Great news in the mail box last week.
The city of Taylor has decided that they can no longer pay the utilities for the Reglue shop, so effective this month, we have an additional $260.00 to tack onto the monthly outgoing ledger.
That comes on the tail of the abysmal response to our annual fund raiser. We started it a month and a half ago, thinking that 60 days would be plenty of time to raise the money we need for the next year.
That's what I get for thinking when I ain't used to it.
Don't get me wrong. We absolutely love the folks that have supported us. I can never tell you how much I appreciate what you have done for us.
So here's where we stand. Grants that offer cash to use for day to day operational costs just do not exist any longer. Not in the amounts that are needed to keep Reglue afloat. $100.00 here, $300.00 there...and even those come with some substantially thick strings, such as money not to be used to reimburse volunteer's gasoline costs. So, except for the first couple of years, when I ran my organization from an injury claim, The Linux and Greater Free Software communities have supported us, and to this point, you folks have carried us through and allowed us to do the work we set out to do. And to this point, we have given you huge returns on your investments, having placed well over 1600 computers to disadvantaged kids in the past decade.
I've always been driven by the philosophy to find what I love to do and do it to the best of my ability and nothing but my very best is acceptable. I've lived up to that philosophy for 40 years, but now, this love affair with Reglue has hit rocky shores. So much that I've begun the mechanisms to close our non profit down. It will happen in stages over the next 16 months, but it will happen and I cannot justify putting my heart and soul into something that looks as if it might be on life support. Obviously there are more important things than providing computers to financially-disadvantaged kids. Obviously.
With this new monthly addition in outgoing funds, I don't see us lasting for more than 24 months as of now. Our Indiegogo campaign has 11 days to go and we've only reached just over 20% of the money we'll need, so to my mind, things are looking bleak. And as a reminder, we still have $400.00 left that will be matched by a generous donor. So the next $400.00 in donations will be matched.
For those who wish to donate with means other than Indiegogo, you can click on paypal.me/reglue. That will open a tab so you can make a donation directly to our paypal account.
You folks have been a great support system and it hurts me that we have to exit in this manner, but as one of my most hated phrases go, "It is what it is".
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Great news in the mail box last week.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 4:15 PM
Monday, February 20, 2017
I heard it from somewhere deep. That place where Sleep begins to demand just who in the Hell is important enough to interrupt it at this hour. As the fog cleared, I recognized the imminent dangerous weather alarm on my phone and it was persistent. Normally, for a thunderstorm warning or the such, it goes off once or twice and you can pretty much ignore it.
But this wasn't going to be ignored.
I fumbled for the phone in its cradle by the bed and smashed into dressers and end tables until I cleared the doorway from the bedroom into the hallway. That's where I met Diane and Malachi. I pushed Diane back toward the living room and sat on the couch, trying to clear the fog from my eyes and see the phone screen in front of me.
Tornado WARNING in your area.
Take Cover IMMEDIATELY
In less than 30 seconds it was as if someone had viciously cuffed my ears. The barometric pressure dropped so quickly that my eyes and ears did more than pop, they felt as if they had ruptured. Later, I would find blood had ran as droplets and streaked down my cheeks where tears would normally form. Diane grabbed me preparing for the world to tumble out of control.
And then it didn't. That whole Tumble Out Of Control thing.
In a way that can only be described as violent, the atmospheric pressure slammed us back into normalcy and the three of us gagged as if we were going to vomit, fortunately that didn't happen in such close quarters; or in any quarters for that matter.
The power had been knocked out momentarily so I reset the cable box. There wasn't much left to see. Nasty rain was slamming us but the storm that would indeed produce at least one tornado was now toward our East. As pictured above, the F1 or F-2 tornado laid into Thrall and Rockdale at about 1:20. That puts it over our house at 1AM. Just about the time we felt the air pressure drop like a bomb. What was that? That was the rapid circulation overhead announcing its presence. From there, it stuck East into Thrall and Rockdale...about 8 miles East of us.
So, as far as the storm goes, the shop has a broken window and some shingles have been ripped from the roof, but other than that, we are good. At least physically. Otherwise, we have some real problems. I'll get to that as soon as I can get the window replaced. The guy from Floyd's Glass should be here shortly. We'll talk then.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 11:14 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The good news, and there's been a shortage of that lately around Reglue; is that a good friend of ours has pledged to match the next $1000.00 donated to us via our annual Indiegogo fund raiser. We ran the campaign for the extended period of 60 days instead of 30, in order to give our annual donors the chance to donate, without a pressing timeline.
Not sure what's happened...in the past, when we've reached this point in our annual effort, we're well on our way to our goal. I suppose what makes us all uncomfortable around our organization is that we've got the chance to help a whole new level of folks within the next 3 months, and we don't have the means to do it.
Sleep comes at a premium lately.
So, I am preparing to place a number of lower priced perks for the campaign, to see if that brings in any support. It's difficult to get some of the mid-range items up, like a System76 Lemur3 laptop. Sure it's got some age on it but it's in perfect working order. We were going to offer it up at Indiegogo as soon as we ordered a battery for it. That's not gonna happen it turns out.
They did get back to me fairly fast and I was looking forward to getting this machine up on the campaign. For the price I was going to list it, there's not much chance that it would last long as a perk. That was until I clicked the link provided to me so I could order the battery.
I suppose System76 has to make money on their addons, but holy frickin' cow. I'm not posting this to rage against System76, although they make it extremely easy to do so. I'm just showing you one of the many hangups we've had in getting enough money to operate for the next year.
So listen. I would sure be more than thankful if you would take some time and drop by the indiegogo site and donate what you can. There's not much reason to stay open and operating if we can't get through this next year. While I'll probably be accused of soliciting sympathy, I assure you the last thing I need is sympathy.
That's just the way it is.
All Righty Then
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 4:58 PM
Thursday, January 19, 2017
But even with our passing the Reglue mission and banner to a group of like-minded men and women in the next two to three years, we've literally stumbled over an opportunity to do some extremely good things. Extraordinarily Great things.
And for this one possibly last and grand opportunity, I'm going to ask you to come along for the ride. Come on. It'll be fun. Pinky promise.
Most of you know that Reglue serves a financially-depressed segment of Eastern Williamson County here in Texas. That's why we came to Taylor. While the "Dellionaires" in and around the Dell International Headquarters in Round Rock buoy the overall financial numbers for the people within said county, the truth is, there is a glaringly under-served segment of this area and many of them are falling by the wayside. Even worse, they're not being seen at all. Or no one is looking hard enough. Imagine that. Seems there isn't enough money at the end of the rope to tie off those that need rescued the most.
Like that's never happened. Politics at it's worst.
Every year in Texas, thousands of foster kids "age out" of their foster homes and families.
Once they turn 18 years of age, they can either submit paperwork to the foster care system, proving they will be enrolled full time in an accredited college or trade school, which extends their eligibility for foster care; or they are handed a box with bedding, toiletries and a check for 250.00 and shown the door and wished the best of luck.
Two of those latter young men ended up at our door a 3 weeks ago, seeking assistance.
Some might remember that we were highlighted in a few of the larger city newspapers in 2010 and 2011, as we took on the challenge of helping some of these kids get the computers and training they will need to enter college or a trade school. We were able to build these guys extremely nice machines. Back then, we had the resources to do this. Well, you had the resources. You made those efforts come to fruition. Unfortunately, at this time, we just cannot pull it off. That is, we don't have the equipment on hand, nor the money to build the machines these young adults will need for their academic challenges ahead. With grant funding for cash completely dried up, we've had to come back to this community to ask your help. The Linux and Open Source Communities.
Our Indiegogo campaign is off to a slow start, but we listed this year's effort to run a full 60 days. We did so, banking that it might allow our donors the chance to get this next year funded. That's the plan anyway.
As well, you can always do a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation via paypal via your online Paypal account. Email or message me and I can show you how to get it done. My thanks to Anita for showing me how to do it.
We'll be following up this post with another, showing people how they can donate hardware to help us along as well. That is almost as important as money itself, so watch here for that article. I'll post it on Google + and Facebook when I get it posted.
And as always...thanks for helping us do what we do. You've been the only reason we've done as well as we have for the past 11 years.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 2:14 PM
Monday, January 09, 2017
It was a small box. You know, one of those USPS send anywhere for X amount of money...? The kind that you could fit a sandwich in it if you were so inclined? Yeah, that's the kind of box that I fished out of our mail box this morning. It was sent from St. Charles Louisiana. It was packed tight because it didn't even leave 1/4 of an inch in space of which to tattle anything by shaking it.
Hmmmmm. I tossed it on the front seat and slammed the mail box door shut then continued on to get Diane's Rx stuff.
So I got my errands done and when I walked into the house, I fished out my handy dandy Kershaw cut-rebar-in-half pocket knife and slit the tape away from the creases. I stuck my thumb into the space and slid it down to open it.
Bubble wrap. Something fairly heavy, wrapped in some overly-sufficient bubble wrap. Man after my own heart. When I got down to the bottom of the bubble wrap, I extracted a large ziplock bag.
It was full of money.
Not like 20's and 100's but in change. A lot of change. Along with the note.
"My family has a Reglue jar and when it's full, now and from now on, we are sending it to Reglue". He seemed to be reading my mind as I read his note. "And no", he said. "I have no idea how much money is in here".
I smiled broadly. What a great idea. So what if.....?
So what if I asked our supporters to do the same. And yeah, it's a pain in the butt. And yeah, it takes time and someone's gotta tend to it. But maybe, just maybe; if I asked a bunch of people (You are about 20K strong at this time) to help Reglue out by doing this, just maybe people will help.
Maybe. So I just thought I'd through it out there.
̶A̶l̶l̶ ̶R̶i̶g̶h̶t̶y̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶n̶
Oh wait...That's right.
The box? It held $71.00
All Righty Then
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:11 PM
Thursday, January 05, 2017
After over a dozen email exchanges with those that work with or for Indiegogo.com and the people at Firstgiving.com, we've finally managed to get our annual Reglue fund raiser out of the blocks. Not to seem ungrateful, but those folks can make it damned near tear-inducing, hair-pulling madness to get a fund raiser off the ground. But, despite their dreadful inability to communicate with one another, we are up and we are live.
Our campaign is up and running.
So let me tell you a bit about what we will be doing for the coming year and just a bit about our background.
Here's how your contributions will be used.
First and always foremost, we will attempt to insure that every financially-disadvantaged student in our sphere of influence will have a Linux-based computer in their home. Some have come to question the whole Linux-only thing for our organization and the computers that go into Reglue Kid's homes.
Oh, it wasn't like that at first. We did begin our efforts back in 2005, by placing Windows on our outgoing machines. One of our first supporters donated 15 legitimate Windows XP licensed installation disks. We had those first 15 computers in the hands that needed them in less than a month.
Within weeks, our lives became waking nightmares. Being the only person to handle support for these computers, I traveled from computer to computer, cleaning out malware and viruses. Not from just one or a few, I am talking every fracking one of them.
From stacked-up toolbar extravaganzas and home page hijacking, to complete remote control of some computers, I worked the average of 59 hours a week, attempting to fix these problems. It seemed that my decision to use the Microsoft Windows on these first computers, or any subsequent computers was ill-advised. As well, so was depending upon Windows Defender as the primary antivirus/malware tool.
OK, sidebar...gather around and I'll fill in the blanks and try to head off questions for now.
I was already a Linux user. My business and my home computers were both running Linux. So why did I bother to deploy these 15 XP machines? I did so on the advice of someone I respect greatly, and still do. His argument was, since the world ran on Microsoft Windows, I would be doing these kids a great disservice by putting Linux on their computers. They would have to fight with teachers and other students because the various formats and applications within Linux would not meld in with the Windows World.
While some of that was indeed true back in the early aughts, it's almost laughable to believe so now. With Microsoft's Office's "cloud" product being hyped and people being herded away from the on-board software version, Using the current Libre-Office and Open Source formats is a no-brainer. And, as it has been for quite some time, Microsoft is having fits trying to make their cloud product compatible with their own formats for on-board Office products. But that's old news.
However, we are aware that a computer with Microsoft Windows can, in some cases, be necessary for a few of our kids. For those who do need Windows, we install a Windows system via VirtualBox. Should a problem present itself, it's easily fixed by deleting the old image and dropping in the backup.
The kids that are in middle and high schools right now will be those that change the history of mankind for the better. Either on Earth or off-world, either in the classrooms or laboratories, they will make unimaginable progress in both protecting and propelling mankind into a better world. These are the kids that Reglue targets. Those that will make a better word for all of mankind.
That is how your donation money will be spent. As well, we will bring back the summer programs that invite kids to learn about computers, inside and out. We will reinstate our girl's technology mentoring program as well as reconnecting seniors with their families who live far away. We have already helped over a dozen grandparents talk and laugh with their grandkids using Google Hangouts.
But all of this takes money and it's money we need to make this new year possible. Along with our Indiegogo campaign, we also offer the alternative of donating via PayPal. Many of you have asked if they can make monthly automatic payments via PayPal. Well, yes you can but not with the ease I would hope.
PayPal has removed the ability to sign up for monthly automatic payments from the Donate buttons like found on this page, top left. However, if you have a PayPal account, you can go to your PayPal page and do it from there. Our PayPal email addy is ken at reglue dott organism. Of course you will have to be a PayPal account holder to do so. Those who sign up for a $10.00 monthly contribution or more will receive one of our Reglue CinaMint 16 gig thumb drives. These are made to be persistent up to 4gb. Just make sure that the address on your PayPal account is current or I'll be sending your drives to the wrong address.
For reasons that I may make clear later, this fund raiser is probably the most important one we've ever held. We have assigned 90 days to raise $9200.00 and given that amount of time, we should be able to make that easily, and possibly more. If you have any questions, you can email me, ken at reglue dott org. I look forward to hearing from you, and please, your help is needed this year more than most.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:53 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
More important than any in our past. We are (I) may be closing in on the finish line.
Taylor was sandwiched between two nasty floods. The Memorial Day Flood of 2015 killed 12 people in and around Taylor and the Eastern Williamson County area. 19.6 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours. While still rebuilding from that disaster in February of 2016, another round of heavy rain slapped those rebuilding efforts back, and some had to start all over. Again. We helped a dozen people with replacing lost computers.
Floods. A nasty bit of business that.
Fortunately, our entire neighborhood was spared the heaviest damages from the rains. We're built on high ground and with a huge retention area and a paralleling railroad easement, those build-ups and gullies were responsible for saving our backsides here at home. Others were not so lucky.
It was ugly...trust me.
We got hammered with requests from those who lost almost everything. Hook that up with a severe hardware shortage and we found ourselves in an untenable position.
We're out of stuff and money. Or money and stuff. It's all the same.
We've done good work in the past couple of years here in Taylor. The city has graciously repaired our roof and will repair the ceiling in good time so we are dry and safe. Now we need to get back to work.
We need to raise $9200.00 to get us through the next 12 months. And from there, I will begin training the people that state they are interested in resuming Reglue's day to day activity. Here's the truth of the matter. We've had a wonderful relationship with the greater Linux and Free and Open Source Software community for almost a decade. 90% of our funding has come from you folks and for that I am grateful beyond expression.
After that, I'm ready to go any time The Universe says it's time to go.
So here's the deal. Get me through the next year and we'll see how things are then. That $9200.00 mark is high, but with 60 days to do it, it should be an easy amount to reach.
"It Should Be."
Famous last words.
Let's hope not. Now help me get 125 computers set into the homes that need them most. We will be offering some pretty nice perks with the Indiegogo fund raiser, bit we are waiting for our bank to get us some information needed. BUT... we also have a donate button on top left of this page. Here's the deal. Those who set up a persistent 10.00 or 20.00 monthly donation will receive a 32GB Cinaglue Linux Mint based flash drive. In the mail the next day.
But that's not all. At the 6 month mark of your 12 month pledge, you will have your choice of a number of goodies. Stuff like 1GB USB3 portable drives (think Passport). Or, a number of things, depending on our current inventory. Nothing less than 200.00 dollar value and it's all computer-related stuff.
I cannot mention this on our Indiegogo drive so pass it around and let's see how much we can get pledged annually. I don't know if you know it or not, but you folks are the heart and soul of Reglue and Reglue is the reason I get out of bed every morning. The reason I told cancer to go PUAR. The reason I turn the key in that door every day.
We could use your help.
All Righty Then
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 2:17 PM
Monday, November 28, 2016
Someone asked me what it was like to be diagnosed as terminal and told that only months separated me from The Thin, Dark Veil. So this is what was on my mind and I want to share it with you. Maybe it helps someone else facing the same thing. Maybe.
Let me tell you what being diagnosed with terminal cancer taught me. it's deceptively simple.
There is not an asset or physical object in the universe that is more valuable than time. You cannot purchase it. You cannot steal it. You cannot manufacture it.
When you can see the finish line rushing to meet you...There's nothing you can do to stop it. That boring conversation with my baby brother that seemed to go on forever?
Let me have those moments again and let me really hear him instead of contriving a way to get away. His death strikes the very center of my being and at times, I anguish over the things that should have been. Let me put my hand upon his shoulder and meet his gaze. Let him know that I am listening. Let me laugh with him at his terrible jokes. Let me put my arm around him and pull him close when he tells me that he just lost his job. Let me weep with him. Tears are powerful if they join and flow with others. Together they form resolve. This is what I considered to be important, seconds after being told I had 8 months to live.
My failings came in a rush. Things that I had an opportunity to do but chose not to...things I did do that hurt others terribly, deeply....things that I cannot believe The Universe could forgive, or would. It was those things that battered my psyche almost to the point of screaming out in agony. So many things...
So. Many. Things.
Just one more hour to finish my childhood scrapbook I was working on to give my daughters. Just 15 more minutes to help my wife find her glasses. Just 10 more minutes to give my friend a ride after I made the excuse that I was "too busy". Just 9 more seconds to backtrack and duck my head back into the kitchen and say "I love you too honey", as I made my way to work.
I wish I had lowered my fat backside down and sat on the floor to spend more time with my best friend.
I want time to be with him on his level. To let him know how much I love him. He was painfully bonded to me and even me going on a trip to the store sent him into anxiety and then depression. Diane said he would go to his bed and pout. But then, he's at the door to greet me, his hearing is tuned to the sound of my car door closing. For the next 45 seconds he is a puppy again. He crouches with his hind end up in the air, as if ready to pounce. He loses his little mind as I come through the door. I kneel to hold his head and massage his ears. And I kiss his cold, wet nose. I needed to hold him and love him more. He was an old sick guy like me and he had a bad heart. He wasn't with me near as long as I needed him to be. It was my duty to do these things and I wish I had done it more. When you can see the end taking dead aim at you, it becomes clear that you get none of this back.
Not one hour...
Not one minute...
Through my despair I was reminded that it's never too late to search for and regain hope. Being diagnosed as "terminal" by one doctor prompted a 70/30 survival prognosis by another. The brutal treatment regimen I chose saved me but made me horribly ill for months. It forced me to question my choice for this particular treatment and I thought of quitting. It reduced me to a pile of skin and bone...a lump of nausea, fear and disconsolation within my sweat-stained bed sheets. It took me just over 19 months to struggle up the sidewalk and turn the key in the Reglue shop door.
But through it all, here I am.
Here I am, telling you what is important. Not to me precisely, but to you...to a generation of kids who will go through the most important years of school without a computer. Or a Mom. Or a place (s)he can lay their heads without fear of dying by a stray bullet of a drive-by shooting. Here I am, telling you that the life which promised a coughing, gasping, bulging-eyed choking end, was revived by hope. By people who care enough to look past your bank account. By those who told me that hope would keep me alive, if I allowed it do do so.
Make no mistake here. Not many people with late stage cancer survive this level of treatment. And if they do opt for it, most often they quit 30% through the regimen. It can and often does cause cancer in the same parts of your body a scant few years later. It comes back, enraged that you chose to stand up to it then. Doubling its efforts to wipe you from the living face of the earth. But it kills the cancer for Now.
So it's Now, in which I live. It's Now that I share this with you.
Take stock of all around you allow yourself to see things through my eyes, or the clear, bright eyes of any cancer survivor. Then and only then may you think about the unknown time ahead of you. Use it wisely and to the love and understanding of others. Because you'll never get that opportunity again.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 4:56 PM
The past 19 months have been brutal for us, equipment-wise. Between 2 floods-of-the-century less than a year apart, and an unprecedented demand for computers, our inventory has dipped lower than it has ever been. For the first time in our history, we are out of machines while 17 Taylor Texas kids are still in need of computers. Diane and I dug into our savings and donated Reglue 2K in order to get on track, but the more kids we helped, the more requests came in. We are both living on extremely limited incomes. We cannot do that again.
And it wasn't anywhere near the holiday season when this happened. But it is now and all we have is a handful of woefully under-powered computers left in our make-ready shelves. Unfortunately, about half of those just are not up to the demands of today's high school students. And while many will suggest that we simply use a lighter distro, that's not going to help. Sure I can make a computer work, but in cases like this, even a light distro cannot make it useful. You can go as "light" as you want but when you find the need to use LibreOffice or The Gimp, all of those miserly intentions crash around your feet.
So here's the deal. We're asking for those computers that are sitting in your closets and under your company's tech support benches. Ideally, we are asking for machines that are six years old, maybe seven. It's not only computers we need. The last flood completely filled a plastic bin with 2 dozen laptops that were ready to go. Your hard drives, speakers, mice and keyboards can be put to work immediately...
If not sooner.
And while it seems that we were taking right hooks to the side of the head, both left and right; we recently received a donation of 49 extremely useable flat screen monitors, of the 17, 19 and 21 inch variety. We're good on monitors, for now anyway. And that donation came from one of you. Holy frickin' cow. I'm afraid to ask what the shipping costs were. They came in via the back of a Yellow Freight truck on pallets, so it was probably less than the everyday carriers, but not by much.
Should you have any of the things we need, we will try to scrape up the money to help you with shipping. We'll do our best to offset those costs the best we can. If you are in Travis or Williamson county, I can arrange to come to you. I'll buy us lunch while we're at it.
We want to get this campaign underway before we start the main fund raiser. This way, we'll know a bit more about how we are going to address the 17 student's needs from a hardware point of view.
The greater Linux community has been the driving force behind our efforts. From our beginning, you people are directly responsible for over 1600 computers being placed into the homes of kids that needed our help the most, and we never forget the people who help us.
You can contact me personally ken at reglue dott orggg or go to reglue.org and click the "contact us" button. That will go to my or Pete's inbox. As I try to do as often as I can, I want to personally thank you for helping us do what we do. We could have never done it without you.
All Righty Then...
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 2:40 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Diane works with color sets. The one pictured here is a red and gold color set. But just because it's the same color set, doesn't mean it will be identical to other red and gold color sets made later on. She's pretty fussy about the materials she uses and flammable stuff won't make the cut with her wreaths. When possible, she uses only made in the USA materials, although that is getting harder to do these days. She does blue and silver, turquoise and silver, red and silver, and gold and silver. If the colors are available, she will do special orders.
She ducked her head in the office a while ago and asked me when the fund raiser would begin. I've put it off due to medical reasons but it should be ready to publish in the next couple of days. She wants to extend her talents in helping Reglue raise a bit of money with her work. Now that's a good idea, but she will only be making 6 of them this year and they will all go to the Reglue cause.
Folks, we've had a harsh couple of years and we're going to need a lot of help in getting operating funds for the next year. Diane has been generous with her offer and I agree, six of them should be all she does. Her arthritic hands won't let her do more than that.
So the bottom line? 75.00 packaged and shipped. And yeah, you can probably buy holiday wreaths a lot cheaper elsewhere, but you know the person, at least by proxy; that made your wreath and you are guaranteed there will never be another one like it. This is a donation item but paypal can get crappy about items selling as donations. You'll probably be better off by marking it a donation item and that will keep us all out of trouble.
It don't take much for Paypal to pull the rug out from under you. They are truly evil incarnate, but their the only real game in town, so there's that. Ken@reglue.org is our paypal address. For those who rather deal with check or money order, let me know and I'll send you the shipping address.
We didn't use these as holiday perks on Indiegogo because we rather work with you folks face to face, as it were. You have made Reglue a known entity in the Linux World and without you, there would be no "Us".
Regardless of your religious or political beliefs, you can always purchase one and give it to another family that might enjoy it. Diane wanted me to tell you that she enjoys making them for our community.
And if you know Diane, that's saying a lot.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:54 PM
Friday, November 04, 2016
A guy who works as the technical support company for a communications firm contacts me from time to time. He usually has a decent amount of fairly good machines for us. Not too long ago, I received one of those communications. He told me he was glad that he looked at the year these laptops were made because he had come close to shoveling a bunch of junk at Reglue. A recycle company picked them up a few days ago.
That "junk" was a partial pallet of Dell Latitude 6410's
Those laptops are solid gold here at Reglue. They for the most part, were i7 quad core laptops with 8-12 gigs of RAM. They also provided the Latitude E6520s we readied in 2013. For those going on to college or graduate studies, as a rule, we'll max them out at 16gb of RAM and send them along their way. We have grad students at this moment, still using those computers.
Earlier in the year, Reglue took on a project for the Taylor Housing Authority. They asked us if we could provide computers for the kids living in these housing projects.
Well, I guess we could, it's kinda the reason we're here. Systems Engineer Director Pete Salas and 2013 Reglue volunteer of the year, James Lantch dove into our inventory and were readying those machines as quickly as I could install them. When the dust settled and we had a chance to catch our breath, there was a collective "uh-oh" from the inside of our Reglue facility.
As of October 29th, we have less than 2 dozen serviceable machines on hand, and many of them are going to need hard drives and/or RAM upgrades. That's not to mention the RAM, Monitors, hard drives and speakers that will be needed after those are gone.
So that being the case, we want to ask folks to help us get some of these items. If you are in IT for your company or know who that might be, please put in a good word for this 501(3)(c). We are not going to be able to even consider the Christmas rush this year, and this will be the first year we have to turn these kids away. Ever. Our paypal account is also open for your consideration - email@example.com. That is our Paypal donation address...should you feel you would rather just give us the money to buy the stuff we need. There are 3 local monthly or bi-weekly auctions that have some killer hardware for next to nothing. That is how we've been handling current needs but Diane and I have used 3K of our savings to do so, and we cannot do that again.
For those of you who donate to us monthly, you are just fine. You have seen yourself clear to give us the monthly donations that keep the lights on and fuel in the delivery truck. We cannot or will not ask more of you. You are just fine.
For others, I would ask you to consider a monthly donation of 10 or 20 dollars. Your monthly donations will allow us to meet our current overhead, allowing us to use the rest of our money to do the job we're suppose to be doing.
Our Indiegogo fund raiser will start on Monday, and I will repost this on Monday as well. So if you have hardware 6 years old or newer, we would deeply appreciate you donating it to Reglue. You have no idea how much your help is appreciated.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 4:24 PM
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Fact is, something happened to Diane and me 2 months ago that can be described as no less than an "Oprah Moment"...a number of circumstances that accumulated into nothing less than a True Magic Moment. Stick around...Linux is a part of this, albeit just a small part. But in all, it has acted to remind both of us, that good things truly happen. Sometimes way ahead of the Karma Curve, if such a thing exists.
Let's talk about the good.
After being injured on the job and no longer able to do that job, I took a position for an in-state truck route. Same thing every day, varying little at best. It got to the point that I could have driven it by braille. During that time, I became good friends with the dispatcher for the trucking company and we became friends off the job as well. We would visit each other often, she would come to my house and I would visit her. We're going to call her Angel. Obvious reasons for that choice will become clear in time.
Angel had been working in that position with the trucking firm for several years, so it was no surprise that a lot of locker room talk would bounce from those walls from time to time. Angel was considered one of the guys so there were no limits to how rowdy or off-color the banter would be traded on any given day. It was during one of those times when Angel said something that could only be construed as an admission that she was gay. Everyone laughed and business carried on until quitting time, then Angel was called into the manager's office at 5PM.
She was summarily "terminated for cause" and escorted off the property.
Angel filed appeal after appeal only to be denied on every attempt. Texas is an "at will" employment state so being terminated for cause can mean anything. Over the next few weeks, Angel became more and more fearful of losing her house, as she had just purchased it a year before. On top of that, her HP desktop had taken a nose dive into severe brokeness and that made it extra difficult for her to look for work. I put together a decent desktop for her and installed it that day, and yes...it was a Linux computer.
Angel didn't have even the slightest problem with the new machine, and she wasn't particularly good at using one. So, let's put another slash in the falsehood that Linux is too hard for the everyday user. Most of them anyway. YMMV.
To her glee, the OS picked up and configured her Epson all in one without her lifting a finger to do so. She almost clapped for happiness, stating that in Windows, installing that printer had been a nightmare, even with the included driver CD. And just to pinpoint the time frame for you, it was the summer of 2006.
Angel had several job interviews over the months but none of them resulted in employment for her. She began applying for just about any job that she could reasonably do, even to the point of applying for an animal control officer. Her job was euthanasia officer. Fortunately she turned that job down, on principle alone. Ironically, that was the only offer she got in all that time.
The beginning of her 4th month of unemployment, she called me just to vent and have someone to listen to her. She was despondent to the core of her being and for the first time, she wept as she told me of her experiences in an unsuccessful job hunt. She also said her savings were running out and she would be $400.00 short of her mortgage. She was in fear of losing her house. Angel wasn't asking me for money. She knew that I was behind on my bills too, being off work for so long. It was just a statement of fact. I promised to come and visit her the following weekend and we hung up.
I pulled up my paypal account to check my balance and sent Angel the $400.00 dollars she so badly needed. That was "incidental money" as far as I was concerned anyway. I wrote a note telling her the money was a gift and not a loan. I told her that if she ever tried to pay it back, I would use it for lewd and lascivious past times.
Fortunately, at the halfway point of her 5th month of unemployment, she got a decent paying job and we celebrated by ordering pizza and drinking beer at her house. I passed out on the couch and she just let me sleep.
Time passed into years and Diane and I had been together for almost 7 years. Angel had been promoted at work to a supervisor's position and the pay was fantastic. She had already gone on a 7 day cruise with her current significant and hiked the Grand Canyon. She wanted to know if she could come over for lunch the next Saturday and not to worry about fixing anything, she would bring it with her. Diane and I told her that she was more than welcome.
Angel arrived at our door precisely on time and carrying a bucket of chicken under one arm and a six pack of Shiner under the other. I took the beer and she came in and closed the door behind her. We hugged each other and gathered around the TV, watching a DVD movie she had brought along. She joked that the beer was to offset how terrible the old Robert Mitchum movie was. Soon enough, Diane suggested that we take a seat in the dining room and eat. I didn't have to be asked twice.
So the beer flowed along with the KFC cole slaw and chicken. She stood up and offered a toast to the announcement she was about to make. We figured it was concerning her recent raise so we all stood and toasted to our friendship. No sooner had we taken our seats, Angel made her announcement.
"I'm giving you guys ten thousand dollars".
The room went completely quiet. Robert Mitchum eventually broke the silence by starting a fist fight in the living room. I cleared my throat to assure I could speak. "What did you say?"
I knew perfectly well what she had said. It just seemed like the thing to do, asking her to repeat the fact that she was giving us ten thousand dollars. Tears welled and streaked down Diane's face as Angel went further with her explanation.
"Kenny, you gave me money when I was days away from losing my home and you saved my ass. You were just as broke as I was. Look, I know you guys struggle and that old Explorer is on her last legs. Let me give you enough money to at least buy something that will last you a few years.
As it turned out, Angel had filed a lawsuit against the trucking company that fired her for being gay. The first thing she did with her settlement money was pay off her house. The second thing she did was give us ten grand.
Diane's quiet tears erupted into a full force hurricane of sobs, gulps and intermittent nose-snuffling, and all the while trying to talk. And a piece of advice to the ladies. If you are immersed into a full scale sobbing jag, please don't try to talk. You sound like Laura Petrie right after she says, "Oh Rob..."
Angel hugged Diane and told her everything was fine. She told Diane her bladder was way too close to her eyes and even I laughed at that. When we were all able to sit down with at least some semblance of normalcy, Angel suggested that we begin car shopping immediately. THAT dried up Diane's tears immediately. If there is anything Diane loves dearly. it's shopping. She is infected with the the SSG. short for Super Shopping Gene. But let me use this time to warn anyone who may ever consider purchasing a vehicle from a private party, with cash...tread carefully.
So the "reported limit" that can supposedly be withdrawn without the government stepping in, and from a personal bank account is $9999.00. However, the US Government has been busy arm-twisting said banks and credit unions to fill out a form, reporting anyone drawing large amounts of dollars that seem suspicious. What deems someone as suspicious? Who knows. You can read up on this further government intrusion if you like, but be prepared, the lengths our government will go to, in making an innocent withdrawal from your bank to buy a car will piss you off to the nth.
We looked around and around for two hours, taking notes on the different cars we might be interested in. Our guy Mac ran us down and invited us to the main used car office complex. When we turned the corner, there it was. A 2009 Chevy HHR. dark gloss mercury in color, the body was flawless and the certified mileage was 58,500 roughly Several years before I worked an Avis car rental kiosk located in the Austin Lexus dealership. When they ran out of Lexus loaner cars for customers in for lengthy repairs, they sent the customer over to us and we would fix them up. I ended up falling in love with the funky HHR and told myself if I ever bought another car, it would be the Chevy HHR. There was an almost surreal aura around the entire experience and I wondered if the universe had arranged this, silly me for thinking so.
Mac knew that we could only spend $8.5K on a vehicle so when I asked him the price, he told us it was ten grand out the door. I wasn't able to fully stem my anger when I asked him why the hell he was showing us this fantastic car when he knew we couldn't afford it.
He held up his hand and grinned sheepishly, motioning with his head toward the door. We followed him inside and to his office.
"My manager has authorized me to get you into this vehicle for $8300.00 out the door". The Sales Manager had looked up our reglue website provided on our info sheet and knocked the price down to almost the price they paid for it. It was later told to me that they tried to work out a donation to our non profit but they had already donated their dollar amount for the year. The way it was, there was just enough on it to compensate Mac for his work. Less than an hour later, I was handed the keys, temporary registation tags and wished the best.
Diane and I gave Angel big hugs and we parted ways for the day. Diane and I sat in our new car and neither said a word for 3 minutes...fooling around with the radio, fiddling around with our courtesy 90 day free trial from SiriusXM, playing with the device that would give us wall to wall internet hotspots. We basically flipped, twisted and turned every button or switch we could reach. I started the car and we drove off the lot, beginning our hour-long journey home. I was surprised at how quiet the engine was.
When we pulled into our drive, it was hard not to notice our old Explorer parked there, ready for the next Reglue mission. There were six on the calendar already for the coming week. A stroke of luck had befallen us earlier in the year and we had the transmission rebuilt for pennies on the dollar. That way, we didn't need to purchase a vehicle for Reglue. The Explorer was rock solid for a car with over 300K on it. Yet, going from the HHR into the Ford was a bit of a shock. The poor old girl had given us everything she had and was ready to give us more.
So looking back on the entire sequence of events, it's difficult to track all the little things that had to come together in order to make this happen. Diane and I went into the house and she fixed dinner. We sat in the living room for an hour, fidgeting, and trying to concentrate on the show in front of us. Neither wanted to be the one to say it. I finally broke week and broke the silence.
"You want to take a drive this evening?"
Diane smiled widely.
" I thought you would never ask. Let me get some shoes on".
All Righty Then...
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:07 PM
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I've linked to some of the horror experienced first hand. NSFW at present volume. headphones or mute. Visual is fine if others pass by your cube.
I want to pass along an incident between one of our hardware donors and me a few months ago. And no worries, we've discussed publishing about the incident and as long as we do not divulge their company name, it's fine to pass along and they now see the value such hardware brings to our efforts.
I received an email from the tech guru of one of our most generous hardware donors and he talked about this and that, then told me that he almost dumped a bunch of junk laptops on us. He went on to say that during an inventory, he discovered 23 "old" laptops at the back of the pile. He stated that he was glad he did not encumber us with that kind of garbage. They were early win7 Dell Inspiron 6510 "dinosaurs" and when he got enough "decent" laptops to donate, he would forward me the time and date to pick them up from the trucking terminal where they were delivered.
At first, I thought he was kidding. This grade of laptop is considered to be solid 24K gold to us. When or in what world is an i7 core dual or quad laptop considered "junk"? I responded (as civilly as possible) that in the future he could feel free to ship us that kind of "junk". Honestly, I felt that I could just sit and cry about such a loss. Especially given our current circumstance.
So this is what we would like to happen. If you cannot donate to our organization at this time, take a look around on your closet shelves or under various desks and see if you might have the mentioned "junk" hanging around. We can use it for either Reglue needs at present or we might offer a decent laptop as one of our perks for the upcoming Indiegogo campaign. And don't fret the overall condition. We can refurbish or use your donation for badly-needed parts Feel free to specify if you want your hardware donation to go to either one of those places.
All I am trying to do is keep an organization afloat, an effort to help insure that every child within 50 miles has a fair chance at accessing technology via Linux computers. And yeah, the welfare of gorillas might be important to some...but I am doing my best, cheating Peter to pay Paul and working 60 hour weeks to get computers into the hands of tomorrow. unfortunately, the Silverbacks won't be in our sphere of influence. Unfortunately. We'd surly receive funding then, or so I'm thinkin'.
And that, being the fact, it has me second-guess myself. Is it overflowing ego on my part? Is my organization and mission really that important in the scheme of things? Maybe not.
And I cannot express it enough, just how important a $10.00 or $20.00 monthly donation is to our efforts.
Please don't post this to LXer. They refuse to post any stories that are fund raising in nature. That's fine, Linux Today is a great vehicle for this story. And I don't bear any ill will toward LXer. That's how they operate and I respect that. If you need additional information or have questions, you can email me at the above address as well.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 12:26 AM
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Watching my father physically drag my mom out of bed, her body thumping onto the floor, and him throwing clothes at her while screaming. Every few words, he would hurl an item of clothing at her.
For Christ's sake Lois, get out of the *** ****** bed and take care of this ******* house. He stood over her, glaring while my mother curled into a fetal position and sobbed. He turned around and saw me in my doorway across from their bedroom. Fear raced to the pit of my stomach and ballooned out from there. I quickly pulled my arms around myself in a protective posture and dropped my gaze to the floor. The hard slap to the side of my head never came.
He didn't say a word to me. He left the bedroom, slamming the door behind him and stomped down the stairs and out the kitchen door. The glass in that outer kitchen door shattered violently as he slammed it for punctuation. I waited to even move an inch until I heard the engine of his old truck fire to life. I slowly lowered my cramped arms when I heard the sound of tires on gravel as he left our driveway onto the main road.
Only when I turned to go back into my bedroom, did I realize I had urinated in my pajamas.
This memory played and replayed over and over and over...while I laid in my bed for the 6th day in a row...only leaving it for the 10 steps or so it took to get to the toilet. I had thought about bringing in a plastic milk jug to urinate into so I would not have to leave the bedroom. I would cringe and pull the comforter over my head if someone rang the door bell or knocked at the door. Many years later, my mom explained it to me as being lost in desolation and never having even one tiny hope of getting out. Diane knew not to bother me, unless she needed help doing anything, but when she truly needed me, I was there...she knew not to bother me with anything trivial. I just wouldn't respond.
I had long since turned my phone off. I had not set myself at my computer for over a week. And then it was only to answer the most important of friends and family. It had been over a week since I had properly bathed. My beard had gone wild in the two weeks before this. I know what what the problem was. And I knew it was something that wouldn't get better until I decided to do something about it. Diane made an appointment with my GP. The psychologist who had diagnosed me as bipolar was full of crap. My reluctance to see him again was substantiated by my medications not really doing anything to help me. Come to find out, they had probably heightened my condition.
I washed the most likely parts of me liable to offend any surrounding olfactory
Talking to people.
My hands trembled on the steering wheel as I backed our car out of the garage, taking much more time than necessary to insure the roadway behind me was clear. It felt like I had never drove in my life. After three hours and four doctors, I set off on my trip home. Armed with a hand full of doctor's prescriptions, I made my way to the pharmacy on the way. Every doctor who examined me that day, assured me that the chemical cocktail of pills would have me back to normal in no time.
Well, it's no time and what in the hell did they know about "normal"? And while I am beginning to feel better, I know the task ahead of me will be worse than anything I will have to face otherwise. I have to tell you that I'm sorry for just dropping out of sight. There are some of you that I've failed in the past few weeks. I've failed you greatly, friends and family both; and while telling you how sorry I am to have failed you, it doesn't seem like nearly the amount of recompense due to you. Some of you counted on me heavily and many of you will say that just an email explaining my circumstance would have been nice.
I'm sure it would have. It's due to one of those emails that I am writing this. You have no idea of how much your words hurt me.
If I had not been frightened out of my own wits to even answer the door or answer the phone. If it didn't frighten me to go creeping out of the bedroom at 3 in the morning to take a bowl of cereal back with me. Or just by the act of turning on my computer. Never in any of my day's past would I have thought a day would come when I would be frightened by the act of turning on my computer. My computer is the Third Hemisphere of my brain...and I've only turned it one twice in a week.
So while my doctors figure out the right ratios of the right medications it will take to make me "better", I will ask of you some tolerance. Especially from my family. Just as my father couldn't understand why my mom could not bring herself to get out of bed for days, I get the feeling that some of the closest of my family might fail to understand what is happening to me. I didn't do this to myself. And while I may deserve the cancer that attacked my body...this mental aberration was a sucker punch to the side of my head. The only thing I can say is to be aware. It appears that someone pee'd in our gene pool kids, so forewarned is forearmed.
My most sincere thanks go out to Pete Salas and our great volunteer James Lantzch for keeping the fires burning and and the wolf from the door. I would be facing insurmountable tasks without these two guys keeping the Good Ship Reglue afloat.
Of course, my deepest thanks goes to my partner Diane. For her understanding. For her love. For her care.
I'm back to work tomorrow. There are over 300 emails I have to answer and over a dozen phone messages, and I've lost count of the text messages that have yet to be answered.
So for those I've failed in the past few weeks, I'm sorry. Some of you will understand, but many of you won't. You won't understand the total fear that clutches at your guts when someone rings the doorbell...or calls your phone. The best way I can address those people is to wish this black blanket of terror upon you. But I cannot do that. Anymore than I can wish upon you the plague or leprosy.
And if I don't answer your email for the next few days, all I can do is to ask you to understand. Hopefully, those most important to me will be able to do so.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:52 PM
Friday, June 17, 2016
The last thing he remembered was me laying on the floor next to his bed, holding him close and whispering and stroking his silky ears. He fell into a deep, deep sleep. He never felt the needle that sent him home.
My heart is terribly, terribly broken this time, I'm not sure I can do it again. Twice in 6 years, I've had to make the same horrible decision for two little guys I loved deeply. Astro was so bonded to me, it was heartbreaking. I can't even talk or think of him without tears rolling. As much as I fight them back, they won't be held.
So yeah, it's been a tough week or so. I've went through the motions of my life, getting the important things done, and pushing the other stuff to the back, until they become important stuff. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I'm not in the best frame of mind at this time, but that doesn't stop bad stuff from happening. Bad Things don't take a break just because my emotional stability may not be able to cope. My friend and the creator of Foss Force, Christine Hall; emailed me and told me she had cut her stay short at the SouthEast LinuxFest better known as SELF. And while she did not say so, I get the impression that she did so because she felt threatened. I would have felt threatened too.
Some passive-aggressive-mama's-boy, Some dweeb, feeling threatened or insulted by a strong,
confident woman chunked a brick through the back window of Christine's car while parked in the parking lot of her lodging choice.
"Well Ken", you might say, "What's with all the name-calling, especially when you don't know anything about what happened?"
Well pal, I'm going to tell you. It's been talked about ad nauseam, the problem many women face within our world. The Free Open Source Software world and in the BSD/Linux Communities. From Caitlyn Martin, to Deb Nicholson, my friend Beth Lynn Eicher and many more. They have all suffered psychological, emotional and physical assault from men who are not balanced or mature enough to accept women as their peer, and God forbid, their superior. This has been going on for almost from the beginning.
Christine Hall is one of those women. She learned early in life, how to work and succeed in male-dominated workplaces. She has worked as a Journalist and within and around the tech field for much of her adult life, and to quote a current television commercial, she knows a thing or two because she's seen a thing or two. And she isn't shy about letting that be known. Not in a brash or offensive way, but in a way that says, "If you can't get that done, step aside and let me do it". Christine may have one fault many confident and assertive people have. They don't suffer fools gladly.
The rock throwing thing...can I prove this happened the way I believe it happened? No. Can I for sure say that someone did this fueled by misogynistic rage?
I'd wager about 80 percentage points that it was. There were a number of vehicles in that parking lot and given the place her car was parked, someone went out of their way in choosing to damage Christine's car. They risked being seen or heard throwing that brick in that location. Right next to the main entrance. Many suitable targets were parked much farther away if the purpose was just mindless vandalism. Her car wasn't randomly vandalized.
This was a direct and pointed attack.
So, when it comes to women being accepted in The Tech World, sure it's gotten better. A lot better. But that strong dislike for women in our field exists just under the skin of some men. They know they can no longer gain the support and the 'at-a-boy' slaps on the back for approaching and demeaning a woman in public. In fact, they know they well be rejected and punished for doing so. The only difference between then and now? They do it in the wee hours of the morning with bricks, knowing that they would be rebuked by their peers for assaulting a woman in public...like in The Old Days.
And to me, that is more frightening than it ever has been. I now understand why Christine left SELF early. Her fear was real. She did the only thing she could do to protect herself. I hope the little maladjusted twerp feels good. I am sure he does. I hope he slips up and brags about it.
I can only hope.
Christine lives on Social Security retirement and she cannot afford to replace a back window or pay for the treatment needed to kill the bedbugs she picked up at the flea-bag motel in which she stayed. Oh and just sayin'...You might want to bypass the Econo Lodge and Suites in Charlotte North Carolina.
If you can help her in some way to get these things behind her, email her firstname.lastname@example.org. I would consider it a favor. That could come in handy some day. Just sayin'.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 7:20 PM