Do you know Andrew Luzgin ? I'm a friend of him. He's a friend of mine. Not the Facebook style of "friends", see what I mean ? A true friend.
Andrew and I have met years ago, before the Bubble. Virtually. On Usenet. We were discussing Fiber Optics stuff thru the sci.optics.fiber newsgroup.
A few years later, when I was with HP/Agilent, I got to test a fiber documentation software developed by Andrew and his peers at the IIT Institute of Information Technology of Minsk, Belarus. We Agilent didn't go further with this software, but Jim Hayes of Fotec (at this time) did.
Fast forward to November 2005 : working with Sunrise Telecom who were outsourcing its optical handhelds to IIT, I visited Minsk for the first and only time to date. Thanks to a missed connection flight in Vienna, a lost envelop containing 150 USD cash, and a Mickey Mouse type of manager, I did land in Belarus at night and ganz alone. Right into the deep cold winter of... the former USSR. To make it short, I almost had was to spend the night in the airport to go home the next morning, should Andrew not show up with enough american money to set me free of the Belarus' customs.
Thanks to Andrew, I had one of the most enjoyable evenings in a foreign country in my life.
Since then, we kept in touch. Virtually. Thru Skype. Among other business-related things, I've coached Andrew on the "Western World Way Of Life". Until I convinced him to look for a new job outside of Belarus. Hey, this guy was able to design one of the most technically advanced optical tester... out of nothing. The equipments in the IIT' labs ? Dated 1980 or so, see what I mean ? My take was : if Andrew is able to create little jewels in Belarus, he'll be able to create big marvels in the Western World.
I've worked on that for a year or more, helping Andrew to feel comfortable with the idea of leaving Minsk for the Unknown Regions.
Since last month, Andrew lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. He's working at FOD Fiber Optic Devices, a Test equipment maker supplying the big guys in the Test & Measurement industry with components and OEM/ODM products.
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Vilnius is only 130 miles away from Minsk, but it's a totally new World for my friend.
That's why I've asked Andrew to share his Once-In-A-Lifetime experience with you. Stay tuned for Andrew Luzgin' diary here on FiberGeneration. The first posts are ready, we just have to... tune Andrew's english a little bit ;-)
post-scriptum : have you noticed how the Belarus map is empty ?...