Friday, July 24, 2009

Tent City

I had yesterday and today off work for some pre-emptive comp time. Tomorrow, about 25 of us are going up to Germany for 10 days for a military training exercise. I'm not really looking forward to it, but it's required we go every two years. The last time I had this training, we went to Florida and it was only for a week. I don't think it's going to be too bad, especially since we have a good crew going. Regardless, I'll be in field conditions (i.e. living in a tent) so there won't be any posting until I get back. Hope everyone has a good week.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Stitches

After a few days in Portugal and Germany, Cheyenne and Jessica are back in town. This morning, Jessica and I drove to the airport to pick up Chelsea, who will be spending a couple weeks here to help celebrate Cheyenne's birthday. Those three girls together are a riot. If I had a dollar for every time Jessica made me laugh until I cried, I'd have, like, way more than twenty bucks.
I'm going to be out of town for a few days, so I won't get to join in the main festivities, but Jessica doesn't leave until August 25th, so we'll have plenty of time for hysterics after I get back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Double Time

Back in the day, our deployment rotations were only three months, followed by fifteen months at home station. As the operations tempo increased, we went to four month rotations, followed by sixteen months at home. A couple years ago, we moved up to six month rotations with a year at home.
This week, we got final word that everyone in civil engineering is on a one-for-one rotation, meaning we'll be deployed for six months, then home for six months. To me, this is just absurd. I mean, I know what I signed up for, but such a hectic schedule seems excessive, especially since we're drawing down forces in Iraq.
On top of this, I was originally in the middle of my rotation right now, so I told potential visitors to wait until January to schedule tickets to Italy. Now, I'll be on a rotation leaving in December, forcing people to push plans back another six months.
Now, it's not guaranteed that we'll deploy every time. There are plenty of factors to consider, so I don't really expect to be in the desert for half of the rest of my career. And I know there are tons of people, especially in the Army, that have it much worse. It's just frustrating, and I'm sure I'll get over it eventually.
My consolation is that our shop is basically divided in half. MSgt Hammes put the list together, and I really can't complain about the people with whom I'll be deploying. The main factor in what makes a good deployment is the other people in your shop, and I'm with the cool kids.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Treading Lightly

It seems someone at work is trying to pick a fight with me. Not like a fist fight, but more like trying to get me riled up. I've taken on a few extra responsibilities as a result of my upcoming promotion, and I'm wondering if he's just trying to challenge me. But if that were the case, I think he'd be more direct with me instead of trying to go behind my back. Also, I've had to pick up the slack in projects he's neglected, so maybe he just feels threatened. I can't really confront him about it because he outranks me (for another two weeks, at least). I've always been one to avoid conflict, and luckily, he'll be deploying next month, so I won't have to go out of my way much longer. I just hope I can hold out until then.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Testing the old "beer before liquor..." adage.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last night, I met Nate and Dan at the bowling alley to roll a few balls. The original plan was to go dancing, but Cheyenne and Jess are up in Germany right now, and we didn't want to go if it was just three guys. By the time I got to the bowling alley, Nate and Dan were already a little tipsy, and Nate had resorted to opening his beer bottles with his belt buckle.
I didn't drink anything until we went downtown to Pogue's, which consisted of a few pints of Guinness. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to close, but we were far from done. Our only option was the Cal Bar, which isn't exactly the classiest bar in town, but the drinks are cheap, they're open late, and Nate wanted to play pool.
I think our big mistake was switching from beer to liquor. The night got a little fuzzy after that, but after the bar closed, we walked back to Nate's place. I crashed on the couch and didn't wake up until almost 2. It's a shame because it's a gorgeous day, and I've slept most of it away. I think I'm gonna go for a short hike and get some fresh air, which will will hopefully get rid of this hangover.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Her Sugar Is Raw

You know in the video for Papa Don't Preach, Madonna wears that t-shirt that says "Italians Do It Better"? Well, after her show last night in Udine, I'd have to agree. Not only did Madonna totally bring her A-game for two solid hours, but the sold-out crowd of over 40,000 sang along, danced, and showed their love for their favourite Italian-American girl.
I arrived at the venue at 2:30 PM. I know that seems a little early, especially since the doors didn't even open until 6, but I REALLY wanted to be up close. It turns out that everyone else had the same idea, and my place in line was still 1/4 mile away from the entrance. It was hot and sunny, and every so often, the polizie came by to hose everyone down.
So, after hours of standing in line and running into the stadium like crazy people, I managed to get a spot about 5 metres from the stage. The opening act was Paul Oakenfold, probably one of the world's most famous DJs. His 45-minute set was tight and infectious, and after hearing him spin, it's easy to see why everyone from Radiohead to Justin Timberlake wants him to remix their songs.
After Oakenfold, the crowd was almost electric, as we all knew Madonna would be on stage very soon. The sun went down, and we all waited. Of course, as is par for the course, she was 45 minutes late, but as soon as the lights went down, all was forgiven.
Even though it's still the Sticky & Sweet Tour, Madonna changed the set list a little bit for this leg. She replaced "Hearbeat" and "Borderline" with "Holiday" and "Dress You Up," which, even though I love "Borderline," I've been waiting to hear "Holiday" live forever. She also deleted "Hung Up" in favour of "Frozen" and "Open Your Heart," a wise move.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Madonna is a born performer, and you can tell she puts so much of herself into each show. Not just in the planning and rehearsal, but into every performance, every night, in every city. It's all very high-production, with lights, video screens, platforms, instruments, costumes, and dancers. She even drives down the catwalk in a vintage Rolls Royce during "Beat Goes On," then performs a double dutch dance to "Into The Groove." Again, I was impressed with how she makes her older songs new again. The "Holiday" remix was warm and emotional, and her new wave "Dress You Up" had elements of The Knack's "My Sharona."
She also took a moment to pay tribute to Michael Jackson (a video of which can be seen on her website). And just before "You Must Love Me," she asked us all to take a moment to say a prayer for the men who died earlier that day in Marseille while constructing the stage for her next show. But through all of that, the message was clearly one of hope, gratitude, and living life to the fullest.

After this tour is over, Madonna will be releasing another greatest hits compilation, which will complete her contractual obligations to Warner Brothers records, where she's been since the beginning of her career. I'm interested to see where her career will go after this. My guess is she'll continue to influence, set trends, and totally rock out. And you can bet I'll be in the crowd the next time she goes on tour.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

100% Real Colombian

Shaun & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Words can't express the debt I owe to Shaun. We first met nearly seven years ago in Misawa, and when I arrived here in Italy, I wouldn't have been able to make it without his help.
Shaun's tenure in Aviano is through. He's currently spending a few days in Germany, and then, after a short stop in London, heading back to the States to start school in the fall.
I dropped him off at the airport this morning. Even when saying our good-byes, I could tell our paths will cross again one day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Helping Hand

So, remember when I said I'd never have to do stand-by ever again? I spoke too soon. But this time, it's voluntary. Due to some scheduling conflicts in our shop, Stan ended up having to pull stand-by two weekends in a row. Stan has three daughters at home that are quite the time consumers, so I told him I'd take stand-by off his hands for a few days.
I picked it up yesterday morning, and I'm keeping it until Wednesday. It's been quiet so far, but I'm still cautious.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sand and Sun

Yesterday was our squadron beach day. It wasn't mandatory to go to the beach, but if you weren't there, then you were at work. The choice wasn't difficult for me.

Austin & Josh
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I can't believe I've been here so long, and this was my first time at a real Italian beach. The sand was perfect, and the weather was gorgeous.

Deja, Ariah, & Destinee
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Those who had families brought them along, and those who didn't just had extra room for more beer.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Steve-O made several attempts on his skimboard, but never quite got the hang of it. He did, however, provide plenty of entertainment for the rest of us spectators.

I put sunscreen on early in the day, but somehow forgot to put any on my legs; and today, I'm paying the price. Still, it was a wonderful, relaxing day, and now that I know how to get there, I might plan another trip sometime soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Future Pro-Bowl Players

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Stan is a coach for his daughter's flag football team. Last night was their second game, and I went to help cheer them on. Deja (his daughter) is very competitive, and somewhat of a tomboy, but she's one of the best players on the team. She made an interception AND scored a touchdown. Unfortunately, they lost, 12-10, in a last-second score. It didn't matter that they were a bunch of 11- and 12-year-olds, or that the field was only 60 yards long; it was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Last night, I went to a birthing class. No, I'm not going to be a father (Sorry, Mom), but both JoAnn and Jo are due next month, and their children's fathers won't be present. So Deana and I have offered our assistance as coaches.
In Aviano, there are 38 (!) babies due next month, but there were only eight mothers in the class. The class was a lot like I expected, based on what I've seen in movies (with the breathing and stuff), but I also learned a lot. I'm not sure if I'll actually be in the delivery room with either of them, but I've assured both of them that I'll be there to help out with whatever they need before, during, and after the births of their little bundles of joy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Camellia Sinensis in Liquid Form

I was born in Indiana, but raised mostly in Kentucky (which is like pseudo-southern--they had slaves, but didn't secede), so I wouldn't really call myself a southern boy. But last night, I made some sweet tea, and after tasting some, one could swear I was a native of Alabama or something. Now I'm gonna pour another glass, grab a book, sit on my balcony, and watch the sun set behind the mountains.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Funny Girl

Castello di Caneva
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Cheyenne's friend Jess is back in town. She visited for a few days back in January, and she had me in stitches the whole time. When Cheyenne told me she'd be staying for a few weeks this summer, I was thrilled.
Last night, a group of us went hiking around a castle in Caneva. It was a warm summer night, and the backdrop of the castle against the mountains was amazing.

Castello di Caneva
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We sat along the castle wall talking way past dark, and Dan took this totally creepy picture of me next to the tower. It's all about lighting.

Thriller Jess
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
And just before we left, as a tribute to the late, great MJ, Jess did the Thriller dance. I was laughing until my sides hurt. Her presence alone is going to make this one of the funnest summers I've had in a long time.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Like working at McDonald's, minus the paper hat.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I spent all day yesterday on base, flipping burgers. I was in charge of our booth at the 4th of July Celebration, and it was pretty crazy. I got there to set things up at 9 AM, even though the events didn't kick off until noon. By 3 PM, we had a huge line, and could barely keep up. There was some rain in the evening, which slowed our business, but they went ahead with the fireworks anyway. By the time I got home at 11 PM, I was soaked, exhausted, and convinced that I'll never undertake something this big by myself ever again.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ain't That America?

It's hard not to feel a little patriotic today. But this morning, I kicked it up a notch when I was driving to base. I queued up some John Mellencamp on my iPod. Maybe it's because we're both small town Indiana boys, or possibly because of his rootsy, heartland rock, but something about his music makes me feel very American. There will never be a time I don't sing along to "Jack and Diane."

Friday, July 03, 2009

Party Times Two

Stan & Destinee
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Stan is the other guy in my shop that made Tech, and last week was his birthday, so he had two reasons to celebrate. On his birthday, his daughters threw him a surprise birthday party. And today, he had a big barbecue at his house. I know tomorrow is going to be really busy, so I did my best to relax and enjoy the company of my co-workers.