Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Still Call Him "Mister"

In my travels, I see a lot of neat things -- one was on Saturday, pretty close to home.  In fact, it was in my hometown of Hampton that I fixed the computer of our retired school superintendent.  From the time I was in Kindergarten until today, I have had the utmost respect for Jim Alexander.

When he called and said who he was, it was very hard for me to just call him, "Jim."  From when I was a little guy, his first name was always "Mister."  I don't know what it was about the man, but he just demanded respect. I'm sure there were people/students/teachers/etc who may not have cared for him, but I never met one.  If there were the same people who didn't care for him, I bet they damn well respected him.

A little slower to answer the door, a little hard of hearing, but a whole lot of Mr. Alexander was still in the room. I'd never been to his home before, but when a cat greeted me, I knew it was a friendly house.

When he asked me, "Where did you learn all this??" I knew I'd be a fool if I didn't say "Hampton High School!"  I told him that when I was in 11th Grade, it was just Mr. Reibsamen and myself who played/studied/learned on the Apple II that the school had gotten free.  He had a big smile on his face.

Mr. Alexander said, "When I left the school district, we had 96 computers.  Now, every kid has one."  Yes, they do.

So, after an hour or so on his computer, he was getting his email again -- from what I could tell, some stories and jokes from a few other retired teachers.  I'm glad they are in good company.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Happens at BarCamp, Stays At Bar -- Sort Of

I went to an entrepreneur's event last Saturday in Cedar Falls called, BarCamp.  I didn't know what to expect, never been to one, never heard of it before. 

There were two parts, the Friday night "Bar" part, which was a bit of un-organized chaos at first, but ended up being a neat event.  I took Becky and promised her some Red Lobster, so we didn't say too long.

The next day I got up earlier than I wanted to on a Saturday, picked up another person who had an interest in the BarCamp and we headed out.  We got there early to some more organized chaos, 50 people who had no clue as to what to do.  The day was split into 3 segments -- Tech, Creative and Economic Development.  Each room had its own classes -- a cool concept.  Anyone who wanted to present, could do it.  Obviously, there were people who had done this before, as the showed up with presentations that had been practiced before.  Reminder to self, next time, I will have a presentation ready.

I was in the Econ room for the day -- 9:30am - 1:00pm  and took in the 6 seminars.  It was somewhat informative.  Web development, SEO stuff, whining about why Cedar Falls isn't Des Moines, a class on the upcoming 140 Character Conference, a guy talking about losing a job and finding work online through various programs and also how to crowdsource funding for your new business.

To address one topic, there's a reason why Cedar Falls won't be Des Moines, and it's networking.  From a few of the Cedar Falls events I've been to, the folk there are a bit stand-offish.  In the Des Moines events I go to, I'm always included in the discussion or the crowd.  This happens to a lot of folks.  Many stand in the corner, it happens.  In Des Moines, I've been invited out of the corner and into a social group.  I can't say the same thing for the nice folks in Cedar Falls. 

The event, including lunch and social time was supposed to go from 1pm to 5pm or so....We left at 1:15pm.  There was little inclusion and maybe it was me, but I just didn't feel a part of the group.  Maybe it was their age (younger) or my age (older) but it was just one of those things - hard to explain.

I took my free tshirt and we left.  It was worth the $5, it was worth getting up for, and I would do it again -- but let me know when they are having BarCamp in Des Moines -- OR in Hampton -- then you can count me in!