Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thanks

Thank you Tracy for the book!

Welcome Guardian Readers

I really enjoy reading the Guardian, and I appreciate the mention in this recent article that pointed you here, www.guardian.co.uk. There is much to this blog, 6+ years worth. I hope you have the time to give it a going over.

I think the best thing I could do right now, as I have your attention, is to tell you of a book an acquaintance of mine, David Dark, has just published. The book is not about homelessness, but it is on the subject of Popular Religious Beliefs. And since so many religious types, more than any other, engage the homeless (for responding to commandments to help the poor, to convert the lost, etc) I think this book should be included in reading lists dedicated to the subject of homelessness.

The book is called, "The Sacredness of Questioning Everything," and for the rest of today, you can receive a free download of the audio version of the book at Zondervan.com

After today, or if you like reading printed text, you can find the book at Amazon.com

Thanks for reading my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far." Daniel Goleman

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Struggle

I have been chronically homeless my entire adult life. And yet the circumstances that lead to me being homeless were a lifetime in the making. I have always fought against this state of being homeless, but have had very limited success in that regard. A few years ago, I came to understand that to break this cycle, I would need to face all that is within me, and deal with it, in order to change the path my life is on. This requires me to not only be honest and admit my many short comings, but also to seek out the causes and reasons behind these causes, and from there make the appropriate changes in my thinking and actions.

I now know more about myself that ever, but there is so much more to deal with. There is a lot of crap in my head. As each hidden aspect of becomes revealed, I go through a long process of dealing with it. At first, I am amazed at yet another revelation. This revelation is rarely ever a good thing, causing me to experience a period of depression, or more like mourning - saddened to know of another negative aspect of myself. Then comes the process of dealing with it, and accepting it, and hopefully, finally relegating it to the past. I can now see how things I do today were inspired by things that happened to me in the past, especially with regards to my relationship with my parents and how I was raised. It's not all about them, but a lot of it is.

In recent posts, I began writing about the past, only to stir up emotions and memories that put me in yet another depressed state. I very much want to continue writing on this subject, but before I can I've got to go through another round of processing of the new thoughts and epiphanies that have arisen for my tapping deeper into that subject than I had previously.

Depression and Social Anxiety are no joke, and should not be taken lightly. They are the causes of much suffering in this world, and we all would be better off without them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cool Factor

The parts of this video not shot in Africa where shot in the church I attend. (when I attend church)

clickhomeless.com

http://www.clickhomeless.com/bloggers/ This is a list of known homeless related blogs. If you have information about blogs not currently listed, please forward the information along to network(at)clickhomeless.org.....or you can email me at thehomelessguy(at)gmail.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I Am The Way I Am (part 2)

On the theme of "abuse begets abuse" I should talk some about my own parents background. But don't worry about getting bored with this subject, because I have very little to tell.

That is one of the things that strikes me as funny, that I know so little about my family's past. Oh, sure, there are some grand stories told. But of the intimate daily happenings of my families past, that of my parents and grand parents, you know, that stuff from which come meaningful lessons about life, I was told very little.

I do know that both of my grandfathers were drunkards. My father's mother divorced her husband when my father was 5 years old. She then remarried and soon after moved from Hazard Kentucky to Cincinnati Oh. There they lived in relative poverty; my father left school when he was twelve to take a job so to help feed the family. Prior to this, my father and several of his siblings (it was a large family) were, for some period of time, put in a home for children because my grandparents could not afford to take care of them. I only met my Grandparents on my father's side a hand full of times, and perhaps only had one or two real conversations with them. And they weren't much as far as conversations go. What struck me most was that these were real backwoods hillbilly folks. The only thing I remember my Step-Grandfather telling me was the story of how he killed his first man at the age of 12.

My mother's father left his home in Oklahoma at the age of 14 to become a migrant farm worker. He met my grandmother at a Saturday night barn dance in the farming community of Imperial Valley California. It was not uncommon for my mother's father to take off to places unknown after getting his Friday paycheck, only to return home drunk and penniless. My Grandmother had to take a job so to support her three daughters, (my mother and my two Aunts). Although it was never said that this grandfather was in anyway abusive, he was of little use in maintaining the family and raising his children. It wasn't until my Grandmother had a serious discussion with my Grandfather about how he was going to lose his family, (about the time my mother and her sisters were getting married off), if he didn't quit his drinking, that he finally went on the wagon, and as far as I know, stayed sober the rest of his life. I remember this my grandmother showing me a news clipping from back the day, kept within her photo albums. Some relative, I can't recall whom, was in jail for murder. He had an argument with his wife, left the house and proceeded to get drunk. He returned later with a gun, and shot into the house through a window. At the time, a child's birthday party was in progress. He had hit and killed a young girl.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I Am The Way I Am (part 1)

I suffer from Social Anxiety. And, I've got a bad case of it, enough so that it has left my life in ruins. Well, "ruins" would imply that there was something destroyed. But I've had Social Anxiety nearly all my life, so I've never really had the chance to build a life for myself of any consequence. Yes, at one point I was married, had two great kids, a house, etc., but was never a stable setting because of the problems I brought to it. That bit of life was doomed to fail before it started. I do miss it terribly, though, because it was the closest I had ever come to having a real and normal life.

Problems beget problems, so I understand how and why my problems began. As with all human beings, personality and behavioral patterns are set early in life. And in my case, the seeds of social anxiety were planted early, and deep. Abuse is hereditary, that is, until someone in the chain admits to the abuse, and takes steps to end it. But admitting to being abusive means also admitting to being abused, and that is a very difficult thing to do. Love of parents is a very complicated matter. As humans, it seems as though it is part of our DNA to love and trust our parents, regardless of who they are and what they do. They gave us life, and they gave us enough nurturing to survive the vulnerable state of infancy. And, strange as it is, whatever environment we are raised in is the environment we consider to be normal and right. If, within the only environment we've ever known, we experience sexual, physical, and/or mental abuse, we consider those abuses to be normal.

Especially with mental abuse, emotional/psychological, it is hard, to identify one's personal behavior as resulting from abuse. Other forms of abuse are more obvious and are more easily identifiable. Even if a person denies being abused in these ways, others can see it and can bring it light. But the abuse of one's emotions, and mental state, and way of thinking and perceiving his environment and himself, goes mostly unnoticed. And what is sometimes noticed becomes something deniable, since illnesses of the mind are still things that carry a lot of negative stigma. No one wants to admit that they have any association with another person with mental issues, not family, not friends or neighbors...that is, not unless in the same breath, they disassociate themselves from the one suffering. There were people, family, friends, neighbors, who saw that I had mental health issues, even when I was a child, and yet they did nothing to help. I received an email from a cousin not so long ago, who wanted to let me know that despite the personal issues I was having as a child, they still loved me. Somehow, this cousin thought that I might find some solace in that. Yet, I recall that none of these relatives chose to reach out and help me with these problems, so I hope they understand my skepticism regarding their professed concern.

to be continued....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Epiphany Time

Something I just thought of: People who believe in God, and yet do not believe that the Bible is inerrant, have a stronger faith in God.

Those who cling to the Bible as proof of God are like Thomas who doubted that Jesus was resurrected until he could see the holes in Jesus' hands. They hold up the Bible and claim that it is Proof of God's existence, as if such tangible proof was required.

These people say, "I know that God is real because I have the Bible." But I say that people are Blessed when they believe and yet have nothing to hold onto.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Men - Pay Attention

This is so interesting, I want to write down what happened before it gets away from me.

Some guy on Facebook quotes the Bible, prefaced with a preachy catch phrase, "Men - Pay Attention" Evidently the Lord has put this message in his heart to share with the world. His post in full:

"Men - Pay Attention Ephesians 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, (26)cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

So, I commented back, asking the man posting this, "How does this work out, in this day and age, when a woman is allowed to bathe herself in the word?"

He then deleted that post (my comment along with it) and reposted, this time leaving off the second verse. So, I had to comment:

"Gee, you aren't censoring the Bible are you? :)" I added the smiley face on the end so he wouldn't get too pissed.

So, this guy deletes that new post as well, (also deleting my comment that went with it).

And then he reposted again, this time just a link to the verse on another page where I could not leave a comment.

You see, that's the kind of community interaction that Jesus wishes for "His" folk. For people to preach to the masses, and to be heard without comment or question.

This also speaks to the fallacy of the inerrancy of the Bible. According to Jesus, all people are equal in his eyes, and yet we find the authors of scripture often writing condescendingly about and towards women.

And to provide more understanding about the verses quoted above, here are three more verses that immediately precede the afore mentioned:

"Ephesians 5: 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

Supposedly, these are the words that God has sent us via the Bible. Come one guys. God is much smarter than that. God wouldn't be caught dead saying such things.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

American Bar Association

The following was found in the Tennessean and written by H. Thomas Wells Jr., president of the American Bar Association.

Over the past year, Nashville has seen a 6 percent increase in homelessness and a 13 percent increase in emergency food assistance requests. At the same time, however, there has been a 38 percent decrease in the total budget for emergency food purchases, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey.

As the homeless population increases and shelters reach maximum capacity, many have no option but to live on the streets. Nashville, like many other cities, has seen the emergence of "tent cities'' — where homeless people camp together to pool resources, to establish a sense of community and for safety reasons.

In Nashville and around the nation, overwhelmed law enforcement officials are turning to citations and arrests to manage the homeless population. This is a revolving-door solution as the same individuals end up back in the streets just a few days later. The American Bar Association opposes punishing people who are homeless for eating, sitting, sleeping, camping or conducting other non-criminal, life-sustaining acts in public spaces when no alternative private spaces are available.

The ABA's Commission on Homelessness and Poverty encourages lawyers to offer free legal services to people who are homeless, and it supports innovative responses such as homeless courts. Through this system, a case can be dismissed in recognition of the individual's voluntary participation in community-based treatment and services. These approaches help people who are homeless avoid fines and a criminal record when they are trying to get their life back on track.

Approximately 3.5 million people experience homelessness in any given year. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, based on the estimated depths of this recession, an additional 1.5 million Americans could become homeless over the next two years, absent appropriate intervention.

From a policy standpoint, "quality of life" laws that make it difficult for homeless people to sleep or be in downtown city areas force them away from crucial services and outreach. A warrant or conviction under one of these laws can make it more difficult — and sometimes impossible — to obtain employment or housing, further escalating the problem.

Addressing homelessness through the criminal justice system is not a cost-effective answer. According to a Lewin Group study, jail costs were, on average, two to three times the cost of providing supportive housing. This is on top of the added burdens to law enforcement and the courts in processing warrants.

An intervention strategy that results in a more permanent solution is necessary.

Some cities have successfully implemented alternatives to citations and arrests using city and state funds to rehabilitate housing units, or dedicating additional resources to shelter space, day centers, services and outreach.

The ABA encourages city officials, law enforcement and lawyers to do their part to decrease homelessness. We need to re-evaluate laws that punish people who are homeless, offer legal services and allocate resources to help people experiencing homelessness get the housing and treatment they need. Taking concerted action will help strengthen our communities rather than tearing them apart and wasting valuable resources.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stop Hurting The Homeless

I just don't understand why so many people are gluttons for other people's punishment. Christians worship a God of love peace and forgiveness, but as we found out recently, the majority of Christians think it is ok to torture people. AND more effective and cost efficient methods for getting homeless people off the streets and reducing the homeless population have been around for years now. And the Federal Government recognized and promotes these methods. But the citizens on the local level don't want to implement these programs, and so the programs go mostly unused. And when these people are asked why they object to these programs, programs that would benefit the entire city, they say homeless people don't "deserve" the help.

Why is that, Mr Average Citizen? Why would you reject programs that would save taxes, reduce crime, and result in making productive citizens out of homeless people?

What is it about you, that you like to see others suffer so much?

Arresting The Homeless Is A Bad Idea

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heeding My Own Advice

So, yeah, I haven't written much lately. It's not like I have nothing to write about. It's just that when I finally open up my blogger account, I lose interest, my mind wanders. I've been feeling this way for quite a while. So, to break through this, I guess I need to start typing, no matter what, regardless.

I'm still baffled by my internet personality. In person, I am quiet, fearful even, not saying a whole heck of a lot - I know there is potential that the first thing out of my mouth isn't going to be the best choice of words). But when I'm online, in chat rooms, or in Secondlife.com, my thoughts flow so easily, confidently - I say the right things, and people like what I have to say. Intimacy scares me, except when I have a computer between myself and others. Many people consider computers to be the bane of civilization, but for me they have been a saving grace.

After all this time, all this separation from my children, and with the admission that they have little interest in pursuing a relationship with me, I still think of them every day. I wonder how they are doing, and what they are doing. As the myriad situations of my daily life happen, I consider how they could be used as teachable moments for them, for providing them with advice that will help them through the rest of their lives. I have so much to tell them, to share with them, I hope one day to get that chance. (Yes, much of it will be of the "do as I say, not as I do" variety. just like most parents.)

I would like to have a cat, but they are not allowed by the housing management.

It is funny how the different homeless service providers who are involved in this particular project (that has gotten myself and several other homeless people off the streets), are not on the same page. The homeless in this project are first given the "housing first," pitch ~ a program of incremental improvements in their situation, starting with being on the street and taking them, eventually, to a place of complete self sufficiency. Our first stop is to be moved into "temporary shelter." That is where I am at now, a very tiny efficiency. When I step out of my front door, I find myself immediately in an alley - one that is heavily traveled. Two steps beyond my front door and I could be hit by a moving car or delivery truck. And people still occasionally knock on my door at 2 or 3 in the morning, only to ask for a cigarette, or other such BS. These are usually crackheads who have lost all sense of time and decorum. And yet, I was told just Friday that where I am now living is not considered temporary housing, but permanent. So, this program has no where else for me to go after all.

I was reminded this past week of all the Christians who believe it is somehow ok to force Jesus on others - as if the hoped for ends justify the means. What they hope for is to have a conversation with you, at the end of which you will make a declaration of faith in Jesus. But, if you never converse with them, they'll never achieve that glorious end. So one of their tactics is coercion. They will temp you, the poor and hungry, into their facility with a promise of food. Yet, while you are eating, they will be preaching at you, whether you like it or not. They certainly don't ask for your permission to do so. At a place here in Nashville called, The Foundry, they will blast the gospel over loud speakers to make sure you don't miss a word. They are not unlike unschooled rock and rollers who believe that the quality of their work increases with the volume. But loud gospel is really no better than soft, peaceful gospel. And I imagine that the softer voice is more effective in changing lives. The Bible even says as much. 1Peter 3:15 "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Yes, with gentleness and respect. If you miss those two words, you miss the meaning of the gospel. Jesus did command his followers to give to whomever asks, to give to the needy. But, what Jesus did NOT say, was to make giving to people conditional. Jesus never said, "Give only to those people who will listen to you preach." At The Foundry, where I went for dinner last Thursday, an announcement was made before the food was served that it was required of people to sit through their evangelistic program to receive the food. They began serving at 5:30pm...they said the service would be over by 7pm. And I noticed that once everyone had begun to eat, and the preaching started, that people working at the Foundry were stationed at the exits to discourage anyone from leaving. That is the kind of thing that cults do. It's a dangerous precedent. It is not of God. Some people say that it's a small price to pay for free food, but this is not about the price. What they are doing is wrong, at any price. And this isn't even a commentary on the way the gospel was preached and interpreted there ~ though I thought it atrocious. If you want to read an excellent exposition of how people get the Gospel wrong, read David Dark's book, "The Sacredness of Questioning Everything." If you hurry, you can get a free downloadable audio version of the book at Zondervan.com

Ok, I've given you good readers something to mull over. Thanks for being here. I'll try to post again tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Making Use Of My Talent

In my small apartment complex, there is a "community room." In this community room, a couple computers have recently been installed, with assess to the internet. Starting Monday, I will be working as a monitor of these computers, helping people with whatever internet tasks they have in mind, assuring the computers are used properly, etc. For doing this, the owners of the apartment building will reduce my rent.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Police State USA

I'm not sure what is scarier, what happened to this guy, or the many people commenting on the video, saying that what the cops did was ok. Cops are supposed to follow the law just as much as anyone else. Cops are not supposed to make up laws, and are certainly not supposed to be using intimidation as a tactic against citizens. If police officers, of any department, desire respect, they need to give it as well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

As It Happened

It was nearly a month ago that the hard drive crashed on this laptop. Just one more thing to happen in a long list of bad events in my online life. Before the crash, the place I was pirating wifi from had ceased transmission. So I was pretty much limited in my internetting already. On top of all that, I had hit the wall, as it were, with blogging, having been blogging for over 6 years now. It had become old, tiresome, and I felt uninspired. I was due for a break from it all anyway. Still, it was not easy. My laptop was (is) my life. Without it, I didn't know what to do with myself.

I lamented my loss via a library computer, and in short while a donation came to me from a very kind person, and I was able to order a new hard drive.

My life has been a continuous series of catastrophes. I've learned to accept this fact. It is my only trusted expectation. Nothing goes right the first time, and rarely the last time. Success under my own efforts is an anomaly.

I have a Dell Vostro 1700 laptop. I purchased it from the Dell.com website. The laptop is thus registered with Dell. I can go to that website, sign into my account there, and see a detailed listing of my computer system. And so too can Dell.

While signed into my account, I searched for hard drives compatible with my system. I found three hard drives listed with exactly the same description, except that each had a different part number. There was no information about the significance of these different part numbers. At this point it would have been good to call the Dell 800 number. But, my only phone is a Skype service which I can only access on my own computer over the internet. No laptop, no phone. So, I picked one, the one with the highest part number, and placed the order. Dell.com accepts payments from Paypal.com.

The original listing for the hard drive stated that it usually shipped out in 24 hours. But when the ordering was completed, I was told that I should expect the hard drive to be delivered in approximately 4 weeks. So, I wasn't home when UPS first came by to drop off my package, less than a week after I ordered it. When I got home there was a postit note on my door stating they would try to deliver again the next day between 10am and 2pm. Well, no doubt I was going to stay home this time, so to not miss the delivery. And with no food in the house, and yet not wanting to miss the UPS, the day became another unplanned exercise in fasting.

The day dragged on in my excitement and anticipation. Every sound of a car going by had me looking out the window for Brown. 2pm came and went without a package...3pm...4pm...5...I was seriously considering leaving my place to find some food when the truck finally showed up. When the driver handed over the box, all was forgiven.

Many warnings were given in the packaging about the danger of static electricity, so as I prepared to replace the hard drive I did all I could to make sure nothing shocking happened. Without a proper screw driver, I used a metal nail file to loosen the screws, being careful to not strip out the screw head slots. Out came the old broken hard drive, in went the new replacement hard drive....almost.

As similar as it appeared, the new hard drive just did not fit, physically, into the slot where the hard drive goes. Great! (sarcasm amping up) Now, just how was I to remedy this predicament? Obviously, I needed to return this hard drive and order the correct one. My biggest concern was over ordering the correct one. How was I to know which of the three listed on the website as the one that would work with my laptop?

To the library I went. Signed into Dell.com and reported a problem with my order. Since I was doing this on library computers, where I only get an hour of computer time, I wasn't able to check for the return email until the next day. The email I received was disappointing. Dell is outsourcing their internet customer service. I know full well that with every link in the chain of communication comes a layer of disconnect and confusion, and likely hood that policy would override common sense, becoming detrimental to good customer service.

Looking for a more direct way to talk to Dell I found an 800 number for customer service. I then recalled that sometimes churches involved in the Room In The Inn homeless winter shelter program would hand out phone cards. So, I went digging through my things and found an ATT phone card with 75 minutes, that I never used. I rarely use a phone anyway. So, the next day, with receipts in hand, I walked up to the library again to use the payphone there. I called the number, didn't have to wait long for a rep, and yet my heart sank when I heard the rep speaking with an accent. Great! Dell is outsourcing their customer service to India.

My prejudice caused me to be unduly skeptical. The rep handled my call well. (not all calls made via India have gone so well in past circumstances) But still I was not so happy with the outcome. First I was notified that I would have to forfeit the original shipping charges. Then I was told that it would take weeks to be credited the amount I paid for the hard drive. This meant that I would have to wait until I got the credit before I could order the correct hard drive. It would be another month before, hopefully, having the right hard drive. And I would have to find another 8 bucks or so for additional shipping charges.

Uber frustrated with all of this, I blogged about it.

Hello Kevin:
I read the following post on your website:
http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com/2009/05/dell-computer-customer-service-sucks.html I’m sorry to hear that you have been having problems with Dell.

...is how the email began. It was from someone with a @Dell.com email address. This person had a peculiar moniker - Digital Life Evangelist - part of the Dell Social Media Team. 28 replies back and forth and we finally solved my hard drive problem. Knowledgeable, with a professional demeanor, and patient with my ignorance of technical issues, this was the help I needed. I was on the verge of just tossing the laptop into a dumpster and calling it quits. Now, I'm back up and running again. I'm very grateful for his assistance. I help was not covered by any warranty. Of course Dell would have gladly charged me for additional help. It's one of the services they offer on their website. But this was just one other thing I cannot afford.

During this ordeal, I kept thinking how this situation would have been resolved in just one visit to an actual brick and mortar store front. Dell has no such thing. And as we began fixing the problem in earnest, I wondered what would have happened had I not blogged about my frustration. Obviously, Dell has it's feelers out, watching the internets for any comments made about its products and services. I've recently heard from other people who have had similar experiences with other companies. Big Brother is watching. And he is not a government entity, he's corporate.

The whole email conversation lasted 6 days. It was discovered that the casing for the new hard drive was the issue. It was necessary for me to do some surgery on it. I had to change out the casings between the old and new drives. I didn't have a proper screw driver for the job, but I do have some street skills of improvising. What I did have was a metal fingernail file, the end of which was small enough to fit into the slots of the screw heads. Once the new hard drive was properly installed, I then needed to download the software drives to make it work. Back to the library and the computers there I went. I used the memory card from my camera and the adapter for downloading photos to copy the drives from the Dell website, and transferring that data into my laptop that way. The only issue I had with this was the driver for audio. The one listed for my computer was not correct. So I searched the site for an older version of the driver, and that worked.

I feel I've learned a lot about computers and how they work, because of this experience, though I'm still a bit disappointed that so much was required of me. I'm sure that if McDonalds could save payroll costs by making customers cook their own burgers and fries, they'd do it. And I think that's a fairly accurate metaphor to what happened in this case. Sure I'm very grateful for the assistance I received. The help I received was top notch. But something still feels amiss.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nearly Righted

The new hard drive is in and working fine. Incidentally, this post is being created and uploaded on my laptop via new hard drive. Yay!

The only thing that is still a-miss is the audio. And hopefully, I'll have that fixed soon too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dell.comness

I've been contacted by a representative from Dell, and for the past couple days we've been working on a solution to the Hard Drive problem. And, we just might be close to a solution. I'll let you know what happens.