Category Archives: A Day in the Life

General happenings. Typically more narrative and journalistic.

2013: A Facebook Perspective

Here is how 2013 looked for Tara and me if you only go off of FB and blog updates.  I took the liberty of filling in the dots.

I started working at Lockheed Martin as a technical sales and manufacturing lead in January.

FB is misleading here.  I did start a new position at LM the beginning of the year, but I’m been employed by LM since January 2012 when they acquired Procerus.  The new position has been both challenging and exciting, which is exactly what I would like it to be.

Tara continues to enjoy her job as well.  Her group recently started a Newborn Screening Research Study.  The implications of this are very exciting, but it is keeping her very busy.

Isaac & Leah visited in January.

We like that Leah is from Boise because it means they pass through Utah a couple times a year and we get to see them.  This year they stopped by in January and in August.  In August, we had a little more time and were able to take them up Millcreek Canyon for a campfire and drinks.

I tried my hand at some home maintenance.

It does not feel like we did much in the way of traveling or camping in 2013.  I have often said this is because we spent more time on home projects.  This begs the question: What projects?   To which I draw a blank.  What did we do all year?  It certainly was nice having all those weekends free.  Heres a few projects we did:

  • Got permission from the neighbor that owns the empty lot behind our house to garden on it.  We tore down the dilapidated chain link fence that separated our yard from the lot and cleared a 10′ x 10′ plot to garden on.  The results were so-so.  Next year we hope to do better with watering.
  • Ben and I made a rugged shelf for our home-brew supplies and the fermenters.
  • I built a storage bike rack in the garage.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
  • We did a lot better keeping up with yard work.

We got into Pilates.  Although I found it quit awkward at first, it quickly grew on me.

We attended an Oscars party at Court & Annette’s.  Tara’s ballot won.

My parents finally sold our minivan.  This was apparently noteworthy enough for both a Facebook post and a ceremonial last drive.

This is the vehicle that took us all over the country on many family vacations.  I still remember waiting at home with anticipation while my parents bought that van in 2000ish. Once I got to college, they were gracious enough to let me and my friends take it on several rode trips: Hell, Detroit Lakes, and Breckenridge to name a few.

I got into home brewing and spent too much time on the labels.

Brewer-friend Gavin told me that making fun labels for your brew is one of the best parts.  I didn’t believe him, but decided to give it a shot just for kicks.  He was totally right.  It’s a presentation thing!

We took a vacation in Cozumel, MX in March and posted way too many obnoxious lovey-dovey photos.

We dubbed this our first “real vacation” since our honeymoon.  It was really nice.

The trunk-mount bike rack I inherited from old roomie, Chet Henry, was stolen off my car.

Sad day.

We went camping in Moab in May.

Moab is notorious for being packed out, especially in May.  A group from Colorado was kind enough to let us share their campsite with them because everything else was full.  Good conversations, good beer–this is what camping is all about.  This was also the final trip in our 12 months, 12 camping trips project.  I may post about this someday if I get around to it.

My Grandpa Ploetz passed away in May.

Tara’s Grandma Heimes also passed away in February.  These natural deaths are hard because you’ll miss the loved one that passed, but also because they remind you that you yourself are getting older and passing into new phases of life.

I posted Christmas photos 6 months late.

I started commuting via train.  Women riding the train tend to have bad gas.

Hyperbole, of course.  And I’d be lying if I claimed I’d never let one fly on the train.

I work with a bunch of nerds.

I’m an engineer.  This shouldn’t be news to anyone.

We climbed at least 1 mountain.

Several, actually, but the most noteworthy was 11,000′ Deseret Peak.

Laura, Bridget, and Tyler visited us.  We spent time at the LDS temple with Court and Annette.  Annette converted us to the LDS faith.

It was wonderful having everyone and showing them around Utah.  We also hiked to a mountain lake and went swimming in the Great Salt Lake.  Nobody actually converted to Mormonism.

We spent time on what appears to be a sand pit lake in Nebraska with the extended Heimes family.  We played disc golf, presumably during the same trip.

The biannual Heimes reunion took place at Mahoney SP in July.  We drove back with our bikes in tow.  I was able ride some of my old haunts which was super fun.  Uncle Terry’s family has a lake house near Ashland.  We spent a day there doing water sports.  I snuck away briefly to visit my old employer, KZCO.  So good to see those people again.

We celebrated our 4 year anniversary.

We celebrated with a trip back to Nebraska for a home football game.  See below.

I took engagement photos of Jason & Becky and Bryce & Sarah.  I also mentioned frustration with photos on Facebook and make noise about switching to flickr for photo sharing, but I never shared the link.

I learned photoshop.

I took a community education class.

We went to Oktoberfest with Court, and rather pregnant Annette.

Just one of the times we took advantage of Annette’s required sobriety and used her as DD.  I’m kidding.  Oktoberfest was a blast and Court & Annette are great friends.  We’re so glad Laura forced us to meet one another.

We traveled to Nebraska for a home game.

It was really cold, but great to be back for a game.

I was featured mountain biking in an artsy vimeo film.

Bike buddy, Patrick’s brother used some of our footage for his short film.

I tried my hand at baking with Ben Newcomb.

Tara and Annette started doing weekly “craft nights”.  While they were doing that, Ben and I decided to make protein banana bread following a recipe that came with the post-workout protein shake mix we use.  It turned out really good.

My parents visited Utah in September.

They came out for Labor day weekend and stayed at a condo in Park City.  We had fun hiking with them and doing a PC parade of homes.

Tara’s family also visited this year, spending a week in June.  Her dad and I shopped for home brew supplies while the girls shopped for Becky’s wedding dress.

***

This coming year, we’re making a goal to spend less time on social media and more time actually catching up with people via phone and email.  We may even do some volunteering if we get particularly ambitious.

I think I say it every year, but our greatest blessing is always our friends and family.  Being a sentimental type, I love looking back over the photos, blog posts, and Facebook messages throughout the year remembering the moments we shared.  We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and get a chance to stop and relax even if only for a moment.

The Time I Didn’t Realize Kurt Cobain is Dead

When I was 16, I discovered secular music.  I don’t mean to say that my childhood was devoid of The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, InSync, and, of course, Smashmouth.  It just wasn’t until I was 16, driving in my car, feeling that euphoria that comes with the freedom of first operating one’s own automobile, when a song came on the radio that spoke to me.

The song was “How you Remind Me” by Nickelback.  Did this song apply to my somewhat privileged, Papillion Nebraska life?  Not in the slightest.  But it somehow called out to the teenage angst I was experiencing.  You know, the I’m-mad-because-somebody-told-me-I-shouldn’t-be-so-happy-and-the-girl-I-like-in-social-studies-class-doesn’t-know-I-exist angst.  I was immediately hooked on Nickelback and alternative rock in general.

It wasn’t long before I discovered Nirvana.  Nevermind, with the naked baby on the cover, became one of the first secular albums I purchased.  I plucked it from the stack of jewel cases amongst the retro concert posters and incense smell of Homers record shop in Downtown Omaha (Either that, or I got it at Super Target in Papillion…).  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became my anthem.  I immediately set about trying to learn to play it on my guitar.  “Lithium” with its religious theme told me that my new musical taste was alright with God.

It is safe to say that I didn’t really get Nirvana or grunge rock back then.  It did not occur to me that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is not a tribute to teenagers, but rather one of the most epic caricatures of teenage angst of all time.  Nor did I realize that “Lithium” was never intended to be a Christian song, but rather just Cobain’s twisted sense of humor as he observed a friend become a born-again.

My love for alternative rock and pop punk continued to grow through high school.  I grew my hair out and tried to learn guitar, dreaming of becoming a rock star.  When I went to college, in an effort to express myself, I got a Kurt Cobain poster to hang on my dorm room wall.

One day, a friend, (I’ll use her actual name because this is no doubt one of her proudest moments) Amanda, was hanging out in our room and she noticed my Cobain poster.  A conversation started about Nirvana, and I was about to find out in the most embarrassing possible way that the artist I’d been idolizing for the past several years had been dead since long before I even knew who he was.

I don’t recall the specifics of how it happened.  If Amanda leaked it or if my roommate Dusty had overheard the conversation and started it, but the gossip immediately went viral and soon everybody knew.  I don’t know how I missed such a blatant fact about one of my favorite bands, but to my credit, this was before Youtube and Wikipedia, so one actually had to work to study up on social doctrine.  Licking my wounds, I vowed to never again be the fool that doesn’t know an obvious fact about the music scene.

When Wikipedia became popular, I spent hours reading about my favorite bands.  My taste matured as well.  The summer after my sophomore year of college, I discovered Pink Floyd.  I listened to them so heavily that summer that hearing the music now brings back crystal clear memories of events and people.  My dad and brothers were also obsessed and we used to quiz each other on band facts while waiting in line at the super market.

The Floyd was my gateway drug to classic rock.  I took History of Rock as an elective and paid more attention and took better notes than any of my engineering classes. Naturally, The Beatles would become my next obsession.  Sure I was brought up on Rubber Soul, dancing to “Drive my Car” in my undies and knock-off Ray Bans, but I had never experienced Magical Mystery Tour or the White Album.

When Tara graduated, we planned a road trip to California just the two of us.  The morning we left, Isaac solidified himself as best roommate ever by giving us the entire Beatles discology.  We drove over 3,000 miles on that trip, and I’m not sure if we listened to anything but the Beatles.  I remember driving through rolling pastures and green hills on our way to Rifle Falls in Colorado while listening to some of the earlier takes of “Strawberry Fields Forever” on Beatles Anthology.

A few years later, after moving to Utah, I was out at lunch with a group of coworkers and Crosby Still Nash & Young’s “Ohio” came on the radio.  One of the guys who hired on about the same time as me felt a certain allegiance as we had similar tastes in music and turned to me and said: “I bet you’re the only one here who knows who this is”.  I reeled, remembering that fateful moment Freshman year, but as the guitar riff came in, I immediately knew and answered with confidence while my colleagues looked on in awe.  In that moment, I realized I’d made it.

AbsolutelyAndrew Outgrows the www

If you’ve been to this site in the past couple weeks, you may have noticed a very subtle change.  The www has been removed from the URL.  That’s because we’re big shots now here at AbsolutelyAndrew and we don’t want our readers to be bothered with repetitive entry of the letter ‘w’.  Actually, fearless host Gavin worked some magic under the hood to optimize server space or something crazy like that.

In honor of the shorter address, I decided it was time for a new look and feel to the site.  The most obvious change is the theme, but more exciting is the addition of the photography page.

I’ve been enjoying making pictures (look, I’m even using the pretentious photographer vernacular) more than ever lately and, consequently, liking Facebook’s photo app less than ever.  I’m going to let you, the reader, in on a little secret: all the photos on my  new photography page are pulled from my new Flickr stream.  That’s right, look who’s ahead of the times.  I think Gavin told me to get Flicker 4 years ago.  I finally got it and he doesn’t even use it anymore.

In any case, now I have all my creative inspirations in one place.  If only the cavemen could see me now.

The Paper Route

The summer after sophomore year my friend Scott got us all jobs at the advertising company responsible for the weekly ads supplement in the Omaha World Herald.  Our tasking was simple: Once a week, deliver the ad to everyone that doesn’t have a newspaper subscription.  In other words, deliver a publication that 98% of the receivers couldn’t give less of a shit about.  It was the ultimate dream job for young high schoolers.  We worked for 2 days out of the week and played the rest.

I formed a partnership with my friend Jeremy and we tackled the routes as a team.  This made the work go faster and significantly more fun.  My ’89 Plymouth Voyager minivan was our mobile office.  We’d pick up the papers and go to a nearby park to roll and bag them.  If it rained, we moved operations indoors–to the back of the van.

Then we’d hit the route with Jeremy in the back with the sliding door open handling the right side of the street and ensuring I had a supply of papers up front as I drove and handled the left side.  Using this method, it only took a few hours to deliver a few hundred papers and earn $150 to split between us.  It seems like chump change now, but it was more than enough for a couple 16 year olds.  Once we were done, we’d go ride dirt jumps for the rest of the day.

The technique was easy enough to master:

  1. Grip rolled paper at one end and fling kind of like a Frisbee.
  2. Ensure you grip the end with the bag opening when you throw lest the paper fly out and blow down the street in 50 pieces while you chase it down.
  3. Ensure the standard transmission minivan has the parking break applied when you run for loose papers. (Just kidding, that step was never neglected)
  4. Ensure the window is rolled down prior to throwing the paper.
  5. Extra points if you nail the mailbox.

Jeremy tired of the paper route after that summer, but I kept with it doing a couple of the routes solo.  At some point Mike and Kyle also got routes and the following summer we’d all meet at Seymour Smith Park, aptly nicknamed the “Hairy Cock” due to the Harry A. Koch shooting range in the park.

For many, the goal in life is to find a job that doesn’t feel like work.  When I reminisce about that paper route, that wasn’t work.  Over time, I’m sure my memory has glossed over the extreme heat, the extreme cold, people constantly honking at you for going too slow, people complaining for not getting their ads, people complaining for getting their ads.  What I remember most fondly is friends, teamwork, and discipline.  More importantly, when the work was done, we left it until the next week and played hard in between.

Alas, a paper route doesn’t quite fund a mortgage.  Or perhaps when a job becomes a means of a particular lifestyle rather than just fun money, it becomes a more serious matter.  Rather than the job itself, I think it is the carefree summer that I miss.  The year is no longer comprised of 2 semesters and a summer and winter break.  It is strange to not get a “clean slate” every 13 weeks.  Further, the path through life is no longer clearly defined.  What is the ultimate goal?  How do I graduate life?  Forget graduation for now–I need to get back on this 2 days/week work schedule again…

12 Years Ago Today

The 12 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America seems like a random time to post a memoir of that day, but it occurred to me that I’ve never written it down.  And, although the years have skewed the memory, there are parts of it that are still crystal clear.  

I was a sophomore in high school.  I was at marching band practice.  it was a beautiful morning as many September mornings are in Nebraska.  We were just coming off the field when a girl (One of the section leaders, I think) came running outside and told us a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center buildings.  Practice abruptly adjourned and we filed back inside unsure what to think.

I was only 80% sure I knew what the World Trade Center was.  It took me a while to comprehend the gravity of the situation.  We made jokes about the situation that were probably quite inappropriate, but was the only way we knew how to react.  We watched the amateur footage of the crashes again and again throughout the day.  Every class had the news on.  They started saying it was Osama bin Laden.  I had no idea who that was.

When I left the building after school the sky was eerily quiet.  Then we heard it.  An approaching airplane.  Our hearts raced for a second before we realized it was Air Force One, on its way to Offutt Air Force Base.

My account is no more noteworthy than most of the nation and it almost seems insensitive to even share on a day dominated by stories of those actually involved in the events.  But we all remember.

Cozumel

In March, Tara and I took a second honeymoon.  We didn’t really call it that, but it was a full week vacation to the tropics just the two of us, and we haven’t done anything like that since our honeymoon.  We first visited Cozumel on our honeymoon cruise and had wanted to return ever since.  And so, in the peak of spring break season, we boarded a plane and flew from winter to 80 degree sunny skies.  After a 45 minute ferry ride on rather choppy seas, we landed in Cozumel and took a taxi away from the city to a small all-inclusive on the beach, surrounded by jungle.

We had left all the spring breakers in Cancun.  This resort was secluded and quiet.  The demographic was surprising, but a good mix.  It was mostly older (than us) couples and families with some retirees.  I think we were the youngest people there that hadn’t come with our parents.  At least 50% of the guests were Canadian.

The all inclusive bar scene is fascinating.  Everyone gets up pretty early because it gets dark so early and by 7 AM the sun is out in full force.  After eating breakfast, the guests head down to the beach bar and line up, waiting for it to open at 9.  It is not unlike a herd of cattle eagerly anticipating meal time.  Veteran all-inclusivers have brought big gulps and travel coffee mugs to have their libations made in as the resort cups are so small they make Main Street’s glasses seem king-size.  My UNL Alumni readers will appreciate this comparison, for everyone else, the glasses are really friggin’ small.

The bar tenders are totally chill, but can make frozen cocktails faster then anyone’s business.  90% of the patrons order drinks that require the use of a blender, so there is an “express” cerveza line.

Early in the week, we took a taxi to the only city on the island, San Miguel.  We went to the Cozumel history museum at which I was able to get my Carribean anthropology and geography fix (totally fascinates me for some reason).  We then enjoyed lunch at the small cafe at the museum overlooking the ocean.

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We tried some shopping in the afternoon, but quickly tired of the high pressure marketing made prevalent by cruise shippers’ tendency to spend a lot of money fast just because they think they’re purchasing an authentic souvenir from a land they spent 3 hours in.  At one point, while we looked for a sun hat for Tara, an American woman came over in a sun dress she had tried on and asked “You like?”, evidently forgetting that although she was in a foreign country, most people around her spoke fluent english.

We padded our way out of the cruise ship zone seeking a mini golf course I had read about that supposedly provides walky-talkies so you can call in drink orders while on the course.  Alas, it had gone out of business, but some excitement was had anyway when I nearly leaned on a massive iguana sunning itself on a stone wall.  Out of my peripheral, I had mistook it for a sculpture.  I swear it made a weird croaking noise to alert me of its presence.

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We then came upon an old catholic church with its doors open welcomingly so we stopped in briefly to look around before heading to a seaside bar for Pina Coladas and churros.

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Another day, we rented a car and drove down to Punta Sur Eco Park for exploring and snorkeling.  The recommended snorkeling route was to paddle 300 meters off-shore to a buoy, then turn right and follow the reef which parallels the shore for about half a kilometer until “you see a black coral”, then head back to shore and walk back up the beach.

This turned out to be a marathon of a snorkeling trek, but was absolutely amazing.  There was so much sea life and the water was perfectly clear.  We were exhausted by the end and it felt like we were having to fight the current to get back to shore.  When we finally did reach the beach, we collapsed on the sand to rest and found ourselves completely alone with nothing but palm trees and jungle to the inland and pristine blue ocean off-shore.

We walked back up the beach back to the little outfitter to return the gear.  We checked out the light house, and some of the other sites at Punta Sur before driving on to the far west side of the island to the same seaside cantina we ate at on our honeymoon, and once again had barely enough cash…

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The rest of the time we spend relaxing on the beach and snorkeling.  We did aqua aerobics one morning, or as the Mexicans call it: “Exercise in the Pool”.  This turned out to be a gaggle of drunk, middle-aged women and Tara and me.  The young male instructors knew exactly how to appeal to this crowd and the workout involved lots of pelvic thrusting and cat calling.  I felt totally out of place and was wishing I’d hit the pre-workout Pina Coladas a little harder.  At the end we all lined up and gave each other massages.  Yep, that happened.

Oh yeah, I should mention the limbo contest that I took 3rd place in, beaten only by a couple Brazilians.

 

 

 

The week went way too fast.  I’d highly recommend this destination to anyone considering the Cancun area.  Here are some details if you decide to go:

The Occidental Allegro, Cozumel MX

Flying into Cancun is the cheapest, but requires a 45 minute taxi to Playa del Carmen followed by a 45 minute ferry to Cozumel.  Next time I think we’ll fly right into Cozumel.  Even just avoiding the Cancun airport would make it worthwhile.

We were infinitely glad we went with the all-inclusive.  It was so nice not to have to worry about meal expenses all week.  Unlimited alcohol is a nice perk as well.

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Yay Homebrew!

I have been homebrewing with a friend for a couple years now, but thanks to lovely brewing equipment gifts from my in-laws for Christmas, I now have my own setup.  So far, I’ve done two batches: a hazelnut brown ale and an oatmeal stout.  Gavin suggested making labels with fun pictures for the beer.  I was a little skeptical at first, but this proved to be one of the most fun parts of the process.

When my family visited last August, my dad stuck his thumb drive in my computer an unloaded some 30 gig’s of family photos.  Gee thanks, Dad.  Anyway, it was in these pictures that I stumbled upon a self portrait of Garin in a suit wearing headphones.  The potential was there.  I threw it in PS, applied a couple filters and BAM!  The Gentleman’s Oatmeal Stout label was born.

Oatmeal Stout in a Row The Rocker Top Label Closeup

Garin with the Virgin

 

Ben and I spent a few hours over the weekend constructing this sweet brew shelf.  We wanted to make it strong enough to support a couple fermenters.  This was probably overkill, but it works.
The Brew Shelf