Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nikola Nikola, the name is Nikola

Yes... spelled: Nikola. Hopefully I have it right this time.

So I'm blogging about Leah blogging about cheese =)

Here is a direct quote:
" roommates bought a kilo of parmesan cheese with which to make alfredo sauce. We've gone through maybe 1/3 of it, and now we've instigated a rule that mandates parmesan cheese with every meal. Pasta? Add parmesan cheese. Sandwich? Add parmesan cheese. Rice? Add parmesan cheese."

She's silly.

Bosnia tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ground beef

I made sautéed mushrooms with spaghetti for 7 people on Sunday. It was epic and delicious. Meatballs is the plan for tomorrow! I ordered ground beef for the first time since I’ve been here, with help of course. He grinded it up right in front of my eyes. Amazing thing seeing a slab of meat reduced to playdoe. Hope I don’t die from it! Yay!

I still have video from the trip to Lopud that I need to upload. I will shoot for Thursday. You’ll like it.

Nicola, who’s name does not have a ‘k’ in it by the way, translated some instructions on how to make pudding. I thought I would share them with you.


Sunday, May 4, 2008


***/begin spelling correction time!
Pidgin, in English, is spelled “Pigeon”. Go figure. I’ve had too much fun typing using it as my IM client to notice there was a difference.
The mountain we climbed the other week is pronounced “Surge”, but it is spelled with no vowels what so ever! “Srd”. Except the “d” has a little cross over the top of it, which is not in American ASCII, so I’m not going to try to find it. =)
***/end spelling correction time

We went to Lopud yesterday. It was a very long day. Left the apartment at around 8:45am and met up with some other ACMT students over by the docks in Gruz. I whipped out my sunscreen and video camera and I was ready to go. Kyle made fun of me, but I’m not the one who looks like a tomato!

It was a fairly long boat ride, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I had some great company, so it was a pleasant one. Upon arrival to the island, we promptly raced up 5 million steps. We arrived at a wooded area that Stasa said was really cool because it was the only one of its kind in the entire Mediterranean. There is sand he said that comes from Africa in these woods. He said that this ecosystem was unique because by studying it, we know what the environment was like thousands of years ago. He was so passionate about it, waving his arms around exuberantly, that I had to film him. More on this when I upload the video.

On a side note, Stasa’s wife looks very young. I need to ask Nickola for a picture. She was wearing a red Rochester shirt and he backpack had a little penguin keychain on it. She looked like a student. She was very nice though. She came along for the trip.

After the break in the woods, we headed on. We went off the trail and started to form our own. This was quite interesting. An event which stuck with me, as we climbed up and up the mountain, was the indecipherable yelps from the Croatian students in front of me. “Why are they crying out?”, I thought. No sooner had I uttered the words to myself, while picturing horrible events that may have ensued, did I encounter the dreadful prickly plants. With their jean piercing thorns, they quickly decimated all hope of a relatively painless school fieldtrip.
(**Note to self: Nice use of language, Chris!)
(**Note to self: Thanks, man. I try.)

We pushed through the plants and cut our fingers. It was a character building experience. It was well worth it when we reached the top though. Just as promised, it was beautiful. Video and pictures don’t do it justice, so I won’t post either of them.
Just kidding, I’ll post them later ;)

I met this Bosnian kid from our class who I had never really talked to before. I don’t remember is name. He’s cool though. He said Bosnia was mad cool. Much cooler than Croatia and I should go there. When I told him that I would be going to Sarajevo next weekend, his eyes lit up and glossed over as he expressed unwavering patriotism for his country.

We headed over to a sand beach near an outland on the island (that sounds weird). Really nice place. We sat down at the coffee shop over there and discussed computers with Stasa.

Then, Kyle and I headed back to the pier to catch the boat. We sat down on a bench overlooking the water and waited, exhausted. Nickola eventually made his way down to the pier with a blonde girl and said “hi” to us. As they walked away, Kyle and I both followed them with our heads and then looked at each other thinking the same thing. “Who was that girl?” he asked. I replied, “I think her name is, ‘Too hot for her own good’”. You’d think someone like that would stand out in class. I guess it’s not until someone goes on a field trip hiking on an island in shorts, sandals, and a tank top, that you notice them.

We finally got back to Gruz in Dubrovnik and picked up some awesome Croatian style hamburgers from a corner grill. It’s freakin good. We wanted to get Teo, because he lived over there but he wasn’t around.

That reminds me, I haven’t seen any of the photo kids since they went on the trip to Montenegro on Thursday. I hope they didn’t die and there isn’t this big cover up by Dennis and Zoran. Because then I would be very sad, and I would also have to start an investigation. However, I might stop the investigation upon discovering further “evidence” in the form of several thousand kunas. These should be in the form of unmarked, fairly small, non-sequential bills.
**Update: heard from Teo. Supposedly they are okay, I still have my suspicions though.

Kyle and I came home and passed out. Good day.

Sat on to of the bank today. That was pretty cool. You’d never know it from the street, but there is a bench up there! Really nice view of the sea from up there.

Met a kid in Fresh named Jacob. He is the coolest Aussie I have ever met. (That is a hint to all you hot Aussie chicks, by the way. You should meet me so I can make more of a comparison.) So, Teo and I were discussing a “21 things to do before I turn 21 list”, which is kind of like a “Kick the bucket list”, except you hopefully don’t die when you turn 21. So Jacob is like in more words or less: “Oh my God, that’s like why I’m here!” (not direct quote) He is here because of a girl. This is the girl of his dreams. Also, this girl is not here, she’s back in Australia. It was a long and epic story and I would only mess it up if I retold it, but I am very excited to hear about the ending. When I know, you will.

I spoke with family in Italy a few days ago. They are very excited to see me. I’m taking a plane from Dubrovnik to Naples on the 26th. I’m going to be staying with my cousin Carmine and his family for a little while and then we are both going over to Ischia. It’s an island off the coast were my dad’s side of the family is from. Should be fun =)

I just got an e-mail from Zoran. It made me laugh. I hope he doesn’t mind, I’m going to share it with you. This is a direct quote.

“…As all of you have by now
visited Montenegro and enjoyed Balkan’s connected holiday + weekend,
here’s a story about Montenegrin world-known laziness:”

“In a little Montenegrin village the Council assembled to discuss the work
related issues; after a lot of arguments from all sides they put the
following proposal on the vote Saturday and Sunday are free days; No one
will work on Mondays as people have to rest from the weekend. Tuesdays
will be designated for the preparation to work. Wednesdays will be the
working days. Thursdays will be left for people to rest from the hard
Wednesdays’ work. Fridays will be free to let the people prepare for the
weekend. Before voting, the chairman of the Council asked whether everyone
understands the concept; the question from the assembly was: Are ALL
Wednesdays going to be work days?...”

Okay! I have some video I need to upload, but I will wait until I can waste ACMT’s bandwith. So until next time, always remember not to tip in Croatia, just round up.

-Chris ‘The Terra’ Mattera

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pizza of the gods

I apologize for lack of posts. Sylar ate my brains…

Andrija shaved his head =(. He looks significantly less like Sylar now. It is a shame.
For shame, Andrija, for shame.

The city has been flooding with tourists. There were two giant cruise ships in the harbor the other day. It is so weird. In Dubrovnik, the natives dress to the season no matter what. They are all still wearing dark clothes with coats and jeans, even though it is 70 degrees. Now, with all the tourists around, they through color in to the mix. In a sea of people you can spot them in shorts, wearing backpacks, moving in herds (kind of like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, except significantly less cool).

I went shopping with Leah some time ago. I got some pretty cool jeans with buttons on the fly. I also got some shoes. They are European style. After wearing skate shoes for so long I feel I might fall over. I need to cover more ground, you know?

So, I haven’t made a definitive decision on this yet, but I’m pretty sure that the most stressful part about college is class registration. I have since gotten everything straightened out but it was an interesting adventure.

We have been going to this pizza place called Tabasco, pretty much every day. It is the best pizza ever. That previous sentence isn’t opinion. A council from everyone in the world came together and decided that an exception should be made in the rules which distinguish opinion from fact. Tabasco was deemed “Pizza the Awesome”. If you weren’t at the meeting, then I feel sorry for you because you missed out on free food and bawls.

Okay, what was I talking about? Oh right, pizza. Tabasco has jumbo size pizza, which is about a large in America for 65 kuna (about $13). We usually split that among two people. They have this one pizza called “Mexicana” with peppers that would make tear stream down the devils cheeks. There is the four cheese pizza which is like a party in your mouth, and you invited four different types of cheeses! There is another thing called Piroske. I butchered that name, but hear me out. It is this calzone thing, with stuff on the inside, sometimes ham, or cheese, mushrooms, and sprinkled cheese and sauce on the outside as well. God literally came down from the heavens above and baked this treasure with ingredients from the Garden of Eden.

So yeah, I like Tabasco.

I gave a presentation in Environmental science on Tuesday. I knocked it out of the park. I had the Croatian kids falling out of their chairs laughing. It made me feel good. I’m glad I finally found a common ground and was able to relate to my audience. As any public speaker will tell you (or any good public speaker, like me), that’s the most important thing.

There are a lot of pidgins that like to hang out around the old city. This one coffee shop in particular, they enjoy doing the nasty, right on the ledge that overlooks the ocean. If you have never been blessed with seeing pidgins doing the horizontal mombo, I will describe it in detail for you. One pidgin, hopefully female, flattens down while the other pidgin steps onto the first one’s back. They both shuffle around a little bit until they are comfortable and at this point it looks like they are about ready for a flight launch into space. Which is REALLY cool. However, all the pidgin does, is flap his wings up in a V formation like “Victory!”

At Fresh, we went to this thing they call “Air Fresh”. They film an airport and plane ride and then they put it up on the projector. You purchase a ticket and you get a seat, there is turbulence. It was a really fun time. =) The place is a really happenin’ traveler’s bar.

We went to Mount Sergie for a field trip a little while ago. That is the mountain that overlooks Dubrovnik. It was spectacular up there. There was a fire that burned up most of the trees from last august. Stasa said it was the Bosnians. On the way down he showed Kyle, Ian, and I how to pick wild asparagus. We cooked it up later, and it was awesome.

We went to Montenegro over the weekend. That was really wild. Beautiful view. They have more old towns! I saw a license plate from Jersey too! Kyle made a little quip about Jersey drivers, but no one cares what he thinks. =P

Oh yeah, Stasa confirmed the other day that he IS Dustin Hoffman by talking about wasting water by flushing the toilet. Every time I get out of that class, I feel like the world is going to end very soon. He is very deep.

So, I’m still having a good time. I do miss everyone from home. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. I gave some of my family in Italy a call today. They were excited that I was going to visit them soon.

Be true to yourself.

Video now...

Montenegro 1

Montenegro 2

Montenegro 3

Some cool singing people in old town!

Serge 1 - Journey

Serge 2 - Stasa lecture

Serge 3

Serge 4 - lounging

Serge 5 - living photo

Serge 6 - Very high

Serge 7 - Ian talks skydiving

Serge 8 - Cows on the mountain

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I party with brain-stealing super villains

Yup, so here is a good picture I found of Andrija, one of the ACMT students I met at Fresh, along side who he really is.

I case you haven't seen the show. Here is the imdb page for Heroes. Andrija is a cool guy though.

Yeah, so I remembered some of the stuff that happened in the gap between posts! I went to see a movie. =D "No Country for Old Men". The movie was Okay, but the experience was something else. We got in for free because we have these neat culture cards. The theater was small, but very clean. Ian went to see "10,000 BC" but didn't have the same luck as I did. You see, the movies are in English, but with Croatian subtitles. So when it came time in the movie when the villians were speaking in their own language, the english translation subs were missing. Bum bum bum! No worries. Still fun.

Today I had my make up social change class. We took a test and presented our group topic. It went well. Suzanna and Andelo thought I was nuts wanting to get the students involved and excited about a presentation. I tried explaining my philosophy of presentations to them, but they didn't believe me. They thought that our classmates would be lulled in to a state of absolute boredom from now until the end of time. Or at least until the end of the presentation. I had more faith however. It turned out pretty good. A good job all round.

And man oh man, I know why he split up the class. They cheat cheat cheat! Like it's nobody's business!

After, we went over to the rocks down by the ocean to watch the sun set. I breathed in the salty air and let the crisp night breeze fall upon me.

Or something like that. Life’s good.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fire is neat

Hey all!

I had a feeling this was going to happen. Because I haven’t written about stuff in a while, I am forgetting things. I am missing whole days of my adventure! I promise when they come back to me, I will write about them. In the mean time, here are some awesome days which have transpired recently and I remember quite well.

Hokay. So last week on Tuesday, the RIT kids were all invited to the Dean’s list reception. It’s this fancy dinner thing at a hotel. It was sweet. Really good food. Radiohead was there too! Well, not really, but there was this really good cover band there. When they started singing “Creep”, I felt like I was playing “Rock Band”. I guess that’s kind of a bad thing. So this ACMT chick was totally flirting with me on the line to get food. =D. She said I fit in and looked European. I felt cool.

After the dinner we heading over to the club “Cultro” for the after party. It was a quite a scene. I am proud to say that I danced. Not proud to say that I danced horribly. Suzanna commented at one point, “you really have no rhythm do you?” Regrettably, no. Didn’t stop me though! =) Everyone had a good time. Something I noticed which I had never seen in the states, was that they were showing naked women on the TV in the bar. I pondered this for a while, then I pondered it a little more, upon my third ponder, I concluded, yes it was quite different.

On the course of our journey, we stumbled upon my good friend Friday. That was the day we visited Ston (pronounced “Stone”). It is a small little village about an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik. An exquisitely beautiful place. The locals were very friendly in the small village. We came to the general consensus that the villagers were probably not used to tourists and in turn had a very different attitude than natives from Dubrovnik. There was this nice old lady who came over to talk to Stacy and I, for instance. I have no idea what she said, but she said it with a smile and I imagine it was something like this: “This place kicks some serious ass, huh?”. And it did.

Car ride there

Now before we got to Ston, we made a pit stop over at this place that looked like a labyrinth. There was this crazy fountain and some really cool artifacts and plants and stuff. Mad cool.

The Maze

After we arrived in Ston we had a lot of time to kill before the festival were they set sawdust on fire throughout the streets and along the wall of the town. Naturally we went exploring, but not before eating of course. Brad, Kyle, Teo, Tom, and I went to this seafood restaurant. Ston is supposed to have the best oysters in the world. We didn’t get any. The meals we did get were amazing though. I got spaghetti and seafood. The clams and everything were about 10 times better than the stuff I get at the local place at home (red moon). The best part of it all was that the meal was mad cheap. We had some awesome service too. I was happy, and so was my stomach.

Ston Part 1

We went to check out the salt mines around the town. That was fun. Then we met up with Axel and some of the rest of the crew for coffee and a hike up the wall there. Now, this wall was nothing like the wall around Dubrovnik. It was a lot narrower. Also, those things called “steps”, yeah, they don’t exist. There were friggin ramps up this thing. It was quite a journey. The view from the top was worth the trip though. =)

Ston Part 2

Now the real scary part was when we made the trip down. We traveled a different route. The steps… now actual steps if you want to call them that… were about half the length of my foot and the distance between each step was about the length of my leg. Now, being the tall strapping young lad that I am, I was a tad freaked out. Axel did lend a helping hand and we all made it down safely. Catastrophe avoided.

Ston Part 3

In our meandering, we also spied a church. This thing was seriously crazy. It was old a really cool. We walked up to the outside of the door and were all very quiet. We didn’t know if we should go in or not. We spoke in whisper, very gently. I peaked inside, “hey, there’s someone in there,” I said. “It looks like they are taking pictures… it’s Lori!” I guess I was so surprised my voice went above the comfort level at the time, and I was promptly shooshed. I thought it was cool that she found the cool places and was scoping them out as well. Dad says she has an eye for photography. I say she has two.

After finding the best place to scope our the fire on the wall. We waited. After nothing happened, we waited some more. Still nothing so we went for coffee. Before I could sip the first bit, we heard singing. Damn. I quickly gulped down the cup and laid the kuna on the table and was out the door. It was quite a sight to behold. At one point when everyone was walking away, I was reminded of an old Zombie movie. The fire on the ground only solidified my suspicions of a zombie apocalypse. This was not the case however, and no one of the group was bitten or eaten, at least not to my knowledge.

Dark part 1 - Waiting... and fire

Dark part 2

Dark part 3

Saturday. Assassin began. This has been fun. In case you are not familiar with the rules you can check them out here. I suggested the game so we could have something to do in down time. We did wind up having a lot of that this past weekend because it was raining pretty hard. Here is a quick break down of how we played for those of you at home.

Everyone gets a card with someone else’s name on it. Then discreetly and without anyone else seeing, you “kill” that person by touching them with the card. This has to be done in a sneaky way in which they would not be expecting. You then get any cards they have accumulated from killing others and inherit their current assassination mission The game lasts until the last person is alive. This has led to some healthy paranoia within the group as you can imagine. Fun =D. Also, I feel I should mention too, that being CS majors, we discussed how we would set up the game for quite a while. Since everyone wanted to play, there could be no one to assign assassins and we couldn’t just have people pick out of a hat because the rotation couldn’t have any loops. Ian solved the problem by writing a program that would spam e-mail everyone their assignment. We all felt a little more at home. *sniff*. Now all we need is a creed.

So Monday, school was closed! A holiday. Amazing thing! Very different from RIT, where we start school ON labor day. We get no days off there. Only catch is that we are making up the social change class this Saturday. It’s not a big deal though. It’s at 4:00. Anyway, it was a fun day. I used it to finish up some work that needed to get done.

Tuesday, yesterday, we had our long day of classes. I had my first presentation in a while. It felt good to stretch my spokesman’s legs. The presentation was on Upcast/Downcast for XML. Everyone said I was very into it. I was glad. I have another presentation coming up in Social Change on the “American Dream and Pacification of everyday life”. It has turned out to be a very interesting topic, and I am looking forward to presenting on it and seeing how I can do in front of an audience of Croatians. This will be an interesting first, and hopefully not a last.

Today, Kyle, Tom, and I headed out to ACMT at around noon to get a head start on some work. Tom needed it more than us because his hard drive on his laptop died. He is a CS major without a computer. He is sad. I empathize. I was in a similar situation my freshman year. There is a little difference this time though, because we are on the other side of the world. He said he’ll attempt to find a new HDD. We will see what happens.

Man oh man, there was some crazy PDA (public display of affection – for you lingo newbies), around the lounge today. I was reading on one of the couches and all of a sudden, I hear this sucking noise. I look around for the source and I see these two Croatians eating each other’s faces. At first, I thought some zombie may have followed us home from Ston, but alas, it was just some trendy kids.

Later we went to Social Change. It was a normal day like all the others, until the professor mention the quiz schedule for next class. Half the class was to report there at 4:00 to take the quiz, the other half was to come at 4:30 to take the quiz while the first group hung around for a half an hour. Then the whole class would regroup at 5:00 for the rest of class. Being the computer scientist that I am, I was a bit confused by the overall inefficiency of this whole arrangement and expressed my concerns to the professor. He said this was to prevent cheating. I shrugged. “Okay”. When in Hrvatska, do as the Hrvatskans do.

By the way, USA calls this place “Croatia”, but natives say “Hrvatska”. The “h” is pronounced by hawking up a loogey like you would be you say “Chanukah”. I guess “Croatia” is easier for most Americans to say.

Now for an update on the apartment situation. Zoran made this awesome powerpoint presentation for us on some cool apartments within the area with actual washing machines. Woohoo! I will be living with Kyle, Ian, Stacy, and Leah in the five person apartment labeled number 1. It has a piano. How sweet is that. We need to go check it out, but the landlords of all the apartments seem to be a lot better than this dude.

Map of apartments

Pics of apartment

I leave you with a few words from Kyle Marcotte, of the Kyle Marcotte Show.

The Kyle Marcotte Show - Episode 1: Living Life on the Edge


P.S. Ian posted pics of "The Matterror", an epic meal involving 9 eggs and everything in the fridge. Here they are:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Matterror on the horrizon

So Ian’s website has content on it now, so a link has been updated. A link to Lori’s flickr account has also been put up. Nawce pics. All of this has been added to the feed too of course. I also added a link to my youtube account for the videos. I have uploaded a bunch more if you want to check them out =). I’ll link them each at the bottom of the post.

So, Saturday was our welcoming party at the Living Room. That’s a club. They set it up to look like a living room. Sort of. It was pretty cool. There were these kids who rapped. I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t understand them because of their accent or because it was just the style, but whatever. Chilled with some native girls and chatted about school and such. I had a pretty good time.

Yesterday was such a lazy day. We all mozed around and I tried perfecting some magic tricks. We played Bull Shit. And it was fun messing up Kyle’s plans for card domination.

In the future, I am going to have to have plans for days like this. If not, I feel like I’m just wasting a day. And then when it comes time to blog about it, I get sad =(. No worries though. Everyone needs a break now and again.

So I missed out on the market a few days ago. Turns out there is this better one over by the docks. They have peppers and tomatoes and better stuff than the other market that I went to had. More food from the locals. I must go there.

As for today, Kyle and I awoke to find the cleaning lady making her rounds not on schedule. This was a pleasant surprise because we thought our laundry would be getting done too. Though the apartment was cleaned when we got back, no such laundry luck has been found by anyone. =( We contacted Zoran about the situation and he is looking into it.

After an epic Croatian history lesson this morning, Kyle, Stacy, Tom, and I heading over to a “fast food” place over in old town for lunch. I got a sandwich with peppers and cheese and pickles and mustard and omg heaven topping. It was decent… just kidding, it was awesome. We all ate it over behind the cliffs of ACMT. Wonderful view. We need to get out on that peninsula soon before I grow insane with anticipation.

We are going to discuss future outings with the whole group tomorrow. Some of the options include: the top of the big mountain and this town called “stone”, where they are having this festival were they line the streets with sawdust and then set it on fire, “back to the future style”, or so I would imagine. Sounds sweet. Also on the list is visiting the bridge that we can see from the apartment. Supposedly you can bungee jump off of it =D. Can’t wait.

Tonight, Kyle and I achieved greatness in the kitchen with the birth of a cooking masterpiece we call, “The Matrerror”. It includes fried potatoes with onions and mixed vegetables and peppers in one giant mass of scrambled eggs. It was basically, potatoes and eggs on crack. All we needed was ketchup. That aside, it was so good that more than three bites would put you in a comma. In the future, it will need warning labels because people will be passing out from awesomeness poisoning left and right. Yeah. Ian took pictures. You should bug him to put them up. I will link.

All in all, it has been looking good for Dubrovnik so far. Our presence has yet to make a significant impact on the social and economic status of the city as a whole, but things look promising.


P.S. Watch some videos

My amazing arrival video + commentary part 1

My amazing arrival video + commentary part 2

The laundry rig + explanation

Visit to Old Town Part 1

Visit to Old Town Part 2

Awesome Cliffs part 1

Awesome Cliffs part 2

The City part 1

The City part 2 + graveyard!

P.S.S. I miss everyone at home and at school. I love ya guys.