleeping in my own bed tonight. Both of which I'm going to do right now.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Even As I Left...

I leave for Florida tomorrow at 7 AM, and tonight, besides packing, I'll be going to Ryan's birthday party at Brian's house. It's probably going to be an all-nighter. Even if the party isn't, the packing will be. I won't be able to post while I'm there, but I'll have my camera, so there will be lots of pictures by next Sunday.
To keep everyone entertained until then, there's this:
UPDATE: Sorry, but every time I went to my blog, that damn video would start. If you'd like to see it, you can go here. Thanks for your understanding.
I like Will Ferrell okay, but I like him a lot when he's more subdued (a la Stranger Than Fiction). He's great here with that white-man's-afro thing going on. And that little girl is priceless!
See ya in a week...

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Whites of Their Eyes

Jazz vs. Rockets
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Have you ever sat so close at an NBA game that you had to look up to see the rim? Thanks to Ryan, I got to last night. It was amazing.
The Jazz played the Houston Rockets in what was the last game of the regular season. (Both teams will play each other again on Friday in Houston for the first round of the play-offs.) Utah had a rough go in the first quarter, down by as much as 14. But, as usual, they came back and took the lead just before half-time, and kept it for the rest of the game. The final score was 101-91.

Yao Ming
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
One of the cool things about this game was getting to see Yao Ming in person. It's one thing for an NBA player to be taller than a normal person, but when he towers over the other players, that's saying something. He's hard to make out in this picture because he's standing toward the back, but trust me--he's REALLY tall. Unfortunately, he didn't play at all last night, most likely to rest up for Friday's game.

Jeremy & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Ryan had to leave at half-time to pick John up from the airport, but luckily, I ran into some people from my squadron who passed the extra ticket off to each other during the second half.

After the game, they somehow persuaded me to join them for a few drinks and a game of pool at Port O' Call. We were all at different levels of sobriety, with Nicole and I being the most sober since we were both driving. But I should note that those Readiness folks know how to party. It was a nice social time, despite my lack of pool skills, and I'm glad I joined them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Sunshine State

I leave Saturday for Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida for a week. It sounds like it would be a nice break from the freakish weather we've had lately (68 yesterday, snow today!), but it's going to be more of an inconvenience than anything. I'm going to be participating in a military exercise called "Silver Flag," which is basically training people in my squadron how to perform contingency (wartime) operations. It's not like I didn't just get back from four months in Iraq or anything. Regardless, this is required of CE troops every two years, but I've somehow managed to avoid it for my entire ten-year career. Maybe that's why I'm dreading it so much. But people I talk to that have been before say it's not too bad, and might even be kinda fun. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Devil's Playground

I've been kinda bored the past couple nights. In order to save money, my trips to SLC and other social events have been ebbing, which is good; but the consequence is nights at home with not much to do. I don't watch much television, so I spend hours on the internet, chatting with friends and watching funny videos. Renting movies and reading are nice, but I still feel so unindustrious, even after I've been to the gym. I wish I had a passion for hiking like I do for boarding. In the winter, I can hardly wait to get out of bed and hit the slopes. And even now, it would be so easy to drive a couple miles to a trail head and hike around for a few hours before dark. I just need a little motivation. Anyone looking for an evening hiking buddy?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I'm sure you've all heard about today's tragedy at Virginia Tech. It's occurance right on the heels of the Trolley Square shooting is even more shocking. I doubt anyone will ever know what was going through the minds of these gunmen when they commited these acts. Were they teased as children? Were they not loved as adults? Did they have some kind of personal vendetta? Was there simply a chemical imbalance in their brains?
All I know is this just calls us to love others, and ourselves, unconditionally. For the victims, their families, and future potential criminals. It's all we can do.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Despite last night's indulgence, I didn't feel too bad this morning. After coming home and cleaning up, I headed to SLC to have brunch with Paul. Afterward, we walked to Liberty Park to feed the ducks.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg.

Liberty Park
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
April weather in Utah is so unpredictable, and this week has been extremely so. But today turned out to be sunny and warm with a nice cool breeze. It was a great day for the park and there were lots of people out. Everything is turning bright green, and you can smell spring in the air. It almost makes me forget I won't be snowboarding anymore this season. Almost.

Drink. Drank. Drunk

Sarah & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
If you're looking for a visual representation of how drunk I got last night, then this is it. Yes, I'm wearing a bikini top over my shirt. Even sadder is that it went downhill from there.
Chase threw himself a birthday party at his house last night, and I went with the intention of having a drink or two. But somewhere along in the evening, I lost control of the mechanism that tells me I've had enough.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
The evening is a blur, but I'm sure there was drunken texting and drink-n-dialing. It all culminated in me doing my Linda Blair impression in Chase's shrubbery. I should have known better early on when Chase and I did a Jager shot and it didn't sit too well. But I just kept on going. I haven't had an evening like this since Cinco de Mayo (also mentioned here). And I hope not to have any more ever again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Less Is More

Last night, Chad and I went shopping in Sugarhouse. There are lots of independent and locally-owned shops in the area, and we spent the bulk of the evening in a store called Spark. They have some really cool stuff, and Chad was eager to try on nearly everything in the store. I found a pair of jeans that were normally $120, but on sale for $60. I tried them on, and they fit great. But there was a big design on the back pockets, and they seemed like just a bit much. Yes, you heard it here. I passed up a great pair of jeans that were 50% off. Shocking!
I think I'm going through some kind of minimalist phase or something. I went through my closet and removed tons of stuff I haven't worn in forever, most of it being pretty fashion-forward or trendy at the time of purchase. When I lived in Japan, I liked taking risks in what I wore (Anyone remember the flowery pants or the Captain Kirk shirt?), mostly because I had the money and the attitude to pull it off, and if something looked really bad, my friends would let me know. But lately, I find myself (d)evolving into more of a jeans-and-t-shirt kinda guy. As I've heard in the Air Force, remember KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

One Up

Conversation on Easter at Caleb's house:

Sarah: Have you been outside a lot lately?
Me: Yeah, I helped a buddy sod his lawn yesterday.
Sarah: Well, you look really tan.
Me: Thanks. That's the best compliment I've gotten all day.
Caleb: Gee, Curtis, you're looking very bulgey down there.
Me: Ooh, sorry, Sarah. We have a new winner.
Sarah: Dang!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Number 2 on side, no touch-y top!

James & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
I've known James Murphy for about six years. He lived in Japan while I was over there, as his parents were high school teachers on base. We did lots of onsening, had the annual "Celebration of Life" (hands), and I was even present for his first taste of alcohol at Paddy's ("Hot damn!"). Unfortunately, I haven't seen him in over three years. Luckily, he's on a road trip from San Antonio, Texas to Bend, Oregon, and stopped here in Utah last night.
James has accumulated some very interesting stories over the past few years, and we had a great time catching up. We had dinner and did a short sight-seeing tour of Salt Lake City before heading home to get some much-needed sleep. It was a great night, and I pray for his safe journey. Take care, man.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Franklin Covey Field
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Scott's company gets season tickets each year for the Salt Lake Bees for employees to use. He got a hold of some seats for last night's game and asked me to go. Also in attendance were his friends Jodie and Charles, who were super cool.
Little did we know the temperature would drop drastically yesterday. By game time, it was in the low-40s and very windy. Regardless, we huddled together and watched as the Bees defeated the Tucson Sidewinders, 7-2, which was surprising since Tucson beat Salt Lake 10-2 the night before. I don't think I've been to a game yet where the Bees haven't won. Maybe they should be paying me to come.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I don't know if this has to do with anything at all, but I used the word yarmulke twice today in two separate, unrelated conversations. Weird.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Apostles of Peace

I'm not Catholic, but from time to time, I like to listen to what the Pope has to say. Pope Benedict XVI hasn't impressed me as much as his predecesor, Pope John Paul II, mostly because he's more conservative and lacks a world view for his ministry. But I just read his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and to the World) Easter address, and appreciated how he focused on such crucial issues. He spoke of all the pain, suffering, and death of innocent people, endless violence, social injustices, and how the world is so wounded right now. He even went as far as mentioning Darfur, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, and Iraq. But thankfully, he didn't stop there. He ended his speech with an attitude of hope and faith in Christ. It's so easy to be overwhelmed with the messes we've made and give up. But as long as there's hope, there's a solution. And there's ALWAYS hope.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Busy Bee

Josh & Drew
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
I love projects. I love helping people out with moving, yard work, home improvements, and the like. Today was a double whammy. This morning, I helped Drew sod his lawn. I'd never laid sod before, but it went pretty quickly, and looked great after we were done in the mid-afternoon.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
After leaving Drew's house, I immediately went to help Paul move into his new place. He's moving into the same house in which John and Kyle live. Tall Nick is going to take the other apartment, which means I'll have four good friends living in the same house. How cool is that?
After moving Paul in, we all went to dinner, then to John's place for a few drinks. But I was so exhausted from my work day, I came home. I didn't go out or do any major drinking this weekend, but I feel it's the most productive I've been outside of work in a long time.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Season Opener

Salt Lake Bees
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Last night was opening night for the Salt Lake Bees, and we knew we wouldn't miss it. Kyle and I drove down from Layton and met John, Ryan, Scott, Paul, and Jeremiah at the ball park. It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen at a Bees game.

Scott & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
I think one reason the crowd was so big was because, in addition to it being opening night, it was also Thirsty Thursday, when beer is supposedly 50% off. What they don't tell you is that they use smaller cups.

Kyle & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
But since I was driving, it didn't bother me too bad. Kyle, however, got nicely toasted, and was quite humorous on the drive home.
As for the game, the Bees played the Las Vegas 51s. The score was tied at 3 for most of the game, but then, at the bottom of the ninth, Nick Gorneault doubled home Kendry Morales to win the game. It was a very exciting finish, and made for a great night. And you can bet we'll be hitting up many more games this summer.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Censorship Is Sinking

I know I post clips from The Daily Show from time to time, but it really is a good program, and if I ever got the chance to watch television, I'm sure it would be at the top of my list. Thankfully, it's not difficult to find clips online. This is another brilliant one, which again proves why The Daily Show is still relevant.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hand In Hand

My system of spiritual beliefs has been evolving for a very long time, and whenever I read something that reaffirms my beliefs while also expanding my thought process, I get excited. There's this guy named Francis Collins, a geneticist who helps lead the Human Genome Project, AND he's a Christian. Check out his profile here and a great essay written by him here. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ironic, Indeed!

The pinnacle of musical satire:

This mockery of the most annoyingly catchy song of the past five years is great. I never knew Alanis had it in her.

Blackbeard's CD Collection

From time to time, people ask me if they can copy music from my iPod or if I can burn an album for them. When I deny their request, they look at me as if I've just run over their blind grandmother. And then shot her. In the back. With a shotgun.
You see, there are some laws I'm willing to break (i.e. driving 58 mph in a 55 zone), and some laws I'm reluctant to ignore (i.e. snorting heroin off a prostitute's stomach in any State except Nevada, where such behavior is practiced by even the clergy). The issue of music piracy would fall into the latter category.
Most people argue that the bulk of money spent on albums goes to record executives, advertising, packaging, manufacturing, etc., with very little of it going to the actual artist. And that's probably true. But I'm sure the people working in those other fields work hard at what they do, and who am I to take money from their pockets?
If I were a professional musician, I'd most likely put all my music on my website for anyone to download for free. Sure, I'd release actual albums, as well, but if I, as an artist, were desperate to get my music out to everyone, I wouldn't want anyone to have to pay for it. Instead, I'd spend my time touring, which is where most artists make their money anyway.
So next time you want me to burn the new Modest Mouse album for you and I refuse, don't be all, "What? You won't break the law for me?" But if you ask nicely, I might just loan you the $15 to go to your local independent music retailer and buy it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

An Added Bonus

Powder Mountain
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Just when I think the snowboarding season is going to be over, we get a storm and a cold front, which makes me very happy. The clouds parted Thursday morning to reveal mountains capped with a fresh coat of snow.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Ken and I headed up to Powder Mountain yesterday morning. They got 13 inches of snow last week. It got a little warm on Friday and Saturday, which made the snow a little crusty, but never icy.

Powder Mountain Ghosts
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
All day long, there were dark clouds swirling around the mountain like big, gray vultures. It snowed on us a few times, but it just made the conditions even better.

Twisty Tree
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.

Eating Snow
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
One of the great things about fresh snow is how good it is to eat. I think I spent as much time with my face in the powder as I did riding it.
Extra special thanks to Amy for giving me some passes she wasn't using. I owe you big time, Moyes!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birthday Toast

Me & Doug
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
Today is Doug's 28th birthday, so last night, I joined him and a few friends at the club on base for a drink. It was a fun, mellow evening, full of good conversation and laughs.

Danielle & Britney
Originally uploaded by currtdawg.
I hadn't seen Britney in a while, either, and we had some very interesting conversations about various topics related to Doug and his birthday wishes. I met lots of new people like Danielle and Donna, who was interesting in her own right.
I don't see Doug outside of work much, and it was nice to relax and enjoy the occasion with him. Happy birthday, man!