Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reverse Psychology

One of the things my Italian professor stresses is for us to try to speak Italian everyday. It's not difficult for me since there are three Italians in my shop. I'm always exchanging pleasantries with them, and asking them to check my homework.
Other places, it's not so easy, though. For instance, there are usually Italian guards checking IDs at the gate. I try to chat with them as much as possible, but it's a little dysfunctional. An exchange this morning went like this:

CurrtDawg: Buon giorno! (Good day!)
Italian Gate Guard: Hello, sir. How are you?
CD: Bene, bene. E tu? (Very well. And you?)
IGG: Oh, okay.
CD: Fa bel tempo. (The weather is beautiful.)
IGG: Yeah, and I wish I didn't have to work today.
CD: Anch'io. Buon giornata. (Me, too. Have a good day.)
IGG: You, too!

I don't know if he thinks my Italian is so bad that he'd rather save himself the trouble of saying things twice, or if he just likes to practice his English. It happens all the time, and I don't know why, but it's a little humiliating. It's like they're thinking, "Silly American. You'll never really understand what I say, so I'll just talk at your level." Thanks, man.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Second Second Chance

In my hot little hand, I have a very coveted document, which, this July, will allow me admittance to a second helping of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour. Yes, it seems fortune has smiled upon me, and Ms. Ciccone has added another date to this summer's European tour. This one is in Udine, which is virtually right down the road.
I found out earlier this week she added the Udine date, and tickets went on sale at 9 this morning. I got to the biglietteria fifteen minutes early, and it's a good thing, because by the time the little man opened his window, it was packed.
I decided beforehand I didn't want to go unless I could get a general admission ticket because I don't want to sit in the stands. I want to be down where the action is so I can jump and dance and, hopefully, get sweated on. It was a little nerve racking because I kept hearing him tell other people that the prato (ground) seats were sold out. But somehow, by the time I got to the front of the line, there was one waiting for me.
Now the only potential hindrance is the possibility of deploying this summer. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dragging On

I go through phases with my level of motivation. Sometimes, I get so much done in a regular afternoon, I surprise myself. Today, however, is the opposite. I stayed at Shaun's until 1:30 AM this morning and slept way too late. I was going to study Italian and try to go to the gym before work, but all I've done is move some clothes from the washer to the dryer. Chances are, I'll make a sandwich and watch a couple episodes of Arrested Development before rushing through a shower and barely making it to work on time. Maybe I'll hit the gym tomorrow. Or not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In need of a travel agent

I'm spending next week in Germany for a backflow prevention class. (You didn't even know backflow needed to be prevented, did you?) Preparing for that trip is adding stress to an already stressful week, as I'm also working swing shift and performing stand-by. I spent yesterday afternoon working on my orders and hotel reservations. Thank God I'm driving up, because I doubt I could handle the added pressure of plane tickets.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Once a Carny, Always a Carny

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Cheyenne, Nate, and I went to Venice to check out Carnevale. It's basically the Italian version of Mardi Gras.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We were told it would be crowded, but we had no idea what we were in for. The entire city was completely packed, and since most of Venice is made up of tiny alleyways, walking around was very slow.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Part of the fun of Carnevale is checking out all the costumes. There were tons of people in these elaborate costumes wearing very intricately decorated masks. It was kind of eerie, but also very beautiful.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg

One-Man Band
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
But it wasn't just people dressed up in traditional Venetian costumes. We saw people dressed up like animals, demons, and virtually the entire Disney cast of characters. Plus there were some cool street performers, like this guy.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Since there were so many people, we were forced to take routes and back alleys we'd never taken before. It ended up being a good thing because we saw parts of Venice we'd never seen before.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It's built on a lagoon, and it's a total maze of a city. I've been there enough times to know how to get to the main spots, but I never get there the same way twice. You never realise how big it is until you walk through it.

Cheyenne & Nate
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We walked around all afternoon, and saw some really neat things. The train back home was so crowded, we had to stand for half the ride. Still, it was totally worth the effort. Next year, I might look into getting a mask of my own.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


It was one year ago today that I arrived in Italy. I remember the first night, Shaun picked me up from my hotel room and took me to dinner with a group of his friends. I was so excited going off base and through the town. Those first few months were pretty rough, but now I can't think of any place I'd rather be.

Road To Recovery

I went running today. My knee has been feeling okay, and my chest has only been hurting a little bit. I stopped after a mile and a half, but only because I had to turn around and run back to my starting point, and I didn't want to tempt fate. Everything feels okay, but I'm still going to take it easy for a couple more weeks. I won't really have the opportunity to go boarding for a while anyway. As long as I get a couple more trips in this season, I'll be content.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gauging My Progress

85. That's what I got on my mid-term. I studied like crazy, so I'm not sure if I should be thrilled or disappointed. Mostly, it just lets me know I'm gonna have to study extra hard for the final.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Should Have Clipped Coupons

There are two types of trips to the grocery store. There’s the quick trip where I just need a few things and I grab one of those carryable plastic baskets and spend about 20 bucks. Then there’s the all-out, cart-pushing, grab everything I might ever need kind of trip during which I spend a little more. The deciding factor between these two trips is whether or not I need water. Bottled water here is pretty cheap, but there’s no way I can carry a case of it along with the plastic basket. And if I’m going to go ahead and get a cart, I might as well stock up on things I’m going to need eventually. I usually make a list of things I need, but there’s nothing stopping me from tossing in a little extra.
Yesterday was supposed to be a small trip, but at the last minute, I decided to go ahead and grab a cart and pick up some water. Oh, what a slippery slope it was. I’ve got enough tofu, juice, and granola to last me though a nuclear holocaust. My list only had six items, yet I got so carried away, I somehow forgot to pick up two things I’d written down. I'd put it off until next time, but I don't think I can squeeze much more toothpaste out of that tube.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let the Hate Mail Flow Like Wine

I received a forwarded e-mail last week about an upcoming movie called “Corpus Christi” that depicts Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals. Whenever I get something like this, I take it with a grain of salt. The authors (read: drama queens) of these things sound so impassioned, it’s almost comical. “It’s the end of the world! Someone is trying to say something that contradicts what we believe!” Please. This isn’t the first, nor the last time somebody has disagreed with you on your interpretation of the Bible, and somehow the world seems to keep turning.
What’s worse is the people who originated the e-mail haven’t even seen the movie. I did a little research, and found out that “Corpus Christi” is a play written in 1998 by Tony winner Terrence McNally (who also wrote “Love! Valour! Compassion!”). It’s basically a retelling of the life of Jesus, but set in modern day Texas. And in it, Jesus and his apostles are gay, but there are other interpretations possible. One production had some apostles depicted as women. Is that worse or better? Even more interesting is that there’s no indication anywhere that it’s being adapted into a feature film. Perhaps someone is jumping the gun a bit? I think my favourite line from the e-mail said "If you do send this around, we will be able to prevent this film from showing in America and South Africa." Really? South Africa? Who knew my e-mail traffic could have such an impact on the other side of the world?
The common thread in these tirades is that the origin is usually an evangelical Christian (the “Christian Right”?). It makes me wonder if they’re so insecure in their faith that they have to immediately attack anything that might appear to possibly challenge it. I am a Christian, and whenever I hear someone say something that sharply differs from my beliefs, I usually ignore it. The times that I don’t ignore it, I try to start some kind of healthy discussion. I find it’s never a good idea to go on the offensive, but instead come together for a calm, logical exchange of ideas. I’d rather show people my faith through my actions and how I treat people than by preaching hellfire and damnation.
I recently read an interview with Mel White, a man who used to write speeches and ghostwrite books for Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Billy Graham. He said “Given the state of what it means to be a Christian these days, I’m not a Christian either. I’m a mediocre follower of a first-century Jewish teacher.” It’s sad that followers of Christ have given ourselves such a bad rep, but I have to admit, I somewhat agree with him.
Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps, if Jesus were alive on this Earth today, he’d be bombing abortion clinics, promoting wars in the Mideast, and screaming at homosexuals. But I doubt it. From what I’ve read, that just doesn’t seem like his character.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Like Humpty Dumpty, but with a happier ending

I was in and out of the hospital in 20 minutes, which is probably a record. The doc said I bruised a couple ribs and strained my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He didn't act like it was too big of a deal, but tried to put me on a profile. I refused because I don't want to be one of THOSE guys. It's not totally debilitating, just a hindrance. I've never had a knee injury before, and I just wanted to make sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong. He said to let my pain dictate what I can and can't do, which is fine with me. I'm on rounds for the next two weeks, so I'm already exempt from squadron PT. If things don't heal up on their own, I'm totally willing to take a few shots of bourbon before my next run.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Caught An Edge

Today was another spectacular day of boarding at Piancavallo. Well, kinda. After two amazing runs (wherein I landed a sweet 180), I was hitting some small jumps when something went wrong and I totally lost it. My body came down on my left arm, and my board got stuck in the ground sideways, which twisted me around rather violently. Worst case scenario is that I jacked up my knee and maybe cracked a rib or two. I'm gonna make an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning.
But, because I am my father's son, I caught my breath and was back up, carving down the mountain. I met up with Keena, Alec, and a few others, and we didn't stop until the lifts did. I bought a day pass, and there's no way I'm not going to get my money's worth out of it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bleeding Heart

I can't remember the last time I did something special for Valentine's Day, probably because it's been so long since I've had a significant other. This year is no different, and I'm fine with that. The second or third century martyr this holiday was named after is probably content to know I'm spending today cleaning my house. About the only think I'll get out of it is all the candy that will be half-price tomorrow. Take that, Hallmark.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gliding Over White

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Today was the most wonderful day of boarding I've had in a very long time. It was our squadron ski day, so we were already a step ahead in that we didn't have to go to work. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and from the summit, we could see all the way to Venice and the ocean.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
There were a few icy patches here and there, but other than that, the conditions were great. On our second run, I took a nasty fall and proved once again how beneficial my helmet is. After a couple minutes, I was ready to go again.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We found tons of little hidden jumps, and it was great to feel the wind in my face as I carved down the mountain. Toward the end of the day, we all started hitting a big jump. I thought it would be a good idea to take some video of us, but as soon as I started recording, nobody could land it completely.

That is, until Keena totally schooled us and landed this 360.

One of the great things about snowboarding with my friends is that we're all there to encourage and support each other. We cheer each other on, and scream when somebody lands a jump and boost each other when we fall. It's not a competition; it's a bond.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brain Drain

My mind is pretty frazzled. Things got off to a rough start this morning when just as we were about to start our test, the power went out. We sat in darkness for nearly an hour before the lights finally came back on. Even though I didn't study, I still tried to answer the questions as best as I could. Typical Air Force questions have four multiple choice answers that can usually be narrowed down to two; but deciding between those two is a killer.
The Italian mid-term went much better. I forgot a few past participles of irregular verbs, but my pronunciation was spot on. As promised, here's the report I did on my family. First, in Italian:

La mia famiglia abita nel Kentucky. Mio padre si chiama Dennis e mia madre si chiama Kathleen. Loro sono sposati da quasi quaranta anni, e hanno due figli. Mio padre ha lavorato come engegnere, ma adesso e pensionato. A lui piace andare con la sua motocicletta e sciare. Mia madre lavora in una banca e le piace fare le spese ogni Sabato. Mio fratello si chiama Christopher e ha trentotto anni. Sua moglie si chiama Angie. Hanno due figli, Andrew e John. Mio fratello anche lavora come engegnere, e Angie i un'infermiera in un'ospedale. Non vado spesso nel Kentucky, ma i miei genitori arrivano in Italia in Maggio. Prevedo il loro arrivo.

Now in English:

My family lives in Kentucky. My father is named Dennis and my mother is named Kathleen. They have been married for almost forty years, and have two children. My father worked as an engineer, but is now retired. He likes to ride his motorcycle and ski. My mother works at a bank and likes to go shopping each Saturday. My brother is named Christopher and is 38 years old. His wife is named Angie. They have two children, Andrew and John. My brother also works as an engineer, and Angie is a nurse in a hospital. I don't visit Kentucky often, but my parents arrive in Italy in May. I anticipate their arrival.

So, yeah, it totally sounds like a little kid in the first grade giving a report to his class, but I guess that's an appropriate analogy. I did the best I could considering we haven't covered future-tense verbs and there's really no word in Italian for step-children.
Since Monday is a holiday, we won't have class, so I'll find out how I did on the mid-term next Thursday. As for my other test, I'll get my results when the promotion list comes out in June. But I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Way Of The Dauber

Corey, Dan, and I all had today off work for various reasons, so last night, we decided to do something new. We went to Bingo Night at the Club on base. It was obvious we'd never been before, because everyone kept staring at us, and the ladies at the table next to ours had to repeat the instructions for each game. We cared less and less as the night went on due to a few pitchers of beer. Plus, both Corey and I won! (Not a whole lot, but enough to cover our entry fee and part of the beer.)

After the last game, we didn't feel like going home, so we went over to the bar to shoot a few games of pool. Despite the fact I grew up with a pool table in my basement, I never fail to amaze myself at how horrible I am.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Testing...One, Two

Today was my last real day of work this week. I basically just got lucky with how things worked out. I test for promotion on Thursday, and we have off the day before to study. After my test Thursday, I have the rest of the day off, and Friday is our squadron ski day. On top of that, Monday is President's Day, so I won't have to work again until Tuesday.
Coincidentally, Thursday night, I have my Italian mid-term. I know it's probably more important to study for my promotion, but to be honest, it's really not a big priority for me right now. I'd rather do well in Italian, and that's probably what I'll spend the bulk of my time studying. One part of my mid-term is to write a short essay about my family. Once I finish it, I'll post it on here, but be warned--when read in English, it sounds like a five-year-old wrote it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Don't Bring Me Down

I've been thinking a lot lately about my words and actions; specifically, about how I interact with those around me, and their influence over me. I have different circles of friends, and my behaviour is different in each one.
One such circle has a large percentage of negative people. They still make me laugh, and I think they mean well, but they tend to complain a lot and speak ill of others. After several hours of interaction, I feel my own thoughts gravitating toward bitterness and resentment. Last night it got so bad, I feigned illness and went home.
So I'm making a conscious effort to A) hang out a little less with these people, and B) try to be a more positive influence on them when we do hang out. I'm naturally an optimist, so I don't think it will be difficult. I just have to keep in mind who I'm dealing with and remind myself to think happy thoughts. I should probably hug people more, too. Just because.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When tin cans and a string just won't work

Back in the late 90s, when cell phones were first becoming popular, I was adamantly against them. I thought it was rude to talk on them in public, and swore I'd never be seen with one. I'd gotten by without one for so long, why bother? Things changed a bit when I got to Japan, where cell phones were easier and cheaper than land lines. Plus, I wasn't too keen on getting lost or stranded in the Japanese countryside with no way to contact anyone who didn't speak a foreign language. Since then, I haven't even bothered with getting a land line.
About a month ago, my phone started acting funny. I was getting a lot of audio feedback and the people to whom I was talking could barely hear me. Since then, things have gotten even worse. Last week, half the buttons stopped working, and last night, the display started cutting out. It's been five days since I've made an outgoing call, and it took me twenty minutes to send a text message yesterday. I didn't want to spend any money, but something had to be done.
This morning, I went to the Vodafone store hoping they could fix my old phone. I was relieved when the man told me it was still under warranty; however, it had to be sent away and could take up to a month to get it back. They didn't have any loner phones to use in the meantime, so my only option was to buy a new one. I picked the cheapest phone available that had all the stuff I needed, and it was still 119 Euro. It's a Nokia 7100 Supernova, and, oh yeah, it's hot pink.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dashed Hopes

My original plan was to drive to Pordenone during lunch today to the news stand that sells concert tickets. Unfortunately, the fire fighters broke a(nother) fire hydrant right at 11 AM, and we worked through lunch. So, as soon as work ended this evening, I zoomed there as fast as I could.
In my best Italian, I told the man I wanted a floor ticket to Madonna's show in Milan. Unfortunately, all the general admission floor tickets had sold out. However, there were tickets available for seats, which were further back and cost twice as much. I'll never understand why someone would want to sit through a Madonna show and pay twice as much to do so. I decided my best bet would be to forego this venture, but still hope that she might add a second show. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Second Helping

Last week, Madonna announced she'll be coming through Europe again this summer, adding another leg to her Sticky & Sweet Tour. True, I saw her last year in Frankfurt, and even though the show itself was great, the experience in general was less so. This time, she'll be coming through Milan, Munich, and Ljubljana, three cities I can reach by train or car, and that are much easier to navigate. That's a pro, but a con is the slight chance I might be deployed by then. Tickets go on sale for the Milan show on Friday, and if they aren't too much, I'll probably have to go ahead and pick one up.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Plus Four

Major Figiera & Joann
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Joann re-enlisted this morning. She tried not to make a big deal out of it, but I know she was excited. Of course, she might have just been excited by the fact she's getting a healthy re-enlistment bonus. I'm just glad I'll have someone to hang with for a little longer.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Native Tongue

In the second half of "Me Talk Pretty One Day," David Sedaris talks about his move to Paris and the difficulties therein, many involving his quest to learn the French language. It's one of the more hysterical pieces of prose I've read, and after I finish this Italian class, I think I might go read it again, just because I'll be able to feel his pain on a more personal level.
Except for one very disastrous semester of German in college ("Mmmm, Herr Sutton! Late again, are we?"), I've never taken a foreign language before. The first semester of Italian wasn't too difficult since we just learned basic words and phrases and mostly imitated the instructor. This semester, however, is much more challenging. We're conjugating verbs and placing direct-object pronouns. Our Professoressa is not just teaching us the way things are said, she's teaching us why they're said that way. In a way, it's almost like learning English grammar all over again, as I have to mentally go back to Mrs. Gish's fourth grade class to remind myself what infinitives and past participles are. If you thought that stuff was confusing back then, imagine how much worse it is in another language.
This week, while doing my homework, I came across this in the book:
"The article is not used when a possessive adjective precedes a singular noun that refers to a relative. The article is used, however, if the noun referring to relatives is plural or if it is modified by an adjective or a suffix."
...and then my brain started bleeding.

Super Monday

The Super Bowl doesn't come on until midnight here, so the parties don't start until late. I napped all afternoon yesterday to help myself stay awake last night, and I think it worked pretty well.
Corey volunteered to host the party, and I showed up around 10. I brought a peanut butter cheesecake convered with a chocolate ganache. It was requested by Joann, and part of my job as the friend of the pregnant girl is to keep her cravings satisfied. There were plenty of snacks to keep our blood sugar up, thereby preventing anyone from dozing off too early.
The game itself was interesting enough. By the third quarter, I could tell everyone at the party just wanted it to end, but things got surprisingly exciting during the fourth quarter. It wasn't a full-on comeback, but we were glad we stayed awake until the end. The only real bummer was that we don't get to see any of the commercials over here.
As a morale booster (and possibly to avoid potential DUIs), it's customary to have late reporting on Monday. We don't have to be at work until noon, something of which I'm taking full advantage.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Last week, Shaun asked if I'd be interested in helping him out with a certain volunteer opportunity. It sounded like fun, so last night, I was a chaperone for the Aviano High School Winter Formal.
I was interested to see how much dances had changed since I was in high school. Not very much. There were still the various cliques--jocks, nerds, shoe-gazers, freaks, and ghetto-fabulous booty shakers. When the DJ would play a good song, the girls would run to the dance floor, followed reluctantly by the guys. They all seemed like good kids, and we didn't have any incidents at all.
Nearly everyone in Shaun's circle of friends was a chaperone, and since the high school here isn't very big, there were almost as many chaperones as students. We were encouraged to have a good time and dance and stuff, just as long as we made sure nothing too explicit was happening.
The dance ended at 11, and we were showing our age by frequently looking at our watches by 10. Still, it was a good time, and I'll rarely miss an opportunity to get on the floor and shake it. Even if most of the people there are half my age.