A Day Filled With Inspiration and Gratitude

Today has been a day to cherish at the All Things Open 2023 conference. Lunch at the speakers’ lounge with Jen, Lauren P., Lauren M., David, Bryan, and Jason B. was an invigorating reunion. One of the day’s highlights was the delightful conversation with Rikki Endsley. Our discussion on the first day at the conference was a perfect kick-off; I got to meet the members of the Open Source Initiative, with whom we will be working closely as we transition to writing at Opensource.net.

I met Aaron Prisk in person, though our love of all things open source began nearly eight years ago. Today, I saw my friend Jason Hibbets, who invited me to my first All Things Open in 2014. There have been lots of changes in the past nine years.

The warmth of this community filled my heart with joy, reminding me of the beauty of enduring connections. Moments like these are the essence of life’s blessings, leaving me immensely grateful.

This experience at All Things Open has been a transformative part of my journey, and being part of this remarkable conference in the heart of Raleigh is a testament to the positive direction my life has taken. The ambiance of the beautiful hotel where I’m staying amplifies the experience, adding to the overall sense of gratitude and contentment.

The mentorship of the Opensource.com team has been instrumental in my growth as a writer and individual, and their presence continues to inspire me.

While exploring the conference, the Apereo booth caught my attention. Gathering information about their open-source program for higher education ignited a spark within me. The prospect of sharing this knowledge with professionals in higher education inspires me to continue to work towards an open source future in education.

The day’s sessions were equally enriching. Emily Freeman’s opening keynote on the human touch in a GenAI world resonated deeply, reminding us of the significance of humanity in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza’s insights on leveraging AI and GitHub Copilot opened new avenues for exploration, reflecting technology’s limitless possibilities.

James Quick’s talk on navigating career challenges was a guiding light for those who were stagnant professionally. His practical wisdom provided a reassuring perspective on overcoming obstacles and pursuing growth. Similarly, Barton George’s presentation on Project Sputnik and the valuable lessons learned emphasized the power of community-driven innovation within large corporations. Bryan Behrenhausen’s presentation on the Open Organization was impressive and reminded me of conversations we’ve had along those lines in the past. The last session of the day where we met to discuss what licensing should govern the use of open-source artificial intelligence, was very engaging and left me in awe.

As the day ends, I find myself brimming with inspiration and gratitude. All Things Open 2023 has been an event and a catalyst for personal and professional growth, reminding me of the significance of genuine connections, learning, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Ten Years Later

It’s been ten years since I officially retired from public education. What a change has happened. I wasn’t sure what to do when I left my former employment. Less than a month later, I began volunteering at the local public library. That led to teaching adult education classes which in turn led to an invitation to be a trustee of the library. Which, in time, led to being a trustee of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. Ten years ago, I began volunteering at The Warming House in nearby Olean, New York which is the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States.  That too led to being invited to be a board member for the Warming House. A high school friend invited me to membership on the board of directors of the St. Elizabeth Mission Society in Allegany, New York. A year ago my time with the Mission Society ended.

A year after I retired, I received a direct Twitter message from a friend who invited me to attend the All Things Open Conference in Raleigh, NC, which, in time, led to an opportunity to become a writer for Opensource.com. Another friend sent me writing ideas and encouraged me on that journey which resulted in over three hundred articles published on a number of websites, including Opensource.com, Sysadminsignal.com, TechnicallyWeWrite.com, Fossforce.com, and this blog. Next month I’m returning to the All Things Open Conference for the eighth time. I’ll be seeing friends I’ve met along the way and learning new technology too.

Technical writing led me to learn Python well enough to begin teaching home-schooled children and others in local libraries. I also became a digital literacy trainer.  I have become an experienced grant writer too. I’ve learned how to use Markdown and other tools. I’ve also become an advocate for free and open-source tools in education, libraries, and the community. I’ve helped senior citizens and others learn about various distributions of Linux, including Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi OS.

Volunteering in soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, libraries and elsewhere has given new meaning to my life. Ten years ago, I worried that my life was ending, but I’m here to tell you that it was the beginning of the end of an old life and the birth of a new one.

I’ve become a grandpa with seven grandchildren and counting too. I’m grateful for my life and the blessings of the last ten years.

Gratitude for the journey

I’m thankful for the last ten years of my life, which have been a journey of discovery. From the dark days of depression and uncertainty, I have come to a place of purpose, joy, and connection. Through writing I have found a passion, and I am proud to have had my work shared with others. I have also found ways to give back to my community, serving in places like Meals on Wheels and the local food pantry. I am also the President of the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Library Trustees, and a prostate cancer survivor. Most of all, I am blessed to be married to my wife for forty years and to have two children and five grandchildren, with two more on the way. Today I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.

Thank you Joe Biden

Spring has sprung and so have our lives. A couple of years ago we were pinned down by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not over yet but we’re coming through it okay. There is a fourth recommended shot of the vaccine if you’re over fifty years old. The economy is rebounding. More Americans are working. The United States added 1.7 million new jobs in the past two months. Inflation in the United States is up too. It’s the highest it has been in the past forty years but that’s true around the world. Gasoline prices are up too but again that’s not a purely American problem. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States last week was $4.63 which is huge increase from where prices were in April 2020 when they were at $1.78 per gallon. Demand was low when we were all locked down in our homes.

In the United States the Republican party and their allies are blaming President Biden and the Democrats. Joe Biden is not president in Canada where gasoline is $5.91 per gallon (adjusted for US gallons and dollars). Gasoline is $5.83 per US gallon in Poland. The prices in Ireland are $7.64 and Hong Kong is the most expensive gas prices in the world at $10.89 per gallon.

The reason our economy is booming is the American Rescue Plan which received almost no Republican support. Yesterday in the House of Representatives one-hundred-ninety-three Republicans voted against lowering the price of insulin from it’s current $332 a vial to something more affordable to average Americans. That’s consistent with Republican ideals, “favor the rich and soak the middle class and the poor.” The GOP claims to be conservative but conserves nothing. The current administration has lowered our national debt which is an accomplishment that only occurs in Democratic administrations.

President Harry Truman called the GOP out over seventy years ago when he wrote,

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” –

Harry S. Truman, October 13, 1948, St. Paul, Minnesota, Radio Broadcast via WikiQuote

Soft and Supple

Acceptance is the key to life. Those who cannot change cannot survive. Those who can wear masks and get vaccinated are likely to flourish in our new environment. As I sat watching a basketball game at St. Bonaventure University’s Reilly Center I was surrounded by people. Young and old alike. Some wore masks as requested by the university to keep us all safe while others were wearing chin straps or at least that’s what they looked like. Last week parents in Franklinville had an impromptu protest in front of the school that was anti-mask.

Everyday we read the news of angry folks decrying mask and vaccine requests and mandates. We read too of those whose inflexible reaction has cost them their health and in some cases their lives. Wearing a mask is annoying especially when one has hearing aids and glasses too. I’ve been contemplating a response and today I’m reminded of the wisdom of the Tao that was written twenty-five-hundred years ago.

The living are soft and supple;the dead are rigid and stiff.In life, plants are flexible and tender;in death, they are brittle and dry.Stiffness is thus a companion of death;flexibility a companion of life.An army that cannot yield will be defeated.A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind.The hard and stiff will be broken.The soft and supple will prevail.

Chapter 76 Tao te Ching

August 23rd

Until 1972 the twenty-third day of that month had no special meaning. However on this day in 1972 I left my home in Arcade, New York drove to Buffalo Airport and boarded an American Airlines Boeing 727 and made an all expenses paid trip to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I was anxious and my future was uncertain. One of my seatmates was a sister from a religious order. We talked as we climbed out of Buffalo and made the one hour plus trip to Chicago. I don’t remember what she said, but her mere presence was a comfort to a young man on his way to the US Navy Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, IL.

After finishing the freshman year of college at State University College at Oswego my parents handed me a letter that contained a letter notifying me that I had been drafted and the need to report for a pre-induction physical. That notice frightened me and I set to work immediately considering my options. Would I abandon my country and flee to Canada? Would I be drafted into the US Army and go to Vietnam? All of this seemed like a death sentence to a nineteen year old. I began to visit recruiters and take some battery tests which determined what skills I had that might be useful to the military. One of those recruiters and tests was at the United States Naval Reserve Center in Jamestown, New York. The test showed an aptitude for details and mathematics. The recruiter, Mr. Leonard Tullar, told me that my test results would qualify my for dental technician, personnelman and hospital corpsman.

I liked the idea of becoming a hospital corpsman. If I was going to war I wanted to go where I’d be helping people to survive. Becoming a hospital corpsman was voluntary because of the inherent danger of possibly being assigned to the US Marines as a field medical technician. I enlisted on June 21, 1972 and deferred going to recruit training until August 23.

That day had arrived and after deplaning in Chicago I followed a group of other young men who were also headed to Great Lakes. We all rode a “green” official US government bus from the airport to Camp Barry. There we were checked in and assigned a numbered square to sit on. Anyone who’s ever served will appreciate “hurry up and wait.’ That’s how we spent most of August 23 until we finally had our first navy chow which was forgettable. It was probably spam or ‘shit on a shingle.’ We got to bed late that night and up very early the next morning. It was the beginning of a great transformation from civilian to military life. I never did go to Vietnam. I graduated from recruit training after serving as our company’s education petty officer. I went on to “A” school and became a hospital corpsman. I served in labor & delivery, newborn nursery, became an ambulance driver, worked for four surgeons as their lead corpsman in the surgical clinic at the Naval Submarine Medical Center in New London, CT.

Every year since then my mind wanders back to Great Lakes and my initiation into the US Navy. I remember the men I went to recruit training with and the men and women I served with. I cannot remember the day I started kindergarten nor the date of my high school graduation but I will never forget August 23 nor Friday October 13 when I carried the American flag at the head of the 13th battalion of the Naval Training Center as we graduated and followed the orders to our new assignments.

I returned to Great Lakes in 2008 to see my nephew graduate from the recruit training command and even fell asleep under a tree near the “grinder” where we marched that day in October 1972. I saw a quote that day that had meaning then and now.

“Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy,'” – John F. Kennedy.


Saturday afternoon and evening I was reunited with people I had not seen in years. The reunion of the Pioneer Central School Class of 1971 was the second of two reunions I have attended this summer. Both reunions were special for different reasons. The first reunion of the summer happened in Olean, New York where I rejoined the Class of 1970 of Archbishop Walsh High School that I attended from 1966-1968. Attending Walsh was a continuation of Catholic education which began in 1957 at a small grammar school that no longer exists. Walsh was 40 miles south of my home and I needed to make a bus trip with forty other youngsters. Participation in extracurricular activities was out of the question for me. The take home bus only came as far north as Franklinville and my father was unwilling to make that trip to fetch me.

In the fall of 1968 I was abruptly removed from Walsh and transferred to Arcade Central School which was right down the street from where I lived. The transfer was traumatic but I was quickly welcomed to the school and unlike the Walsh experience I could participate in extracurricular activities like interscholastic athletics because of our proximity to the school. I tried out for the basketball team in the fall of ’68 and was cut. The coach liked my work ethic and offered me a job as the manager. The tallest member of the team was the manager.

I was taking trigonometry and failing it and almost lost my manager job until I convinced my parents to let me drop the course and retake it later in high school. Trouble with mathematics in high school was anathema for me. I barely passed algebra as a freshman at Walsh. The next year I failed geometry at Walsh and had to attend summer school to pass the course. The decision to drop trigonometry would prove fortuitous and allowed me to slow down a bit and in the process move into the Class of 1971.

Dropping mathematics allowed me to retain my position as manager of the 1969 Arcade Lions varsity basketball team. That team won the Section 5 Class A title vs Spencerport in the then Rochester War Memorial. Our team was honored with a banquet at the Crystal Inn and we all received complementary AM radios from the local Motorola plant with our names engraved on them.

In the fall of 1969 our classes moved to the new school building in Yorkshire. We became the Class of 1971 at Pioneer Central School. There were more new schoolmates to meet. Ironically I was reunited with some of the students I had met at St. Pius X years before. I was able to join the varsity soccer team, Latin club, Key Club, Wind Ensemble. I made the varsity basketball team that year and felt a part of the school class and community that were formed by the merger of Delevan-Machias and Arcade.

Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone. Mine was no exception. It was complicated to an extent by my father whom we later discovered was suffering from depression. Our home was not a happy one in those years so my classes at Pioneer Central and the extra-curricular activities were the beacon that gave me hope.

Some of my classmates were particularly helpful in supporting and encouraging me through those difficult times at home. One of them actually allowed me to live with him and his family for a time. Another frequently listened, offered encouragement and laughed at my jokes. In June of 1971 we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas and then we were gone. A year later I was drafted and enlisted in the United States Navy. When I returned to civilian life three years llater most of my high school peers had moved on with their lives. We lost touch with each other.

My life was tempest-tossed for a period of time and then I found recovery. In time I met a beautiful woman. We fell in love, married and had a couple of lovely children. I stayed away from school reunions until the twentieth in 1991. Since then I’ve attended several. This year was special because of the trauma of the pandemic and the knowledge that we’re all getting older. We learned at the reunion that 180 of us graduated in June 1971 and since then we’ve lost forty classmates. One of them was my friend Gary who gave me a home for part of our senior year. There were about eighty who attended this fiftieth reunion and it was great to see them all and share our journeys. In Greek mythology there is a term for the safe return. It is soteria. Soteria is the spirit of safety, deliverance and preservation from harm. The spirit that united us as teenagers brought us together and delivered us safely for an evening of reunion.

You owe it to yourself

Persist by Elizabeth Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked Elizabeth Warren and thought she had the makings of a great president before I read this book. Now after reading the book I am more sure than ever. This book is well written. It’s full of personal stories that are riveting and policy statements and research that are compelling. I was fortunate to get a signed copy of the book and now it’s going to be passed on to my daughter who is an Elizabeth Warren fan. I highly recommend reading the book. You won’t be disappointed. Persist.

We have hope

Yesterday I drove one hundred forty miles east of my home to receive the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine. I was so anxious that the night prior to that I slept very little. Last night I slept like a log. I’m hopeful and grateful today for the team of scientists who created this remedy to the Corona virus. I’m grateful for President Biden whose team has expedited these vaccines. I got my shot at a CVS. The folks at the store were very professional and put us at ease. I felt like I was surrounded by angels and indeed they were. I’ve had a lot of vaccines in my life but none so anticipated. My arm is not sore. It’s just a little tender around the injection site.

My wife got her vaccine the day before. She said that this was a Valentine to remember and indeed it was. We enjoyed our trip together to central New York State. We passed through the Finger Lakes region and enjoyed its beauty and bounty. Along the way we passed a motel that looked like the one in Schitts Creek. That gave us a chuckle. Later we passed a store front that reminded of Roland Schitt whose one of the characters in the series we’ve been enjoying lately.

Today I’m returning to my daily walk which I missed yesterday due to our travel. I’m grateful to be alive and grateful for the professionals at CVS and the leadership of the man who carries the Rosary and gives me hope. Peace.

Remembering Theo

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of the birth of our third grandchild. Theo Joseph was the light in an otherwise dark year that marked by the sudden death of his grandfather Joseph Driessler due to cancer. But then Theo died in his mother’s womb and the family was devastated. Seeing those you love ravaged with grief is not easy. I can remember joining the family members in the birthing room and looking at little Theo lying still in his crib wrapped in a blanket. His cherubic face will be with me as long as I live.

Remarkably Mandi and Devin have chosen to remember Theo Joseph in a number of unique ways. They joined other parents as members of the Star Legacy Foundation. They kept his footprints and and created a beautiful ornament of remembrance that hangs on their tree at Christmas. Loss of loved ones is never easy but rather than run from it they have embraced their loss and in the process have helped others to do the same.

In November 1963 my sister Mary Patricia was born. She lived only a couple of days. My Mom and Dad said she looked like me. We have no pictures nor other mementos of Mary’s time with us. A headstone marks her burial in the cemetery in a plot next to my father. A few weeks ago Devin asked me when Mary was born and I didn’t know. I called my sister who told me that Mary was born on November 15, 1963. Thanks to the example of Devin and Mandi I’ll be remembering Mary Patricia in a new way and especially on her birthday.

Yesterday Devin and Mandi had a family sledding and tubing event that marked the birth of Theo Joseph. Thanks for their wonderful example. Theo was truly a gift from God as his name implies and his memory will always be with us.