I’m Andrew Kaufman. My friends call me Andy. I’m a content strategist, writer, musician, artist, and science fiction enthusiast. This website has links to all of my personal and professional endeavors. Take a look around and enjoy!

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CarsDirect Buying Guides

I’ve been working on a project at work for a while now and it just went live. Behold, our new CarsDirect Vehicle Buying Guides!

We have our buying guides divided up by segment (like our Hybrid, SUV, Sedan, and Electric car buying guides) and lifestyle (like Family, Work, Budget, and Green buying guides).

We’ve also been putting together a bunch of  “Top” lists to highest the best cars with certain characteristics, like:

 

May 17, 2012 181 comments Read More

Scholarship Speech

I don’t have a lot of crystal clear memories of my father, but I do have a few. I remember him not wanting me to watch ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ when I was six years old – but letting me anyway. I remember him taking care of me when I got chickenpox. I remember him letting me eat too many chocolate covered marshmallows and me getting sick and never wanting to eat marshmallows ever again. I remember visiting him in the hospital near the end of his life and seeing him hooked up to a battery of tubes and machines.

But one memory stands out from all the rest of them in my mind. While visiting him in Los Angeles (I lived in the Bay Area with my Mom at the time) he took me to spend the day with him in the second grade class that he taught in a school in East LA. Aside from the fact that the school was a bit more run-down looking than the one I attended back home, the main difference I noticed was actually how well behaved and attentive the students were.

Now I know how difficult second graders can be, and this is no knock against my own teachers back then, but I was really amazed at how much control my dad had over his class. He didn’t have to yell or scream or make threats. His students generally seemed to WANT to learn from him. Whether he was talking to the whole class, organizing an activity, or giving individual instruction to one of his students, the lack of chaos and commotion in his classroom was shocking to me. What kind of sorcery was he using to keep all these kids engaged and attentive? Bribery? Threats? Magic?

But as the day went on and I got a chance to see him in action, it slowly became clear to me. He wasn’t a wizard. He was just a really really good teacher. He didn’t allow troublemakers to disrupt his class. He didn’t allow students to avoid joining the discussion. He made students feel comfortable asking questions if they didn’t understand what was going on. He offered them rewards for good work, but didn’t punishment them for bad work. And most importantly he presented the material in a way that was interesting and understandable – even to a second grader with a short attention span and raging hormones. While I had seen those qualities in him as a father growing up, it wasn’t until that day that I realized how perfectly they translated into being a teacher.

Although he lost his battle with AIDS when I was seven years old, I’ve come to learn a lot more about him from friends and family since then. And while there is often a tendency to idealize loved ones who pass away before their time, it’s especially hard not to do that when the person in question was an incredibly intelligent and ambitious person from a comfortable family who decided to devote his life to teaching underprivileged children in some of the roughest schools in the country.

Now I know that he wasn’t a saint. No one is. We all have our faults and our strengths. But what I do know is that he genuinely enjoyed teaching and was incredibly good at it. It wasn’t just a job for him. If it was, he would have taught in Bel-Air or Beverly Hills. Instead he decided to teach where he was needed most. And that says a lot about who he was and what he cared about. I have a feeling that all of the scholarship recipients today are cut from a similar mold. Teaching is a hard job and the rewards for success aren’t monetary. Teachers are forced to do more with less every day and are constantly trying to find ways to provide their students with a good education in the face of budget cuts and bureaucracy. To be a good teacher you have to really believe in the work you’re doing and the positive effect you can have on your students. If you’re looking for a shorter workday and summers off – you probably aren’t going to last very long.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who decides to spend their life teaching others, especially teachers who focus their efforts on those that are at the highest risk. I know that my father would be proud of all the help that his scholarship has provided – I know that I sure am.

May 12, 2012 3 comments Read More

4th of July

I remember holding hands with the night
the sound of our little feet and the smell of the pines

And that night when we caught lightning in a jar
and we wouldn’t let it out til all of our games were done

And the girl whose bones were shrinking
passed away on the fourth of July
and you always tried to help me think up believable lies

And even though I couldn’t see
you described it to me
you made it seem so real
as real as it could be

Our teachers told us not to wait for a cure
That the gifts we were given were noble and pure

And we cried into the spaces between each others arms
And hid ourselves someplace where it was always safe and warm

Although you learned to accept it
I kept fighting with all of my might
You learned to live in the daytime I was still trapped in the night

And even though I couldn’t see
you described it to me
you made it seem so real
as real as it could be

February 21, 2011 4 comments Read More

Where Is My Mind?

I was finally able to make a digital copy of a VHS cassette that I’ve had floating around for the past 10 years of a show my first band played at our house my Senior year of college (2001, I think). I guess the band was called High Ball at the time (I think we changed names every show we played) and it consisted of Me, Tony Terrafranca (drums) and Brian Elyo (Bass) – with special guest appearances by Adam Martin and John Rudolf on vocals. After a little research I figured out how to edit them into shorter song-sized clips, and this is the first one – a cover of The Pixies’ song “Where is My Mind.” Adam does a great job singing and freaking out. More to come…

January 23, 2011 81 comments Read More

In My Head



We both knew
it wasn’t meant to be
but it was so hard to make ourselves believe
I never wanted you to go
but after you decided
It was like I’d already known

I wake up every morning and look at where you used to be
silent and haunting only dust and shadows to see

And I don’t let myself imagine how it could have been
I just wrap my arms around the picture in my head

I know that I’ll move on and find someone new
but every time I get close
I can’t help comparing them to you

And I don’t let myself imagine how it could have been
I just wrap my arms
around the picture in my head

And when you showed up on my front door
you told me that you wanted to give it another go

January 16, 2011 1 comment Read More

Grandfather’s Clock



This is an instrumental cover of a song called “Grandfather’s Clock.” Originally written around the turn of the century, the song has since become a bluegrass standard. I first came across this song on the album Tone Poems by Tony Rice and David Grisman. It has a really warm, soothing and evocative feel to it and reminds me of crisp winter days in Colorado, relaxing next to a fire. It also sort of reminds me of music that I’d hear around the holidays (both Thanksgiving and Christmas).

I chose this song because it gave me a chance to practice the Mandolin against a simple plucked guitar backdrop. I particularly like the tremolo effect on the Mandolin, and this song uses it throughout.

Hope you enjoy – and have a great Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010 48 comments Read More

The Flame

Lyrics:

Every day follows the next
in a line of moments that I can’t get back
but you came up and showed me the way
to get back the good times and store them away

It’s easy to get lost in the dark of the night
when you don’t have a candle to hold to the light
but if you hold on, til the sunrise
you’ll start to see through her beautiful eyes

and the book that I’m writing is bound
by the sights and the smells and the sounds
and the words that are written in stone
still have the power to cut to the bone

and when I’m old and grey
i hope you’ll sit with me and look at me that way
and if the stars should change
ill always think of how you saved me from the flame

Days into weeks and weeks into years
sweat into blood and blood into tears
hate into healing and heart into hope
all of the feelings that make up your home

and the book that I’m writing is bound
by the sights and the smells and the sounds
and the words that are written in stone
still have the power to cut to the bone

November 6, 2010 6 comments Read More

This Again



The light it seems
flows slowly from my dreams
and I wake to the sound
of you snoring
and I try to remember
but my past is far behind
and I’m too busy living in my own mind

And I don’t know what you came for
and I don’t know why i let you back in
but you are more than i can handle
and I can’t handle this again

You came in last night
as I turned out the light
and you ask me if you
could stay the night
I remember saying no
before I said alright
I was too tired to get into a fight

You said that you were just passing through
and you just wanted to see an old friend
you saw that I had my light on
and you had to see me again

And I don’t know what you came for
and I don’t know why i let you back in
but you are more than i can handle
and I can’t handle this again…this again

October 23, 2010 0 comments Read More

Sink

I met you in a cold dark place
out of the light of the sun
all i could see was the shadow of your face
long may you run

And I’ll fight for you

I want you to see me
like I never was
like we used to sit and talk
for hours in the dark

And I’ll sing for you

And I will look for you
even if I never find the truth
i’ve told so many lies myself
abandoned them in sickness and in health

The places that you took me
were all deep under ground
you didn’t like to see the light
or go out on the town

And i’ll sink with you

October 23, 2010 8 comments Read More

Invisible Heart

I got up and wiped the sleep out of my eyes
Looked in the mirror and recognized my disguise
I went out, to find the one I’ll never forget
all these years and i haven’t found her yet

i listen to the breeze to see what it has to say
the leaves on the trees seem to lead the way

I want you to see my like I never was
back when the future was my favorite drug
I look back to see where I have been
the present is always where the past begins

I wait for the sound of things falling into place
the puzzle unwound and the light when it touches her face

I never thought that it would be easy
but I never thought it would be this hard
I was obsessed with a memory
I fell in love with an invisible heart

There’s no way she could live up to the myth that I made
so I’ll just remember her in my own way

I never thought that it would be easy
but I never thought it would be this hard
I was obsessed with a memory
I fell in love with an invisible heart

October 10, 2010 1 comment Read More