Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Four down, thirty-six to go

Jesse's dad delivered three Mindtriggerz computers this Saturday to the families who completed their training, the fourth was delayed as our little Harvard prodigy was ill. I felt a certain melancholy in letting them "go" - or perhaps it is more the reality of what we are doing and why. I know it is good work but some days it is just very hard.

Incredibly, in a couple of the homes Jerome visited there were old non-working computers tucked away in closets. One dad asked if we could fix his old machine and Jerome responded: "We only fix computers for little people, not big ones" and then was given the old computer to be donated to Mindtriggerz. Jesse would love the irony in this - we give a computer and take another one in its place.

Joyce was our "runner" hustling back and forth between Liverpool and the Park loading systems into her car for Jerome to deliver. Laughing all the way. James was here along with Jon and while the guys replaced parts and diagnosed my dysfunction (one of the machines I couldn't get to boot was due to the fact that I'd plugged the monitor into the wrong port - ha ha, yeah), I cleaned speakers and mice and demonstrated not only how I make the machines sparkle to "like new" but also the ultimate results of my comet/windex mix. Sandpaper hands, an abrasive unto themselves.

When Jesse's dad delivered the infamous STICKER MANIA monitor last week to be cleaned I was like "no way, no, can't do" but then after checking the quality of the resolution I realized I had to fix it up. I joked about stickers being the bane of a mom's existence then buckled down to work. I suspect this monitor had been stacked away somewhere for quite some time, there was a great deal of dust and embedded grime but after fifteen or so minutes of buffing it with my steel wool knuckles, well, I finally got it clean.

Actually, it took a lot longer than fifteen minutes and much more than my sad cracked hands. I scraped each sticker with my fingernails (now all shredded to the quick) and had to bring out the big guns for the large plastic hook attached to the side with the dreaded double sided rubber adhesive. I won't go into too many details as to the plethora of cleaning products I unsuccessfully tried but finally I discovered the magic potion: Guardsman's Citrus Spot Remover. It was an "omg" moment and as is evident by this post, I am very proud of myself for the monitors pre-placement renewed condition. There are a wide variety of "things" I am not so good at anymore but it seems cleaning is not one that I've lost just yet.

For me these systems are a demonstration of my continued love for Jesse, and Jesse loved "shiny." So they will be.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Hungry, Hungry Hippos (aka your pets are on the internet while you're not home)

We've fallen a little behind on posts but are claiming "busy" as an excuse oh and yes, blaming the internet too.

We learned this week that Second Life awarded its first annual Jesse Malthus Award for Best Community Influence in September during their "Hippo Awards Ceremony" - giving us great pride as well as many tears but mostly thankfulness that Jesse continues to be remembered for his many contributions to SL.
Information on the award is available here:

Four of our applicant families have finished their training and will each be receiving a Mindtriggerz computer this weekend! We are so excited for them and for us. It has been incredible watching these young ones (ages 3 and 4) as well as their parents working hard at the Cardinal Valley Park "lab" - learning the software and the technology together. We feel certain that the dedication they have shown us will continue - and that the Educational Software (GCompris and Childsplay) will benefit the entire family.

Several other families are almost there - another Saturday or two and we'll have additional computers to place. We've been slowly moving around components from Jesse's dads house to mine so I can do the "detailing" to the machines. This equates basically to me vacuuming out dust from cpu's, scraping off "MS Windows" stickers, and using most of the cleaning products in the house coupled with some serious elbow grease to make the components look as like new as humanly possible.

Which brings me to the second half of this weeks title: your pets and the internet. Windex is a pretty awesome product and I've used a lot of it cleaning up keyboards lately. When we discovered that the computer vacuum (graciously donated to us) had a capacity to "blow" we started using it regularly on keyboards. The adage "old computer components never lie" or "every keyboard tells a story" has never been better exemplified then by what we've found lurking beneath the control key! Ha!

Seriously, today I picked up a rather amazingly clean Dell keyboard and just for the sake of doing so decided I'd run the vac just for lulz. It was after this that I decided little Muffy and Spot, Boots and Alley are not just lamely sleeping the day away while their humans are off to work. No, I suspect they spend many hours surfing websites like Purina, Petsmart and icanhascheezburger. Undoubtedly.

This thought made me smile today as I polished surfaces to sparkle and shine. Thank you to the wonderful pets whose wonderful owners donated items to Mindtriggerz. Woof. Meow. W00t.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Screen shot or fake (fun with the Mindtriggerz crew)

After James helped Jerome set up the lab at Valley Park this morning he traipsed to Liverpool. While in the kitchen heating a breakfast burrito he shouted down the stairs: "There are people at the front door."
I think I said something like "Well, let them in."

It was Vincent and Zack, two new volunteers who joined us thanks to the lauding of our project by Joyce and April. :) and <3.
Vincent is a student at the University of Kentucky. Zack is finishing up high school here in Lexington. Both came aptly suited technologically speaking and eased into the work and camaraderie of our group as though they'd been helping for ever. We are happy to welcome them on board and hope to see them at many more Saturday work sessions.

While Sarah and Joyce helped Jerome teach the returning kids and parents at the Park, I eavesdropped (to the best of my abilities and as most around here know my hearing is quite deficient) on the conversations being bantered around while blowing the dust out of and then cleaning the hand prints off the CPU's we have loaded and that are ready to "place."

Jon has been diligently working on a "thin client server" and is making great progress. Josh changed out a cd rom drive in another system and apparently Vincent made magic and got a system running that had been relegated to the cabbage-patch.

I am continually amazed by the abilities of them all and suspect I will ceaselessly be so, as I always was with Jesse.

Jerome reported that four out of the six families he and his crew worked with last Saturday returned again and when I dropped in at about 1:00pm there was Danisse (Joyce's "future Harvard student") dressed to the nines and casually dragging dropping moving and manipulating and having a great time mastering a "GCompris" math game I have not had the patience to yet learn. She is four years old and prior to her Mom applying for a Mindtriggerz computer, had never touched a keyboard.

This is what it's all about.

None of what has transpired and none of what is the future of this project would have come this far, this fast without many sleepy Saturday mornings, without many brilliant, talented and caring individuals. Like the Dunbar Memorial Garden this too is our "labor of love" and we will never be able to give the proper thanks where and to whom it is due. Many, many hands have participated - from the folks who donate their old machines to the young men and women who sacrifice sleep to work with us - to the countless others who simply "spread the word."


and LUVZ.

Until next week!
Jesse's Mom