Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oil Slick

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The merging of the utilities and fuels career fields has been pretty smooth, as far as our shop is concerned. Since there are a lot more utilities jobs than fuels jobs, I haven't had to branch out much. But today, I was riding around with Diaz, and we happened upon a malfunctioning fuel valve with Mike.
It wasn't terribly difficult, as I had Mike telling me what to do the whole time. Just a bunch of turning wrenches and moving lines around.
When we left, I told Diaz that I lost my fuels job virginity, but he said that since I didn't get totally drenched, I only got to third base. Still, I managed to douse my right shoulder pretty good, and now, even after showering, scrubbing, and changing clothes, I can't seem to get the smell of diesel fuel off of me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Red Wine Recovery

About ten days ago, Mark had his wisdom teeth removed, and in three days, his face had swollen to the size of a volleyball. Pam took him to the ER Saturday afternoon, and he finally went home Thursday. He was in a lot of pain, and I spent a few evenings this week visiting him, bringing him stuff, and trying to cheer him up.
He came over last night, looking much better, so we tossed back a couple bottles of wine and fell asleep watching movies. It wasn't a rowdy Friday night, by any means, but it was great fun, nonetheless.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

All the better for hearing the Church bells chime

We had a really mild summer this year. The only time I ever turn on my air conditioning is if it's a really hot night and I can't sleep; and this year, I only used it twice. There's just something about sleeping with my windows open and a breeze blowing through.
Even though it's getting a little cooler in the evenings, I don't want to give up the night air just yet, so I've already put an extra blanket on my bed, with another close by in case it gets particularly chilly. It makes it even harder to get up in the morning when my bed is so soft and warm, but it's worth it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photosynthesis Prohibited

Festa dei Funghi
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
This weekend was Budoia's annual Festa dei Funghi (Mushroom Festival), so several of us took the afternoon to walk around the town, checking out the booths selling crafts, wine, sweets, and, of course, mushrooms. It's just a small town festival, but people come from all over Italy, even Sicily, to check it out.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
This was my third time, and it seems to get bigger every year. We spent a long time checking out a set up of old Vespas, possibly because it was right next to a booth giving out free samples of wine.
Autumn is a great time to be in northern Italy. The weather is perfect, the foliage is beautiful, and every weekend, there's another festival in some hidden little village. I'm never leaving this place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Race Marked Out For Me

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
This morning was the 4th annual Aviano Marathon, and while I still have no desire to run 26 miles, I enjoy competing in the shorter treks, such as the 10K. JoAnn, Corey, Johnny, and I did it a couple years ago, and I kinda skipped last year, despite my original intention to run the 1/2 marathon. I couldn't convince any of my friends to run with me this year, but figured I'd give it a shot anyway. This year, the path was through a bunch of fields, and since it's been raining the past few days, most of the trail was through muddy gravel. By the time I crossed the finish line, the back of my legs was covered in mud. My time was 55:09, and I finished third in my age bracket and fifth overall.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
My friend Mary has been training for the Dublin Marathon in October, and opted to run the 1/2 marathon today. For some reason, the 10K seemed really easy to run, and went by really fast. It made me wish I'd signed up for the 1/2 marathon instead. I know I've said this before, but maybe next year...?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I couldn't just stop with the couch, you know? I had to go the whole nine yards, and revamp my whole living room. So I got rid of my stone age television and purchased a Panasonic 50" Plasma Television. Unfortunately, I had to take down my Picasso because I wanted it mounted on the wall, and there wasn't any place left. Regardless, this will make the aforementioned movie nights even better.
Ironically, the first movie I watched on my new TV was Giant starring Rock Hudson, Elisabeth Taylor, and James Dean. (I've been on a James Dean kick lately, even though he only made three films.) Even though it was made in the 50s, it looked amazing in my living room. Also, I believe this is my Grandma's favourite film ever, and I can see why.
By the way, I'm still looking for a place to hang that Picasso.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sofa Status

My Couch
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After two months of waiting, my new sofa was finally delivered today. My old couch was possibly the best napping place on the planet; however, it was pretty old and I wanted to get something new that I can have for a long time.
Italians custom make their furniture, and luckily for me, my landlord also owns a furniture store, so he totally cut me a deal. Normally, it only takes a month to get furniture, but all the Italians take vacation the whole month of August, so there was a bit of a delay.
It's super-comfortable and will be great for movie nights and reading and, of course, napping. Feel free to come try it out anytime.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Picking Up The Slack

After the fun of the dig last week, it seems my next few weeks will be stuck at a desk. I was in the middle of a performance report today when a second one was dropped in my lap. I can usually get a head start for the troops I write on, as I know when they're due. However, today's report was unexpected because it's for a guy whose supervisor is deployed. I can only stare at the computer before too long before I start to go crazy, which means I might have to store my flask of bourbon in my desk instead of my glove compartment. Just kidding! They'll find it in my desk.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Big Dig

Diaz, Estrada, & Doug
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The water break that happened last week was a huge deal, affecting a good portion of the base. Excavating was the hardest part, as the entire line was encased in concrete, so even after we located it, we had to chisel it out. We managed to isolate the break and restore pressure last week, but completing the entire repair has been an odyssey, mostly because of hard-to-find parts and bad weather. Finally, today, we finished fusing the pipe and turning on all the valves. It's definitely been one of those "sense of accomplishment" jobs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Regional Recreation

Lago di Santa Croce
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last week, during our hike, Mike and I saw a trail map that included a lake called Lago di Santa Croce. It looked big and not too far away, so we decided over the long weekend, we'd go check it out. Yesterday morning, Andrea, Mike, and I punched our destination into the GPS and took the most scenic route, through green, curvy mountain passes, until we arrived. Unfortunately, it was overcast, cold, and windy, and there didn't seem to be much activity going on at all. The lake itself was nice, but I think our timing was off. We hung out on the beach for a while, then drove around the area, circling the lake, deciding it would be better to come back in the fall when the leaves were changing.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
However, we didn't want to go back home just yet, so we travelled northwest to Belluno, a decent-sized city hugged by the Alps. One of the great things about Italy is you can always see something cool in every town you visit, and Belluno was no different. We strolled through the streets, window shopping, eating, dipping into cathedrals, and taking pictures.

Mike & Andrea
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It would have been easy for us to drive back home from the lake and have a lazy afternoon, but we made the best of our outting. Mike is one of those guys with an endless amount of energy, and I'm glad it's contagious.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Let's Bounce

It's been forever since I played beer pong, and when Travis invited me over for a cookout last night, I didn't know what was in store.
After Aaron, Steven, and Berg showed up, the party eventually moved into the basement where the set-up awaited. Like I said, I hadn't played in a while, and my first match was pretty rusty, but once I got the hang of it again, I pretty much kicked butt. I participated in three matches, winning two. Not bad for a rusty old-timer.
I took a few videos with my iPhone (in HD!), but never seemed to catch the best shots, including the one where Aaron raised his fist in victory and accidentally punched out a light bulb. Though in a slightly drunken state, I somehow managed to upload one video onto YouTube, which is probably the only one not involving Steven and Aaron screaming curse words at each other. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

From The Sea To The Suburbs

As of this month, it's been three years since I saw Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire back in Utah, only not at the same time. I've been a Modest Mouse fan for ages, and seeing Arcade Fire live made me into a fan. So there was no way I was going to pass up a festival where they were dual headliners, especially in a city as close as Bologna, which was only three hours away by train.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I got to the festival grounds late in the afternoon, just in time to see Fanfarlo, a British indie-pop band with whom I wasn't familiar, but had quite an Italian following. What they lacked in originality, they made up in talent and catchy tunes. They blended well, and I'm considering buying their album.

Modest Mouse
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
By the end of Fanfarlo, I had established a great spot in the crowd--close enough to where I could see the band clearly, but far enough for me to take in the whole stage, which was ideal as Modest Mouse is such a wonderful ensemble. Isaac Brock has such a unique voice that perfectly complements the band's sound. When they walked on stage and began with "Dashboard," I was transported back to 2007 when that song was my anthem. They played for 90 minutes, concentrating on material from their last two LPs, but strangely omitted everything from their 2009 EP "No One's First And You're Next." Their extra-long version of "Spitting Venom" was spectacular, and the whole crowd sang along with "Float On."

Arcade Fire
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
When Arcade Fire finally emerged, the stage was decorated with highways and billboards, setting the mood for their newest album "The Suburbs," a record about the alienation of growing up in such an environment. They began with "Ready To Start" with everyone in the crowd singing along with every word.
The first time I saw them, I didn't really know what to expect, and was totally blown away. This time, I was expecting greatness, and was still blown away. It must be exhausting for such a huge band to perform on stage every night with such passion. You can hear the pain in Win Butler's voice as he talks about fleeting youth and lost dreams. And I swear I could see tears in Regine Chassagne's eyes as she sang about her homeland on "Haiti."
Obviously, the bulk of the setlist was from the new record, with songs like "Suburban War" and "We Used To Wait" even getting me a little choked up. But it wouldn't be an Arcade Fire show without the rousing chorus of "Wake Up" or the uplifting "No Cars Go," and they didn't disappoint. So many of their songs are very personal to me, not only because of what they talk about or represent, but also because in the past few years, they've been the soundtrack to some very difficult times in my life, and if they would have played "Ocean Of Noise," I would have totally lost it. Still, I was hoping for longer than a 90 minute set, and "City With No Children" would have capped of the evening nicely.
Regardless, Arcade Fire is, no doubt, one of the best bands working today, and arguably the best live act around right now. Each member is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and what they stand for really comes through in their performance. If you ever get the chance to see them, don't miss it.

Friday, September 03, 2010

La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I took the train to Bologna yesterday for a concert last night (which will be reviewed soon). The main reason I went was for the show, but I've been wanting to check out Bologna for a long time. It has a reputation as one of Italy's more beautiful cities with a rich history and the oldest university in the world.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I took the early train down to give myself time to walk around the city, and I wasn't disappointed. There were tons of pedestrian areas with covered sidewalks, little boutiques and cafes, friendly university students, and some gorgeous architecture. For such an old city, it certainly had a young feel to it.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I strolled through countless parks filled with sculptures, like this one which I believe is called "Hot Lesbian Mermaid Action."

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I woke up early this morning to hit some places I missed yesterday, and ended up finding ruins of the old city wall. I had a typical Italian breakfast (cappuccino and croissant) with some students from Sicily who used me to practice their English. They were fascinated that I was American, but a little disappointed when I told them I'd never been to New York City.
Bologna was a great city, and I hope to go back again soon to indulge in the cuisine and nightlife a little more. Who's coming with me?