Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fruits of My Labour

Wine Rack
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Today was the fourth Saturday in a row I went winery-hopping. Lately, I've felt the need to stock up on as much wine as possible, both in quantity and variety. Also, I had this new wine rack custom made, and it was finally delivered this week. It looks great, and it's fully stocked. However, since I've bought so much wine this month, I could easily fill another three or four racks. I'm not sure where I'm going to keep it all, but if Italy ever goes on lock-down, I'm totally prepared.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Medieval On Your Pumpkin

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Eric and I drove to Venzone for their annual Festa della Zucca (Pumpkin Festival). Venzone has an old-town around which its ancient walls still stand, so they celebrate their medieval roots as much as they do the pumpkins. Seeing all the locals in medieval garb was a hoot, and the theatrics of the whole day were priceless, especially the part where they name "The Archduke of Pumpkins." Seriously.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Venzone is a small town cradled by the Alps on all sides, and it's easy to see why so many people flock there for the festival every year. Eric and I tried pumpkin beer and pumpkin frico. I skipped the pumpkin pizza because it had bacon on it, but Eric said it was divine.

While walking around through the crowds, we saw a 290 kilogram pumpkin (638 pounds). We saw mummies. We saw a mannequin made completely out of lavendar. And we ran into several of our friends eager to take group pictures.
Festivals in Italy don't always have a lot to offer, but they're always fun just because so many people come out for them. As the weather gets colder, the festivals will become less frequent, but next year, I plan on hitting even more, especially ones to which I've never been.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Heavy Breather

The Air Force has adopted new, stricter PT standards this year, and today, I had my first PT test under these new standards. I have to admit I was a little nervous I'd even pass at all. I wasn't concerned about my waist measurement or my run, but there are now minimum requirements for push-ups and sit-ups, and strength has never been my, um, strength.
I've been doing push-ups and sit-ups on my own for the past couple months, trying to get my numbers up. And today, when I went to the assessment cell, not only did I meet the standards, I exceeded them.
My run time was 10:59--by far my fastest run time ever. My final score was an 89.7--also my best ever. The frustrating thing is, we have Italian civilians administering our tests, for some reason, and they're really harsh on push-up form. As I was doing my push-ups, there were a few I think he should have counted that he didn't count, and if I'd have gotten just one more push-up, I would have scored above a 90, which would mean that I wouldn't have to PT test again for another year. Scores below a 90 re-test in six months. Still, I'm thrilled with how I did, and it's definitely something I won't worry about as much in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Head of the Class

I'm slowly starting to take college courses again. Since the University of Maryland has a satellite campus on base, I've been going through them. This time around, I'm going for a business degree, which shouldn't take me too long, hopefully.
Last term, I took Library Science, which basically teaches one how to Google something. But, it's a basic requirement for a degree, so I gotta take it. This term, I'm taking Writing 101 and a basic computer class. The writing class is another basic requirement, which is ridiculous since I had upper level writing classes the first time I was in school. And the computer class shouldn't be too difficult. Both classes are hybrids in that half the time I'll be in a classroom, and the rest of the class is online, so I'll only have class two nights a week. I start on November 1st and will finish just in time to head home for Christmas. It's gonna be a busy six weeks, but I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Knee High

We had a water break today. Actually, we knew about it last week, but it wasn't too bad, and today was the first day we could get a Dirt Boy out there to dig for us. It was just bubbling up out of the ground a little bit, and we were hoping it wouldn't be too severe; but after we dug it up, it ended up being a lot worse. To compound our frustration, the nearest shut-off valve was over a fence inside an Italian military compound. This meant we would have to deal with the Carabinieri AND the Italian military, and it could literally take days to get the valve shut off.
So Rick, being the hero he is, decided that he wanted to fix it live. Part of it looked like this:

Eventually, he needed a little help lining up the pipes, so I hopped down in the hole. Despite temperatures in the upper 50s, it didn't seem that cold. We finished the job by 2 PM--much sooner than anticipated--then after taking our tools back to the shop, we went home. We felt we deserved it. A big high-five to Rick and his sense of adventure.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Keep On Movin'

I know my posts have been increasingly sporadic lately, and I apologise. But really, there hasn't been anything going on blog-worthy the past few weeks. Work is going smooth, and my social life is pretty temperate. I'm pretty much over the cold I had earlier this week. I could write stuff on a daily basis, but it would only bore everyone and possibly burn me out on the whole blogging thing, which is the last thing I want to do.
Back in Utah, I was posting on a near-daily basis, and it became almost an obligation. Now I feel good if I write three times in a week. It's still a priority, and if anything of note happens, it will definitely be posted. Thanks for continuing to read.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Under the Weather

I'm typing this from my couch, from which I haven't moved since Sunday morning. I was feeling kinda nasty Saturday night, and yesterday morning, I woke up unable to breathe with a sore throat. I've been horizontal on my couch non-stop, reading, playing iPhone games, and watching Modern Family to keep myself occupied. I'm feeling better today, so work tomorrow shouldn't be too much of a struggle. Well, any more than usual.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Viva il Vino

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Dan and I got up really early and drove east, past Udine, deep into Friuli wine country. Our destination was a town called Buttrio, which has half a dozen wineries within a stone's throw of each other. It was kind of a gamble, as finding family-owned businesses open on the weekend is hit-and-miss. Luckily, we caught three with open doors...

Castello di Buttrio
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
...including one housed in a castle that dated all the way back to 1218. We're already considering another trip back to that area in a couple weeks to hit up some of the places we missed. This is just one of the many amazing things I love about Italia.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Return of Saturn

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
About a month before I came back from my deployment, Dan left for Iraq. He made his triumphant return to Italy on Monday, and there has been much rejoicing since. This rejoicing is mostly in the form of food and wine and laying around watching movies.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Himmel der Bayer (Heaven for Bavarians)

Me & Mar
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After the insanity of last year's Oktoberfest, the expectations were high for this, the 200th Anniversary of the giant Bavarian festival. Mark and I left Friday evening, and arrived in Munich Saturday morning, just in time to line up for the tents.

Kai, Anna, Maria, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We wandered around the fairgrounds and somehow found ourselves in line for the Hacker-Pschorr tent. There were tons of people, and once the doors opened at 8, it was a mad dash to get a table. Mark and I found an empty one, and as people continued to flood in, some very nice Germans asked if they could share our table. We happily accepted.

They started serving beer at 9, and we were joined by even more people, most of whose names I actually remembered. All the guys wore lederhosen, and the ladies wore those dresses with their cleavage all out there. It was great.

Me & Tits
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Speaking of cleavage, this was our waitress. We didn't know her name, so Mark and I just referred to her as "Tits." She knew we needed another beer even before we did.

Peter, Mark, & Dominic
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last year, we were in the Hofbrau tent, which was great, but there were tons of Americans, Canadians, Australians, and other English-speaking people. But this year, I think we were the only Americans around. I asked Kai why he chose the Hacker-Pschorr tent every year, and he said, "It's the best!" It was definitely a young crowd, but everyone was just there to have a good time.

Christian, Max, & Patrick
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Every so often, the whole tent would join in drinking songs with lines like, "Ein Prosit der Gemut Lich-cait," which loosely translates to "We're drinking and everyone's comfortable."

Our Tent
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Around 4 PM, Mark and I decided we needed to slow down, so we said "Auf wiedersehen" to our new friends and strolled around the fairgrounds for a bit before heading into the city of Munich for dinner and sight-seeing. It was a great ending to a great day. This was my second Oktoberfest, and I can't imagine missing it next year, either.
Also, the full photostream is available here if you'd like to see more blurry pictures of Germans handling their beer better than any American ever could.