Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth

October 2, 2011

My PGP Public Key

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 7:56 am

An increasing number of people have been asking for my PGP public key so they can communicate with me through encrypted email. It’s usually attached to my email signature, but damn, it takes up a lot of characters, so I’m posting it here for your convenience. (Don’t know what PGP is or why it looks like a bunch of jumbled text? Read up on it at Wikipedia.)

Version: GnuPG/MacGPG2 v2.0.22 (Darwin)
Comment: GPGTools -


June 20, 2011

The Gay Girl In Damascus That Wasn’t

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 8:54 am

April 24, 2011

Dizzy, 10 Years Since He Joined Our Family

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 10:06 am

Easter Basket Booty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 10:04 am

January 28, 2011

Remembering “My Kennedy,” 25 Years After The Challenger Explosion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 9:42 am

I can’t believe it’s 25 years to the day since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember seeing it with my own eyes.

In January 1986, I was an eighth-grader at a junior high school in Indialantic, Florida. Like so many other kids in my community, I’d grown up with the space program. The launch pads of Cape Canaveral were around 40 miles north of my house, just north of the barrier island that I called home.

I’d probably seen at least 20 of the previous space shuttle launches, going back to STS-1 in April 1981, when John Young and Robert Crippen piloted the Enterprise. The local newspaper even ran a picture of me on its front page awaiting that first launch, eagerly scanning the sky with my parents’ binoculars. John Young had even come to my elementary school to dedicate a mural we’d created in honor of NASA.

Growing up along the Space Coast, you couldn’t avoid a shuttle launch; if you didn’t happen to be outside to follow the flame and the contrail coursing through the sky, the sonic boom would rattle the neighborhood with such resonance that it would vibrate your doors and set off car alarms.

Our community was immersed in NASA culture, whether or not your individual families contributed to it directly. My elementary school had been named after the Gemini program; our rival high school was named Satellite High. The establishing shot for the TV show “I Dream of Jeannie” – the building with the rockets in front of it – was filmed just north of us at Patrick Air Force Base. A neighbor friend of mine even had a life-size mockup of a Gemini mission capsule in his garage, left over from when a NASA engineer lived in the house. We’d played inside it so many times, flipping every switch in every conceivable combination, that eventually we just used it as a clubhouse to swap baseball cards.

During my lunch period at school that chilly morning in January 1986, the space shuttle Challenger was scheduled to launch. Normally if a launch were taking place at that time, I’d eat quickly and wait outside to catch the entire take-off. That day, though, I wasn’t in a rush. It was ridiculously cold outside, to the point where there had been a frost warning the previous night for the orange crops. The native Bostonian in me had become so acclimatized to Florida weather that I didn’t want to be outside in such frigid temperatures. To complicate matters, I had a big test later that day and wasn’t particularly prepared, so I kept my head buried in a text book while scarfing down lunch.

As lunch period wrapped up, I figured I’d poke my head outside, just in case the launch had taken place. I didn’t expect to see anything, since I couldn’t imagine they’d proceed with a launch in such cold temperatures. Stepping out the front doors of the school, a small group of students was staring slightly upwards, facing due north. No one was talking. I looked up, expecting to see either nothing or the shuttle barreling towards space, its contrail arcing gently through the sky like the world’s largest lowercase letter r.

What I saw, though, didn’t make any sense.

The contrail was shaped like a gargantuan capital Y, as if two stunt jets had flown in a tight formation and then parted in separate directions. The two contrails subdivided again and again, a weeping willow-like fractal pattern splitting into hundreds of faint lines, all drifting slowly downward towards the ocean.

I walked back into the school, unable to process what I had just witnessed. Throughout the hallways, students wrapped up the final lunch period and were making their way to their next class. There just seemed to be more commotion than usual. I was settling in for my French class when a friend of mine came up to my desk and said, “Someone just told me the shuttle blew up.”

I shrugged and told him it was crazy. My head still hadn’t processed what my eyes had just witnessed.

Sitting in French class, confused and in denial, I half-expected the period to begin as it always did. Instead, the school principal came over the PA system and announced, with great emotion in his voice, that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded about a minute after takeoff.

Most of the class sat there, stunned. A few students began to cry. Others rushed out the door without asking permission, no doubt eager to get to the main office and call home to check if their parents – NASA employees – were safe. I asked my teacher if I could be excused. She just nodded her head in silence.

I left the classroom and went straight to the small media lab in the school library. It was probably the only place in school outside the principal’s office that had a television, and I just couldn’t sit in class not knowing exactly what had happened. I needed to learn more. Every channel covered the disaster non-stop, but the coverage was all chaos – no one knew what caused the explosion or if the astronauts could have survived. It certainly appeared that it had been a fatal accident. I kept thinking of those hundreds of delicate contrails I’d seen outside, descending inexorably towards the sea. Which of those hauntingly beautiful weeping willow branches trailed the astronauts’ launch chamber in their final moments of life?

I must have sat in the media lab for two, three, four hours. I honestly don’t know. Time flowed into irrelevancy that afternoon. At some point, my American history teacher, who happened to be my French teacher’s husband, came into the room. Normally a real jokester who couldn’t stop talking, he was grave and somber, silently watching the television with me. It must have been his planning period, I thought, but I never asked him; I couldn’t keep my eyes off the TV.

He then grabbed his class materials and began to walk out the door. I looked back and we made eye contact for the first time that day.

“This is your Kennedy,” he said, glassy-eyed, closing the door as he left.

Eventually, the school day came to an end. Many students had departed earlier. There was no point in staying in the media lab any longer when I could get on my bike and go home.

Stepping outside, I looked one more time in the direction of the weeping willow contrails. Incredibly, they were still hanging in the air, as if the explosion had occurred moments earlier. Normally, a shuttle’s contrail evaporates within an hour of takeoff, if not sooner. But the air was so cold and calm that particular day, it remained etched in the sky, as if to etch in our memory – or scar into it – what we had just witnessed.

I’ve thought about the Challenger disaster countless times since then; the events of that day were so formative to my teenage years that I even wrote my college entrance essay about it. The Challenger explosion was indeed my Kennedy. As the JFK assassination had been for my parents, and September 11 would later be to the generation after me, the Challenger disaster was one of those rare life-altering events for which you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at that particular moment – whether you wanted to remember that moment or not.

January 17, 2011

Creepy pic of me projected on a building in San Francisco

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 8:06 pm

December 14, 2010

Bernie Sanders’ Filibuster, As Performed By An Animated Puppy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 10:56 am

Once the transcript of Bernie Sanders’ 124-page, nine-hour, one-man filibuster came out, I thought it would be fun to make an animated movie out of it using Unfortunately, Xtranormal sort of explodes when you post more than 20,000 characters, which amounts to just the first six pages of the filibuster transcript. Nonetheless, it’s kinda fund seeing and hearing the filibuster as told by a cute puppy. Or is that a teddy bear? No, it’s a puppy.

November 30, 2010

Recipe: Andy’s Black Bean Chipotle Cinnamon Pale Ale Turkey Chili

Filed under: Food — Andy Carvin @ 8:17 pm

Tonight I made perhaps my best chili yet. Here’s the recipe.


1 lb of ground turkey
1 large red pepper, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large can (29 oz) of diced tomato
1 large can (29 oz) of black beans
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1 packet of Ortega Chipotle Taco Powder
2 bottles of pale ale or similar hoppy beer
olive oil
1 tsp corn starch
1 cup cold water
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish

1 small can of chipotle peppers, finely diced (to use instead of taco powder, if desired)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder


In a nonstick pan, spray some cooking spray then brown one pound of ground turkey at medium high heat, breaking it up and stirring until cooked through. Set aside.

Dice two medium onions, setting aside a generous handful to use as garnish. Also dice the peppers, garlic cloves, carrots and zucchini.

In a large pot, warm one tablespoon of olive oil at medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, then 1 teaspoon of cumin. Let the spices sizzle for 30 seconds, then add the diced garlic and onions, not including the onion you set aside as a garnish. Stir to coat the onions with the olive oil, then cover the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until onions begin to become translucent. Incorporate the diced peppers and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked ground turkey. Pour one pale ale into the pot, then pour the other one for yourself. Incorporate the can of diced tomatoes and the black beans, including all the juices. Add the honey, cinnamon and the cocoa powder (the last one is optional, but it will add more complexity to the overall flavor). Add the packet of taco powder or the can of chipotle peppers. Add the zucchini, then stir.

Cover, then let simmer at medium heat for 20 minutes. Drink the other pale ale, then add the diced carrots, cover again, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. All the vegetables in the chili should be sauteed, but the carrots should have some crunch to them, which is why you don’t want to add them any earlier.

Take one tablespoon of corn starch and combine with one cup of cold water until fully dissolved. Slowly pour the resulting mix into the pot, stirring as you go. The corn starch will help thicken the chili. Let it simmer for at least one more minute.

Ladle two cups of the chili into a bowl, then sprinkle with a dash of fresh ground pepper, a small handful of shredded cheese and some of the diced onions. Goes well with more pale ale, or a bold red wine.

Serves four, plus generous leftovers, as it’ll taste even better on the second or third night. Hope you enjoy it – and please let me know how it turns out.

November 20, 2010

Tag Cloud Of PubCamp Introductions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 11:45 am

This morning at the start of PubCamp, we went around the room and had everyone introduce themselves, using three words or phrases to describe themselves. Mark Stencel kept track of around 50 of these introductions, and I’ve taken the liberty of putting all those words into to create a tag crowd. These are the results.

June 29, 2010

Kayleigh’s Awesome Self Portrait

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andy Carvin @ 6:01 pm

Because Kayleigh’s fine motor control is a bit behind for her age, it’s been hard for me to tell from her drawings if she could depict a face. She proved otherwise at dinner tonight, when she made this self portrait of herself, totally without any prompting:

Nice work, Kayleigh!

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