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Donate Button Explanation December, 2013

I feel the public deserves an explanation for why, after 19 years of operation, all services provided to the public for free, I have suddenly plastered a Donate Button on my website. Essentially, I paid for services out of my own pocket over the years, and am now so depleted that if the old oil burning furnace blew I could not replace it. I retired in 1999 at 58 years of age, took Social Security at 62, and pull in a couple modest pensions. I retired early to get the old family homestead, the house my grandfather built, where Troubled Times nonprofit projects were then housed for many years. The house is kept at 60° F in the warm room, as I have been warned that demands on the old furnace will stress it. As it is, it broke down twice in the past decade, always in January. I drove a 1989 Dodge van until 2013, when the transmission went out yet again. Now am driving a 2003 used car. I have health problem that prevent me from working – high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood lipids and a post polio (Guillain-Barre syndrome) body-wide muscular weakness that has my knees buckling and my weakened heart fibrillating. Most of this is beautifully controlled by medication and superfoods, though yet another expense.  

Most people assume I have staff, as in email they ask if I “or someone on your staff” can address their concerns. I have no staff, and have found that any offers of assistance require more of my time than if I simply do the task myself. Yes, the website has a 90’s look, as that was when it was developed, in 1995. It’s going to stay that way. [Note: Mirror Site Team members did Mobile Ready redesign in October, 2015.] Like Yoda’s mud hut, it depicts who I am, where ZetaTalk came from, and my circumstances at 73 years of age. This has not been about pizazz or money. It’s been about getting the message out. Yoda said, just before passing “Rest I need, forever sleep” as he lay on his old sofa, clutching a blanket that had holes in it. I’m not ready to hang up my keyboard and mouse just yet, but I am going to admit that I am worried about my furnace blowing. This message is, as always, for those with deep pockets, not for the long suffering common man pinching pennies. You know who you are.

Mirror Site fund raising on the ning began in mid-2011 and continued in mid-2012 and mid-2013 but prior to that all non-sponsored Mirror Sites were paid for by myself, out of my savings. In 2010 this amounted to $1,044. The primary site had been of course my expense, no request for this in ning fundraising until 2013, though bandwidth (time-out problems for users) had increasingly become an issue, requiring a more robust hosting site. Assuming a decade back, during which time I was retired, out of pocket expenses for Primary and Mirror Site expenses not otherwise covered by fundraisers computed to $5,843.  ZetaTalk extensions became an issue in 2013, when the .ORG became available after being used by the Skeptical Mind crowd as a harassment maneuver. A fan purchased this domain, but out of pocket for myself for a dozen other extensions computed to $145. Rather than be used for mischief, these dozen extensions now point to a valid ZetaTalk website. This expense had not been addressed or covered under a ning fundraiser.

Free ZetaTalk Newsletters were started in 2006 and for a period of time I myself added subscribers and maintained the database and issued the newsletters from home. But this became too labor intensive so I paid for a service whereby the subscribers could add themselves or unsubscribe at will. The total expenses for this service from 2010-2013 computed to $1,950. I sent out a notice then that all subscribers (there were 10,020 by then) should just come to the website archives and pick it up, as it was getting too expensive. Complaints about this lack of service from me are still arriving. In 2012, with an old 32 bit PC threatening a hard drive crash (would have to be rebooted on occasion as it would freeze), I upgraded to a 64 bit PC. Some software likewise had to be upgraded, as I package for YouTube and hold interviews over Skype and maintain the Mirror Sites and the like. That and the inexpensive plastic Step and Repeat backdrop altogether computed to a total out of pocket of $1,255. If I were just a retired woman piddling around on the Internet, all this would not have been necessary. 

In sum, I paid for services out of my own pocket since my retirement, while on a fixed income, and now my savings are so depleted that if the old oil burning furnace blew I could not replace it. My brother, who is an English major, points out that I have led the audience into a swamp, so that at the end of my dissertation they have forgotten what I was talking about at the start. Too much detail. Sorry. The furnace is the reason for my Donate Button. 

Post Script March 10, 2014: This Donation campaign was started last December, 2013 when I noticed soot flying around the house, a sign the oil furnace burner box had been breached. Carbon monoxide is the greater worry, and starting in late February, 2014 I noted a slight headache at times, and sleepyness, all of which was relieved by fresh air. But due to the unrelenting polar vortex affecting Wisconsin, did not anticipate replacing the furnace until warm weather. Our smoke and CO detectors had not been screaming. I felt we had time. Then Sunday morning I noted green and red lights blinking, in the "latching alert" mode which says that a CO alarm had been activated but the CO had dissipated. Emergency replacement of old oil furnace instituted and thanks to those who donated the funds are available. I'm used to angels working behind the scenes, but this is a jaw dropper. Cost of the new furnace, installed - $3,295. Donations as of March 10, 2014 - $3,332.07!