One Ford Super Duty Pickup Truck and Camper.
To drive through or into 5 states, sleep little, load 45 computers and30 flat panel monitors, reverse direction.
Rinse, Lather, Repeat.
Most of you know what this is all about...some won't. Brian Henry, Tech Guru at Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg Indiana contacted me a while back and said that he wanted to support The HeliOS Project. He stated that the various computer labs were being refreshed and that he wanted to donate the decommissioned computers to us. He explained that about half the machines were Pentium 4's and the other half was comprised of Xeon Desktop units. He wanted to know if we would be interested in these machines. And by the way...there were about 30 LCD flat screen monitors included.
Not to be flip over his question....his offer and query had more to do with our ability to get them into our possession rather than our need for them.
The planning began... First, the obvious.
We looked into truck rental...that seemed logical. Unfortunately, even when the exhorbitant price was digested, there were other "additonal fees" that put this option well out of reach. We actually didn't realize the "additional fees" existed until we physically went to reserve the vehicle.
We had already come to the community and explained in helios' rush to get it done, he had neglected to figure in the fuel costs. As dumb a move as that was, our new hero and permenant Saint within these halls, Alex van Kaam, came through and gave us a hand...not to mention a few others. You will see them listed shortly in the Linux Luminary blogsite.
Nasty surprise those "additional charges"...and with only a week left, we would seem to be in a jam.
We had a plan B.
A reader of The Blog of helios had a neighbor who was an Executive at Fedex. He contacted me and said that they had spoken and there was a chance that Fedex would ship the computers and monitors to us for free. Unfortunately, the wheels in Big Business move slow...and with only a very few days until our window of opportunity closed, we had to disregard this as an option. My thanks to the great guy that tried to arrange this...we owe you much. He too merits the badge of Linux Luminary.
Plan C...and the least likely to emerge as viable...
From about 6 counties away and a three hour drive from me, lives a man that quietly goes about the business of Linux Advocacy. As we did early on, he works in Senior Centers, introducing those residents to Linux and makes their computing lives much less complex. He and his wife are retired, living on a fixed income and are not exactly wealthy. Regardless, he had been looking for a way to support The HeliOS Project for two years.
He found it.
He contacted me and suggested that he drive three hours to my place and pick me up, drive over 1100 miles to pick up this equipment and return me and said equipment safely home, then drive an additional three hours home. I was stunned.
He would do it for fuel, food and lodging...he refused a dime of recompense...
And he additionally refused to allow me to identify him.
He picked me up at 8:30 AM last Sunday....In what has to be the most superior traveling pickup truck I have ever rode in.
This was, in any respect, a cross-country jaunt. Now let me explain to those who might not have experienced something like this. Here you have two complete strangers, encased into a compartment roughly six feet by six feet by four feet, traveling a total of 2300 plus miles for hours on end. Two people with their own idiosyncrasies, habits and ways... What are the odds that a combination of ten fingers would be around a one or more throats halfway through the endeavor?
One would imagine very good...
Unless you were united in the same goal...belonging to the same community...sharing the same universal values that drive most of us.
It was an amazing trip.
Now on top of that, I got to meet Brian Henry. Brian towered over me by at least 10 inches. A comparative bearded giant, Brian greeted us as good and old friends. He wasted no time in getting the equipment loaded onto carts and out to the truck where the three of us loaded them and then spent a short time talking shop in his office. I don't think I've met a nicer, more gracious person. I want to thank Brian and his staff, to include a special thanks to another great Tech Guy there. I am absolutely horrible at names and make no excuses for the malady...I am remembering his name as Shawn. Shawn went out of his way to make us welcome and his firm handshake conveyed that warmth.
Returning to Austin at about 4:30 PM on Wednesday, we unloaded the computers and said goodbye for now...new and good friends...many computers richer and with the comforting cushion of less than three dollars left in the General Fund.
Talk about cutting it close...yet it would have cost us over 200.00 dollars more to do it by rental truck.
So...as I confessed earlier, my cynical outlook on the existence of the mythical "Linux Community" was not only wrong, it bordered on foolish...maybe crossing that border from time to time. The computers we obtained in this adventure will fuel the minds and imagination of dozens of children who, under any other circumstances, would have never had that chance.
Some of you have referred to me as a "hero".
Please don't do that any more.
If you want to see a real hero...you will have to take a journey of your own...you will have to navigate yourself.....
Only to the closest mirror.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009