Water can be a force to reckon with...just ask the Grand Canyon.
But some things will not succumb to force, and some things only if that force is so strong that nothing can stand in its way.
But that is rare.
There are things that stand their ground...dominate the space they inhabit and refuse to budge.
Gold miners discovered long ago that their prize was to be found in abundance in many streams. Its weight and density dictated that it stand its ground, that only a raging flood would dislodge it from the place it sought to be discovered.
I found myself in a stream of sorts a few days ago...not a traditional stream, one of rushing waters and tumbling currents but a stream of rush hour traffic. A place of orchestrated chaos and honking horns. A place where you can easily spot those who left the house five minutes late and were playing the odds that traffic would allow them the time to catch up.
It rarely does.
I said organized chaos, while being a complete misnomer, those who find themselves in this rushing stream know exactly what I mean...the flow has rules.
You don't approach a red light in the right lane...people can turn on right on red and if you plan to go straight ahead upon the green...angry honking horns are the least of your worries.
You don't use the left lane for your casual visit to the grocery store during rush hour. People's livelihoods depend on their punctuality. They could care less about your shopping list. They are in a hurry, you are not.
Never break down in the middle lane of traffic. Good things are not going to happen to you and chances are, if someone stops...it's not going to be to help you.
I drive a 1992 Izusu Rodeo with almost three hundred thousand miles on it. Care to take a guess as to which of the above examples I had the misfortune to choose?
It couldn't have been in a worse place. A hundred yards from a major intersection and twenty feet away from a side street.
I created one of the nastiest traffic jams you could imagine, and I did it in Austin Texas. Those of you who live here know exactly how bad this was. No one would stop long enough for me to attempt to push my car to the side. Two cops past the entire drama without even a glance and those who past me screamed some of the foulest things I've ever heard.
I'm a retired soldier...I've heard some foul curses. Even the battlefield didn't produce the utterances I heard on this occasion.
With 4-way flashers flashing I stood at the rear of my vehicle trying to guide traffic around me and withstand the verbal whithering fire of angry motorists. I was truly lost for a solution.
That's when I found the gold.
His name is Thomas Edwards and while his skin color was more ebony than gold, his worth on that day could not be equaled by his weight in that precious metal.
Thomas Edwards is a big man. Not in girth...but in pure mass. When I offered my hand he shook it. It felt like I had just placed my hand inside a first baseman's mitt. He looked at me then the stream of traffic struggling to get around us. I noticed quickly that the curses were silent.
I don't think anyone in his right mind would curse Thomas Edwards to his face.
We tried to jump my car with his battery charger but it wasn't strong enough to power my deader-than-dead battery. He told me to block traffic while he maneuvered his car so as to block the lane I was stuck in. We would push the car onto the side street 20 feet to our rear.
We got it there but by the slimmest of margins...having to push it up a 4 percent grade we could push it no further and Thomas told me to go quickly and set the brake. As I broke around him, rushing to set the emergency brake, even this massive man could not hold the weight of the car as it inched closer to the traffic rushing a mere few feet from his exposed body.
I got it stopped within inches of him being struck by oncoming traffic.
Thomas Edwards knew the situation he was in...he knew the traffic was coming closer and closer to him, but he never gave up...he held the creeping vehicle, neck bulging and face taught with effort. He held it back until I got the brake set. He knew if he jumped aside to safety, the Rodeo would be broad-sided by oncoming traffic.
Thomas Edwards held his ground.
He even offered to help further. If I did not get the car started, I was to call the number on the business card he handed to me. He would come with enough people or a wrecker and get me out of further harms way or better yet, along my way. Once he was assured I had help coming, he quietly left.
In less than ten minutes, the friend I called to help arrived and we were able to get my car repaired and me on my way.
Thousands of people passed me in that twenty minute ordeal...only one person stopped...a Chunk of Gold amidst a raging stream. I thank my God for his help.
Now how does this tie into Linux? Open Source? Only in an indirect way.
The HeliOS Project is getting ready to embark on a large project. We are going to be building a Linux Lab on the East side of Austin. It will be a place of hope in the middle of despair. It's not the best of neighborhoods. Most of the people there are good, fine folks...but the bad elements there are profound.
I can think of no better place for a Rock of Gold to be placed. As soon as we get the hardware together, we will build it.
It will be the Thomas M. Edwards Technology Learning Center. And it's not because he helped me.
It's simply because he stopped to help someone when no one else would.
I was simply fortunate enough to be Someone.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 11:07 AM