Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jill of All Trades - Mad Props #11

I just finished reading a collection of short stories by Miranda July entitled "No one belongs here more than you." The thing about short stories is that they're fun and easy to read, but since you don't really spend a lot of time with the characters, they sometimes don't stick with you for very long. This wasn't the case with July's stories. Each one had its moments of joy, pain, sweetness without sentimentality, and humour.
I first became aware of Miranda July in 1999 when she directed the video for Sleater-Kinney's "Get Up":

It looks like it was shot for about $500, but there's something amazing and vulnerable about it. I think it fits the song perfectly.
She began as a performance artist, but has been branching out considerably. In 2005, she wrote, directed, and starred in "Me and You and Everyone We Know," which Don and I both appreciated (and we have great taste in movies. Promise.).
She designed a web/art community called Learning To Love You More, wherein she lists assignments for people to complete. A book of people's submissions was released in 2007, and it's sitting on my shelf if you'd like to check it out.
So, Mad Props to Miranda July, a true Renaissance Woman. Keep doing what you're doing, girl, because I'm totally picking up what you're putting down.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Points Of View

I'm not a fan of Jimmy Kimmel; however, I am definitely a fan of Portia De Rossi, mostly because of her work on "Arrested Development." I thought this was priceless:

Furthermore, not really a fan of Suze Orman, but this argues the same point from a different perspective:

I promise this won't turn into one of those blogs where all I do is post stuff I find on the internet, but I find it interesting how people still have to fight for equal rights. Can't we grow up a bit?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hole In The Wall

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Cheyenne and I took a short drive to Fregona to hike through some caves.

Fregona Caves
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The caves are partially natural, and partially man-made. Apparently, back in the 1500s, they used a bunch of the rock for buildings.

Fregona Caves
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Outside the caves, there were tons of pools and waterfalls, plus trails and wooden bridges to hike through everything.

Fregona Caves
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Fregona Caves
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We were hoping for a more rigourous hike, and for this one, we took our time and were still done in 90 minutes. Regardless, it was really beautiful, and I'm glad we took advantage of something so close by.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anticipating Nostalgia

I get excited about movies quite a bit, but few movies excite me as much as this one:

The Arcade Fire song really sets it off. Can't wait till October.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ticked Off

And I was having such a great day. All it takes is one little comment from someone I don't even know to send me into a downward spiral of anger. I'll get over it, but right now, all I can do is dwell on all the things I should have said (i.e. "You're a douchebag."). I'll tell Joann about it tomorrow, and she'll get me to laugh about the whole thing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anti-Muffin Tops

I've never done this before, but I've decided to put myself on an actual diet. Or, something of the sort. More accurately, I'm trying to change my eating habits, partly because my PT test is coming up and partly because I'm sick of my gut. Normally, I eat until I'm totally stuffed, or until my plate is clean, whichever comes first. I've decided to shrink what I eat to a less American-sized portion. I checked the FDA website and did some research on their recommended daily allowances and the shockingly small serving sizes. Furthermore, I'm only going to eat when I'm hungry, instead of when I think I should be eating. I'm cutting down my intake of cheese and junk food, and backing off the beer. I've been doing this since we got back from Dublin, and already, I feel myself getting full quicker. We'll see how long I stick to it, but I'm hoping the skinny jeans that have been getting rather tight will start to loosen up by summer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Canine Casa

The original plan was to be on a train to Florence right now for the Eagles of Death Metal show tonight. But I'm still a little ill, and I didn't want to take any chances on getting sicker. Plus, I couldn't find anyone to go with me, and a relaxing weekend sounds nice after all the travelling lately.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
So things worked out well for Johnny and Jenny, who went to Milan for the weekend, and needed someone to watch Boston. She's a sweet dog with a great personality, and should be far easier to take care of than the last dog I watched.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Say What?

I checked my grade online today, and managed a B out of Italian II. I know I said I'd be thrilled with a B, and even though that final exam was murder, I still wish I'd studied just a bit harder for an A.
I talked to a guy in my class today who frequently skipped class and rarely studied, and he somehow squeezed a C out of there. Of course, he speaks fluent Spanish, which has many similarities to Italian, so I can't be totally upset.
Since I won't be taking the third semester, I've been looking for other avenues to expand my Italian. The most useful would probably be more interaction with the Italians at work and my neighbours. Also, the library has copies of the Rosetta Stone software, which I've heard is very helpful. Plus, there are various free classes in the area. I guess we'll just see if I have the ambition to keep it going.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reintegration and Recuperation

Everyone else took the rest of the week off, but I'm trying to save my leave, so I went back to work today. It was absolutely crazy, and I'm wondering if I should have taken the rest of the week off, too.
One reason I wanted to get back into the swing of things is to get into a solid PT routine. I'll be taking my PT test six weeks from tomorrow, and I need to get my run time down, and hopefully shed a little off of my waist measurement. I'm not worried about failing, but I'd like to improve on last year's score.
Also, I went to the doctor today for a throat culture, but thankfully, it came back negative. I haven't been feverish since I got back, but my throat is killing me. Is it possible to drink away your immune system?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On The Emerald Isle

It all began with our first Guinness in Dublin, quite a wonderful city. It's scenic, easy to navigate, and has some of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met. And then, there's the beer.

Corey & Johnny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We arrived in Dublin Friday afternoon, and after getting our bags and checking into our hostel, we were pretty hungry. We walked around a small section of the city and hit up a few random bars, but after all the travelling, we were in bed by midnight.

Temple Bar
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Saturday, we got to see Dublin a little better. We did a more thorough walking tour of the city, did some shopping, and enjoyed some fine Irish cuisine.

Temple Bar District
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Jenny & Johnny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Me & Jenny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
There were souvenir shops everywhere, and they were all completely packed. And, it was pretty obvious from the amount of tourists wearing ridiculously large leprechaun hats.

River Liffey
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
One of the reasons Dublin is so easy to navigate is the Liffey flows right through the center, dividing the north from the south side. We walked nearly everywhere, but I kinda wish we would have had the opportunity to drive. I haven't driven on the left side of the road since I left Japan. On each crosswalk was painted the words "Look Left" or "Look Right" to remind tourists and keep them from getting hit.

O'Connell Street
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The other reason it's easy to get around is the Spire of Dublin. Just north of the Liffey in the centre of O'Connell Street, it's nearly 400 feet high, and can be seen from all over. When it lights up at night, it's rather beautiful.

Street Musicians
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I was surprised at all the street musicians and performers. There were tons of them, and they all sounded great.

St. Stephen's Green
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We also walked through Dublin's main park, St. Stephen's Green, which, even though it's only March, totally lived up to its name. Once everything blooms in April, I bet it's breathtaking.

St. Stephen's Green
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

St. Stephen's Green
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

St. Patrick's Cathedral
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

My Sign
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sunday, we took the commuter rail north toward a place called Howth. But on the way there, we first stopped in Sutton. I knew Sutton was a suburb of Dublin, so I wanted to see if there was anything there. Turns out, there wasn't much.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
But Howth was a lovely little seaside village. There was an outdoor market, a marina, and seals in the water.

Howth Church
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We also came across the ruins to this old Church. I walked around it, but couldn't figure out how to get inside.

Seal in Howth
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Our Pints
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
That afternoon, we returned to Dublin for dinner and some serious drinking. We made stops in a few different bars, and ended up sticking with the Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub.

Thanks, strange guy's arm that got in the way of what would have been a great picture.

Friday, the bars were pretty busy, but every night, they became more packed. It was hard to believe they could fit any more people in side, but somehow, they did.

Kiera, Mike, Erin, & Joe
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
By Sunday, the whole city was fat with tourists, most of whom were Americans. Joe and Erin are from Maryland. Mike and Kiera are from New York, but Mike's originally from Kentucky, so we had a bond.

Random Girl & Corey
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I don't know who this girl is, and Corey doesn't remember meeting her, but I guess I took this random picture, and the expression on her face is hilarious. My guess is the conversation went something like this:

Corey: Wuzzuup?
Girl: Not much. How are you?
Corey: Daddy's drinkin' tonight. Wanna sit on my lap?
Girl: ...

Me & Johnny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The coolest part was that there was no fighting or animosity. Everyone was just there to have a good time.

Jenny, Corey, & Kiera
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Monday morning, I woke with a fever and a sore throat. I was too weak to do anything, but the rest of the crew shuffled around the city for a while. Keena got into Dublin Monday night, so after sleeping all day, I dragged myself out of bed and we all met up for dinner.

Temple Bar District
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Tuesday, we woke up early and headed to O'Connell street to watch the parade. It was a huge parade with really elaborate floats. And nearly every marching band was from the States. The lady standing next to me said that usually, the local marching bands go Stateside, and vice versa. She also said many of the locals go to St. Patrick's Day festivals in Boston or Chicago, while all the Americans are in Dublin.

Guinness Storehouse
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After the parade, we went to the Guinness Storehouse, which used to be the main Guinness brewery, but now is more of a Guinness museum. It was pretty fascinating about the history and processes used, made even better due to the fact that Guinness is 250 years old this year. Plus, we got to taste all these different types of Guinness, and, after a little instruction, we even got to pour our own pint. There's quite a science to it.

We left the hostel at 6 AM Wednesday morning, and the airport was ripe with hungover tourists. As always, this is just a fraction of the pictures I took, and the rest can be seen here.
I was bummed that I didn't feel very well the last couple of days because I really would have liked to keep bar-hopping with everyone, especially on St. Patrick's Day, but after walking all over, I just couldn't hack it. Despite being a little ill, I still had a great time, and spent far less than I anticipated. Perhaps I'll be joined next year by some of my friends from the States.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

We've only been here for two days, and already, Dublin is one of my favourite cities on the planet. It's beautiful and easy to navigate, the people are wonderful, and I won't even get into the bar scene. I'll post details and pictures when I get back to Italy, but wanted to check in while I had the chance. We're getting ready to go to dinner, followed by an obscene amount of Guinness. God bless this country.

Friday, March 13, 2009


This afternoon, Jenny, Johnny, Corey, and I are flying to Dublin for a few days to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We've been planning this trip for a few months now, and we're all very excited. We're staying downtown, near all the bars, but also plan on taking some trips out of the city. I'm not sure what internet accessibility will be like, so I may not be posting again until we get back on Wednesday. But if I return without a) alcohol poisoning, or b) a black eye, then I'll feel like I didn't get the full experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I started my leave a day early because I had my final exam in Italian tonight; and even though I had a full day to study, I'm not sure it did much good. I've never had a test cause my brain to physically hurt before. I did great on dictation and pronunciation, but conjugating those verbs totally F'd my S up. I think I would have done much better if I didn't miss class due to my trip to Germany last week. I won't find out how I did for a couple weeks, but if I pull a B out of that class, I'll be thrilled.
Most of the class is taking the third semester, but I'm going to opt out. The term goes through mid-May, meaning I'd have to miss several classes, and I doubt I'd be able to hack it. I enjoy speaking the language and learning more about it, so hopefully, I'll have the ambition to continue studying on my own.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


According to a new poll, Utah is the happiest state in the Union, while Kentucky ranks 49th. I have a lot of love for both places, so I'm a little confused. Either the Kentuckians aren't content with their green foothills and beautiful Thoroughbreds, or the Utahns are too thrilled over the close-minded regime that governs them. If they took a similar poll, but for countries, I wonder where the US would rank? Or Japan? Or Italy?
I think I'm the kind of guy that can make the best of any situation, be it covered in sewage in Pakistan or lounging on a beach in Australia. Joann reassures me that I'll eventually hate Italy, like she does, but I just don't think so. Sure, it has it's difficulties, like any place, but there are too many amazing things going on to develop any kind of boredom or animosity. So go ahead and give me a questionnaire about happiness and contentment. I'll fill it out...with smiley faces.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fantastic Plastic Machine

There was a time when I was very anti-digital music. When I was in Japan and I started seeing people with their little mp3 players, I thought it would never last. "People will never let go of the physical manifestation of music," I said to myself. But only a few short years later, I'd be lost without my iPod, and I buy the majority of my music online. It's a time saver, and definitely a space saver. (Remember all the CDs lining the staircase of my house in Japan?)
As I've stated, I'm not a fan of pirating music or file sharing, and even though I don't engage in it, I sometimes still reap the benefits. Case in point: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced a few weeks ago their new album, "It's Blitz!" would be released in April. Well, due to some unethical SOB, the album was leaked early, so they decided to formally release the album digitally. I had already pre-ordered it on iTunes, so when I woke up this morning and found an e-mail telling me it was ready, it totally made my day.
I'll still probably buy the actual CD when it comes out next month because there are certain bands (including the YYYs) I feel the need to support in every way possible. This includes the physical manifestation of their music.

Monday, March 09, 2009

One Performance Only

Last night, I made dinner for Cheyenne, Rachel, Nate, and Ed. Afterward, we went to Mauro's for open mic night. I hadn't been in a couple months, and it was pretty fun. There was a little blues jam session going on, made up of three Americans (with Nate on drums and Ben on bass) and three Italians. They kept passing the mic around, trying to get people to sing, but Rachel was the only one with the courage to give it a shot. We stayed way too late, and I was hurting at work today, but it was totally worth it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Keep The Car Running

My Truck
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The weather is amazing today, so after a run this morning and taking care of several errands, I came home to wash my truck. After all the road trips and winter weather, it took me quite a while to clean it up. After washing it, I cleaned the interior, washed the windows, and vacuumed the floorboard. There's something cool about washing your own car. This is the first vehicle I've ever bought brand new, and I feel a sense of pride when I take care of it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Luckily, no tickets were issued.

It's good to be back home in Italy. Our class ended early this morning, so Ed and I decided to pack up and head back today in order to enjoy a full weekend.
My week in Germany was decent. I enjoyed the class and learned a lot, and I was very impressed by the base. Ramstein is like the New York City to Aviano's Morganfield, Kentucky. Still, there's a lot going on there, and it's very political, so it made me appreciate living in Italy even more. I only hung out with Ben one night, but I got to see my old friends Tim and Drew.
We took a different route on the way back; this one was longer on mileage, but easier because it was mostly Autobahn/Autostrade. It was a pretty uneventful trip, except for the mini heart attack I had when the German customs officers pulled us over. But after driving 560 miles over 10 hours today, I'm about ready to hit the sack.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Almost a Vacation

After ten hours of driving, Ed and I arrived around 5:30 PM Monday evening. We basically followed the GPS, which led us over curvy roads through mountain passes. Once we got into Austria and on the Autobahn, it was a pretty easy trip. We're staying at a hotel downtown, and it's pretty nice; however, my wireless isn't working, so I probably won't post again until we get home Saturday night.
Last night, Ben picked us up and we went to dinner, and I had lunch today with my friend Tim, who I haven't seen since 2001. I've made other plans with several people throughout the week, usually involving food. Unlike the Italians, most of the Germans speak English, making it much easier to ask for vegetarian entrees.
Our class should be relatively easy, so I'm just doing my best to appreciate Germany. The base is huge, and we spent quite a while today just driving around, marveling at the size of their facilities.
In a way, it all makes me appreciate living in Italy a little more. Yeah, they have great beer here, but the Italians win when it comes to food. And I'm guessing the Germans must have been last in line when they gave out languages.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Autobahn Adventure

I'm just about finished packing. Ed is coming here at 7 AM tomorrow, and we're making the trek up to Ramstein, which, according to Google Maps, should take about 9 hours. I have a tank full of gas, several episodes of "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" on my iPod, and a bag full of road munchies.
I'm not really looking forward to a week in Germany, but not really dreading it, either. It's somewhat of an inconvenience, and bad timing; however, it will be great to see Ben and Jacob again, plus a few others I haven't seen in ages. Also, the beer up there is pretty tasty.