Monday, December 7, 2015

Response to Juliet Jones on Obama's National Address, December 6, 2015

Juliet, as a self-described Libertarian (not Liberal) who leans to the right (believing in limited government and low taxation) but is centrist, I listen to both sides.

I am amazed at the incessant negative reaction from the right such as this, posted by former Clueless star Stacey Dash. She is now a right wing activist supporting such things as the South Carolina police officer who brutalized an INSUBORDINATE child in the classroom, and the right to display the Confederate battle flag, if you can believe that...

I listen to the same message from the president, keeping in mind that we don't have the answers. Then, I hear a guy that is trying to maintain the idea of America as a place for all kinds, the "melding pot" as it has always been known during my lifetime, and fail to understand the obstinance of the right. I read the article above and hear nothing but the same empty rhetoric he accuses the president of having.

I don't believe most Muslims are terrorists anymore than I believe most Christians live up to their convictions. It is why we all need forgiveness. We live in a world filled with people who suffer from Cognitive Dissonance, where we do not live up to what we say believe.

I take issue with President Obama presenting ISIL as thugs, killers, and as a cult of death, when from what I've read of the Quran, they are the ones who live up to what they say they believe... purists, radicals; radical- meaning fundamental and at the root, or core of something.

If Christians were true to their convictions according to the teachings of the New Testament, we would have a lot less BLING in society, a lot fewer shiny new cars, a lot less make-up and jewelry, and a lot more humility, and a lot less greed, wanting more, more, more, or the latest every single thing. Somehow, we have equated shiny new things with Jesus Christ who 'is the same yesterday, today and forever', perhaps still wearing sandals... Cognitive Dissonance. You see it every time you walk into a church and see a guy in a picture hanging on the wall wearing a robe with long hair being worshiped by people with a parking lot full of cars, and mortgages on the building, and all dressed to the nines. Something doesn't make sense.

I am not knocking success, but I truly believe we need a president who wears "professional denim", if that makes sense. What would represent success more than a guy in denim in charge than another guy, or gal in another expensive suit? Call me radical, if you will.

But, while Christianity has Christ who said to cast the first stone if you are without sin, Islam says cast the first stone... This is the fine line of difference and where Grace comes in to distinguish all religions from Christianity. Christianity says, YOU ARE GUILTY, BUT YOU ARE FORGIVEN.

We fail as Americans when we make pornography the number one downloaded item on the Internet. We fail as Americans when we gorge ourselves with horrible food causing obesity and all kinds of health problems, all in the name of freedom. We fail as Americans when we take this freedom and turn it into obscenity, whether sexually, or nutritionally, and in either way, healthfully.

With that in mind, I do not equate Americans with Christians, although most here would identify themselves as Christians if asked what faith, if any, they have. All I am saying is we have a lot to work on individually before we judge others who are as lacking in conviction as we are.

At the same time, if you come from a religion which clearly supports Jihad in order to get your point across and to change the world, the peaceful Muslims who suffer from the same disorder, Cognitive Dissonance, as Christians do will either continue down that peaceful and tolerant path, or one day wake up to the fact that they're not living up to what their texts teach and either be humbled in Christ, or start a holy war for Allah. I side with Christ. I just don't think he's very much like many of his followers, not desirous for opulence, but for wealth in spirit and modesty.

They say when we enter the kingdom of heaven we will cast down our crowns... there won't be any need for them. Streets paved with gold, instead of gold worn as ornaments, no more tears, no more sunshine as the glory of the Lord will illuminate all creation... and the minds of men, male and female. Where are we now?

Then I listen to someone like Deeyah, my favorite activist who earlier said much the same as the president with this short video. You can look up more. She has a new short film out called Jihad: A British Story. I have yet to watch it, but will as soon as possible.

Isn't this true?

We have many failings as a society, and as Christians, but we do come from a perspective of tolerance, giving people the right to screw up, and to either clean up the mess, or die from it. Yet, without a single stone being cast in the streets, until things like San Bernardino, or the Boston bombing of recent years, and not to forget 911. These are some really big stones that have been cast and in the name of Allah!

So, my conclusion is that we cannot be the police force of the world, and nor can we be the safe haven for those who might turn against us for our loose freedoms held by a minority who seem to hold the majority of the airtime in media, and for those who live in the closet consuming these licentious excuses for freedom. It is a delicate matter of balance, but preferable to living in a theocracy.

Let freedom ring, but let us be careful. President Obama made it clear that better background checks should be made. Just because someone is your fiance shouldn't mean automatic acceptance. The screening process should be thorough and then, I'm sorry, but a watchful eye must be kept. A moderate Muslim coming to America is more likely to become disgusted with popular culture and wake up one day fighting a war with an act of terrorism, than to become a Christian based upon some of the clowns who supposedly represent Christ. I'm betting without doing a search, there are porn stars for Christ. Over there, yes we should stay off the ground, but even more than that, we need a new, clean energy source which gets us out of that region altogether. So much money is being made on war, the war gluttons cannot give it up. This is our own battle right here at home within the minds of our leadership, we elect, and are supposed to serve us. It seems they only serve themselves and the idea of a republic, a representative democracy, is just another illusion to appease us in that belief.

I've seen enough bullshit in my life to recognize it when it's around, and boy is it ever around. As I've often said, from Washington DC, to the corner of College and Clayton where the beggars sit, it is bullshit. If you're really in that much need to beg in a town where a homeless person needs to watch his weight if he eats all the food made available to him, or her, then go on a diet, but don't be asking me for money when you know good and well you're not going to use it for anything but whatever fix it is you're looking for. I see them all the time when they leave the corner to take a break at the nearest bar they can get a beer for a dollar, or two, but seldom do you see these same people at the soup kitchen.
Likewise, the guys in the ties, tell us the same thing year, after year, after year, after year... the never ending story of how we need to fix things but don't ever do much toward that. At least, we do have hybrid vehicles, and electric cars these days, burning less petroleum. Maybe change is so slow, I can't fully appreciate it, and I'm just being pessimistic. Maybe I too suffer from wanting more, more, more & now, now, now, but on the side of clean energy rather than more of the same dirty business of oil.

Of course, if we pulled out of the region altogether, wouldn't they blame us for oppressing them further. I don't think there is a real win/win with these people, unless.... unless... their minds be changed and they throw down their stones, remove the burkas from their wives, get over their feelings of inferiority masked as superiority in the name of "God" and find that freedom in Christ will have you plucking heads of wheat in a wheat field on a Sabbath day, but out of joy and an appreciation for the creation rather than as he was framed and accused of breaking Sabbath law.

The stiff necks rule, and always have, whether it be in a moderate country like our own, or in an extremist country under Islam. Our stiff necks don't wear robes anymore, they just haven't learned to dance very well. While their stiff necks go around killing all those who disagree with them. And, in common, they don't dance very well either.

Like Rodney King asked, "Can't we all just get along", I agree, but can't we get rid of the smut? I mean, Jesus might have been homeless too, but he was never accused of begging. ...

Learn Minimalism. Minimalism Does Not Equal Poverty. It's All In The Way You Manage Your Resources.

Minimalism is a way of life, that even affects art.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bigger Vision Community Shelter

Bigger Vision Community Shelter Donation Page

The Bigger Vision Community Shelter does not receive any government funds to operate this important homeless resource in Athens, GA.  All funding is provided by donations from people like you!  Make a donation today via PayPal, Credit or Debit Card, by clicking through the link above, and tell them Gabe sent you!

Latest Update: February 14, 2017

I guess it couldn't be any more fitting than for me to make an update on this page on February 14 since it was February 14 of 2016, a year ago, I checked into the Bigger Vision Community Shelter again, for the second Winter season.  That came and went, and here we are in 2017 where I've just recently checked out of the Bigger Vision Community Shelter, after spending the last few months there in what has thankfully been a mild winter so far.  Usually by now, we've had more cold air, if it's going to be cold and I'm sure we'll get another cold snap, this is shaping up to be a very mild winter, which is really great for those who live outside.

As the homeless represent less than half of half of one percent of the total population in greater Athens, GA, they are somewhat insignificant, yet very noticeable, more so than the 1% of the people who control all the money in the world.  Maybe you see them more often than you think, but in most cases it's easy to spot a homeless person.  The wealthy pretty much all look alike too, but you can't tell the difference between a billionaire and a millionaire can you?  You can generally tell the difference between someone who has a place to live and someone who doesn't, but that's no hard fast rule either.  Though, I think it is safe to say most homeless people look alike too.  As for me, nobody every believes I'm homeless on appearance.  That has a lot to do with the fact that I bathe and groom myself as I always have, just for the past few years I've done it in public restrooms.

Most of the homeless prefer to either dress tough looking, or they tend to carry a lot of stuff around.  I live in the middle, on the lily pad, neither too far left, or right.  The lily pad is plenty big enough to stay on, but if you go to far one way, or the other, you end up in the "soup".  You can always get back on, but many "choose" to stay in the "soup".  In actuality, it took this journey through homelessness for me to find my lily pad.  I never actually had one before.  I'd heard about them in different ways.  People would say, "Stay centered", or "Stay in control", or even "Walk in the spirit", but none of that really made sense.  Staying centered was a first step in the direction because it made me look to my center of balance a term used among athletes, often referring to a low center of balance that many running backs have compared to the giants who may be trying to tackle them, but I could understand that language, which developed into a lily pad.

If you don't get anything else out of living outside, you should get a reconnection with nature.  I'm not trying to get all Celtic on you here, because nature is everywhere and cannot be limited to the Celts, but being in tune with nature is something our world needs.  We have lost touch with the earth and as I have come to see, we don't have an economy, or life at all without an environment.  We all know this, even when we drive our cars to the convenience store just a mile away.  Not a single one of us can control the 1% and how they run this world, but if they persist on relying on petroleum as our chief energy source, then the least any of us can do is walk to the convenience store instead of driving.  So, make the world a better place by simply taking a walk.

Maybe, one day soon, world leaders will think past their pocket books and realize they won't have pocket books if they destroy the earth.  Maybe they don't care and the greed is that strong.  We can still walk a mile to the store.  Maybe they found another planet to destroy and are going to take off and leave us all behind, but logically speaking why wouldn't they want to take care of this place first, especially when all evidence known to the public says planet Earth is it.  There isn't anything within our reach to go to to escape what is already poised to be a paradise depending on the way we treat it.  It's no different with our own bodies.  Why don't you find any obese vegans?

What does that have to do with Bigger Vision?  Well, I am not a vegan, but given the choice I largely eat a vegetarian diet of dried fruits and nuts, beans and vegetables, like raw carrots, my favorite.  I hate cooked carrots, but I love raw carrots.  I need more vegetables, but food is often something that I have carried around with me and trail mix and carrots are as easier to transport as a pint of whiskey.  Yet, if you put down a plate of fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, and green beans, I'm going to eat it and enjoy it!

So, call me a hypocrite, but I'm not vegetarian.  So, when Jeb Blasevich, a tight end with the DAWGS brought by not one, not two, but three sacks full of burgers and chicken breast sandwiches, I partook and ate with all thanksgiving.  This is completely consistent with my beliefs that we should 'eat whatever is set before us with joy and thanksgiving'.  Veganism, and vegetarianism often lead to attitudes on par with religious fanatics, but of opposing views.  So, once again, I try to stay in the middle of the road on diet.  I realize the horrible food that is consumed by much of the public and have seen the effects of it on people especially from their fit youths to adulthood when the metabolism begins to slow but eating habits remain the same.  The truth be known, my decisions on what I eat go back to my teens when I did weight training six days a week and nutrition was a top priority for me.  So this is not something I just started thinking about, but my decision to eat largely vegetarian is probably mostly because of convenience.

If you are homeless, even if you don't look like it, there are still no grocery stores within a short walk of downtown, which is my kibbutz, minus the agriculture, except what is sold at the Daily Food Co-op that also takes food stamps!  I started eating there for convenience, and ended up feeling much better as a result.  I don't get the food stamps anymore, but I still go to the co-op.  This is a case where the social safety net led to an improved life, and though it has taken years it has been for the good.  It's amazing how poverty will either make you, or break you, but it is a decision.  At least in America, you get a shot!  Everyone gets a blank canvass.

But, Mr. Blasevich did us an honor and I feasted for several days on this blessing.  I do not know if he did this on his own, or through the team, but he's the only one who showed up to deliver the goods.  I was not there, but Joe Junior was.  I'm trying to get him to send me a photo so I can post it with this BLAHG entry.  Point being, I just wanted to say thanks!  And, if nobody else does that let me do it for them here, because though the "guests" of Bigger Vision may be "poor" by American standards, we truly eat like kings, and it's only because of people like Jeb Blasevich, and the house mother Alzeena Johnson also of Timothy Road Baptist Church.  Several church groups serve it up at Bigger Vision, including the Episcopals, Catholics and Cornerstone who also recently hosted something called the Compassion Experiences just this weekend.

While at the highest estimate, the homeless represent just half of half of one percent of the overall population of Athens, people realize it's still hard for people to get out off the bottom rung.  I will not lie.  Some people are content and have made a lifestyle choice.   My eyes have been opened to a lot through this experience.  I have concluded, we definitely need a welfare state, but we also need welfare reform.  More on that later, but don't ever judge a book by it's cover.  Likewise, the world is short on compassion, but don't give your money to beggars on the streets.  Money does not solve their problems.  It only enables them, I assure you.  As for those who are not drug addicts the up hill battle out of life on the streets is tough, and people do need a leg up because self-sufficiency is a lie.  It takes a village.  However, the state route is not the answer either unless you want to continue propagating bullsh*t.  More on that later, but all these people are not mentally ill... only about half of them.  If things don't make sense, just remind yourself Donald Trump is the president, and then it should be clear.  Nothing makes sense.

So, I attended the Compassion Experience at Cornerstone with my friend I call Fruit Loops, just this weekend.  We are both in complete agreement that we should not let the fruit loops make us fruit loops.  Plus, she likes Fruit Loops and is a light weight who catches a buzz of of breakfast cereal!  And, welcome to America the land of the Fruit Loops which unless we do something about "reproductive rights" they will continue to multiply!!!  Fruit Loops doesn't like that idea, but I am convinced of it, even though it is probably the case that the vast majority of these folks are castrated by circumstances, yet they still get "married" even though they can't afford a place to live.  Happy Tuesday the 14th!  If this is what love is I hope the gays will redefine that too just like they do everything else to fit their mindsets.  What this country could really use is a moratorium on any new laws because we already have plenty of them to not make any sense.  I guess the attitude is to throw another log on the fire, even though you might want to go to bed!

As it turned out the Compassion Experience was not exactly what I had expected.  I thought there were going to be actual people from villages around the world that represent what true poverty is.  What I wanted to do was gather up all the drunken bums and beggars and take them to this thing so they could see people who have a real reason to beg.  What I wanted to do is what I've always wanted to do and have always tried to do is cut through the bullsh*t instead of embracing.  So, when I hear Make America Great Again, I say Make America Grateful Again!

But, they don't want that... the powers that be. I really don't think they do.  If we had gratefulness, people would stop wanting more when they have enough.  People would stop buying houses and cars they don't need.  People would live modestly... the way we once did, not too long ago actually.  So, is it leadership in general that demands every growing profits thereby constantly driving us into the marketplace to buy stuff, or is it our current and modern leadership?  I believe it's the latter who view this as the harvest mode where you gather up all the fruit of the financial planting before the fields return to fallow.  This is the game.

The game moves around, from Rome throughout the globe until, we start looking for other planets to exploit.  It doesn't make any sense to me, but that doesn't make me socialist.  It makes me believe the game can last forever, if it is played with modesty rather than blowing up the bubble until it pops.  They once thought the earth was flat.  Now, we think the universe is expanding.  What if it's not?  What if it's just morphing, expanding here and there, retracting there and here all at the same time on the edges of space and time and we live in the middle, in liminality?  In other words, what if what they tell us is wrong and the earth is not flat?

The game ends for those who get wrapped up in one way of doing things.  Companies go bankrupt.  People commit suicide because of such losses, but when adaptation called, they so often wanted to remain the same, resisting change as much as people are resisting Trump and the same old game that preserves him, but isn't doing much for anybody else except making them jump for carrots.  I just get mine from the Daily Food Co-op!  The burgers... are from the DAWGS!  Thanks Jeb!  It takes a TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More.

November 10, 2016

Happy Marines Birthday!  It was this day in 1775 the Marines were born.  Tomorrow is Veterans Day.  Yesterday, was election day.  No matter who you voted for, the fact remains that these guys served their country, as screwed up as it may be, it still beats the heck out of some third world country where poor people don't have soup kitchens, clean facilities for showers, laundry and at this time of year as the weather turns cold, and especially, overnight shelter.  Ironically, even some veterans stay at the Bigger Vision Community Shelter as well.

It now approaches two years since I was released from jail.  It took nearly a year to recover physically from a six month stint in jail.  Part of that was my own fault because I didn't exercise at all during that time.  The other part of that is that jail is not the healthiest of environments.  You can hardly do a cardio vascular workout, although it is possible from jumping jacks, and the food is less than healthy, causing many people severe constipation, and digestive problems that can lead to a host of other health problems if one remains incarcerated for lengthy periods of time.

Beyond that, in October of 2015, I broke my arm, my wrist to be exact.  Needless to say, it was a rough time since being released to the streets again.  After repeated requests for assistance and help to get prepared for release, only to be ignored, I... as were many people "ignored" and basically left to ourselves again to make things right.  So, when you hear those complain of they system, I have learned first hand, they are often justified in their complaints.  That's why I voted for Dolly Parton!  Just kidding, but I did NOT vote for either of the two primary candidates.

The good news, is I did recover and have recently found a good job, one in which I believe holds more opportunity.  I am fortunate because I do have an education, and I have some brains.  Call it "street science", but I've learned much during this time and experience.

And, I did survive!  I was even at Bigger Vision for Valentine's Day of 2016 of this year too.  It has be become "homeless" sweet home for me and several others during the cooler months.  But, again, as a reminder and a request, Bigger Vision is funded by donations from people like you.  We might not end homelessness today, but we can still make improvements as we aim to make the world a better place, even for those who have fallen on hard times.  Your giving is what makes that possible.

So, once again, please click thru the link provided above to donate today!  Bigger Vision DOES NOT currently receive any government subsidies.  So, as it is with giving beyond a tithe, your offerings are are what keep us afloat.

After speaking with Andrew Wilkin, the Executive Director of Bigger Vision, I learned that the goal is to get 1,000 people to donate $20 each which will not only fund the current efforts of Bigger Vision but help to take it to the next level.  So, please contribute if you can.

Special thanks to the ladies of Timothy Road Baptist Church for serving it up last night!  There is a different group each night, most returning repeatedly throughout the season.  This is all coordinated by a woman by the name of Alzeena Johnson who as been involved for years.  For the three years I have been a "guest" at Bigger Vision she has never failed to see that there was food to be served, even at times on very short notice.  Thanks to all the churches and organizations that provide these meals, and thanks to Alzeen Johnson for seeing to it that it happens.  Also, thanks Alzeen for those thermal sleeves you threw me last night.  I'm wearing them right now!

Also, special thanks to three sisters from UGA's Delta Zeta, Madison Dooley, Ashley Moses, and Ashley Nicoletti.  Madison told me when I asked her if she was part of an organization, 'No, I was just passing by one time last year and I stopped in to find out about Bigger Vision".  Since then, she and her "sisters" acting independently of Delta Zeta, volunteer their time to come and serve the less fortunate in the community.  Other groups come in at various times, but I've yet to record the names of all those that contribute.  It makes a difference!

I also spoke with a young woman, a student by the name of Mackenzie.  She and her boyfriend, a veteran, were also there to volunteer.  I thought perhaps she was part of the UGA Public Interest Practicum, but she was not, though there is such a thing and it offers legal "direction", not counsel, to those on the lower socio-economic tier of our society.  Honorable mention to Emily Shannon a UGA law student who guided me through some recent legal challenges that ended up making a big difference in my life and the ability to climb to a higher tier and take care of the things I need to take care of.

Mackenzie on the other hand is a student at UGA for social work.  Joel, her associate is a regular volunteer at Bigger Vision.  We had some good talks.  As my mind usual does, I recalled "Joel" to be a book in the Bible.  The other night was laundry night.  So, as my clothes were being washed I went upstairs to read the book of Joel, a very short book in the Bible where locusts devour the land in four different waves, as I recall.  The first wave ate almost everything, and what they didn't eat the next wave ate and so on through the different waves of the locust interlopers.

If they were Bicycle Locusts they could have gone to Bi-Lo and just had some beans, but that is a whole 'nuther story.  Actually, it's a poem that I co-wrote with someone very special several years ago.  We laughed a lot during the process and we weren't even drinking!  But, the good news of the book of Joel is that even though the land was devoured and the armies darkened the skies so that neither the sun, nor the stars could be seen, the fruit of the land including the vine from which comes the wine, and branches of the olive trees from which come the oil, were restored!

But, as I told Mackenzie, in the jail house there are plenty of preachers, and plenty of religious material to read.  But, in terms of equipping people for life on the outside, there is very little to be offered.  It made me ask the question, why isn't there an IN-REACH program offered by social workers.  Certainly, if you are a Believer, the eternal soul of a human being is of the greatest importance, but what about our time here?  Shouldn't we be equipping people and lifting them up, instead of continually shoving people through this revolving door of imprisonment and probation violations?  Just a thought, but we have plenty of religion in the world.  What we need is ACTION!

Bigger Vision is a place of ACTION, and so is Action Ministries.  Without Action, I might not have found the job I found.  Action Ministries provides a computer lab for public access including Microsoft Office.  So, you can build a resume and send it out. I already had the resume, but sending it was made very easy.  That coupled with my Obama phone got me the job, and as I told Madison Dooley last night, the key to success for anyone on the streets is to maximize opportunities.  They may be infrequent and far between, but that usually is because we fail to notice them.  A keen awareness of these opportunities is necessary if someone is going to find their way off the streets.  I've been on them for the past eight years, and you hardly see anybody get off.  It's the same parade day, after day, after day...

So, with that being said, let me wrap this up by re-emphasizing the value of a place like Bigger Vision.  We may not be able to take a shower and do laundry in an hour like someone with a place of their own, but keeping clean is far from impossible for street people.  There are those who do not take care of themselves, but that is their own doing, and is also the state of very few people on the streets of Athens, GA.  You cannot starve to death here unless you allow it, and there isn't any excuse for being filthy, but it still takes more than sheer will to recover.  Someone has to VOTE for you; maybe not in an election, but in support.

If we are going to edify one another, then this is one way for some of you to do just that.  That's a VOTE we need, the "guests" of Bigger Vision!  January hasn't even gotten here yet, and from the looks of things, this is going to be a cold winter.  So, no matter who you voted for, who won, or who lost.... neither one of them are going to solve our problems for us.  As guests of Bigger Vision it is our responsibility to make the most of our opportunities.  As contributors to our success, you can help us solve our own problems!

Thank you all!



Original Post: November 29, 2015

On February 14th, 2015, I was released from jail after serving a six month sentence for a non-violent crime, I refer to as a failure to pay my bills...

Having lost my apartment, and without a place to go, and after several years on the streets of Athens, Ga prior to that, I found my way to the Bigger Vision Community Shelter.  It was humbling to say the least, especially after years of espousing self-sufficiency, voting Republican, and trying to find my way out of the big mess that had become my life.  Without Bigger Vision, I am sure I would have frozen to death, or at least been very cold.

Having spent the first two years of my homeless journey couch hopping and staying with friends, the time allowance for situations like that is limited.  Unfortunately, I found myself stuck in Athens, with a college degree, and that's about it, except for the clothes on my back.  Thankfully, other resources exist in this town as well, including the Sparrow's Nest which has a clothes closet open Mondays thru Wednesdays. Without valuable resources like these, many of the homeless would either be dead, or look like vagabonds. Most people I meet have a very hard time believing I am homeless, but it is true.

Many of you may wish death upon the homeless, and I can certainly attest to the fact that many are mannerless and without dignity, but there are substantially more that simply CANNOT get out of the mess they are in without help.  Resources like Bigger Vision enable one to maintain his, or her dignity and provide showers and laundry so that while you are on your journey through homelessness, you can still be presentable when it comes to finding work, which is also very hard for most to do especially in a college town where jobs are for kids, and MOST of the homeless are hardly skilled with computers and other skills that would enable them to find lucrative work.  And, lest I forget, the working poor which are very present in this "community".

As for myself, I have skills that should afford me ample opportunities for high earning potential, but jobs of that caliber are very limited in Athens.  Without the things most people almost take for granted these days, like a car, and a place to live, your daily life is consumed with keeping clean, and finding nourishment.  This occupies the vast majority of the time homeless people spend during a day.  What may take you an hour to do in terms of laundry and bathing, can take four or five hours for a homeless person to do, and then we tend to walk A LOT.

It is not as simple as many people will say to simply "GET A JOB".  From first hand observation, and experience, I can tell you for some who might even be mentally challenged, it is closer to impossible than not.

For what it's worth, help if you can by clicking through the link above to the DONATION page for Bigger Vision.  People really need your help!


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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shake It Off

I quit drinking coffee/caffeine on a regular basis about ten years ago. I found what used to be a regular afternoon need for a siesta (the crash) stopped as well. But, in the last couple of weeks I've been drinking some coffee because it has been readily available and it has been a little chilly, and I made the mistake of drinking coffee in the afternoon.

This caused my mind to race into the night making for a restless night of tossing and turning, Not only that, I had a song stuck in my head... which is not altogether uncommon, but I don't listen to radio; I'm media deprived, and I had not idea who Taylor Swift is, or this song called Shake It Off that sounded like a young Michael Jackson record, but NEW!

You never know what it's going to be. Usually, without apparent reason, they just pop up. Like, the other morning when I woke up with the theme song from the Broadway musical "Annie" stuck in my head. Why??? I dunno.

Last night, as my mind raced after leaving the bar, a song played right before I was leaving. Thanks to my "sister" who runs the place and introduced me to this tune several weeks ago. I found myself dancing to what I would never have thought I would be dancing to... only tonight I was walking out the door. Yet, lately, over the past several weeks, it seems like every time I walk in the door (or out) this song comes on. As I walked away and to my evening destination (a homeless shelter) I couldn't get it out of my head. It just kept playing like it was on a loop...

There was no escaping it. Once this tune sets in, you're stuck with it, kinda like faith... something you don't resent, but you do not choose either. They call that Grace, and they call this... Tay-Tay!!! Just try to Shake It Off!!! This is what happens when I drink caffeine. Maybe I should stick to the booze?!?

The craziest part is, I was staying with some "friends" (at the shelter)... I finally got up after four hours of hearing this song play in my head as the caffeine surged through my veins and kept me awake when I decided I'd look for something to read, because reading always puts me to sleep. What did I find, right on top of a stack of magazines, but a 2014 copy of Time magazine with none other than Taylor Swift on the cover!

She's haunting me!

And, that's why I dressed up as Taylor Swift for Halloween!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Shake It Off!!! It's just the caffeine...

I need more booze.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Get A Job!

In Athens, GA, there are an inordinate number of homeless people compared to probably any other town of its' size in the state of Georgia.


After speaking to one community leader involved with the homeless, he informed me that Athens has more resources available per capita than other towns.  Outside of permanent housing- food, clothing and facilities for bathing and laundry are readily available somewhere at least four days a week.  The winter shelter opens in mid-October, and remains open through mid-April each year.  As a result, the homeless either find their ways here, or are brought here, as it is common knowledge in other communities that Athens is a sort of Homeless Haven.

The plight of the homeless is a lifestyle primarily concerned and consumed with these things in mind, but for the homeless to shower and to do laundry, one must dedicate four to five hours on any given day to do the same thing someone with a homestead can accomplish in under an hour.  Even if someone with these resources doesn't finish drying their clothes, he can always leave them in the dryer to finish and be on his way to more productive things like work, or even seeking out work... and then a good Republican walks by a panhandler and says, "Get a job!"

As a homeless person myself, I can honestly say I am not a fan of panhandlers.  With all the resources that are available, I cannot justify begging in my own mind, but neither can I justify the ignorant advice of someone who has probably never lived on the streets, or investigated what it is really like to live on the streets.

Once one enters the world of poverty, as a college educated person who has lived on the streets since 2008 I firmly attest it is nearly, if not just impossible to get off the streets without help.  It truly takes a village.  On this much, I agree with Hillary Clinton, and the African proverb that inspired her book bearing this idea as its' name.

To enlighten you to the world of homelessness, I share with you a typical day in the life of a homeless person, in this case, of my own.

1. 5 am to 5:30 am- Wake-up

Wake-up time is not by external alarm, but by internal alarm, unless you count the sound of the 5:30 am train rolling by, depending on where you sleep.

2. 6 am to 6:30 am- Bathroom

This is the most important time of day.  One learns to eat certain things and to eat at certain times in order to maintain this schedule.  Why between 6 am and 6:30 am?  Because, that's when the nearest location to my spot with a public restroom opens.  If you can't find a public restroom, then you better be prepared to act like a bear in the woods.  In case of an emergency, it is advisable to carry paper, even if it's a Flagpole magazine, or the Athens Banner Herald, which make for easily clean-up.

In all of these years, I am proud to report, I have never had a mishap like that and shat myself unlike the "pretty" young co-ed I saw walking down the street at 6:30 am the other morning.  The poor girl came wandering out of a recessed area nicely dressed, with a Summer top and the typical cut off shorts they be wearing these days, appropriate for a warm night on the street where she had apparently passed out the night before.  With her hands clasped in front of her as if she were praying, she walked in front of me for half a block before I turned right, and she kept straight.

As I continued on my way, she had somehow gotten behind me.  As I entered a particular establishment, I opened the door for her asking if she was alright.  With her hands still clasped in front of her, she answered with a shaken voice, "I'm fine".  As she proceeded inside, in front of me, I was surprised (to say the least) to see that she had dried sh* t coming out of the tops and bottoms of her cut off blue jean shorts.  At least, they weren't short enough to reveal her butt cheeks too, as that is trashy enough without dried poop for an accentuation.  Bowel management is a top priority for any homeless person, as it should be for the non-homeless too.  But, she didn't seem too worried about that as she made her way straight to a booth where her head practically hit the table as she must have passed out again.

The people who worked there thought we were together as we entered and told us to sit wherever we wanted.  I waved them off assuring them we weren't together.  After all, I'm homeless.  What would a young college girl with sh*t in her pants be be doing with me?

I felt a little bit guilty after the fact.  It just so happened I had some wet wipes in my bag I could have offered her, but I didn't.  Of course, the bathroom was right there.  She just made the choice to go back to sleep in her own sh*t.

3.  7:30 am- Morning computer session

The university library opens at 7:30 am Monday thru Friday.  This is where I start my day, most days.  I either write, or keep up with the news, up to, but not necessarily including the Kardashians.  I also use this time to apply for any jobs I probably won't get hired for since I'm old and compete with a student workforce.  Plus, now that I've broken my arm, I find it difficult to type with efficiency, or compete for jobs.  I also find it difficult to count money with one hand, but that's a whole 'nuther story, I'm saving for later.  I actually found about a hundred and fifty bucks the other day, but I returned to its' rightful owner.

4.  8:15- Breakfast at Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen

This is short and sweet, but important since if you don't have money, or income, and you don't beg, one must still eat.  Our Daily Bread allows the homeless to maintain their dignity.

5.  9 am- Showers & Laundry-

The most time consuming of tasks, on a typical Monday when bathing, grooming, and laundry are all to be done, one must budget several hours to accomplish these things. I typically do not finish until around 1:30 pm, which means missing lunch at Our Daily Bread, served at noon.  Thankfully, the Sparrows Nest & Bigger Vision usually serve food.  If not, I am also thankful to have qualified for food stamps which also preserve dignity, and freedom of choice; though some consider them undignified.  Those who consider them undignified are also usually Republicans, who believe everyone should be able to buy their own elephant, even though there aren't enough elephants to go around.  On the other hand, though the Democrats would like to give everyone their own donkey and their aren't enough donkeys to go around either, at least we know everyone doesn't need a donkey anyway.  In fairness, not everyone needs an elephant either, but Republicans still want you to buy one anyway, like cars.

6. 1:30 pm - 8 pm- Discretionary Time

This is the time you can use as you see fit, as in searching for a job, or sitting on the corner flying a sign, or a second computer session.  You're allowed two sessions per day, so use them wisely.  If you've already applied to every company in town, you can always re-apply.  The gift shop down the street won't hire me, and neither will the other one... or the other one... or the other one.

The several bars in town won't hire me, but there is one where I can at least earn a few beers for my efforts.  Every now and then, there is some cash, like the hundred and fifty bucks I found on the sofa at this bar the other day.

Three days prior, someone had posted a picture of several twenty dollar bills lying on the ground with instructions to re-post the photo typing only the word "AMEN".  By doing so you were assured you would find money.  I don't usually abide in such non-sense, but for some strange reason I decided to do it.  Then, three days later, I found this money on the sofa with only a full glass of beer on the table in front of the sofa.

Tempted to take the money and run, I chose to resist and wait and see if someone returned for the beer.  It wasn't thirty seconds later a guy emerged from the restroom and returned to the table.  I asked him if that was his beer.  He confirmed it was.  I then told him I thought I had something else that belonged to him.  He asked what it was.  I then extended my hand holding the wad of cash, to which he exclaimed, " Oh man!  You just saved my weekend!  I just came in from Boston for a reunion with my college buddies and that was my spending money for the weekend.  He then proceeded to buy me several beers.  The next morning I woke up early and was walking downtown passed one of the parking meters to set up to receive donations for the homeless.  On the ground, next to the meter, what did I find? An $25 American Express gift card that still had the full balance of twenty-five bucks on it!

Today, I have chosen to write down this story for you during this discretionary period.  Forgive me for not re-applying for those jobs at the gift shops, bars, and restaurants.  I really need to hit the poultry plant.

4 pm- Shelter Call

During the winter, or cooler months, in order to reserve a bunk for the night, you must call in to Bigger Vision to make a reservation.  This is an exceptional challenge since each phone call costs you at least a minute on your Obama phone.  It usually takes ten to fifteen calls to get through meaning each week you spend at least 50 minutes obtaining winter shelter.

Until recently, you only got 225 minutes per month on your Obama phone, leaving you 25 minutes a month for job searches, and phone interviews, or appointment setting.  This is not the case during the Summer, but hardly anybody hires during the Summer because school is out and business slows down.  Thankfully, the provider I have, Life Wireless, just raised the number of minutes you receive to 500, which makes for a much more productive experience.

In fact, last year, after first receiving my Life Wireless phone, I found a job after being fired from a job that had afforded me the ability to pay my bills.  It paid half as much as the previous job, but it was a job, which are hard to come by in this town.

I was summoned to court for a failure to pay my bills, and even though I did find another job, the judge decided to lock me up for six months anyway.  I guess he thought my earnings potential would be enhanced with imprisonment.  Six months later, I was released and thrown out on the streets again with nothing but the clothes on my back, being told to make things right.  This after trying to get help from the Public Defender who after answering the phone as "Jan", and my asking if this was indeed the Public Defender's office, told me that it was indeed, "Unfortunately".

I had also requested help from a social worker, but nobody would ever respond.  Incarceration is purely punitive, and without regard to rehabilitation.

While the shelter is a heck of a lot better than a jail cell, it still restricts your time.  You must report in between 6 pm and 8 pm, putting a night job out of the question unless you want to work and still sleep outside.  Yes, the working poor are a harsh economic reality.  But, if you're homeless and unemployed, the trade off for work is cleanliness and food.  Perhaps, you begin to see why I stopped believing in the GOP.  They say get a job.  I say, get a grip on reality.

8 pm - 7am- The Night

As already mentioned, this depends on the time of year.  If it's Winter, and you use the shelter, you're kind of on lock down.  If it's the warmer months, then you can roam all night, if you stll haven't found work.  According to the beggars, this is prime begging time, after 10 pm until after the bars close at 2 am.  I haven't tried this yet, but maybe I should.  Nothing else seems to be working.

All in all, life on the streets for many might have come from an original decision, whether consciously, or not.  However, once you're on the streets it takes more than a decision to get off.  It truly takes a village!


The girl who crapped her pants... later woke up as I'm told.  She then went into a fit of anger accusing the employees there of stealing her phone and her wallet.  All they did was offer to call her a cab, and try to get her to clean herself up.  So, sometimes, even when the villagers try to offer assistance it is not received.  The village can only do so much.  All she had to do was wipe her ass, and go to class... and then, get a job!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


So, why no more nudes...
"The magazine is profitable if money from licensed editions around the world is taken into account, Mr. Flanders said, but the United States edition loses about $3 million a year. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he said"
So, why no more nudes... I can really only speculate, besides it just being passe, it will probably allow them to expand their reach.  Having once circulated around 5 million copies, now circulating fewer than a million copies, dropping the nudity will make it more acceptable, perhaps building the print audience rather than letting it continue to dwindle.  This is really more of a possibility, than it is a reason why, but it was not cited in this article.

Furthermore, locally, the Atlanta Journal Constitution experienced the same thing in terms of a loss in print readership, as did every newspaper in the country. They just don't print as many papers as they once did. What Playboy has explicitly recognized is that the print publication is a driver mechanism that drives traffic online. I'm not sure the papers recognized that after developing their websites, but it is still more, or less true for them.
There may come a day when there aren't any printed pubs, or brick and mortar stores as the fatalists projected in the beginning. I said they were wrong suggesting there is a union between the physical and virtual worlds, and this supports that thinking. It's a marriage, not a divorce.
So, for all the tech gods out there that predicted the end of the world, the physical world, so to speak... they're still wrong. There is balance.
Small businesses should take heed to this, and so should our government. It is not an either, or situation. If you want to apply for government benefits, you should be able to do it online, or on paper in the office. If you want to apply for a job, you should be able to do that in person, at the very location your applying for a position. Don't send people away to go use a computer when they're standing right in front of you. Hand them a paper application right there, and get a scanner if you want to digitize it.
Bottom line... stop the madness of bi-polar disorder that seems to plague the land. It's really just that simple, The magazine simply revealed, it is nothing more than a tease.