Cyber docs shingle goes up

March 07, 2002 12:00 am
Joseph Kreiss/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat ().
Joseph Kreiss/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat ().

By JOSEPH KREISS

Now in his retirement years, Mike Lamasney spends most of his time in a Twain Harte hospital.

But wait, theres no hospital in Twain Harte.

This hospital, as Lamasney calls it, is the computer systems repair and maintenance room inside Twain Harte School.

Through the full-time volunteer efforts of this 63-year-old former Silicon Valley electronics engineer, students and staff of the Twain Harte-Long Barn Union School District have a high-tech computer network and several hundred working computers in classrooms and computer labs.

Stacks and stacks of old CPUs, printers and monitors fill former classroom No. 3 inside the schools main wing. Lamasney sits in the middle of all this outdated technology, ever-present cup of coffee in hand, pulling various parts from the old clunkers and building new computers that can handle todays many megabite-consuming software programs

Lamasney has been coming to work at Twain Harte School full-time for almost five years. Most of his contact with students is through the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) classes he teaches on occasion. But, many kids know him by name, saying Hi Mike as they pass him in the hallways.

In 1991, following 29 years at Singer-Link, a Sunnyvale flight simulator and pilot training systems firm, Lamasney moved to Twain Harte to live in the cabin he built in 1979.

I was down there (in the Bay Area) with negative income and a huge mortgage. The cabin was paid for, he said.

The first few years after the move to the mountains, he tele-commuted with Tandem Computers and looked for opportunities to volunteer.

I started working with one of the teachers, teaching the kids a little about computers, he recalled. At the time, the school didnt have much of a computer lab but Lamasneys own collection of hand-me-down computers was growing.

Every couple of weeks Id go down to Tandem and come back with a pickup truck full of computers, he said.

He began to bring the castaways to the school. A 1997 arson fire in the schools computer lab then destroyed all his accumulated computer equipment.

Lamasney remembers insurance covered the replacement value of the lost equipment. That allowed new computers for the school. It was really a godsend in disguise. It allowed us to do some major upgrading that we couldnt have afforded otherwise.

Since that time, Lamasney has created the districts computer network, designed and built six student computer labs and refurbished dozens of donated pieces of equipment.