its way into my life, cluttering up my closets and shelves with it's sentimental uselessness. Every so often I dig through the piles and banish things that I never use and which don't mean too much to me. My load is lightened and I go about my life never thinking about it again.
This time however, the regret of donating that box has continued to slowly creep up on me. It was not immediate, but over the following months little memories began to come back to me. The signed cds from bands that I had seen before they got big, the obscure music of bands that never got big but should have, the music of friends who were musicians, cds that friends had burned for me...most of these could never be replaced, and I mourned them.
But the bigger loss was one I had not realized until a moment in the car when my son wanted to listen to some music. I felt it was time to expand his horizons a bit, and so I started to play some of my favorite music from back in high school and college. Music that I knew all of the lyrics to...music that came embedded with so many memories that each song was like a time capsule...music from a time when we didn't ask someone new what they did for a living, or what their hobbies were, we asked them what music they listened to. And that was when it hit me.
I never should have gotten rid of that box. Not because *I* need to someday take out those albums and relive those memories, but because someday *my son* should be able to dig in that box and discover it for himself.
When I was a kid I used to love looking through my mom's record collection. The cover artwork alone told a story. A story of a different time, a time that I never knew. A time when my mom and dad were young and rebellious and listened to music that reflected that. Songs by musicians like the Doors, the Mamas and Papas, Donovan, Simon and Garfunkle, Janis Joplin, the Beatles...I can still see the record covers in my mind.
One of my favorites that I discovered much later at my grandparents house was a Velvet Underground album that still had the banana unpeeled on the cover. Over time it had gotten cracked and I could see that the banana underneath was an intense fuchsia. There was such a deep sense of mystery about this album. This was weird stuff, intensely different than anything else I had heard. It was awesome.
The music fascinated me. This wasn't the eighties pop music I had heard on the radio like Madonna's "Material Girl" or Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", this was something much deeper.
I spent many hours listening to those records and memorizing everything about them, including most of the lyrics. On long road trips in our old, crappy Volkswagen Vanagon that was never warm enough and only had a half-assed radio, my mom would ask me to sing those songs to her. Sometimes she would listen as I sang, sometimes we would belt it out together. Sometimes she would ask me for songs I didn't know, and later I would find them and memorize them so that we could sing them together.
As I developed into a teenager I began to discover my own music. Music that was even deeper, and that was much darker and often angrier. Music by artists like the Cure, the Violent Femmes, the Pixies, Jane's Addiction...music by pissed off women like Tori Amos and Sinead O' Conner. Music that reflected my own emotional experience.
Again I spent hours staring at album covers, memorizing lyrics, becoming absorbed in the meaning behind the music. My friends were people who shared this love of music and who introduced me to their favorite stuff. We made mixed tapes for each other, weaving songs into story that said "I love you, I get you, we'll always be friends".
I think that making mixed tapes for people was the prelude to my later obsession with filmmaking. I spent hours and hours planning out the tape, picking which song would lead into the next and carefully hitting play and record at the same time. If I messed up I had to do it again. And I had to listen to each song in real time, it wasn't just drag and drop like it is now. I listened to each song in real time, planning out what went next and how to match it perfectly to my message, and when I gave it to my loved one, they had to listen to it in the order that I gave it to them in.
Not only that, but there were two sides to it. So one side could represent one emotion and the other another. It was a build-up. There was intention behind it. It was an art form.
Later I would get the same feeling editing my movies. The exhilaration of how one shot met with the next to evoke that feeling or communicate that concept was the same feeling I had when I made a mixed tape, with the added benefit that I could create the message to begin with. And of course there was the visual component too. It was a lot of additional layers, but at its core, for me, filmmaking is just like making a mixed tape for a good friend.
But now all that is gone. If I want to listen to a song I can just type it in and listen. I don't have to listen to the rest of the album. I rarely bother to look at the album artwork or to read the lyrics and ponder the deeper meaning behind the song.
The last time I gave someone a mixed cd, they just imported it into their laptop and added the songs to their music collection. Whenever they bothered to listen to it, it was out of order. I was devastated and haven't made a mixed cd since. That was over ten years ago.
I recently made a spotify playlist for my mother-in-law to play while she was going through cancer treatment. It was the first time I had put music together for someone in a long time. It wasn't exactly the same as making a mixed tape, but there was definitely an echo of the feeling. Shortly after, my husband and I began putting together a playlist for the upcoming birth of our next baby. Again it evoked those similar feelings of joy that I remember from making mixed tapes back in the day.
I am slowly coming to terms with what the changes in technology has done to the art forms we had built around the old technology. It is not the same, and I definitely have a nostalgia for the old ways of doing things, but it's good in its own way.
If I could turn back time, I would keep that box of cds. But there is no way to get it back now. That box is gone forever, and lives only in my memory. I want my son to be able to have the same joy of discovery that I had when digging through my mom's record collection. I want him to experience that same realization that his mother is more than who he knows now, that she has an interesting past, a time before he was born when she was maybe sort of cool.
I have debated trying to rebuild my collection. In my fantasy world I will go to thrift shops and record stores and get back all of the albums I used to have. Only this time it will be on vinyl because that's even cooler...
But most likely I won't have the time or money for that. I'll be too busy with the new baby and working freelance projects to spend hours digging through music. In the end, I might just have to make due with making my son a playlist...it's not the same as a collection, but it will have to do.
Ever since I’ve heard about 3D printing I’ve been curious about how it actually works. I imagined 3D printers looked like a larger version of my home laser printer, and that they just magically popped out fully formed objects like a woman giving birth.
To get a better sense of what 3D printing is about I attended an open hack day over my Thanksgiving break at the Tucson hacker space, Xerocraft.
You can check out Xerocraft at http://www.xerocraft.org/
I arrived at Xerocraft with a few friends in tow, and we got a tour of the space. They have all kinds of amazing stuff. The most exciting for the purpose of this trip were the several 3D printers that they’ve built themselves using their own laser cut wood and 3D printed parts.
After the tour, I mentioned that I was really interested in 3D printing, and one of the volunteers gave me a live tutorial on how to do it, and let me keep my 3D print after
It turns out that 3D printing starts out in a simple 3D design program. In this case we used a program called Solidworks.
I wanted to create something simple, so I decided on a 3D cube with the letters “BDW” and “C6” extruded on opposite sides of the cube.
To keep the cube light, and to save on the 3D printing material, we only filled the center 40%. Then we exported the file in an STL format and sent it to print.
It took about a half an hour for the printer to finish. The 3D printer heats up a coil of material and squirts it out with a metal tip one layer at a time. In the end, I had a physical cube just like the virtual one we had designed in the software program.
The whole process was a lot messier than what I had envisioned, but the end result was mind-blowing! There is so much that can be done with this technology, I can't wait to see how it evolves.
My first assignment for my Stanford Technology Entrepreneurship class was to write about a local successful startup. I was excited to find out that techstars, the highly successful startup accelerator company, was founded right here in Boulder in 2006. The following is what I wrote for the class:
Techstars is a highly selective mentorship-driven startup accelerator. It touts itself as the “#1 startup accelerator in the world”, and that might just be an accurate assessment. They accept only 1% of their applicants, so having your startup accepted to techstars is an impressive accomplishment in itself. Selected applicants participate in a three month long boot-camp type program where they are guided by mentors, given $100,000 in initial seed money, and connected with angel investors and venture capitalists for additional funding.
Techstars is a great example of a highly successful startup company. It held its first program in 2007 with 10 companies, 8 of which were funded. To date the company has funded 204 active startups, 24 that were acquired and 28 that have failed. The company was featured in a reality tv series on Bloomberg TV in 2011, and is now in 7 locations, including it’s first overseas program in London. They help about 100 companies a year and have over $70 million under management. This is a phenomenal amount of success for a company that only started seven years ago.
This success is no surprise when looking at the company’s founder and CEO, David Cohen. Cohen knew what it took to run a successful startup - he had already founded and run two successful companies prior to the launch of techstars, as well as a “graceful failure” in between.
This experience was helpful in a myriad of ways. First and foremost, Cohen understood what other people building startups really needed, and what was missing from the current market. This understanding of need was the foundation of the business idea. Because it came from personal experience, not just market research or a desire to make big bucks, Cohen was able to tap into an unmet need in the market, and develop the business concept based on meeting that need.
Second, Cohen developed a program that he really cared about. He was passionate about helping start ups to succeed. This passion to help others was a win-win proposition for everyone. The better the start ups did, the better techstars did.
Third, Cohen knew from experience that he couldn’t build a successful company alone. He used his contacts to form a dynamite team with Brad Feld, Jared Polis and David Brown. All were experienced entrepreneurs and investors who understood the needs of both start ups and investors.
Fourth, Cohen and his team used their great wealth of experience to avoid some of the pitfalls that inexperienced entrepreneurs might have gone through. Their first program was a huge success right out of the bat. This is rare on many levels when you look at the statistics of typical startups. They understood what a start up needed to be successful and they created a successful model both for their own company and for the companies that went through the program. They couldn’t have done this without their combined years of experience.
Lastly, they used their connections to build a network of investors, mentors and clients. This was key to their success on every level. For their model to work they needed to attract top talent, which they could not have done if they weren’t already connected. Then they needed to provide not only an excellent program but mentors and investors. Without their contacts going in, techstars would never have been able to get off the ground.
Based on this case study, an entrepreneur looking to found a successful startup should start with something they understand well and are passionate about. They should then build a team that also understands and is passionate about the startup. The team should use their combined knowledge to create a business model, or if the team is less experienced, they should bring in mentors. Finally, the entrepreneur should tap into the networks of everyone on the team. No matter what your business model is, without people, there is no business.
Not every start up will be able to have the degree of success that techstars has had. By learning about the factors that led to techstars success, one can gain an insight that may be helpful when applying to other business models.
Since becoming a mom to a little boy with Trisomy 21 I have written a lot about Down syndrome and disabilities. I am a storyteller, wife and mom to a teen and a toddler. Life is busy!