Okay, first of all, this thing has gotten huge - there are truly some wonderful folks out there who've put the word out, and Eric is really benefiting from all the donations.  So thank you everyone!  Secondly, I wanted to update a couple of things on the page; namely, the issue of Eric's condition.  I'm sure he was quite chagrined at me focusing on the hemochromatosis - that's actually not the worst symptom nor indeed the actual trigger here.  Some folks have (quite rightly) pointed out that hemochromatosis is a chronic condition that's livable.  Unpleasant, but livable.  So rather than continue on with the specter of that disorder, Eric mailed me and outlined the full details of what's gone wrong:

"Bill, to clarify a point: Hemochromatosis definitely played a part in what happened, but it is easily treatable -- once detected.  All it really does is raise one's sucseptibility to other conditions.  What really went on was that in early '04 I got the flu, and the flu that year stayed around a lot longer than I expected.  Usually you're over it in a few days, but the average duration for someone who got it in the '04 outbreak was something like six weeks.  I got lucky (sort of) and had it for only three.  I self-medicated by taking way too much Tylenol.  Long about February Jackie noticed that my eyes had turned yellow, and I'd become concerned over major swelling of the tum which, oddly enough, was not accompanied by weight gain.  I went to the Doc, he took one look at me from across the room the moment I walked in, and said "You're jaundiced!  You belong in the emergency room!"  It was a Friday afternoon.  He gave me a blood test and x-ray, muttering about why was he wasting his time when he knew what the result would be.  I asked him if he wanted me to come back on Monday and he just laughed.  He went off and made a phone call, came back with a piece of paper with a doctor's name on it, and told me to go immediately to Salt Lake City to check myself into LDS hospital.  I went home, showered up, and put a few things in a bag, then my Mom drove me the hour south to SLC.  I never got to see the guy on the paper, I asked the admitting physician about him and he just laughed and told me he'd been told to look for someone coming in who glowed like a pumpkin.  I hadn't realized how orange I'd become, but it was pretty spectacular.

So I went home after several days and thought I had it beat.  Resumed a normal life, the swelling and funky color eventually went away.  Then some months later I swelled up and turned orange again, and it was obvious that the cirrhosis was permanent and irreversible, but could probably be lived with.  After several more hospital stays that was proven wrong, and here I am. "

So all you folks who were skeptical because hemochromatosis wasn't that bad sounding or you knew it was livable: yes, you're right.  And I apologize if anyone thought I was working under pretense for starting off mentioning it.

With that said...again, if you feel leery about donating to Eric directly through probably not the best-looking website ever put together, please consider donating to the American Hemochromatosis Society (linked below).  Their need doesn't just go away because I goofed up the initial description of Eric's disorder.

Eric Peterson Needs Your Help!

If you've ever played any of the Mechwarrior computer games and gotten even a minute's entertainment out of 'em, please consider downloading ePlanet and donating to the fund to help programmer Eric Peterson get back on his feet.  Eric suffers from a disorder called hemochromatosis, a liver and blood disorder wherein the body's liver literally poisons the sufferer by dumping too much iron in to the blood.  Hepatitis, arthritis, diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome are just some of the symptoms of this terrible disease.  The only possible cure, at this time, is a liver transplant.  That's where you come in.

In addition to writing the Mechwarrior computer game engine, which was used for virtually all of the Mechwarrior II games (Mechwarrior 2, Ghost Bear's Legacy and Mercenaries as well as being the code base for the Heavy Gear computer game), Eric has recently coded a 3d terrain rendering program called Planet-E.  If you'd like to download it, feel free.  If you enjoy it or if you enjoyed the Mechwarrior games, please consider donating five dollars to help Eric out.  Eric's condition leaves him unable to work, and that means he has no health insurance.  That means that costly medical treatments are costing Eric tens of thousands of dollars, and his hopefully-soon liver transplant will be even more expensive.

Here's a short FAQ:

Q: Who is Eric Peterson?

A: Eric is a computer programmer, responsible for Mechwarrior 2, Mechwarrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy, Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries and indirectly Heavy Gear.  His most recent "hobby" project is a shareware terrain visualization program called ePlanet.

Q: How can I trust you?  How do I know this isn't a scam?

That's a fair question.  The best answer is to let Eric speak for himself.  Feel free to drop him a line at eric.repomancer@gmail.com - Eric is a pretty cool fellow and always up (when his condition permits) to talk about the ins and outs of programming, the history of the Mechwarrior 2 game engine and it's subtleties, and just about any other topic. 

Q: I'd rather donate to a charitable organization.  Can I do that? 

Of course; the best place to start if you still want to have a favorable impact on Eric's life is through the American Hemochromatosis Society.

Q: Planet-E doesn't work!  Now what?

A: Be patient.  Eric's working out bugs as his health permits. 

Q: I thought you said he coded Mechwarrior 2! Why the hell can't he get some shareware program working?

A: Because he doesn't have a few million dollars at his disposal and a full QA staff there to nail bugs as they happen.  Again, please be patient.

Q: How does the donation work?

A: Download Planet-E (right-click and save as) and then click the Make Donation link below the photos and go from there.  It's through PayPal.

Here are some screenshots of Planet-E in action: