Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Powder Keg

Kristen, Ryan, & Renee by currtdawg
Kristen, Ryan, & Renee, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

Saturday morning, we started an exercise, which means we're all working 12-hour days through at least tomorrow. So, nobody has had a day off since last Sunday. On top of that, we have a lot of people crammed into the water shop and there's quite a bit of frustration with the exercise scenarios. Obviously, people are getting a little on edge. This evening, Kristen was trying to get out of her chem gear, and somehow all the stress gave way to goofiness which included Renee trying to pull Kristen's boots off with Ryan gawking in astonishment. It was a welcome fit of laughter after a rough ten straight days of work. We're all so ready for some down time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eating My Words

Renee's Birthday by currtdawg
Renee's Birthday, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

Yesterday was Renee's birthday, so a big group of us went to dinner at Le Contrade, a French restaurant in Sacile. I'd never been there before, but I always enjoy trying new places.
We all sat around the table, drinking wine and talking. As I browsed the menu, I realised there was nothing vegetarian available. Now, I've been a vegetarian for nearly nine years, but I'm not militant about it.
So what did I do in this situation? I ordered some pasta with clams. Normally, I don't eat seafood, but my reasoning is that it was the least carnivorous item on the menu.
Food is about more than just sustenance. Breaking bread is a special event that draws people together and creates or strengthens bonds of friendship. Renee has had a rough time the past few months, and this was her night. I'm not gonna be the weirdo that sits there and stares at everyone while they eat. I'm going to join in.
I think holding onto one's convictions is important, but I also understand we all have to make compromises for the greater good. And last night, the greater good was enjoying the time together with my friends.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comin' Round the Mountain

Wildkogel by currtdawg
Wildkogel, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

I spent this long President's Day weekend in Wildkogel, Austria, with Chris & Mary Miller, their friend Alicia (who flew down from England), and David.

David in Wildkogel by currtdawg
David in Wildkogel, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

Wildkogel is a little further away than Nassfeld, and I'd never been there before. Chris and Mary did all the planning for this trip, so when they invited me to come along, I was thrilled. We all stayed in an apartment and brought our own food, which meant that half of my sustenance for the weekend consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Mary & Alicia by currtdawg
Mary & Alicia, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

The ladies (and David) stuck to sledding all weekend, while Chris and I strapped on our boards. The region had just gotten several inches of fresh snow, which made for great conditions. The best parts were when we went off the groomed trails, through the trees, carving through the powder. And whenever we caught an edge, it was like falling into a cloud.

Chris, Me, & David by currtdawg
Chris, Me, & David, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

In fact, on Sunday, I got so far off the groomed run, I ended up going down the opposite side of the mountain. (Chris was smart enough not to get so far off course.) I was riding through some gorgeous powder, when the trees got thicker and thicker, and that's when I started wondering if I was gonna be the guy they had to rescue with a helicopter. My only choice was to keep going and hope I eventually got to the bottom of . . . something. Finally, the trees began to thin out, and I found myself boarding over barbed wire fences and around abandoned cabins. (Still, the whole time, the snow was amazing.) I eventually made it to a road, took my board off, walked to the town at the bottom of the mountain, and took the bus back to the main lift. I'm sure there was a lesson to be learned there, but I doubt I learned it.

Drinking at Wildkogel by currtdawg
Drinking at Wildkogel, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

And then there was the drinking. We were no strangers to any of the bars scattered around the mountain. It seemed there was one every few hundred metres, regardless of which run we were on. I did some of my drunkest snowboarding ever, and somehow didn't break my neck. (Yet another lesson I probably didn't learn.)

David by currtdawg
David, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

It was great to meet Alicia, who had the best quote of the weekend with, "Did you see those bitches throwing snowballs?" Also, I got the chance to talk a lot with Chris, who, before this weekend, was merely an acquaintance, but is now someone I will share many beers with in the future.
It was yet another great weekend of boarding, which, unfortunately, will probably be my last trip this season. Either way, I'm glad it ended on such a high note.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Birthday Bravado

Mike, Me, Nate, & Steven by currtdawg
Mike, Me, Nate, & Steven, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

Yesterday was Steven's birthday, so we went to a nearby German restaurant to celebrate. Steven's time in the Air Force is coming to an end, which is kinda sad because I've known him since he got to Italy nearly four years ago. He's easily the most unpredictable drunk I know, but in a good way. Last night was pretty mellow, by most standards, but I'm sure when it's time for his going-away party, we'll pull out all the stops.

Friday, February 10, 2012

With the wind in my hair, we are free.

I was woken at 1 AM this morning with a phone call telling me that due to snow (!), we'd have late reporting today. But because of my damned internal clock, I still woke up at 5:30, so I figured I might as well go to the gym. I had a great run this morning--the kind of run where I felt I could run forever. The only thing stopping me was the 30-minute time limit on the treadmill.
I came home and made a tomato-feta omelette, sat on my couch, and watched an episode of Louie. It was the best morning I've had in a long time.
Also, this song is in my head:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Swedes know their way around a good pop hook.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Let's Get Loud

A few months ago, Radiohead announced some tour dates, including four in Italy in July. I was somehow able to nab tickets to the show in Firenze AND the show in Codroipo, which is basically right up the street. My concert attendance has become quite sporadic since my days in Utah, mostly because the bands I'd pay to see don't travel here very often. Still, when someone I love comes around, I'm willing to make the effort to go see them, even if it means travelling across the country (or to another nearby country).
So, you can imagine my delight when Madonna announced her world tour this morning, including two dates in Italy in June. Say what you will about her Super Bowl appearance on Sunday (which I thought was decent, but not great), but that woman can put on a live show like nobody's business. I scored a ticket to both shows (Milano and Firenze), and now I'm just waiting for the new record next month, which I will probably listen to ad nauseum until the day of the show. Don't judge me.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Bright Lights, Big City

Milano Duomo by currtdawg
Milano Duomo, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

This weekend, I went to Milano with Eric and a bunch of his friends to celebrate his birthday. I've been to Milano several times, and always enjoy myself. It's very different from other cities in Italy, modern and industrial. Still, it has its charms, one of which is bundling up in the cold and walking the streets like I belong there.

Milano Centrale by currtdawg
Milano Centrale, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

The birthday celebration consisted mainly of shopping (Milano is the fashion capitol of the world), eating, and drinking. It wasn't anything super flashy or crazy, but it was definitely fun. The next morning, I woke up to take the early train back home. As I was walking from my hotel to the train station, the city was quiet and motionless, and a light snow was gently falling. It was so beautiful, and I wanted to stop and have a seat on a bench, just to appreciate the stillness.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Snow Delay

It's been six weeks since the last school term ended. The new term started this week, and I originally signed up for a hybrid course (some face-to-face class time combined with online work) in business management and organisation. However, I was looking over the syllabus and some of the face-to-face time, including the final exam, will be held when I'm out of town. I went to the office yesterday and asked what my options are, and they told me I could switch over to the fully online version, which fits my schedule a lot better. The only downside is that it doesn't start for another two weeks, giving me more time to be lazy.
In other news, it's been ridiculously cold this winter. I'm trying not to turn up the heat in my house, so I wear sweats in the evening, and I've put an extra extra blanket on my bed. The worst part is that it's also been very dry, so the nearby slopes haven't gotten much snow. My skin is dry, and my knuckles are cracked. If it's going to be like this, I sure hope the groundhog doesn't see his shadow tomorrow.