Friday, April 30, 2010

Moving Forward

Today basically consisted of cleaning up and taking care of small details. We had no problem meeting our deadline to finish the second set of buildings, and as a reward, we get a true weekend. That's right--two whole days off.
This is both a blessing and a curse. Having a couple days to relax will be great, especially since I'm taking some of the guys downtown tomorrow. However, I now have a roommate--a for-real, permanent one this time. It's really not that bad because he works the exact opposite shift, so we rarely see each other. But whenever I have days off, he'll be in the room sleeping, and vice versa. So it's not without its flaws.
Regardless, we're all glad to have this phase behind us, and come Monday, we'll hit the ground running on the next phase. We're going to have some personnel changes over the next few weeks, and it's going to be rough losing Steve, Pretzel, and G. I just hope their replacements will work as hard as they do and also have the great personalities and senses of humour to which we've grown accustomed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Dirty Girls Get Clean

True, Courtney Love is a mess; but that mess is one of the last true rock stars around today. Yesterday, her reformed band, Hole, released "Nobody's Daughter," an album five years in the making. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I doubted it would be on par with their dual 90s masterpieces "Live Through This" and "Celebrity Skin." I think most were expecting something along the lines of Courtney's slightly underrated 2004 solo effort "America's Sweetheart."
Upon first listen, I'd have to say it's somewhere between the two. She's still fascinated by southern California, and she sure loves those mid-tempo partially acoustic rock anthems. The lyrics have slipped a bit, but the hooks are still there. It's nearly impossible not to sing along with "Pacific Coast Highway" even though it's fairly reminiscent of "Sunset Strip" and, to a point, "Malibu." There should probably be a little more "Samantha" and a little less "Letter To God," but I'll take any Courtney I can get for the time being.
No song is perfect. Courtney wails on the harder tracks, and her voice is lacking on the ballads; but it's the ballads that somehow seem the most heartfelt. It doesn't help that Courtney remains the only original member of her band. She's talented, but she needs a solid group of experienced musicians to back her up, not an incidental group of guys from bands she's liked in the past.
I think Courtney and Madonna have a lot more in common than they'd like to admit. Music, especially performance, is cathartic for them--a way to exorcise their demons. Now that Courtney is (supposedly) clean and sober, she's trying to confess her sins and tell her tale of destruction and redemption. "I swear I'm to young to be this old," she sings on "For Once In Your Life." She might be on the right path, but I'm not sure she'll ever reach her destination.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Clockwork Orange

I'm off today, which is kinda weird. My routine has been so consistent for the past four months, and even the slightest deviation feels like my whole week has been thrown off.
Normally, our whole team is split: half take Saturday off, and the other half take Sunday off. But now, the boss has decided that we'll be more productive if we all just take the same day off. I don't claim to understand why; I just go with the flow. It really doesn't change much, except that now, those I normally chat/Skype with on Sunday, I'll now have to communicate with on Saturday. If you have any questions, consult with my secretary and she'll pencil you in.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Temporary Bunk-Mate

I got an e-mail Monday morning from a lady in lodging informing me I'd be getting a roommate whenever he arrived on base. I kinda figured I'd be getting a roommate sometime soon; I just wasn't sure when. So I e-mailed Stan, who has access to all the arrivals and departures for our squadron, and asked when this guy was supposed to arrive. Stan said this guy actually got here a week ago, and already lived in another room. So basically, that was a freebee, and it doesn't look like I'll be getting a roommate for another month.
Or so I thought.
Rick had a brief moment of airheadedness this week and lost his ID, which is a pretty big deal. As punishment, he had to move out of his room and into a tent for a week. The tents have about fifty bunk beds crammed into them and they're not really pleasant at all. So, I figured since it will be a while before I have a permanent roommate, I'd give Rick a break and let him stay in my room. (Shhhh! Don't tell anyone!)
It's only until Tuesday when Rick can move back into his own room, and it's kinda nice to have someone to talk to. Yeah, it's a little more cramped than normal, but it's worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stop, Look, Listen

We've been here over four months now. It's obvious the work stress, the heat, and generally being in the desert is kinda getting to everyone. People are starting to bicker about ridiculous things, and you can practically see the animosity in the air.
Back in '02-'03, I was here for nearly eight months, and I remember lashing out myself over things that seemed so important at the time, but after I looked back, I realised how foolish I was being.
I'm trying to take that personal experience into account now as I see the guys on my crew do things to each other just out of spite. I've had to take a few of them aside individually, talk rationally with them, and remind them that we're all under a lot of stress here. I try to reason with them, in that when they get upset, don't take whatever action springs to mind. Take a deep breath, and think about why they feel this way. Is it really that severe or are they just desperate to get back home? Would their actions be any different if we were at home station? Can they get over it long enough to finish this project and go back to being cool with each other?
Even with a few isolated incidents, I'm still really proud of my crew, and I couldn't be happier. And even though it seems like our remaining time here can't go fast enough, I'm sure we'll all look back at this deployment and think, "You know, it wasn't so bad, after all."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Re-Up In Style

Diaz & Capt
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Diaz re-enlisted for another four years in the Air Force. He asked Captain Joo, who came with us from Italy and is one of the coolest people I know, to do the honours. Captain made arrangements to do it out on the B-1 ramp, and the whole shop went out to watch. It was pretty cool.

And of course, given the opportunity, the rest of us had to take advantage of the photo op.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
SMSgt Cundy, the representative from the bomber squadron, gave us a quick tour of the plane and let us sign bombs. I opted out, as it kinda seems like adding insult to injury.

After that, he took us out to the perch to watch a B-1 take off. Unfortunately, it had a maintenance issue, so we just got to see it taxi; however, we got to see another one land, which was pretty amazing.

Seeing another side of the Air Force was really interesting. I think all the guys had a good time, and I was glad we could all go out and support Diaz.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When Chuck Norris does push-ups, he doesn't push himself up. He pushes the Earth down.

The four parts of our PT tests are running, waist measurement, sit-ups, and push-ups. I've never had a problem with the running or the waist measurement. And the push-ups and sit-ups don't really give me trouble, either, but those are the areas in which I have the most room for improvement. Most of my work-outs are solely running because I always seem to forget to do anything else afterward. So, I'm trying to do something about it.
Based on testimonies from Rick, Steve, and several others, I bought a set of No comments:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yet another post about where I spend 12 hours of every day.

We have less than three weeks to finish the next two buildings, and honestly, I'm a little nervous. We're still having difficulties getting the right parts, and we spend a good amount of our time helping out the carpenters, since their task is the most time-consuming. Plus, it's getting pretty warm, and after working in these buildings all afternoon with no ventilation, the whole crew goes home exhausted at the end of every day.
But somehow, morale has actually gotten better. We're in good spirits each morning. We joke around. We hang out and chat during lunch. It's actually a 180 from a few weeks ago when we were constantly getting micro-managed. Why did it suddenly end? Well, we had a management change in the office this week, and even though I wasn't unhappy before, I think things will be even better now. Our new boss is a little more assertive, and he's not afraid to make people angry and stick up for us.
I'm trying not to count down the days I have left here (which may or may not be somewhere around 68), but I know they're going by quickly. And before I know it, I'll be back in Italy. Winery hopping. Hiking the Alps. Making cheesecakes. Eating dinner with friends. Just where I want to be.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The New Journalism

I try to get all my news and information from various sources of different political and social leanings. I don't watch television, and getting an American newspaper delivered to Italy would just be ridiculous. So, I'm left with the internet, which is fine because as soon as anything happens, it's updated.
The first site I check every morning is NPR. It's got a good mix of the major news items dashed with culture and events, and I just like the way it looks. From there, I spend equal mounts of time at BBC News, CNN, and Fox News, just to get all sides. I mean, we all know which networks lean right and which lean left. I find it interesting, almost surprising, at which stories get more coverage on which sites.
Occasionally, I read local sites from places I've lived, all of which can be found in the bar to the right under "Information."
One site I found randomly, and have started to read on a daily basis, is The Faster Times. It's a nice, well-rounded, online newspaper; maybe a little left-leaning, but I always appreciate it's perspective.
If you have any good current event sites you frequent, I'd love to hear about them.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Out From Under

I made the final payment on my truck today, and I can't even begin to describe how good it feels to be totally debt-free. I still remember the day I picked her up. We've been all over the place--over mountains, through valleys, in floods, over ice and snow, through forests, across deserts, in cities, and everywhere in between. Sometimes it's just us, and sometimes there's a whole entourage with us. I take care of her and she takes care of me. She fits me perfectly, and now she's 100% mine.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Whiter Shade of Pale

After 31 long days, I finally shaved that cursed moustache this morning. Seriously, I don't know why anyone would want a non-ironic moustache. They're itchy and unsightly, and I always felt like I had stuff in it.
And now, due to the hot Qatari sun, I have an even more unsightly strip of white skin on my upper lip, surrounded by my normal skin tone. I'm gonna have to do some extra outdoor stuff until this is fixed.
And I'm sorry to disappoint, but there will be no pictures.