Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Help me get a generator for the Amigos Academy in Nicaragua

 The Amigos Academy Need a Generator

(Post Summary: I'm raising $1000 for a generator for a school in Nicaragua. Donate here)

Friends, as you know, I have been working with a great NGO in Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ, for over 10 years. I have written about various trips over the last few years. Since I have started working with them, we've build clear water systems, run labs in the communities to help families get free from parasitic infection, and we have also built a school, the Amigos Academy.

You Really Should See The School

Its amazing. I remember the school when it was a rice field. Then the next year we built a wall around the property, as is customary in Nicaragua. The next year we build the pre-school area. The year after that we participated in the building of the primary class buildings. Since then the feeding center/cafeteria has been completed. They are now running a K-6 school with around 200 kids. See some pictures of the school here.

They Have Computers!

They even have a computer room where they teach the kids the basics of using computers for writing. They are also considering robotics projects as well, which is super exciting.

They Need a Generator

The school is roughly here.  As you can imagine, the power infrastructure in rural Nicaragua is not always stable. And when the school has a power outage, its is really disruptive to the students' education. So the principals of the school have told me they could use generator to help them through the power outages for the computer room and related infrastructure. They are looking for a generator roughly like this

I'm raising $1000 for a Generator For the School

To do this, I would like to raise $1000 so the Amigos Academy can purchase a generator for the school. If you are interested, please go here, and give whatever you can. No amount is too small. Or you can use the obvious giant button below. Their EIN is 58-2484257 if you are giving via a system like BrightFunds. You can give by other means, described here, but please mention in the notes that this is for "Amigos Academy Generator".

For more info on Amigos For Christ, check out their work here.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Build Your Own Geiger Counter with Raspberry PI

 The result of Covid and Work From Home has been....we stay home a lot. There are upsides, like not commuting every day. There are downsides, as we have more idle time. Since my memoir might be titled "A Mind Forever Wandering," I was thinking one day about how much we really know about background radiation. This led to a couple of searches around Geiger Tubes, and real-time databases, etc.

After a few random purchases around the internet and a bit if python code and a left over Raspberry PI 4 1G box, I have put together a DIY Geiger Counter. Here is how I did it, and here is the code, etc, you'll need.

Here's what you need:

Set up Raspberry PI

First, get a Raspberry PI 3 or 4. You'll need some kind of Raspbian OS/Raspberry PI OS on it. I always use the Raspberry PI OS installation instructions here. In short, get the OS and the imager, and create an image on the SD card. Then boot up the Raspberry PI.

You'll also need to add Python3 and pip to get the code working. You'll need to do something like:

$ sudo apt install python3 pip

I am using Python 3. I have not tested Python 2. Once done with that, you should use pip to install the following additional packages:

$ pip install influxdb_client RPi.GPIO

Set Up Geiger Tube

Next, Set up the Geiger-Miller tube, and the board. My pinout for a Raspberry Pi 4 1G device is pretty simple. GND pin on the board goes to pin 6. The 5V pin is wired to pin 2 for 5V of power, and the VIN input line is wired to pin 7, GPIO4. (No reason not to do pin 3 or 5. It's just what I picked). I also pulled the J1 jumper, since the clicks get annoying. Back background radiation is about 15-35 CPM, BTW. Which is normal. About 0.11-0.15 microsieverts for those of you doing math in your heads.

Next, set up the code. My Raspberry Pi Geiger Counter code is here. You will have to set up your Influx DB v2 database, but I'll write that up in the next blog entry.

Once you do connect to to InfluxDB you'll be able to get cool graphs like this, in the InfluxDB v2 UI:

"CPM" here means clicks per minute. The full build is pictured below:

Questions? Ask them in the comments.

More links to Related Projects

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

My Ballot Picks for November 2022

 It's time once again to Vote. Here are my votes picks for the November 2022. Many of these will not be a surprise from my June picks. There are also decent voter guides here on the SCCDP website.

Local Races:

Mayor: Cindy Chavez: All Cindy All the Way. See my June picks for more detail.

Sheriff: Both Republicans. Not sure which would be worse. Bob Jonsen has some experience in Palo Alto, and Kevin Jensen was part of the Sheriff's department when all the craziness was happening. I may write-in someone.

City Council: No race in my district, but if you live downtown in D3, vote for my friend Omar Torres.

State Level

Governor:  Gavin Newsom. Proud of the work he's doing. Especially around AB2183, the Farm Worker Protection Act.

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalikis. The incumbent.

Secretary of State: Shirley N. Weber.  Very trustworthy.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma. I have met her. Competent.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta

Insurance commissioner: Ricardo Lara

Member of Board of Equalization, District 2: Sally Lieber. Former State Senator, lives in Palo Alto.

Senator, Full Term: Alex Padilla. Saw him on Oct 23. Very impressive. Proud to have him as a Senator.

Senator, Unexpired Term: Alex Padilla. See above.

Congress: ANNA Eshoo. I have met her several times, a great local person. Proud to be in her district again.

Other Congress: Zoe Lofgren, Jimmy Panetta. I am not in their districts, but I would vote for them if I could. Zoe has done historic work on the Jan 6 commission, and Jimmy's the real deal. A serious policy person.

State Assembly: Gail Pellerin. She's backed by people who share my values.

Judicial: No opinion, likely voting Yes for all of them.

School Board: Tony Thurmond, like I have in the past.

The Propositions

Prop 1: The government should not make this choice. People directly affected should. Yes.

Gaming Props

These props are a mess, but I'm in favor of adding this funding stream to state coffers. Yes there are issues that will arise, but the funding should help them be mitigated.

Prop 26: In-Person Gaming. Yes.

Prop 27: Tribal Gaming. Yes.

Other props

Prop 28: Arts and Music Funding: Yes.

Prop 29: Dialysis: I don't know.....but shouldn't SOME medical professional be on hand for something like this? Yes, I guess.

Prop 30: Millionaire tax for Air Quality. Yes.

Prop 31: Referendum on prohibiting sale of flavored tobacco. Totally irrational response: this stuff is yukky, so yes, ban it. Voting Yes.

County/City  Props

Prop I: Allow non citizens on the Planning, Civil Service, and Salary Setting Commissions; remove gender-specific language; live up to equity values. Yes.

Monday, May 30, 2022

My ballot picks for the June 2022 Primary

 As I have done in the past, I'm posting my ballot picks for June 7 California Primary. I post these for those that have questions. As I have written in the past, I'm not trying to convince anyone. These are not endorsements, but they are who I'm voting for. (ok, maybe that is kind of like an endorsement, but whatever).

Mayor: Cindy Chavez:

I have seen Cindy in action for 20 years, as part of the local Democratic Party. She is a fierce competitor, as anyone who saw her run against Sam Liccardo 8 years ago will remember. But in my role on the boards of 2 local nonprofits, Sacred Heart Community Service and Gardner Health Services(a community clinic with over 60,000 patients/yr), she has consistently come through for the less fortunate in our community with significant funding on Housing, Homelessness and Rental Assistance, among may other issues. She's the most experienced candidate who will continue to be a voice for the marginalized, and has a clear vision for a better San Jose. All Cindy, All the Way.

City Council District 3: Omar Torres

I'm not in District 3, but my friend Omar Torres is running there. I've seen him operate in the Democratic Party for the last 20 years, and he has matured into quite a capable leader. I trust him on the issues, and I trust his judgment both from a governance perspective as well as from a political perspective. If you live in D3, where he was born and raised in the "La Wash" neighborhood,  he is worthy of your vote. "Go Omar!"

Congress: Anna Eshoo:

Anna has been a great supporting of Silicon Valley, and her office assisted me on some activitism back in the day. Vote for her. Ajwan Rading is a young up and coming candidate, but he's still green on some issues important to the district like patent reform, and did not seem entirely supportive of the Labor Movement in some local events. Great future candidate, but Anna wins this one for me.

For those not in my district, I wholeheartedly recommend 2 great public servants, Zoe Lofgren, and Jimmy Panetta. Zoe's history speaks for itself. She's a figure of historic importance. And I have been in party Zoom meetings with Jimmy, and he's the real deal, and I know his father is proud. He's a serious, policy oriented House member, with detailed knowledge about issues that affect our area.

Governor: Gavin Newsom:

Looks, I had my doubts about him. Was he just a glory-chasing celebrity pol? Ok, maybe a smidge, but he's been governing well and doing a good job working with the legislature.

The rest of the state offices:

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara:

Don't know much about him, but as the incumbent, if I did, it would be because he was messing up. Re-elect.

Senate(Partial Term), and Senate: Alex Padilla:

I'm proud to have him as my senator. Since he's filling in Kamala's team, you have to vote for him for the rest of the year, AND for the next team. It's California law, don't blame me.

Assembly Member: Rob Rennie:

Los Gatos City Council member, and strong environmentalist, as well as an engineer. 2 thumbs up.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond:

Doing well, re-elect.

Supervisor: Susan Ellenberg:

On the right side (my side) of all the issues. Deserves re-election.

Assessor: Larry Stone:

Doing a good job in a tough office, and always pleasant to talk to.

District Attorney: Sajid Khan:

This is a difficult one for me. On the one hand Jeff Rosen has been a decent Democratic attorney District Attorney. On the other hand I've been frustrated with him at being too close to the San Jose police and not following up on the various stories of police misbehavior. He's been mildly progressive come up but I think we deserve more. Also, district attorneys do not have term limits, and it's time for a change. I do not want to be in a situation like back in the days with George Kennedy where we have an imperial District Attorney for 25 years. I support Sajid Khan because he'd be a progressive District Attorney and would look to lessen the carceral state, by looking for other alternatives other than jail for people with minor offenses. As a public defender, he's had a front row seat at viewing prosecutorial misconduct and prosecutorial overreach. I hope that this will moderate his approach to law enforcement.

Sherriff: Christine Nagaye:

This is one of those races where there are not too many good choices. Nearly all of the candidates are associated with the existing corrupt regime in the Sheriff's Office, or are Republicans. I would normally vote for Ahn Colton because she's not even a member of the Sheriff's Department, but as of 2020 she was a registered republican, and that's just a bridge too far for me these days. She's not a serious candidate either, as she doesn't even have a website. Christine Nagaye is at least registered as a Democrat. God help us.

Measure A: Vote No.

Measure B: Yes, I guess?

This measure seeks to move the San Jose mayoral elections to the presidential election year. The idea is that more people vote during presidential elections and therefore we would have greater voter participation. OK, I 'spose. I'm not sure I follow this logic, because I think having elections more than once every four years it is important. Moreover, if you believe there are a fixed number of people working on elections this would essentially dilute campaigns and make them much less effective. It is also important to remind people that we live in a democracy and that as voters we have a responsibility to keep our elected officials in check frequently. And frequently fighting for democracy is important these days given the attack mounted against it. (See: Jan 6). 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Eulogy For Mom

 Dear Mom,

    Since they called me on March 1st to tell me about your passing, it's been a whirlwind of activity. Dealing with your affairs and estate, as well as executing on your memorial.

    I felt that the words that I said at your memorial service weren't particularly well thought out, or very eloquent. So, in that spirit I wanted to write you a proper eulogy. As always, like at Aquinas,  my homework is late. But I wanted to give you a cogent, heartfelt eulogy.

  First, and most importantly, you are great mother. From you I was borne, and you took care of me. I remember when I was young and frequently in the hospital for asthma, you were there while I was in the oxygen tent. My tenderest memory, was sitting in the house at 927 Cliffwood Lane, watching TV one night, and you were running your hand along my shin. Somehow, that's the most comforting memory I have of any sense of physical touch.

And later years I confided in you. You listened and kept my confidences, but you also held your counsel. Sometimes on important items, that in retrospect, I wish I had known. While initially when I found this out I was irritated, I understood why you did it. You realize that by telling me what you really thought would only elicit negative reaction from me. And you knew that I had to make my own mistakes because that's how I learn.  It took me a while to see the wisdom of this position, but as you told me in grade school, I am a late bloomer. So it is with this.

You were so funny. I remember standing in the kitchen at 927 and laughing so hard some days after school that I would have an asthma attack. I love this. I remember the time you came home and said "somebody in the neighborhood has Alzheimer's but I can't remember who". To this day I don't know if you were kidding or not, such was the enormity of your comedic genius. I will always love the humor that I found in realizing the best picture we had of you in your later years was the picture on your medical marijuana card. I will always remember our trips to the dispensary and laugh.  If I, or Emma or Anna, can be said to have a sense of humor, and the love of fun, it comes from you. Our joy is a direct descendent of your spirit.

You were so independent. You had your own way of doing things, and no one was going to change your mind, not even Dad. You did things the way you wanted and didn't care what other people thought. You started your own shoe store and did it your way. You refreshed your nurse's license and worked at the migrant health Center in Immokalee. If I or Emma or Anna can be said to have any Independence, it comes from you. Our independence is a direct descendent of your spirit.

You were so strong. No one was going to mess with your family. And when you had your own difficult times you bore them with a steely resolve. I remember the stories you told about you and your father picking through the rubble and being among the dead after an oil well explosion. I remember the story of how you and your family withstood a hurricane, and came home to find fish on the second floor of your house in Galveston Texas. You faced breast cancer in the early 80s, before there was a lot of support, and you did it with strength and Grace. And, it must be said,  not a small amount of humor. I remember you being playfully annoyed with someone, and whipping out your prosthesis and throwing it at him much to his shock, but to great comedic effect. I hope that we, me, Emma, Anna, can be imbued with some small part of your strength as we face the difficult task of living without You. Any strength we display is a direct descendant of your spirit.

You showed us what a loving relationship was with Dad. You made it clear that your relationship was the core of our lives and that we were secondary to that. It was hard for me to see the logic in that at first, but as always the wisdom showed itself to me later. Your relationship with Dad will always be a model of a strong marriage. I know it wasn't easy and yet you bore it with strength and Grace, as you did in most things.

I know it was difficult for you, after Dad died. Your relationship with him had been the center of your lives for almost 60 years. Your sadness was palpable. But in your remaining 18 months you gave me a great gift, one for which I will always be grateful. You let me help you, and you let me take care of you. I took car e of your affairs, and I talked to you several times a week in those last 18 months. They were all a joy. You worried about money, but Dad had taken good care of you, and all I could do was reassure you. Nevertheless, thank you for allowing me to help. We grew closer in the last 18 months, and it was such a blessing, though I couldn't do anything to ease your sadness.

You died as you lived, independent and on your own terms. While I wish we could have known the full extent of your health issues, I know you wouldn't have wanted us to worry. And you wanted to meet your eternal reward on your own terms. What else could we expect?

As you travel through the undiscovered country and join the great majority, know that we remember you, and will love you always. I remember how you ended the last phone call we had. I remember you and I laughing at the trouble you gave the doctors. And when I said I loved you the end of the call you responded as you did many times in the last 2 years of your life. You said, "I love you more". I never doubted that. I miss you and I always will.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Resources for Building your own PC

 I get asked by a number of people what it takes to build your own PC. Here are some resources to read/watch to get an idea.

NewEgg's PC Building Guide:

Very detailed YouTube Video:

Also, Henry Cavill building a PC during quarantine. Pretty respectable for an Actor/Superman:

From how stuff works:

How to Build a Computer | HowStuffWorks

From Wiki  How:

How to Build a Computer (with Pictures) - wikiHow

The main point it, its relatively easy. You have to have the right parts and make sure they all fit where they are supposed to go, and NEVER force anything.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

I Can't Convince Anyone

 As I get older,  I've become more invested in the notion that I really can't convince anyone, politically, of anything anymore. This is an important statement come up because it literally changes how I make decisions on how I spend my time. This affects my politics mainly in the fact that I will not engage in debate, because I don't believe I personally am effective in debating. The way I change people's minds is by my actions. The way I make fundamental change is make sure that people who believe the same as I do  get active politically, and above all vote.

   So, instead of (or In addition to) shouting at the TV and sending my money to candidates I support, I choose to get involved. To give, as one of my long time faith community leaders used to say, my time and talent, as well as my treasure. I choose to take tangible action that will increase the political power of those who already share my opinion. Examples of this are: driving people to polls in Hamilton County Ohio (2008), knocking on doors in Modesto (2018), and being a poll watcher in Wisconsin (2020).

   Why do I do this? Two principal reasons. First, in his last letter to the world, John Lewis made a profound statement that "democracy is not a state, it is an act". One thing we learned from the period between 2017 and 2021 is that Democracy is fragile and can be taken away from us. We live in a Republic, where government derives its power from the consent of the governed. We learned during this period, that there are those who do not hold this positions. Moreover, we learned we must tangibly act to maintain it. We The People govern, and it requires work.

   Second, and more importantly, I engage because I believe in the definition of this country, which I have written about before. This country is a secular, omni-ethnic, representative, democratic republic. And it is changing. By 2042, this country will be majority minority. No one ethnic group will have a majority. My efforts in this regard are twofold: to ensure the definition of this country remains the same, and to bring the non-majority (read: Non-white) groups into full participation in this country. Equal protection before the law, AND equal rights, equal opportunity and equal outcomes for all, no matter who your ancestors were, how able you are, how you worship, or who you love. This is the work of centuries, but I choose to start working on it now.

   Why do I do this? Simple. I love this country, and as my faith tells me, all life is sacred. To do otherwise is to disrespect those two ideas.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021



Patricia (Pat) Elizabeth Roth, 83, of Naples, FL passed away at her home in the Moorings Park Community on March 1st, 2021.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Loren and Ruth (nee Peters) Gibson, and her brother, Lt. Col. Donald Gibson.

She is survived by her sons William and David Roth, her grandchildren, Emma and Anna Roth, and her sister Mary McLean. She was preceded in death by the love of her life, William (Bill) Roth.

Pat was born in Independence, Missouri from where her family moved frequently during her younger years as her father worked at various construction projects throughout the US and South America. She settled in Williston, SC where she graduated from high school in 1956. She then attended South Carolina Baptist Nursing School in Columbia, SC earning her RN in 1959. That summer she met her husband to be of 59 years while he was a summer employee at the Savannah River Nuclear plant outside Aiken, SC. Pat and Bill were married the following summer in Aiken on August 27, 1960.  From there the newlyweds set out for West Lafayette, IN. There she worked as a RN putting Bill through graduate school at Purdue University.

After moving to LaCrosse, WI she worked as a RN for several years before devoting full time to raising her sons. When they were well settled in school she decided to pursue a life-long dream.

With a passion and a keen eye for fashion, she established “The Gibson Girl”; a ladies shoe and accessories store. Pat relished the business and particularly enjoyed going to market in cities like New York, Dallas and Chicago.

After nearly 25 years in LaCrosse, the Roths moved out East to Darien, CT; a move which ultimately brought about the decision to sell the shoe store. This prompted her to undertake the task of initiating and supervising the design and construction of a beach house on Hideaway Beach on Marco Island, FL. Following David’s high school graduation in 1987, she decided to put down roots in Florida returning to the South which she had enjoyed so much during her youth.

Pat was very active in tennis and bridge at Hideaway Beach and the Island Country Club. She also was involved with Guadeloupe Center in Immokalee, FL; The Naples Philharmonic League and San Marco Catholic Church and St. William Catholic Church where she served as a Eucharistic Minister.

After almost thirty years on Marco, Pat and Bill moved to Moorings Park in Naples thoroughly enjoying the amenities and lifestyle of the continuing care community.

A memorial will be held at the Moorings Park, 120 Moorings Park Drive, at Bower Memorial Chapel at 11am on Saturday, March 13th. There will be a reception at Moorings Park following the Service. Inurnment will be private.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be directed to Guadalupe Center, (Please set the “A Tribute Gift” field to “In Memory of Patricia Elizabeth Roth”)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

What is America?

What is America?

There is a common joke that it is a "gaffe" when a politician accidentally speaks the truth. I believe it was a gaffe from Senator Lindsey Graham uttered the following words: “America is not a race. America is an idea.” I fully embrace this notion.

What is America? Not where is it, why is it, but WHAT is it as an idea? I contend it is this:

America is a secular, omni-ethnic, representative, democratic republic.

Let's unravel this definition.

Secular: America is secular, in that, while the government must respect the free exercise of religion, the government can not establish or sponsor religion. This brings up 2 points. First, is America a Theistic nation, where belief in a higher power or powers is a baseline? If so, what about atheists? (I can argue either side). Second, from this it is possible to deduce that the citizenry can bring their religious-culture-inspired ideas to the public square, but can not enshrine a particular religious practice in law.

Omni-Ethnic: I use this neologism to imply all ethnicities are welcome, and none are specifically barred from participation. I use this awkward word intentionally, to imply inclusivity, as well as to recognize that ethnicity and race are fundamental to identity, and can not be ignored. I use this awkward word intentionally, also to connote that there is no such thing as a race neutral policy or law. At this point in our history, I believe people do not have the ability to be race neutral. As a result we must be conscious of this dimension in every public decision, as we do with gender, and sexual identity.

Representative: I use this word to indicate that we elect representatives to deal with the details of governance in a way that reflects the people of that constituency.

Democratic: America is a democracy. While we argue over everything, we vote. The people decide the issues through the common exercise of their franchise.

Republic: In a republic, the citizens are sovereign. In a country where the notion of the unitary executive perniciously creeps into public discourse, it is important that we remember that this is a republic. It’s not a monarchy, it is not a dictatorship. It is a country where the people rule. Those who govern do so only by the consent of the governed.

This has important implications. The first is that the People Rule. The President is not our ruler, merely the head of one of 3 co-equal branches of our government. We, The People, rule through our democratically elected representatives. We set the rules, and determine where our money is going. The President, and the Executive Branch are there to "execute" our wishes. The only time a President gets to set policy, is if we, through our representatives give him that ability. Finally, if there are questions or disputes on those rules we place on ourselves, the Supreme Court decides. But in the end, The People Rule.

To conclude, America is a country that values freedom. Freedom is not absolute, because you have freedom in so far as you are not hurting others. I’ll mention more about this incoming posts.  Its founding ensures that we can live according to our values... So long as we are not hurting others. Why? Simply because we are all granted the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness, both individually, and as a whole. And we have a responsibility to others.

I thank Senator Graham for his gaffe, and look forward to his retirement. It helped to frame my definition about what this country is. About what my country is. And what we need to preserve and protect.

(Related post: I Can't Convince Anyone)

Monday, October 12, 2020

My Ballot Picks for 11/3/2020 DRAFT

Draft of my picks for November 3rd, 2020.

Draft. More later.

State Propositions

Prop 14: Yes  This is important work, and needs funding, and I'm setting aside my queasiness around the origin of some of the stem cell lines. We need to make sure their acquired ethically.

Prop 15: Yes. Chips away at Prop 13 and helps to make a fairer property tax system and better funding for schools. See Sacred Heart Voter Guide.

Prop 16: Yes. Erases Prop 209 and allows affirmative action style programs at the state level, which are needed to chip away at the current  overlay of systemic racism.

Prop 17: Yes. If you have done your time and paid your debt to society, you should be able to vote.

Prop 18: Yes. Register 17 year olds early.

Prop 19: Yes. Allowing old people (like me) and wildfire recipients a property tax break.

Prop 20: No. A measure by the prison industry to keep people behind bars. See Sacred Heart Voter Guide.

Prop 21: Yes. Allows localities to enact rent control. With high housing costs, this is necessary.

Prop 22: No. Lyft/Uber Drivers should have benefits.

Prop 23: I don't know. Don't understand the kidney dialysis issue very well. More to come.

Prop 24: Yes. Better data privacy

Prop 25: Yes. Approve non-cash bail system. It's regressive and hurts the poor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

End SJPD presence in San Jose USD Schools

 (my remarks to the SJUSD School Board).

To the Members of School Board and the Superintendent: 

My name is Bill Roth, a member of Grupo de Solidaridad,  SURJ at Sacred Heart, a former SJUSD parent, and a 30 year San Jose resident. Thank you for holding this study session and allowing the public to participate. I would like to voice my support for not only ending the district’s contract with the San José Police Department but also for passing the Derrick Sanderlin Resolution. Having SJPD in schools sends a terrible message to students of color. I strongly recommend you look at re-targeting the funds allocated for SJPD toward professionals trained in Social Work, as well as people trained in De-Escalation and Restorative Justice. I also urge you to hold a vote on these two issues at an appropriate board meeting in the future. 

Thank you for your service to our community

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

New Mobile Lab for Nicaragua: 2020

Help Build a Mobile Lab for Nicaragua

As many of you know, I have been working with a Nicaragua based NGO, Amigos for Christ, for the last 10 or 11 years. I spend my time raising money mainly for the medical team, that has done amazing work in lowering mortality due to diarrhea, lowering incidence of parasitic infections, and improving nutrition. This year is no different. (click here to donate if you get a tl;dr vibe)

Letter from Annie and Juanita

See the email from Annie and Juanita, 2 of the leaders of the medical team. (You can see a video of Juanita here).

Dear Bill,
Thank you so much for reaching out to ask how you can help our Mobile Lab team this year!
Just like the rest of the world, we are adjusting to the changes and precautions we have to take
to keep those we serve safe. But one thing is certain – the mobile lab is absolutely essential to
the work we are doing to help families on the path to long-term health. Thank you for being
such a great advocate for this project.

Last year your group gave $3,788.00 to support the mobile laboratory project that helps detect and treat kidney diseases and parasitic infections. In 2019, 8,705 community members were tested for these infections—and this was possible because of your teams efforts.

Each year, you reach out to Juanita and her team and ask how you can help. Eager and excited,
Juanita brainstorms what the biggest health needs are in the 20 communities involved in Plan 7.
After much thought and collaboration, she responds to you and that’s when you do your magic.
You humbly reach out to your friends and colleagues to get them onboard with what Juanita
and her team does. You help her dreams for our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters become a

Without you, 506 people would not have been treated for kidney disease and 3,356 people
would not have been treated for parasites. Bill, we are so thankful for your team and your generous heart. Amigos would not be the same without you.

I’ve put together some information about the lab and what the greatest needs are this year for
the Mobile Lab. Amigos for Christ is currently partnered with 21 rural Nicaraguan communities
consisting of 1,568 families. They are the people who will benefit from your generosity!!
Thank you Bill! Let me know if you have any questions! Thank you for all you do.


The Mobile Lab: This year's project.

Why is the Mobile Lab so important? An individual or family’s health is absolutely essential to live a fulfilled daily life. In Nicaragua, family’s often struggle with illness that are completely preventable. Amigos is on a mission to change that by testing families for the most common illnesses we see, treating those illnesses, and educating families on how to prevent them in the future. 

What illnesses is the Mobile Lab focused on? 

  • Intestinal Parasites due to poor sanitation
  • Kidney Disease to inadequate water consumption. 
  • Respiratory Disease due to inhaling cooking smoke. 
The project has done wonders. In some communities, we've seen deaths down 30% from diarrhea. I have seen children get healthier and stronger when they have access to clean water. (Ask me about Angel and Avril).

What does the lab look like? Here's a picture:

(Picture from 2019 doing lab work in the first mobile lab)

How does it fit in with what Amigos does?

How does the Mobile Lab project fit into the big picture of a community partnership? In the 21 communities we are currently serving, Amigos is committed to a seven-year partnership with each community. For these seven years, we are focused on helping the community achieve five goals. 

This effort is called “Plan 7”, our community development model. The third goal of Plan 7 is: Reduce Preventable Disease. The Mobile Lab is the guiding project in identifying disease and informing the best path forward to prevention. Infrastructure changes are also part of the Plan 7 efforts. A clean water system, bathroom, and clean air kitchen help a family fully prevent disease in the future. 

The Ask

So what is the ask? Simple, please help me raise the $9,235 to keep the Mobile Lab effort going strong. I'll donate $1000 to kick it off , and get my company, VMware, to match. (If you're a VMware employee, or you work for a company that has a match, please give through your match system and add the designator "Bill Roth Mobile Lab".)

So, if you'd like to help, please click below to help fund the Mobile Lab.
As always, reach out if you have questions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

San Jose Resources In Times of Covid-19

Many people know I am on the boards of 2 great charities, Sacred Heart Community Service and also Gardner Heath Services. I also do work with my friends in Grupo de Solidaridad with Catholic Charities. Attached are some resources I know about. 

Financial Assistance for Low-Income Residents Impacted by COVID-19

These programs are building waiting lists:

Sacred Heart Community Service(English):
Sacred Heart Community Service(Español):

Food distribution

Our Lady of Refuge: Food distribution on Tuesday nights from 4pm to 8pm. Currently drive up.
Saint Martin of Tours: See below.

City of San Jose(English):
Ciudad de San Jose(Español)

Information on the Eviction Ban

Thursday, January 30, 2020

My ballot picks for March 3rd 2020 Primary Election

In the past, I have published my thoughts on the various candidates and measures on the ballot. This year is no different.

Note: Thinking that primaries don't matter, and that you don't need to vote? WRONG. There are a number of important measures not related to the presidential primaries that you should consider, especially if issues like housing and homelessness are important to you.

Party Nominated Offices


I am torn here, and really don't have a favorite. There are still a few candidates who have dropped out who are still on the ballot, like Castro and Booker(sob). I'll likely vote for Biden/Warren/Buttigieg. For the record, I'll vote for whoever the nominee is.

County Central Committee

These are the voting members of the local party to get to go to the state convention, and vote on things like endorsements. When you here "Local party endorses candidate X", its these people that vote. There are 6-9 slots per Assembly District. I'm in AD 28. The people I know and am going to vote for include:
  • Angelica Ramos
  • Helen Chapman
  • Shay Franco-Clausen
  • James Kim
  • Adrienne Grey
All are long term progressive activists. You get to pick 6, but you don't have to.

US Rep, District 19

Zoe Lofgren. No question. She's a decent, hard working public servant and House Impeachment Manager. I'm so proud to be represented by her.

State Senator

Vote Dave 2020. While Anne Ravel is impressive, former FEC Commissioner during the Obama Administration, Dave Cortese is a great local progressive leader. Support him please.

Member of State Assembly, District 28

Please re-elect Evan Low.

Non-partisan Office and Measures


No idea. But all the judges on my ballot are running unopposed.

City Council

Ruben Navarro. A local activist. Dev Davis has been hostile to spending on housing and homelessness, and is a "former" Republican.

State Measure 13

Yes. Look, I don't like spending on bonds any more than the next guy, but this is the only way to get around Prop 13 and to ensure we improve California Schools.   

City Measure E

Yes. This is an added tax on luxury home sales which will be applied to help housing and homelessness in San Jose. Please vote for this.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Eulogy for My Father

My Eulogy for my father, at his Funeral, Given 10/28/2019. (See his obituary here)

Brevity is the soul of wit[i], and I’ll endeavor to be both.
Thank you all for coming today to share in this celebration of the Mass, and my Dad’s life. I can think of no better way to honor him than through a Mass. He was a loyal son of the Church. At he bedside, where he spent his last night at home, I found his Missal. On the cover, was the Christogram, HIS, which comes from the Latin, In Hoc Signo, or Under This Sign, a reference to Jesus[ii]. He clearly lived under this sign.
Today we mourn the passing of our Loving Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle, mentor, friend and golfing buddy; colleague; Boss.
To me he was simply my dad. A great business and community leader, to be sure, but I remember was him as a father who taught by example.

  •  His example of hard work, and his relentlessness
  •  His example of charity, especially to the Church, a certain University[iii], and to Habitat for Humanity Collier County 
  •  His example of faith, like going to 630 mass every day during lent before going to work. Even when running a Multi-Billion $ business.[iv]
He taught the family, all of us, by his example. His example will wake up the echoes[v] for years to come.

These past two weeks have brought many happy memories of flooding back. 
  • In the seventies, mowing the lawn at 927 Cliffwood Lane, which was at a 45-degree angle, in Bermuda shorts, dark socks, and a Tshirt. 
  • Standing at the top of the stairs, Dad shouting “Where’s my gold pen!”. (When cleaning out his things over the past 2 weeks, I found them. Dad, they were under your desk.[vi]
  • Driving a car Connecticut to Florida and listening the same Prairie Home Companion 5 times.

While today is a day of undeniable sadness, it should also be a day of joy too. First and foremost, that Dad is no longer suffering. And second that he has received his eternal reward and is in heaven. Of this I have no doubt. But there is one final reason, and it’s not because Mom finally gets to control the remote.

The Irish have a notion of “Thin Places”[vii] where Heaven and Earth meet. Just a few weeks ago, when he was in the hospital, has just woken up. I asked how we was. He said “Good. I just saw Mom and Dad, and I haven't seen Dad in 16 years. They looked good.”[viii] I am confident this was true and that he had found one of these thin places. I am just as confident he is with Honey, Bear, Mary, Jim, Clem, Detmer, Hazel and the rest of the family. Let us be joyful for this too. He is with his family, and that his physical and spiritual suffering are over.

In conclusion, the best way I can end my remarks is to give him the last word. Those words are from his last word to us, in a letter he wrote; the words he wanted to sum up his life with.

To: Pat, Bill and David:
I have neglected putting this together for all too long now. I guess that I haven’t been willing to face up to the fact that my old ticker has more miles on it than is normal for my model year.
I have been blessed in so many ways during my lifetime that I am in awe of the generosity that God has bestowed on me, a sinner. My greatest gifts are my family whose love, understanding and tolerance sustained me through the years – I cannot begin to fathom why God showered the blessings of you three on me, preceded by my own family and now followed up with my two angels, Emma and Anna. What can heaven begin to be like after all the blessings I had on earth? I love you so much and eagerly await the day when we can all be together again in the divine and loving presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

[i] Shakespeare reference for Dad, who enjoyed the quotes in my thesis
[ii] IHS is also a reference to the transliterated name of Jesus from the Greek.
[iii] Ever defiant, this was needling both David and Dad a bit.
[iv] And he dragged me to Mass more than few times.
[v] And yet one must pay respect to his love for said University
[vi] This is true.
[vii] I got this, most likely, from Fr. Brendan McGuire. But Wikipedia confirms it.
[viii] I included this to create a bridge to his mother, to whom the same thing happened.