What I’ve Been Up To

April 11, 2010 · Posted in europe, goals, hungary, iphone, music, news, personal, scuba, travel, work · Comment 

I’ve been crazy busy ever since we returned from Colombia. We fell back into life in the US at full sprint and have only had a few periods since where we could rest. As a result, I don’t think I’ve been clear on what exactly I’ve been up to with my family and friends. So here’s the short version of most of the major things I’ve been up to since getting back:

iPhone Development

We started a company last year to allow independent iPhone app developers to make the transition from “wanna-be” to published developer. The model works similar to a record label, where LTZ provides the leverage, so that developers can concentrate on coding rather than the logistics of getting apps out. We wanted to start small, get a few early successes and then use that momentum to gather a pool of developers. We’re also planning a Code Kitchen, which is a class to teach iPhone and Mac programming to anyone interested for free.

Most of our early time was spent on logistics, even though we had our first app idea right from the start. It was a lot of waiting; we waited for resources (copy, data, images, feedback), we waited for Apple, we waited for the lawyers and we waited for contracts. So in a year’s time, we finally had an application ready to release. But thankfully, most of that work won’t have to be completed again since the contracts, setup and other logistics are taken care of. I’ll post a longer article on the whole process (what it took, what we learned, etc), but as I type this, our app, BarNinja is “In Review,” waiting to go up on the Apple App Store. It still might get rejected (one never knows with these processes), but we’re hopeful that it will appease the Apple review gods. We’re also more hopeful that the app will actually sell well and we can get some money into the business so we can buy “test” devices, like the brand new iPad for all our people.

Scuba Diving in Blacksburg

As many already know, scuba diving is a relatively new thing for me. However, I instantly fell in love with the sport and have tried to progress as quickly as I can. It’s been a lot cheaper than flying.

I got my Open Water (OW) certification in November of ’08 (with dives in Cozumel, Mexico in December), my Advanced Open Water (AOW) in July of ’09 (with dives in the Florida Keys and on the US Coast Guard Cutter my grandfather served on in World War II), my Rescue Diver certification (that required another certification of Emergency First Responder) and now I’m working on my Divemaster certification, which is a professional level diving certification. As you can image, this has been a long journey, with a ton of training, reading, and diving. The diving part was especially difficult due to the location. Blacksburg is not known for it’s amazing scuba diving, but diving in the local river, which has a maximum depth of 41 feet, has made it a bit easier.

We should be able to finish up the divemaster certification in May of this year. That’ll allow me to help teach some classes with Scott, who runs Avalon Adventures here in Blacksburg and the New River Valley (NRV). He’s my current instructor and I’ve helped him out with his website. The plan is to serve Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, and the surrounding NRV to provide classes, dive trips, dive refreshers and other adventures. Hopefully, we’ll also make some money in the process.

Music

I’ve picked up my guitars again. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve picked them up in at least six months, but I’m at it again. Luckily it only took me a few minutes to remember what those six months made me forget. I am also helping my old Computer Science instructor with his business at Rocket Music. It helps me get back into music, even though its on a strictly computer programming level. Just talking about guitars, buying guitars, customizing guitars and everything guitars reminds me to go pick up one of my guitars and practice, if for only 15 minutes.

Our Foster Dog

Our foster dog Petunia has really adjusted well with us. When we first got her, she had some problems with other dogs, being generally nervous, crying when we left her home alone, etc. We weren’t surprised, since her previous owners abandoned her and she spent a long time in the shelter. Now all she does it try to cuttle up with us and never leaves us, even if that means following us from room to room.

Ana is getting attached to Petunia and I don’t think we’re going to get her adopted. Being a Pitbull mix, people are afraid of her. However, everyone that’s met her has loved her, which is another reason we don’t think we’ll let her be adopted. She never barks, is great with our cat, loves to play, never complains, and is so adorable. She’s gathered such nicknames as Petu, Petufilese and just Perrita. Dogs are a lot of work, but I think in this case, for her, she’s worth it.

Apartment

My girlfriend of about a year, moved in officially a few months ago. She still has her old apartment, but the rent there is taken care of by a sort of sub-lease. Previously, we were always together anyway, cooking food, studying together, grocery shopping together. The only difference was, she wasn’t paying rent or the massive electricity bill we seemed to rack up with her presence. I have an extra bedroom in my condo, which I gave to her for all her stuff. We moved in her tredmill into that room (producing some of the first small scratches in my new hard wood floors), her desk and a bunch of other things so that she has her own space. It’s worked out extremely well and while we’ve had our fights about stupid apartment and living stuff, you don’t truly know a person until you lived with them. That goes for friends and girlfriends.

Spanish

As a result of living with a native Spanish speaker, I’ve picked up a lot. I never learned Spanish. It was always the language of poor people where I lived. Instead I studied German, the language that’s most understood in Europe. While living in Hungary, I learned Hungarian so picking up Spanish was probably the easiest thing for me. With Spanish, for example, just add an ‘O’ or an ‘A’ after any English word of more than 2 syllables and translate word for word and you have a pretty good, understandable sentence.

Before I met Ana (pronounced Ah-na, not Anne-uh by the way), I probably knew less than 20 words, and that’s after having spent two weeks in Mexico scuba diving. Before that, I probably knew around 5. Now I wish I would have learned it sooner, but I’m glad I learned German since Ana and I are planning a trip back to Europe. Ana has never been, so I’ll take us around Hungary, we’ll visit Italy (which is a language both of us have studied, but she understands a lot better) and she can take us around Spain since they almost speak the same language as she does.

We have a savings account set up that we’ve been putting money in since last summer. It’s not a lot, but it’ll at least pay for the plane tickets out there. Then we plan on staying with friends where we can, and since we both have friends all over Europe, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Photos of the Week (4/12)

April 16, 2009 · Posted in hungary, photography, photos, photos of the week · Comment 

Trying something slightly different with this week’s photos. I usually take a ton of photos, but I don’t put them all in my gallery. So instead of posting just the gallery photos, I’ll post photos that aren’t always as good as the gallery images, but pretty good nonetheless. This will allow me to keep posting photos every week, but also let you see some of the other photos I don’t post anywhere else.

1/2 sec @ f/16.0 w/ 29mm

Dance Practice
1/2 sec @ f/16.0 w/ 29mm

 

Virginia Tech Street Fair/March of Nations<br />1/250 sec @ f/10 w/ 18mm

March of Nations
Virginia Tech Street Fair/March of Nations
1/250 sec @ f/10 w/ 18mm

 

Virgina Tech Street Fair/March of Nations<br />1/250 sec @ f/9.0 w/ 46mm

Elika
Blacksburg, VA - Virgina Tech Street Fair
1/250 sec @ f/9.0 w/ 46mm

Blackburg, VA - Virginia Tech International Street Fair<br />1/200 sec @ f/5.0 w/ 50mm

Jump
Blackburg, VA - Virginia Tech International Street Fair
1/200 sec @ f/5.0 w/ 50mm

 

<b>Mana</b><br />Blacksburg, VA - International Street Fair<br />1/125 sec f/7.1 w/ 250mm

Mana
Blacksburg, VA - International Street Fair
1/125 sec f/7.1 w/ 250mm

International Street Fair 2009

April 6, 2009 · Posted in hungary, news, personal, photos · 2 Comments 

This was the first time in two years that the Virginia Tech Street Fair was held out doors. Coincidentally, that is also the last time we danced.

Our booth this year was right next to the stage, so we had no problem with people coming by our booth. There was also no shortage of people at the fair, so it really didn’t matter except we got to watch all the performances without leaving the comfort of our booth and our food.

The best dances were the Persian dance with my friends Rana, Elika and Mana and the Indian dance, which won first prize in a competition in Washington D.C. Elika danced in our dance as well so you can see from the photos below that she’s dressed in traditional Hungarian attire. Also, my other Persian friend Golnaz is wearing a blouse that is strikingly similar to a Hungarian blouse, but she assures me its Persian. Glad to see the Kingdom of Hungary’s influence on the Persian Empire.

After the street fair, the Persians and the Hungarians had an awesome after party at my place. We purchased $150 worth of alcohol and people brought even more. Vintage Cellar was closed or else it would have been more!

International Street Fair 2009

Laci and Kisa

Laci and Kisa

 

Rolls filled with poppy seeds.

Rolls filled with poppy seeds.

Kisa putting the glaze on the jelly filled rolls.

Kisa putting the glaze on the jelly filled rolls.

 

 

Monika hanging up some traditional Hungarian table cloths.

Monika hanging up some traditional Hungarian table cloths.

 

The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

 

It was cold that morning, but soon warmed up.

It was cold that morning, but soon warmed up.

Food, all ready to be sold and consumed.

Food, all ready to be sold and consumed.

Beautiful girls, beautiful dresses on a beautiful day.

Beautiful girls, beautiful dresses on a beautiful day.

Elika dressed in a traditional Hungarian blouse.

Elika dressed in a traditional Hungarian blouse.

Laci and Elika. Elika changed into her Persian costume

Laci and Elika. Elika changed into her Persian costume

Elika and Goli. Goli's blouse is Persian, but how similar it looks to a Hungarian blouse!

Elika and Goli. Goli's blouse is Persian, but how similar it looks to a Hungarian blouse!

Gabor.

Gabor.

Kisa, my dance partner for the Csárdás.

Kisa, my dance partner for the Csárdás.

Laszlo.

Laszlo.

 

Our Persian friends holding the Iranian flag in front of our booth.

Our Persian friends holding the Iranian flag in front of our booth.

Our Hungarian booth.

Our Hungarian booth.

 

 

Beginning of one of the best dance performances I've ever seen.

Beginning of one of the best dance performances I've ever seen.

 

The Indians know how to put on a show.

The Indians know how to put on a show.

 

 

Erika and Kisa serving food and taking cash.

Erika and Kisa serving food and taking cash.

 

 

 

Beginning of the Persian dance performance

Beginning of the Persian dance performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

The after party supplies.

The after party supplies.

The knife dance. It involved dancing and a knife.

The knife dance. It involved dancing and a knife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Street Fair 2009 – Dance Practice

April 6, 2009 · Posted in hungary, news, personal, photos · Comment 

The dance we performed at the Street Fair this year is called a Csárdás. It’s a typical Hungarian folk dance and our dance instructor, Tünde, has added her own special moves into it. As you can see from the pictures below, not all of our members are Hungarian. We adopted a girl from Barbados, a girl and guy from Latvia, a guy from China, another guy from India, and a girl from Iran. It was great dancing with them!

Enjoy the pictures below from one of our dance practices!

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Budapest Skating

March 2, 2009 · Posted in europe, hungary, videos · Comment 

For as long as I’ve lived in Budapest, I never got to go skating near City Park. So when I returned this past December and January, we went on New Years Day and it was an absolute blast. In the background is Vajdahunyad Castle and you can see Heroes’ Square from the rink as well. We went with Laszlo, Gabor, and our friend Tea who’s from Nice, France (where we later ended up staying and skiing for a few days later on).

Check out the collision that Tea sets Laszlo up for about a 1/4 from the beginning:

 

 

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