Just wanted to pass along a head’s up that I will be a guest on The Brian Lehrer Show on Monday, April 2. It airs on WNYC in New York City, and can be heard online if you click the previous link. I’ll be talking about cyberbullying. The segment is expected to air around 11:40am eastern, 8:40am Pacific. -andy
March 30, 2007
March 29, 2007
Looks like I’m going to be on the BBC this afternoon as part of their World Have Your Say program, talking about cyberbullying. I believe Beth Kanter will be on air as well. It’ll air live at 1800 GMT – that’s 1pm ET, 10am Pacific here in the US. I think I’ll be popping into the conversation somewhere around 40 minutes into the show. Wish me luck! -andy
March 24, 2007
Spring is in the air, so I thought I’d celebrate by throwing away lots of money and getting some new toys. Okay, “throwing away” might be a bit misleading, because my mobile phone just died and my digital camera is moribund at best, so it was a matter of time before I had to get replacements anyway.
First, there’s my new mobile phone – a Treo 700p. My old Treo 600 gave up the ghost at SXSW a couple of weeks ago, so I needed some kind of replacement. It just came in the mail yesterday. It’s working fine as a phone and Web device, but it crashes when I try to use their email client. Can’t wait to spend an hour or two on the phone with Palm later this weekend.
Then, there’s my new video camera. I decided to take the plunge and buy the brand-new Sanyo Xacti HD2. A lot of my vlogging buddies have sworn by its predecessor, the HD1, which shoots in high-definition and records to digital SD card in MPEG-4 format. Unfortunately, I got scared away by several online reviews that lamented the HD1′s ability to shoot video without ample light. From everything I’ve heard about the new HD2, they’ve solved this problem. And if they’re wrong, well, that’s why 30-day warranties exist.
Anyway, I’m really psyched to have some new gadgets to keep me busy for a while. The HD2 should come in really handy for our new Dirty Diaper Diaries videos, which could use some help in the production values department. -andy
December 29, 2006
In case you haven’t seen it yet, the latest blog meme going around is “five things people don’t know about you.” Ethan Zuckerman just posted his own list (He ran for president once; who knew.) after being tagged by Rebecca MacKinnon. Well, it’s my turn now, as I’ve been tagged by Angela Stuber of Grassroots.org. This is actually a tough exercise, having been journaling online and blogging for the better part of 12 years now, leaving few stones unturned. For example, I would have included random tidbits like Ethan Zuckerman being my distance cousin, but dammit, I’ve already blogged about that. So here it goes:
1. I’ve been shot at twice; once intentionally and the other not. Okay, I’m already cheating somewhat because those of you who have been reading my website since the late 1990s know that I was shot at in eastern Turkey by a pair of Turkish military police. But what you may not know is that it happened again in Havana in 2001. I was there visiting an urban telecentre and Susanne was shooting footage for a National Geographic documentary. We’d just finished walking through a neighborhood festival when we strolled down a side street. Ahead of us, two men were having an argument, but it didn’t seem serious. Suddenly, one pulled out a machete, the other a gun, and they started chasing each other in circles around the car. The gun went pop pop pop a few times, and I stood there like an idiot, somehow not registering what was going on. Then a nice shopkeep grabbed Susanne and me by our necks and yanked us out of the line of fire. Only then did it sink in that these two guys were really trying to kill each other. A few moments later, unmarked cars zoomed in, and plainclothes policemen had them tossed into the back of the cars faster than you can say “Fidel Castro is recovering nicely.”
2. I have achilles tendon problems because I got scared by a rubber snake. When I was three or four, I got freaked out by a rubber snake at a toy store while shopping for a friend’s birthday gift. At the birthday party, I then saw a similar toy snake on my friend’s carpet, and freaked out yet again. For months I wouldn’t walk on carpets, associating all floor coverings with serpents. My grandfather patiently coaxed me back onto carpets by encouraging me to crawl first, then walking on my tip toes. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Turns out I spent the next ten years walking on the balls of my toes subconsciously when I crossed a carpet, and it caused my achilles tendons to grow improperly when I went through puberty. Ever since then, I’ve had tight achilles tendons that require constant stretching.
3. George W. Bush once gave me a personal cheer. It was early 2001 and I was going for a jog at lunchtime. I was near the Department of Energy and suddenly several policemen came by on motorcycles to block the roads. It was the presidential motorcade. I stood there, the only other person on the city block, and watched the motorcade approach. There were two limos; in the first I thought I saw the president reading a newspaper. But then came the second limo. Bush had his faced pressed against the glass and he was giving me an enthusiastic thumbs up with both hands, mouthing what appeared to be a fratboy-like, “OH YEAH!!!” I waved back, dumbfounded. It was only later back at the gym that I realized he was actually saying “Go Yale!” due to the Yale sweatshirt I was wearing.
4. I was nearly smushed by a drunk driver in high school. My friend Todd Demetriades and I were leaving another friend’s house, and we were talking outside. Todd was getting in his car, standing behind his open door, while I was leaning on my car across the street. Suddenly we saw a sports car racing down the street, heading directly for me and my car. It then swerved at the last minute, clipped Todd’s car, knocking him into the air. The car then spun out and stopped. Todd, miraculously, wasn’t hurt. We ran over to the sports car and yelled at the driver that he nearly killed us. He looked at us blankly, wreaking of beer. “I did?” he said, groggy. “Sorry.” He then hit the gas and raced away. But he was so drunk he just went around the corner and parked his car in front of his house, falling asleep, making it easy for the police to find him.
5. I went to a UN summit wearing eyeliner. In December 2003, I went to the annual National Geographic Channel Christmas party with Susanne. Their parties always had a costume theme, and that year happened to be rock stars. For me, there was only one choice; I went as Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. We spent about an hour plying layers of makeup on my face that evening. Unfortunately, the mojitos at the party were much stronger than any previous year, and I got rather smashed, too ferschnickered to remove said makeup when I got home. Complicating matters was the fact that I was leaving for Geneva that next morning for the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society, and I couldn’t get all the makeup off my face. In particular, the eyeliner was practically tattooed on me, so eventually I had no choice but to give up and get on the plane with traces of Dee still on my face. It didn’t fade for about three days. Lesson learned: if you have to dress up like a rock star before going to a UN summit, dress like John Lennon instead.
So that’s my list of five things you probably didn’t know about me. Now it’s your turn, assuming your name is either David Warlick, Jonny Goldstein, Amanda Congdon, Steve Garfield or John Bracken. Tag – you’re it. -andy
A row of fresh UPS package slips adorn our apartment entrance.
I’ve had it with UPS.
For the last month, Susanne and I have been fighting with UPS over the behavior of our local driver, who refuses to drop packages at our apartment. Normally, when a package is brought to our building, whether it’s UPS, FedEx or the Post Office, they’ll try to contact us using the downstairs intercom. If they can’t reach us, they’ll try again or leave it in front of our door. But for some reason, our local UPS driver doesn’t try to contact us. Five times in a row now, when packages have been sent to us via UPS, the driver simply posts a sticker downstairs saying he tried to contact us, couldn’t reach us, and delivered the package down the street at our complex’s main office. The only problem with this is the sticker always seems to denote a time when we’re at home – and the phone never rings.
At first I thought there was a problem with the call box downstairs, since it took a while for them to add our phone to the system. But I tested it and it worked fine. Then I talked to other people in the building who experienced similar problems. It didn’t seem to matter that we were home; the driver would just put stickers on the door and dump the packages down the street. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s difficult for Susanne to pick up packages during the day because she’s with the baby, and there are also people with disabilities in our building who lack the mobility to walk half a mile to the office and back.
The first few times it happened I called UPS and complained, and they said it would be resolved, but I should check to be sure our call box worked. It worked fine. By the time it happened the fourth time, Susanne called UPS and said she’d like to make a complaint. The woman she talked to said she was more than welcome to file a complaint, but she should know that the UPS driver might decide to retaliate and refuse to deliver packages altogether, forcing us to drive across town to pick it up at the local UPS center. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. While the woman wasn’t intentionally trying to make a threat, that’s basically what it was – if we complain, the UPS driver would just make life more difficult for us, without being held accountable for it.
At this point, my mom hears about this and gets in on the act – she was one of the people who sent us a package via UPS. She called them and gave them an earful, and the manager she spoke with said they couldn’t believe a UPS employee would do this. They also promised we’d receive a personal apology via a phone call. So far, nothing. And meanwhile, we continue to get package slips claiming the driver tried to call us, even though we’re home at the time.
From now on, it’s either FedEx or the Postal Service – UPS has lost me as a customer. -andy
November 18, 2006
The Denver Post ran a featured obituary for my father-in-law Dave Cornwall yesterday. By sheer coincidence, they also ran an obit for my cousin Sumner Shapiro right next to it. What are the odds of that? I wonder if I have a picture of the two of them together at my wedding. -andy
November 13, 2006
Today we buried Dave Cornwall on a hillside facing the Rocky Mountains in Denver. We left the house this morning, resigned to the fact that none of us could get all the dog hair off our clothes. Pulling out of the driveway, we saw that Pike’s Peak was enveloped in a skirt of clouds around its base, its snow covered summit shining in the morning sun. We’d never seen it so beautiful. Dave would have loved it.
The funeral service was held at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, where Dave had been baptised, confirmed and married. Several dozen family, friends and colleagues from the Lamont School of Music attended, including his 13 1/2-year-old golden retriever, Beethoven, who was given full rein of the cathedral during the service. It was a beautiful tribute to Dave, with readings by two of his sisters-in-law and his nephew Mike. Susanne and her sister both gave their own eulogies. Fighting back the tears, Susanne said
I must have been about nine years old. My dad and I were walking through the nature preserve near our house, our dog Rosy tugging at the leash. My dad wearing a khaki colored winter coat, me wearing a khaki colored coat that I’d picked because it looked just like his. We’d been walking for a long time and at some point I realized that the paths no longer looked familiar; we were totally lost. I looked up at him and worriedly said, “Are we lost?”
But he was smiling. “Why does it matter?” He shrugged. “We’re here.” At the time I took that to mean, here in the forest – because he loved nature so much. But I think now he meant that and more – we’re together, we’re on an adventure, we’re where we’ve never been before. To my dad there was nothing better than getting lost in a forest.
He was such a great dad. He could be silly – so many of my friends this week have told me that is what they most remembered about him. But I could also go to him for advice, or even sit quietly with him, just enjoying his company. He was brave – the way he accelerated down mountain roads (to the terror of my mom and her sisters), but also the way he handled the enormous obstacles that life threw at him. But I think I will remember him most for his creativity – the beautiful music that he left us will forever be a reflection of his soul.
And now I miss him so much – I hear his music in my head, I see him in my baby daughter’s face. And I imagine he is in heaven’s equivalent of a national park. Binoculars in hand, walking over log bridges, followed by all the dogs he loved over the years – Mozart, Rosy and Goldie, Cubby, Tawny and Reddy. Never needing to stop for breath, never running up against a barrier he cannot climb, so happy, so excited to scout every last inch of a boundless forest. He’s humming his latest composition, and his footsteps become percussion, the birds his string section, and as the wind carries off the melody, all of heaven is filled with his music….
The organist then performed one of Dave’s compositions – a three-minute fugue. Even though the piece had been composed for piano and the organist fumbled a few times, it was an extraordinary moment, feeling the deep bass of the pipe organ resonating through your bones. Dave would have loved it. Susanne’s Aunt Ginny recorded it on her video camera; I hope to make a copy of it and extract the audio so friends and family who couldn’t attend could experience the performance as well. (UPDATE: I’ve uploaded the audio of the performance.)
At the end of the funeral, I joined the five other pall bearers as we led Dave’s casket out of the church and towards the hearse. Beethoven joined the procession, pacing just behind me near Susanne and her mom. We then made the 30-minute drive to the cemetery, passing Dave’s childhood home along the gorgeous Monaco Parkway.
An honor guard was waiting for us at the cemetery, where they and the church canon performed a brief interment ceremony. After performing taps on the bugle, the honor guard folded the flag draped over his coffin with precision and dignity, presenting it to Mary, who sat in the front row with Susanne. The funeral party then concluded the proceedings with a luncheon at a local hotel, reminiscing moments with Dave and agreeing unanimously that he would have thoroughly enjoyed everything that had been done for him on this most difficult of days. -andy
November 11, 2006
Dave’s obituary ran in today’s Rocky Mountain News:
CORNWALL, DAVID R. David Randolph Cornwall died November 7, 2006 at Sky Ridge Medical Center. David was born May 18, 1937 in Denver, Colorado. He attended Harvard College and University of Chicago. He joined United Airlines in 1957 as a computer engineer, and retired in 2000 from Covia-Galileo International. A professional trombone player in his youth, David attended classes after retirement at Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and developed his natural musical talents. He became an accomplished composer of many beautiful pieces. His music will live on for years to come. Surviving Dave are his wife, Mary of Parker, CO; brother John Michael of Los Angeles, CA; daughter Catherine Swanson and husband Stephen of Brea, CA; daughter Susanne Carvin and husband Andy of Silver Spring, MD; and three grandchildren, Alicia and Alex Swanson, and Kayleigh Carvin. Viewing, Sunday 2-3:30 p.m. at Fairmount Mortuary. Service, Monday, 10:00 a.m., St. John’s Cathedral, 1350 Washington St., Denver, followed by burial at Fairmount Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Young Musicians Opportunity of Colorado, 1281 S Akron Way, Denver, CO 80231.
November 8, 2006
Susanne and her mom are working out the arrangements for Dave’s funeral today. It’s probably going to take place this Monday, not far from the house where Dave grew up in Denver. This should give plenty of time for family and friends to assemble in Colorado.
I wrapped up my work at NPR West this afternoon after a productive 12-hour day that began well before dawn. Tomorrow morning, I fly to Houston to participate in the Technology for All conference, pretty much as scheduled, though I’ll have to leave an hour or so earlier on Friday to catch a flight to Denver. I’ll stay there through the funeral, then hopefully continue to Atlanta to the Georgia Edtech Conference. Once that wraps up on Thursday, November 16 I’ll return home, where I’m sure our cats will be relieved to see me. Still don’t know when Kayleigh and Susanne will come home. -andy
November 7, 2006
This is a picture of Dave and Susanne’s mom at our wedding three and a half years ago. Just the way I want to remember him.