Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Isn't Helping

From the New York Times
With the economy tumbling and American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush has promised to cooperate with Mr. Obama to make the transition “as smooth as possible.” But that has not stopped his administration from trying, in its final days, to cement in place a diverse array of new regulations.

The Labor Department proposal is one of about 20 highly contentious rules the Bush administration is planning to issue in its final weeks. The rules deal with issues as diverse as abortion, auto safety and the environment.

82nd Annual Waffle Shop At DPC (since 1926)

Downtown Presbyterian Church will have it's Holiday Waffle Shop, this Thursday. Money raised goes towards church ministries, like feeding lunch to the homeless every Wednesday.

Tickets $6.00
Thursday, December 4th 2008
11:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.
Waffles, Grits, Turkey Hash or Sausage, Coffee and Spiced Tea


154 Fifth Avenue North
Downtown Nashville

Parking is not provided, so if you don't work downtown, make appropriate plans.

Change

On Monday, everything will begin to change here at The Homeless Guy. More blogging. Video broadcasting. Being in the mix, as it were.

The main thing that has come to light during the past 6 months of "transitional housing" is that I do not stay on the "housing" path on my own. Sure, if someone else takes the lead, and I'm allowed to follow, and be supportive, sure, I can have myself some housing - a house, a home. But not on my own. And even if I was to take the lead, and I had some solid and constant support, like from a loving caring family, sure, then I could achieve housing, a home. But not on my own. Not left to my own devises. Then I wander, I roam. Purpose, intention, priorities flow around, in and out, glow and fade, ebb and flow - anything but become static and solidify. The mix is never allowed to harden enough to support the weight of consistent place.

This "transitional housing" program that I have been in for the past 6 months has not worked for me. And I was unable to work for it. Perhaps this happened because this program revealed itself to not be what I was led to believe. This was not a "housing first" program, but only Section 8 housing, with a twist. Housing First was what I hoped for - what I believed I was to receive.

There may very well be some Nashville homeless people in the Housing First program, put together by the Nashville Metro Homelessness Commission, but not me. Most people would not know the difference, nor think the difference to be significant. But it is, especially when the potential outcomes can be extremely varied.

Section 8 housing vouchers - federal grants that help pay a person's rent when they can't - have always been in short supply. So local governments have always had to set priorities, as far as who would receive them. Well, it has always been the case, at least in Nashville, that single male homeless were last on that list. Which given the rarity of section 8 vouchers, meant that single male homeless never received them. Well, what the Homelessness Commission has done, being that it is an arm of the metro social services, is to allocate a few of the vouchers for single male homeless. Yippie - this means that some homeless men would now be able to receive federal assistance in paying their rent. It is a good thing, in one respect. And I'm glad for it - it's very overdue. But for the truly chronically homeless without some sort of income assistance from the get-go, this is not working out too well. These people need a real "Housing First" model by which to rehab. You bet, Housing First is an even lower bar than the Section 8 voucher program. And Housing First is more expensive. Actually, I bet it was the hope of city officials to avoid having to raise public funds by utilizing Section 8, instead of the prescribed Housing First model. Such is the state of politics. The public demands so much, but refuses to pay for it.

I have heard that "some" homeless have been provided true Housing First situations. These were offered to the homeless living at Tent City under highway overpasses. How long things will remain "housing first" for these people, once they are processed into the program and leave Tent City, is anyone's guess. But I imagine that once they accept housing from the city, they will be required to accept Section 8 vouchers to pay for their rent. The main issue with Section 8 is that a person is still required to pay a minimum rent, even if they are not employed. And that once employed, Section 8 will immediately start garnishing a percentage of the person's wages. Considering the high cost of rent, low wages, etc. there would be no way for most people (especially chronically homeless people) to ever get ahead financially to leave poverty. It's hard enough to stay motivated toward busting your ass, knowing that your employment efforts will not get you anywhere, without also trying to rehab from the problems that caused you to become homeless, at the same time.

Yes, case managers are provided, and they are good case managers, as far as case managers go, perhaps the best, but they don't rehab you - they present options, 'middle men' as it were to resources that may or may not help. And resources are few and thinly funded.

Well, the deal with me, and I'm sure for others, is that I need softer kid gloves and more safety nets than the Homelessness Commission currently offers the Chronically Homeless.

This Monday, I'll be returning to life as it was before this, "transitional housing."

I didn't transition.

Salvation Army

Just a couple years ago, the homeless attending the feedings under this bridge totalled only 50 to 75. Now there are about 200. Not only are donations dwindling, the demand is much greater.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I Have Learned

The first thing I learned about homelessness was how difficult it was to get out of homelessness, once you became homeless. The obstacles out of homelessness are great and many.

The Second thing I learned about homelessness was how the general public just did not understand the realities of homelessness. It was then I began my attempts at telling people the truth about homelessness. It was my belief that if the general public understood homelessness better, that most, if not all, obstacles out of homelessness would be removed.

The Third thing I learned about homelessness was that the general public didn't know the realities of homelessness, not so much because if ignorance, but because of denial. They really don't want to know about the realities of homelessness. That is when I began to think my efforts to educate people about homelessness were mostly futile.

The Fourth thing I learned about homelessness was that homeless people react to this rejection from the general population with resentment and spitefulness. And the homeless then build their own walls and obstacles between themselves and the general public. So that whenever a rouge group of non-homeless people sets out to help the homeless, and make a genuine attempt to learn about homelessness, and actually help the homeless, their efforts meet a great deal of resistance from the homeless.

I don't know how to overcome this resistance from people on both sides of the homeless chasm - how to change their minds, and their hearts. I believe that this is the key, though. Getting people to see and admit the truth of homelessness, and for homeless people to let down their guard, is most necessary to bring about an end to homelessness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yay!

A very nice young lady just gave me a most wonderful, and warm, coat. And in the pockets were a couple surprises - knitcaps, handwarmers, etc.

Thank you nice young lady!

Colds

I wrote about this subject once before, and a few guffawed, but it's all science. And the Troof.

It is true, in a way, that it's a germ that causes the common cold, but it is inaccurate to say that cold temperatures have nothing to do with getting a cold.

Your body needs energy to operate it's various functions, and there is a limit to how much energy your body has at any one time. And one of the more important things that your body does, is regular temperature. If the air temperature around you is high or low, you body has to work to compensate, thus maintaining as much as possible, an internal temp of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The colder it is outside of your body, the more you have to work to keep your body temperature right.

And so, as your body works to fight off the cold, it takes away energy from other functions, like fighting off the germs that are the cause of The Cold, Flu, etc.

So, please consider this when you decide to go out and play in the snow. Or when you put up homeless people in your church for the night - please, don't turn off the heater, or keep it so cold in there that the homeless wake up with a cough.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner at Loveless Cafe

A Recent Letter

Hi there, I found your blog last night as I was googling what gifts to give homeless people. There is a sweet homeless man in my neighborhood (NYC) in the same spot everyday which is in front of a corner deli. He never asks for money, he just stands in one place with his radio next to him and looks at people passing. For some reason, I have never given him anything. It's almost as if I just acted like he didn't exist. Last night, I don't know what happened..I was on my way home from buying a small Christmas tree at rite aid and as I passed him, something just hit me. I knew once I dropped my Christmas tree off in my apartment I had to go back. I would go down to the deli and get some turkey, which I needed anyways, and give him a few bucks. When I went back down there, he wasn't in his spot, so I walked into the deli and there he was, buying one lottery ticket, one thing of ramen noodles, and a box of crackers. He seemed so sweet, I started to cry a little bit inside of the deli. The man behind the counter poured hot water into his ramen noodles and put a spoon in them, and the homeless man had his bag of crackers and his noodles, and walked out of the deli. I started to feel anxious as he left because the deli man was taking so long to get my turkey, and I had no idea where the man was going to go. I HAD to give him this money tonight. When i finally paid, I hurried out of the deli and walked a whole avenue and couldn't find him a nywhere. At this time I had decided to give him $10 (that's a lot for me, I don't have a lot of spare money). I started to walk back the way I had come and as I passed a restaurant right next to the deli, there he was, alone sitting in a booth. The restaurant was completely empty except for him. I walked in and said "well hey there, I was looking for you, I wanted to give you this", and I held out my hand. He looked up at me and took the money and held his head down and said "thank you". I said "You have a good night, ok?" and he still looked down and said "ok", and put the money in his pocket.

Is it possible that he was ashamed? I had smiled to him before and he had always smiled back at me. In fact I smile at him everytime I pass him. But last night, when I have him the money he did not want to look at me. It made me feel very sad, as if what I had just done had made him feel worse. I just wondered what your insight on this was. And also, I want to get him something for Christmas, and I want to wrap it and put a bow on it. Should I get him a nice down coat, and gloves? Should I ask him what he wants for Christmas? I have cried several times since last night thinking about him standing outside in the freezing cold. Where does he go at night? Does he want help, or is this an easy life for him?

It's amazing that I can actually correspond with you by email. You sound20very educated and thought you might have some insight for me on what I can do to help this man. Thank you very much and GOD BLESS YOU!

My Reply:
Ok, I'll give you my slant on his embarrassment. Most of the time people have nothing nice to say to homeless people. The comments homeless people hear are often negative, degrading, and offensive. And this causes homeless people to feel even more worthless, and unworthy of people's consideration, than they would for just being homeless. And the gift, and the accepting of the gift, is an admitting to the homelessness. It's one thing to know you have a problem, it's another thing to admit you have a problem, especially to a stranger.

I guess the best way to overcome this, (it comes to me as I write this) is to remove the "stranger" aspect. Be more than just a smile that passes, become his friend. Instead of giving him some elaborate gift, give him some more practical things, small things would be good. Gloves, knit cap, scarf, woolly socks. Instead of buying him/her an expensive jacket, get one at a thrift store. And with money that you save, take him to lunch once a week, or so, and spend time together and use that time to become friends.

Thanks for writing,
Kevin

Saturday, November 22, 2008

From Morgan Brown

Morgan is one of us chronically homeless guys. And he's a good guy. And a smart guy. You should listen to him - and watch him even.


Norsehorse TV:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/norsehorse-tv
via Ustream

Watch either live Web TV broadcasts whenever I happen to be streaming live or view archived recorded videos via Ustream.tv.

Since it is an extension of my blog, a mini-viewer of my Ustream channel is also available within the sidebar of the blog as well.

If one has high speed online access, a computer or laptop and a video camera, it is easy to stream live video online with tools like Ustream. Check it out today: http://www.ustream.tv/

Morgan morganbrown@gmail.com
Morgan W. Brown; Montpelier, Vermont, USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:
http://norsehorseshometurf.blogspot.com/

From Jeremy Alderson

I am sending you this message to make you aware of an impending crisis. I am hoping you will pass it on and that sooner or later some good will come of it. In a matter of weeks, thousands of people who survived Hurricane Katrina and, in some cases, the formaldehyde-contaminated FEMA trailers, are about to be evicted from their housing and made homeless all over again. Worse yet, these are primarily elderly and disabled people as well as single parent families with young children. Still worse, if that's even possible, this low intensity crime against humanity isn't being perpetrated by cruel landlords but by government on all levels. I will give you the background.

Everything you need to know about the Federal post-Katrina relief effort
along the Gulf Coast can be summed up in the three answers I received to
this question: "What has Phil Mangano's role been?" Mangano, often
referred to as Bush's "Homelessness Czar," is the director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. If anyone should have been helping
the people of the Gulf Coast, it's him. The storm sure made enough people homeless.

I interviewed Mangano once on the air. He said, "I often don't feel
like a czar, I often feel like a mendicant beggar going around the country
and in Washington to ensure that homeless people have what they need." "What we're attempting to do," he further explained, "is to create the political will so that no American is without a home." Of course, no one man can end homelessness alone, but it's good to know that someone who's a cross between Joan of Arc and St. Francis of Assisi is heading up the Bush Administration effort.

The Interagency Council's big push is to get communities to adopt
10-year-plans to end chronic homelessness. The plans have surely done
some good for those on the receiving end of the dough, but Katrina mocks
the pretension that they are paths to ending homelessness. How can anyone
tell how many homeless there will be in 10 years, when one storm can make hundreds of thousands of people homeless overnight?" In fact, there's not
a projected end even to existing homelessness under the ten-year plans, not in ten years, not ever. So what would Phil Mangano do when confronted with a sudden, screaming need for housing that contradicts his own preachments, and a need that arises innocently at that? If getting clopped by the worst natural disaster in American history doesn't make you deserving, what does?

I went down to the Gulf Coast to do advance work for the Homelessness
Marathon, an annual 14-hour overnight live national radio broadcast (now tv too), focusing on homelessness and poverty in America. We originate
from a different city each year. Next February 23rd, for our 12th
broadcast, we're going to originate from Pass Christian, Mississippi.
That's right next door to Waveland, which the Army Corps of Engineers has officially designated the "Ground Zero" where Katrina came ashore. We'll be describing our broadcast as coming from the "other" Ground Zero, the one that didn't get so much attention.

People down there will tell you that New Orleans made it through the
storm, and that the catastrophic failure of the levees was largely a
man-made disaster, whereas the devastation on the rest of the Gulf Coast was done directly by Katrina. Pass Christian was less affected than Waveland. It lost a reported 100% of its public buildings and 100% of its businesses but only 80% of its homes.

The Marathon's producer, Abby Harmon, and I expected to hear from the
survivors a long-term tale of too-little-help. We did hear that, but
we heard about some bright spots, too, like the volunteers who, everyone agrees, have been responsible for most of the recovery effort, proving both a right-wing and a left-wing point. As the right wing says, if the
government does little, the people will do amazing things. But as the
left wing says, without the help of their own government, the people can't do nearly enough. A common estimate is that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is only about 20% rebuilt, maybe a little more.

What we didn't expect to find was a short-term crisis. In the coming
five months, advocates expect to see a new wave of post-Katrina
homelessness. You may be sure the people of the Gulf Coast want to be
saved by the stroke of a pen more than they want to be evicted at the
stroke of midnight. You may be sure that they will want the Obama Administration to change the Bush Administration policies that are
putting them out of their homes.

These are the simple facts:

- Thousands of people in Mississippi remain in temporary housing.
Starting in January, the leases will start to expire on MEMA cottages (MEMA is Mississippi's FEMA). According to MEMA spokesperson Jeff Rent, there are 2810 of these in the "lower six," Mississippi counties that were blasted by Katrina. Most have multiple bedrooms and, presumably, hold multiple dwellers, though no one seems to have done a census of them. MEMA actually wants these temporary domiciles to stay put, but local governments want them removed. In some cases this may be in order to keep promises written into the covenants of wealthy neighborhoods. In some cases, it may be to protect the tax base so as not to have the burden of too many poor, as one local county official explicitly stated (undoubtedly, some kind of Federal guarantee would solve this problem).
Some residents may find a way to stay in their cottages by moving them to new locations or by permanentizing them with concrete foundations or whatever. MEMA says it is working to help all of the cottage dwellers, but a low-end expectation would be that only around seven percent will be able to keep their cottages. The icing on the cake is that on March 1st, the "Special Use Circumstances" permits that allowed for the placement of FEMA trailers will expire. There are an additional 3211 of those.

- Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour diverted $600 million slated
for housing to repairing and expanding the port at Gulfport, which received only an estimated $50 million in damage, and that was covered by insurance. An editorial in the New York Times called this diversion "the shame of Mississippi." Twelve members of the House, including Maxine Waters and Barney Frank, tried and failed to insert language into an appropriations bill to bar the diversion. They noted that Mississippi has "only devoted 55% of its [Community Block Development Grant] funds for direct housing recovery," and that "the State has frequently sought and received waivers of the low- and moderate-income requirement." Nonetheless, the Bush Administration's regime at HUD approved the diversion.

- There is not nearly enough existing affordable housing to house the
vast majority of the still-displaced survivors. For example, Hancock
County, where Waveland is located, has more than 450 remaining trailers
alone but only an estimated 312 rental units. Of those, only 60 are
classified as "affordable" because they can be obtained for a rent of $800/month, but most of the people facing eviction from trailers and cottages have incomes in the $400-$600/month range, often from social security.

- Some new housing is being built but the reconstruction is going
very slowly for many reasons, including new building codes (especially
in the "Velocity Zone"), higher insurance premiums, a shortage of
capital and outstanding law suits with commercial insurers who refused to pay Katrina-related claims.

The bottom line is that there is not a chance in the world that enough affordable housing can be built in time to replace more than a fraction
of the temporary housing that is about to be withdrawn, and the math is devastating. If, of the roughly 6000 temporary units, as many as one-third stay in use or are replaced by permanent housing, and, on average, the remaining 4000 units house only two people, that still makes for 8000 mostly children, elderly, disabled, and frantic mothers being tossed out like garbage. The actual number will probably be much greater.

Fortunately, Phil Mangano's Interagency Council on Homelessness -- which includes, among others, such Washington lightweights as the secretaries of Defense, Energy, HUD, Transportation and Interior -- is tasked with seeing
that Americans are housed. If anyone should help the Katrina survivors by czaring it up and getting in the faces of the big boys on his council, it should be Phil. If anyone should be going around like a mendicant beggar, seeking funds for the poor Katrina folks, it should be Phil. So it's only right to wonder what Phil Mangano, the Bush Administration's mouthpiece on homelessness, has been doing to meet the needs of the Katrina Survivors
in the lower six.

This is who I asked:

- Kathleen Johnson. Kathleen is a native Australian who has been in this
country for more than thirty years. She has worked on Katrina relief
since the storm, supervising a team of case managers who are currently
working under a FEMA grant but many of whom worked for free before it came through. She has her fingers in more pies than one of Sweeney Todd's
victims, doing everything she knows to push the recovery process along, and she does it, she says, without pay. She sleeps in primitive conditions she doesn't want discussed because they're "luxurious" compared to the makeshift shelters where many Katrina survivors remain (some of them never had temporary housing to get evicted from). She
insists, "I haven't wanted for anything," but in truth, she recently was unable to go back to Australia for her mother's death and funeral. She looks tired too much of the time.

- Keith Burton. Keith is a long-time journalist. His on-line
newspaper, the Gulf Coast News (http://www.gulfcoastnews.com), has
become a widely-read chronicle of the recovery effort. He describes
himself as a Conservative Republican, but he condemns what we're living under now as "Corporate Feudalism." In 1969, he says, after Hurricane Camille, the military came right in and cleaned up, but that after Katrina, because of the way government services have been privatized, it was all a matter of negotiating contracts that would be implemented at a snail's pace without accountability.

- Al Showers. Al is a good example of why we have to retool the format
we have used for eleven years on our broadcast, because there will be no
way to divide our guests between those whose testimony is subjective and objective. As the Hancock County reporter for WLOX-TV, a profitable ABC
affiliate in Biloxi, Al is a great source of objective information, but he is also someone who has had his share of subjective experiences.
Among them was a long night as the only TV reporter to stay in the local Emergency Operations Center when Katrina hit. Things got so dicey that they made a list and magic markered numbers on their hands in case
they drowned, so their bodies could be identified. Al was number 34.

Why ask these three people about Phil Mangano? I am sure that they'll
tell you that in the big scheme of things they're not important, but I think they are. They are as knowledgeable and committed as they could be and, beyond that, they each exemplify the limitless humanity Katrina unleashed even while it swept away human lives. Unfortunately, something too often happens to that humanity as soon as it gets a government position. When I asked these three people about Phil Mangano's role, they all said the same thing: "Who's Phil Mangano?" Heckuva job, Phil.

What has happened to the Katrina survivors poses many questions that have
no small bearing on the future of our country. Is this how we will treat
the victims of future natural disasters? Is this how we will treat the
victims of the current foreclosure crisis? How come guilty people on Wall Street were allowed to drive away with buckets of cash while innocent Katrina survivors are going to be thrown on the streets with next to nothing? Should the new administration take a new approach (yes) and, if so, what should it be?

Those questions are for another time, and we'll sure be asking them on
our broadcast. What is imperative now is that there are just weeks to
get the evictions stopped.

Sincerely,


Jeremy Weir Alderson
Director, Homelessness Marathon

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold

Current temperature 1:30pm 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the rest of the week, low temperatures are in the 20s and 30s, highs are in the 40s and 50s. I have no winter wear, save a pair of gloves. Burrrr...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lament

It's not that I've run out of things to right about - it's not writer's block. But I have for some time felt little motivation to write, especially about homelessness. Now I feel like I'm just repeating myself. And, most of what I say is not heeded, or taken seriously enough to create change. Sure, for some this blog has meaning, but the same ol' crap, the disrespect on one side, and total prejudice on the other, is keeping things from getting any better for the homeless.

There is this general belief that whatever is good for businesses is good for all. But that is just not true. There is a point where the needs of people and the needs of business come into conflict. And these days, people are willing to sacrifice people, and their needs, for the needs of business - and of course the needs of business are all centered on maximizing profits. Of course we are now suffering the results of that mentality. We've built this tower of Babel higher than we should have, and it's all crumbling down around us. Financial ruin is now ahead for many Americans. Poverty will increase, and for the least able, poverty will reach new, and appalling, lows.

Of course many people saw this coming, but the people standing to make lots of money, or at least hoping to make lots of money, were in denial of this - there are many luxury lofts sitting empty in Nashville, and I'm sure the same it true throughout the country. It's really amazing how many people bought these lofts only for a chance at reselling them at a profit. They were already being sold at ridiculously high prices - 400 dollars a square foot, or more.

But after all that has happened, and continues to happen, the big downtown property developers still deny that a new approach is needed. And these are the people the city politicians and others, like the police department, are catering to, kowtowing to. It's truly amazing how people can manipulate supposed civil servants by waving around a few bucks.

It is these money mongers who want what is really impossible. They want the city rid of all homeless people, and they want it done in the most coarse and inhumane ways. You see, if you use something like compassion towards the homeless, then there's no telling where that compassionate path could lead. Before you know it, the citizenry might start demanding an equal voice in political decisions. Right now, big money business people have local politicians in their back pockets - and that's something the wealthy don't want to give up. You see, successful business people are smart, not just about business, but about every aspect of life. (please note a tone of sarcasm in that last sentence).

Still, every thing that has been tried to run the homeless out of downtown Nashville has failed to achieve that goal. And, instead of realizing that a different approach is needed, the people in charge just try to up the pressure.

"They" believe that you can treat homeless people like cattle, or any other dumb beast, and get the desired results. The disregard for the humanity of homeless people is obvious.

It is time to stop treating homelessness as a crime, and to start treating it for what it really is, an illness. Homeless people don't need tickets and jail time, they need doctors, and a community of care givers to nurse them back to health, and a proper place in society. Of course this means that the paradigm that wealthy people operate by will have to change as well. Back during President Regan's term, there was a significant shift. Instead of businesses working for a profit, businesses started working toward 'maximizing profits.' That meant that, no matter how much money you made, it was never to be considered to be "enough." And this has lead to people believing that everything could and should be sacrificed for a buck, even the welfare of their fellow citizens. If things are going to really change, for the better for all, and especially for homeless people, this country must reverse this again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Things About Me

I was born and raised in San Diego California. I attended public school and graduated June 1979. Although San Diego is located on the coast, I did not see much of the Ocean. The house my parents bought was approximately 5 miles from nearest beach. During summers there were family excursions to the beach, but they were rare. Neither of my parents seemed interested in it. My father worked a lot, and at home, he wanted to be left alone. Some would say that he had a strong work ethic, but for him work was a convenient way to avoid other aspects of life. Neither my brother nor I had a real relationship with him. Dad did spend time with my brother, as long as it involved sports. My brother played for several years in Little League Baseball, and one year my father even coached his team. But even their relationship was not a personal one. I attempted sports, but was not athletic, which seems to cause my father to become even more distant. The one time my father actually tried to show me something sport related, he became extremely frustrated and gave up before I caught on to what he was trying to teach me – how to do a proper basketball lay-up. Even though I know I had done it right by the end of the lesson, he still insisted that I was doing it wrong. My father did not believe in positive reinforcement. Throughout my life I rarely received praise from him, and when I did, it was rather weak, as if he did so grudgingly.

It came to my attention, from the physical during my first attempt to join the Navy, that I have a physical deformity. In examining my chest x-ray for potential TB, the doctor found that I had minor scoliosis. From the base of my skull to the tip of my tail bone, my spine is not straight but has twists and turns in it. Between some of the vertebrae the padding is missing, and the vertebrae are fussed together. And there is a bit of arthritis on the spine too. Among other things, this caused my shoulders to line up unevenly. At closer examination, it was determined that I've had this condition from birth.

This was obviously the cause of my lack of ability to achieve in sports. But this revelation did nothing to help end my father's disapproving tone towards everything I did.

I also had difficulties with school work. As I've explained here before, I had an extraordinarily difficult time with the subject of English. And upon English, the means of communication, all other school subjects are taught. Having difficulties with English made learning all other subjects all the more difficult. Although I was mostly failing at English, I was still doing acceptable work in all other subjects. If I could have overcome my problem with words earlier in my childhood I would have excelled at academics. But, instead of getting me help for my school work, my parents instead labeled me as lazy and lacking proper character. And they denied any other reason for my lack of achieving. I think it important to note that during standardized testing, I scored in the top ten percent of my class throughout all of California.

This inability of mine to achieve anything, in addition to my parents continual berating and degrading remarks for my lack of achievement, I soon developed a deep psychological depression. In addition to that, I was suffering from social anxiety. The feeling of worthlessness was easy for my school mates to pick up on, and so I quickly became the target for all the cruelty that children can bestow on one another. When I asked my mother for advice on how to deal with the other kids, she only advice was, “if you can't get along with them, just stay away from them.” And thus began my descent into social isolation.

Where Are The Republicans Now?

I remember about eight years ago, how the Republican Party declared the end of the Democrats and the Democratic Party. They had defeated democrats soundly, destroying their footing on American soil. Republicans had their man, W, in the White House, and they had control of Congress. They also followed the Karl Rovian way by declaring Democrats and all liberals as evil and unamerican. Conservatives and Republicans were more than just in charge, they had defeated all the bad people and sent them packing.

The eight years following this supposed coup, the Republicans, with W at the helm, commenced to destroy our country.

Today, the Democrats have not only resurfaced, they are back and bigger than ever, and in control of the country, and its future for at least the next 4 years.

Veterans Day And Holidays In General

This is the one holiday that gets me thinking about what's wrong with holidays in general. Well, with the way we celebrate them.

I have always thought that special days were set aside for special events, like giving honor to our veterans. And the whole reason for having a day off from work on these days was to allow people to attend these special events. These days were not meant for creating shopping events, or for slacking off from employment. Who is actually "honored" by such things?

And yet there is a special event for Veterans on Veterans Day, the Veterans Day Parade. And what a mess that is. When it should be our fellow citizens who have served in the military, especially during times of war, parading down main street to the cheers of every other citizen, what we have instead is a circus of yahoos trying to promote every other thing imaginable. Boy Scouts, Shriners, civilian police, the sheriff's office, biker clubs, more shriners, the shriner circus, Ronald McDonald, Civil War reinactors, a Juvenile Court Judge, a Senator, etc., all in the parade. After a while I just stop watching it. It's disgusting really. And no, I don't care if you are now in the Shriners. If you served in the Army, and you want to be in the parade, you should be marching under the Army banner, not under a Shriner fess hat. Is that how you honor your time in the service? The parade isn't supposed to be about you a much as it's about your time in the service. No wonder so few people line the streets for the parade.

What holiday have we not spoiled by making the event more about ourselves, than about the event the Holiday is supposed to honor? About getting a paid day off from work instead of honoring the holiday? About shopping for more crap we don't need, only because it's on sale?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Working On FAQ page.

Well, looks like a cold has caught me. I'll try to remember and stop by the store for some vitamin C and zinc. I have also been developing some odd looking light colored skin spots on my face and bald head. I looked it up on the web, and I believe it is a case of Tinea Versicolor. The cure seems to be the use of the shampoo Selsun Blue.

Anyway, I am working on a new FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. The following is a list of subjects to be included. If you can think of anything else I should write about, any question you may have about homelessness, please send it on, so I can include it. Thanks.

About the Author
my background (san diego)
why I'm homeless
how I became homeless
where I stay
where I keep my belongings
why I'm still on the streets
where I get food
how do I blog

Homelessness
why are people homeless
where homeless people sleep
where homeless people eat
where homeless get help
how homeless escape homelessness

How you can help
being community
food
shelter
clothing (seasonal)
items in need

Interacting with the homeless
Panhandling
who panhandles
reasons to not give
reasons to give

Shelters
Rescue Missions
Salvation Army
Day Shelters
Winter Shelters
Churches
Room In The Inn

Medical Care
Physical
Psychological

Government Assistance
HUD
ICH
Housing First
Section 8

Nonprofit Homeless Information Specialists

Street Newspapers

Housing First

Living On The Streets

Defining Homelessness

Counting The Homeless Population

Why Don't Homeless People Just "Get a Job?"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Does This Joker Not Sound Like Sarah Palin?

I just wish I'd found this before the election. Still, it's good stuff. Consider the similarities to this character and conservatives everywhere.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Life Without Purpose?

A bit of excitement followed by no more excitement can bring depression - like postpartum depression. I was excited about going to Denver, but I won't be going to Denver now. I was excited about the elections, but the elections are over. And now I just stare at this computer screen, feeling lifeless. Of all the stuff to do here, I don't have any motivation to do anything.

I've lost the hope of ever having a relationship with my children, so I no longer have that to live for.

I still have issues that prevent me from getting a real job and having a steady and reliable income - income necessary to keep my apartment. Soon enough, I'll be without a place again.

The elections are over. And though I am happy beyond words for Obama's success, that battle is over and done. Yet, Republicans have taken over Tennessee politics. And that means that things will not be improving for the poor and homeless here anytime soon. More than likely, things will only get worse.

I don't feel like I have anything new to the conversation of homelessness. Most people don't listen anyway. And those that do are only choir folks, if you know what I mean.

The Nashville Downtown Partnership continues it's harassment of the homeless unabated. And is actually succeeding in spreading it's influence. Even the pastor of the Downtown Presbyterian Church gets all excited talking about being best friends with downtown property developers. (Yeah, even downtown developers need friends in the church, but I've NEVER heard this "man of God" ever talk about having friendships with poor and homeless folks, even though several hundred come to the church every week for help.)

You know, it really baffles me how people who have so much, spend so much of their time and energy deciding what poor people can't have.

But I digress.

There are things about me, things I will not talk about, or blog about, that will always prevent me from living like most other average people do. And that really caps it all. Even the things I can do are not inspiring me. It took me days just to write this post. Blah.

The Real U.S.A.


The states on this map are changed according to the size of their respective populations. And thus shows a truer account of Obama's win.

Election Maps

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Praise God

We have a new President.
President Barack Hussein Obama.

No Strings Attached

Wow, sometimes the best ideas get overlooked. And then you have a V8 moment of "why didn't I think of that?"

Strings for guitars. There are a number of homeless people who play their guitars on the street for tips. But, things like strings cost money. And strings break fairly frequently. So what's a homeless guy to do?

Well, a young lady who participated in the LivToGiv event last month, noticed that some homeless people had guitars. And she thought about those people's needs. It probably helped that her family is in the music business. This is Music City, for goodness sake.

But, of all the time I've been in Nashville, and thinking of the needs of the homeless, I never thought of this. So just a few minutes ago, this young lady and her mother passed out guitar strings to homeless musicians. Sure the homeless have many basic needs, but there is certainly a need for helping someone regain access to the thing that gives them joy, and hope, and inspiration. I know that even as a non-musician music can have a great effect on my life - I can only imagine what music means to a musician.

Thank you Lily and Ashley

Monday, November 3, 2008

Up Or Down?

Christian Culture And The Purpose Of Jesus

Your Favorite Candidate Can't Win....

Your favorite candidate can't win unless you go to the polls and VOTE.

Jesus Is A Liberal

www.jesusisaliberal.org

Webster's dictionary defines a Liberal as one who is open minded, not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways. Jesus was a pluralist Liberal who taught that one need not conform to strict and orthodox views of God, religion, and life. He rejected greed, violence, the glorification of power, the amassing of wealth without social balance, and the personal judging of others, their lifestyles and beliefs.

Over and over again, He taught us to believe in and live a spiritual and ethical life based in our essential, inherent goodness. What Jesus promoted was succinct set of spiritual principals and a way of life based upon the of love, compassion, tolerance, and a strong belief in the importance in giving and of generosity to those in need.

While not Biblical scholars, our common sense understanding of His lessons as philosophically and politically Liberal is founded upon Jesus' own words (see quotes below), modern interpretations of Liberation Theology, and in the positive, loving and compassionate application of His teachings - from the many early Saints to Mother Theresa and Liberation Theology.

Certainly, Jesus brought a radically Liberal theology to the Orthodox believers of his time. Jesus IS a Liberal even today because now more than ever, His principals align with the very core of Liberal Beliefs.


Common Dreams

Liberalism has been under assault for years now. The battering of this grand political philosophy has altered the contemporary definition of liberal to the point that Conservatives use it as a profane word. They use it to paint a political opponent as anti-God and anti-American. It has gotten to the point that moderate and liberal Christians are afraid to be open about their political leanings. Sadly, it even affects their conscience and choices as they enter the voting booth. This is particularly troubling to me as a Christian evangelical minister who loves America.

Liberalism as defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: “a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life…”

I am not sure why anyone would feel threatened by Liberalism as defined by the dictionary. They are apparently unaware or simply refuse to acknowledge the long history of liberals who have labored for the betterment of society and the furthering of God’s Kingdom.

Light Shines In The Darkness

A very insightful blog post about the nature of church work, and church workers. A Must Read.

"the reason a lot of people choose to work on a church staff is because they’re too lazy or too afraid to get a job in the real world."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No Denver

I will not be going to Denver after all. Anyone who sent money for this and would like it returned, please send an email. Otherwise I'll apply it to furthering my blogging efforts here.