Monday, June 14, 2010


I found the program Photosynth quite sometime ago, I'm not exactly sure, but I think it was in 2008 sometime.  I have a Photosynth of one of my World of Warcraft characters in a synth just to see if I could do a 2-D image and transform it into a 3-D "like" image, and it seemed to work.  There is also one of Dexter right after he came home from Obedience Boot Camp, and that was over the summer of 2008.

Anyways, I keep forgetting to use it, mostly because I wasn't comfortable taking pics with underpowered point-and-shoot digicam, but now that I have a decent D-SLR, I am more willing to give it a go.  I was able to snap some photos when I was in Cyprus that I thought would be decent, but then I realized all I ever shot was panoramas.  When I got to London, I shot a really nice one of Lely's Venus, it turned out decent, but I know where my mistakes were.

Here's the link to my Photosynth page...

Here is a link for a decent guide to get you started on taking Photosynth shots.

Anyways, have fun, tell me what you think.  I'm try and shoot really good ones this week while I'm in Breckenridge and Denver.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Things I miss from home

In no particular order...

My memory foam mattress
Feather-bed mattress topper
My sheets
My pillow
Stable internet
High-speed internet
Late night chats with Kim
My Jeep
The hot tub
Pizza (Dominos/Sbarro)
Our extremely comfortable couch and my fuzzy throw
The shower where I can fully turn around and not hit a wall
My chef jacket
Not having to throw used toilet paper in the trash
Cruising around campus
Going to class
Playstation 3

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cypriot Food (and nightlife)

Hustle...  Bustle...  Relax... and socialize.

Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get to their destination only to take it easy and hang out with their family and/or friends.  Eating isn't so much about the food but making sure you are spending time with people.  There are lots of small cafes and diners all over the place, on every street, on every block, each of them playing host to small groups of people talking about, what I assume to be, their day full of events.

Dinner here takes a very long time, I've noticed.  Unlike home where we command service and expect our waiter to be there at any given moment, it's a much slower pace here.  Especially at the end of the meal.  Holy cow, don't expect to get your check any time soon, 'cause it isn't going to happen.  The people just assume you are going to be sticking around for a while to socialize after you have completed eating.

The way you order food here is slightly different in a way here as well.  It's not so much different in the sense of how it's done, but more about the types of foods you get.  For example, both American and Cypriot menus have a similar breakdown of the menu items.  You have your appetizers, entrees, sandwiches, desserts, drinks, sometimes some other categories in there, but typically it's the same.  What makes it different is the foods that are on there.

The appetizer menu in America is chock full of stuff deep fried, slapped with bacon, or covered in cheese; nachos, potato skins, fried pickles (thank you Toasted Frog).  Cyprus on the other hand, has a little more healthier fare; χωριάτικη σαλάτα / horiatiki (Greek salad), χαλούμι / halloumi (cheese, sometimes baked or pan seared), and Tashi (Cypriot version of Tahini), and lastly τζατζίκι / Tzatziki (strained yogurt mixed with varied vegetables, usually cucumbers) all get ordered with a meal.

My favorite Cypriot dish so far has been σεφταλιά / Sheftalia, minced meat, pork usually, that is seasoned then stuffed into caul fat (intestinal lining of the animal) then grilled like a sausage.  Me being adventurous and true to my eagerness to learn about other cultures and their food ways, it was important that I try it.  I loved it, it had an amazing texture almost similar to American meatloaf.  When you broke open the "casing" on the sausage, it bursted oped with lots of delectable minced meat on the inside, and was cooked to perfection on the outside.  It tasted especially nice when stuffed into a pita with a little bit of tzatziki sauce.

Almost all meals I have encountered so far are served with chips (read: french fries).  Which is bittersweet, yes it's nice to have something American, but, the fries here seem extremely fatty compared to ours.  I assume this is because they do not have the same standards regarding the use of trans fatty oils for cooking like we do in America.

During one of our excursions to see archaeological sites, we stopped at a Ψαροταβρνεσ / Fish Tavern for lunch.  The restaurant was on a cliff overlooking a magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea.  As a group, we decided to order several plates and split them between us.  We order Sea-foam fish that was grilled, and octopus (see picture) that was also grilled.  I have had octopus before in dishes like paella, but never had I been served an entire tentacle with it's suckers still attached.  It tasted great, I will definitely try this again.  The flavor was a bit salty and had a rubbery textured.  I managed to scarf down two tentacles by myself and about half of the sea-foam.  This isn't because I didn't like it, I was very much full from the previous foods (see above).

There is no doubt that I will miss the food in Cyprus.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ιερός Ναός Αγίου Λαζάρου / The Church of Saint Lazarus

Saint Lazarus Church at night, Larnaca, Cyprus.
Today we visited Saint Lazarus Church.  The structure was originally built in the 9th Century, and has Francish and Venetian additions from the 14th Century.  It was rebuilt in the 18th Century and has reminants remaining.

It is said that Lazarus was resseructed by Christ, he was forced to flee Judea and came to Kition (present day Larnaca) where Paul of Barnabas appointed him Bishop of Kition.  He died about 30 years later.  His tomb was lost in 649 B. C. when Cyprus was under Arab rule, however, a tomb was found in 890 B. C. with the inscription "Lazarus, friend of Christ," and it is assumed this is his tomb.  The church was constructed on top of the site where the tomb was found.  In 898 B.C., his tomb was moved to Constantinople.

This Basilica structure has some interesting features.  It has a Francish Arcade along the length of it's south side.  Along it's East side, there are 2 polygonal asps.  On top, there are 3 domes.  When the structure was rebuilt in the 17th century, they intentionally left parts of the structures "indented" into the structure, to commemorate the previous structure that was built.

Indented structure with original remains (Center of photo)
Francish Arcade, added in the 17th Century.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pyla Royal Tombs

We stopped by for a brief visit to the Pyla Royal Tombs.  The tomb is in the shape of a cross with 3 separate rooms.  The 2 rooms that flank the sides have a slab sarcophagus wall holding 1 sarcophagus each.  The rear room, however, held 2 of these slabs sarcophagus structures.  The walls look like bath tubs to me, to be fair, it was hot that day and I was very tired, a Calgon bath sounded great at the time.

The steps were very steep and worn down by the effects of weather.  The steps leading down to, and the main entrance area was covered in litter.  Thankfully, it doesn't look like the inside of the tombs were treated badly at all, so please ignore the trash in the photos.

The tomb was built in 5th Century B.C.  It was built as an "elite" tomb, there were many idols that were found on the inside which supports this theory.  It is believed to be a boundary marker for the nearby village, travelers understood that beyond this point the land was spoken for.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ancient Ruins of Kition Kathari

Kathari, the earliest known human habitation and religion in Cyprus.  Built in the 13th century by the Myceneans, birthplace of Zeno.  Destroyed.  Taken over by the Phonecians who built the temple of Astarte and 4 other temples.  So much history in such a small area.

Monumental sacrifice columns.
The site of Kition Kathari is about 35m x 22m, it is constructed mostly of ashlar and filled with rubble.  It has a monumental entrance and a set of columns that I am told represent a place of sacrifice.  The main temple at this location was the Temple of Arstarte, there were also 4 other temples that were used to worship copper metallurgy.  This was also the site of a seaport, the port had silted up and the waters eventually shifted.  The site has been decimated over time from earthquakes and natural erosion.

What I find interesting about the site is that it is about 6 feet below the rest of the level ground.  I am assuming this is because of the tectonic plate movement underneath.  How were the original excavators (Sweden, 1920's) able to date the site?  I would assume most of it would be from the relative context of the site assemblages consisting of the copper works left behind and by the (very little) pottery that was left there.

I noticed looking along the sites edge where you can see the soil, there are no stratigraphic layers.  I examined (as best as I could) many different points along the edge of the site at the exposed soil, but could not find any distinguishing soil layers.  My guess is that there has been vertical shifting of the soil, most likely done after the harbor had silted up.
What was once the sea port.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Best. Steak fries. Ever.

So I had a 3 hour layover in London Heathrow, I was kind of hungry but I wasn't sure what to have.  So I walked around for a bit, which I feel that I should mention that LHR is a HUGE airport.  I always here people say that MSP is big, it is tiny in comparison.  The terminal for outbound Middle East destinations alone is about the size of SFO.

After looking at all of my options I decided to give "The Tin Goose" a whirl.  It looked about as British as any American pub trying to do British would be.  The menu is what brought me in though.  There were lots of dishes I had never even heard of, some I didn't even know how to pronounce.  Odd I know, being that it is in English.

I decided I wanted to try the special that was posted on the board.  "Fish fingers, soup of the day, potato frites."  I assumed the frites were fries and the soup was a tomato based fish soup, all OK in my book.  The waiter comes over and I asked him to pronounce the dish, which I can't remember what it was called now, but then he explained it was basically a tapas plate.  Hey, I'm all for tapas, but I was hungry.

I noticed at the table next to me that there was a gentleman with a cutting board and on it was a bowl, a small plate that was empty, and a wire basket of these golden brown delicious looking objects (I also noticed he was wearing Prada athletic shoes, but that's another story), I wasn't sure what they were, I thought maybe it was the fish fingers.  So I asked the waiter, what is that?  He simply said "Gammon."  Well OK then, gammon it is!  I also ordered a "Draught Coca-cola," which I have to admit, was pretty damn awesome on it's own.  It tasted like American coke, but was smooth like root beer, without that 'coke' bite.

So, the waiter finally drops off my food which was on a large plate, where's the cutting board?  I noticed immideatly there was a pile of those golden brown delicious objects, and a over-easy egg sitting on top of a piece of fried ham.  Really?  This is dinner?  Throw on some toast and it's breakfast in America.  I am assuming that the waiter thought I was pointing at something else, but I didn't want to make a fuss, so I just stuck with the plate.

The ham steak was really salty, even by American standards, but oh man...  those puffs of golden brown deliciousness?  BEST.  STEAK FRIES.  EVER.  I don't know what they were called if they had happen to have a different name, but to me they were steak fries.  They were fried to perfect crunchy coat on the outside, the potato inside was a light and puffy, and their shape were soft, rounded edges.  Which is why I had no idea what they were.  The meal as a whole kind of sucked, but those fries and that draught coke more than made up for it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Geneology Research

So after I've scanned all my dad's photos and miscellaneous documents, I decided I'd work on our family tree. I bought a program called "Family Tree Maker 2010"; waste of money, really, but it came with 3 months of US Deluxe Access to, which is about $75 dollars in itself, so basically the program was free. is easy enough to navigate [b][i]if[/b][/i] you are the type of person who knows how to navigate sites like this. After blundering around for a bit, I'm finding it easy to move through the screens and find what I am looking for. My biggest complaint isn't so much with, but the Public Archived Records.

Searching my name, Chester J. Beltowski, will yield a total of 890 results. It gives results if your name is mentioned in someone else's tree (which is a good thing), anyone who may be related (which is good and bad) and anytime your public record has changed (which is terrible and I will explain why).

So, of those 890 results, I expect to see my name and my grandfather's name since I was named after him. What I didn't expect to see was my record, 8 different times. Every time I moved the government creates a new record for you. So I have a record for living with my parents, I have one for when we moved to Bay City, MI, I have one for about 5 different residences in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Really? You're telling me no one was smart enough to link [b][i]my[/i][/b] unique Social Security Number to all these places I've lived and just put them in a chronological list?

It's not just residences, but it's birth records, death records; basically any type of event that happens that the government knows about, you're gonna get multiple hits. My mom's death record has about 9 different entries in it, and I'm not exactly sure why, it's not like she was a cat. There are a few for Prescott, AZ (where she passed away), and some for Chicago, IL (where she was born), and of course some for Oak Harbor, OH (where she lived).

Anyways, time for the good stuff!

I don't really know much about my dad's side of the family. I know my immediate aunt's and uncle, their spouses, my cousins... like I said "immediate," it doesn't go much more beyond that and my grandfather. My mom's side of the family, I don't even really know where to begin with it. They never visited us, we never visited them, it sucks but that's the way it is.

So I am forced to piece together what I can by sifting through all these records until you find something pretty amazing. Now, my dad has some pretty neat records, he has his dad's (Chester) birth certificate and Baptismal record (score!). He also had a Baptismal record for his mom (Rose, even bigger score!). With that record, I was able to find a ship manifest coming in from South Hampton to New York.

It's things like this that make me want to keep digging.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Party Like Drive-Thru Rock Stars

This video kicks much ass, mostly 'cause of the storyline and the characters involved. Although this doesn't contain nudity or graphic language, the visuals are pretty adult oriented. I'm just sayin'...

RAD OMEN - "Rad Anthem" from Nicholaus Goossen on Vimeo.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Media Room Remodel

We're trying to decide if we want to move our media center upstairs into the formal living room and turn it into a home theater.  Over the past 4 years, we've upgraded all of our electronic equipment; I have a 7.1 Channel Receiver/Amp, 60" HDTV, 8 Bose Speaker system, DTV-DVR, a Blu-Ray player, and a PS3 I can stream from my computer.  So thankfully, all the electronic gear is covered.  If we do, it will require a new set of furniture for seating, drapery, a rug of some sort, and more than likely the walls and ceiling will have to be ripped out and redone.

We're estimating the project to run about 10 grand for everything, but we think it will be good in the long run because most families are putting home theaters in their homes anyways.  Since we'll be redoing the walls and ceiling, I'll be able to run HDMI, Ethernet, and all the other speaker wires necessary for it.

We're just testing it out right now.  The entertainment center is way to large, so we left the towers and bridge downstairs for now.  We jsut moved the TV, the TV stand, PS3, and DVR upstairs.  For seating, we're just gonna grab 2 futons from Target since they are cheap, and when we're done with them, well then we have extra beds if need be.

Very exciting!

 (The room in it's current state)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Family Photos

Over Christmas when I was visiting my dad, he started showing me all these photo albums he's been putting together.  Now that the kids are out of the house, he's been moving stuff around and organizing everything.  I told him I can take them all home with me and scan them all, this way we have a digital copy of them and we won't lose them.

I think I scanned just over 4,000 photos, documents, report cards... anything that was in there.  I found birth certificates, wedding announcements, baptismal records, all sorts of stuff!

I went through and cropped most of them and did some touching up using Photoshop on quite a few of them.  Some of these photos are 5 decades old, hell, some aren't even photos they are so old, they are actually paint on canvas.

Well, now I have them all Photoshopped as much as I am willing to spend time with doing that, now I have to figure out some way to organize them all.  I'm having a difficult time trying to wrap my brain around that task.  For right now, I am just splitting them up by my immediate siblings and their families, then I will go from there.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I was out doing errands today and I was getting kind of hungry, so I stopped by McDonald's and got myself a Mighty Kids meal and I got Dexter a cheeseburger.

In the summertime, he normally gets a vanilla baby cone from Dairy Queen, during the winter though, he'll get a cheeseburger.

Lately we've been trying to make him wait to eat his treats until we say it's ok for him to eat them, so we'll put the treat in his mouth and have him sit for a moment.