Camen Design

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Howdy, folks! Kroc has decided to let me take over Camen Design for today — not literally, mind you — and has given me the opportunity to borrow his podium for this blog entry.

My name is Clint Franklin. I am known on the forums here as “theraje” (no caps, please). Way, way, WAY back in mid-2011, ol' Kroc chirps at me on IM, saying he had a surprise for me. Not being one who is particularly fond of surprises, I inquired about the nature of this surprise. If I recall correctly, he told me to wait a week while he put on some finishing touches. I think it all boils down to him teasing me.

Well, after a week had passed, he said he was finished, and wanted to send me a video. Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Big deal. I just go to YouTube and watch videos all day long.”

But, as I'm sure a few of you will recall, at that time, I was using the very best Internet connection I could afford in my area. 56k dial-up. Not only that, but 56K dial-up that would, on its best days, max out at 28.8K. Even a “standard” video would be impossible to view via YouTube. In fact, poor Kroc had to virtually obliterate the video quality, to the point where things could be vaguely recognizable. He then had to reduce the picture size down to some ridiculous dimension. Think along the lines of: Barely takes up all the screen space on an average cell phone manufactured in 2003.

I think the final “preview” video was around 2 megabytes. Of course, it took about 15 minutes to download this 2-meg file. Yes — 15 minutes to download 2 measly megabytes. And that was pretty decent, for me. And this was less than two years ago.

When I saw the video, I just watched, slack-jawed, as I saw Kroc’s work. Long story short, it described my situation (and included plenty of amusing, yet home-hitting, visuals) in a way people could understand. Because, folks, I tell you what — you just have no clue how precious data is until you have to wait 20+ minutes for a 3-minute MP3 song to download onto your computer! Or when you can’t browse 90% of the Web because of server timeouts and JavaScript-heavy site architectures.

The real shocker was that this video (in higher quality, of course — if Kroc had released the “preview” version publicly, the world would have gouged its eyes out) was part of a campaign to encourage people to donate money so that I could afford the only means of acquiring anything remotely similar to broadband (which would have been satellite Internet — 3G was completely unavailable in my house).

The reason Kroc wanted to gather up the money was because I had no access to anything faster than 28.8k dial-up, except for satellite — and not only does it START at $60 a month… you are forced to sign a two-year contract. If you wish to cancel before the two years expires, you are required to pay an early termination fee (several hundred dollars!).

I, being legally disabled and unable to work (and even if I COULD work, I lived out in the boonies, and the nearest grocery store took half an hour to drive to), was certainly unable to afford such. That said, I never was one who liked to ask people for things (I hated the idea of having to apply for disability in the first place, but that changed when it became obvious that I had no other choice). I value self-sufficiency. So, initially, I was a bit perturbed. No… I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t have the heart, at the time, to say “no” to Kroc on this. He put WAY too much work into it. He was WAY too excited about it.

So, even with the knowledge that not only did I dislike the idea, but also that people would get the urge to assume things (which they did — calling me a bum, telling me to get a job, and so on, not knowing my situation), and that even if people did find it in their heart to help, that it would not necessarily work out (satellite Internet performance and reliability is very, very dubious). And if that were to happen, I would have wasted those people’s charity. I don’t know if I could have dealt with that.

But, I caved. Kroc wanted so badly for me to have the chance to do the things I love — working on programming projects, artwork, and so on — that I couldn’t say no. Plus, the idea of me having the opportunity to work again, doing contract work online, made me feel as though I could at some point become productive and not be at the mercy of a government check.

In the end, we collected over 50% of our goal of $2000 (the total cost of covering the contract period). We stopped short because after catching a lot of flak from those people I mentioned early (the ones who like to ASS-ume things about which they have no understanding), I had basically decided to commit suicide. The world and everyone in it wanted me to suffer, but I'd rather just kill myself and get it over with, I thought.

I regained my composure a few months later, but still went to bed, every night, saying the same prayer to a god I didn’t even believe existed: “God, please let me go to sleep now, and just never let me wake up again.”

To wrap things up, I spent the following few months in and out of hospitals (both medical and mental), hoping that my life would just end. Then, out of nowhere, something very strange happened. I won’t go into details — some call it a “revelation” from God himself… others call it a severe psychotic breakdown… all I can tell you, definitively, is that something changed in me. I regained the will to live.

After my “psychotic breakdown,” I was put into group therapy. While there, one of the other patients told me about an apartment complex that is set up for people like me who are disabled — think of it as a retirement community, not for retirees, but for the disabled.

Long story short, a former tenant caused problems at that complex, and the building manager (who had met with me previously) told me she had an opening, and wanted me to move in. That was in October of 2012.

The money donated to me for the campaign Kroc started allowed me to not only pay the deposits for the rent and electricity (which added up to several hundred dollars, and would have kept me out if I were unable to pay them), but to accomplish the original goal — I now live in an area that has access to DSL Internet service! So long, 28.8 Kbps… hello 12.0 Mbps!!! Goodbye, 6 minutes to download 1 megabyte… Good to see ya, 1 megabyte per second!!!!!!

And now, of course, my life has improved by an order of magnitude from before. The people who donated did not merely help me get on broadband. They gave me a place to stay, an opportunity to get the help I need (medically, psychologically, etc.), to find work (it no longer costs $30 in gas to take a trip to the nearest business!!!), to attend church (I was an atheist for roughly 8 years, until my “revelation” from God gave me the strength to get out of bed again), to form my first real romantic relationship (wedding bells may not be far off), and to help others and be blessed by the people who are now a part of my life, and would not have been otherwise. Those of you who donated have helped far, far more people than just little old me.

I may have been upset with Kroc starting all of this fundraising jazz in the first place, but now, all I can feel is immense gratitude to him and all of the people who helped — whether it was by donating money, moral support, a shoulder upon which to cry…

Now that I'm getting all sentimental, I'm just going to say that I'm incredibly blessed to have a God that heard my cries, and had all the right people in place who gave me the strength to push myself forward, to the point where I could waste three dozen paragraphs explaining what could have been said in two simple words:

Thank you.

Yours Truly,

Clint Franklin, aka. “theraje”