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

Alone… as usual

It’s not that I am so frustrated with my work.

It’s that someone asked me if I could use PuTTy today.

I suppose, my response could have been more polite.


“I don’t use PuTTy”

The truth is, this is an ethical thing… not using PuTTy…that’s not going to happen.

It’s the project. I can’t talk about it… but I suspect it would be beneficial to people using lame winblows.

Of course, remember, you have a choice… ok. Although.. learning about their remote management could be useful. Bleh. Come on. I’m not asking for 200+/hr… just let me play with GNU Linux toys.


Lower Lip Service

Some may look at the scar on her lower lip as a flaw in her beauty but if you were to hear the story of the day she received that scar, that scar she wears with pride, you would see, the scar is what makes her more beautiful.

She had foolishly trusted her sister in law to care for the children for a few weeks, when he took them and hid them from her.
Each minute of each day was a painful time, losing clumps of hair in the shower, throwing up and unable to eat. She knew the level this monster was. She could not find them. Little did she know, she was across the street from where they were when she broke down.
“I know it. I can feel it. I know they are close.”
She was right.
the children were not being fed correctly. The baby, only 1 and a half would be the lookout while the others would sneak apples out of the refrigerator. The baby, was not fed at all, except through these extreme means – of children, 3, 2, and 1 years old – getting the food. The baby, was given formula only, even though at over 1, he needed more.
She only found them through the sister-in-law, who, when she saw the baby had bruises in the back of his thighs from being hit or “spanked” was concerned. The baby apparently put a light bulb in his mouth.
What she didn’t know was the baby was knocking over the garbage to scrounge for food. Amazing how much survival skills the children had, especially at such a small age.
There were other things too, like the baby knew words but would not speak in front of the monster. The baby knew, at such an age, pretending to be helpless was his best strategy.
As told by the greatest mom that ever lived. Haha No, but close.
I know where they are. I wanted to go see them. I called. The grandfather was there. He said I could visit. I went. He was emotionally and verbally abusing Tina. She was 3… because she wouldn’t set the bed perfectly. It was scary.
I was scared.
I wanted to grab them, but I knew from my helpless years as his son’s hostage, I would lose. I had to do this right or we were in danger.
My first visitation was to happen in a few days.
Arriving for visitation
They refused to give me the children.
I called the police. Then, I went back to their doorway through the crack they had it opened, I stated how I was opposed to an epileptic who had seizures in front of the babies – watching my children. Tina had told me about the seizure and how scared she was. Over the phone, I guided her with advice to leave her, and go into another room with her brothers until they were sure it was over and they were safe.
Then, this woman, who had seizures, even a grand mal, while watching my 3 babies, punched me in the face.
The ambulance said I had to go get stitches. I told them – no. I want to be with my children. This is the first time I had to see them and be with them. They could be free, 2 days a week. I was glad to give them that. That was around August.
The police dissuaded me to file charges. They told me they didn’t see anything so it probably would just be thrown out. I said, “Oh, okay. when you leave, I can punch her in the face?”
The police laughed and said, that was not advisable and asked if I had law enforcement background or family. Yes, My mother was a court clerk in Arizona and I was always around lawyers, judges, even police.
I was glad the children could escape from my former captor, their “father”, even for a few days. I was weak and I trusted someone, and they could have suffered the rest of their lives because I was foolish. I had to make this right. I never would give up. Never!
It was Sept 13, when he turned the children over because he was facing homelessness and his sister told him to give me the kids.
I discovered the horror of the situation, what he was doing with Tina and how the boys felt helpless. I found out how she would cry and scream in the bathroom while Daddy put his toe inside her no no area. I vowed he would not spend another moment alone with her – but the courts threatened me. So, I let her visit and he did it again.
This time, the court mediator called to threaten me.
I said, “Come get me. Come take me to jail. If that is what it takes – to keep my daughter safe from that man. Come arrest me! You can just drag me to jail, if it keeps this child safe from that predator! Do it!”
Then, the court mediator realized I was serious. He said, if it’s in the best interest of the child to not be alone with him, then the courts would agree with that.
He never was alone with her again – for the rest of her life. I made sure of that.
She doesn’t remember. Every time, I see that scar, I remember how much courage it took to keep going to protect them, to make their lives better.
That’s what that scar meant to me.
That beautiful fucking scar.

FLUX and the solo mission

I left millions for college. Who does that? Noel Lee’s son didn’t.

My life, is an adventure… on a shoestring.

My dad taught me to solder… as a youth. I was managing the soldering department by 16.

While other girls were at the beach, I was knee deep in sawdust and never far from flux…

Happy Father’s day dad…

He pretty much sealed the deal by encouraging me to be myself, giving me such skills and being straight. Yea… what man wouldn’t want that… Pretty much…every single one.

Public Domain, Free Culture and Open Source Apps

Why don’t we have better screensavers. Raspbian has NO screensaver.


The drama behind xscreensaver was so amusing to me, I want to me Jaime.

What I learned from jmz

jmz is the awesome. I mean wtf. Because of his code/error messages, I realized the following:

1. no bc in Raspbian

2. Debian is bug driven and won’t update packages without bugs even if there is a more current version.

3. Jaime is a fucking rock star!


The whole wayland thing has me concerned about the state of my own software, respin.

That’s just extraneous software – easily done by rsync or …meh dd.

xscreensaver saves the day

However, I was informed by an evangelist who does hackathons that at one point an image locked up and there was no way to get past the screen lock. Installing xscreensaver then disabling lock did the trick. I’m sure there are more refined ways of doing things, but being able to hack past a problem using xscreensaver was … delicious.

Fuck Debian.

It still isn’t in stable. Years later. I did compile the newer version from source. For some reason there were C++ comments… just 2 that held up my compile. – No worries if you run into an error, that was the only error.

So, solid code.
But lets talk about images now.

We can customize … use free culture or public domain images. Let’s do this thing!

They are getting worse and worse. I continue to speculate that Ian died on the cusp of leaving Linux Foundation.


P.S. Linux foundation fired all writers last month. Roy was the only one who noticed and wrote about it.


My Jam…

Imagine – walking away from a multi-million dollar business – you were groomed to run since childhood – for an education and – within a few months – it was all gone and you were 3000 miles away – 20, no more money, no “real” family (just a bunch of greedy vultures), nothing.

Then imagine someone taking you for labor – and taking 5 years to escape – alive. At that point, you can’t leave those little people with those monsters. I had them, but the courts let him have them – he paid the mediator off, met with the commissioner outside court before the court date. First, you have to find them. Then, you have to extract them, legally where possible. While you work F/T with no car and hotel moteling it on Freakmont street. By the time I found them, the 1 year old had bruises behind his knees from being beaten. The head monster gave me the 3 children, whom I raised – the best I could being a single mom alone. We lived on the college campus for many years. Truthfully, I rarely slept. I would be lucky to get 3 hours of sleep in a row. The Head monster found us. I was working graveyard shift, it was daytime – and my mother was at work. I was sleeping when I shot right up out of bed. I had seen him parked on the street and the children were out front in my dream. I could hear them, they were out front – and there he was, exactly as I had seen him in my dream, my mind… That week I put the kids in a car and headed to Connecticut. I was tired of being scared. Tired of being afraid. Even after he died, I still had fear because I had been living in fear for so long.

Nothing… Nothing! that can happen at work – can really affect my life. It just hurts these people aren’t better. I still have nothing – but as my fortune stated… It’s not what you have, but what you are.