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.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A New Hope

Only two days rank higher on my list of favorite holidays than today: my birthday and Veterans Day. In case you're wondering to yourself, "Andrew, it's the first week of May. What holiday are you celebrating?" allow me to explain:

You see, I'm a nerd. I think anyone reading this can attest to that. I study baseball statistics religiously. I sat slack-jawed in a movie theatre while Blackout transformed from Pave Low to Decepticon. I pine over the life-like R2-D2 toy that follows you around and dances to the Mos Eisley cantina song. I know every secret in Super Mario Bros. 3 for Nintendo. I've seen every Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars movie there is. And the latter is what brings us into this discussion.

Today is Star Wars Day. (May the Fourth be with you. Get it?) But unlike Star Wars Days of the past, today I started something new: travel of my own. While I may not have been making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, I completed my first business adventure as a member of the Harris RF Communications Division Field Engineering department. No great feat in itself (all I did was fly to Tampa and back), it serves as a stepping-stone in what promises to be a rewarding post-military career.

The written word and I go way back, and as I sat in the Exit row of a flight home from Charlotte, North Carolina, reading an excerpt from Brad Herzog's new book Turn Left At the Trojan Horse, I decided that I'd like to enter (or re-enter, if you count my brief stint writing for Bruce's blog) the world of Internet story-telling. I can bend a sentence to my will. It's always been something I've been good at, and that I've enjoyed doing. Writing is an easy way to pass the time, and I figure that since I'll be traveling a lot for work, I may as well tote around my laptop and transcribe my adventures for some bored friend's entertainment, if not my own.

I've learned all too well in my life that first impressions are everything. So this is my introduction. Follow along, if you will, as I take you with me from airport to airport, city to state, and country to continent, all in the name of tactical radio communications. I can't promise I'll update frequently; I intend to use this mostly as an account of travel stories. But I'll try my best to keep your interest piqued.

Or, if I may quote my favorite Jedi Master, "try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."