The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The blog you'll never read.

Hey folks...take a minute and join in on the raffle for some great laptops and other prizes. Your donations go to fund the HeliOS Project. We are trying to gain enough support to take us through the rest of the year. You can go here to get the specifics. These laptops are extremely sweet. We honestly hope that we can meet the needs of others for the rest of this year. There is a text link on the left side of the page to enter or you can just click here. Thanks. - h

This isn't newsworthy stuff. It doesn't directly deal with anything the readers of this blog have come to expect. Instead, I am posting this as a simple communication to those people...and maybe bring some understanding to certain events that have taken place in the past few weeks. I haven't exactly been accessible or approachable lately.

Nothing earth-shaking...I simply want to talk to you about something.

Four weeks ago, I wrote my last blog.

It was for all intentions at the time to be my last blog. A blog you will never read.

It wasn't melodramatic, drawn-out or rambling. It was a simple statement as to why I have to quit doing what I do. Again, nothing deeply philosophical or profound, it was much more mundane than that...but more powerful than either of them could ever be.

I am tired to the core of my soul.

The kind of tired that surpasses physical fatigue...the kind of tired that rocks you with an inertia weight you could never before imagine.

For the first time in four years I honestly didn't care about what it was I started...what it was that I had a moral obligation to do unto perpetuity. The kids didn't matter anymore, the families...nothing mattered.

I simply wanted to go sit on the bank of a river and fish for the rest of my life.

A number of things brought this about. Recently, we had a chance to go on a local radio show and tell a huge audience about what The HeliOS Project does. I had high hopes...hopes for donations...hope for some help doing what we do. We would be reaching tens of thousands. We did get a response.

* One pentium III with a broken printer donated
* 81 requests for HeliOS Project computers

It was simply an event that brought the weight of what we attempt to do down hard on me. Now let me clarify something...something that is most important for me to say.

People I have never met...people I have come to meet via this venue have supported in large this effort for two years. I could not nor would not ever ask anything more of the fine people that have become part of what we do. You have been my backbone, and for that, you have my immortal gratitude. Thank you.

The problem settled into me that there just isn't anyone outside of you who gives a crap. Being laid off had a lot to do with it. I am out of work for a month now. I don't make it a big deal but I've pumped a butt-load of my own money into this project. I've never complained...I fully accept this thing I do as my calling in life and I would have done anything I needed to do in order to do it.

To include rip the ligament in my left arm to the point of needing surgery.

I went to a long-time friend and poured this out...I just puked every silly little problematic thing I felt all over his life...but he listened, like a true friend does. I don't know what I expected...I don't know why I thought he was going to give me the answers.

All he said is that I would know what to do when the time came. He asked me if I had considered the impact on the people I would not serve...the ones that would not benefit in the future from what we did.

I didn't want to answer him and he didn't push me for one...he knew he had scored a point.

See, the point he tried to make to me was that we are all not called to greatness. Some of us are called to pave the way for the great. The teachers, the mentors, the chance meeting with strangers that alter a person's course in life forever.

I've long known that I am not going to be great...never set out to be...never wanted to be.

But I had never considered myself being one of the bricklayers...that had never occured to me.

And then Gavin emailed me...out of the blue, without knowing anything about the mini-drama going on in my life, he wrote to me something that changed everything.

This is not about me or any of the people that help run The HeliOS Project....probably not about you either. It's about that one in a million that reaches leadership or influential positions that guide an entire people to greatness and prosperity....or to ingenuity and a better life.

All those people were kids once...someone molded and prodded them to be who they ultimately were to be. I want to share with you what Gavin sent me:

If I were smart enough to actually contribute an original idea to this world, I would prefer immortality over wealth. Who is more famous? King Henry III of England or Galileo Galilei? Philip I of France or Isaac Newton? Socrates, Karl Marx, Oliver Cromwell, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Johannes Kepler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - these are the names that are remembered beyond the borders of time and sovereign nations. Their ideas are printed in books and school papers alike. They are the giants who stood on the shoulders of other giants so that the rest of us could dare to be taller. Their genius has inspired every single generation after them, long after empires have fallen and great halls have been conquered by strings of enemies. They push us forward while whispering into our ears that we can be better, always and unconditionally better. A person may touch other lives before they die, but a very few people throughout history have touched THE WORLD, forever and always. You can't buy that! Not that all those geniuses died destitute and alone, but a few of them did and hardly anyone remembers that part. What we do remember is that the sun is the center of our solar system, gravity and motion have powerful rules, reason leads to truth, people can be equal to each other, rule by birthright is a silly notion, a simple smile can lift a failed flight machine, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, matter and energy are one in the same, a brushless electric engine really IS possible, the planetary orbits have amazing patterns, and music has a power over the soul matched only by love. To be a part of that priceless company would be so incredible that I could die, right now, without regret. No dollar signs, no wine or women, no televised spotlights across the globe. Just peace, for the world, forever. Maybe not now, maybe not a hundred years from now, but someday it will be. And the pride and elation will belong to those few who reached across time and made it so. That's my opinion, anyway...

Somebody shaped these people...somebody influenced their lives so that they became what they were, or are. Gavin knows....the majority of us will never touch the world...but one of us may touch her that does touch the world.

Even if it's such an insignificant thing as giving them a computer when they are eleven years old.

I'm still tired, still unsure of how it is I am going to keep doing what I am doing. I do know that I no longer have the health and vitality to work a 10-12 hour a day job and do The HeliOS Project the rest of the time. It was suggested by my good friend that I find a way to fund it so that I can draw a small salary from what I do. I think I am going to do that. I am never going to be wealthy, my needs are extremely simple...truth was at one time I was fairly close to it and was the most miserable son of a bitch you ever met. I didn't like that man...but I like this one for the most part, enough so that I don't wince when I look in the mirror.

You probably didn't deserve this pouring babble...I am sure you didn't expect it. What I am sure of now is that a simple smile can lift a failed flight machine...and a loving chastisement can boost a tired spirit.

And that one small, seemingly insignificant act can breed the next Richard Stallman, or give him the tools to that person become.

Now if you will excuse me, I have computers to build...and a plan to put together so I can build them.

All-righty Then...


pedro said...

Good luck! :) or "break a leg" if your prefer ^^

Anonymous said...

AND... in the mean time, go fishing.

Anonymous said...

It was suggested by my good friend that I find a way to fund it so that I can draw a small salary from what I do.

Ken the only thing I find surprising is that you have not already done this. I don't know much about the process but I do know that getting funding via grants may be more difficult with a salary being drawn. You need to look to the public for support. There are much fewer restrictions and hoops to jump through with public donations/funding. You've long ago proven your trustworthiness. I personally think you should have done this long ago but I understand why you didn't. I know you a bit better than most. Let's get together later in the week and talk. Maybe an idea or two will come out of it.


Rich C said...

I can relate to the response you got from your radio appeal & hopes for more support. I hav appealed for hardware to refurbish and pass on to schools etc. and the results have been very underwhelming. Why people wouldn't be glad to put redundant systems to good use is beyond me. Surely the majority of people have stuff stored away they don't know what to do with? All I can do is leave the offer open and get on with the good work when someone presents me with the opportunity.

gagy said...

I totally agree with Mike.
I sincerely hope a solution can be found.
My thoughts are with you in this difficult moment.


DigitalPioneer said...

Hey, the best of luck to you Ken. I appreciate what you do, even if I'll probably never be affected by it. Thank you for pressing on. I pray that God blesses you in your endeavors.

dirtvoyles said...

Good to not see that final post. The Project is one of the good things I was looking forward to in my move. (searching for an entry level IT job in the area)

I don't know what it's worth, but I support what you're doing spiritually since I can't monetarily or physically (yet).


Anonymous said...

Helios, This blog entry was very touching, and a powerful reminder of how huge the burden is on the shoulders of those who work to help others.

However, just like you may never know the extent of your influence on a child, you may never know who you reached during that radio appeal. The short-term returns were sparse, but in the long-term you may have unknowingly reached the very person who will help turn things around.

Maybe they don't even know it yet themselves. I'm saying this from my own experiences over the years. Looking back, had I given up when I had wanted to, a LOT of things would not have come about. Sometimes, just when you think all is lost and further effort is pointless, something falls in your lap, out of the blue.

Life situations can change so fast, though it can seem like an eternity before that happens.

Maybe I should also tell you what an impact you've had on me. I won't go into details here (this is already much too long), but you truly need to know that you make a difference in people's lives. I've seen it and know it's true.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use today to find a way to help.

Best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

Ken, my name is Randy Shepard. I met you and "Karen" when you stopped by KXAN.

I heard that interview and remember thinking that you had hit a home run by being aired during drive time. I also know that the Todd and Don show is a huge hit in Austin, their audience is massive and you should have received more help than you did. I'm a little embarrassed that the city of Austin didn't step up any more than they did.

As far as you earning a salary for what you do, I don't think any one deserves it more than you. You have given this community much.

Unknown said...

I have a simple comment/request. DO NOT STOP. You are making a difference.
"Don't let the bastards get you down."

Anonymous said...

Ken, I wish the best for whatever you're headed to do.

Sometimes things get really raw. I can make myself an idea on what you were passing thru.

Right now in my LUG we are suffering a very disappointing "chapter", but for better times we know this will overcome. Cheer up, my friend, for sure there are no bad things that come for better.

Fred the Grumbler said...


You don't know me, I don't know much about you except of what you post, and our only relationship is that I supported your efforts with small donations in the past. I wish I knew you personally because I admire you, though.

So of course you might want to take what I'm about to tell you with a grain of salt, or even dismiss it completely. But here we go anyway.

I've been there. I've lost my marriage and my job, although not at the same time, fortunately. In each occurrence, I was extremely depressed. I didn't feel like anything was worth doing, including living. I was down to a point where I was once introduced to a young couple who had just had their first child, and I found myself telling the baby: "Don't worry about life, it's just a bad time to spend on Earth".

Yes, that's how depressed I was. But eventually, I snapped out of it.

The point is that you have to recognize the symptoms of it and face it. You cannot help being clinically depressed when life has pounded you down badly and repeatedly. But don't give up, and don't resign yourself. Apathy is bad enough, it's making the wrong decisions that is incredibly damaging. I am now beating myself up for the money I wasted while I was in that situation, because I couldn't care less about what I was doing. I was just going through the motions.

Realize the mental state in which you are. Then protect yourself against bad decisions that you'll be careless enough to make. And realize that the apathy and shell-shocked tiredness are not forever.

Anonymous said...

"...truth was at one time I was fairly close to it and was the most miserable son of a bitch you ever met. I didn't like that man..."

Dude, I just spent a week of my vacation as a Summer Bible School counselor for kids between 4 and 11 years old. I even gave them computer classes (GCompris; Xubuntu 9.04 on some donated Compaq PC's).

It was five days of really hard non-stop work. But it is worth it, and much more fulfilling than my current job.

Ewan said...

You don't know me, and I'm thousands of miles away; but if my child were in a position to need your help, I really hope it'd be there.

So: thanks, and you should just have received a donation (which didn't seem to have a space to note about raffle tickets, but if you reas this, stick them towards the Acer laptop - thanks!)

Grant Johnson said...

Your mission for today is this: "Go out and change the world." Not because you can, but because you cannot avoid it. No matter what you do today, you will affect the world, even if it is by just breathing, eating and drinking.

Taking into account that you cannot avoid changing the world, now it is up to you to decide what change you will affect on the rest of us, just as we all need to decide what effect we will have on others, including you.

Chad said...

To whom much is given, much is required. But I believe that vice-versa may also be true. Of whom much is required, much is given. When you live out the latter, greatness is born.

It is true that most people will never achieve anything more than mediocrity. (I know I'm getting a bit wordy here.)
So, come on old man! You can do more than you have still yet to dream of.

My tag line for the past few months (turning into a year at the end of the summer) is this:
"Adversity cloaks opportunity"

You've inspired me to do what you do on a smaller scale. I'm sure that I don't even come close to the volume or impact that you do, but I've done it, none the less.

Everyone needs a break. Maybe a week off for some fishing would do you good. But don't forget the look on those kids' faces when you setup their computer for them and their single mom.

I'm pullin for ya buddy!

Unknown said...

@ Ewan

I have you covered. Thank you very much.


NoobixCube said...

If it weren't for that damn Pacific Ocean, as I've said before, I'd offer some physical help. I'll try and save up some cash for a donation, but it will be a long time coming. Truth be told, as a kid I'd probably have qualified for one of your machines, myself, and not much has changed for me since then. That's part of the reason I believe so strongly in what you do. It's probably a big burden to place on you to say this, but to me, you're one of the few scraps of evidence that there is pure, unselfish good in the world. You're not a multi-billionaire throwing money at charities, you are just an ordinary man doing what he can to change individual lives. Although I'll never benefit directly from what you do, it's important to me because it restores a little bit of my faith in humanity - something I'm pretty low on these days, I'm sure many of us can relate to that...

Unknown said...

Thank you for what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

The greatest gift you can give anyone is knowledge, and what better way to give it then a computer connected to the net?

You have done amazing things, and personally, I think you deserve a rest. I also think you and others like you should not stop what your doing. A computer can change a life for the better, never forget that.

Please, I know things seem dim now, but never forget why you started this.

Dark Typh said...


Following your blog and hearing what you do for the community is a constant reminder for me that there are good people in this world. People that make a difference beyond what they can calculate or potentially even imagine.

Were I closer to your location geographically I would be more than willing to lend my time and vehicle to your work.

If there is anything that can be done remotely don't hesitate to let me know. I'd be only too happy to help.

Thanks for doing what you do. It is appreciated in more places than I think you realize.

NoobixCube said...

Dark Typh makes a good point! I can't believe I never thought of it, actually. What CAN we do remotely? Could we set up a kind of help IRC room for people who've got Helios computers? That would take some of the tech support burden off you. Maybe we could write some new-user help stuff - tutorials for stuff people might know how to do with Windows, or things that they never thought they could do. Most new users wouldn't know there is a man command, let alone what it does, and I've often thought that most Windows to Linux migration problems could be solved with a five minute slide show.