June 30, 2014

It Begins Where It Ends

Counting by calendar months, today is the last day of the first half of the year, a seemingly perfect time for a short recap. I’m experiencing new and increasingly greater joys of being a father, learning how to communicate better as a husband, and facing the realities, both good and bad, of expanding skill-sets and responsibilities at work. Life managed to catch me by surprise recently, but I hear it does that sometimes.

Coincidentally, I’m wrapping up the first half of the year and kicking off the second half while on vacation, an experience that has started off very well. Well enough, in fact, that I might have to consider making it a tradition.

May 27, 2014

Taking Free to the Extreme

When I was a frequenter of Starbucks, I used to think I was gaming the system when I would use my free drink reward to order a Venti with an extra shot (one size and shot up from my usual). As it turns out, what I was doing was amateurish compared to this crafty customer:

What did you accomplish this weekend? Maybe you opened your pool, planted a garden, or took care of some pesky errands. Not Andrew. Andrew set what is, as far as we can determine, a world record for the most expensive drink possible at Starbucks. Tamping down the previous known record at $47.30 is the Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino at $54.75.

Bravo, Andrew.

May 21, 2014

The Great Bourbon Run

I spent the weekend in Lexington, KY sipping bourbon and touring distilleries and there was nary a word about this supposed impending whiskey shortage. I guess they didn’t want to give me any more motivation to consider swiping the Pappy’s 23 year that they were bottling right in front of me.

It makes sense, though, considering the recent run on bourbon and the like. It does sound like many of the distilleries are expanding. Hopefully that will work out for them and 3-12 years from now we won’t have switched to, say, rum as our spirit of choice.

April 30, 2014

This American Idiot

I can’t believe I forgot how much I love American Idiot (the album) and, worse, that it took a musical to remind me.

The plot was thin, but the songs worked really well with an ensemble cast. If anything, it’s a great way to hear those songs. Loved it.

March 30, 2014

Hill of Beans

Blake Mycoskie, the founder and CEO of TOMS shoes is bringing the buy one give one model to coffee, with a bit of twist: buy coffee, give water.

Like the shoes that made TOMS famous, the coffee comes with a built-in plan for doing social good. In this case, the “give,” as TOMS employees call it, is water: For every bag of TOMS beans sold, a person in Rwanda, Malawai, Guatemala, Honduras, or Peru the areas where TOMS is sourcing beans will get clean water for a week; for every cup, someone gets water for a day.

I love the TOMS model and I like that it seems to work. I hope their success with shoes translates to the coffee and water movements, which are, individually, monster phenomena unto themselves.

February 23, 2014

Weekend Away

Bethany and I don’t really have any Valentines Day traditions, not even in a general sense. However, this year we were four inches away from two consecutive years of out of town plans – four inches of snow, that is. Though we might have easily made it out of town amidst the furor of post-snowpocalypse conditions, we opted instead for a three day staycation that delivered every bit up to its billing.

The key element of our staycation, and the original plan that preceded it, was a night or weekend without the little one. Don’t worry, we spent an adequate amount of time talking about, thinking about, or cooing over pictures of our child. That said, Bethany and I both subscribe to a philosophy that one of the most important keys to our success as parents is success in our marriage. Not that that will guarantee our success as parents, but that a successful marriage is the best thing for our sanity in our never-ending education in parenthood.

We spent most of the weekend together, but there were also moments where we enjoyed joint solitude – a seemingly impossible state when there is a rugrat around needing at least a little attention. On Sunday morning, our first morning without Reagan, I woke early and found it difficult to go back to sleep. I’ve been working on a couple of things in my spare time and one in particular sort of consumes my thoughts whenever I give it the slightest opening to creep in. Restless, I grabbed my laptop and headed to the most comfortable, warmest, quietest and least disruptive place I could find. Reagan’s room.

I landed in the rocker that is the go-to spot – the spot that’s used at least once a day, usually more, to calm Reagan and whatever thoughts are racing through her rapidly developing mind and focus them on sleep. Sleep was not my goal, but focus was. “Funny”, I thought to myself, “this is where I used to work before Reagan arrived. This was my office.” And it was almost too comfortable finding myself there again, just a few paces from the woman I love, sleeping peacefully, and surrounded by all things Reagan who was undoubtedly already awake and spreading her own brand of joy at Nana and Pop-pop’s house. This. This is what a weekend away feels like.

January 24, 2014

Six of Thirty

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh. Tributes abound, most notably (and reasonably so) on Apple’s own site dedicated to the occasion. I bought my first Mac, an iMac, in 2008 and I’m still using it today. In fact, I’m using it right now.

I arrived at Mac in the most cliché way possible – the much ballyhooed halo effect from my experience with an iPod and iPod Touch. Finally, after years of veiled iPod envy and Apple bashing, I became an Apple convert and I haven’t looked back since.

Here’s to 30 years of the Mac and many many more.

P.S. For the visual nostalgics out there, Jonathan Zufi, author of ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation, put together a website full of photos of vintage Macs.

December 30, 2013

Designer Gift

Ben Thompson over on his blog, stratechery, on the inherent risk of going off-list with holiday gift-giving:

However – and this is the rub – it’s a big risk to buy something unasked for. There’s always the chance that your gift will crash-and-burn; to give something that surprises and delights takes great thought, empathy, and a true understanding of the giftee, and most of us quickly retreat to the safety and ease of the list.

Ben’s larger point perfectly weaves the art of gift-giving into a discussion about the difference between design and marketing. Marketing, he posits, is finding out what the customer wants by asking them and then giving them what they say they want. Design is getting to know the customer and why they want or need something and then creating something that fills that void – either in the way they expect or, if you’re lucky, perhaps in some way they never even imagined.

Every year, I yearn to design the right gift rather than rely on marketing to get me there. Well-intended, I often fall short. To anyone who has received a marketing gift from me in recent years, I apologize. I’ll work on designing something better for you next year.

December 12, 2013
November 11, 2013

A North Carolina Skyline

Matt Robinson over at Raleigh Skyline put together a collage print incorporating 10 years of skyline shots from across the state of North Carolina. There are some curious design choices, but a must-have print for any North Carolina native, nonetheless. I’ve added it to my wish list.

If you haven’t checked out Matt’s work before, you should take some time to browse his prints. His recent shots from the PNC Plaza rooftop are incredible.