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diplomacy, courtesy, and all that good stuff

It's never fun when a candidate has to go on the defensive, but in an
effort to combat some of the FUD that a few people keep falling back
upon about my colorful(?) personality, and to provide evidence
supporting my assertions that I'm perfectly capable of dealing with
people in a calm and polite manner, I thought I'd post some emails that
I've sent in my capacity as SPI Treasurer over the past few months.
(Plus one mail I received.)

The headers have been removed and certain particulars omitted to
preserve the privacy of our donors.  If you think I'm making this stuff
up, you can contact other members of (and advisors to) the SPI Board to
verify the truth of my representations:
	Nils Lohner
	Wichert Akkerman
	Ian Jackson
	Ean Schuessler
	Manoj Srivastava
	Ben Collins
	M. Drew Streib
	Martin Michmayr

Sorry for the embedded quoted-unprintable stuff.

In the meantime, I hope that my detractors can focus on my actual
weaknesses and limitations instead of imagined ones; for it is only
through directing my attention to actual shortcomings that I will be
able to improve.  I know making mountains out of molehills is a fun
sport, but -- IMO -- voting is a responsibility that should be taken
seriously, and approached with objectivity.

Thanks for your attention.



There may be, yes, if there aren't egregious fees associated with using
a German bank; please see:


(Martin Schulze, the designated contact on that webpage, will be seeing
this email.)

If it turns out that it would be easier or better for you to deposit to
a U.S. bank, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks very much for your offer of a donation!  I hope arrangements can
be made to your satisfaction.

G. Branden Robinson                |       The only way to get rid of a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       temptation is to yield to it.
branden@deadbeast.net              |       -- Oscar Wilde
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

Actually, I have not.  There have been some problems with our former
treasurer, whose address was, until the middle of last month, still
listed as SPI's donation address.

There is now a new address to use, which comes to me (I am the current
SPI Treasurer).  Please see:


for the new address and important information about making donations.

I am expecting to receive some old materials in the mail within the next
week or so from the previous treasurer, which *may* include your check.

You may stop payment on the old check and write a new one, or you may
wish to wait and hear from me (assuming I can associate your email
address with the check I receive) when I receive these materials, or you
may elect to stop payment on the old check and not draft a new one.
I'll understand if you are frustrated with SPI not being completely
organized on the donation front in early December.

> I will also need (as required by the IRS) some sort of receipt saying
> that you received the donation and that I did not (personally) receive
> anything in exchange for the donation.  Preferably this should state
> that I sent you the payment in the year 2000, for tax reasons.

(I presume you mean 2001?)

It is my intention to state this for all donations postmarked on or
before December 31, 2001.

> Thanks!
> (For everything!)

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  Thank
you for your donation, and I apologize for the SNAFU.

G. Branden Robinson                |      The greatest productive force is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      human selfishness.
branden@deadbeast.net              |      -- Robert Heinlein
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

Will do.  Thanks again.

(Gratuitous quoting done so that my fellow board members can see your

G. Branden Robinson                |     No math genius, eh?  Then perhaps
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     you could explain to me where you
branden@deadbeast.net              |     got these...       PENROSE TILES!
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |     -- Stephen R. Notley

Thanks a lot for the offer!  Can't think of anything at this instant but
your name is now on my list.  :)

G. Branden Robinson                |    One man's theology is another man's
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    belly laugh.
branden@deadbeast.net              |    -- Robert Heinlein
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

I am in possession of the check and will be mailing it to SPI's bank

> Additionally, we have some older hardware (486 and Sparc2 boxes) we
> would be willing to donate to the Debian or other project.  Our budget
> for shipping the hardware is limited although there may be use for it
> here in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Would it be best to send you a
> list of the equipment we would be able to donate???

Certainly!  I'll forward the list to the Debian Project, as I do not
personally have full knowledge of Debian's hardware needs.

> Thank you in advance for your response.

Thank you for your generous donation.  I apologize for the processing

G. Branden Robinson                |    The errors of great men are
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    venerable because they are more
branden@deadbeast.net              |    fruitful than the truths of little
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    men.         -- Friedrich Nietzsche

>      In my last message to you, I said that I would wait to see if
> my donation check from October was in a batch of documents that
> you were expecting from a third party.  It's been three and a half
> weeks, so I thought I would check in with you.  Any sign of my
> donation?

The package arrived on this past Tuesday, however I've been in serious
code mode due to a deadline at work and I have not had time to sort
through the stuff.  There's all kinds of stuff in there, not just
donations (about a year and a half worth of statements on multiple
accounts, etc. -- a real mess).  I've made it a project for the weekend
to try and sort it out.

If you need me to move with more urgency on this please let me know.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |              It tastes good.
branden@deadbeast.net              |              -- Bill Clinton
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

This mail is to acknowledge your contribution to the Debian Project of
Software in the Public Interest, Inc.  I received your check (number
1676, in the amount of $50.00) today.

If you need further information from me for tax purposes, please let me

Thank you very much for your generous donation!  This amount has been
earmarked for Debian Project use and will be deposited shortly.

Thanks again and please feel free to contact with me with any questions.

G. Branden Robinson                |     Don't use nuclear weapons to
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     troubleshoot faults.
branden@deadbeast.net              |     -- US Air Force Instruction 91-111
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

On Tue, Jan 22, 2002 at 05:07:40PM +0100, martin f krafft wrote:
> also sprach Colin Watson <cjwatson@debian.org> [2002.01.22.1651 +0100]:
> > The SPI Treasurer might be able to tell you if the project could use
> > this in any way.
> and if not he, then i could certainly use it. i am trying to get people
> into labs on saturdays for hands-on Debian sessions (okay, it's Linux as
> a whole, but Debian being used exclusively), and we are constantly
> very (read: too) short on hardware. these hands-on sessions are free of
> charge, and thus it's not possible to book professional labs or acquire
> an inventory for this purpose.
> let's see what the treasurer has to say, and whether this would float
> your boat in terms of donations (and we should consult the list(s) for
> objections), then we might be able to go from there.

I generally try not to get in the way too much when it comes to
equipment donations.  The Debian sysadmin team has a much better handle
on their hardware needs than I do.

I don't think DSA has a strong need for a non-rackmountable machine of
the i386 architecture, but you can always ask them at

Thanks for the offer!  I'm perfectly content if you and Martin can work
something out.

G. Branden Robinson                |    It was a typical net.exercise -- a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    screaming mob pounding on a greasy
branden@deadbeast.net              |    spot on the pavement, where used to
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    lie the carcass of a dead horse.

> Did you receive the old materials from the previous treasurer yet?  If
> so, was my check included?

I did receive the materials; however, there were no donation checks in
it dated after September.  In fact, there were only five donation items
(checks, money orders) total, dated from March to September of 2001.
Our Statement of Accounts for the past calendar year arrived this week
and there have been no deposits (technically, "purchases", since it's an
investment account) since April 4th, 2001.

Therefore, aside from the five items in the box and donations I have
received directly since Christmas 2001 (when SPI's official address was
changed), I am not in possession of any donations.

I'm sorry, but it would appear that Darren Benham managed to have lost
your donation, since he claimed the contents of this box were "all he

I suggest stopping payment on the check.  If you'd still like to make a
donation to SPI, please don't hesitate to deduct the stop payment fee
from your donation.

I'm very sorry for the SNAFU.  Please e-mail me if there are any
questions I can answer, or if I can otherwise be of assistance.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     Music is the brandy of the damned.
branden@deadbeast.net              |     -- George Bernard Shaw
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

> I have sent you a $20 donation for Debian via Paypal.
> I haven't tried this before so I hope it arrives!

Er, as far as I know Debian doesn't have a PayPal account.  Can you
please send us whatever you info you have on the existence of a "Debian"
PayPal account?

G. Branden Robinson                |       The key to being a Southern
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       Baptist: It ain't a sin if you
branden@deadbeast.net              |       don't get caught.
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |       -- Anthony Davidson

Okay, it looks like nothing fraudulent happened, then.  Thanks for
following up.

I apologize for the inconvenience.  The SPI Board discussed PayPal at
our last Board Meeting on January 21st, but we did not decide at that
time to establish a PayPal account.

If the absence of a PayPal account makes the difference between you
making a donation or not, that's important information, and something
that needs to weigh upon our future considerations.

Please consider mailing board@spi-inc.org and expressing your opinions
about whether or not SPI should support donations through PayPal, and
why or why not.  When we discussed it we were a little concerned about
the overhead fees that PayPal imposes.

We're doing the best we can to serve the community; you're part of that
community, and a donation you cannot make -- or decide not to make --
is as important as a donation you *do* make.

Thanks again for your offer, and I am sorry we were unable to accept it
at this time.  Please share your thoughts on this situation to the SPI
Board at your earliest convenience.

G. Branden Robinson                |    It's like I have a shotgun in my
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    mouth, I've got my finger on the
branden@deadbeast.net              |    trigger, and I like the taste of
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    the gunmetal. -- Robert Downey, Jr.

> A few months ago I wrote to you to find out if SPI had been recieving any
> donations from the vendors listed on:
> http://www.debian.org/misc/merchandise
> I was wondering if you had any updates on that.  The two vendors I
> e-mailed never got back to me.

I doubt it.  Unfortunately, Debian had a stretch of 9 months last year
where it appears no donations were processed at all.  A lot of people
probably gave up on us because of that.

I'm the treasurer now and have been receiving donations for a month.  I
have received none from any of the listed organizations.

They should probably be contacted, informed of the change in Treasurer
status, and warned that if they don't get back to us they will be
removed from the list.

> Also, I was wondering about the amount of money in general that came in
> earmarked for Debian.  As I watch traffic on several Debian lists I am
> coming under the impression that Debian desprately needs to have some
> developers as full time staff.  I was wondering if the income was anywhere
> near what would be required for that.

Uh, I seriously doubt it.  SPI has approximately $40k in the bank but
doesn't even approach that much annually.  Personally, I'd want to see
SPI income on the order of $100k annually before I could feel
comfortable using SPI to pay someone a salary.  And this would probably
be a position without any benefits to speak of.  To be honest, I don't
know much about how this sort of thing works; I just know that it seems
pretty infeasible in our current situation.

Thanks for following up.  If you have any further questions, please
don't hesitate to ask me (or the Board in general).

G. Branden Robinson                |    I have a truly elegant proof of the
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    above, but it is too long to fit
branden@deadbeast.net              |    into this .signature file.
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |

On Fri, Feb 01, 2002 at 01:53:20AM -0500, Branden Robinson / SPI Treasurer =
> I doubt it.  Unfortunately, Debian had a stretch of 9 months last year
> where it appears no donations were processed at all.

Sorry, this was a thinko.  SPI had that stretch.  It wasn't Debian's
fault at all.

G. Branden Robinson                |      "I came, I saw, she conquered."
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      The original Latin seems to have
branden@deadbeast.net              |      been garbled.
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |      -- Robert Heinlein

> Branden,
>      It's time for another gentle reminder.

Thanks. :)

> I'm still wondering about the status of my donation to SPI dated 26
> October 2001.  Have you sorted through the packet of mail that you
> reported receiving last month?


> If so, did you find my check?

No.  I think we're probably going to have to give up on that check ever
seeing the light of day.  I haven't heard a word from our previous
treasurer, who said he'd "keep looking" for the rest of our materials.

> As I understand IRS regulations, I can claim this as a deduction on my
> federal income tax return for 2001, as long as SPI declares it as
> income for the same year.  I haven't filed my return yet (and probably
> won't until April), so there's still some time to sort this out.  (In
> other words, I'm not ready to issue a stop payment order, but there is
> some urgency.)

I apologize; it doesn't look like SPI will be able to claim your
donation as income at all.

Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

G. Branden Robinson                |    America is at that awkward stage.
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    It's too late to work within the
branden@deadbeast.net              |    system, but too early to shoot the
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    bastards.           -- Claire Wolfe

> Mr. Robinson,
> This email follows up to a donation and some related email from
> late December/mid-January (see below).
> Unfortuantely, the donation check has still not cleared our bank.
> As this has delayed some accounting matters on our end we would prefer
> at this time for the orginal check to be returned.  We will then issue
> a replacement donation check.
> Again, thank you to the Debian project for all thier good work and
> to you for your related efforts.

I apologize for the difficulty.

The reason the check has not been deposited is because one arm of
American Express (Centurion Bank) does not recongize me as the SPI
Treasurer.  I thought we had American Express all straightened out at
the end of December, but this has proven not to be the case.

As a result, I can neither deposit checks nor write them on SPI's
checking accounts.

I am working with SPI's American Express financial advisor to try and
get this situation resolved.

Again, I apologize for the frustration and bookkeeping troubles this has
caused you.  Your donation was very generous and I hope we have not
given you cause to regret making it.  If so, then please understand that
it solely due to me and my SPI Treasurer functions that you are having
problems, and not the fault of Debian or SPI generally.

I will mark your check "VOID" and put in the mail to you this evening.

G. Branden Robinson                |      "I came, I saw, she conquered."
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      The original Latin seems to have
branden@deadbeast.net              |      been garbled.
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |      -- Robert Heinlein

> On Sat, Jan 26, 2002 at 10:06:10PM -0500, Branden Robinson / SPI Treasure=
r wrote:
> > I'm sorry, but it would appear that Darren Benham managed to have lost
> > your donation, since he claimed the contents of this box were "all he
> > had".
> Well, today I received my donation back in the mail with a "Return to
> Sender.  Box Closed" message from the post office on it.  The envelope
> is still sealed, and it has a postmark dated Dec 6, 2001.  If I put
> this envelope inside of a larger envelope and mail it to you, would it
> be able to count towards tax year 2001?  (or is this something I need
> to ask the IRS?)

I'm afraid I can't tell you for sure; I would ask the person who
prepares your taxes, or a tax lawyer.

If you do send it to the new address, it will certainly be getting
deposited in the year 2002 instead of 2001, so the government might want
to treat it as a year-2002 item.

I apologize for the inconvenience regarding your donation; I'm glad to
hear that it is safe and sound back in your hands, though.

Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any further questions.  And
thanks for the donation!

G. Branden Robinson                |    Somebody once asked me if I thought
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    sex was dirty.  I said, "It is if
branden@deadbeast.net              |    you're doing it right."
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    -- Woody Allen

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> I asked the IRS directly, and they say that I can count it against my
> 2001 return, and that I should keep the original envelope for my
> records.  (Strangely, if it got lost in the mail, and I sent you a new
> check I would not be able to count it on my 2001 return)  I'll send
> the original check for $1000 to you today at the address presently
> listed on your website:
> Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
> P.O. Box 502761
> Indianapolis, IN 46250-2761
> If you could cash the check ASAP after received it, I would greatly
> appreciate it.

Okay, I promise to do so.  (Note to fellow board members: if the issue
with Centurion Bank isn't cleared up by then I'll deposit it directly
into the AXP Cash Management Fund.)

Thank you very much!  Your donation is very generous.  I'm sorry for the
rigamarole you had to go through.

G. Branden Robinson                |    If you wish to strive for peace of
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    soul, then believe; if you wish to
branden@deadbeast.net              |    be a devotee of truth, then
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |    inquire.     -- Friedrich Nietzsche

> Branden,
>      Lo and behold, the Postal Service returned my letter to your
> former address (the post office box in Tracy, California).  It
> took a little less than four months to make the round trip.

Amazing!  :)

>      Is it too late to have my donation check included in SPI's
> reported income for 2001?  I could mail it to the Indianapolis
> address on Monday (04 March), and estimate delivery within three
> days.  Let me know if this could work.  If so, please confirm
> that the mailing address on the SPI Donations web page is the
> proper one to use.
>      Frankly, I could use the income tax donation for 2001.
> Thanks for your consideration, and best wishes.

We haven't yet filed this year, so I guess that is possible.

Please write in the memo field of the check that this donation should
count towards calendar year 2001.  That will help ensure that I don't
forget about this when the tax materials are prepared.  Also note
whether this donation is earmarked for Debian specifically, or for the
SPI general fund.

Yes, the following address is correct:

Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
P.O. Box 502761
Indianapolis, IN 46250-2761
United States

Thank you for donation, and I apologize again for the headache this has
caused you.

G. Branden Robinson                |       Yesterday upon the stair,
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       I met a man who wasn't there.
branden@deadbeast.net              |       He wasn't there again today,
http://www.deadbeast.net/~branden/ |       I think he's from the CIA.


To: treasurer@spi-inc.org
Subject: Acknowledged -- Check (Will Soon Be) In the Mail
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2002 17:13:02 -0700 (MST)
X-Spam-Status: No, hits=3D0.0 required=3D4.0 tests=3D version=3D2.1


> Thank you for donation, and I apologize again for the headache
> this has caused you.

     You've been most gracious also, and that's made it a lot
easier to deal with this situation.  Thank you for accomodating my
request.  I'll post the check soon, with revised memorandum


G. Branden Robinson                |     Reality is what refuses to go away
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     when I stop believing in it.
branden@debian.org                 |     -- Philip K. Dick
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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