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

I know it’s been a while since I wrote last.  If good intentions were hundred dollar bills, the road to hell would be paved with them.

I’m on the train.  On A train, actually but not THE A train.  This train’s heading to Salzburg, and as you may have already concluded, I haven’t had much sleep lately.  It’s my own fault really.  I was in the office Thursday at about 6 p.m. I was planning to take a machete to my bamboo To Do list (grows 3 feet a day!) and have things all in order for me to take the weekend off.  So the guy who sits across from me, Gyuri, says, “You look pretty busy.”

I say, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot I want to get done so I can relax this weekend.”

He says, “Oh.  So I guess that means you don’t want to play a networked game of Alpha Centauri, the battle of conquest for an alien world.”

Next thing I know it’s 4 a.m. and he’s sending these airplanes over to attack my cities like a plague of locusts.  However, I’m proud to say that a) he was the one who called it a night first, and b) sounds like his girlfriend was a little surprised when he called her at 4 a.m. to say he’d be home soon.

At this point, I could have gone home and slept for about 3-4 hours before heading in to the office for a really long day.  Instead, I used the quiet to get my work done, went home to change, came back to the office for a mercifully short day, and left early enough to run all the errands I needed to do and still make it home in time for Pinky and the Brain.  The English channels here are CNN, Sky News, MTV and the Cartoon network.  Hmmmm.  What exactly are we saying about American culture here?

For dinner I stopped and had a chicken sandwich at this place I discovered.  It’s called Gy-something Co-something, which translates to Greasy Chicken.  Boy, does this place live up to its name!  But it’s good, really good.  You pay by weight, and you order, or, well, I order, by pointing to what you want in this small display case / heat rack.  The food is really fresh, and there’s always a line.  It’s all deep fried stuff.  They do have a rack of salads, but it’s all that potato salad / corn salad / macaroni salad / pickled beets type of salad, not anything you can really eat.  The fried foods are all great, with the exception of an eggroll thing that turned out to be deep fried meat paste.  You know the stuff they fill cannelloni with?  This was that, breaded.  Ick.

What else is new?  Well, I went to the second First Tuesday meeting.  First Tuesday is a monthly gathering of Internet investors and entrepreneurs.  It was started in London a year ago, and has grown there to a monthly meeting of about 1000 people.  A lot of big deals happen because of it, and hey, free beer.  Last month, they took it pan-Europe, and Budapest had about 35 people who met.  This time, it was in a cafe approximately 400 meters from my house, and about 80-90 people were there.  I talked with several people, including the accountant for Uproar.  Uproar is a Hungarian startup now worth $300 million, or I should say, up to $300 million, because their stock is currently valued at about $200 million.

Also had an interesting conversation with a Doctor of Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh, who is now working as a networking guy for a company that I think I described to you before—they’re going to do debt collection via the Internet, by e-mailing people to pay up, and then by putting the names on the net in a big database of bad debtors.  It’s, in my opinion, a pretty loony idea, but all things I hear say it’s well received and they’re on track to make it really big.  Which is perhaps why I don’t have $100 million to invest in Internet startups.

One of the errands I ran Friday was to change my plane tickets for returning to the US.  I told the lady behind the desk I needed to change my reservation.  She said, what do you need to change?  I said, the departure, the return and the airline.  She smiled.  I’m now returning on Nov. 9 to L.A. via Amsterdam on KLM.  I’m returning to Budapest on Jan 18, the first date after Christmas that they had an amazingly cheap seat open.  The flight cost me 112,000 forints, which is about $470 right now, but may be slightly less when I pay for the tickets later this month.

I had another nice conversation with my neighbour.  I came back from shopping recently and she asked me what I’d bought.  I showed her the Paprika that I’d bought—she thought this was a little funny.  We talked a little and I found out that she was a doctor, an internists, and that for a job she rode around in a TV ambulance.  I don’t know what a TV ambulance is but she repeated it several times, so it must be true.  She studied in Germany, so we spoke a little German and that went better than English.


My battery went dead in about 45 minutes.  What’s up with the super short life span of the batteries for this computer?

But it’s OK, because I have even more stuff to write about now.

Salzberg was excellent, a great place to spend 48 hours.  Unfortunately, I spent 72 hours there.  And granted I only did half of what was available.  More specifically, I did the Mozart half.  That half includes Mozart’s birth house, Mozart’s living house, Mozartland (a clothing store, not a really lame amusement park), Mozart cafes and Mozart balls.  Those last are a chocolate delicacy that has been amusing high school tour groups for over 100 years.

The half I didn’t do was the Sound of Music half.  This includes free screenings of the movie at many of the major tourist hotels and hostels, Sound of Music tour busses, Sound of Music T-shirts and Sound of Music concerts.  There are no Sound of Music balls so far as I could see.

George and I did also visit the fortress, a few museums and some nice restaurants.  They have two stores: “Easter in Salzburg” and “Christmas in Salzburg” which I believe are owned by the same person.  Neat stores, and I did some Christmas shopping.

Salzburg, physically, is gorgeous.  It’s nestled among large stone hills with sheer cliffs and green trees.  It’s very tiny, easily walkable, lots of pedestrian areas, shopping, no tremendously busy streets.  It doesn’t, however, have much in the way of parks that I saw, and it is lacking in public transportation.  I should say that there were a lot of bus stops, but seemed like there were very few bus hubs or maps, so we never tried using the system.

We did however enjoy the most techno-geeky vacation I’ve had, with two laptops, Palm Pilots, a portable DVD player, and a cell phone and recharger.  The only gray cloud? One outlet in the room.  We played some Alpha Centauri, a great game, and some You Don’t Know Jack.  George threw some bad Mojo my way and won the first game $58,0000 to $-3,500.  But in later games, I narrowed the margin to non-infinite multiples.

Soon, my Dad shows up soon for a month of vacation.  There’s a few things I want to do to get my apartment in order, and I need a new set of keys for him.  Should be a lot of fun.

That’s it for me.  Have a good week!


“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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