During all my travels last year, I did get to do many fun things, such as attending the awesome wedding of Lance and Nicole! I’ve known Lance for several years and he’s one of the most interesting and funny guys I know. He’s also done some amazingly cool things like going on a mission trip to Africa for two months to help fly airplanes, start his own business making computer cases, and marrying Nicole. Nicole is really awesome too, and very sweet. And together, they through a pretty awesome party, as evidenced below:
As always, there are more pictures over on Flickr: An Atkins Wedding!0
Back In The Day™ I went to college with a kid named Lance Atkins. We shared many interests, including eating spaghetti every other Wednesday night. We were also lab partners in Machine Design, “an introduction to the principles of mechanical design [where m]ethods for determining static, fatigue and surface failure are presented.”1 We had fun. And we then we graduated. Lance declared his retirement from engineering and then went off to go fly planes — which I find interesting considering I work for an aerospace company and which Lance blames on Top Gun.
Then Lance had a crazy idea:
What do you want most? Start a business? That pretty girl on the subway? Ride a wild ostrich? Believe you want it and do it. We promise, the freedom is wonderful.
As Lance noted though, “…There is one caveat to your dreams, though. You have to risk that which you fear most: failure. So we set before you our risk. We have been working so, so hard to perfection. There are jobs that have been quit, money invested, and a few cuts and criticisms along the way.”2
Andrew: First things first, I remember a very distinct comment from you the day after graduation where you declared that you had retired from engineering (having just graduated with a Bachelors in Engineering, Mechanical Specialty). Does this mean you’ve come out of retirement?
Lance: Aha! You may have caught me… I definitely am using my engineering skills. I’ve always been a builder, so I guess Blackbox Case is a natural extension of that. I enjoy that I get to be an artisan, craftsman and businessman, as well as engineer. Variety is the spice of life, you know.
There have been a variety of cases for MacBooks: neoprene sleeves, hard-shell plastic coverings, shoulder backs. Your case seems pretty unique, though maybe not the first to use wood; what was the motivation to create a different kind of case and what sets this case apart from the rest?
My laptops have always had a rough life. I just hated how they would get abused and develop cracks after a year of traveling around in a backpack. So I guess the idea started with a hardshell case that could isolate the laptop from that compression abuse. The next priorities were light weight and aesthetics. I checked into many materials, costs, and even did some finite element analysis to calculate what it would take to protect a computer from everyday life. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by wood, specifically oak, and it’s perfect properties. It’s stiff, light, and hard but not brittle. As a bonus, it’s pretty darn cool looking.
Is this case just for show or does it actually provide protection? What happens if I drop the case with my MacBook inside?
I’ve already talked about the “crush” protection it provides in a bag. We also expect a MacBook to survive a drop much better inside of a Blackbox Case. The case may be harmed, but a bicycle helmet breaks to protect your head, too.
Right now, the only way to get a BlackBox Case is through BlackBoxCase.com. Do you have plans to expand your distribution channels? Might we see the BlackBox in the Apple Store (online or brick and mortar)?
For now, we will sell only online. We may go retail in the future, but for now we are most concerned with turning out really amazing handmade MacBook Pro cases. We have a few tricks up our sleeve too. New products, new materials, you never know…
BlackBox Cases are currently made in Golden, Colorado, which I’m sure has an effect on the price. Will BlackBox Cases always be made in America?
Yep. We wouldn’t have started it here if it won’t stay here. I love the idea of employing local and buying local. I love designing products and the smell of sawdust, so I think we shall keep it that way.
15 Percent, that’s an awesome idea, one which I really like…almost more than the case itself. Tell us a little more about 15 Percent and what you hope to accomplish with it?
I think giving is, for me, a great way to let go of something I hold onto too tightly. It has the opportunity to do some creative good in this world too. We are challenging everyone to give us feedback about where the money should go, because we want this to be a community effort. What do I hope to accomplish? If we are to dream big, I want to give away $100,000. I don’t know where yet, that’s where you readers come in. I’ve done a lot of studying on the side effects of big money donation, so we seek to give to programs that are set up with wisdom and sustainability. Maybe you know someone who needs a hand up?4
Who else is on Team BlackBox? What’s their story?
My main man is Anthony. He was formerly a professional hardwood floor guy. He’s the chief of production. Austin used to work construction and is a web developer. We have also teamed up with some old friends to make this happen. Evan is a graphic designer, Mike is a business guru, and AK is a videographer. I have been really surprised at all the help and counsel we have gotten from other people. They’re coming out of the woodwork! (pun?) We’re having fun and learning a thousand things a day.
Oh, awesome — I love Anthony, he’s a good guy! Lance, thanks so much for sharing about BlackBox Cases, hopefully I can stop by next time I’m in town (some guy I know is getting married). And while I don’t have a MacBook (yet), you can bet I’ll be talking with you when I do get one.
Earlier this year, I was asked if I would like to work on designing the front cover of The Brunton. Despite everything I was trying to get accomplished, I took this task on a way get some creative exercise. Working with the Student Activities Office (the department responsible for publishing The Brunton), I was able to come up with a pretty spiffy design:
I was also able to draw on my extensive collection of photos to pick 12 photos for display on the inside:
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Andrew Ferguson ’08 as an Enginerd, Mines Women’s Rugby, an Engineer participates in Engineering Days activies, Eileen Sullivan ’09 bores a hole in a rock during Engineering Days, Audrey Nelson ’07 enjoys a powder day, Lance Atkins ’09 and Nicole Zambon hiking Mt. Democrat, the Mines Marching Band during Homecoming, Ben Keiser ’07 stands in the Orecart during the march to the state capital, Blue Key member Corinne Johnson ’09 gets doused in whitewash while supervising the M-Climb, new LED lights on the M, Paul Johnson ’08 is Marvin the Miner along with Blaster.
It was a pretty fun project and didn’t take too much time. The Student Activities Office was kind enough to give me a lot of creative control, with only a few requirements. I also got a credit and a short biography on the first page of the The Brunton, which I thought was pretty spiffy:
Front cover and calendar photos taken by Andrew Ferguson, 2009 CSM graduate with a Degree in Engineering, Electrical Specialty. Front cover designed using a USGS topographic map of the Golden Quadrangle (7.5 minute series).
Over the course of his five years at Mines, Andrew amassed a wide variety of photos through his work with The Oredigger and personal projects.
After graduating, Andrew returned to the Seattle area to work in the aerospace industry. You can follow him on his blog and see more of his photos, from Mines and around the world, at http://AndrewFerguson.net.
All of the photos used in this year’s Brunton are of Mines students or places related to Mines
: I found some of the original designs I was working with. This was after the stage where I picked the initial photo to use on the front:0
For what ever reason, I feel like quoting some Three Dog Night:
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know
`Cause one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
One is the loneliest number, worse than two
We had graduation rehearsal today. I’ll be sitting in seat W-9, right behind Adam, who sits right behind Lance. I also learned that the tassel starts on the left side and moves to the right side.
These last few days are going to be about priorities. There’s really no motivation to do much work. I’m graduating and that’s a fact. My GPA can’t shift that much. I have a job.
So, how hard do I really want to work these next few days? How much fun do I want to have? How much are other people counting on me?0
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
I’m thinking that maybe I should start making weekly updates on my summer plans. To follow up on last weeks report, I’ve prayed and thought long and hard about Messenger and Engineering Ministries International and I don’t think those would be good matches for me.
Messenger is really a community-based missions trip and I think me not returning to Colorado next year is not inline with that goal. eMi seems to be more of planning organization rather then a doing organization. I’ve been planning for the last five years, I’m ready to do.
I’ve talked to a couple friends I have in Switzerland (Remo and GÃ¼nther) and Germany (Philip). One thing that I’ve started to look into is using RyanAir and Eurail to travel. RyanAir would be nice and fast, but I think is ultimately unfeasible to use on a regular basis because they only fly into cities with airports. Once I get to a city, I’d need to find some mode of transportation if I wanted to explore anything more than walking distance.
Eurail could be the ticket, though. I could get the 21 country pass and travel to just about any city of a decent size. Sure, it would be slower, but the sheer number of cities available make it completely worthwhile. Besides, Europe is that big. $1039 buys me two months of travel. I’d also probably consider 15 days of travel in two months for $709. If I did get a Eurail pass, I would probably just visit a lot of cities, spending as many days I wanted in each city (sleeping at a hostel, presumably), and then catching the next train to where ever. To this end, I have a phone call with Jessica planned tonight to
But I haven’t given up on a mission trip yet! My search is progressing and I talked with Lance who suggested an organization called Serving in Ministry. It looks like SIM has some really interesting short term mission trips, including a photography/videographer position; I’ll definitely be checking them out some more.
Flatiron’s Community Church may also be planning on sending a college group to Afghanistan over the summer. I emailed Ron, the Director of Missions at FCC to see what the deal on that will be.
I did finally call the Department of State today to see if there were any special travel restrictions that I needed to observe. They didn’t seem to have a list, so I’ll probably just keep an eye on the Entry/Exit requirements for countries I intend to visit. (Side rant: Why doesn’t travel.state.gov work with Google Chrome?)0