Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three Days Grace

It's a long weekend, but I haven't really done a whole lot. I hit up a couple parties and went to the bar for about 15 minutes. Joann, Corey, and I ate at this great German restaurant called the Bierengel (Beer Angel). I went for a run and my dirty laundry mountain is now little more than a mound; so I guess it hasn't been totally unproductive.
Thankfully, the funniest thing I got on video. We were getting ready to leave Dave's house last night, and Jason had fallen asleep. Shaun was going to use Dave's (unloaded) BB gun to rouse him, but it kinda backfired. The part that makes me laugh out loud every time is about 15 seconds in. Enjoy...

Is anyone else alarmed by Shaun's disturbingly accurate impression of a terrorist?

Friday, August 29, 2008

American Graffiti

Joann and I started a project at work this week which should take us all autumn to finish. We're testing and tagging all the fire hydrants on base. It's a fairly big job that's also very wet and messy. We both got drenched today, and I have so much spray paint on my hands it looks like I got into a fight with an octopus.
But I don't care. It will keep us busy and out of the shop. Plus, it's a hoot working with Joann. She talks about her significant other, and I talk about my lack of one. We're productive, but we take our time. We're going to have to shut down our operation for the next couple of weeks, as she'll be TDY and I'll be on leave. But as long as we finish before it gets too cold, we'll consider ourselves successful.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

L'eggo My Big, Fat Gut

I've been pretty good lately about not over-eating. I bring small portions to work for lunch; I avoid soda pop; and when I open up some Ben & Jerry's, I stop after a few spoonfuls instead of devouring the entire pint.
As for breakfast, I've been on somewhat of a waffle kick for the past few months. When I first started, I was eating four Eggos every morning. Lately, I've been stopping at two, though sometimes, I'll eat a third if I'm really hungry. This morning, I had my two waffles, and was completely satisfied. Yet, there was one lonely waffle left in the box, and I thought it was ridiculous to leave that one little waffle all by itself.
So I ate it. Big mistake.
The rest of the morning, I felt so fat and disgusting and wanted to throw up. Joann could tell I was moving a little slow. Who knew one little waffle could do so much damage?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Expelled (Sort Of)

Yesterday was the first day of my second semester of Italian...or so I thought. I got to class about ten minutes early to find the lights off and nobody around. I sat down and waited...and waited...and waited. Finally, I went down to the main office and asked what the deal was. They said the class was cancelled because only two people were enrolled. So now, I have to wait until the end of October to learn more Italian. Hopefully, it will be a night class. Until then, I'll just keep speaking in present tense with a limited vocabulary.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Momma Said Knock You Out

I was worried that when I went to bed last night, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. So, even though my allergies weren't acting up, I decided to take a couple Benadryl. There's probably something wrong with taking medication for its side effects, but it sure worked. I was dead to the world until my alarm went off this morning. Problem solved.

In The Gutter

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Saturday night, Rachel, Peanut, Shaun, Jason, Ed, and I went bowling. Shaun did the best. See how hard he concentrates?

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Jason liked to flash gang signs before he rolled.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
And Ed was unable to bowl with his mouth closed. I hadn't bowled in forever, and it showed--my best score out of three games was a 97. Luckily, there weren't any bets placed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Forced Insomnia

Joann & Steven
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Friday afternoon, Joann called and asked if I'd like to go to dinner with her and Corey. I figured it would be a good way to stay awake and get over my jet lag, and boy, was it. After dinner, we went bar-hopping and stayed out until nearly 4 AM.

Me & Corey
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I saw a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while, including a very drunk Steven. When I asked if his parents had told him about the birds and the bees, he replied "Chinese Checkers!" Very drunk, indeed.

Johnny & Steven
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was Johnny's birthday, and people kept buying him drinks and shots. It wasn't too long before he was passed out in the back of Steven's car. I made sure they got a safe ride back to base, and then made arrangements for my own way home.
I ended up sleeping past noon on Saturday, a personal record. I had tons of unpacking to do, but all I really wanted to do was go back to sleep. I hate jet lag.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Like A Sister

Me, Abby, & Sara
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I first met Abby in February '02 when she arrived in Misawa. It wasn't long before she became a vital part of the Hospitality House, and we became good friends. We did lots of stuff together like snowboarding, camping, singing at Church, hitting the beach, etc. Not only have I kept in touch with her, but she's one of the few people I've gone out of my way to visit. Granted, her location in Dallas makes it convenient when I have a class in Wichita Falls; but we've both made an effort to hang out even when it's not convenient.

Steven, Sarah, & Charis
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Because Abby and I are friends, I have become friends with her family and friends. Even if Abby wasn't around, I have no doubt they'd still welcome me into their home. That's just the kind of people they are.

After my class ended Wednesday, I headed to Dallas and a group of us went to a Texas Rangers game.

Texas Rangers
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The Rangers played the Detroit Tigers and totally dominated. They hit six home runs (two in the section to our left and one in the section to our right), for a final score of 9-1. It was the third game of a three-game series, and Detroit won the first two. My guess is that Texas won because we showed up and they felt they had to impress us.

Abby & Charis
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
No, Abby isn't doing her Arsenio impression. This is the 7th inning stretch; we're all singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game;" and Abby is root-root-rooting for the home team. In the middle of the 5th inning, we also sang "Deep In The Heart Of Texas." It almost made me feel like a Lone Star native. Almost.
Thanks a million to Abby, Charis, Joni, and Micah for their continuing hospitality, limitless kindness, and unwavering friendship. You're awesome.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Same Four Walls

I just got home. The trip was relatively uneventful, which is good since that also means no late flights, over-chatty seat neighbours, or annoying terrorists. Thanks to Shaun for picking me up from the airport. Now I'm going to take a really long shower to wash all the travel off me. My intention is to stay awake until at least 9 PM, but I'll be lucky to make it through the afternoon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


You're reading the blog of the guy who got the highest score in his Bare Base Water Purification class. Yeah, I'm pretty much a big deal. But my 95% knowledge retention rate isn't nearly as satisfying as leaving Wichita Falls.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If only there were a medal for laying on my couch...

I've been watching the Olympics hardcore, which is convenient in my hotel room with cable television. If I were in Italy, my only Olympic coverage would have come from the internet, and reading about Michael Phelps winning gold medals and breaking world records after the fact just isn't as cool as watching it live. Saturday night, we were all gathered around Drew and Becky's television, jumping and screaming when Phelps won gold medal number eight. I'm a casual sports fan, at best, but every four years when I hear that theme song, something happens and I can't get enough, even if it's mixed doubles badminton.

Water, Water Everywhere

Bare Base Class
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I've had a pretty good time in my class the past week and a half. There are only seven students, and the instructor is pretty cool, so it was a nice, laid back environment. We spent seven days learning about the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (or, ROWPU). It's a big machine we deploy with so we can make potable water just about anywhere from any kind of source. Chances are, if you're drinking bottled water, it says something on the side about reverse osmosis.

Bare Base Class
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We take our final test first thing tomorrow, and then we're done. I don't fly out until Thursday, so after the test, I'll head to the Young's in Dallas to chill for a day. As much fun as I've had in the States, I'm still looking forward to getting back home. I've got a bottle of Makers Mark stashed in my luggage, which will make Italy even better.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back in the Beehive State

Everything went according to plan, and I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. Sure, there were still people I didn't get to see, and I didn't even make it to Roosters; but when you consider how last-minute and fast-paced this trip was, I think it went pretty well.
Scott picked me up Friday night, and after a quick shower, we headed to a house party attended by the majority of my social circle. I've never been hugged so much in my life. From there, we went to the bar, and then had after-party at Brian's. The only bummer was that I left my camera in my bag.
Saturday, John and I hit up the Farmer's Market downtown, and I picked up some cinnamon almonds, quite possibly the best snack of all time. Then Ryan and I went shopping to some of my favourite, locally-owned t-shirt shops.

Rock Band
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Saturday afternoon, we headed out to Drew and Becky's for food, beer, and Rock Band.

Tina, Becky, & Alicia
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Tim, John, Nick, & Floyd
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We had so much food and fun and I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time.

Kate & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sunday morning, we woke up and headed to brunch before I had to get to the airport. And, of course, it wouldn't be a proper Utah trip if Kate and I didn't take a self-portrait.
I can't even begin to describe how great it was being back in Utah, though I'm sure everyone there got tired of me trying. Thanks to Scott, Brian, and John for letting me crash and hauling my ass around. I wasn't sleeping in my own bed or driving my truck, but I'd never felt so at home before.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gonna Get Myself Connected

It kinda stinks not having a cell phone. Of course, I have my Italian cell phone, which I could use here, but it would be crazy expensive. So I went out and got a pre-paid cell phone to use whenever I'm in the States. Seems pretty practical to me. If you want my number, e-mail me. Chances are, I'll need yours, too.

What's life without a little risk?

I just did something rather irresponsible and somewhat stupid. I'm going to fly to Utah this weekend. I've been searching for flights ever since I found out about this class, but it was always too expensive. Then, last night, I called the airline directly and managed to secure a cheap military fare. I'm flying Friday night from Dallas to SLC and returning Sunday afternoon.
Why is that irresponsible? Because technically, I'm really not allowed to leave the local area in the middle of this class. And if something happens with my flight and I don't make it back by Monday morning, I'll be in some serious shit. Why is it stupid? Because my flight leaves Dallas at 6:15, my class isn't scheduled to end until 4 PM, and it's a two-hour drive to the airport. My instructor has assured us we'll be done early tomorrow, but I don't know exactly how early. So take a moment and send up a prayer that everything goes as planned.
Yeah, I'm taking a big chance here, but to be honest, I've spent a lot of time in Italy missing my friends in Utah. I've never had the camaraderie, acceptance, and comfort in being myself like I had there, and I miss it. I need this. I really, really need this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Broken Watch

I'm a little jet-lagged still, but in a good way. I wake up between 3 and 4 AM, which gives me time to check my e-mail, go for a run, eat breakfast, watch a little Olympics, and still make it to class. I don't get hungry when I should, so my meals have been smaller, too. The only annoyance is having to get up in the middle of the night to pee, which is never a problem normally. My body will probably adjust to Texas time right about the time I fly back to Italy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Skating By

I just finished my first day of class, and if today is any indication, I doubt it's going to be very difficult. We're starting at 8 AM, taking two hour lunches, and leaving by 4 PM. Hard life, huh? It will certainly make it easier to get over my severe jet lag.
Since there most likely won't be too much studying involved, I plan to use my evenings doing things I can't do very easily in Italy (i.e. go to a mall, see new movies, call my friends, eat Mexican food, etc.). I've also been watching the Olympics quite a bit, and was totally jumping on my bed during that Men's 4x100m Relay last night.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Like a Second Home

I'm at the Young homestead in Dallas, and I seriously can't think of any people that make me feel more special. I didn't make it here until almost midnight, but they were waiting up and so excited to see me. They even put up birthday decorations.
They've all gone to bed, but it's nearly 8:30 AM in Italy, so I'm wide awake. I'm going to read and hopefully get some sleep before Church tomorrow morning. The hardest part will be trying to rid my face of the permanent grin that appears every time I stay here.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My annual reminder that we can all be something bigger

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sometimes, I think of myself as a self-serving coward whose only goal is to make it through life in a series of fake smiles and near-misses. Other times, I'm so glad to be alive, I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. I won't lie--the past year has been rough, but my expectations for the future are high.
Right now, though, I feel like I'm on the verge of something. I don't know what it is, but I'm changing somehow. I'm becoming less fearfull, determined to break further out of the shell in which I spent so much of my life. I still don't know exactly what defines me or why my path has led where it has. But through it all, I've tried to remain grounded, not forgetting who I am and everything I've gone through to get here. God has reasons for it all.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Heavy Eyelids

Johnny and I are meeting Joann at 7:15 AM tomorrow morning so she can drive us to the airport. Our flight doesn't leave until 11:30, and it should only take an hour to get there; but August is the month when all the Italians are on holiday, so traffic will be horrible, especially around the airport. We're not taking any chances.
I'd like to go out tonight, but I have tons of packing, laundry, and cleaning to take care of, plus I need to mow my lawn. Right now, though, I'd like to take a nap. I ran the perimeter again this morning, this time with Ed, and I'm exhausted. My intention is to stay up late so I can sleep on the plane tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I have the energy. So I might go out later just to have a mellow drink. Of course, it's a slippery slope between having a drink and getting tanked, and I've been hung over on a flight before. Not fun. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Can't Help But Stare

I don't know why, but for some reason this summer, old Italian men have forgotten about this invention called the "shirt."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lezione Due

I signed up for a second semester of Italian yesterday. Unfortunately, it's another lunchtime class, so I made sure it was absolutely, positively, 100% okay with my boss. This term is eight weeks long, but my class will only meet four times a week.
There's a different professor this time, and my guess is that it's going to be much harder. I've been trying to practice with the Italians in my shop, but I feel like a bother because they're always out doing jobs or taking their morning cappuccino break or taking their afternoon wine break. I'm sure I've already lost a lot of what I've learned, so I'll probably be taking my books and flash cards with me to the States. I hope my class in Texas doesn't require much studying.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Buggin' Out

I spent most of yesterday cleaning my house. Everything from scrubbing my floors to sanitising my bathrooms to washing my windows to mowing my lawn. After I was done, I was relaxing on my couch for a few minutes, when I heard a faint buzzing sound. Then I felt it--a fly on my arm. Then one on my brow. Then one on my lip. ("Excuse me, Mr. Fly, but weren't you just feasting on the dog poop in my neighbour's yard?") It seems all the opening of doors and windows while cleaning invited them all in. Now, I don't really like to kill bugs, and I thought about trying to shoo them outside, but that would only let in more. So I went about trying to swat at them individually, which isn't easy. They're certainly evasive little boogers.
People have told me flies get bad around here in the summer, but I hadn't noticed it until this week. This morning at Church, it was hard to tell who was swatting at flies and who was feeling the Holy Spirit. I'm wondering if there's an unrepentant pharoah nearby. If a bunch of frogs turn up next week, my suspicions will be validated.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Joggin' Bloggin'

At PT this morning, I was running with Joann. Normally on Fridays, the whole squadron runs to the 1.5 mile marker, and then back for a total of three miles. We got to the end of the track and decided to keep going. And going. And going. We ended up running the entire base perimeter, for a total of 5.8 miles. The fourth mile was the worst, as we're conditioned to run only three; but after that, it was like we were on autopilot. We felt like a million dollars afterward, and were very proud of ourselves.
Back when I was in Japan, my running regiment was far more vigourous, and running six miles would have been a piece of cake. But that was years ago; plus, Nina was my running partner, and there was never a bad run when I ran with her. I find it's best to run with someone, because neither of us would have made it around this morning without encouraging each other. Thanks, Joann!