Colombia

February 8, 2011 · Posted in news, personal, photos, travel · Comment 

The past few months have been one great thing after another.

I got the opportunity to spend New Year’s Day in Colombia, which is better than any fourth of July celebration in any American city. In the US, where there’s an hour of fireworks displays, in Medellín, Colombia, the fireworks last the entire evening, night and into early morning. If one didn’t know any better, you’d swear you were living in a war zone with constant gun fire. It was truly amazing. The same thing happens on Christmas.

I also got married in Colombia, so that was kind of a big deal. We rented out a extremely fancy club and  partied until 4AM; then, we went to an after party. Also, my family got to see the amazing landscape that happens in no other place in the world except Colombia.

Too many things have happened since, so I have to keep this short, or not post it at all

Enjoy the photos:

Learn Spanish, or any other language

October 14, 2010 · Posted in advice, goals, travel · Comment 

If you have a library card to the local Blacksburg library, across the street from Rocket Music and the police station, you can access a pretty good online tutor called Mango Languages. Just search for Mango on this page. Both the card and the subscription to Mango Languages are free.

Also, here’s a list of some websites to learn Spanish and other languages. Don’t pay for anything online. They’re all a waste of money. There’s a lot of great content online for free and most people don’t follow through long enough for it to be worth it.

Language Podcasts

Podcasts are also a great, free option. Go to the iTunes store, and search for Spanish or which ever language you want to learn and subscribe to as many teaching podcasts as you can handle. For Spanish, I recommend:

Learn to Speak Spanish with Discover Spanish
Coffee Break Spanish

Some language podcasts are taught by English speakers who have horrible accents, but they’re worth a listen, but don’t put much effort into replicating their pronunciation.

Books

After you go through those for a while, you should get a book if you decide to continue learning it, otherwise I’d stick with the online content until you’re positive you want to learn it. I personally have a good reason to try to learn these languages, but if it’s just for fun you might find yourself getting tired of it.

Books provide a level of intensity and authority that you’ll need, but only after you’re sure you want to get that far into it. Almost any book with an accompanying CD should be good, but make sure to look through the book to see if it matches up with the way you learn. By going through the free content first, you should understand which technique best suites you.

Photos of the Week – Pets

September 16, 2010 · Posted in personal, photography, photos, photos of the week, travel · Comment 

Ana, Kiara and I went to Grayson Highlands recently for a few days of camping and hiking. It was awesome.

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.

Isla Fuerte – Bushnell Laberinto Scuba Dive

February 24, 2010 · Posted in personal, photos, scuba, travel · Comment 

Time in: 14:34
Time out: 15:16

Max depth: 51 feet
Avg. depth: 37 feet

This was the second dive on Bushnell. Our dive boat was so tiny that it only held one tank per diver, so a support boat had to follow us out to Bushnell to exchange tanks so we could do a second dive there. It was 50 minutes away, so there was no way we could have gone back to the resort like with the other dives. We had a 36 minute surface interval, which barely gave us enough time to do a 45 minute no decompression dive. By the time we got into the water however, we had enough time to do a ~50 minute dive to 60 feet, but since we only went to a max of 51 feet, we were well within the limits of no decompression diving.

The Labyrinth  was full of canyons in the reef, most of which were big enough for one person to swim through. The reefs were high and filled with some beautiful fish. Three barracudas swam by to check us out.

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