Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

It was Susie’s birthday on Saturday.  I sent her a box in the mail about a week and a half ago, and it arrive in Los Angeles in about 3 days.

I sent Susie a poster tube from Paris on August 20.  It arrived after the present.  Hmm.

We have gone from crisis to crisis this week, from trying to hire people quickly to trying to move domains quickly to trying to translate our software into French and Hungarian quickly to trying to release a new version of our software.  That didn’t go as quickly as we wanted. 😊  On the plus side, we’ve signed some more clients and hired some more sales people and we’re barreling into the future.

I don’t think I’ve told you about my apartment, so perhaps now’s a good time.

I live on the fourth floor of a four story apartment.  The apartment is on Kossuth Lajos ut., which, as I’m sure you’ve heard is a relatively major street in Budapest’s fifth district.  In the basement of the building was an “alternative” mall for skater punks, with T-shirts, CDs, stickers, things like that.  But it’s shut down now, and has been for several months.  If you go past the main staircase down, there’s a door that leads to a small courtyard.  In the courtyard is my trash can.  It’s one trash can, for the entire building.  The amazing thing is, it’s almost always full, but never too full.  I can’t believe that an entire apartment building uses only one trash can, but things in Hungary just aren’t wrapped up as much.

OK, now turn around and walk back a bit to the front of the building.  There’s the elevator.  The elevator was installed in about 1630, it appears to me.  The elevator says three people, and to that I say fine, but I pick Minnie Driver and Elle McPherson.  Coming home from work one day, I entered the elevator with a man who was more soused than any non-college student or fisherman I’ve seen in my life.  He rode in the elevator with me up to floor four.  I got out.  To this day I don’t know floor he was hoping to end up on.  Perhaps he just rode up and down until he evaporated.

When I get home at night, my place is pretty safe.  I have to unlock the main gate at street level.  Then I have to unlock the door to my floor (different key).  Once I’m through, I have to relock it.  Then I have to unlock the gate outside my door (2 locks, 2 keys).  Stepping inside, I relock those.  Then I have to unlock my front door.  Two locks, one of them a deadbolt.  Then I usually have to dash to the bathroom, which let me tell you doesn’t make it any easier to get through five locked doors in the dark after a long day.

The bathroom is the second room in the apartment.  The first is the kitchen.  It’s nice enough, though the sink is a little low, which means that with my vigorous dish washing style, I tend to get the floor a little wet.  The refrigerator is in the hallway.  This is the second time I’ve lived in a house where the refrigerator is the very first thing you see when you come in the door.  I kind of like it.  It makes you look like a wonderful host.  “Come on in! Can I get you something to drink?”

The stove is gas, but with an electric sparker.  How modern!  The one thing I’m lacking is decent cutlery.  I still haven’t found a cutlery store, but the search continues.

The bathroom is a little Tim Burton-esque.  It’s got a 14 foot ceiling, but it’s only about 9 x 9, so it leaves you feeling like the room was built on its side.  It’s also got enormous glass windows, about 4 feet high all along one wall, about 10 feet up.  This lets in light from the kitchen, and therefore from the outside, but it adds to the illusion that you’re bathing in a well.  The floor is black and white checkerboard tile.  There’s a toilet, sink, bathtub and washing machine.  And two doors.  The second door is blocked by the washing machine, but provides a convenient escape route in case the French Revolution comes bashing on your door while you’re in the tub.

Now, in this next paragraph I’m going to talk about disgusting toilet problems in Eastern Europe.  So you might want to go have lunch first.

The toilets in Europe are different from those in the US or France.  If you’re standing looking at the bowl from the front (guys tend to do this a few times a day), there’s a small, deep hole in the front, about the 6 o’clock position, that takes up about 1 sixth of the total area of the bowl.  This is the drain, where the water goes out.  The rest of the bowl is a shallow depression that always reminds me of a serving platter.  When flushed, water flows in from the back of the bowl, floods the “great depression” of the center of the bowl, and plunges into the drain.  The net effect of this is that a) there’s not very much water in the depression so there’s a lot of splatter, and b) you don’t get that satisfying “depth charge” sound.  All in all, it’s a most disturbing system, and I can’t wait for modernization to eradicate this quaint cultural difference.

So that’s the bathroom.  Oh, almost forgot, it’s a wooden toilet seat.  There, done.

The entrance hall goes past the kitchen, past the bathroom and hooks left at the bedroom door.  If you continue straight, you see the smaller of two rooms, the one that I sleep in.  My bed is close to the window, and if I tromped around naked during the day, I’d get cold and my boss would look at me funny.  Also, if I was naked in my apartment, office workers across the street could see me.  But at night, they all go home or turn off the lights and sit in the dark, and I have this great view of the tops of really old, really tall trees in the street across the way.  My bedroom opens onto the larger room, which is also where the hallway ends.  It’s the TV room, the office space that I never use, and it’ll be where my Dad sleep when he comes to visit in a few weeks.

Here’s something I read on a menu recently: “Biscotti - Flat and particularly hard cake with cinnamon”

Hmm. Must have run out of things to say.  See you later!

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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