Saturday, December 26, 2015

A sad holiday season

For anyone who knows me, I've never been a big fan of the holiday season.  It's taken on a bit more of a personal flavor this year with a pretty unhappy pair of losses over the last 2 months.

On Nov. 5th, my dad, Ken Converse, passed away.  He was 88.



He was a kind and gentle soul.  The youngest of 8 kids raised during the depression by only his mother, a widow, and the mean streets of Pipestone, S. Dakota.  He served in the Navy in WWII and was in the fleet that was present when Japan signed the surrender.  He met my mom while skating (he was, at the time, a bit like a skateboarder would be today in his youth) and asked her to marry him while working at a dairy where they both ended up at during the same period (he was, for a short time a milkman..yep, for reals).  That's not where his real interest lay though.  While in the Navy, he became an electrician's mate and, for most of his professional life, he was the equivalent of an un-degreed engineer everywhere he worked.  He spent most of his working life (30+ years) at IBM in various positions and lived a long and happy life with my Mom, Betty Converse, who's, thankfully, still with us and in reasonably good health.

A day before Christmas, my brother Craig died after a surgery that he hoped would end the pain and possibly help repair the damage done to his spinal cord in a car accident 9 years ago that made him a near quadriplegic.  He was 53.



Craig was a huge man, in both physical size and in the size of his heart.  At 6'6" and weighing in at 250-300lbs most of his life, it was hard to call him my "little" brother.  I did call him my less infinitely wise and younger brother as often as I could though, much to his (feigned) chagrin.  He was, like our dad, a gentle soul.  An architect by training, deep down, his real nature was that of an artist.  A very good one at that.  He spent the last several years of his professional life designing schools and involved with educational institutions before the accident.  His lovely wife Kate took excellent care of him until the end, making his life as good as it could be given the circumstances.   She will always be a part of our family.

I miss my Dad and my Brother, both, terribly.

Treasure your family and friends.  In the end, they're really all that matter.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

It's time to pass the torch at TinkerMill...

I founded TinkerMill a little over two years ago with a room of 5-6 people one Tuesday evening in one of our local public school meeting rooms.

Over the last two years, it's grown from an idea that we needed one of these in Longmont, to the largest makerspace in this 10 state region, with hundreds of paying members, over 1,000 online members, 10,000+ square feet of space, an incredible array of tools and capabilities and, most importantly, an incredible community of creative people, all experts at something.

I've been the president for these first two years; I said when I started that I'd lead it for a year, two tops.  Here we are, two years later and it's time for me to pass the torch; I told everyone that if nominated for president again, I wouldn't accept.

Soooo... Although I'm still on the board, mostly to provide a smooth transition, as of yesterday, I'm no longer the president.  We elected a new board and the board elected new officers (President, Vice President and Secretary).  Here's the lineup:

Clint Bickmore (New President)



Greg Collins (New Vice President)



Matt Stallard (New Secretary)



Fara Shimbo (Director)



Scott Converse (Director)




Ron Thomas remains our executive director.
Chris Yoder remains our Sgt. at Arms.
Steven Alexander is our new Treasurer.

I'd also like to say: A truly deep and sincere thank you to our departing board members: Karl Niemann, Lee Sutherland and Dixon Dick, all Founders of TinkerMill and all incredible contributors over our last two years of existence.  I'd also like to thank Jeff Cragg, also a TinkerMill Founder, who served for over two years as our treasurer as we grew to become what we are today.  Thank you to all of you.  It's been a great ride so far, and I think we still have a long way to go.

There are many adventures ahead with Makerspaces and TinkerMill around creating new kinds of education, innovation, economic development engines and furthering the creative collision of art, science, technology and entrepreneurship.  I'm not going away, I'll be there, trying to figure out how all this fits into the future, in Colorado, and many other places, and I hope many of you will be right there, with us.


Monday, May 11, 2015

I have a stormchasing hobby.

Here's my current stormchasing setup.  A phone and 2 tablets on 3 networks (Verizon, ATT, Sprint)  and the linux based in dash system that comes with the car providing GPS and maps.  Each device runs different multiple/software apps for tracking (radar, reports, ground crew real time report tracking, etc.).




BUT... this time around... tons of storms but nothing to actually see.  The storms were so big that they tended to hover low to the ground (with so much precipitation they looked like they went right down to the ground after only a few hundred yards.


This is unusual.  Tornado's generally require the ground to be warm first, which means you need a sunny morning to warm up the ground and then you have these majestic thunderstorms forming that you can see from many many miles away.  


You also, usually, have mornings to track and find good potential storm cells to view and, hopefully, take video and pictures of of.


Not this time.


This  'solid to the ground' cloud wall went on for hundreds of miles.  If a funnel cloud dropped down  more than  a hundred or so yards in front of me, I wouldn't have been able to see it.


There were also some pretty freaky artifacts of the storms like baseball sized hail (some locals claimed grapefruit sized).





So, with the prospect of smashed windows, funnel clouds dropping down on top of me due to crappy viability for hundreds of miles and the general bummer feel of this set of storms, I'm done chasing these things; at least for now.  


I'm still taking off the time though.  I need some time to evaluate stuff and consider what's next in this adventure called life.  We'll see.  :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Longmont has the worlds fastest internet (almost).

Heh....  Longmont now has the fastest internet in the US and the 2nd fastest in the world.

http://lmont.co/NextLight



Damned impressive.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Makerspaces and Local Economies


Excellent article in The Atlantic about how makerspaces jump-start innovation and new business creation at a local level.  We've seen this, in spades, at our own makerspace: TinkerMill.  

The picture above is of the first test unit production of a new patent pending product that was conceived, prototyped, internally crowdfunded by TinkerMIll members and is now going into first run production.


It's an essential oil extraction appliance- effectively a vacuum chamber that allows you to create essential oils from almost any biological source, by boiling it down in ethanol at very safe (low) temperatures.  It's called "The Source" from a company formed at TinkerMill called ExtractCraft (I'm a co-founder).  The number of markets it addresses is pretty astounding.


Without our makerspace, this product would never have been created.  The people with the right mix of skills would never have met.  The tools to prototype the ideas wouldn't have been available.  The funding would have been much more difficult to find (if it was findable at all- our own local professional investors who are more software only focused passed on the idea).  In short, there wouldn't be a product, or a company, without the makerspace.


The article (link below) about how these makerspaces work and effect local communities is insightful and very much worth the read:


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/makerspaces-are-remaking-local-economies/39080