From naval gazing to action (or cranking out some mediocre visual assignments)

The weekend was spent in Roanoke, Virginia, where I presented a program on 3D printing at the public library.

flyer for 3D printing workshop

3D printing workshop featuring ME

I like Roanoke.  It reminds me of Charlottesville, but without all of the pretentiousness.  It’s got good food, good drinks, lovely people, and occasionally banjo-playing buskers will set up on the streets.

My mother-in-law was good enough to watch Jobot over the weekend so that Will and I could kick around town without having to worry about nap schedules.  We caught up with old friends, spent some time in the public library, and had some good beers from the Parkway Brewery.

Parkway brewing beers

Beers from Parkway — this is from the Facebook page. I didn’t take the photo.

There wasn’t a lot of time for DS106, which I regret.  There’s always next week.

I did do a handful of daily creates:

Introduction to the class

Introduction to the class


inside the Makerbot

500 daily creates

500 daily creates


Nothing says good times like cake.

old and Matchbox cars

something old and something new

So here’s what I’ve learned about myself over the past year:  I am less apt to do and more likely to read/watch/navel gaze.  In other words, I spend more time reading blogs about DS106 and watching videos about DS106 and less time actually doing DS106.  Why?  Doing is hard.  Doing is frustrating.  And doing is usually time consuming.  I’m likely to spend more time naval gazing and thinking over the philosophies of DS106 and maker education, and less time practicing and polishing my skills.  I’ve got a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino kit.  Have I opened them yet?  Nope.  It’s easier to read what other folks are doing with it all.

This is dumb.

Recognizing that action is not my strength–that I’m more of an ideas person–I started in on some visual assignments last night.  Actually, just one visual assignment.

I worked on the “My Favorite Lyric”  visual assignment.  The decided to work with the song, “Tallulah” by Allo Darlin’.

I probably heard it for the first time about a year ago.  There are two lines in the song that I find especially interesting.  I focused on the first of the two:

I’m wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something
And I’m wondering if I’ve already met all the people that’ll mean something

I don’t feel the same way about music that I did when I was 16 or even 30.  I’m not moved by much.  Maybe it’s because everything sucks.  Most likely it’s because it’s too hard to ferret out the really good stuff.

Allo Darlin' lyrics

Allo Darlin’ lyrics

It’s not especially interesting, nor was it especially hard to do.  But it was practice, and it is a way for me to bookmark this particular song in some physical way.

The photo, by the way, is a cc licensed Flickr image by Bernard Benke.

8 thoughts on “From naval gazing to action (or cranking out some mediocre visual assignments)

  1. I love this post! It’s genuine, honest, and engaging…I feel like I’m just talking to you in person. I understand the navel gazing stuff–I tend to do a lot of that myself. I haven’t done much in ds106 either, mostly because I’m so busy with other things at the moment, but I’m trying to focus on just how much I’ve learned in only one week. One week ago I could neither make a gif nor do some cool stuff in gimp, both of which I can do now (okay, some limited cool stuff, but much more than I could do previously!). Good enough, I think!

    I also like the song, lyric and image you chose. It makes me think how meaningful lots of songs were to me when I was in my teens and 20s (and heck, 30s) and how much less that is happening today (40s). And I wonder why. I think the image and the font you chose are both quite nice. The only thing I’d suggest is somehow not have the text below crossing onto the radio, but this is a quibble, really.

    Wondering where you found the image and whether you used it intact or modified it somehow?

    • Hey there. I found the image through Lots of great creative commons photos there. I didn’t alter the photo in any way.

      I don’t know why music doesn’t mean as much now as it once did. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I don’t have the time to sample all that’s available (and sometimes hard to find). Nor do I have the time to sit and really listen. Oh well.

      If you’ve picked up animated GIFs and cool GIMP tricks already, I’m sure the next few weeks have some pretty crazy things in store. Can’t wait to see it.

  2. What a great post. I feel the same way. I just can’t seem to get stuff started. Oh and I have so many excuses. I’d really like to bust through the excuses. Maybe next week?

    • There is always next week. Or better yet: tonight! Start with some small, easy DS106 assignment. Or the daily creates.

  3. Hi Melanie –

    Talked to you briefly at your demo at the Roanoke library. Nice job, btw. And I like to think of Roanoke as an deeply unhipper Asheville–but I like unpretentious C’ville ref too. 🙂

    I’m planning to add a page to my book series website ( about maker spaces. What links would you recommend to teachers and librarians for starting their own maker space? I thought I’d list Make, Ada Fruit, Instructables, and SparkFun to start. I ran across a few articles about maker culture, but I’m not sure which would be most helpful for an educator wanting to use the concepts in the classroom.



    BTW, the tie-in to my books is that in the series, the main characters (teens) are makers and hackers essentially. They use creative means–underground comics, radio, and network–to fight back.

  4. Hey Angie. I made a Libguide a couple of weeks ago for some of the staff, faculty, and students here at school. You can take a look at some of the resources I’ve listed there:

    The Libguide includes articles, books, videos, people to follow on Twitter, so on and so forth.

    I love that the characters in your books are makers and use their own media to communicate and organize!

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