Friday, February 29, 2008

Local Flavour

Today, all the newcomers went on a bus/train tour of some of the local towns. We hit open-air markets, amazing churches built in the 1400s, and chocolatiers with the thickest hot chocolate ever. We ate lunch at La Parca, a restaurant in Sacile, which included two major courses, plus smaller courses before and after. On top of all the food was wine, two desserts, an after dinner liqueur, and espresso. I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life. Our last stop was at a local winery where we tasted four different wines. The owner/operator spoke pretty good English, and educated us on what to look for and how to taste different types of wine. The Italians take wine pretty seriously, and I'm hoping to learn a lot from them in this area. I kept giggling during the wine tasting because I kept thinking about this:

Sorry if you have to watch an ad before the skit. NBC can be kinda stupid like that.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Place to Lay My Head

I found a house!
It's a really nice, relatively new, two story, two bathroom, three bedroom home in Budoia (Boo-doy'-ah). It's only ten kilometres from the back gate, which means I should be far enough away so the noise from F-16s doesn't interrupt movie nights. It's got vaulted wood ceilings, and a marble staircase. It's part of the way up the mountain, which should keep things cooler and less humid in the summer. And I have a great view of the entire mountain range.
I was hoping to find something in a downtown area, and this is more residential; but I'm still planning to develop some healthy relationships with my neighbours. Also, the rent is about 40 Euro more than my housing cap, which at the current record low value of the dollar (Thanks, Dubya!), is about an extra 60 bucks a month.
Regardless, all this is insignificant when I think about how great my place is gonna be. Even though I met with the landlord today, I probably won't be able to move in until mid-March. The thing about the Italians is that they're never in a hurry, so it's gonna take about two weeks to turn on my utilities and stuff. I hope they can move a little faster than that, because I'm getting pretty sick of living in billeting.
A tremendous thanks to MSgt Lewis, my boss, who's taken me house hunting and devoted tons of time and energy into helping me find a place. I can't thank you enough.

I Can See Clearly Now

The haze has started to lift, and when I opened my drapes a few minutes ago, I saw the faint outline of mountains. It makes things around here look uncannily similar to Utah. The peaks still have quite a bit of snow, and I'm hoping my snowboard gets here soon so Shaun can take me up. I'm loving this place more by the day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Casa Catching

This afternoon, my boss and I went house hunting, which was much more productive than I thought it would be. I found three very cool, very different places. I fear the one I like best is already been rented, but I'll find out for sure tomorrow. It's a really nice single house in downtown Sacile (Sa-Chee'-Leh). The other two are more in the country, and both have their ups and downs. After my morning briefings, I'm going to head to the housing office and see what I can find out. Rest assured, as soon as I find a place, I'll be posting pictures.
Speaking of pictures, my apologies for not posting any yet. The weather has been very hazy and foggy, so there hasn't been much scenery visible. Today, I passed the test to get my Italian drivers license (!), so I'm hoping to get out and see some cool stuff this weekend. You'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've developed some kind of rash in the form of tons of little red bumps all over my arms and torso. At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction to some antibiotics I was taking for a sore throat when I left Utah. But now I think it might have something to do with the detergent the hotel uses. At least, I hope that's all it is. It doesn't itch or anything, so I'm gonna put off going to the doctor until I get my own place and see if it goes away. That may not be wise, but I have too much going on right now to worry about it. It's not incapacitating. It's just ugly. I can deal with that.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Written While Drooling

I know the true meaning of Easter, but my favourite secular part of the season has got to be the annual manifestation of these. I already ate one last night, and another one is sounding pretty good right about now.

Taking Root

Friday morning, my boss picked me up and took me around the base, including lunch at Mensa, the Italian dining facility. It was some of the best spaghetti I've ever had, and it's crazy how it's just their normal chow hall. Friday night, I didn't do anything, and by Saturday, I was starting to feel kinda lonely. Luckily, Saturday afternoon, I got an invite from Nate to go to the movies and then play Guitar Hero. This morning, we all went to the contemporary service at the Chapel, and then lunch. Everyone I've met here has been super nice, and I'm so glad I knew Shaun before I came.
Still, it's a new environment, and I don't have my own transportation or house yet. I'm finding it hard not to think about Utah and everything that's going on there. I just keep reminding myself I'm in a wonderful new place, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's just going to take a while to get settled, just like it did when I moved to Vegas, then Japan, then Utah. Everything will fall into place when the time is right.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ciao, Italia!

I made it! My flight landed around 3:30 this afternoon (Italy time), and my new boss picked me up at the terminal. After a quick tour around the base (which is amazing), he dropped me off at my billeting room. I immediately called Shaun Chauta, who picked me up and took me to dinner with all his friends at a great Italian restaurant off base. Then we hung out at his place for a while. Shaun has to go to France for a few days, but his friends said they'd totally hook me up with rides and finding a place to live and stuff. I've only been here eight hours, but I love this place already.

My Last Pre-Italy Post

Turning in my truck at port today wasn't near as bad as I'd feared, despite some last-minute running around to retrieve some paperwork from a couple different offices. But once I had all that, the actual turn-in process took less than 10 minutes. Now I'm hanging out at the USO in the Baltimore airport, killing time until my flight takes off.
But before I go, I want to give some props to some of my Utah peeps:
1) Caleb and the whole Wendt clan - You guys were the first people I knew in Utah, and you totally made me feel like a member of your family. Your friendship is priceless and I can't thank you enough.
2) John - Because I met you, I ended up meeting a wonderful circle of people. You draw people to you, and have the kind of personality that makes everyone feel special.
3) Brian - You're the most hospitable guy I know. Thanks for opening up your home to so many people, and keeping everything drama-free.
4) Katie - You have the most infectious laugh in the world, and can make me smile just by walking into the room.
5) Johnny - For the past year, I've actually looked forward to going to work. Kudos to your mad peanut butter application skills.
6) Nick - Thanks for defying stereotypes, and hanging out, even when it was inconvenient.
This is a really short list, and there are tons of other people I'd love to thank personally. Utah is a really special place, made even more special by the wonderful people there. I love you guys, and I'm gonna miss you so much.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oh, The Places I'll Go

For Christmas, my Dad got me a Garmin nuvi 200W GPS Navigation System. He's had one for a while, and absolutely loves it. I wasn't as enthusiastic about it, but decided to give it a shot anyway. I'm so glad I did. I'm used to looking up directions online and trying to follow and read them at the same time, not an easy task during rush hour in a big city. Now, Linda (as I've named the polite but somewhat cold female voice) just tells me where to go. Sometimes it can still get a little confusing if there are two exits right next to each other, but if I miss a turn, Linda recalculates my route, and has me back on track in no time. Plus she knows, based on speed and route, my estimated time of arrival at my destination. WIthout her, my trip out here would have taken much longer. Today, I used her to look up bookstores and coffee houses in Baltimore. Tomorrow, I'll use her to find the place I drop off my truck.
Unfortunately, it didn't come pre-loaded with European maps. I can buy the chip for the bargain(?) price of $300. I'm gonna see how easy it is to get around in Italy for a few weeks, and if I think it's worth it, I have no problem shelling out the extra cash. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cruising Crabtown

After driving over 2,200 miles in four days, I finally arrived in Baltimore. The drive was much better than expected, with very few traffic or weather issues. Plus, I got to see Don, Jessi, Paul, and Trish in St. Louis, and stayed overnight at home in Kentucky. Thanks to everyone who's been calling and texting to check on me. Tomorrow will consist of dealing with the shipping company and getting the final paperwork done so I can drop off my truck at port. But tonight, my good friend Dan is on his way to my hotel, and we're gonna get dinner and have a few beers. I don't get to see Dan very often, so any time we get to hang is much appreciated.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Making Like A Tree

I just finished my final out-processing appointment, and it feels good to have all the military appointments off my mind. There are still a few things I have to take care of with shipping my vehicle and taking care of my apartment, one of which is turning in my cable modem, which is why I'm writing this right now. In a few minutes, my internet access will go from constant to sporadic, as will posting until I get things set up in Italy.
I have a minimum three-day road trip to Baltimore ahead of me, and I love road trips and all, but I'm just hoping the weather will cooperate. So far, the forecasts look good, but I'm bringing a blanket, a case of water, and a couple MREs, just in case. Highlights will include stopping in St. Louis to see good friends and new babies, and an overnight stay at home in Kentucky. My Mom has already promised to make my favourite cookies, which makes the entire trip worthwhile. Plus, my good friend Dan lives in the Baltimore/DC area, so it will be good to hang with him again before I depart.
Tonight will be my last night hanging at Roosters, whose owners have probably bought a boat from what I've spent there. Utah really is a special place. It's almost as hard leaving here as it was to leave Japan, as I've made some great friends here, and had some super-fun times. But, as always, when I get to my destination, a whole new world is going to be opened up to me. I won't forget Utah, but it's my time to move on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Packed Out

The second wave of movers just left, and now all that's left in my apartment is the stuff I'll be carrying on my back. It's very empty and kinda sad.
My shop going-away party is tomorrow morning, and I still have a few things to take care of at work. I'm planning on leaving early Friday morning.
This move has been looming for the past nine months, and I can't believe it's already here. I'm gonna miss Utah.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by currtdawg
When I first got contact lenses, I went crazy buying sunglasses. I bought this pair on sale at a Giorgio Armani boutique. I can't even describe how perfectly they fit. Technically, they're not even within regulations, but I wore them to work anyway, and nobody ever said anything. I think the reason why is because everyone knew how good they looked on me (see my profile picture).
They've been to Iraq with me twice, through Japan, and all over the States. They've been kicked, stepped on, scratched, and dropped off a third story balcony. Despite all that, they've somehow held on for over four years.
Last week, I was wearing them while running some errands, and when I got out of my truck, they got knocked to the ground. I don't know why this time was different from any other time, but a screw flew out and a lens cracked. And though it pains me to do so, I'm going to have to put them down. Funeral services will take place tomorrow at 3 PM. But not really.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Almost Gone

Z, Me, & Nick
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last night was my big farewell party at Brian's house. I was thrilled and flattered at how many people showed up. There was quite a bit of alcohol consumed, and these pictures are about the only evidence of all the fun I had, because the memories are somewhat fuzzy.

Pete & Jonathan
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Josh & Eric
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Trevan & Jeff
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Mikey, Rob, & Floyd
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Drew, Becky, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Josh, Drew, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Scott & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Tina & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Trevan & John
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Tavia & John
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Adam, Me, & Scott
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Rob, Me, & ?
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was one of the wildest parties I've been to in a long time, and I didn't get home until 6 AM this morning. For the whole photostream, go here. Thanks to all my friends for coming out. It made me feel really loved and appreciated. And extra special thanks to Brian, not just for opening up his house for this party, but for continually being so hospitable, ever since I've known him. I'm gonna miss all of you.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bring On the Boxes

I've got a lot to do today, not the least of which is to start packing. I don't really have to "pack" anything, but I do have to separate all my belongings into three groups: 1) the stuff I'll be carrying on my back, 2) my "unaccompanied baggage," which is the stuff I'll need soonest and is limited to 500 lbs., and 3) everything else, which is mostly furniture. This is the third time I've done this, and you'd think it would get easier. But it doesn't, mostly because I have more stuff now. I've been putting off packing for too long now, and the movers come Monday. I guess I'm gonna be up pretty late Sunday.

New Addition

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Please join me in welcoming Everett Lewis Dinkins into the world. He arrived yesterday at 3:32 PM, weighing in at 9 lbs., 11 oz. and 21 1/4 inches. A big congratulations to Trish, Paul, and Roxy! I can't wait to see him in person.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I've been corresponding a lot with my friend Shaun over the past few months. We were stationed together in Japan, and he PCSd to Aviano about four years ago. Since then, he separated from the Air Force but stayed in Italy as a youth minister. He's been giving me advice and information about my move over there.
I've been getting a little overwhelmed this week with deadlines and faxes and appointments. For some reason, it seemed a lot easier when I did this three years ago. I'm tempted to just crawl under my bed and hope everything just takes care of itself.
Then, last night, I got the best e-mail from Shaun. It mentioned trips to France, Austria, and the Czech Republic. It mentioned his large circle of good friends who are more than willing to help me out. It mentioned snowboarding. It totally got me re-excited about this tour of duty, and now all those hurdles between me and Italy don't seem like such a big deal anymore.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stress Threat Level: Orange

I am THIS CLOSE [puts thumb and index finger 1/4" apart] to saying, "The hell with it!" and just selling my truck and buying something new in Italy. All the paperwork and faxing and sending and phone calls are starting to get to me. And today, I found out my truck might be sitting in port in Baltimore for a month before they even put it on a boat. So, why am I paying you $2,500 if you don't even have a boat lined up? I just wanna be on the plane already.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Spill the Wine

Wine glasses have sorely been missing from my cabinets for far too long. As I've been drinking wine more frequently as of late (thanks Ben), I decided to hit up Bed Bath & Beyond for a set. My intention was to go in, get the glasses, and leave; but I made a really bad decision. After I found the glasses I wanted, I made a loop around the store. The temptation was so great, I even had to go back to the front and get a cart. Oh, well, at least my place in Italy will be well stocked.

Gridiron Gathering

I once referred to the Super Bowl as "the world's biggest display of homo-erotic macho bullshit." That was three years ago, and though I still don't place a lot of emphasis on professional sports, I can't deny the fun to be had a good Super Bowl party. Case in point: yesterday, Drew and Becky had a great party at their place. The big game was pretty exciting, and was book-ended by equally exciting games of Settlers. Just for the historical value, a little part of me wanted the Patriots to win; but the bigger part of me was rooting for the underdogs, so I was glad to see Eli and the Giants pull off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. Plus, what better excuse is there to drink beer and eat junk food all day?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sounding Together

Last night, Mark, Scott, Brian, and I went to the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall in downtown SLC. It's been quite a while since I've seen a classical music performance, and I'd forgotten how enjoyable it can be. Conducted by Keith Lockhard (also the music director for the Boston Pops), the first half consisted of Sursum Corda by Erich Wolfgang Kornngold and a Concerto for Violin by Miklos Rosza, the latter featuring Robert McDuffie on violin. After intermission was Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. The obvious emphasis was on the Beethoven piece, but most impressive was McDuffie on the violin. The whole evening made me a little nostalgic for my college days as a music major. I'm hoping there will be plenty of opportunity for performances like this in Italy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tossin' and Turnin'

I went to bed around 11 last night, and just as I was drifting off, I got a text message. It doesn't bother me to get text messages at any hour, but you know what does bother me? Insomnia. If I'd gotten that text message five minutes earlier or five minutes later, there would have been no problem; but instead, I lie there, restless. I tried everything from reading to sudoku to "other" methods, but didn't fall asleep until nearly 3 AM. Surprisingly, I still woke up refreshed and ready to go this morning. Of course, that could have been because I knew I'd spend a minimal amount of time at work today.


I now have less than three weeks before I board the plane for Italy. I've been spending a minimal amount of time at work this week, which is not to say I've been spending a minimal amount of time working. I stay at work for about half the day (sometimes less) and then spend the rest of the day out-processing. I probably shouldn't admit this, especially since I've been pacing myself on all my out-processing appointments and I'm usually home by 1 PM so I can take care of laundry, TV-watching, and napping, which, in its own way, is a form of work.
What's taking the most time, though, is getting everything set up for shipping my truck over there. I've spent hours on the phone with shipping companies, my bank, my insurance company, the traffic management office, and finance. You'd think it would be easier to get straight answers from people to whom you're going to give a large amount of money.
Throw onto all this the fact I'll be testing for Tech (again) on Monday. Actually, scratch that. I've never stressed about promotion before. Why start now?