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A Seat at the Big Kids’ Table at Ohio LinuxFest

For a while now, I have been planning to attend Ohio LinuxFest in 2014. It is one of the largest and most prestigious Linux events on anyone’s calendar. Attending OLF 2014 will afford me a chance to meet some people I have yet to meet…in the flesh anyway. There are people that I have worked and collaborated with since 2008 and I’ve never met them in person. Ohio LinuxFest is to be that opportunity.

Ohio LinuxFestWhat took me by surprise was an invitation to be the closing keynote speaker. “Surprised” isn’t nearly adequate. For almost a week afterward, I checked my inbox several times a day, waiting for the apologetic message that they had sent the email to the wrong person.

Nope, they meant me. The email with travel arrangements was in my name. Columbus, here I come.

I am flattered and humbled by the invitation. I was also asked if I would attend the Keynote Dinner on the first night. The Keynote Dinner? That’s when people pay to sit with you and other speakers during dinner. Really? Someone will pay to have dinner with me? Heck, the best I hoped for was being able to stick someone else with my dinner tab.

But to me, Ohio LinuxFest isn’t about a public speaking opportunity, although I am going to have a lot of fun with it. Attending the Ohio LinuxFest is going to be a chance to talk to people, to shake hands with…to hug old friends. It will be a chance to gather with those who understand the amazing thing we do as a truly global community.

And as individuals.

Ohio LinuxFest futureOhio LinuxFest isn’t just another excuse to travel. It’s a means for us to fulfill ourselves, and to get honest, tangible feedback for what we do and for what others are doing. It’s a place where ideas are sounded, bent, crumpled and turned until they either come out of the crucible perfect…or useless.

That’s what our gatherings are about.

They are about excitement and promise. They​ are about making sure the next generation has a real chance to put the first human footprint on Mars. They are a chance to insure they have the tools and the curiosity to take something apart and then make it better. This next generation will cure diabetes; they will make cancer an inconvenience and not a death sentence.

And they will insure that their next generation, the generation after them, is ready to be handed the torch as they go forward to meet their destiny…whereever humanity dwells.

That’s why we gather. That’s why we travel across oceans and deserts. We gather to insure that what we do not only survives, but bears fruit for generations to come.

With that said, I’d like to talk to you a moment…just you and me.

There are two scenarios that will likely play out over the holiday season. One of them might find a lot of you scratching your heads, wondering where I went and why I can’t be found in any of my Internet haunts. And then there’s the scenario where I explain it all to you now so you won’t have to muck around in scenario one.

The throat cancer that I’ve been fighting is a mean, nasty and aggressive son of a bitch. I was told early on that more radical steps might have to be taken in the future, should the cancer begin to return. A month ago, my scans and biopsy showed that the cells surrounding the radiation scars are now “precancerous.”

And yeah…that sucks, but it is what it is. I’m gonna go all Angelina Jolie on this cancer.

Two weeks or so after Ohio LinuxFest, I will be going into surgery to have my larynx and every reachable lymph node removed. It’s going to be a life changing event, but cancer, regardless of outcome, most always is. My presence at Reglue will be unchanged, the only thing different is that I won’t be able to speak. I know more than a few of you won’t really consider that a negative. 😉

There are prosthetics, but the doctors and surgeons never know if the patient is a good candidate until a month or so after the surgery. So in a way, speaking at the Ohio LinuxFest will be my last public speaking engagement, but that’s okay.

We’re going to have some fun while we’re all together.


  1. Uncle Ed Uncle Ed October 21, 2014

    Ken, I’m sorry. Even if you could anticipate everything is going to come out perfect, going through the surgery and recovery are not going be fun.

    A lot of years ago, I was working with an agency providing help to the elderly and disabled. One time a very talented friend tried to harass me, saying all he’d have to do was get injured so he couldn’t move around and we’d take care of him. I replied that as long as his head was still working, we’d slap him in a wheelchair and put him back to work.

    That’s what we’re going to do to you, except you don’t get the wheelchair. We’ll find you a Stephen Hawking talker box and put you back to work. I don’t know what the first talker box is going to be, but the second one will run on Linux.

    And I can see you working on a computer wearing: “I had my neck and my whole life rebuilt and all I got was this lousy tee shirt.”

    For the people who aren’t Ken, he and I have a lot in common and have been through some stuff together. I have NEVER been nice to him and and he’d think I was either mad or deathly ill if I started now.

    I’m still with you, Ken.

  2. Ken Starks Ken Starks October 21, 2014

    Ed, you have no idea how important that is to me. Thank you.

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