This is the blog for Matt Hollingsworth. I'm from Ojai, California. I've worked in comics for 22 years as a color artist.

This blog will largely be used to show my daily life as I live in Samobor, Croatia and as I travel around the region. Lots and lots of photos! Leave me a comment, will you?

All content on this blog is copyright 2013 Matthew Dale Hollingsworth and cannot be copied or used for any purpose without my consent.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This one's just a brief update about VOIP, phone over the internet.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked around about internet phone. I heard back various things and decided to look into Skype a bit more. My girlfriend has dial up and I have high speed ADSL. So, my primary concern was the dial up connection. Reading online, I ran into many different posts about dial up. It was a split decision. Some people said they had tons of trouble with dial up and bad signals, the call breaking up, poor sound quality etc. And many people also said that they had no trouble at all.

So, about a week ago, I bought us some cheap headsets to test it out and see what we think. Our local calls here are not free either, so it may be cheaper here to do it this way, not even just for overseas. It's cheaper for me for sure because I don't pay to dial up. She may be paying to dial up. We'll have to look into that more to see which is actually cheaper.

But, our early tests have been good. The sound is actually very good. It sounds a little digital, but not too bad at all. Just like a slight metallic tinge to the sound. Not as bad as I had expected at all. There doesn't really seem to be a delay or anything either. If there is one, it's so slight that I can't really notice. I think there's a bit of us looking for trouble more than there actually being any.

The software seems pretty easy so far. I cannot afford to buy any credits on it yet, as starting my company here in Croatia has tapped my bank account. But, it's cheap to get credits to call actual land lines. For me to call any landline in the States, for instance, is around 2.2 cents per minute. That's pretty great. Talk for ten minutes for 22 cents? Not bad at all.

And, when you're installing the Skype software, it also installs a plugin for Firefox. This plugin makes it so that when phone numbers are shown on websites, the phone number has a little green phone symbol next to it. So, to use Skype to call that phone number, I just click on that green phone right in the browser and Skype will call it. Skype also knows where I am and where the phone number is and sets the dial out code for other countries accordingly. That's pretty fucking great. It works in my e-mails in GMail too. So, when I get an e-mail from an editor at Marvel and they have their phone number in their signature, I can just click on it to call them in Skype, to their land line. *After* I buy credits, like I said.

Calling from one Skype member to another is totally free, though. And that's pretty great. No phone deal gets better than free.

Click on link to go to Skype's site:


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oh man. What a rough 36 hours I've had.

So, Thursday night, I finished up work around 8:30PM or so, then Esad came over to check out my new internet TV thing. Here, they run something called "MaxTV" through your ADSL line rather than through cable. I finally got that after a 2 month wait. Seems they did not anticipate how popular it would be, so have been severely behind on getting installations done. Have not had much of a chance to check it out yet, but I now have an HBO, ESPN, CNN, BBC, BBC World, loads of Croatian channels and a bunch of Discovery channels. 60 channels, all told. Pretty nice. Esad is getting this service in his new apartment, which he should move into sometime in the spring, so was curious to check it out.

Afterwards, we went for a beer. During the beer, I started feeling really awful very suddenly. My stomach felt really bad, like maybe I'd eaten something bad. I couldn't think of anything except maybe some homemade cheese, so assumed maybe it was that. I left to go home and have some tea and relax in front of the TV.

When I got home, my girlfriend called and said she'd taken ill and asked how I was feeling. We talked and figured it must be a stomach flu. She'd heard one was going around. Oh great. She'd puked her lunch up and was generally not doing well. I was not feeling good, but was not that horrible. Not yet anyway.

One of the main lamenesses going on there, was that I knew that I had to get up around 7:15AM Friday, the next morning, and hop a train to the center to meet my lawyer at the visa office in the police station, to apply for my business visa. This could not be missed, could not be put off, could not be avoided. I figured I was doomed.

I drank some tea, watched TV and hit bed early hoping to maybe sweat it out and sleep it off. No such luck. Woke up around 1AM with the first set of the shits. I slept like crap and had to get up about once an hour, seemingly purging ALL fluids from my body through my ass. Around 4AM, the first puke arrived, with the accompanying cold sweats. Ah fuck. Felt like I was dying. You know how it is.

So, in the morning, I wake around 6:50 instead, puke, then shower for the train and visa stuff. I run into my friend Domagoj on the train and he tells me I look like I'm really hung over. I wish. I couldn't eat anything, could barely drink anything and was totally dehydrated. I arrive at the police station, and fall asleep on the bench inside. My lawyer shows up and tells me to wait there as she's doing stuff for me. So, I sit there on the bench for about 2 hours, sometimes sleeping, other times just trying not to puke or shit. And I know there's no bathroom for me there.

Finally, I am in with the visa woman again. We do our paperwork BS again. I ask her, "Last time, you said there was a chance that I wouldn't have to leave to go back to the States." She said that I don't have to go back to the States.

Woo hoo! I am still dubious until I have a visa in my hand, but she's the one who's in charge, so I have no REAL reason to doubt her.

So, I leave. My muscles are insanely weak. Walking is this huge effort. I am cold and sweating, but it's warm outside too, around 16 C, 60 F. I went to my girlfriends apartment and we spent the day together very sick. Sleeping, watching TV, trying to eat a banana or one piece of toast, drinking mint tea very slowly. It was one of those severely ill days that are no fun. Sometimes a flu is not so bad as it forces you to relax, but this was one of those awful ones where you're always in pain and feel like puking.

My theory is that my body is not used to the germs here yet, that I have not built up any defenses against local germs. I seem to get sick more often here. Don't know, but that's my working theory.

We both slept very well last night, though. And we slept for 10 hours. Woke up sore from bed. Had a banana and some toast, some tea, then caught the tram and bus home. And now I am here and have to get back to work today. I lost a day and a half of work. Lame!

But, I might not have to leave Croatia!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Welly well well.

So, this week has thus far been mostly dealing with visa related issues in Zagreb. I started the week with my first language lesson here, at a school called APLO, right in Bana Jelačića Trg. I studied the Croatian language for about 8 months back in the States, but forgot a lot after my summer visit. So, we're starting with a review of cases and some other stuff. It helps refresh my memory, and then being HERE helps as I see the language everywhere all the time and hear it all the time.

Then, off to visit the lawyer. She had me sign a few things, I gave her some money, then she sent me across town to sign the papers to start my company, Žujo Stripovi, d.o.o.. It's a limited liability company, with the name basically being my nickname, after the beer I drink most, Ožujsko, and "stripovi", which means "comics". The "d.o.o." is like an LLC in the States. Anyway, I went across town to the notary public, here called Javni Bilježnik. Signed tons of papers to start the company. Went to my girlfriend's place and gave her headphones for Skype and got her started with the download, which took an hour. So, I had to leave to go home. Got home sort of late in the day. We tested Skype with her dial up connection and it worked pretty good. So, we may be able to use that if I have to go back to the States.

Today, Tuesday, I had to get up early again and get into town. I had to visit the police station yet again and see the visa person there. I arrived and there was a crowd of people outside her office, maybe ten or so people waiting to see her. I poked my head in and just nodded at her, but wasn't sure if she saw me. She knew I was coming in, though. I stood around outside her office for about a half hour thinking that I was doomed, that I'd have to wait hours. She had not come out once yet. She'd been with that one person the whole time. Finally, she comes out, sees me and tells me to come in with her. Woo hoo! I skipped the entire line. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. If you know the story so far, you can figure it out.

So, I was basically there to give her my paperwork that was canceling my old visa request. It was a letter my lawyer wrote that said I no longer needed that visa as I was starting a "firma" and would be applying for a business visa. She filled out stuff and I sat there and tried to talk to her about whatever nonsense. She asked how my company stuff was going and what my plans were. I told her I'd be going to Texas for the required 90 days out of the country and would leave on February 13th. She then told me that I might not have to leave at all. WHAT? This is the same lady who had told me in December that I definitely had to leave for a full 90 days even if I got a business visa before February 13th. She said it was required back then. Now she seemed to be telling me that was not the case. So, I asked her if it's true, if I might not have to leave at all. She told me that she'd try to help me out so that I would not have to leave.

Fucking A!

So, from there, I went to my lawyer and gave her the required money for the bank account for the firm and rest of her payment as well. Filled out bank cards and such. I told her what the visa lady had said and she said that we basically need to get my business visa application in on Thursday, the 18th.

Tonight, I have to visit my landlord to review our housing contract which needs to be amended to have the firm included. Hopefully it's good, and then tomorrow afternoon I will have to go to the Javni Bilježnik with her to sign this and have it documented.

As it turns out, my lawyer couldn't open the bank account for me. So, I have to go with them in the morning Wednesday (tomorrow), open a personal non resident bank account with the money, then open the account for the firm and transfer the money over to that account from my personal account. Then, she will be going to court tomorrow with all of this data and paperwork to start the firm officially with the government. Then, assuming all goes as planned, I will stop by her office Thursday, then go back to the police station and put my business visa application in. It should take around 2 weeks to hear back on that visa. At that point I should know whether or not I have to leave the country.

So, the adventure continues.

Looks like I need to work this weekend as this is all putting me a bit behind.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Strange. Everyone warned me to be ready for a freezing winter here in Zagreb. I was born and raised in Southern California, so they all assume I'm a weakling when it comes to dealing with harsh weather. So, naturally, they figured that I'd have a rough time this winter. Me? I thought that having lived in New Jersey for five years and Portland for nine years had prepared me for crappy weather. Sure, I'd been back in SoCal for 4 years, but I like seasonal changes, so didn't mind the thought of a harsh winter.

The weather HAS been crappy for certain periods, but it's mostly just been grey skies or foggy or just generally dreary. Like Portland in some ways, so not too rough and with a helluva lot LESS rain.

This seems to be a record warm winter everywhere, though, and it's no different here. It has not snowed yet. I have seen very little ice at all and it's generally not been below freezing. And now, this week, we've had an entire week of sunny weather and unseasonably warm temperatures. Today, for instance, it's 14 degrees celsius / 58 fahrenheit. I left all of my windows open last night in the living room area and woke up and it was still 20 celsius / 68 fahrenheit in the apartment. Not bad. Today, it's breezy out, sunny, and I have ALL of the windows in the apartment open to get some fresh air in here. Heat's turned off and it's maintaining 20 celsius.

It's made it nicer to wander around and check stuff out. I'd like some snow before I leave in mid February, though.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

For New Years Eve, we stayed local and went to Smart Caffe, the same place we spent Christmas Eve at. Our friends there, Selma and Čiro, had a closed party. We paid an entrance fee, then they supplied tons of tray food; meats and cheese on platters and such. And we could drink whatever we wanted and help ourselves. So, everyone just drank and drank. A great group of folks. It was mostly the same folks as Christmas Eve, but my girlfriend Branka was there too. Her nickname is Nara and most of us call her Nara. So, you may see me use one name or the other. And, Esad is also called Esko and I am called Žujo. Anyway, Nara and I went together and Esad showed up a bit later. Nara and I are both fighting colds, though, so we only lasted until around 2:30AM or so before heading home and collapsing asleep.

Thanks to Čiro and Selma for hosting the party, to everyone who showed up for sharing fun and to everyone who's name I forget and don't put in captions below. I'm dong my best to remember names, but I've had a lot of new ones in the last 6 weeks.

Esad and Nara at Harvest, before the night really begins.

Selma and Čiro dance up a storm.

Beautiful Tea.

The sexy girls, Selma, Tea and Nina.

Tomislav and Domagoj.

Domagoj takes it off.

More dancing on the chairs.



Me and my sweety, Branka, AKA Nara.

Esko and Carmen.

Yeah, me.

Esko has to shit.

Esad, Selma, Me and Domagoj giving me love.

The lovely Selma.

Domagoj grips and pulls.

Do you really want to know what's going on here?

Oh god, no. Please no.

Madman Čiro

He knows.

Lucky and his girl. Somebody tell me her name, would you?

Need help wiht names, please.

The Queen and King.

Nara took many of these photos. So, I'm actually in a few.

This is a good one of Čiro.

The lifting of Lucky.