Iron Horse and iMac

"Iron Horse," our beloved Power Mac G5, passed away suddenly on the morning of March 18th, due to complications with the logic board.

Iron Horse joined our family shortly after we were married, largely thanks to Kristen triple-dipping the system by securing a government grant to "supplement" her two scholarships.

Like most modern technology, after Iron Horse hit five years of service, it became a ticking time bomb of obsolescence. But this stalwart computer defied the odds and lasted an additional year and a half past this unofficial expiration date.

In this time of sorrow we also have cause to rejoice, for FedEx delivered a bundle of joy to our doorstep on Friday—a shiny new 21" iMac.

I made the mistake of showing Eddie the Photo Booth application the first night I got everything set up, now the rest of us may never again get to use the new computer in peace while he is around. Here's a short video of Eddie playing around with all the silly webcam effects that other Mac users got bored with three years ago.


Andrews Family Vacation Memories, Pt. 1

My family loves to travel. Growing up, we got to go on a lot of family vacations. This led to some interesting adventures, so I thought I should record some of the most memorable moments from these trips.


My parents own a timeshare in Florida, so we went there quite often. One summer, we spent our vacation on Hutchinson Island. For one of our activities, we rented a boat and took it down the river and out onto the ocean. It was pretty fun as long as we were moving, but when we spotted a pod of dolphins nearby, my dad cut the engine and we sat bobbing in the waves for a while. Unfortunately, both my mom and I are quite susceptible to motion sickness, so we were anxious to get moving again. When my dad started the engine, the boat turned in just the right direction for a wave to knock us sideways. This sent sent my mom falling across the deck, skinning her knees. We never rented a boat again.

Not that we had much more luck with cars. One of the most notorious rental cars my family drove on vacation was dubbed the "cockroach-mobile." Believe me, this name was well earned. We rented this beauty in Miami in the summer of 1997 and drove it south through the Florida Keys. During the daytime, it wasn't too scary, but whenever we would open the doors at night and the dome light would come on, we would see the roaches scatter. My brothers developed a habit of jumping in as fast as they could and stomping around to try to slay the beasts. It didn't really do much good. Riding in that car in the dark grossed me out because I kept expecting to feel little legs crawling on me.

Canoeing in Key Largo

While Jeremy was on his mission, the rest of us took a trip to Orlando. We found out that the shuttle Atlantis was scheduled to launch while we were there, so my parents and I decided to go and see the launch (Jason opted to stay at the condo and sleep). We had to get up and drive to the coast in the wee hours of the morning. Since you can't actually go out on Cape Canaveral during a launch, we found a place to park on the mainland and watched from the coast. It was really cool to see. Even though we were several miles away, we could see the fire as the shuttle blasted off, and after a slight delay we could hear the roar. I sure hope Jason regrets missing that.

One thing that I doubt any of us would have regretted missing was our trip to Lion Country Safari. This is basically a zoo that you drive through. I think it would probably be fun for little kids, but we went as disillusioned teenagers. To this day we still laugh about the sad animals laying around looking like they were dead. I imagine summer in Florida is not really the most active time for the lions. In preparation for this post, I looked at the Lion Country Safari website. It looks a lot more exciting online than I remember it being. But maybe they've refurbished since our visit.

Grand Cayman

In the summer of 1998, we took a trip to Grand Cayman. We did a lot of snorkeling off the beach at our hotel, but the most memorable snorkeling experience was when we rode on a catamaran with Captain Dexter (an old British man in a Speedo) to Stingray City. This is a sandbar where the water is only about 4 feet deep and there are tons of stingrays. The rays are used to people, so they will let you touch them and feed them. You don't really have to snorkel here—you can just stand on the sandbar and let the stingrays rub up against your legs as they search for a handout. Honestly, I was terrified. I was in the water long enough for Captain Dexter to catch a big stingray for me to hold while my dad snapped a photo (said photo is not posted because it's a little embarrassing since I was crying). I still haven't lived down my reaction to the stingrays, and don't expect I ever will.

Captain Dexter's catamaran

Grand Cayman is a fairly small island, but you still need a car to get around. So my family rented another infamous auto: a Maruti. A small jeep-type vehicle, the Maruti didn't have a normal back seat, but instead had two benches facing each other in the back. There weren't any seat belts on these benches. This would have been less of an issue if people in Grand Cayman drove on the right-hand side of the road. But, since it is a British territory, they drive on the left. So we rode around in what we started to call the "beer can death trap" on the left-hand side of the road while my dad tried to operate a stick shift with his left hand. Surprisingly, he only ended up turning onto the wrong side of the road twice. Still, I think we were all glad to get back to driving in America.

The infamous Maruti


The Boss Button

For me, few days in the sports year are as can't miss as the first round of the NCAA tournament. But like most responsible adults, I'm stuck at work during the early games. Thankfully, in recent years you can stream any NCAA game live on your computer.

Unlike my salad days working for USU Extension (huddling around a 13" TV for hours during March Madness, tucked away in a forgotten corner of campus), I have to get some work done nowadays. As a compromise, I will have a scoreboard open throughout the day, then if a game is close going into the final few minutes, I will pull up the streaming action.

As I caught #13 Morehead State pull off the upset against #4 Louisville today (along with a handful of other fantastic finishes), I noticed something called a "Boss Button" in the upper right hand corner of the screen (follow the big white arrow). My curiosity got the better of me, I clicked, and the window transformed:

Technology is a beautiful thing, isn't it?


Marriage Albums: Counting Melons

Since my "Albums I Grew Up On" series has been on creative hiatus since last June, I've been thinking for a while about spotlighting music that has defined my marriage years. Kristen and I have been hitched since 2004, but these inaugural selections were actually released back in 1992-93.

Counting Crows:
August and Everything After

August and Everything After received plenty of spins in my CD player when I was in junior high, but as the decade progressed, Counting Crows faded from the rotation. I eventually traded in my disc at the old Tom Tom Music store in Bountiful (probably for something like The Best of A Flock of Seagulls during a prolonged '80s kick).

As I started making the switch from CDs to mp3s in the early 2000s, a lot of old albums that had suffered the "trade in" fate made a triumphant return to my collection, including August and Everything After. A quintessential "sad album," the Counting Crows' debut includes several big hits like "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here," and a plethora of lesser known gems like "Anna Begins" and "Sullivan Street."

However, it didn't become a defining album for us until Kristen got a hold of it, not long after we moved from Logan to Salt Lake in 2005. For the better part of the year that followed, every time I got in the car after she had been driving, Counting Crows would be on. In those "educational" early years of marriage, it taught me something important about her. When she finds something she likes, she clings to it like a warm blanket—whether it be the bubbly tingle of Dr. Pepper, the romantic misunderstandings of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett, or the plaintive melodies of Adam Duritz and co.

Blind Melon

There was no escaping Blind Melon's hit single "No Rain" back in the early '90s—not that this pleasant little pop folk ditty needed escaping from. I always liked the song and occasionally considered adding some Blind Melon to my collection but never did (it would have gotten swapped for Wang Chung's Greatest Hits anyway). Tragically, Blind Melon vocalist Shannon Hoon died of a drug overdose a few months after their second album Soup was released in 1995, and the band disintegrated before they could shed one-hit wonder status.

When Kristen and I began comparing music collections as we were dating, "No Rain" was among the common threads. Now, here's where the story starts to get obscure. In late 2006, I unearthed a compilation at the local library featuring prominent '90s bands covering songs from Schoolhouse Rock. The unquestionable standout of the collection was Blind Melon's take on "Three is a Magic Number." In our book, this band was now 2-for-2, so we got to wondering if their other stuff was just as good.

We soon checked out their eponymous debut (some 14 years after it was released), and in the process discovered one of the most criminally underrated albums of the '90s. As with a lot of one-hit wonders, the easygoing "No Rain" is something of an anomaly within the fabric of the album. Brimming with deep cuts like "Tones of Home" and "Change" (really I could list every song), Blind Melon is equal parts aggressive, groovy, introspective, and psychedelic. But pop culture never got past that bee girl.


You Are What You Eat, Pt. 2

It's time for another look at the various kinds of food I've outgrown as I get older (find the original post here). As Rémy says in Ratatouille, "If you are what you eat, then I only wanna eat the good stuff."

Generic Soda
I have cut way back on my soda intake in recent years, and I'm certainly not going to waste the calories on Dr. Thunder, Big K Cola, or Kiwi Strawberry Shasta (even if you can get a 3-liter bottle for 69 cents). The exception to this rule is a generic version of Mountain Dew called "Hillbilly Holler" that can only be found at Fareway grocery stores in Iowa. Yeeeeehaw, that there's liquid gold!

Cavity Candy
Kristen and I went through a phase where we chewed gum regularly, which just so happened to coincide with a 2 1/2 year dental drought. When we did finally make it back in to the dentist, I went from never having a cavity in my life to having seven. After that miserable experience, anything sugary that stays in your mouth for an extended period of time (chewing gum, lollipops, etc.), was no longer appealing. (On a semi-related note, I once heard Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" in a dental waiting room.)

All-You-Can-Eat Buffets
When I was a young adult, all-you-can-eat buffets were always seen as a challenge—especially if you went with other guys. You've had the meat loaf, enchiladas, and chicken fried steak? Well I've had the beef stroganoff, shrimp cocktail, and three pieces of pizza! It was also a matter of making sure you got your money's worth. Let's see, I paid $8 to get in, I've had four heaping plates of food… yup, better go big at the soft serve ice cream bar.


Tiny Dancer

Since Violet is now six weeks old, I figured it was probably now or never to put together a formal birth announcement. My goal with the type treatment was to make it as difficult to read as possible. These are the crazy things you do when you're not designing for a real client.

I took well over 100 photos of Violet posing in the tutu, so here's a few more choice shots:


More Books I Read

Since I've been a bit distracted of late, these are not all books I read in the past week like I normally post. Instead, this list spans the last few months.

Sarah's Key // Tatiana de Rosnay

While searching for a new book to read, I started looking through bestseller lists and randomly reading descriptions of the books. That is how I happened upon Sarah's Key. It turned out to be a really interesting read that has stuck with me. It is the story of the the round-up and imprisonment of French Jews during WWII -- known as "the Vel d'Hiv'" (named for the Velodrome d'Hiver arena where the people were held before being loaded on trains and taken to Auschwitz). The book tells the story of a modern journalist (Julia) in Paris who researches the round-up and learns the story of Sarah, a young Jewish girl who was imprisoned with her parents. It was not a bad read and (even though it is fiction) it taught me about a part of WWII that I had never heard of before.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo // Steig Larsson

This is a book that I had seen on bestseller lists but hadn't heard too much about. I checked it out from the library and read it really quickly, despite its thickness. The story is exciting and the characters are memorable. My biggest problem with this book was its rather adult content. It is the story of a journalist and researcher who discover a serial rapist/killer, so it has a fair amount of violence and bad language. I'm not sure I would recommend this book simply because of that content... but if you have thick skin, it really is an interesting read. It is part of a three-part series, of which I also read the second installment... The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Cutting for Stone // Abraham Verghese

While typing up this post, I realized that every book I read in the last couple of months had a journalist for the protagonist... except for this one. I went out on a limb and bought this book for my new Nook after reading a little bit about it. It is the story of twins born (under rather strange circumstances) in Ethiopia who become doctors. It was written by a doctor, so the medical procedures and ailments described in the book are written in great (and often disturbing) detail. Although it is fiction, it taught me a lot I never knew about Africa (and about medicine). The story is a little slow at times, but the ending made the book great. It's a coming-of-age story of forgiveness and reconciliation. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.