Tree House is Finally Finished!

Well, it took about 6 months longer than we originally planned, but the tree house is finally done. Many thanks to Jairo, Jessie, Jay and all the other folks who stopped by and helped out over the last month or so to get it done.





The Tree House has Walls!!

Three walls down, 1 to go 🙂


Roughly halfway through the day.


Andros & Keegan helping to measure boards.


Left side view, looking pretty good! 🙂


Kevin, finishing the third wall.


The Tree House

Years in the planning, the boys’ tree house is finally coming together. One step, one stage at a time.

The platform was built a month ago, pictures from May 5, 2017.


May 5, 2017



May 5, 2017

Kevin & Jairo Rodriguez built the walls last week, June 2, 2017


June 2, 2017

And finally, hauled up and put in place today, June 11, 2017, with Jairo & Jessie Rodriguez’ and Jay Yaros’ help. Many thanks to everyone!!



Emily & Jessie


Emily & Jairo up in the tree house, Jairo & Kevin down below.


Ezra & Jay


Jairo, Emily, Kevin & Jay


Kevin working the draw knife.



June 11, 2017

Free Software, kids and conferences

It’s been a while since I last posted, so consider this a broad overview, catch-up post, with, hopefully, more to follow in the coming days/weeks 🙂

A couple of months ago, shortly after the release of GNOME 3.10 I decided it was high time I gave Unity, KDE, XFCE, etc a solid try. As such, I spent a couple of months switching between KDE, XFCE, GNOME and Unity, though I also briefly installed Linux Mint Cinnamon & Elementary OS, neither of which I particularly cared for. Much to my surprise, I’ve found that I prefer Unity, with KDE coming in a close second. Window Spreading – which was once primarily (exclusively?) available on GNOME Shell, is now available on Unity & KDE as well. The point is though, that the upper left hot corner from GNOME Shell is something that is simply ingrained in my work-flow and which I am loathe to live without. Thankfully though, with the installation of Unity Tweak Tool its just a couple clicks away, along with window snapping, auto-hiding the launcher and enabling of multiple workspaces.

In any case, after a couple months of switching between them at login, I have settled back down to Unity, and no longer have all four installed. I did a clean install of Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr a couple of weeks ago and am quite happy with the results. Today I spent some time over on and have my desktop back looking unique, thanks to MediterraneanTributeDark GTK 3.x, Tango icon themes, and a nifty background found on reddit:

Screenshot from 2014-02-17 20:59:02

Since the move to Unity, I’ve begun contributing to Ubuntu more, mostly through writing and editing for Ubuntu Weekly News and, recently, editing/proof-reading Full Circle Magazine for the first time. I’ve also joined the Ubuntu Ohio loco group, and am hoping to find new ways to contribute to Ubuntu in the coming months, both in my local community and the wider community online.

In related news, I’m excited to have started teaching 4 kids about GNU/Linux and Free Software! Last fall we joined ExCEL, a homeschool co-op in Copley, OH, and I’m teaching two classes this semester – one on microscopes and the other on Free Software! This past Wednesday was our first class (delayed by 2 weeks due to weather), and I gave each student an 8gb USB stick with either Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu, or Ubuntu GNOME. Each class is ~50 minutes long, and in our first class I helped them boot into GNU/Linux for the first time (3/4 successfully – the 4th ended up getting into Ubuntu GNOME at home on a different laptop), get on-line, and answered basic questions about how things worked, how to install software (especially Minecraft), etc. I’m planning to introduce them to the four freedoms next time, along with IRC, the AskUbuntu stack exchange, Ubuntu Forums, and see what else they’re interested in learning about over the next couple of months. If anyone’s interested in programming I’ll likely show them Alice and Scratch, and tell them about Google Code-In, which at least some of them will be eligible for next year.

Finally, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be attending LibrePlanet in Boston, MA for the first time this year! Many, many thanks to the Free Software Foundation for sponsoring me!! Hopefully I’ll see many of you there!



Yesterday was my last day at GUADEC 2013 – I’m heading back to Ohio now, after an amazing week. All of the talks I attended were great, though a few really stand out, as always. I especially enjoyed Matt Dalios keynote about Endless Mobile and what they’re doing to bring computers & learning to the world. He had some great ideas – one of which I would love – the ability to download updates to a USB stick, take them home and update your computer. I also really loved Stef Walter’s talk ‘More secure with less “security” about how we can shift some of the control away from users in order to make all of our systems more secure.

Of course, there were many talks that I missed, while attending other things and which make me wish I had a clone – Allan Day’s and Ekaterina Gerasimova & Sindu Sundar’s come to mind. This year though, there is a bright side! For the first time, all of the talks were filmed and will be online sometime in the next few days/weeks. I’m sure I’m not the only one anxious to see all the great talks that I missed – and maybe rewatch others as well.

I was happily surprised at how well the Marketing Hackfest was attended – I had expected it to just be our usual group of a dozen or so folks and was very happy to see others taking an interest. We were finally able to agree on a name change that better reflects what we do – and are now the Engagement Team. We also talked about how we can better inform the press, promote our outreach efforts and

Of course, GUADEC is about more than just the presentations, hackfests & Bof’s. It’s also about getting to meet fellow GNOMErs, and interacting in person with the people we all talk to on a daily basis throughout the rest of the year. Meeting each other in person helps to remind us all that there are real people behind all the screen names, and in so doing, helps remind us to be kind and understanding to one another – sometimes sarcasm is hard to spot online. 🙂

Finally, I’d like to give a couple of shout outs of thanks – first to the local GUADEC team who did a fanastic job organizing the conference. Everything from the buildings to the social events in the evening was wonderful. Second to the GNOME Foundation in thinaks for sponsoring me on the trip. And, finally, a huge thank you to Jasper St Pierre for fixing my computer when gdm broke yesterday. 🙂

Off to GUADEC 2013!!

I’m just about ready to leave. I think. In a few minutes I’ll drive up to Canton, OH drop my boys off with my mother and board a plane on my way to GUADEC 2013 in Brno, Czech Republic. In a little over 24hrs I’ll be in Brno, attending GUADEC for the second time. I’m psyched!

The last couple of days have been a flurry of laundry, cleaning, packing and worrying – what am I forgetting?? Hopefully nothing overly important. Hopefully Kevin hasn’t forgotten anything important either – he’s leaving tomorrow with the boys to go see his dad up in northern Wisconsin, a solid 12+ hr drive.

Anyhow, I have a few last minute things to do here, and then I’ll be off. Hope to see lots of you tomorrow and in the coming days at GUADEC!! 🙂

Home from AdaCamp & the GNOME Marketing Hackfest

After a little more than a week away, I am finally home. Last week was spent in New York City at the GNOME Marketing Hackfest with 6 other members of the marketing team. We had many great discussions and I look forward to continue to promote GNOME and make the project more successful than ever before.

This weekend was spent in San Francisco where I attended AdaCamp for the first time, which was an amazing experience. I met many, many amazing women of all ages from all walks of life who are doing amazing things. I’m still processing everything, but for now want to express how thankful I am for the opportunity to attend. AdaCamp was an inspiring experience which I won’t soon forget. Many, many, many thanks to the Ada Initiative and everyone involved in making AdaCamp happen!!!

New Kiko Goat kids!

A couple of weeks ago now our Kiko does had kids. Two sets of twins, though only 3 survived. Patches had twin doelings, and Louise had twins as well – unfortunately though, one of hers was born in the water bucket and thus did not survive 😦 the surviving twin is a very nice looking buck though. These pictures are of when they were ~1.5 weeks old, and are themselves now another 9 days old.

Anyhow, a couple of pictures:

‘Stinky’ – buck on the left, ‘Patches’ – brown doe in the middle, ‘Louise’ on the right and Patches’ kids at ~2wks

Louise & her kid nursing, also one of Patches’ and Orso 🙂

They seem to be growing far faster than our kids in years past, having, in just about a month seeming to have doubled in size. More pictures on SmugMug:

Patches & our 2013 Kiko Goat Kids!

Unschooling Month 2 :)

We’re coming up on 2 full months of homeschooling, and I am feeling more and more comfortable as we progress. Nearly every week since starting we’ve gotten out do stuff at least twice, which is pretty much what I’ve been shooting for.

The boys have taken to swimming at the Massillon Recreation Center on Fridays and are doing wonderfully. We generally arrive around 9-9:15am so we have a few minutes to play and say ‘hi’ before swim lessons begin at 9:30am. After lessons are over at 10am we usually swim for another hour or more before leaving to do something else.

My goal has always been to do at least one field trip a week, outside of swimming. In January we went to The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, OH for several of their programs though we haven’t made it back in February. Instead, we’ve focused on science museums and play days.

On February 9th we made it up to the Great Lakes Science Center for their “Family Science Day”. They love the “Polymer Funhouse” where they can run around and play with other kids, as well as the NASA Glenn Visitors center. We caught two of their science shows, the first about mass and forces had started just before we arrived but was interesting nonetheless. Later on, we saw the “Big Science Show” which they loved – especially watching 2 bottles of Diet Coke erupt more than 20′ into the air after 10 mentos candies were dropped into them! We also got to see “Egypt: The Nile” at the Big Screen Theatre which told the story of the first expidetion to navigate the length of the Nile River from the source of the White Nile in the highlands of Ethiopia all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Overall we had a great day and are looking forward to returning soon.

The next week, on February 13th we went to the Mckinley Museum in Canton, OH. The Mckinley Museum is a small museum with three main attractions: the Planetarium, Discovery World and a replica of a street from the turn of the century. “Discovery World” is full of hands-on exhibits, starting with an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex (which Keegan thought was terrifying), as well as several other exhibits about ancient animals from Dunklesoaurs to Mastodons and Giant Sloth, and a small exhibit about life during the ice age in Ohio. They also have a small collection of animals which serve as a sort of nature center – chinchillas, bees, cockroaches, snakes, turtles, fish, birds, etc. Finally, the “Fascination Station” had just opened (with a few finishing touches yet to come) which is a hands-on area about science and technology, including a solar powered car from Stark State College. The street was interesting, but since we were the only ones there we didn’t get the full experience. It looked as though there are likely people who come in and do re-enactments of sorts from time to time, and I’d love to go back at some point with a tour guide. Likewise, since we went on a Wednesday, the planetarium was closed. Someday we’ll have to return for a show!

Last week we went on a tour of Harry London’s Chocolate Factory (now owned by 1-800-FLOWERS), where they make chocolates which are shipped all around the country and sold under the Fannie Mae brand. We met several other homeschooling families we hadn’t before and went to play at McDonalds afterwards with a couple of them. We had a great time and are looking forward to doing other things with them in the near future 🙂

GNOME Forums are Up!

I’m happy to announce that GNOME Forums are up and running: !!

If you have questions or comments about GNOME, please, come and talk about them, and lets see where we can find some common ground and provide some reference to what our users *actually* like, want and need in an operating system generally and a gui specifically. There are couple of basic sub-forums but as we grow I fully expect to add new ones, primarily on an as-needed/wanted basis. Suggestions are welcome!!

Also, please keep in mind, I’m new to this gig, so expect some hiccups and rough spots as we figure things out. Finally, once again, if you’re interested in helping out, please let me know.