by Marcia Kaoru Wilbur

for my little sister, Sue who claims to have enjoyed my writing and said, “I don’t know why you do that technical stuff!”

Episode 1 – March 16, 2021: Mexico Raspberry Pi Lab Adventures

Mexico was fucking amazing!

I touched the ground in Mexico City, single mixed Greek Yankee Japanese woman from the US… a “cheena”. Immediately, upon exiting customs area, I was met by a man who spoke English. He approached, I thought he was a taxi service worker.

I sat in the back of the car, knowing this was a scam. The locking of the doors echoed clickkkkkkkkkk! Thud. This guy drove like a maniac. They could have at least blindfolded me! The way this guy drove… Was supposed to be a 2 minute ride. Supposedly, taking a cab was safer than walking to the bus depot. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…. right!

I was ferociously texting my point of contact, Adam. This was the worst driver in all of Mexico! What company would let this guy drive! Reality sunk in. I may be in a little bit of trouble…

Escape plan mode: on

Defcon: 4

The reason for the trip was to set up and maintain a few school labs, check out the college lab, meet with college staff in Oaxaca. All those years in Arizona and never once did I go to Mexico.

Dad told us not to go there, especially Tijuana. So, I avoided it…until this GNU Linux crusade. See, I didn’t need the internet. I didn’t need electricity… When you can rock offline… it’s life changing.

Life. Changing.

All those years in poverty, all those cold and hungry nights… rigging my equipment with paperclips and old storage… cleaning out the dust bunnies so I wouldn’t overheat and get shutdown during a chat in irc. Oh, I had experience with old, slow and broken equipment… it was called… my boxen. Not like the EdgeLord I recently designed.

All those missed opportunities, taking work as a technical writer just to get my foot in the door. Someday, someone will recognize my talent – I tried to convince myself. I was learning while there, anyway. I ended up going off on my own terms, being flown for migration and programming contracts, put up in 5 star hotels, wined and dined. Right out of the gate, I was sent to San Francisco in 2003 for LinuxWorld. 15 years later, and now that I had every financial luxury… now, I landed here – in this 3rd world country because of the story I heard about the last trip which indicated they really needed someone with tech. They did.

I mean I could list all the issues… starting with their inability to resize/truncate an image to trusting someone who knew Ubuntu to bring a repo. He showed up… without dependencies, with old vulnerable versions as well. Servers were missing at one site. At another, simply connecting the computers to the server and adding a link solved some of this lab’s issues. An earthquake had hit one lab. There was a need.

Here I was…by choice! Granted I was a little disappointed this was nowhere near sea turtles or fishing…

But there I was in the back of the car, the 2 men in front, knowing they were trying to get me somehow. You know, I’m a survivor. I’ve been beaten for less. I lived on MLK and Bonanza in Las Vegas back in the 90s, as an Asian in the ghetto during the Rodney King riots – I wasn’t scared of these 2 Mexicans. I knew I was there for a purpose and I would fulfill this purpose. These fools just wanted my cash… One was the confidence man, the other the wheel man. Classic scam.

“Ok Miss we are here. He is calculating the price.”
The car was locked.

We were in front of the bus depot in Mexico City. I just needed to get out of the car. All I had was a backpack and laptop bag so … I considered the window… as a last resort.

“55 dollars”

“55 dollars! pesos?”

“US dollars.” He was trying to fast talk me about why.

“Listen, I was told this was a 2 dollar ride. Clearly, you took the long route and no. I don’t have 55 dollars cash.”

Bitch, I’m a Connecticunt. I don’t keep cash in one place when I travel. Duh.

He didn’t believe me, I pulled out some pesos and 2 american dollars. Far too large a tip for this heist. He kept insisting. So…

“I have a credit card. Do you have square? Square? Venmo?”

They looked at each other and pointed to the ATM outside and I was like… whoa, they have this racket planned out well… but I insisted.

“No ATM! Square!”

They just gave up and unlocked the car. Well, it was their fault for not taking venmo or having square!

Episode 2: Bus Depot – no habla

Boycott Software Freedom Conservancy – Choose Freedom, not enforcement

In October, the SFC stated they received a grant for GPL enforcement from ARDC https://sfconservancy.org/news/2020/oct/01/new-copyleft-strategy-launched-with-ARDC-grant/

Then SFC submitted a proposed DMCA exemption – to police software for “investigative” purposes.


FYI… nice link copyright.gov BLEH

The White Pencil

Today, I found a white pencil on my desk. You don’t really understand the significance of some event or item, until later – at least, that was what I have found.

A White Pencil.

I must have been 18. I worked at Apature/ACR manufacturing. I soldered, did inventory, managed speaker covers, shipping, and got coffee too.

“Marcia! Go to the lumberyard and get a pencil. I need a white pencil to make marks.”

Me: “Ok. By myself?”

“It’s just a pencil, Marcia. Do you think you can handle that?”

Me: “yea yea”

“and make it quick”

So, I get to the lumberyard and I find people and asked 2 people – hey I need a pencil. So, I never get one… and I’m like – excuse me…. and very polite – as I was raised to be.. I searched for other people to assist me. There were white pencils they were using… but I wasn’t going to grab one and take off…

No pencil. I couldn’t go all the way to the shop and tell him. So, I asked to use the phone but they were on it constantly. I left and found a pay phone. yea… before cell phones. Way before.


“Where are you!”

“There was a problem. Well, I couldn’t get anyone to get me a pencil. I asked 2 different guys and the girl at the front.”

“No pencil? Go back. They’ll get you a pencil.”

“Thanks Dad.”

Yes, I had to pull strings to get a pencil.

You see, our speakers were made using particle board and formica. You wouldn’t want to lose that type of business in a small town – no less, over … a pencil, now would you?

… and that’s the day my dad taught me about …customer service…

When they found out who I was, they rushed to give me several pencils and on the house… and all showering. I don’t like kiss ass crap, but, it was a learning experience.

A few weeks later, dad took me with him to the lumberyard. When we were there, he introduced me to the guy in charge – and it turned out his daughter was the girl at the front.

Dad towered over me at 6’1. I stood right next him.. in my t-shirt, jeans and sneakers – pretty much what I’m wearing now…

“I just wanted to make sure you know who my daughter is because I’ll be sending her to get other stuff – and showing her the ropes – since she’ll be the one taking over for me.”

Priceless. The dads talked. Something about – ‘we good?’

A white pencil.

Oddly enough, I’ve taken gigs on the DL, even when management was out – not realizing it… I once had someone tell me I could hide in the server closet when management came around. As a consultant, I have seen some stuff!!!

I’m just a kid who wants a white pencil.

Dad died a month after my 20th birthday. I was penniless with no family support. I learned how to get my very own white pencils.

History of a ch1x0r: 00


First phreak


Payphone hack when stranded in New London, CT

1980s Norwich Free Academy

high school, could jack any locker

1986 Consumer Electronics Show with dad for Apature Industries (one subsidiary)

1995 Kinkos

Sahara and Decatur = night shift – computer services

1995 Trained in Las Vegas – Excel

The trainer was from M$ and seemed interested in my skills. I hate calc crap. My sister is an accountant… not me.

1995 Consumer Electronics Show

Badge desk temp 😉

When I sat at a video demo and started to use the equipment and make it do cool stuff, like callouts, etc.. people gathered around and I was inadvertently demoing the software. The rep started talking to me in high tech terms about specs and I was like … whoosh and threw my hand over my head…

He told me that he figured I was in the computer science field because not anyone can just sit down and start making the software work.

1996 American Printing, Host Marriott, Business Cards Tomorrow

1997 BCT Tempe

1998 Bowne

1999 Three Rivers Library

Three Rivers IT

2000 New London High

2001 Pearson

2002 Free Sotware Foundation

2003 Aries

2004 ENI, more pearson

2005 Microchip

2009 Storm out of Microchip

2010 Strategic Safety solutions and clients

UC Berkely GIMP Photoshop Project

2012 Tsys

2014 AZ Dept Ed – implementation Blackboard

2015 AZ DOR TPT project

2016 Intel Monkey Media

2017 ASU UX lab ASM Project manager LMS

2018 ASU and Intel, Quantiply, Wiley publishing

2019 Intel

2020 wiley, intel

Playlist 2019

5 years. My worst fear is ending up like my mother – after my father passed – 31 years. Alone. She’s good with that. I’m getting there.

Heard this one in Mexico while running from a local. I heard it in front of a clothes store front. Then he appeared again. Go the the bus depot, they said. we’ll be there in a few minutes, they said. The local was there. Then I left the depot… because I felt cornered. He showed up 2 more times… and I jumped in front of a taxi and got away. By the way – I’m too old for this shit. That was last year. 5 years now.

I did go back for the small ones. Like a fucking warrior – at the end of my rope – hunting to find them. I was free. Who could leave little ones behind… not me. I learned right away… I’d be alone the rest of my life. No regrets. I would do it a 100x… over and over.

When I found them… over the phone – Me: I’m coming for you! I’m going to get you. I’m not leaving without you. I’m still here. Tina – 3 years old (almost 4) Right mom, whatever you say. Zack – 2 years old in the background (almost 3) : let me talk to mom. Mom… I know you are going to come for us! Me: I am. I really am.

It was his faith, his belief in me, that gave me the strength I needed to keep going. He’s 26 now. They remember NOTHING about it.

BCT – Las Vegas. 1996: DJ D Peralta saw the scar on my hand… from where I stopped the vice scrips from hitting my face. He was a great friend. He coached me… with

Did I drop the soap?

Not because I’m female. Not because I’m Asianish. It’s because they are asshats. Not that I don’t think that eventually the client won’t solve it. I just get them there quicker.

More efficient.


And they pay. Last couple times were kind of bad. Solving the raspberry pi and vision bonnet thing… getting it working. But… then, they did a reorg and told me to not do any more sbc work. Oh… but help the intern. The intern then gets a promotion.

This time, I solved a different accelerator issue for a vendor. Kernel drivers, config, user group… etc.

Then, they were able to release the build/product.

A week later, one of the new units arrive!

The one on my desk has been through more hands than a cheap hooker. Pieces missing, not original hard drive… hanging off a ribbon cable… who knows where the parts are… missing wifi module… 1/2… cover? whatever…


they gave it (the brand new unit) to someone else… who sits across from me… the intern, ironically. A different intern, but nonetheless.

Thanks…. do me like that. Let me bend over first.