Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shelter Shelter Shelter Homeless

So many aspects of the homeless industry cause me to think, "this would be funny, if it wasn't so sad."

There are several types of shelter for the homeless, each trying to attack the problem of homelessness from a different angle, and each type of shelter has its own reputation, and varying reputations depending on who you talk to.   Some types are considered as more vital than others, some types are considered more effective than others, depending on people's expectations of them.  And that's before politics gets involved.

I am a big fan of Iain de Jong, CEO of  Orgcode.com.  He understands these complications better than most.   As he pointed out in a fairly recent video, many homeless service providers claim to provide one type of shelter service but actually provide a different shelter service.   I believe this happens because the people who fund homeless services don't really understand what it is they are asking for.   They say they want one type of homeless service, but they won't provide the funding and resources necessary to create that type of service.   So, the people charged with running these places will call their service what there funders were expecting it to be, but will only provide what they can afford to provide - and that is usually something much less than what they promise by way of name.   Often a homeless service provider will claim to be a "transitional housing provider" but what they really offer is only emergency shelter., etc.

The common names for homeless shelter types are:

  • Day Shelter - Open only during specific hours, these shelters may offer services that other shelters provide, except for a place to sleep.    They provide a place for the homeless to go during the day, or night, depending on the organizations particular hours. These shelters could be limited to just providing the homeless with a place to go out of the weather - but most provide additional services.   Day Shelters often provide food of some kind, shower and laundry facilities, storage, mail service, limited medical help etc.
  • Emergency Shelter - This term isn't used so much any more.  The word "Emergency" usually implies "immediate and short term" but now service providers admit that they cannot always respond to need "immediately" and that homelessness is not usually "short term" - at least not anymore.   This country has changed a great deal in the past fifty some years, and so their response to homelessness has changed as well - and not for the better.
  • Rescue Mission - this is the term given to any faith based organization providing services to the homeless.  Participation in religious activities are usually required of the homeless. These are usually Fundamentalist Christian organizations.  They usually operate as emergency shelters, often with attached rehabilitation through religious indoctrination programs.
  • St. Vincent/De Paul - Ladies of Charity - Catholic Charities - These are the usual names given to  faith based homeless services provided by Catholic Churches.  They provide a wide array of services.  Participation in religious activities is not usually required.
  • Salvation Army - Much like a rescue mission, being that it is a Protestant faith based shelter system, its services are usually limited in size if not in scope.
For the longest time, these shelters were it.  Nothing else was offered, nothing else was considered.   A homeless person was expected to find his own way out of homelessness while he stayed at one of these shelters.  For a while that expectation was enough.  Opportunities were sufficient for a homeless person to make that connection back to the real world on his own.   But in the past few decades, the distance between being homeless and being not homeless has grown to the point it cannot be spanned alone.   The main cause for this is the lack of inexpensive housing.   Not long ago, a person could rent a room with the income from a part time job.   That just isn't the case anymore - thanks to more of that "Urban Renewal."

As the cost of housing increased, in turn so did the demands on the homeless to "get their act together" so that they could earn enough to afford a place to live.   More effort was then put on rehabilitating the homeless.  Shelters started creating educational programs, offering GED classes, drug rehab, life skills classes, etc.   From this came the idea that a homeless person needed to overcome all his issues before assisting him with housing.  Out of this came the creation of programs called something like transitional housing, or supportive housing, or temporary housing. etc.  About this same time came the advent of the homeless family.  And being that people felt such sympathy for the children, families were prioritized in these programs.   Back in the early 80s, homeless families were very rare.  And if a family did show up at the rescue mission, the response was very quick.  Phone calls were made, some wealthy person would pay for an apartment for the family, a job was given to the father, some followup was initiated, but that was that - the family was no longer homeless.  The transition was often less than a day.   These days, homeless families are so common that whole shelters are built to cater just to them.

  • Transitional Housing - Temporary housing offered to the homeless, mostly to homeless families, lasting usually no longer than two years, and often is much shorter than that.   Assistance is given to people in transitional housing in finding jobs, saving money, and searching for permanent housing.
  • Supportive Housing - Temporary housing offered to homeless people, usually offering more intense support that transitional housing as it is more often given to homeless people with extenuating circumstances such as addictions and/or mental health issues.  Though temporary, time limits can vary depending on the condition and rehabilitation progress of the homeless person.  This housing usually comes with extensive case management.
  • Rapid Rehousing - A fairly recent development, based on the idea that the less time a person lives on the streets, the better and quicker his return to a normal life will be, rapid rehousing takes homeless people with minimal issues (no addictions, no serious mental health issues) and places them in apartments, usually for no more than 6 months, while they look for and find work, and being to pay for his housing and other needs on his own.   So far this approach is enjoying a high success rate.
  • Housing First - Also a fairly recent development, this program takes people who are chronically homeless and places them directly into an apartment or SRO (single resident occupancy) unit and then provides the homeless person with intensive case management.   It has been discovered that rehabilitation from addiction and mental illness happens better and quicker when the person is housed, as compared to living in a shelter or living on the streets.   Housing First is usually open ended, to last as long as the person needs to rehab.

Keeping Your Homeless Shelter

As you may have read before, I am currently staying in a shelter called "The Tent".    It actually is a tent, a very large tent.   The size and kind that you'd expect to be used in an industry convention.  It is rectangular with rounded ends.   I added a photo of it a few posts back.

As with all shelters I've spent time in, I am spending as little time as possible in the place.    There is a curfew.  Everyone staying in the tent must be in their racks by 8pm.    At 8pm the gates are shut and a member of the administration walks though tent looking for any empty racks.  (racks = metal bunk beds).  I make a point of returning to the tent between 7 - 7:30pm.   If a person is not at his bed, then he's rolled out - meaning they roll up all his possessions, through them into a couple of trash bags, and then take his stuff to a storage shed.   Then someone is chosen from those standing outside the gate, and who want to get in, and they get that newly emptied bed.

The administration does not mess around with this.  Just last night, the guy in the bed next to mine had to make a run to the portajohn, and bed check happened while he was still in there.   When he got back to his bed, admin showed up at the same time, with trash bags in hand.  He had to do some quick explaining to keep them from rolling him up.   Have no doubt, admin can and will roll a person out for any offense, even one that seems slight, if you catch them at the wrong time.    As for a "homeless survival tip" let me remind everyone, that when you stay in a shelter of any kind, you have to play it cool.   At some point, you may feel that someone has offended you, someone in admin, or another homeless person, the important thing is to not freak out, don't blow up, don't get mad.   Any outburst you make, any threat, any display of anger, could get you thrown out.   Here, if you're really messed up, you'll get "DNR" written next to your name in the log - that stands for "Do Not Return."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

OK Bite Down, Said The Dentist

Ugh, I went to the Dentist today and had a tooth pulled - extracted, even.   I had a  tooth pulled before and it was a surprisingly easy process.   And that's what I was expecting.   There was some discussion about what to do with the tooth.  There was talk of a root canal, but insurance would not cover it, and I would never be able to afford the crown, etc., so we went with just pulling the tooth.    God gives you 30 some teeth, just in case something goes wrong, you still have the others to get by on.   It's the same with having ten toes and ten fingers.  You don't really expect to get through life with all of them intact, do you?

Though my appointment was for 9, I showed up at 8.  I didn't have anything else to do.  So they took me in early.   And you could tell it was early because the dental assistant seemed a bit confused about what we were going to do.   That never helps.   But then the Dentist showed up, and after some discussion, we decided to pull the tooth.  

The dentist did all the things I knew about prepping a tooth, numbing the gums etc.  Then there was the short little pinch, which was the shot of novocaine.    And then the dentist dug around on the tooth for a minute, there was some pressure, then he said, "ok" and turned around.   "Wow, that was easy" I thought.   The dentist and assistant walked away for a while.   And I waited.

Then the assistant returned with a piece of paper for me to sign saying it gave the dentist permission to pull the tooth.    I thought that was funny since he already pulled it.   He did pull it already, didn't he.

The dentist and his assistant had a good chuckle when I told them I thought the tooth was already pulled.

Ut Oh... was my thought.

The tooth was fractured and so the dentist had to pull it out in sections, grinding and pulling with sounds of cracking and feeling "pressure" that always hurt.  Each root of the molar had to be extracted separately. I didn't know this at first, until the dentist explained, cause with each root pulled, I thought we were done. It was more like having 4 teeth removed.

I was grabbing onto the arm rails, palms sweaty.  The anticipation of pain was much worse than any of the actual pain, which I did have but was very temporary - a split second each time.    The dentist knew what he was doing and I had confidence in him.    In the middle of it all, I remembered that scene in "Master and Commander" when the doctor performed a lobotomy, and the tattoo "hold fast" That's what I concentrated on through the remainder of the procedure.   I think it took a total of 15 minutes, maybe less, to take the tooth out.

Then came the gauze and the instruction to bit down.    Now I knew it was over for certain.   I was given instructions on the care of the clot, etc and I made an appointment for a filling in the other tooth.   In a few minutes I am going back to pick up my prescription for Ibuprofen.

The cost was all covered by state insurance.  Thank goodness.

At least I haven't died.   Not yet, anyway.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Homeless Vocabulary

Homelessness has it's own set of words and phrases, particular to the homeless industry.

All words have a dictionary definition, and a common use definition. In the next few posts I will focus on the words and phrases used in the homeless industry, give them good definitions, and then discuss some of their misuses.   And I guess we can begin with the word, "homeless".

I think George Carlin said it best, "'Home' is an abstract concept.  What these people are is 'houseless'."

    "Home is where the heart is"
    "Home is where you hang your hat"

Neither of these cliches indicate "a stable living abode", which is important, given that the basic definition of "homeless" is "being without a stable living abode."

You will find varying definitions of the term "homeless", created by agencies within the homeless industry. Sometimes these definitions contradict each other.  But mostly, the definitions of "homeless" are designed to support an agency's particular agenda concerning homelessness.

It should be said that an abode need not necessarily be a house, it could also be an apartment, a hut, a teepee, a cave, etc.  The crucial point is not the style of the structure but that the person in it has the free or legal right to remain there and do as he sees fit within its confines.  If a person has no such place, no access to such a place, then he is " homeless."

We should not confuse "street people" with "homeless" people.  They are not necessarily the same.  There are many people who live on the streets who do have a home, but they choose to not live there.  They are not homeless.  For some, the amenities afforded the homeless are actually better than what they receive at home.   That's not to say that things are good for the homeless, but actually that conditions at home are that bad.

Things certainly do get messy, though, when people go about trying to define for others what is a proper and legal "abode".    A man buys a piece of property, he gathers up scrap wood, he builds himself a shack on the property he owns.  Then government officials tell him that he cannot live in the shack he built.   That is because the government has set standards on what constitutes legal housing, and  how such a home must be built.   Several times recently, a person who owns a large tract of land has given homeless people permission to camp on their tract, only to have their neighbors complain and the local government stops them from letting homeless people camp on his own property.

Through out history there have been homeless people, but in the context of what we call and define homelessness today, it mostly came about by way of "Urban Renewal".   Prior to urban renewal, people were living wherever they could arrange a place, and everyone was fine with that.  For the poor, urban areas usually offered housing they could afford and employment too.  For the poor, employment and housing often came together.   If a person was hired to work in a stable, there was usually a room attached to the stable that he could live in.   As cities grew outward, and the people with money moved farther and farther away from the city, the urban property they owned began to fall into disrepair.

In the United States, local governments, under the guise of Urban Renewal, began taking over private property for city projects, or forcing property owners to drastically rebuild. This had the result of displacing many people who lived in urban areas.  Another of the effects of urban renewal was that the cost of urban property skyrocketed, (look up "gentrification") making it nearly impossible for poor people to continue living in urban areas.   Many of the poor moved on to other places, often to the country where housing was cheaper.   BUT many of the poor were too poor to move and they became the first of our modern day homeless.

 In response to this newly created homeless population, cities began creating low rent, government subsidized, housing units within urban areas for the poor.  But these "projects" were usually poorly managed and maintained and so they became places of centralized poverty and crime.   Yet, not everyone could get into the projects, and they too became homeless.  As the projects fell into disrepair and became infested with crime, some people chose to live homeless instead, because it was safer.

Urban renewal has been in practice in the industrialized nations since the 1800s, but it hit its peak in the 1940s and 1950s.   The first rescue missions emerged around 1900 in the larger cities, but by the 50's even mid-sized cities had rescue missions. I was during this period that christian religious organizations took a keen interest in the plight of the homeles.   This involvement in homelessness by Christian groups changed the dialog concerning homelessness from that of poverty and illness to one of sin and religious conversion.  Sadly, over the past 60 years, the christian influence on the homeless industry has not resulted in any direct improvements in the lives of the homeless.  Homelessness has only grown worse since church organizations have claimed social responsibility for the homeless.  Thankfully, now the Federal government and HUD is redirecting the conversation about homelessness back to more practical cures.

in recent years other factors have played a part in the homeless population growth - other than urban renewal.  Economic disparity is half of the problem, but the proliferation of drugs and the addictions that follow, and the lack of care for the mentally ill is responsible for the other half.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Glad And Sad

It has happened again - it happens a lot.   I have blogged about a lot of homelessness.  I was the first "homeless blogger."

There had been a few homeless people with websites of their own, prior to my blog, but none of them had achieved any kind of real readership.   I started blogging in 2002, and so I was able to achieve a lot of "firsts".   I was the first to write about gift bags for the homeless.  I was the first to write about the difficulties homeless people have in keeping their feet healthy.   Since then, many people have taken my blog posts and have written them as their own.

As a homeless advocate, I think, "Good!" It helps to spread the word.  I started a chain reaction that has reached many people and, because of that reach, it has resulted in countless homeless people being helped.   You bet, I'm taking responsibility for making that happen, I'm patting myself on my back.

But then I see that people are taking this information I've put out there for the benefit of all homeless people, and they are benefiting financially from it.   Some people have created non-profits organizations, raised funds, and have given themselves income, all from the information I put out there.   Today, I found a youtube video that was created just a few months ago, that describes the whole gift bag for the homeless idea.    That video has already received over a million views.   If they have monetized that video, then they have earned at least 1000 dollars with it.

And I'm here, living in poverty, in a homeless shelter.  I am making some videos, but I struggle to get them made, and I have almost no viewership.

Yep, in a way, I am just feeling sorry for myself - I do that - perhaps too often.  I also get depressed often, and my anxiety can still be a problem.

There  are people who are making a living with blogs and with youtube videos.    I would like to achieve that level of success as well.   If I don't die from this tooth infection, then I'll try again after I get these teeth pulled, to be a popular blogger.

Yeah, about my teeth - if you read the other post you'll know that I went to the dentist recently.  I talked more about the infection, but the truth is, my teeth are in real bad shape.    Genetically, I have weak enamel.  Homelessly, I have had very little opportunity to take care of my teeth as I should have.   The current problem I have is actually with two teeth that sit side by side.  One tooth is broken horizontally, the other is cracked vertically, under the gum line.  And it seems the infection had spread throughout much of that side of my face.   My jaw, my sinuses, the roof of my mouth, etc were all in pain from the infection.  I'm not sure what's going to happen if the infection hasn't been reduced enough.   People die from untreated infections.  Yeah, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac - I figure most things are about to kill me.   And, hey, if I'm about to die, what's the point of making any more videos?

Ugh.

Account Transfer Complete For The Homeless Guy

Blogging and Youtubing are all done through Google by way of Email accounts at Gmail, which is also a Google+ account.   My first Gmail account was under "thehomelessguy" and I have had that account for over a decade.   I have now moved everything over to the Gmail account "kevin.barbieux[at]Gmail.com".

If you are following me via anything Google, such as Google+, please change it to my new account, thanks! j Right now I only have 17 Google+ followers. [sad face].   Please help spread the word and tell your friends about my blog.  Thanks again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homeless People Friends

Eventually I will make this into a homeless survival tip video, but I figured I'll go ahead and mention this now. Be very careful about whom you become friends with when you are homeless.

Of course everyone needs and wants friends, and in most situations, the more friends, the better.  But life is different on the streets and the same rules do not apply.   I guess it mostly comes down to the fact that being homeless is, among other things, a state of constant desperation, and desperate people are more likely to disregard other people's needs, as they struggle to take care of their own.   Time and time again I've heard the sad stories of how one homeless friend screwed over another.  

For example, a girl cries to a case manager that her "boyfriend" up and left without her, he left without saying where he was going.  And she had put all possessions in his care.  They had come to this city in his car.  All her luggage and other personal affects were in the trunk of his car.  She had always slept in his car at night, so she didn't know where she was going to spend the next night, she had no clue how to get into a shelter.

Then, there is the "crab mentality" or "crabs in a barrel".  For reference, there is a wiki page that explains it well, and there are youtube videos that show this particular phenomenon at work in real time.   In a bucket or barrel, a crab could easily climb his way out of it.  But, when in the barrel with several other crabs, he's never able to escape.   This is because, once the other crabs see a crab making his way out of the barrel, the other crabs will grab onto him and will pull him back into the barrel.  When the other crabs see another one about to escape the barrel, they think they can hitch a ride, so to speak, on the one who is about to escape.  The problem is that the escaping crab does not have the strength to pull himself and the others to safety.  

It is very much true for homeless people as well.  It is very difficult escaping homelessness, but if your homeless friends see you getting off the streets, they may very well expect you to help them get off the streets as well.   And often what happens is that no one gets off the streets.   For example, you may get yourself an apartment, and the next thing you know, your homeless friends are asking if they can come live with you.   If you say no, they will become offended, drama may result.   If you tell your friends where you've moved to, they will show up at your door unannounced, expecting you to take them in.  This could only cause trouble with your landlord, and just might cause you to lose your apartment.

I personally have had many things stolen from me while I was on the streets, and those were just random acts.  Someone once stole my eye glasses.   I was staying at the old rescue mission in Nashville, it was winter and the place was packed to over flowing.  All they had available for me was a patch of cold linoleum covered floor to sleep on.  I took off my glasses as I prepared to sleep, setting them on the ground right in front of me.  When I awoke in the morning the glasses were gone.

I also am not well equipped for making friends, I just don't have the social skills for it.  Even when not homeless I don't really have "friends" - usually just acquaintances whom I'll briefly talk to in passing.   Someone once called me "anti-social" but that's not the case.  I am very much "pro-social" and I wish I could engage more people on a social level, but I lack the ability to do so.  Chalk it up to my Asperger's Syndrome.  From what I've seen, there are a lot of homeless people with Asperger's Syndrome.

I guess what I'm saying is, be very careful about whom you trust among the other homeless people around you.  You should also keep your guard up in regards to people who work at homeless shelters.  Being homeless is a very precarious situation, and even the slightest loss can be a big setback.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Malleable Yin Yang

This symbol represents the concept of Yin Yang, being that everything in the universe has an equal opposite, and this opposite gives life its ever evolving (circular) balance.
(The following is a description of an observation I've made recently - now that I have returned to California, after living in Tennessee for 30+ years.)

This Yin Yang concept is a good place to start when thinking about life, and how things are and how things become.   But this idea is a little too ideal and doesn't accurately describe what is going on in the world.   That's because most people in the world have some kind of an agenda.   And this agenda motivates people to manipulate the Yin Yang into a shape that benefits them, or prioritizes them, so that they have an advantage over others.   Of course for each person, what is "priority" is different.   The idealic perfect circle shown above is in reality rather lopsided.

I have lived in both conservative and liberal communities and I've witnessed some peculiarities, as the Yin-Yang exists there as well.   In Conservative States such as Tennessee, the laws are often harsh and draconian. "Authority" is heavily favored.  And communal discussions between people, concerning politics and society, etc., are often very judgmental in nature.   Still, (and here is the "opposite" part), in the day to day interactions with each other, people living in Conservative states are, for the most part, very civil, and courteous towards each other.  They don't mind holding a door for another person, they often engage in polite conversation with total strangers as they encounter them, will volunteer to help someone in need when they see a person over burdened, etc.   But it seems to be the opposite in more Liberal states.

In Liberal states, the laws are generally more considerate of the variety of values of a diverse population, (though not necessarily more lenient than in Conservative states).   Community is heavily favored.  And communal discussions between people, concerning politics and society, etc., are often more open minded.   Still, (and here is the "opposite" part), in the day to day interactions with each other, people living in Liberal states are, for the most part, less courteous towards each other.  Rarely does a person hold a door for another (as compared to people in Conservative states), people don't often engage in conversations with strangers.  For example, people here are more likely to fight with each other for position in line for boarding public transportation.

It is interesting to note that, even though Conservative communities hold the homeless with great disdain, generally speaking, they are more willing and available to create programs for helping the homeless - certainly more so than people in Liberal communities.   Liberals tend to not judge the homeless as harshly as Conservatives do, but when it comes to creating a community response to homelessness, Liberals are less likely to respond and take decisive action.

Here in San Diego, where the total population is 3 times larger than that of the greater Nashville area, and though San Diego has  three times as many homeless people, Nashville actually has more homeless advocates than San Diego.   And the percentage of people who appear to be indifferent to the plight of the homeless seems much greater here in San Diego.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rich Man Poor Man

In its majestic equality,
the law forbids rich and poor alike
to sleep under bridges,
beg in the streets
and steal loaves of bread.
~ Anatole France (1844 - 1924)

The sarcastic tone of the above quote should not be overlooked.  Still, it speaks volumes.   Below is a photo I took recently in a public restroom.   This law applies to all, rich and poor alike, although, I don't much know of any rich person in a situation where he'd have to wash his socks in a public restroom.

(I also have a problem with private ownership of public spaces.  It doesn't seem legal somehow, but no body's fighting it.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dentist Today

Went to the dentist today.  I should have gone earlier, by about 15 years.  The clinic could only take me in as an emergency tooth extraction, which according to insurance is for only one tooth.   The one exray they took showed two teeth in need of help.   They'll only be able to work on one, for now.  That's right, they did nothing today except a consultation.   The dentist was saying the teeth "might" be saved.   It depends, on what they find out next week.   First, the accompanying infection has to come down.   I am currently on amoxicillin and Ibuprofen 600 mg.   And that Ibuprofen isn't doing much for the pain so far.   Of course the pain is related more to the swelling due to the infection than from an exposed tooth.  Attack the infection, the swelling will come down and then so will the pain.... hopefully.  Next appointment is in 5 days.

Being that I've been homeless for most of my life, I haven't had access to much dental care.  The clinic in Nashville had one dentist who showed up only one day a week, and all he would do is pull teeth - wouldn't ben bother trying to save them.    Here in San Diego there's a big clinic with several dentists on duty.
Red State - Blue State.

Monday, January 20, 2014

YouTube (and stuff) Update

OK, I have settled on a youtube.com channel http://youtube.com/thehomelessguy  Yeah, big surprise, I know. But it took some bit of work figuring out which way to go with YouTube and with Google in general.  Google really has made some big changes, which is making users make big changes as well.  I got into Blogger and YouTube long before they were bought up by Google and I had different sign on names and email addresses and passwords for all of them.  That's because the internet says that it's better security.  Well, now Google wants all of that stuff they recently bought under a single control.   Of course to then take that simplification and muddy it up, making things confusing again, Google assigns a Google+ page to every single email address and blog and youtube channel, etc. whether you like it or not.  So now I have all these many Google+ accounts and I can't yet figure out how to keep them straight and under some resemblance of control.   I just wish they'd ask me if I wanted a Google+ account first, instead of just throwing it on me.   To me it seems that Google is desperate to compete with Facebook, and Google+ is their plan for that.  Ugh.

Well, I at least have Youtube straight, to a point.  I still have to wait another week before Google will allow me to assign my Kevin.Barbieux account as owner of the Youtube channel, but once that happens, everything will be set.

I know, like you care, right?   Well, it's what I've been working on lately.  Soon blog posts and videos about homelessness will return, and with a vengeance.  I promise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I've Got A Cold

So weird, this is my fourth full blown cold since arriving here in San Diego 4 months ago.   Mostly it affects my sinuses, but I've got the runny nose and head ache and cough to go with it.    I was never sick this often back in Nashville.   I'm guessing there are two major reasons for it.  First off, San Diego is crowded.   For this, and the fact that San Diegans like to get out and do things, colds spread here from person to person like in a Day Care.   Also, it rarely rains here and so there's very little opportunity for germs to get washed off of things.    I just hope that my immune system picks up the pace soon.   Oh, and for the fact that I'm living homeless, it's really hard to get proper sleep, or even that extra rest needed to kick a cold.  Ugh.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kelly Thomas Begged For His Life

The jury said that the cops did not commit murder when they beat Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man, to death.  They said they had to keep beating him because he was uncooperative.  Yet, here is the count, from the video footage, of the pleas Kelly Thomas made for his life.

Pacific Beach San Diego CA January 15th 2014



A relaxation video.  This is my first attempt at video, photo, and audio editing, all in one.  Developed some new skills.  Had to rip the audio from the first segment and remove some unpleasant sounds using Audacity, then looped it for the rest of the video.  I hope you like it.  If you do, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my YouTube channel - your encouragement is all I need to make more.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Homeless Guy Street Survival Tip #4



Homeless survival tip number 3
    Spend as much time as you possibly can AWAY from the homeless environment.

    What exactly is the homeless environment? Basically it's any place where homeless people gather. It can be a rescue mission, a day shelter, a soup kitchen, a homeless encampment, etc. Although it is necessary for you to spend time around shelters and soup kitchens and clothing rooms, and camps created by the homeless, Remember that this environment is toxic, and the more time you spend in the homeless environment the worse your homeless situation will become, and the harder it will be for you to escape homelessness.

     When I say it's toxic, what I mean is, it can negatively affect you. Just for being in the homeless environment you can become depressed, lethargic, despondent, and things can get so bad that you lose your desire to leave homelessness. It's certainly not uncommon for people to become suicidal as they feel there's no escape from homelessness. The toxicity of the homeless environment not only affects you, but can in time become you. Then not only are you affected by the toxicity, but you become a source of that toxicity. The homeless environment gradually stops being the situation you are in, and instead becomes who you are, at that point, homelessness becomes your home. Once you become acclimated to the homeless environment, everything outside of homelessness becomes toxin. And when that happens, leaving homelessness becomes almost impossible. So, what should you do? Go to the places, and do the things that non-homeless people do. Maintain your connections to the non-homeless world. Hang out with, and make friends with people who are not homeless. Just know that if ever lose those connections to the real world, it's very difficult to get them back.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ramona

Ramona was a very famous book.   I know, I had never heard of it either, until just recently.   Funny how 150 years can obscure things.  But, in it's own time, "Ramona" was one of the most popular of books.   As Wikipedia describes it:
Originally serialized in the Christian Union on a weekly basis, the novel became immensely popular. It has had more than 300 printings, and been adapted four times as a film. A play adaptation has been performed annually outdoors since 1923. The novel's influence on the culture and image of Southern California was considerable. Its sentimental portrayal of Mexican colonial life contributed to establishing a unique cultural identity for the region. As its publication coincided with the arrival of railroad lines in the region, countless tourists visited who wanted to see the locations of the novel.
Think of the most popular books today, the "Harry Potter" series.  "Ramona" enjoyed that kind of popularity. The thing is, "popularity" wasn't really the goal of the book.  The author, Helen Hunt Jackson, had something else in mind.  She had witnessed the poor treatment that the native Americans had been subjected to by the U.S. government, and she wanted to do something about it.   The first time around, she wrote a non-fiction account of the governments treatment of the Indians - "A Century of Dishonor" (1881).   Although this book did have some impact on government regulations concerning the Indians, and did begin to bring awareness to general public of the unethical and immortal treatment by the government, Helen was not satisfied with those results.  She decided, then, to write a fictionalized account of an Indian woman named "Ramona".    Sadly, this book failed to achieve it's goal of raising sympathy for the Native Americans.  Instead, people were drawn to the book for its romantic nature, and the only real influence the book had was to draw many people to San Diego as tourists, visiting the fictionalized locations mentioned the book.  Of course, tourists brought money to the local economy, and the locals catered to these tourists.  So it was, when it came time to name this farming town (in 1894, ten years after the book was first written) in the foothills outside of San Diego, an influential developer insisted on the name, "Ramona."   People traveled to San Diego because of the book, well into the 1920s.  It was around 1900 that my own family ancestors, on my mother's side of the family, settled in Ramona after moving from Texas.

As I embark on a journey to write my own books, I wonder about the effect they might, or might not, have.   I am very grateful for the letters I've received from many of the readers of my blog, telling me how the blog has either helped or inspired them.  Still, it's just a blog and despite the million plus visits the blog has enjoyed, most people in this country have never heard of it, and might never.

Helen Hunt Jackson died at the age of 55, just a few months after "Ramona" was published.  I'm now 53.  I feel like my time is coming.    I need to get my own books written before it's too late.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

King Google

Google has certainly cornered the internet market.   And I appreciate what they are attempting to do, in consolidating all their offerings under Google+ (their version of Facebook), but so far, people just aren't getting it.   It's too confusing.  For example, why should a person have to go into Google+ so to change a setting on their Youtube Channel?   And why, when I try to bring up my Blogger account am I instead sent to Google+?   Now, I'm sure the layout of all their services makes perfect sense to Google and their designers, but HEY, most people using Blogger and Youtube, etc., are NOT computer programmers/designers, and don't want to be.    The new services they are creating may get them all excited, but for the average user, it's all just too confusing.

And still, here I am, immersing myself into all of what Google has to offer.  Changing they way I used to have things, so that they now conform to all of Google's requirements.   Ugh, this better payoff, and soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Help Me Youtube.com

Ok, I've made a couple videos on youtube, and I'd like to make more, but motivation has hit a snag.   Google currently will not allow me to monetize (put ads on my videos to earn revenue) because according to Google, the monetizing program is not available in my country.    What???    I am in the United States, just like Google.  In my entire life I have spent less than a week's worth of time outside the country. (Thank you Canada and Mexico).   Where in the world are they getting the idea that I'm somewhere other than the U.S. of A.?   I sent them a message.  Hopefully they'll fix the problem.   It's not like I'd make much money w[atith my videos, but every penny helps!    If you happen to work for Google and are reading this, my account is under the email address of kevin.barbieux[at]gmail.com and is called "The Homeless Guy".  Thanks!

UPDATE: (a few hours later...) I finally found out how to set the "Country" setting.  My videos are now monetized.  I'll be making about 1 dollar per 1000 views.  That means I'll be making about 5 dollars a year from them.  Things could change, though.  Ya never know.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Personal Update

Well, today is the 6th of January.  Yesterday was my birthday, and it was much better than Xmas.    Thanks  to everyone who sent happy birthday wishes.

I am still in San Diego and staying in the tent.  Everyday, as I watch the national weather reports, I thank my lucky stars that I relocated here when I did.   I don't think I could have handled another Nashville winter.   I will never consider living any farther north,  it's out of the question.   The nights here are chilly.  But again, the temperatures always rise with the sun, and blue skies are the norm.   For someone like me, who is susceptible to devastating bouts of depression, the warmth and the clear skies are life savers.

Not just because it is required of me, I want to get out of the shelter situation and into more independent living.   I'm not sure how I'm going to make that happen just yet, but now is the time to figure it out.  Either I will find a place I can afford, which will be very minimal, or I will find some forgotten corner of San Diego where I can camp and be left alone by cops and street predators.

The problem with housing for poor folks like myself is that those arrangements are always stressful.   The "programs" available for the poor, are often designed like prisons.  In prisons they may put 4 men to a cell.  In a program house they'll put 4 men in one bedroom.  Likewise, meals are regulated, there is almost no storage available for personal affects, and curfews are needlessly restrictive, leaving almost no personal time.  And the other people staying in such program houses are usually difficult to get along with, addicts, mentally ill, etc.   Many in my situation suffer from social anxiety issues, and cramming 12 adult men with social anxiety issues into one 3 bedroom house will inevitably lead to problems.

My only other option is to again try and find an alternative source of income, one that can afford me the space I need, as an "Aspie".    I've tried every vocation from professional photographer to professional poker player - all to no avail.  The last option, that may still work out, is being a writer.   I have made a little money from my writing, though nothing that would support a living.  Still, I have this laptop, and I have access to the internet, so there is potential.   I will blog when I can, and will make the occasional video.  But I will try to put most of my effort into writing a book.

I am 53 years old now.  It's not like I have much time left anyway.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Homeless On New Year's Day

The holidays are officially over.  Newly burdened with assorted items of necessity, received as 'gifts' from various donation sources, homeless people now focus on riding out the rest of winter, and look forward to spring.   People who have homes can suffer from post holiday depression, just imagine how much more depressing it can be, once all the celebrations are over, to also have to deal with being homeless.

By this time, the homeless may have also gathered more things than they know what to do with, certainly more things than they can carry around with them.    I developed a personal policy, long ago, to never take more than I could carry with me in one back pack.    It just seemed ridiculous to have several trash bags full of "stuff" that I'd have to haul around with me, everywhere I went.   I knew that carrying such stuff around would target me as homeless, and that's the last thing I wanted.     I have never declined to admit my homelessness to anyone, and being known as homeless has never been a problem for me.  Instead, it was all the crap I had to deal with from people, once they knew I was homeless.  I never wanted to be refused service at some restaurant or cafe.  I wanted to be welcomed wherever I went.   Yes, there have been times when I ended up with three back packs full of stuff, but I got rid of things quickly, or I had a safe place to keep my things.   I tried to never take more than one of each thing I needed, although that didn't always work out.   It is easy to end up with a dozen tooth brushes and tubes of tooth paste, 6 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of shoes, etc., etc.    In a couple weeks time, most of these bags brimming full of donations will be regarded as too much of a burden and the stuff will be given away or thrown away.  Then a month or two down the road, homeless people will be in need of these things again.    I always recommend, to no avail, that people be more judicious with their donations.   Sure, the holidays are the big 'gift giving' days.  But by the end of February there will be just as much need as ever for these same donations.