Friday, June 15, 2012

Black Heart Inertia

Who would have thought that debating with the local country radio station back home would make for my most interesting daily activity?  Alas, such is the case, and I'm not sure a clear-cut winner will emerge from this conversation about whether or not Miley Cyrus should be considered a country artist.  God, I must be bored...

Careful eyes will have noticed I said "back home" and as I sit at this hotel's outdoor restaurant drinking a $3 can of Coke, back home is the only place I want to be.  Instead, I'm enjoying (if you can call it that) a complimentary trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates courtesy of my employers.  What I'm doing here, I do not know.  I've been on site for over a week and have yet to do anything even resembling what we call "work."  I can't help but feel like my time is being wasted, after I've seen the first 9 days of a 21 day assignment pass by with nothing to show for them.  Add to that the fact that the next two are also non-working days, and I guess it goes without saying that I'm a little frustrated.

I could use this space to recount the adventures I've gone on since my last entry, but that would take far too long.  Suffice it to say that I've been busy; I went on a different job in a different location every other week from the beginning of September to the end of January, including a two-week trip to South America, plus whatever the hell else I've done since the winter.  I used to be so good at remembering it all, but I guess everything starts to run together after long enough.  Instead, I'll just sit here and try to clear my head of whatever it is that seems to be weighing on me. 

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin.  It's not that I have a lot of troubles in life; I really don't.  I suppose it's just the undeniably large amount of time I've spent on my own lately, not only on this assignment but at home also.  It's difficult maintaining morale when you seem to have opposite life schedules as your best friend and girlfriend.  Generally speaking, when I'm home, they're not, and vice versa.  There's no one to blame for it.  That's just the way things have been working out.  It's rough though, when the only verbal activity I have is when ordering food with a waiter or debating with the GPS about whether or not that's a roundabout or she's an just an idiot. 

I can confidently say that something here needs to change, or I'm going to go nuts from boredom.  I'm just not exactly sure where there's room for change, unfortunately.  I've never been the type to go out and explore on my own.  Activities that are normally enjoyed with company, I struggle to partake alone.  Hell, I have a hard enough time sitting in a restaurant by myself.  And when things like simply riding the elevator to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa cost $100, I don't see myself finding any enjoyment here anytime soon.  Damn the oil-rich nations of the world.

For now, I suppose I'll just sit back and enjoy a calming mix of uncategorizable music that the hotel has playing.  Whatever it is, it sure as hell isn't country...

Monday, September 26, 2011


When I first read this, I thought, "No way did Bruce write this on his own. Everything is spelled right and it's, y'know...not retarded." But sure enough, the words are his, and they are true. Enjoy a good post from a great friend.

"As I write this, I sit in the Delta Sky Lounge at JFK, bring to charge both my iPhone and my Blackberry as well as adding music to the iPhone and movies to my computer for the 9 hours flight I am about to embark on. Today, my travels will take me to the Czech Republic. Home to the highest consumption of beer per capita in the world, as well as the filming location of the Hostel movies. If you don't hear from me again, I'm sure you can figure out why.

This trip will be a short one, only 4 full days in country, and during those 4 days, I will perform mods to 22 radios, tour the city of Prague, and if all goes according to plan, I will avoid being anally raped by large Central European individuals. This week promises to be an adventure in every sense of the word.

Throughout today, I have found myself a little hesitant to travel such a great distance again. Some of you may know that I spent 14 months of 2010 and early 2011 in the Middle East, and may be asking yourselves why it would be difficult for me to travel again for such a short time. I've tossed that question around inside my head for the better part of the day, and have yet to come up with a solid answer. I think part of the problem is in leaving my family yet again. Although people assume Andrew and I have an awesome job because we get to travel around to exotic locations, most people don't realize the stress that comes along with that. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that traveling to five states and a foreign country in a span of 4 weeks takes a toll on your body. Add that to the two kids and amazing wife that I have to say goodbye to every time I leave, and this is a job that while having its perks, is not for everyone. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but it is definitely a chore to keep doing it month in and month out.

On to a lighter fare, and probably the paragraph that will make Andrew not want to post this on his blog, the Yankees are the AL East Champions, and will potentially prevent the Red Sox from moving on into the playoffs. Add that to the fact that the Buffalo Bills had a devastating upset over the New England Patriots and this week has been a pretty good one for New York sports fans. However, seeing as how I'm a Broncos fan, we have yet another reason to hang our heads and hope that somehow, someway, the Broncos can pull their heads out of their collective asses and make something happen this season.

As I sign off and begin my travels, I will be reflecting on this past weekend, and the gathering of my 4 best friends: Heather, Andrew, Dale, and Tony. Without these 4 amazing people in my life, I don't know where I would be, or who I would have become, but I know without a doubt that I am a better person for having them all in my life. I am at my best when I am pushed by these four people to be the man the all believe I can be. Thank you all for the amazing gifts you each bestow on my life every day."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

Hey, why not, right? It's been almost a year since I last sat down and scribbled words onto a sheet of paper. Cruising at 32,000 feet, I figure that better ways to pass the next 90 minutes do not exist. My two travel companions sit nine and thirteen rows back, one of them a victim of a misread flight itinerary and an unprecedented demotion, if you will, to the "poor people section" of the aircraft. Fortunately for me, he's my best friend, so his anger was temporary and his jealousy-laden four letter words weren't too stinging.

This is our first trip together, Bruce and I, after nearly 17 months as co-workers. I joked this morning that it'd be an ill-fated adventure after learning that our office cafeteria was out of bacon and I was forced to opt for the sausage breakfast sandwich. My luck turned upon receiving a free upgrade to first class, and after the tumultuous 2010 I experienced with Delta Airlines, you better believe they're redeeming themselves by means of complimentary Bloody Marys.

We are headed to Cartersville, Georgia, the home of nothing but a Hilton Garden Inn and a hundred-foot tower which we will soon make our bitch. Obviously noticing the lack of productivity, proportional to the amount of paper balls being tossed about the office, Harris figured it best to send our supervisor along with us to keep us in check, and not allow an earlier tweet of mine, likening our tower climbing experience to an early-1990s robot boxing game, to occur. Dale sits squarely between Bruce and I on the flight, although from my cushy seat at the front of the plane, I cannot tell if he's watching or not.

Although the trip will be over by Friday, this opportunity is one Bruce and I have been awaiting for a while. He and I have both spent many a month in separate foreign countries, and have finally been allowed to do something together. Opportunities to goof off will be limited, which is probably for the best considering that we would like for Harris to give us these chances in the future (I've requested to be assigned to a 3-week stint in the State of Kuwait which Bruce is currently heading).

The last twelve months have had their share of highs, and for once the lows have been few and far between. I completed my first tour in the Philippines, and for whatever reason, liked it so much I requested another (longer) assignment there. I visited Europe for the first time. I spent a month in the aforementioned Middle Eastern nation of Kuwait. I've more than enjoyed six months and counting with a person as close to perfection as I've ever met. I became an uncle for the first time. Cliff Lee has thrown 6 complete game shutouts this season. I really couldn't ask for more, except maybe for gas prices to dip below $3.something per gallon.

With trips lined up to Vermont and Bogota, Colombia, I look forward to where these planes will take me, and to tell the tales of travel. As for right now, the next stop is Atlanta, where every TV in town will be tuned in to watch the Braves visit Philadelphia tonight. I promise I'll behave.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope

It's 10:35 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time, and I am painfully reminded why I hardly drink soda. A Pepsi Max at dinner 3 hours ago has me wired to the point where I thought dusting off the old weblog was a good idea. KL time, eh? Yes, I write from the bottom bunk of an empty room on the second floor of a military barracks at Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, Philippines (not cool enough to have a time zone named after their own country, I guess). I'm in the midst of my first of two weeks here in Zambo, conducting a condensed training course on two of Harris' seemingly unending cache of radios.

I must say, I've had my fill of Navarro already. Approximately five buildings form this impromptu "installation," and of those five, one is for eating and the other, well...for making toilet. Doesn't leave much in the way of entertainment. To make matters worse, Zambo isn't exactly the friendliest of cities, and the US Embassy and armed forces have restricted me to the confines of the camp, lest I wander outside and have my head lopped off on a webcam in some unfinished basement. Not really an alternative to cabin fever, but issue me an M4 and a few extra magazines, and I think I'd do all right on my own. I didn't unlock the M4 Veteran call sign in Modern Warfare 2 for nothin', ya know...

I'm certain no one reads this page, but for those that did, or do, or will, I suppose an explanation is owed for an exact three-month absence from online time-wasting. I don't recall the cause (truth be told, I do, but it's water under the bridge over a problem that has long since been resolved), but I do know that several beers and the notion that if I refused to let people into my life, they wouldn't get hurt, were involved. So rather unfairly to my HTML text, I kicked it to the curb and drove to Illinois.

After a month of Yuengling guzzling and endless whining about injuries and poor performances by my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, I spent 5 weeks in the Sultanate of Oman. Sultanate presumably being an Arabic word for "shit hole," or something of the like. A vacation, you may ask..? Hardly. Just a trip back to Earth's anus to perform a field trial of several different radios for the Omani military. And a seemingly unsuccessful trial at that, though the results are still unknown. I think?

And that about brings us up to the present. A short two-week stint at home in New York saw me pulled off a project in the United Arab Emirates and assigned to Manila, the nightmarish hive of a capital city, charactarized by its elevated roads, luxury hotels, impoverished neighborhoods, and army of motorists to drive you to beyond insanity (no pun intended).

I suppose I'll enjoy the silence of my now-empty bedroom, since sleep apparently isn't going to come easily on this night. All because the chow hall was out of orange Gatorade...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bad Romance

1243: I hate it when I get a sandwich from Subway and I say, “just a little lettuce,” and they give me enough to feed a family of 15 rabbits.

Well, I’m still in Rochester. My flight was supposed to leave 3 hours ago. As soon as every passenger boarded and sat down, the pilot came on the overhead speaker to tell us that a wing had fallen off or something else terrible, I don’t really remember. Once maintenance said it’d take over an hour to fix, we all got booted from our seats and were forced to make new travel arrangements. It’s been two hours since I got my new flight assignment, and I still have another two and a half till we leave.

I don’t know what the Gods of flight have against me. I seriously cannot fly anywhere without some sort of incident or snafu to hold me up. Either my bags get lost or my flight gets delayed causing me to miss my connection, or parts of the plane are internally combusting thus rendering the aircraft unsafe for flight. It hardly seems fair. I’ve dealt with my share of this crap. I am getting paid to travel on a Sunday, at an additional 15% of my normal rate, which is totally tits, but to be perfectly honest, I’d rather not get paid and have a clean flight plan for once than have to waste an entire day in an airport.

It stopped snowing, at least there’s that. Yeah, you read that right. Snow on May 9th. I didn’t think I had moved to Greenland, but apparently Mother Nature wanted to play games with us.

Bollocks…still two hours to go. What to do? I don’t have much to write about at the present time, but I don’t want to shut the computer off because the sound on the TV at JW Dundee’s Pub & Alehouse isn’t on, not like I really wanted to listen to 101 Dalmatians anyway. Oh hey, this guy sitting here likes sports. Maybe I’ll talk to him.

Signing out…I’ll check back in later.

: Reached Atlanta. This airport is love. While I was away, Dallas Brayden threw a perfect game for the Oakland A’s. Congratulations to him. He lost his mother to cancer when he was a senior in high school, so doing it on Mother’s Day must be nice for him. Also, now he can tell Alex Rodriguez to gargle his balls, and A-Rod will pretty much have to oblige.

I’m kinda hidden in this charging dock, and I attribute that to why I haven’t fallen in love with a girl at the airport yet. Not really love, of course, but I have a running joke with a few of my friends that there’s always a gorgeous girl at my gate who looks marriage-worthy. Of course, we normally don’t speak and part ways at the conclusion of the flight, but the connection is still there. Even if she doesn’t know it.

Jesus, I just realized that I am a total tool of social media. The only Internet Explorer windows I have open belong to Facebook and Twitter. I’m recording every thought in my head into this blog. And my Android phone to my right is currently logged into AIM and Yahoo! simultaneously. Like I said in my first post though, I’m a nerd. I’m happy with that. I did, however, just realize that I’m not wearing my standard airport Return of the Jedi t-shirt that all the chicks go for. Hmm. Maybe that’s why I haven’t fallen in love in Atlanta yet...?

Let’s see, random thoughts to end this… Happy 26th birthday to Cameron Wicks, one of my best friends since 2002. The Checkers BBQ cheeseburger and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips are still at the top of their respective food categories. The Phillies won today. I’m a little cold, and would very much like to go to sleep.

I’m gonna go walk around and try to find the next ex-once-we-get-to-Indianapolis-Mrs. Andrew Cairns.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Too Much, Too Fast

The Phillies lost. I'm at the Dakota alone. Pair those things, and you'll learn that I'm shooting Jim Beam Red Stag in between Yuenglings and feeling sorry for myself. The few friends I have are in different states or countries. The few people who claim to be my friends but really aren't...are all in this room.

This was probably a good idea. Half-assing packing for my business trip and coming here. At least I dress nice all the time, so no matter what I throw in a suitcase, I'll still look presentable.

I'm looking forward to these two trips. The learning, mostly, but also because it's a break from the norm. I used to not like living here, but it's getting a lot better. Despite that, I still look forward to every opportunity to get away. As an added bonus (haha, my phone suggested auto-correcting that to say boner), I get to catch up with a long-lost friend, someone I hold very close to my heart, yet I've treated quite unfavorably.

While we're on this topic, why are you still here? If I was you, I would've cut me loose long ago. You didn't though, and it amazes me how things have turned out.

Regardless of where I've been or where I'm going or who I've treated way better or worse than they deserve, I still find myself struggling with where I currently sit. Yeah, it's a bar in Nowheresville, New York. But it's more than that. It's the fourth phase of my life. It's post-high school, post-college, post-military. It's everything I've worked for in the 8 years since I graduated.

Am I where I envisioned myself back in 2002?

Simply put: no.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining in any way. But remember, I went to Drexel as a Computer Science major, and started out in the Air Force as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal student. How I ended up as a radio technician is beyond me. Life has a funny way or working out, it seems.

I'm going to shift my focus to playoff hockey now.

Random thoughts, folks...they're what you signed up to read.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

What do you do when a life-long friend says that, "talking to some people just isn't fun anymore," and tells you that it's "not all you."

So it's me, and a few other people? THAT makes me feel better.

Other people have feelings too, you know.