The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gold In The Stream

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'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.

All-Righty Then.


kozmcrae said...

Thank you Thomas Edwards. Your humanity casts a bright light.

Anonymous said...

It's simply because he stopped to help someone when no one else would.

You are not seeing the parallels are you helios? It doesn't surprise me. Altruistic people rarely do.

Anonymous said...

What a lucky person has Free and Open Source Software found on you. Keep on going!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to say, cool story. :) Kudos to you, Mr. Edwards.

I just have to note that the Colorado River had little to do with the grand canyon, but that's not entirely relevant. :P

Amenditman said...

I love a story where the good guys work together and it has a happy ending.

The Thomas M. Edwards Technology Learning Center will be a truly blessed place.

Thanks for sharing this helios.


Anonymous said...

@ digitalpioneer


Taken from

"This is when the Colorado River went to work, first cutting into the upper layers about six million years ago. Carving inch by inch over the millennia, the river finally reached the oldest rocks nearly a mile below the surface."

Sarah Mayfield
San Antonio

Anonymous said...

I will find it interesting to see how the tech community responds to this. You published the thing about the teacher. What did you call it? Teachergate? Then there was the Madison woman who cried because she couldn't understand how to use her Ubuntu computer.

Absolute outrage ensued in both instances. I am betting that this story, a story of true beauty and courage gets barely a mention or look from anyone.

Thank you Helios for showing us ther are good people out there, Personally, I was beginning to wonder.

Mark Brewster
Billings Montana

Anonymous said...

You wanna tell us a bit about this Thomas where he works? Maybe his employers need to be aware of his actions.

Unknown said...

He is the Site Security Manager for Applied Materials in Austin. I may have screwed up doing this but if one more jerk accuses me of "fabricating" events, I am likely to want a close and personal discussion with that individual.


Anonymous said...

@ Brewster

"I am betting that this story, a story of true beauty and courage gets barely a mention or look from anyone."

I'm afraid you nailed this down accurately. It seems the Linux Community is quick to howl their outrage but anally stingy with their praise.

And helios wonders why Linux isn't spreading at a faster rate. Our users are our own worst enemies. In a dark, hidden place inside me, I kind of hope Linux isn't going mainstream. I'm ashamed of people that wish individuals get stabbed in the face with an icepick simply because she was ignorant of Open Source.

It may have only been a few psychopaths like this that posted but those are the ones that will be remembered, not the ones that tried to enlighten her.

Anonymous said...

Spider Robinson defines the opposite of terrorism as "random acts of senseless kindness".

I believe the Thomas Edwardses of the world are our best defense against evil.
Thanks for telling the story, Ken.
(I've never driven in Austin, but I have negotiated the DC Beltway ...)

Anonymous said...

@ Brewster/Anonymous

"I am betting that this story, a story of true beauty and courage gets barely a mention or look from anyone."

This story, while not being directly related to Linux but (likely) in a show of support to both helios and good people everywhere, was on the Linux Today feed. While you may be right that much of the Linux community may not pay any attention, at least Carla and friends gets it.

Anonymous said...

"It seems the Linux Community is quick to howl their outrage but anally stingy with their praise."

The Linux "community" has been burnt by praising what appeared to be favorable actions, only to have that party (or that party's lawyers) back-pedal on us. We have learned, the hard way, that if we want it done, and done right, we usually have to do it ourselves.

Which is exactly what Mr. Edwards did.

FelixTheCat said...

Growing up in a small East-Texas town, I remember when it was civil and expected for someone to stop and help someone else stuck along the roadside with a dead vehicle. Even folks that were in a hurry would at least pop their head out of the window and ask if they could call someone (this being years before cell phones were everywhere).

I can almost pinpoint the years when it no longer was safe to do that, plus folks were too busy and too self-centered to care anymore.

It does my heart good to see a good Samaritan in just about the truest sense of the word. Ken is no 22-year-old damsel in distress yet the guy stopped and helped with no apparent ulterior motive other than to lend a hand.

Good stuff!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

It might have been better if Thomas used his car to block the side lane so you could move your car into it more safely. He'd have to give you room to back into it, I suppose, considering the grade of the road.

Or I could be completely mistaken about the situation. Nevertheless, kudos to Thomas for showing some humanity in a place where most people behave like jerks.

Anonymous said...

hey been folling your blog for a few weeks now have to say you do great keep up the good work its really great, the kind of stuff you do.. :D
Anil :D