Doing (Many) Things


I saw more than a few friends share this TED Talk video titled Why some of us don’t have one true calling, and I read the transcripts and (like my friends, many of whom are makers) felt this described me.

I think the question people ask as an adult isn’t “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but instead it’s “So, what do you do?” and I know you’re supposed to answer by describing your job, but many people don’t define themselves by their job. For a while I answered “Whatever it takes!” but while amusing (to me) it’s not a great answer. And then there’s those of us who have two (or three) jobs, or things we do, or organizations we’re involved with, and sometimes they are interrelated, and sometimes they are not.

There’s some people who think my main thing is photography, others think it’s 3D printing, and still others think it’s web development. While I’ve done all those things (and still do, to some degree) none of them encompass all I do.

I know people who are Graphic Designers, and also play music, or shoot photos, but that’s still (to me) a primary thing with some secondary (related) things…

All of this brings me back to a piece Les Orchard wrote back in 2006 titled Serial Enthusiast. The Serial Enthusiast will jump from interest to interest, starting new projects, excited about trying something new, and learning a new skill. They may get really into something, go really deep, do a thing, and then move on.

We often use the term “Skill Collector” at Milwaukee Makerspace, because people tend to join with one thing in mind, like 3D printing, or wood working, or whatever, and then they get into electronics, or sewing, or building weird machines, or whatever.

In related news, I’ve been asked to write a bio for one of my jobs, so I crowdsourced it, and ask my Facebook friends to write it. This is what I got:

Pete Prodoehl is an expert punk who will probably automate the grading of his student’s assignments. His addiction to hammers will probably not affect his performance, although he may place pizza bagels on robots in the name of “art” or something. While pioneering toaster-oven-based HDPE recycling, he has also been known to keep the “makey bits” with Hardware and PHK. Shock. Fro-Gurt. Granola Bars. Probably the “Best colleague ever” who also shows promise at rolling sushi. Besides making a Big Button, he also helped invent (parts) of the Internet. (He also crowdsourced this bio.)

It’s not 100% accurate, but it is amusing.

So… What do you do?


Bloggers: 2015

Blogging: 2015

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a “bloggers your should follow” post, so it’s time. I mean, I’m sure you’re content with just reading the insane ramblings at RasterWeb!, but there are some people I know who are doing some amazing sharing, or are new at the game and could use a few more eyeballs, so here’s the list… and yes, they are all maker-focused. – Frankie Flood is responsible for the DCRL at UWM and a prolific maker and crafts-person. He shares many of his own projects (which often involve motorcycles or vehicle rebuilds) and he also shares the work of his students, and things that inspire him.

Bryan – Bryan is a former student of Frankie’s and leans a lot more towards physical computing projects involving computers and electronics. He also shares project with lots of photos and great detail. Like Frankie, some of Bryan’s posts involve things he’s working on for his students. (Instructors take note: blogging is a great way to document your curriculum!) – Chad is another former student of Frankie’s (sheesh!) and he’s a lot more focused on machines and machining and has a love of old tools. Like Frankie and Bryan, Chad also shares projects he works on for his students. Chad tends to do multiple posts for projects so you get to follow along with the progress. It’s better than TV! – John McGeen is a co-worker, friend, and also a former student of Frankie’s (see a trend here?) John is an obsessive maker, in a good way! I somehow convinced him to start blogging many months ago, and since then I’ve been greeted with documentation of his projects and skills on a weekly basis. There’s even been a bit of cross-over where we’ve worked on projects together, which is totally awesome, in my book. John’s also a motorcycle and vehicle guy (like Frankie) but he’s always trying something new, which is very inspiring.

Digital Fabrication and – Caitlin Driver is a current student of Frankie’s and spends her days (and nights) in the DCRL at UWM merging art and technology through digital fabrication. Caitlin is documenting most of her work in grad school — from exploration to process to finished piece — which is going to be extremely valuable in the future. (Bonus! Caitlin has another blog at – Vishal is a member of Milwaukee Makerspace and one of the main organizers of Maker Faire Milwaukee, and he’s finally starting to document his projects. If you want to keep an eye on some projects you might see at the next Maker Faire, keep an eye on Vishal’s posts.

Kathy’s – Kathy is also a member of Milwaukee Makerspace and one of the main organizers of Maker Faire Milwaukee. She’s just recently started blogging but I’m hoping if we keep bugging her she’ll keep going, because she works on a lot of awesome things, and the sharing them with the world would be a good thing.

Well that was fun! All of these people are friends of mine, and they do cool things, so check them out, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to make something.