Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 By The Numbers

12 - Books Read
11 - Trips to Venice Made
10 - Fingers Still Attached (I needed to fill this slot)
9 - Base Perimeters Ran
8 - Cheesecakes Made (from scratch!)
7 - Overnight Guests Hosted
6 - Bottles of Maker's Mark Emptied (with help)
5 - New Countries Travelled
4 - Games of Settlers Won (out of about 23 played)
3 - Trans-Atlantic Flights Made
2 - Concerts Attended (only 2?)
1 - College Course Taken (and passed)
Innumerable - Cups of Fine Italian Cappuccino Drank

Puppy Love

Johnny, Boston, & Jenny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Johnny and Jenny are in the process of moving because their old place doesn't allow pets, and Jenny has been desperate to get a dog. They picked one up at the Aviano market yesterday, a mix of some kind they named Boston. She's only two months old, and totally adorable.
While in transition, they've been staying with Corey; so, last night, I had them over for dinner, mostly because I wanted to see this dog. They don't have any hot water at their new house yet, so I told them they could give Boston a bath at my place if they wanted to. And they the bidet.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Playing On My Pod

Last year, I attempted a Top Ten Music List, but it ended up being a Top 17, plus honourable mentions. For some reason, I decided to do one again this year, but I'm seriously limiting it to ten. They're all very different albums, ranging from punk to euro-pop to indie rock. Again, in no particular order:

"Vampire Weekend" by Vampire Weekend
"Stay Positive" by The Hold Steady
"The Rhumb Line" by Ra Ra Riot
"Acid Tongue" by Jenny Lewis
"Brain Thrust Mastery" by We Are Scientists
"Volume One" by She & Him
"Santogold" by Santogold
"Robyn" by Robyn
"Get Awkward" by Be Your Own Pet
"The Odd Couple" by Gnarls Barkley

Sorry, Madonna and Britney, but you're noticeably absent. I've come to expect certain things from you ladies, and if I can't shake my ass through the whole thing, then you're not making my list. Due to low expectations, I didn't even pick up the latest from Weezer or Coldplay.
Older albums I got into were "Rabbit Fur Coat" by Jenny Lewis (with the Watson Twins), "Oracular Spectacular" by MGMT, "Made of Bricks" by Kate Nash, and basically the entire Pixies back catalogue. I also continued my love for Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.
Some of the year's great singles included "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" by Black Kids, "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon, and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)"
Also, there are some promising albums in my iTunes cart such as "Fleet Foxes" by Fleet Foxes, "For Emma, Forever Ago" by Bon Iver, and "London Zoo" by The Bug. Plus, 2009 promises to be a good music year with new releases from Franz Ferdinand, Courtney Love, Missy Elliott, No Doubt, and (fingers crossed) Blur. Perhaps I'll write about them this time next year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sigh of Relief

I just got home from my last of seven consecutive days of work. The only potential hazard is the possibility of a stand-by call tonight. I'm actually crossing my fingers as I type this. Also, Jason gets back from the States tonight, and should be picking up Azrael any time.
Now I'm off until the 5th, time which will be spent taking care of a large list of tasks such as
1) cleaning the dog hair which has accumulated over the past two weeks.
2) helping Johnny and Jenny move some stuff to their new house.
3) making two cheesecakes for New Years Eve.
4) changing the oil and rotating the tires on my truck.
5) hopefully getting a day of boarding in there somewhere.
Due to my busy work schedule and even busier dog-sitting schedule, I haven't had the time or energy to run. Add to that my frequent ingestion of unhealthy holiday snacks, and I have a slightly increased gut size. I'm not sure if I'll make it to the gym this week, but if I don't, I won't worry. I read recently that it's natural for the body to store up a little extra fat in the winter, so I figure I'm just helping it along.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lightly Dusted

I was pretty successful in my Christmas boycott. I didn't do anything I wouldn't have done on any other normal work day, except call my parents. The local radio stations didn't play much holiday music, and there wasn't a soul on base. I just treated it like any other day to avoid any potential depression (post or otherwise), and I succeeded.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We had a slightly delayed white Christmas here in northern Italy. It didn't start snowing until I got home last night, and when I woke up this morning, there was a thin white powder over everything. Luckily, the roads were too warm to ice over. I had already started my rounds when the sun was rising, and when it hit the mountains, I was awestruck. I climbed the water tower and took a couple pictures.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
There has been snow on the mountains for a while now, and it will probably stick around until June. But it rarely snows here in the valley. I just came home for lunch, and already, it's almost all gone. I'm glad I was up early enough to see it, and they way it made everything look so peaceful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


For a while, I was starting to regret volunteering to work over Christmas. You'd think there wouldn't be much going on this week, but we've had inspections, a shop renovation, and some major jobs going on. Stand-by calls have been steady. Plus, I've been driving home for lunch so I can let Azrael out for a few minutes. Needless to say, my stress level is a little higher than normal.
Lately, though, when people find out I volunteered to work over Christmas, they smile and tell me they appreciate it, even if it doesn't directly affect them. It makes me feel better about my decision.
So, yeah, I'm working today, and my Christmas spirit has been hindered a bit. I wish I were home with my family like last year, or at least relaxing with friends and sipping cider. However, I have several friends spending this Christmas in the desert, and I can't dwell on my own situation when theirs is so much worse. So, if you get a chance, send up a prayer for those guys. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
Buon Natale!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deth Stars

When Scott was here in October, he mentioned a show on Adult Swim called Metalocalypse. It's a series of 12-minute epsiodes about the fictional metal band Dethklok. I was curious, and luckily, Johnny had the first season on DVD, which I watched in its entirety last weekend.
Dethklok is the biggest band in the world, whose concerts are so intense, fans often die from seeing them live, and are required to sign wavers upon entry. Their popularity is so immense, they can get away with whatever they want with no repercussions, including mass murders, inciting riots, and waking giant trolls from the depths of Finnish lakes. The members are rather clueless, only thinking of ways to be metal or consume more alcohol, and the only one holding the band together is their manager.
There wasn't a lot that made me laugh hysterically, but it was consistently medium-funny, which is better, I think. It's definitely an over-the-top kind of humour, and I'll be looking around for season two very soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

If you don't vote for me, then the terrorists win.

There's an organisation within our squadron called the Booster Club. The main purpose of the Booster Club is to raise money throughout the year for the Christmas Party. They also handle squadron recreational activities, sports days, volunteer opportunities, and various fund raisers (breakfast burrito sales, etc.). The Booster Club is headed up by officers which are elected every six months. My friend Jo is the out-going president, and has been encouraging me to run for something. Plus, our superintendent has been trying to get someone in our shop on the council, as well. After much prodding, I finally agreed to be nominated for Vice President. I figured I'm:
a) smarter than Palin, but unable to see Russia from my house.
b) nicer than Cheney, but not guaranteed to shoot you in the face.
c) a better speller than Quayle, but sorely lacking Gore's Oscar.
Elections were last week, and today, I found out I won. My competition doesn't have the greatest reputation in the squadron, so I'm not really sure if people were voting for me or against him. Regardless, I'm going to have some added responsibilities over the next six months, which will probably result in increased bourbon consumption. Just a warning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Under the Weather

Friday, just as I was getting off work, I started to feel a little ill. By the time I got home, I was nauseated and had a horrible headache. I took my temperature, but didn't have a fever, so I took a shower and some Motrin, then fell asleep on my couch.
I awoke Saturday morning feeling much better, but still fatigued. I ended up watching movies most of the day, interspersed with naps and cups of hot tea. I eventually made it to Corey's place to watch football last night, but didn't stay too late.
I made it to Church this morning, but the rest of today will most likely be more of the same. Probably the only physical activity I get today will be playing with Azrael. I feel okay, but I just don't have the motivation to do much. Since I'll be at work so much this week, I don't feel bad at all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clutter Catcher

Mi Cucina
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
MSgt Lewis, who's been in charge of our shop for a few years, is getting ready to retire. His wife is also active duty, and next month, they'll be moving to San Antonio, where she'll finish out her career in the Air Force. They have a huge house in Sacile, and since they'll be packing out later this week, they've been giving away lots of stuff. Corey got a recliner, and I got their old table and chairs. It's in great condition, and fits perfectly in my kitchen. I usually eat on my couch, but it provides extra counter space, and it's great for playing cards or Settlers. Plus, I always need another flat surface to set stuff on. If it's not completely littered with magazines and papers in a month, I'll be very proud of myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting Along Famously

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Things have gotten much better between Azrael and me. Saturday, she hated me. Sunday, she tolerated me. Monday, we were on speaking terms. Tuesday, we were friendly. And now, we're inseparable. I guess she just had to get used to me. Or maybe she figured, "Well, this is the guy who feeds me, so I'd probably better be nice to him." Either way, I'm glad she's here.
I've never been around a large dog this much, and it's pretty fun. She has a short length of rope as a chew toy, and loves playing tug-of-war. I'm rather aggressive when I wrestle around with her, and we get our daily cardio by chasing each other around the yard. She doesn't chew on my stuff or get into the garbage, and she only does her business outside.
Still, her size isn't without its inconveniences. She can open nearly every door in the house, including the ones leading outside, so when I leave in the morning for work, I have to make sure to lock the doors from the outside. Plus, I have to lock the doors to each bathroom. Otherwise, she'll open the lid to the toilet and start drinking.
Speaking of drinking, I think this dog used to belong to the Kennedy's or something. I fill her water bowl eleven or twelve times a day. This, of course, results in her waking me at 3 AM every night in order to be let outside. Speaking of sleep, each night she sprawls out on the covers of my bed, forcing me to the opposite edge. I think she's trying to establish her dominance. It's working.
Despite all this, I feel bad when I leave to go to work in the morning. When she sees me in uniform, she knows I'm getting ready to leave. I can hear her scratching at the door when I get in my truck; and when I pull away, I see her staring out the window. It will be even worse when I'm working 14-hour days over Christmas and the following weekend. She's high-maintenance and requires lots of attention. She deserves to be out in the country running around a big pasture, not cooped up in a little house. Jason said he's been looking for a better family to take her. I sure hope he finds one soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bad Santa

Corey, Stan, & Jeremiah
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
When I said yesterday that I hadn't bought any Christmas presents, I was lying. I did buy one--for a gift exchange at my shop. Joann and I planned the whole thing, which was totally voluntary. Also, a couple weeks ago at our squadron Christmas party, our shop won a pizza party because we had the best centrepiece (a gold toilet with a tree coming out), so we set everything up for today.

Joann, Aaron, & Trever
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We drew numbers and opened our presents. We all agreed on a $20 limit, and everyone was pretty creative. I bought this, which ended up going to Johnny. I received a basket full of marinara, pesto, and parmesan. I think everyone was pretty happy with what they received, though Joann and I both decided we had enough pizza to last us until the New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

If There Were A 13th Day Of Christmas, It Totally Would Have Been "13 Plumbers Plumbing"

I'm working mornings this week, which means I'll be working swings next week, which also includes stand-by. Yes, I'll be on stand-by for Christmas--something I totally volunteered to do. Most everyone in my shop is going home or has a family, and I know they don't want to do it. The only other single guys live in the dorm, and I figure it's bad enough living in the dorm even when you don't have to work on Christmas. So, since I'm all by myself, I just put myself on the schedule.
I'm borderline boycotting Christmas this year. I haven't put up any decorations or bought any presents, and the holiday music has been at a minimum. I'm not trying to be a Scrooge or anything, but I'm just not feeling it. It doesn't help that I'm kinda broke or that it's done nothing but rain for the past month. I'm going to muddle through the next two weeks, and when it comes time to celebrate New Years, I'll more than make up for it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Doggie Daycare

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It seems I've become the go-to guy for dog-sitting. My friend Jason has asked me to watch Azrael, his rather large Belgian Malinois. It resembles a German Shepherd, only leaner, with shorter hair, and a bit scarier. Jason brought her over last night.
I've always been a dog person, and I've never had any problem getting along with them. Azrael, however, doesn't seem to like me very much. She doesn't bite, but barks every time I put my hand out. Jason said if I grabbed her toy and played with her, she might warm up to me, but no luck so far. The only time she's been near me is when I sat on the couch, and she laid next to me. She let me pet her for a bit, but as soon as I stood up, she went back to barking. The only other time she appeared happy was when I laid on the floor and played dead. Probably not a good sign.
I hope things change pretty soon because Jason is in the States for two weeks. Either Azrael or I am gonna have to give in, and seeing how she has her eye on my jugular, it will probably be me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Formaggio Fan - Mad Props #10

I'm constantly on the lookout for recipes for people like me--vegetarian bachelors who can't afford to eat out all the time. A few months ago, I found a great one. I think the ingredient that makes these so amazing is the Pepper Jack Cheese; in fact, every time I make them, I always add twice what the recipe calls for.
I've always been a big cheese lover, but never really got into Pepper Jack until this year. Now, I always keep a block in my fridge, putting it on crackers and melting it on burritos. It's zesty, yet delicate flavour never fails to satisfy. It's one of the few things I pick up every time I go to the Commissary. So Mad Props to you, Pepper Jack Cheese. I think I'll go cut off a slab right now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Denied, Shot Down, and Other Euphemisms for Rejection

This was originally supposed to be the post where I post pictures of Shuan, Ryan, RJ, Alec, and I carving through beautiful, white powder. But this morning, we were driving up to Piancavallo and saw a sign that said the mountain was closed due to bad weather. You could literally hear our hearts sink as we turned around and headed back to Aviano.
So now, it's a post about how I laid on my couch all day and watched movies. Exciting, huh?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Soldier Cards and Cities

As somewhat of an early Christmas present, our superintendent told the shop leads to give each of us an extra day off sometime in December. Mine is tomorrow, so I asked Shaun to come over tonight and bring a few people with so we could play a round of Settlers--something we haven't done in way too long. We hung out, ate more than our fair share of munchies, and then Jason, Ruben, RJ, Shaun, Ryan, Alec, and I played one of the longest games of Settlers in history. Congrats to RJ, who won, even though before tonight, he was a Settlers virgin.
Now I'm all hyped up on sugar, and probably won't get to sleep for a while. I guess it's a good thing I'm off tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fare Thee Well

Alec, Jason, & Jenn
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Jason is getting ready to separate from the Air Force, and Tall Nate is getting ready to PCS to Oklahoma, so last night, we had a little going-away dinner in honour of them.

Tall Nate, Shaun, & Nate
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Rachel knows an Italian lady who hosts private dinners at her house. For a fixed price, she served us a full course Italian meal, plus two different wines.

Ryan, RJ, & Rachel
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Italians take eating very seriously, and whenever they dine out, they spend hours eating and socialising--which is exactly what we did. We all told stories and laughed for over three hours.

Cheyenne & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I doubt Jason and Nate will have any problems with their transitions. We all wished them the best of luck in their future endeavours.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Day We All Collectively Rolled Our Eyes

Apparently, the Air Force doesn't think its people can act like adults. Because of this, they've started having so-called "Wingman Days." Wingman days have been around for a while, but they used to promote camaraderie within the squadrons through activities and recreation. Now, they've devolved into us wearing our blues in a crowded auditorium so we can get talked down to for hours about how we're horrible people for letting all these DUIs and sexual assaults happen. After that, we ran in formation--which is the least beneficial way to run--and then broke into small groups to discuss ridiculous scenarios.
The intent was to boost morale and nip a few key issues in the bud; but it ended up making everyone bitter and apathetic. Our discontent is supposed to be channelled up to the commander, but chances are it will get filtered so many times, the message will be missed. It takes a lot to give me a bad attitude about something, but if we have too many more of these, Joann and I decided we're going to defect to Fiji.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The More, The Merrier

Dinner Crew
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
A few weeks ago, Shaun and I were talking, and we thought about how much fun it was last time I made dinner. We decided to do it again, and after a few setbacks, it ended up being last night. I was planning on hosting five or six, but word got out and I had a house full of ten people. I made a pot of chili (which was gone within minutes) and a cheesecake (which Cheyenne described as "decadent"). After dinner, we hung out and watched "Half-Baked," a movie everyone was surprised I owned because, apparently, it's just not "a Curtis type of movie." Regardless, thanks to Martina, Rachel, Cheyenne, Shaun, Alec, Jason, Ryan, Nate, Tall Nate, and RJ for making my Sunday evening extra fun.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Johnny is a big fan of college football. Saturday nights, when most people are out bar-hopping, he's at home watching the games. The first game kicks off around 6:30 PM, Italy time, and the last one ends around 5 AM Sunday morning. I've been hanging out over there on random Saturdays for the past few weeks. It's kinda nice to just relax and chat and toss back a couple beers.
Yesterday included lots of conference championship games, so Johnny put together a little pool with a $10 buy in. I'm not normally one for gambling, especially on sports--something about which I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever--but Johnny convinced me to at least give it a shot.
He called this afternoon to tell me I'd won 80 bucks. Each pick I made was purely a guess. Even funnier is the fact Johnny did all this research on the players and statistics and stuff, and came in next-to-last.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Acid Tongue

Lately, I've found my speech to be a little, um...bitchy. It's mostly at work, and usually involves whispering in my office with someone about people we don't like. We don't really gossip, but we make rude, albeit humorous, remarks about those excluded from our clique.
I know it's wrong, and I'm not normally the type to indulge in this kind of behaviour. It's definitely a slippery slope. So, I'm making an early New Year's Resolution to reform this habit. If you hear me making disparaging remarks about someone, you have permission to punch me in the face.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Decking Said Halls

Last night was our squadron holiday party (because, apparently, we're not allowed to call it a Christmas party). Because it was on a Thursday, we don't have to report to work until noon today, so we had a pretty good turnout.
We had one huge table for our entire shop, and had a great time eating and drinking and laughing. It's cool to see everyone dressed up.
The biggest draw for holiday parties is the prizes. Some are pure luck, and others you have to earn. Stan's ticket number was called, and he won some wine glasses. Johnny and I both won 25 bucks for identifying baby pictures, and Dan won a digital camera in the dance-off. There's probably already video circulating on the internet, but trust me--you don't want to see it.
Thanks to Aaron for staying sober and driving us all home. Now I have to find a way to get back to base to retrieve my truck.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Geyser Averted

For the past two days, Joann, Corey, and I have been waging an all-out war against a certain fire hydrant and its corresponding isolation valve. We finished switching the hydrant yesterday, but it took us until this afternoon just to take the bolts off the old valve. Even more difficult was fitting the gaskets between the new valve and the flange. My thighs are sore from squatting in the hole and pulling and pushing wrenches all day (plus running the perimeter this morning with Johnny, who, I suspect, only asks me to run with him because he knows he's faster than me). After plenty of grunts and gnashed teeth, everything finally went together, and all we have left to do tomorrow is backfill.
Our job site is near the Communications Squadron. At least once every hour, a huge group would come outside to smoke, passing by our hole on their way. Whenever they walked by, they would always get quiet and stare. It was almost like they were observing a new species or something. The office workers gazing at the labourers. Fascinating!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Friday night, I was getting ready to go over to Shaun's place to watch some snowboarding videos. I had been off all day, laying around and watching movies, so before I left home, I showered and put in my contacts. My left contact was bothering me, and when I put my shirt on, it popped out, and I totally lost it. This has never happened to me before, but I had another pair, so I just took the left one and put it in. But now I only have one right contact left. Contacts aren't cheap, and even after I get more, I'll always be one off. Not a big deal, but just frustrating. Laser surgery looks better every day.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dog Gone

I had to give Daisy back today. I didn't realise how much I'd miss her until I came home this evening and there was nobody greeting me at the door, wagging her tail. It kinda makes me want to get a dog of my own, despite my better judgement. I know training a dog would try my patience, but the rewards and companionship are priceless. Maybe one day...