The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Friday, October 02, 2015

It All Comes Down To This

Edit - Carpal Tunnel has rendered my right arm and hand useless. It will be a while before I can again type so bear with me while I heal. Going in tomorrow for further tests and treatment options. As an organization, here's where we are at the moment. Check in with my cronies and cohorts on G+ for updates.

It started out innocently enough...taking the Reglue Explorer in to get the oil changed. I told them to check the transmission too. The old Ford had been hesitating a bit when accelerating on an incline or when put into reverse. Not a big deal. I check the fluids regularly. Besides, the transmission had been serviced less than 5000 miles ago.

Turns out it is a big deal. It is a big, big deal. The transmission is failing. With
copious amounts of metal chunks and junk laying in the bottom of the pan, it turns out that some of the transmission bands have failed. This is going to take more than a transmission service. It's going to take a transmission rebuild or replacement.

At a starting price of $3,000.00, that's out of the question. And yeah, we have that much money, but spending that much for a vehicle repair for a truck over 300K isn't simply ill advised, it's irresponsible.  I can't ask you to tolerate Reglue spending over three thousand of your donated dollars to repair a vehicle that may blow a piston rod right through the engine block the next day. We're talking metal stress and fatigue here. Ugly business that.

A vehicle this old and with the original motor is destined for a long list of possible engine failures to come. My mechanic, a Ford certified technician; said he was impressed that engine failure hasn't yet occurred. It still has the original timing chain. That is most certainly the Sword of Damocles. One of many it turns out.

It's simple. We are dead in the water until we can get another vehicle. I rented a car to deliver and set up the computers to be installed last week but sustaining that plan is untenable. We cannot afford to rent a car or van to do our work. This Ford served us way past her duty to do so, but we need to buy another car.  We have no other options.

Our funding goal is simple and it's not an amount of money that should be too hard to raise. When a poor lady bus monitor gets hassled and mocked on a school bus and a fund raiser nets her almost three quarters of a million dollars...well, that's pretty amazing. Bless her heart. When we, as a vetted, proven and transparent non profit cannot raise mid 4 figures to buy a vehicle...well, maybe we will have to consider other options. We need to raise a minimum of five thousand dollars in the next 58 days. Of course, that's not going to buy us a lot of vehicle but I can and will personally finance the rest if need be. Diane has offered to donate 75.00 a month toward that payment as well if that is necessary. Why?

The Reglue bylaws state without any room for ambiguity, that the Reglue non profit will not, under any circumstance; incur debt of any type that is not repayable in full within 60 days.

That's plain language and there are only two outcomes. We are able to purchase a vehicle to continue the work we've been doing for a decade, or we file with the IRS for an intent to dismantle the non profit Reglue and/or choose another non profit with like missions to acquire our physical and financial assets. Then we walk away.

There are no other options and we need your support. We have an indiegogo campaign and you can find it at:

And the truth of it? I fought off stage 4 cancer to continue my work, so far anyway. I would feel like a complete idiot if the lack of a relatively small amount of money was all that hindered Reglue's efforts.

There are some extremely nice perks available and even more are added every Friday at 12PM, that is as soon as I can double check that the hardware is in good shape. This is not folks are not gonna believe the good stuff we have to place this Friday, and every other Friday until the campaign ends. We'll announce those additions here as well as my Google Plus page. 

Or if you prefer to donate via paypal, you can click the yellow donate button on the top left side of this page. Should you have any questions or comments, you can place them here or email me ken att reglue dott org.

All-Righty Then...

Monday, August 31, 2015

"It will not always be summer; build barns". - Hesiod

Summer is a quiet time for Reglue. Usually. Kids are out of school and they have other things to think about. Things other than what they might be needing for the next year's school year.

Like computers.

But this summer was different, much different. Last year during the month of May, local activities included little league baseball, camping and hiking. A lot of Taylor kids sign up for the annual home improvement campaign, funded by private business, along with Taylor and Williamson county. This event allows Taylor youth to team up and improve the homes of our elderly or disabled. These are good kids, these Taylor Ducks. They take pride in their community and driving around for just a short time on a summer's day will bear that out.

But not this summer.

Instead of seeing kids running through sprinklers in their front yards, you saw those same kids, along with their parents and family, digging through tons of snake, spider and disease-infested debris...trying to salvage anything from their destroyed lives. Highly venomous and aggressive water moccasins were a constant threat during flood clean up and recovery all over Central Texas.

My buddy Ray, volunteered a lot this summer, helping people regain some sense of order and familiarity in their lives. He carried a 41 magnum pistol on his hip while doing it. But instead of the standard hollow point round he preferred, he bought rat shot for his 41 mag. Pistol-shooting a disturbed and pissed off snake when your adrenalin is flowing at light speed can be tricky business. Using your pistol as a mini shotgun equalizes that.

The Central Texas Flood of the Century brutally ripped and  tore entire homes from their foundations, cars from the roads and, in more than one horrible nightmare; infant children were torn from their mother's arms. Two of those children have not yet been found.

Like so many other Texas towns, Taylor was just trying to survive the aftermath
of this flood. But like so many American communities, they wiped their tears, salvaged what they could, and set their jaw to helping their neighbors rebuild their lives. But unlike other natural disasters, FEMA was rarely seen during this disaster, at least in Taylor. For the short time they did show up, they gave out a stack of $1300.00 checks to those who "qualified" and then left town without another word. Families that thought they would receive help with food and temporary shelter found themselves clutching $1,300,00 check and nothing else. That money was mostly used for microwave meals eaten during a couple of weeks in a motel and an unsure future. To their credit, the local Walmart and HEB supermarket went out of their way to put together food, clothing and other merchandise to help their community. Taylor businesses pooled resources and formed a grant for immediate financial relief as well.

Reglue did what we could this summer, to seek out and find people stuck in this limbo. We didn't have to look far. The city of Taylor and Williamson County sprung into action as well and found the money to begin rebuilding these people's lives. Screw FEMA. The 2 agents I met were as friendly as one of those water moccasins. They went about their role here as if it was a big imposition...a distraction from watching their game shows. I felt bad for the people that approached them for help. It couldn't have been a pleasant experience.

Reglue gathered clothes, appliances and what ever else we could collect to help some of these folks in need. We used our facility as a gathering point for those donations of food, clothing and appliances. Some of our volunteers manned the office for 12 hour days, in order to insure folks had every opportunity to benefit from our resource. However, to put it into perspective, Reglue's efforts didn't amount to even 2% of the overall resources available for these displaced people.
Once the waters receded, so to speak; we were able to find school kids who had lost everything, to include their computers.

I spent an entire Saturday, standing outside of our local supermarket (HEB) and handed out business cards, explaining what we do. The results of that Saturday yielded way more inquiries than I had expected. Fortunately, we were able to find an extraordinary deal on some Dell Latitude E5500 laptops and readied them for deployment. We paid $200.00 for all 9 of them. They already had 3-4 gigs of RAM so all we had to do was install our version of Mint KDE and they were ready to go.

Special thanks to Ed Tittel for the donation of a fantastic Acer quad core with 8GB or RAM. That laptop went to a young lady who entered her graduate studies at Texas State University this school year. It was exactly the system and specs she needed for her coursework. We had been holding back that machine and three others with similar specifications just for accelerated study needs such as Stephanie's.

Eric and Deanne Anderson with their son Eric Reed, were one of the families devastated by this flooding. Once they had solid ground under their feet, they began putting their financial lives back together. Eric Sr. is a self employed auto mechanic and while he was able to save tens of thousands of dollars of tools and diagnostic equipment, his laptop dedicated to his business was completely ruined, as was the family computer. Reglue was more than happy to not only give Eric Jr. one of these great laptops, we were also able to help Dad set up his Dell so he could get back to work. Once they find permanent housing, we will set them up with a nicely rebuilt dual core Acer desktop. While Eric's automotive software did not work in Linux, we were able to obtain a Windows 7 license and install his mechanics software via VirtualBox. It worked great.

This is, without a doubt; one of the most satisfying installations we've done in a while. It was an honor to help these folks. But that was only the beginning of a two week run that resulted in 7 more computers being placed.

Diane and I live in an extremely nice 55 and older community. Before we moved here, I used to brag that I could get to the shop in three minutes. One of the downsides of moving here is the loss of that bragging right. Now it takes me an entire 7 minutes. Oh, the sacrifices we make.....

One of the reasons I like it here is because Diane isn't so isolated from other women of her age and interests. One of Diane's favorite visitors is Betty Hargrove. Diane and Betty are continuously swapping recipes, war stories and comfortable hours together.

After one such visit, Diane made it a point to mention that one of Betty's
grandsons would be entering his freshman year of college at Stephen F. Austin on a track and field scholarship this fall. While Isaiah's scholarship was just at 80%, he still needed things. One of those things was a laptop. Betty didn't know what I did within Reglue, up until then anyway. Diane insured her friend that she could scratch a new laptop from her worry list.

I pulled down one of those Dell Latitude E5500 laptops, opened it up, cleaned it, replaced the worthless Broadcom wireless radio with something more open source friendly, replaced the backlight inverter and screen, re-seated the processor with new paste and bumped it to 8 gigs of RAM. I got an email from him yesterday, thanking us for the great new laptop he now had.

I can't verbalize the feeling I get when we are able to help kids like Eric and Isaiah. Simply saying "It's what we do" sounds trite and to some, that may ring as false humility, but I can't think of a better way to express or phrase it. A lot of you thank us for doing this work but really..? It's you folks that keep us going financially and personally. Without you, well...without you none of this would have happened, nor would it happen in the future.

Thank you for helping us do what we do.

Alllll-righty then.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

And so it goes...

Well, hey there. I was emailed the other day, and asked if I still wrote the Blog of helios. Well, obviously I do. Just not as often these days. See...the actions and accomplishments of my non profit "Reglue", are mostly reported here. But you know...? There is just so many times that I can report a success story before it becomes a template of sorts. Reglue gives disadvantaged kid a computer, parent(s) happy, kid ecstatic, we move on to the next one. Yeah...that's pretty much the reaction we get when we install a computer, but you have heard that over and over again. However I have accumulated a bit of news outside of that subject matter, so I want to share it with you.

I have been a critic of the horrible state of text to speech software in the Linuxsphere, and not just recently. That dissatisfaction has existed for a number of years...not just since the loss of my voice to cancer. My articles concerning that said state have been met with a good deal of positive feedback. One of the top FOSS authors, and a guy I greatly admire; provided some of that feedback. Marcel Gagne stated that he had written about this exact same topic ten years ago, and he was dismayed that a decade had passed without any real improvement.

Hopefully, we are going to fix that. In fact, a number of people answered my appeal for help in building a much-needed front end for a good TTS application. There are a lot of decent TTS apps out there for Linux, but what they are missing is an intuitive, simple front end. As well, the installation of some real life-like sounding voices into these TTS applications is nothing less than an frickin' ordeal. The fact that these programs are so hard to use just extends and substantiates the opinion that Linux is a hobbyist operating system. The front end we are building is for MaryTTS. Why MaryTTS? First, it's open source. Second. I am told that the programming used to develop MaryTTS borders on elegance. Thirdly...wait, is "thirdly" a word? It is now. Thirdly, it's open source. Oh, wait...I mentioned that.

And so it goes.

We currently have a team of three people working on this project. One of those people is Isaac Carter. We interviewed Isaac over at FOSS Force a few days ago and it gives you an idea of the mindset of many FOSS software developers across the globe. All some people want to do is find a place where they can help, where their work will matter. And while the other two developers choose to remain anonymous, we are happy to announce an alpha release of Voice4MaryTTS.

This development has been surprisingly fast, given that all of the developers have real jobs, families and lives. What started out as pretty much a "hello world" sketch, has evolved in a usable tool, even at the alpha stage of development. Some of the features baked into the app are impressive. Download the jar file, then run this command in the directory in which you saved the file: java -jar

It is currently developed against Oracle Java 8, but once we have a steady and sturdy application, we'll get to work on the open versions of the same application and present that for consumption. Let us know what you think and how it may be improved. And remember before you comment...this project is evolving from the heart and soul of FOSS developers from around the globe. They will greatly appreciate your feedback. There are a number of features that will be added, some amended and possibly some cut away. We simply wanted to give you a status report on this project. But don't criticise out of hand. You may not think this project is necessary, but I have a decade of research that proves you wrong. Many of you who read Blog of helios are Java developers yourselves. Let us know what you think. And please, your help is needed to pick a permanent name for this project.

And upon further review...

It is time that I do this. I am announcing my plan to retire. Upon my 65th birthday or a bit before, I will be handing over the reins of Reglue to a couple of guys out of Dallas Texas, or possibly a long-time supporter in Round Rock. That means the program will remain alive but possibly not operating in the greater Austin area.  And to be sure, this is a complex transition. The IRS has seen to that. This is all contingent upon my health maintaining the status quo. Hopefully, there will be no need for this to happen sooner. As we go forward with these preparations, we will reveal the folks who will take over Reglue operations. Things change...situations change...but for now, we will go with the above-mentioned plans and those people within.

That being said, the Directors of Reglue have decided that we need to change the way we fund Reglue. Our fund raiser last autumn fell a good deal short of our goal but through sales of non-pertinent hardware donations, we were able to completely fund our year. Those non-pertinent items were a small refrigerator, and number of non-computer appliances and tools. But we cannot count on similar donations to offer for sale. So this is our plan.

Instead of having an annual fund raiser, we've put into place a monthly donation goal. This way, those of you who donate annually do not have to offer that donation all at one time. And for those that haven't been able to donate a larger amount, we can break that down to a much smaller donation for each month. Not everyone can afford to donate a one-time $600.00, but most everyone can afford to donate 10.00 a month over the course of the year.

And that is what we are asking. Our monthly goal is $500.00 to $600.00 per month. That amounts to 60 people who read the Blog of helios to donate $10.00 each month. I mean, I see the traffic stats for this blog...60 readers is an almost minuscule percentage of our readership. So that's why our graphic artist of choice, Mike Daymon; has created our donation gauge for our monthly campaign. There is always a $50.00 buffer and that's because I donate the first $50.00 out of my own pocket. Some of you have donated Recently but did not see the graphic move up. That's because we put the graphic in place a bit too early. I meant to make this announcement a while back. The campaign goes live as soon as I hit the button to publish this. You can watch the total climb for each day at 10PM CST.

$10.00 a month is a paltry sum for most of us. For most people, it boils down to just taking the time to do it. I would be greatly appreciative of you making that donation, or as recent donors have done, just make a 10 dollar repeating donation. It is simple to do. Great things are planned for Reglue in the coming school year. I would be thrilled for you to be a part of that. You can donate by clicking the donate graphic at the top left of this page, or simply paypal your donation to

And as always...thanks for helping us do what we do.

All-Righty Then...

Monday, June 08, 2015

When a Community Bands Together

Aramondo Salas is a busy high school student. He will enter his junior year at Taylor High School in Taylor Texas this coming school year. Armondo is much like his peers. He enjoys contemporary music and movies. He thoroughly enjoys helping his dad when he is working on computers and he has a passion for metal paint and design. He's also a big fan of Linux.

The economy hasn't always been kind to Taylor. Taylor Texas was built upon the railroad and at one time was prosperous in the transportation of cattle and cotton. In 1890 those were the area's number one and number two crop. The township of Taylor and the various railroad lines and companies always found a way to play off of one another so as to stay in business. When things would begin to look bleak for one or the other, this odd collusion found a way to get both back on their feet.

That loose cooperation failed sometime in the mid 1970s. With railroad lines and physical properties changing ownership too quickly to keep up with, the once resilient duo of township and railroad began to sink past the other's ability to pull them back up. Taylor sits 16 miles due east of Round Rock, which is the world headquarters of Dell. It's too far away to be considered a convenient bedroom community and too far away from everyone else to draw any considerable trade or commerce. Hence, Taylor has survived by drawing small business and even the movie industry to our little town.

So you didn't come here for a local Texas history lesson. I wanted you to understand that the unemployment rate here is almost 3 percent higher than the national average. Reglue has more work to do than we can sometimes handle. Taylor is also still recovering from the horrendous Memorial Day flooding that slammed into Texas. Armondo's home is in the middle of flood damage repair along with a new roof. They are staying at a local hotel until the home is habitable again. We finally worked it out to do the next few presentations at our facility. The damage to Taylor homes was extensive.

I made mention of Armondo's talent for metal work and painting. He has not only the talent to keep a steady hand on the gun. His patterns and portfolio are impressive, especially for someone not yet out of high school. "Mondo" doesn't have the means or the money to create his paint mixture formulas from expensive proprietary software. He was eager to show me how he can use Open Source Software GIMP to do what he needs to do. It was an absolute pleasure to sit next to him and watch his enthusiasm as he pointed out the methods he uses to get the mixes for his paint just right.

And he has no shortage of friends in Taylor to bring him work. Everything from tricked out bikes, to motorcycle fuel tanks to entire cars, Mondo is perfecting his talents to take him into the job market. It was our pleasure to outfit him with a computer more than suitable for his needs.

But about those computers.....

Most of our readers know that our organization, Reglue; was globally recognized at MIT by the Free Software Foundation this year for the work we do. I was honored to attend the ceremony during LibrePlanet 2015. You also know of the challenges we face daily in getting enough good hardware to build our Reglue kids their computers. A while back, we were notified that one of our most reliable sources for excellent computer hardware would no longer be supplying those much-needed parts and machines. The underlying reasons for this change chapped my southern nether-regions enough to talk about it over at

It was from that article that Jason Spisak heard of our situation.

Jason has a career in movies, television and the gaming industry, supplying voice talent for those mediums. Although Jason has a successful career in Hollywood, his true passion is using perfectly good computer components and combining those parts with his environmentally-friendly plastic cases and the Ubuntu operating system in order to produce an amazingly functional computer. They are half the weight of anything close to having the same components and they perform fantastically.

The Symple PC.

Jason contacted me via friend and cohort Christine Hall, and told me that he wanted to help. After reading the completely bull ridiculous reason for one of our donors to cease business with us, he offered to donate 12 of his SymplePCs to Reglue. His offer was as generous as it was timely. Jason doesn't screw around. In less than a week, those computers were being offloaded at the Reglue facility and brought in for unpacking and prep.

Well, "prep" isn't much with these computers. We add our educational application and game bundle and out the door they go. Or stay in, depending on whether the student rather pick up the machine or have us deliver and set it up in their home.

Christine at FOSS Force carried a number of articles about Jason and Symple in a fairly short amount of time, so she needed to wait a bit for the next one. It's then that I will interview Jason about the inside story of how Symple came to be and what it entailed in making it happen. It's my understanding that Jason supports this entire operation from his pocket. That in itself is amazing.

So yeah. When a community bands together, we can accomplish amazing things. Like a global effort to create free and open source software. Like working together from over a thousand miles apart, insuring 12 more kids will have the computer they need to compete for grades and SAT placements. In short, we are helping jump start a child's future. All of us. From Phoenix, where Jason and his family live to Taylor Texas...our humble facility. We are a community. In short, a community that gets stuff done.

One thing of importance I have learned over the years, I'll share with you. When you find someone like Jason with that much conviction, motive and momentum; it's extremely unwise to step in front of them. That's not difficult to understand. Fact is...

it's Symple.

All-righty then,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Austin Business Retailmenot Steps Up To The Plate

We've been donated some fairly nice equipment over the years. Many of the computers we get are anywhere from 4 to 8 years old. With enough RAM upgrades, we can place these computers into our student's homes and calculate they can get at least two years out of them. Laptops, well; we have some problems getting newer ones donated. Once the Reglue Kid is a Junior in high school or over, these kids need portable power. 

A good snapshot of what we are now receiving is the Lenovo T-61 and T-61p. That's the grade of laptop we are seeing now. And there's nothing wrong with that. We bump them up anywhere from 4 to 8 gigs of RAM and they are ready to go to work. Donna Rawlings is in her second year of graduate studies and her Lenovo T61p has served her wonderfully.

But every now and then, we require laptops with a bit more horsepower. Many of our Reglue students have entered or are getting ready to enter college. And as mentioned, some of them into graduate studies. Those quality machines we have a tougher time getting our hands on. Until recently...that's when the good people at RetailMeNot stepped in to help.

We rarely know the specs on all the donations we pick up until we arrive on site or they are delivered to us. It can be a surprise at times, and most of those surprises are pleasant. But the IT Team at RetailMeNot donated some fantastic, gently used laptops, between 2 to 4 years old. 

From MacBook Pro 15.4's to Dell Precision M4600s and Latitude E6520/6420's, we have what we need and more to see that our undergrads and graduate students have the horsepower needed to do their work. The computers, monitors and other components you see here are simply representative of each piece donated. Retailmenot donated us over a dozen quad core laptops along with several desktops, 24 inch monitors, video cards, motherboards and other important components we need on a day-by-day basis

Thank you RetailMeNot!  For one of the few times in my life, I don't have adequate words to express how grateful we are for these donations. Coupled with the other great donations received recently, our laptop need is about two thirds covered up to this coming fall. Without their generosity, we would not even come close to meeting the demand for these financially disadvantaged kids. Kids like Holly's children.

Holly Syfret is a hard-working single mom. Two years ago, Holly and her kids lost their husband and father and that set the family reeling. Holly was a stay-at-home mom and after the emotional shock started to wear down, the reality of caring for 7 children set in. Holly had no real and current training to accompany her to the job interviews that laid ahead. Being the fighter she is, Holly now is working two jobs while her oldest daughters tend to the younger kids. And speaking of kids, they are:
Autumn-rose age 18
Sierra age 15
Danielle age 14
Judah age 12
Promise age 9
Noah age 6
Blessing age 6

We not only provided them a fantastic quad core laptop from, the desktop computer we built for them was built from 2 year old parts including a quad core intel chip, motherboard and graphics card. Autumn Rose will be entering college for her undergraduate studies this fall and wants to study mathematics. She will go to college with an additional one of these fantastic laptops provided by Retailmenot. It is a Dell Precision M4600 with 16 gigs of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

 Right down the street from us is the Calzada family. Jose is another great dad that works two jobs to support his family. His kids have most definitely put a Retailmenot computer to work. We've found that even the youngest of kids appreciate and benefit from a computer in the home, These kids will be able to compete with their peers and that above all else is why we want to help people like Mr. Calzada and his family. These folks are the reason we exist.

 As well as with individual kids or families, Reglue has been an active
community member. We have set up a number of computer rooms for organizations that serve the community. From three facilities here in Taylor to a new room in Elgin Texas, we've tried to help those who need a computer with Internet access. Yolanda Johnson with our Reglue volunteer James Lantzch stands by one of the two computers we installed for the Portfolio Resident Services in Elgin Texas. Portfolio is an organization that gives kids a safe environment while waiting for working parents to pick them up. Yolanda is the director for the facility in Elgin. Many of the components within those computers came from Retailmenot and we expect them to last another three years at least.

We simply could not operate at the level we enjoy without our corporate sponsors. And as I said earlier, saying "Thank You" to Retailmenot almost seems trite. I sincerely hope that they know just how much they have impacted the lives of those they've helped.

All righty then...

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Walk With Me a Bit...Let's Talk.

Until Friday, it wasn't a big deal.

Surgery that is. I knew it was going to happen but until yesterday, I couldn't put my finger on a calendar and show you that date. It was just a fuzzy, non-specific thing. Something that was to be scratched off a to-do list. It wasn't a big deal. I assigned it little relevance...just something I needed to do and move on.

But it is a big deal.

On January 16th, I will be admitted to Seton Medical Center in Austin Texas. On that day, Doctor and ENT Surgeon Peter Scholl will cure my cancer. He will do so by removing my larynx, possibly my thyroid and every lymph node in the general vicinity. We didn't come to this decision lightly. The cancer that seemed to be in remission since February 2012 has now begun a counter-offensive to reclaim that territory.

I'm not going to let that happen. I've come too far, I've made long-term plans to help Reglue reach out to even more kids than previously scheduled. I don't have time to dally around with this cancer and the recovery any longer than necessary. But most importantly, I am Diane's caregiver. I have to be here.

I can put a thin veneer of protectant around that attitude and hold onto it, but the fact remains...

Things will never really be the same. I won't be able to eat like you...not for the first couple of months. I will undergo an extensive rehabilitation therapy. I will have to re-learn how to breathe, eat and talk. Until I can do that, I will receive nutrition via a feeding tube. But the biggest thing...the thing that is most important to me?

How I will communicate with people. I talk to dozens of people a week. Many of
them on the phone. My options here are few. There is one procedure that might let me speak close to the way I talk now. Unfortunately that will not work for me. Other issues with this surgery scratches that from my options list. There are text to speech options that can help and I will rely upon that technology to make it happen. But that other thing?

Yeah, I'm not going to be that guy.

That guy that holds a battery-powered device to his throat to talk. The device that translates the vibrations at the throat into a harsh, robotic voice. When I was 11 years old, I was in a pool hall with my oldest brother and the guy that worked the counter and cash register used one of those and he scared the hell out of me. What I find most disappointing is that the technology used 50 years ago hasn't improved much at all. Not for that device anyway.

I'm not gonna be that guy. Ever. I'd rather walk away from everything to avoid burning that image and sound into a child's head.

I've been working the past two weeks to find a Linux solution that might work for me...a way to translate text to speech. It's been a nightmare. I don't want to insult anyone or damage any feelings, but apps such as Festival just are not ready for prime time.

I'm not going to go into all the issues again. I made these statements on my G+ account. Some of the most techie folks I know admitted they had given up on making Festival and Espeak/Gspeak work. And no...I don't want to wrap an app with a distro that uses it out of the box. Even those apps are shaky at best, at least when it comes to text to speech. Besides, I am going to have to be able to use this speech method on the fly. Having it housed in a complete operating system will just produce way too much overhead.

So will I return to work at Reglue? I most certainly will but I need to get this behind me so I can see what I have left to work with. The one thing I just won't do is worry about money. A full third of what I do is fund raising. It's arduous to say the least and I despise doing it. But as in all endeavours...Reglue skids are greased by cash. As much as I wish that wasn't so, it is. We are in our last week of our annual fund raiser so if you want to go by the site and look at some of the new and reduced-priced perks, I'd appreciate it. We are barely over 50% of our goal with a week to go.

Because after all the smoke clears, it's obvious that without you, we wouldn't exist.

Good friend and old Army buddy Gene Molden mentioned that if my keynote was my last speaking engagement, then I went out on top. It was a lot of fun to give.

And with that, I will leave you. I'm sure I will post here again before I am admitted to the hospital but I want to make sure to tell you to enjoy the holiday season and be good to each other. And one way or the other....

I'll talk to you soon.

All-Righty Then.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Short and sweet.

I had earlier posted that from the looks of it, we would have to cancel two of Reglue's programs this year, The 12 Geeks of Christmas and our girl mentoring program Gurlz-R-Geekz-2. Due to the response to this announcement and the generosity of people in the Linux Community, I am happy to announce that both programs are now back on. I will ship the first 2 12GoC laptops Monday to Geeks in in Houston Texas and Florida.

I would like to mention those who made this possible but I will respect their wish for anonymity. It was some amazingly generous 4 figure donations via our Paypal account that triggered these two programs to be jump started. However, I will mention my buddy and Linux Guru Beth Lynn Eicher and my super-good friend Larry Cafiero. They spearheaded an effort, asking for donations to Reglue in lieu of any birthday presents to them. 

Just Wow.

You folks are full of class and love. Thank you.

All-Righty Then

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tough Choices and Uncertain Future for Reglue Projects.

I sat in the office of Dr. Peter Scholl yesterday and the decision was made. After an uncomfortable but necessary laryngoscopy ,the rate of growth  of the pre-cancerous tissue in my throat and larynx can no longer be ignored. Depending on how soon we can get the insurance minutia settled, I will undergo surgery to remove my larynx and associated lymph nodes sometime in the second week of January.

This isn't a carefree decision. This surgery is both complex and life-changing. It entails a two to three week stay in the hospital and months of therapy to learn how to speak and eat again. It is an extremely painful recovery.

 On the positive side of the ledger, this will stop any further throat cancer growth and let me get on with my life. I cannot function with the malignant sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I say "my head"...

This decision has a larger impact. Diane isn't taking this well. Even though she knows it's the best thing to do, she still worries. We're working through the problems of caring for her while I am in the hospital. Two back-to-back strokes in 2011 left Diane unable to fully care for herself. Hopefully my youngest daughter can take a few days off to stay at our house. I'm working on a way to get some money together so I can give it to her. She will have to take a week of unpaid leave at work and she lives on a shoestring the way it is.
What this means for Reglue.

In the long term, Reglue will continue to operate. I will remain the Executive Director and our mission will not change. However, it may dwell in hiatus for a couple of weeks after my surgery. Pete Salas and James, two extremely important volunteers for Reglue will keep the lights on and will continue to repair and refurbish incoming computers and maintain the building. Unfortunately, some other things will not happen in my absence.

Our ongoing annual Reglue fund raiser is 55% behind our mid-campaign goal.

Even though Indiegogo extended our campaign an additional 15 days, I can't be sure we will reach the amount needed to fully fund us for the next year. That being the case, I am cancelling The Twelve Geeks of Christmas this year as well as our Mentoring Program for Girls.

 Our Prometheus program, the project that helps the most disadvantaged Reglue Kids get online is also being suspended for the coming year. My crystal ball is foggy at this time so I cannot plan on projected figures. We must plan based on what is on hand. Prometheus is the most cost-intensive project we fund.

Ohio Linux Fest was an emotionally overwhelming experience for me. It gave me literal haptic feedback on how many people value what we do at Reglue. For that I am grateful beyond words. We have 11 installations scheduled between now and the last day of December. Others may pop up in that time but, for now, I am comfortable with those numbers.

I want to thank everyone who has helped us during the ongoing campaign. You folks are the life-blood of what we do and I appreciate you more than you know. So, between now and January, we'll march forward, keeping in mind what is really important.

A child's exposure to technology should never be predicated on the ability to afford it

Friday, November 14, 2014


It wasn't looking good.

Our annual fund raiser that is. With 13 days left in our indiegogo campaign, we had only reached 30% of our goal. That was bad on a few levels, but the thing I worry about most is cutting the special projects under Reglue.

Maybe it's the wrong time of the year, or maybe we need to re-evaluate our funding sources. Unfortunately, other sources lack greatly the things we need. Reglue has been fully supported and funded by the Linux and Open Source Community since 2009.

We can operate at 100 percent capacity for less than 10K a year
That includes supporting all of our learning centers, our girl mentoring program, The Twelve Geeks of Christmas and most importantly, our Prometheus Project. We pay setup, deposit and 3 months internet service for the most disadvantaged of our Reglue Kids. That gives them ample time to budget for paying their own Internet costs. was gracious enough to allow us an additional 15 days to run our campaign. With the original  45 day Indiegogo campaign...we wouldn't come close to our goal. Most of the afore-mentioned services would fall to the side in the coming year. We now have a chance to get the funding needed to operate all facets of Reglue.
We've just added a number of new perks for your donations but these mentioned below are only a small sample of what we will be offering in the coming week. We've added some refurbished quad core i7 Dells for a more than reasonable price. 
A couple of amazing MacBook Pro laptops will be offered early this coming week. Those Dell laptops have the Nvidia Optimus graphics chipsets. We also have an Acer Chromebook with 4 gigs of RAM and a 320 gig hard drive and it's priced nicely. O’Reilly Press has donated us 10 fantastic geeky books to help you scratch that itch. This lightly used Nvidia graphics card is an amazing piece of work...depending on your power supply. Make sure your PS can handle this beast.

And yeah, I realize all of this isn't your responsibility. The last thing I want is for you to think I blame the community for our funding problems. Priorities change, we lose jobs, start new jobs, get married or a dozen other reasons why people haven't donated as much this year as in the past. Some extremely good friends have stepped up to donate to us this year. My sincerest of thanks goes out to Geek Extraordinaire Carla Schroder for all of her help this year.
Look...I don't want to discontinue any of these extra Reglue projects. But at the same time, I am facing some life-changing surgery and I don't want to be confined to home for 3-5 months recovering, wondering how we are going to make the money stretch to make it all work.  
Let's put our heads together and see if we can't find a way to make our full goal. I am open to all suggestions. We are a recognized non profit and many of you work for companies that have matching donation funding. Help us kick it around a bit and see what we come up with in order to fully fund Reglue for the year to come.
And as always...thanks for helping us do what we do.
All-Righty Then

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Where We Go From Here...

When I look back upon it, being invited to give the closing keynote at the Ohio Linux Fest will be at the top of my "2014 Cool Stuff I Did" list. From the moment I arrived, I was made to feel at home and welcomed. It is an experience I will remember always. My special thanks to +Beth Lynn Eicher for pulling all the levers and switches early on to help make it happen.

You can see my keynote below if you like. My special thanks to +Randy Noseworthy  for the hours and hours he spent editing the keynotes into a decent form. Given he was using and old Android phone and a tripod, he did a great job.


In a room with 300+ filled seats, I told the people in that room just how important their efforts are to Reglue. From answering questions in the various forums to submitting timely patches to the kernel, every bit of it eventually funnels down to complete the tools Reglue needs to do our job. And it's just as important today as when it was first uttered in 2005:

A child's exposure to technology should never be predicated on the ability to afford it.

But as great as this was, we may be facing a rocky start to 2015. For those who might not know, I received an aggressive regimen of radiation and chemo therapy to attack an equally aggressive form of throat cancer. Things looked fairly good until 35 days ago when a biopsy showed that the cells surrounding the scar tissue were "precancerous".

As well, a number of  keratosis patches have taken hold on the top and the side of my head. These rough, patchy skin outbreaks can be a sign of more dangerous things to come, such as lesions of squamous cell carcinoma. I've had a number of these removed over the years, but coupled with a diagnosis of throat cancer, these can be troubling.

And all of this leads down to where we are now. Should it be decided that a
laryngectomy is my best bet to kill this cancer once and for all, then that is what I am going to do. I've already talked it over with Diane and my ENT and should this latest scan and scope come back as "troubling", I will elect for the removal of my larynx.

And let me say this now. This is a self-inflicted wound. Decades of smoking and drinking, coupled with pizza and hot fudge sundae dinners have finally come home to roost as it were. So the last thing I am looking for is sympathy.

I will be off of work for 90+ days and while two of our stellar volunteers have promised to keep the doors open and the lights on during my recovery, there's a matter of having the money to do so.

15 days ago I began our annual fund raiser. It has taken a while to take off and at this present rate, we're not going to be able to make our goal. Pete Salas, a Reglue volunteer said it better than I could:

"A lady who gets harassed as a bus monitor has over 700K raised on Indiegogo and we struggle for a few grand for a year's budget."

Yeah, that has crossed my mind from time to time, and I am understandably concerned. None of my projects leading up to Reglue has ever been shut down due to a shortage of funds. It's looking more and more like this may be the case for the first half of 2015.

There are lots of ways to donate. You can donated via two different ways, either by clicking the top banner mentioning Indiegogo or by clicking on the paypal donate button on the right side of the page.

Or you can do so here.

And I do want to thank those who have helped so far. With a blog site that has surpassed one million page views, it would seem simple to get this fund raising done and back to our business. It would seem. Heck, a 5 dollar donation by just half of our monthly visitors would almost triple what we need to keep Reglue running.

And yeah, this probably comes close to "begging" for money. I despise fund raising more than anything else. I'd rather have back-to-back root canals without anaesthesia than try to raise money. I just wish that I didn't have to spend so much of my time doing it.

If you can help, I would appreciate it. Truly I would.

All-Righty Then...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I love this time of year. Let's do this.

We finally got a real temperature-dropping cool front for Central Texas this week. Up until now, the daily temps have been in the 90s with a couple of days in the high 80s. I just brought Astro in from his evening walk and I am such a sissy when it comes to the cold, I put a sweater on. That's really pretty sad. It's 52 degrees and I'm trying to remember where I hung my winter bomber.

Otherwise, things are pretty good considering. Last week's heavy rains found a weak spot in the Reglue roof and leaks ensued. a bunch of our workship acoustic ceiling tiles dropped to a gloppy mess on the floor. As if that wasn't bad enough, the wet tiles and subsequent leak ruined over 30 of our monitors. Like it couldn't leak on the stuff ready to go to recycle. It had to leak on the one item we are chronically short on - sheesh.

But, we'll survive. Speaking of...

October 15th kicks off our annual Reglue Indiegogo fund raiser. We are off to a late start due two sponsors dropping out of communication. That was a surprise to say the least but we'll make it work. You can always support us by providing various perks. We will need a number of 16 gig flash drives for example. We'd love to hear from you if you can provide them for us.

We've improvised and came up with an ever-growing list of perks that we are
offering this year. From a complete Time Weaver Chronicles ebook set to a refurbished quad core, 12 gigs of RAM Dell, we regained our perk footing fairly fast. There are more on the way over the 60 day campaign. Please stop by and give us a hand if you can. It's going to be a good year for us.

I've worked hard this year to bring us back up to speed after a 15 month recovery session from cancer treatments. I am extremely excited about the coming year. We have so much many people we can help.

W just need your help to do it.

Also, watch for my weekly article at FOSS Force on the 21st. I'll be making an important announcement and I think it's important that all my friends know what's happening.

I want to thank you ahead of time for the help you provide my organization. It's been you since the beginning that has brought us to where we are and I am hopeful it is you that helps us help even more disadvantaged kids in the future.

All-Righty Then...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ricky's Flower

This piece was re-written and will be posted at You can see the edited and published article here:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

When "Free" Can Suck.

We were fortunate enough to have a donated space in the expo hall at Texas Linux Fest this year. +Carolyn Hulsey who is one of our Directors, manned the Reglue booth for us on Friday.  She jokingly asked if I wanted her to be our "booth babe" this year.  She was in deed, all of that.

What was truly humbling was the number of people that recognized us without introduction.  When someone approached, I stood and extended my hand in greeting.  More often than I would have thought, the person shook my hand and told me, "I know who you are."

Wow....just wow.

It was one of these people that later pursued a 3 day email discussion with me on Free As In Beer software. And yeah...we all know the benefits.  But what of the negatives?

Linux distributions.  His "take"?

"Anyone paying for a Linux distribution is putting their money down the drain.  What they should be doing is putting that money into the hands of a free distro developer so (s)he can make their distribution better".

My long-time friend and mentor, +Carla Schroder  recently had a piece published at  The article asked a good question concerning Linux distros and she based her article on the different answers to the question.....

"Where are they now?"

These distros highlighted had a major impact on The HeliOS Project and later, upon Reglue. Mepis and Libranet.

When I first started The HeliOS Project, I was using Librenet on my personal computer.  Libranet had a per-user licensing agreement in order to make the effort pay and a single user license was for 69.00 If I remember correctly.  Jon Danzig and I worked out a multiple licensing agreement that we could both live with. The fact is, Jon almost gave those licenses away because he believed in what we were doing.  Jon's untimely death in 2005 eventually resulted in the Libranet venture striking their tents and moving on.

I consider Libranet as the first extremely easy Linux distro for the masses.  However, we were left with no other choice but to change our flagship distro.

Mepis Linux worked amazingly well for us. We used Mepis on all of our outgoing computers until 2010.  We put Mepis Linux on over 200 computers during Lynn Bender's Linux Against Poverty event in 2010.


Many of those systems are still in use today.  Three and a half months ago, we were contacted that one of our Reglue system's was no longer working.  A quick glance at the boot screen told the whole story.

It was Mepis 8 still running that computer, with KDE 3.5 working in all it's splendor. The problem was an aging Nvidia card/driver and some serious dirt and dust within the machine.  We replaced the computer with a decent dual core and our current Mint KDE LTS. Everyone is again happy. At least for another 4-5 years.

That Mepis system ran from 2010 until the late winter of 2014 without one major problem.

The three day email discussion I mentioned above was ignited by our difference of opinion pertaining to the "Free as in Beer" culture and mindset that encompasses most of the Linuxsphere.

His thoughts on the matter?  "Charging for a Linux distro or even software being developed for Linux is obscene".  Linux and Free Open Source Software should never have a price tag. Also, it should never have proprietary drivers and apps within.


We agreed to disagree.  My job is to help disadvantaged kids get a functional and useful computer into their home. I can't very well set a new computer up in a kid's home and then give him a long list of things he cannot do with it.

"I'm sorry there kiddo.  You can't watch a lot of videos or use your school's website because they depends on Flash.  I'm also sorry that you can't play on or use some of your apps. Java doesn't work on your computer. But hey...ain't using Linux great anyway?  Make sure to tell all your friends how great Linux is."

Google's act of stripping Java support from Chrome severely cripples that browser.  What they intend to replace it with still remains to be seen.  Is Chrome following Apples lead in refusing to include Flash?  At first blush, it would certainly seem so.

At this time, it's unclear to me how Chrome merits any consideration as Reglue's daily driver on the information highway.

And I'm sure someone wants to mention Iced Tea and other open source attempts to produce replacements for Flash and Java.  Yeah, they work...sometimes.  My experience is that they fail at the exact time and place I need them to work.

As much as I agree in principle with the FOSS doctrine, that philosophy
cannot stand the full weight of day-to-day pragmatism without the roof falling in. The inclusion of Flash and Java into the Linuxphere is a necessary evil for many of us.

We've enjoyed success in placing Reglue machines, but some think we've compromised the Free Open Source Software principles to do so.  Really...?  Compromised principles? I'm not here to start a religious war nor am I here to place my allegiance in any particular camp. What I am here for is to express my opinion on what works best for the majority of most everyone.

Most everyone that uses a computer anyway.

Sometimes, in the Linux/Free Software world, things we thought would be here forever can go away quickly...leaving everyone in a state of confusion and surprise. The relatively recent demise of SolusOS and Fuduntu come immediately to mind.

As an aside, I wonder how my argumentative friend would feel if he donated money to these distros.

" What they should be doing is putting that money into the hands of a free distro developer so (s)he can make their distribution better"

Both were great developers but did any donations to those projects stop them from being canceled? So as many people donated to either one, in the end it didn't make a whit of difference. They are gone and seemingly never to return.

But wait...Let's talk about that little Google Chrome maneuver (mentioned above) that caught many of us by surprise last May. And in no way could it be described as anywhere near a pleasant surprise.

When I updated to the release of Chrome I figured it was business as usual.  I rarely review the release notes unless I need to see if a certain feature is now supported.

Maybe I should be checking for features that have had their guts ripped out.

While it was publicly announced, many of us didn't get the memo. Google dropped all Flash support in Chrome. It's their plan to make Chrome faster and more secure.  Really?

One of the reasons I left Firefox for Chrome was for its built-in support for Java/Flash.  Why these two are intertwined I have no clue.  Regardless, those websites that worked previously with Chrome no longer simply said that the Java plugin was missing and it offered a link to download and install it.

I remember thinking to myself, "Oh crap...this can't be good".

And it wasn't.  A short search for some answers came quickly:

Java plug-in missing after upgrade to 35.0.1916.114 (Linux)Java plug-in missing after upgrade to 35.0.1916.114 (Linux)

 Two years ago, Reglue made Chrome the default browser in our default distro simply because Java (and many Flash) woes in Linux were dispatched quickly by using it.  Ever-increasing difficulty with Flash and Java in Firefox made the switch seem sensible.  

Now, that just ain't so.  Google will do what Google will do but steamroller changes like this is going too far, even for Google.  We've found our way back to Firefox and it feels like putting on an an old pair of comfortable jeans. 

It just feels right.

There is a passionate discussion among devepers concerning this "problem".
The plugin wasn't was blocked.  Here, you can read for yourself the anger among those who develop for Chrome. Potentially millions of users woke up to find that their Chrome browser no longer supports Java.  It doesn't support Java?  Then for many of us, Chrome is practically useless.

My point is that we shouldn't need to use multiple browsers for differing tasks.  But that comes full circle to my point. In this instance and many others in the Free Software world...This a case of when free can suck.  

While I am sure there are a number of cases where we could site the same sort of thing in commercial products, I don't think any stockholder or board of directors would support a main feature being gutted from their product. Not without replacing it with something better.  It appears that Google doesn't have any such compunction.

As user edtoml points out in the above-mentioned link, 

"Getting rid of a 'bad' API can be a good thing.  Not converting critical plugins is bad verging on evil".

Of course, that depends.  If you are trying to forcibly guide internet applications into certain directions...then this is the course Google should be taking. Microsoft made a living out of it.  Don't get me wrong.  Flash and Java suck and they need to die by fire, but killing it off before alternatives exist is nasty business.  

And of course, that brings us again to something we, as Google users have come to understand.

Google is fastly becoming our Internet overlords if they aren't already. Gmail and Chrome are not Google products...we are the products.  We are the marketable items. Gmail and Chrome are simply the useful playgrounds given to us in order for them to collect our data.  Why does the choice between a red pill and a blue pill come to mind?  

So as always, the devil is in the details.  Am I ready to give up my Gmail account and Chrome browser?  

Gmail no, Chrome, yes. I may even revisit Opera.  But I am dialed in by a factor of 10, looking for alternatives that can give me the same features without compromising in ease of use.  But let there be no doubt.  If there ever should be such a product to come down the pipe that replaces the Google offering, I will certainly use it.

And I will most certainly pay for it if necessary.

All-righty then...


Monday, May 26, 2014

When Blivets Strike

What is a blivet?

In urban-speak, it is 10 lbs of poop in a 5 lb bag.

The past two weeks have been nothing if not a complete and personal blivet bombardment.  I rarely complain when things go awry, but the last 11 days find me stepping slowly and carefully outside, surveying the sky and horizon for hazards and checking behind every door that I walk through.  I've chose to walk instead of drive for most of this past few days and I've refused to work on electric things.

I can't remember a tougher group of days strung together like this in my entire life. I spent three days completely alone....trying to make sense of what was happening around me.  I ate nothing and I drank little.

In these few days, Diane was rushed to the emergency room for her third stroke and was kept in ICU for over a week. I was asked to call the family together as she wasn't expected to live through the night.

With that, I was dealing with news that my last CAT scan showed the throat cancer appeared to be answering a curtain call and that I should prepare myself for the possibility of a radical neck include a complete larynx removal.

And just when the fun was really beginning.....

Our facility for Reglue was savagely broken into with thousands of dollars of stuff stolen last Thursday.  Everything else was swept off the shelving and smashed or stomped beyond use. I'm spending most of my Memorial Day finishing the cleaning shards of glass and broken computers while taking further inventory.  Of course we have liability insurance...but little else.  Nothing to cover theft or burglary.  Yesterday I purchased out of my own pocket, a few hundred dollars in enhanced alarm and surveillance equipment. Volunteers are spending Memorial Day installing all of it.

I paid for it because I feel responsible...

I even made sure everything was properly grounded and there were no bare wires exposed anywhere under my desk before I sat down to write this today.

Diane had not suffered another stroke.  A combination of medications set the perfect storm for catastrophic kidney failure.  Emergency dialysis was able to bring her creatinine levels back to normal.  A creatinine level of 1.6 is considered high.  Hers was 8.9.  Her doctor told us that she had never seen a living person with kidney levels that high. She still struggles a bit as this has weakened her greatly, but she's a strong woman.  I find inspiration in that strength.

"Shut up sissy and get back to act like a little girl.  It ain't all that bad".

Indeed, I suppose it's not.  But it seems like it at the time.

I underwent exploratory and biopsy surgery mid last week. The biopsy labs are not back yet but my ENT and extraordinary surgeon Doctor Peter Scholl told me that he saw nothing to be concerned about.  What they saw on the scan was abnormally swollen tissue still healing from a brutal radiation regimen from over two years ago.

If my biopsy comes back clear, I will officially be in complete remission from throat cancer. Some good news will be welcomed.

Above all else, I think what bothers me most is that the person who brutalized our facility is probably someone we  helped.  I can't prove it but in putting together some of the things he said a while ago, it appears that he is probably responsible.  And that's fine.  I don't really know how I am going to replace the stuff that was stolen.  While much of the stuff taken was broken crap, a lot of it was ready for deployment to our Reglue kids. Much of it I scrimped and saved for.

17 laptops, 11 desktops, 30 Nvidia GT 9800 video cards, 29 Intel quad and AMD Phenom processors, 27 sixteen gig thumb drives, 34 one terabyte hard drives for the desktop, 30-some SATA laptop drives ranging from 320 gigs to 750 gigs, Two Asus 36 inch monitors still in the box, 500 feet of cat 5 spooled cable, 184 sticks of various RAM, ranging from 1 to 8 gig sticks, 3 computer technician tool kits, 25 sets of USB speakers, and 2 cases of USB wireless adapters.

I paid for the speakers and wireless adapters out of my own pocket.

But they left some good stuff in their haste.  a $700.00 London Fog leather bomber jacket draped across my office chair, a 32 inch TV/Monitor still in the box, about 3 troy oz of high grade circuit board gold, two Asus Chromebooks still in the boxes, a 500.00 wheeled portable air compressor, a full craftsman roll away tool box with tools, and 300.00 of petty cash in the bottom drawer of my desk. They also managed to bypass a money order for 144.00, with the payee still blank.  It's the payment for this months Internet service at Reglue. 

If measured against all teh suk in The Universe, I suppose a rogue  Neutron star wiping out inhabited solar systems takes precident over my pitifully small troubles.  It's just hard to put it into perspective when you work so very hard to help others and then something like this happens.

I cannot make any sense of it.

And to be honest...I'm tired of trying.  Sh** happens.  Deal with it.

And deal with it I will.

All-Righty Then....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

There doesn't seem to be an end to it...

Dear, sweet Holy Mother of God.....Tell me these things only run in 3's.  I don't think I can withstand another.  In the past 8 days I have been asked three questions.

1.  Are you legally recognized to verify Diane's Do Not Resuscitate order or contact a family member who knows if she wants last rights?

2.  We need to get this new cancer gone as soon as possible. Can you be prepared for surgery on the 21st?

3.  Can you give me an estimate as to the dollar value of the items stolen from Reglue?

I'm not able to singularly push an intelligent thought or conversation through right now.  I'll get more of this down tomorrow...maybe.  I'm lost, I am overwhelmed and I don't think I've ever been hit this hard, by so much in so little time.

I'm beginning to believe I dwell in the Lineage of Job.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sending Dryfus Home...It Doesn't Have To Be This Way.

EDIT...the kids have successfully raised the money to get Dryfus taken care of and they request you not send any more money.  They don't want to have to send your money back so thank you.  Thanks a million to those who helped them out.  We'll be in touch.

Most people who read my blog know that it's a rare occasion when I write something completely foreign to Linux and FOSS.  My ordeal with cancer was one of those spaces in time.

And this will be another one.

Diane's daughter and her husband Michael have joined us in Texas.  Originally from the Portland Oregon area, the job market  for their profession fell victim to a slow economy and outsourcing.

They are both tier 3/advanced technical support specialists for several ISPs, hardware and software companies.  They will be staying with us until they can get on their feet.  Personally, I enjoy their company.  Both are spontaneously funny and extremely smart, rarely is there a dull or solemn evening in our home.  Both have jobs with a government agency and will start work in a couple of weeks full time.

They do not have children but there is a third member of that family and that member is Dryfus.

A few years ago, some complete idiot abandoned this beautiful guy at a boarding kennel.  When the kennel gave him to a shelter for adoption, Hillary and Michael fell completely in love with him.  He is an old soul...gentle and loving.  He loves and trusts easily and he has won my heart as well.  Best of all, he was welcomed by our two "kids", Astro and DeeDee.

Dryfus is 10 years old and came with a known problem of ear infections.  As you can see, basset hounds have a lot of ear to infect. After a while, it became obvious that his ear infections were not going to respond to tried methods of treatment.  This poor guy walks and sits with his head cocked to the right, as if trying to let the pain drain away.  Michael and Hillary clean his ears several times a day and I've even taken up the duty when necessary.

His problem was diagnosed as a severe food allergy.
Dryfus  eats a special food and
cannot have anything besides his regular food.  Every now and then he gets the treat of a carrot.  He loves them.  But even with a strict diet and little to no other foods given him, his infections have progressively worsened. At times, he finds a corner of the living room and curls up into a crescent and cries.  It's gotten to the point where he has to be given Tramadol to ease the pain.

Michael and Hillary love this boy...they love him so much that they are willing to send Dryfus home before allowing him to hurt like this.  In our family, we don't "put dogs to sleep" or "put them down".

We send them home.

As a last resort, Hillary and I took Dryfus to our Vet, Dr. Arlon Graef here in Taylor.  He is without hesitation the best vet I've ever used.  Astro and I were in his waiting room on a day he had to send a family pet home.  He wept openly with the family afterward....the entire waiting room was in tears.  He's a wonderful man as well as a fantastic veterinarian.  But he told us not to jump the gun.

The vet told us that food allergies in dogs tend to be more complex than just one this case, Dryfus was diagnosed with a protein allergy.  He said it could be in combination with gluten or other parts of the food. Dr. Graef has referred Dryfus to a canine allergy specialist who will run a set of allergy panels to exactly pinpoint what allergies Dryfus is suffering.  Dr. Graef said that this specialist has over an 80 percent successful treatment record and he wouldn't refer us if he didn't think Dryfus could be treated and finally pain free.  But that's the rub.

The test panels are going to run between $500.00 and $700.00 and the kids are 45 days before they see a full paycheck.  Most of you know that I am church-mouse-poor, but I choose to be so.  Even with that, I have given Michael and Hillary $50.00 to put toward those tests.  I told them that I would talk to you and see if we might get some help from fellow dog lovers. I know it's not really a priority for most folks but for Michael and Hillary, they are at a point where they might not have any other choices.  It was suggested that an fund raiser be started but we don't have the luxury of that much time. In the grand scope, $700.00 isn't that much to raise, at least in the eyes of Indiegogo.

So I'll make you a deal.  I don't want you to donate money.  I want you to make me a loan of whatever amount you can spare and I will stand good for it over a 90 day period. I mean, if it's only 5 dollars, there are enough Blog of helios readers to make this happen.  If you want to help these kids, you can do so via paypal with Michael's address - Just email me and let me know the amount so I can keep track of what I owe you. Any funding that exceeds their need will either be refunded or redirected for his continued treatment.

If paypal doesn't work for you, you can contact him at the above email address and arrange for other means of help. I will consider this a personal favor as well as a personal loan.  Dryfus doesn't need to go home.

He's already here.