Getting It (Or Not)

Well, I actually wasn't going to post today, since nothing of any great import happened today*, but after reading the comments to my post about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, I believe it's time to (again) defend my position.

First, a big hats off to heiderific. She also Gets It. In her own words:
… I have volunteered at homeless shelters. I do what I can
to make my piece of the world better. Are you? You may not have the time or
money to donate on a regular basis, but are you doing small things to make your
little corner of the world better? Those small things add up and do make a
difference… I wholeheartedly believe that more people should help the less
fortunate in their local area…I see great value in giving money to help people
in Africa who have to walk hours each day for water to drink that may be
contaminated. There are many people in the world who unfortunately aren't having
basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter being met…With the amount of wealth
that Gates and Buffet have I think a lot of the social problems could be

Maybe I should define "Getting It" (I had thought I wouldn't have to). When one "Gets It", s/he realizes that there are those in need of help that should be helped, and if they have the wherewithal, they provide the help. Yes, heiderific, there are those worse off than me. I would help them substantially if I could. Since I cannot do so financially or politically at this time, I can use the power of the Internet to make sure that somebody, somewhere, at least pays attention to them.

By this definition, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Get It. Brad Pitt and your average NBA players don't Get It. Mother Teresa Got It in a huge way. 99% of the polilticians in Congress don't Get It, also in a huge way. Cara Michele Gets It. gtv doesn't Get It. Too many don't Get It.

Yes, I realize I could be worse off than I am; no, I'm not owed a damn thing; yes, I think that more people of means could be helping those of lesser means more; and no, I'm not going to shut up about the poor and homeless. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us; nowhere in the Bible does He say not to help them.

*For those of you who must know, I get Ness dressed anticipating on taking her with me downtown today (she decided not to go), rode the bus downtown, spoke with the IRS about the rest of my tax refund I had coming (it wasn't), went to collect some discarded 3-ring binders I'd spotted from the bus yesterday (they'd already been picked up) and came to the library. Spine-tingling, huh?



Doing Unto the Least of These

Warren Buffett Gets It.

Bill and Melinda Gates Get It.

Some other people around the country of wealth and means Get It.

Would that many other people around the country of wealth and means would Get It.

I'm talking, of course, about the announcement that Mr. Buffett made recently of his decision to dedicate most of his vast fortune to charity. To the tune of well over $30 billion (with a "b") bucks. As in, "I'm going to put this money to work helping society instead of simply buying (yawn!) another yacht."

Now, there's no guarantee that large amounts of this money will actually go to helping the plight of the American poor. Some quick research on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (who'll get the lion's share of the Buffett endowment) website shows that over 50% of their grants go to addressing "global health issues" (meaning, diseases overseas). Still, for guys like Gates and Buffett, who are awash in cash, to even notice that there are people struggling out here with less than a fraction of the resources they have, is absolutely awesome.

In fact, in light of the rant I posted yesterday, maybe someone with more socioeconomic persuasiveness than I have can approach these guys about funding some of the local Individual Development Account programs around the country (yes, including Guilford County). What an investment that would make; the Gates Foundation funds IDAs, then program participants use the money accrued to open a business that helps others get ahead. Or secure higher education that allows them to teach the next generation of entrepreneurs and fund providers. That's the gift that keeps on giving.

Messrs. Gates and Buffett, if by some freak chance you're reading this, my hat's off to you both. You're rich guys who acknowledge that there are poor guys trying to become rich guys. You Get It.

The rest of you million/billionaires: It's past time you got off your lazy buttocks and got to work showing society that you do indeed have a sense of responsibility. And no, I'm not talking skinning the top back on your little Jag convertible so everybody can see you and be awed*. Or chasing a ball around a court and acting like you're entitled. Or having a kid as a fashion statement or a means to get your next movie role. Or "singing" about topics that shame your mother and then bragging about how many drugs you've dealt or times you've been shot. I'm talking about Doing Unto the Least Of These (see Matthew 25:40).

You better get moving; Bill and Warren are making y'all look awful bad.

*Actually, whenever I see someone gliding down the street in his Jag with the top skinned back, my first thought is along the lines of: "I wonder how many poor kids had to starve to death so he could play with his little sports car?"



Within the Box

In the last post, I mentioned feeling trapped by a lack of options. Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about:

Last night, the CBS Evening News reported a great program tailor-made for helping the poor. The Individual Development Account lets low-income families build up savings by matching their deposits 3:1 with a mix of private and public funds. The money thus accrued can then be used to buy a house (which is what pricked my attention), start a business or fund higher education. Is that cool or what?

So I eagerly awaited word within the report of how to get in on this deal. Apparently each state runs its own version of the program and one has to contact that state's IDA people.

Okaaay...so, (knowing what was to come) I wrote a note to myself to check this out the next time I hit the library. Which I did today. I Googled for the info and found North Carolina's IDA page almost immediately.

So far, so good. But remember a few sentences ago when I mentioned I knew what was to come? Wait for it...

I discovered that only 55 counties in North Carolina participate in the IDA program. (North Carolina has 100 counties. A 55% participation rate in anything is piss-poor any day of the week, but wait for it...) This information was helpfully displayed as a map showing which counties participate by color-coding.

(Wait for it...)

I eagerly scanned the map to find Guilford's participation in the IDA program. I found it. The color was white, meaning...

(Here it comes...)

Guilford County, North Carolina does not participate in the Individual Development Account program.

Sadly, that didn't surprise me. And frankly, I saw it coming. In a county where the rich folk willingly, eagerly and gleefully segregate themselves from anything with even a whiff of poverty; where condos, not affordable housing is being built; where Letters to the Editor fly thicker than flocks of blackbirds to the local newspaper anytime anyone tries to raise the minimum wage or buy a lottery ticket; where more money is spent maintaining golf courses than low-iincome dwellings; where wages start out in the single digits (and even lower if Uncle Sam isn't looking); where cars are king and bicycles are to be mowed down like hay; where Riched Petty is better known than Alfred Nobel; where low-income schools are either broken up, bussed out, plowed under or underfunded; where developers have more say than citizens; where an extra penny in sales tax is tacked on any time the state even considers allowing it to; where everything stops for an International Furniture Market that was taken for granted until Las Vegas started its own; where homeless people sleep under bridges and families get foreclosed or evicted at rates higher than the rest of the state while housing funds come up for gutting; where the county Board of Commissioners is dominated by rednecks, race-baiters, know-nothings, and dunderheads of every friggin' stripe, there is no provision for helping the poor get ahead whatsoever!

And there should be! Dammit, this program is just what poor people need to get a leg up on their miserable existence and out of poverty!

Okay, alright, time to end the rant, because I feel the Beast waking up...

But the fact remains that like so many other places around the country, Guilford County's priorities are totally and completely snafu. Think of it; poor people able to save enough money to buy a house and become taxpayers capable of conducting their own independent lifestyles instead of having to beg the damned Department of Social Services for enough resources to squeak by. And getting the door slammed in their faces. Or opening their own businesses and crafting their own futures instead of kowtowing to some slime with more money than brains who takes orgasmic pleasure in playing the poor like pawns.

Hell, even poor counties like Pitt, Johnston and Haywood participate in some aspect of the IDA program. But not Guilford, which is like the second or third richest county in the state.

Maybe Guilford just doesn't give a damn about its poor people. Maybe it would just as soon see us all plowed under the spreading asphalt of the greedy developers. Maybe it pines for the long-ago days of yore when guys like me were in a cotton field all day and could be silenced with the lash of a whip. Or maybe it's just too ignorant altogether to be brought into the 21st Century any other way than kicking and screaming.

Maybe it's just time to call Guilford County what it's been all along: a sociopolitical morass that lurches along crushing decency underneath like a headless giant and trapping its citizens of lowest means within it. After all, is it any wonder it's shaped like a box?


By Bonds Unseen

Some days I feel trapped.

I'm just now getting to sit down at the computer and compose this post, which I have to do quickly becuase the library will be closing in less than 90 minutes, and I still have a lot to do before they kick me out. Then I have to run (perhaps literally) to the bus terminal to catch the last bus that will take me close to the house.

Living on someone else's agenda using limited time. There's a trap right there. But as the well-known commercial intones: "But wait -- there's more!"

I also feel trapped by the remote location of our neighborhood and the near-nonexistent bus service thereto. Trapped by the lack of income that would allow me to handle everyday expenses and escape poverty hell. Trapped by a job that I'm frankly no good at and that pays within throwing distance of minimum wage. Trapped by a lack of independent transportation.

Trapped by a lack of options in general.

Don't get me wrong; even living in the Hinterlands is a lot better than being bound to GIHN's rules and regs (which, I've come to find out, aren't always evenly applied. Strange, that...) and I can remember a time when the buses in this town stopped running for the day at 6:00 pm and not at all on Sundays*. But I can't help but look around at the barren landscape that used to be my future and asking "What the hell happened here?"

And it doesn't help that I have to look at what everybody else has and be reminded of what I'm missing out on. For instance, I'm the only one at my job that lacks a car, and I have to walk in ninety-plus degree heat being passed by cars with air conditioning. This is also the season at which people start to take vacations. Every summer of every year I have to sit in the corner and quietly seethe as I hear somebody else brag about their freakin' trip to the beach. Or the mountains. Or Vegas. Or SanFran. Or Europe.

You know when the last time I went to the beach was? Mike was 1 1/2 years old. He's 17 now. Do the math.

Okay, okay, I admit I'm doing too much grumping and not enough acting. I should also have more patience, but dammit, we've clawed our way out of homelessness; now we're ready to get back into our lives. Or reasonable facsimilies thereof.

*I'm not exaggerating. The buses around here used to be operated by Duke Power Company (Now Duke Energy), and their budget was of course much smaller. Consequently the buses only ran 6 am-6 pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and there was no Sunday service at all. Meaning if you had an emergency or a job after that time, or missed the last bus from the mall, and had no other transport, you were officially boned.



But Prepare For the Worst

My "experience" with Tropical Storm Alberto (see last post) got me thinking and reminded me that this is hurricane season for large portions of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the Gulf and East coasts of America. All the disaster-preparedness and relief agencies all agree that now's a good time to prepare and think about what we'll do when disaster comes. This ain't bad advice; Katrina taught us a grim lesson about not being prepared for such a thing.

Katrina also exposed a horrible gap between the haves -- who could afford emergency generators and supplies and quick ways out of town -- and the have-nots, who had to basically hunker down and pray they didn't become statistics. The aftermath became highly politicized, but a disaster of that magnitude transcends politics. Democrat, Republican or whatever, the first thing people should think of once the winds die down is how do we make sure no more die in this one, and none die in the next?

The problem is of course even more acute when one is a have-not like me. It's all well and good to want to assemble provisions for disaster, but quite another to have the wherewithal to do so. I thought I would dedicate this post to putting out a few suggestions the poor can take to try and prepare for the next hurricane/flood/tornado/earthquake or other such calamity.

First, a few links to ways to assemble disaster preparedness kits online. A Google of "disaster kits" produced nearly 24 million hits, so I'll just point the way to a few of the most prominent free ones:

Red Cross Disaster Kit:

Hurricane Preparedness Kit Checklist:

About.com: How to Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit:

And there's even one aimed at kids:

FEMA Kids Disaster Kit (more about FEMA in a bit):

According to the Red Cross' site: "There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items." These items don't have to be top quality, just quality enough to keep the family alive in an emergency. The absolute best places to get these items (if you don't already own them) are the dollar stores (such as Dollar Tree), the small discounters (such as Maxway) and the big box retailers (Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Big Lots).* Don't overlook thrift stores such as Goodwill; at the very least you can buy emergency changes of clothes there. Go over the lists of suggested items carefully and substitute cheaper versions where you can. Wal-Mart and K-Mart both offer lay-a-way if you don't have a lot of cash on hand and you want to many items at once.

Look around your house and see what you may already have. Got a roll of tape you seldom use? Throw it in the kit. A spare bottle of alcohol? In the kit. Empty milk jug? Fill it with water; in the kit. Coloring book and crayons the kids ignore? In the kit.

A few items that are kind of pricey but could be handy are vacuum sealers such as FoodSavers (to prepare things like nuts and other such foods ahead of time), those closet bags you attach to a vacuum cleaner hose and suck the air out of (helps save space), and the flashlights and radios you crank to power up, rather than having to search for batteries which, as we all know, you can never find when it's crunch time. Again, these items can be put on lay-a-way at Wal-Mart of K-Mart.

Paycheck won't let you even put things on lay-a-way? Buy an item or two now and get another item or two next payday. There's nothing wrong with nickel-and-diming it. The idea is to have it assembled by the time disaster does strike, but I guess it's better to have some of the stuff put aside than to have nothing at all and be caught, as we say in the South, "with yer britches down."

You'll need a container to put it all in. While moving, I've had great success with those large plastic storage bins you can find in just about any department store. You can put almost anything in those things. I've found Wal-Mart and Big Lots to have the cheapest. A 30-gallon** version is about $4.00 and a 10-15 gallon one is about $3.50. The bins come molded with handles on the ends, so carrying is a breeze, and the lids snap shut and are designed so that the bins are stackable. The apartment is full of the ones we've brought from the storage unit and I plan to buy more as funds permit.

The only other advice I guess I have is to always think in worst-case scenarios, then think of ways to avoid or get out of them. I've noted the safe points in the apartment during a tornado (the downstairs bathroom and the laundry closet seem to fit the bill), nearby bodies of water in case of flood (two retention ponds, one near the front yard, and a stream where I guess all the geese are coming from) and alternate routes to avoid the water, and thought of at least two ways out of the apartment and out of town (we're not far from a major thoroughfare and a major highway.) If nothing else, think of somewhere nearby to run, just in case (a major manufacturer has a plant nearby, if we have to bolt fast.)

It's even more imperative that any homeless reading this also think about preparation. Plot a quick way out of the area, if nothing else, and notice any nearby solid structures where you can take shelter. Those of you who are sleeping under overpasses should take special note of the sky when storms get bad. The notion that an overpass is a safe place in a tornado has sadly been proven a myth. It may be the same in a powerful enough hurricane too.

We don't get many earthquakes around here, so I have no specific advice for that. I imagine the contents of your kit are good use in the aftermath of quakes as well, if it was powerful enough to hinder immediate rescue.

Speaking of rescue, one lesson I learned from Katrina, even though she didn't hit us directly, is that you cannot, should not rely on FEMA to take care of you. FEMA has been exposed as one of the most bumbling outfits ever, and the news of their screwups during and after Katrina just keep coming to this day. In fact, I would go so far as to say assume help is not forthcoming and you'll be on your own, and assemble you kit with that in mind. then, if help does come, it'll be even more of a welcome sight.

I'm not promoting myself as an expert here, and some of what I'm putting out may just be hot air. Either way, I hope you and I never have to put any of it to the test, but remember the old adage: "Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

Just my $0.02.

*I know many people swear by Target, but I've found that Wal-mart's and K-Mart's prices are cheaper and they have a better selection. YMMV, of course.

**An apology to any friends still reading from Europe and other areas that use the metric system. I've used imperial measures all my life, so it's just easier for me. There are conversion tables and software online to convert any measures you're not already familiar with.



Alberto and Me

The remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto came to town yesterday, and he brought a lot of rain with him. Greensboro must've been at the fringe of the system becuase it started raining sometime Tuesday night and kept up a steady beat all Wednesday morning, not stopping until early afternoon. I had cracked the window the night before to get some fresh air into the room, and was greeted to the sound of rain falling on the roof the next morning.

I've always loved rainy days. Maybe I'm just weird, but I love the gloom of the thick clouds, the sound of the rain as it falls on the roof and the concrete, the mist, the coolness, and the stillness. Rainfall is one thing I can always count on to soothe me to sleep and keep the Beast at bay. Especially under a tin roof, like houses used to have in this part of the country. I will never forget the sound of the rain on my grandmother's tin roof. Hearing that sound never fails to bring back very pleasant memories. I pity people who've never heard the sound.

I even like watching thunderstorms* through the door, although as I've aged, I've learned not to get too insane about it. Watching the lightning and seeing the rain beat everything into submission under a canopy of cloud-supplied gloom is one of those moments I live for. But I'm old enough now to recognize the danger when the lightning gets a little too bright, the thunder gets a little too loud and the show on TV gets replaced by a worried-looking meteorologist standing in front of multi-colored maps. Then it's time to close the door and listen out for sounds of a freight train.**

But yesterday morning carried none of that. It was just pleasantly gloomy, misty and rainy. Just like I like it. The kids weren't up yet and Mama was still drowsing in bed, So I got myself downstairs, made some coffee, pulled a chair up to the front window, popped in a mix CD I'd made especially for days like this and drifted into my own little world of rain and music.

I was still there when Ness came down wanting her customary cereal and TV. Sigh. Still, for about an hour, it was Heaven on Earth.

*As a child, I used to stand in my grandmother's metal screen door, quite unafraid, as thunderstorms would spend their fury right over the house. Used to scare her to death. I never could understand why she worried so, but now I know: Stupid me was courting a lightning strike near all that metal.

**This may become a problem someday as we are close enough to some train tracks to hear a train passing. As everyone knows, the sound of an approaching tornado has been descriibed asa sounding like a freight train. I've got to teach the kids to stay especially sharp during bad storms.



Adventures in Government

There's an old adage that says you can't fight City Hall.

I say, not only had you damn well better fight City Hall, you better make it a tooth-and-nails, no-holds-barred, ask-no-quarter-and-give-none furball.

While on my way to work Tuesday morning, I read the paper on the bus* and noticed an article saying that, as part of their budget for next year, the City Council was considering cutting housing aid?! And mass transit for the disabled?!

Okay, I was officially awake. This required further investigation.

Turned out that one of the items up for the budget ax was something called the Nussbaum Fund, with was a 1.8 million dollar fund that, among other things, helped fund homeless shelters and affordable rental options. According to the article, the city was planning to eliminate that fund to help keep property taxes down. Specifically, to keep the owner of a $150,000 house from paying an extra $72 a year in property taxes.

Forgive me, but if you can afford a $150,000 home (and in Guilford County, that can be a lot of house) what's wrong with an extra $6 a month to ensure that no more children have to bed down in another homeless shelter?** Hell, those guys probably blow that much at Starbucks. Every other day.

To make matters worse, also on the chopping block was SCAT, a city program that helps the disabled (many of whom can't use the regular bus service) get to such things as doctor's appointments, the grocery store, and the pharmacies.

I got so upset reading that article that I actually contemplated calling in sick to work and going straight to this blog. I actually got so upset, the Beast opened one eye to see what was going on. Seeing that it didn't require his abililty to snack on my psyche, he went back to sleep.

Unfortunately, calling in sick wasn't an option. I needed the money too bad. So, seething about the injustice of it all, I reported for work, but spend a good bit of my brain's processing power (and believe me, there's not much to spare these days!) working out what I was going to say to the City Council at the public hearing scheduled for later that evening.

After work, I doubletimed it to the bus to make sure I got to the Council meeting in time. The Council Chambers are on the secod floor of City Hall, in a room designed to looko as though it's suspended in space. It's well appointed, with room for the Council and a goodly number of concerned citizens, perhaps 150.

People must've read that article and gotten as upset as I, because about 15 minutes after I sat down, it was standing room only.

The meeting started and was fairly routine until the hearings for the budget cuts. Then, everyone found out that over 30 people were signed up to speak, including Yours Truly. That's 3 times the usual amount of speakers that show up.

The people that spoke for preservation of the Nussbaum Fund (housing) were better prepared and more articulate than I. One guy had brought along a PowerPoint presentation that brought his central points home with sledgehammer power and arrow accuracy. One of the Councilmen was forced to clarify that the Nussbaum Fund wasn't actually up for elimination; that has been part of a "worst-case scenario" that they'd discussed regarding keeping property taxes down.

Right. And Godzilla only goes to Tokyo for the sushi.

Still, speaker after speaker lobbied on behalf of the Nussbaum Fund, preserving SCAT's service to the disabled, and for preserving library services (which were also due for cutting) and on behalf of a swim center. Everyone who spoke made their case with brilliance, eloquence or elan.

Then it was my turn to speak. Everything had been said that needed to be said and clarifications had been made. I had been afraid that I'd be the only one speaking out on behalf of those who might become homeless, but it turns out that article had stirred a hornet's nest of concern. Still, there was one thing that none of the other speakers covered.

I framed my comments as trying to get the Council to consider the Human Factor. They had discussed the budget and its financial and economic ramifications, yes, but they had not considered the human ramifications. They hadn't considered that homelessness would go up, and that others would go through what I had. They wouldn't see the anguish of those who either once had homes or who had homes within their grasp, only to see it all torn away. They wouldn't have to coach other through their depression and help them battle their Beasts.

Or at least, I tried to convey that general idea. I only had three minutes, and despite my time in my high school Drama Club, I had a bad case of stage fright. I'm not sure how well I made my case; only that no one came after me with pitchforks afterward, so I guess I did okay.

One of the councilwomen, one of the most influential in the black community, asked me if I had seen any direct help from the Nussbaum Fund while my family was homeless. I admitted to her that I had not, but that was simply because I wasn't sure if IHN relied on any of its money or not. But that was no reason for others not to benefit. I think she's read the blog, becuase she asked me if my story is documented anywhere. When I told her online at "View From the Sidewalk", she gave me a thumbs-up. I think she was waiting for me to make that plug.

Still, on my way to the bus depot, I breathed a sigh of relief. I and many others had persuaded the City Council to preserve most, if not all, of the housing funds and perhaps I've even gained a few new readers in the process.

And I didn't have to engage in a furball, after all.

*As I am wont to do; I'm not much of a conversationalist, and I've already seen all the scenery.

**And before the I-hate-taxes and the You're-a-damn-socialist crowds start in on me, remember, even though I live below the federal poverty level, I too pay income and sales taxes. Whether I like it or not. And I don't. But I'll gladly pay double to keep another family from going through what mine went through.


Tim's Story

Last Monday, after work, I had to go to the Plasma Center and sell some blood plasma* to get enough bus fare to last a few days. Yeah, selling blood for bus fare. Or food. Or medicine. Or various and assorted other things you need to get by from day to day. Welcome to America. Even so, I got out late; I figured that the last daytime-scehdule bus -- which would take me straight downtown -- had already passed and the nnext (night) bus wouldn't be by for over an hour. Nothing to it but walk downtown, I suppose, a forty-five minute trip.

Naturally, ten minutes in, I was greeted by the sight of the daytime bus shooting past on the other side of the street on its way downtown. Dammit.

Treating myself to a muttered curse under my breath, I buckled down and left-righted down Lee St. toward downtown. As I passed under the overpass that carries Freeman Mill Road over Lee St., I looked up into the girders. I had noticed signs of habitation there before, but this time I saw the inhabitant. A thin, bearded man relaxed against a concrete block at the top of the slope waved as a passed by. I waved back, but kept my pace. Once I passed out from under the bridge's shadow, though, I stopped. I remember I'd written about how while we were homeless, we'd not met any others. Something also told me that this man had a story that needed telling. So I about-faced, went back under the bridge and asked him if he had a moment. He said sure, come on up.

Okay. We've done the climbing the bridge support slope thing before. Yes, my knees objected. Yes, my feet complained (after all, asking them to pull a six hour shift bearing by 240-plus pounds, then walking nearly three miles on concrete was a bit much). And yes, this time, my hip decided to consider mutiny, but I did it. After a moment, I was sitting next to Tim, a friendly man that looked to me not too much younger than me. I introduced myself, gave him a 50-words-or-less version of my story and asked if I could ask him a few things to put in the blog.

Tim is a born-again Christian who's been homeless since March of 2000. Originally from South Carolina, he once was riding high enough economically to buy his mother a house. Unfortunately a series of layoffs hit the family and they eventually lost the house. Tim bounced between Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and Florence (once walking the 80 miles between Florence and Columbia looking for work). He stayed with various relatives, and when that looked like it would become an extended period, he began staying in various shelters and other temporary lodgings. He arrived in Greensboro on a borroed bus ticket in 2002 and has been here ever since.

In talking with Tim, I noticed that he didn't seem to have any obvious infirmities. He was physically fit enough to climb up the bridge slope and possessed all his limbs. His speech wasn't slurred and he had excellent motor control, indicating no mental or chemical impairment. He was very articulate and attributes his good health to his faith in God. He told me that he had a good upbringing, in a family that took its relationship with God seriously. He was saved in 1997. He hasn't let his ill fortune get the better of him, seeing his periods of homelessness as opportunities to learn life lessons and to use them to make himself a better person. He has admitted to bouts of depression, but has unshakable faith that God will always see him through.

I couldn;t spend much time, becuase the light levels were fading, and I was having trouble seeing the notes I was hurriedly taking, but I made sure before I left to give him the address of the blog and promised that I'd get his story out there. I also gave him two organizations I could think of off the top of my head (one was the Guilford County Homeless Prevention Coalition -- heads up, Cara!) and under the guise of "paying him for his time," I gave him some of the cash I'd gotten from the plasma center. Seemed the right thimg to do.

I haven't been back that way since, so I been able to check on him. But you know what? Seeing and hearing the way Tim talked about his faith in God, I know he's doing just fine.

*You read right. There are places where you can go and sell blood plasma to help make ends meet. It's not as ghoulish as it sounds. The plasma is used to make products such as hemophilia treatments and the procedure is clean and quick. Still, it does necessarily involve needles and pain, which is why I don't make a regular habit of it.


Life in the Hinterlands

No posts for almost two weeks. What a slacker that guy is!

Actually, there are several good reasons I haven't posted for awhile, and it's not like I haven't been busy.

As I mentioned before, the bus stops and schedules at our new location really work against us. The bus only runs once an hour, so if we miss one, it's an entire hour until the next. This can throw schedules into chaos very quickly. Add to that the fact that on weekdays the nearest bus stop is a half-mile away, and to get there we have to navigate a major thoroughfare (we won't mention the staggering number of crazy drivers in Greensboro...yet) and cross a train track (not when the train is using it, of course) and you see that getting to the stop can be an adventure. Mike and I each have almost been hit twice by cars, and I shudder to think about Mama and Ness trying to scamper across the roadway. Still, we manage to get some of our agenda accomplished, very slowly.

For the past week, I've been trying to log onto the blog and post, but a couple times I've gotten computers that were no good, or run into unexpectedly large crowds at the library, and there have been several times in the week where I could not get onto Blogger (it was down for maintanance one day, at least, as other bloggers can tell you.)

Still, I'm here now, so I'll just briefly try and recap what's been going on.

I've been in talks with an ad agency about joining the staff there. This job was related to me by a good friend of mine, so I knew the recommendation was on the up-and-up. I have a second interview with them tomorrow; we'll see what happens.

Last Saturday, we received some free computers with all the trimmings courtesy of the generosity of two of my Readers (thanks, Sue and Dave!). These weren't basment refugees, either, folks. These were two good ones, with big screens and everything, and even came with printers. Mike immediately made sure one disappeared into the depths of his room. Ness claimed the other, but I decreed that it should stay downstairs, since I'll also be using it to post and find work whenever we get internet service. I'm currently trying to get my hands on a table to put it on since our old table gasped its last when we moved out of our old place.

I met and talked to a homeless man last Monday. Tim has been bouncing around North and South Carolina trying to find a permanent home for the past few years. Like I did, he busts the stereotype of a homeless person. I promised to get his story online, but I'll do that in a post dedicated solely to that purpose.

Last Tuesday, whle on my way to work, I discovered through the News & Record that the City Council who have been in negotiations to set next year's budget, have been considering cutting items such as housing aid and bus services for the disabled. My response upon seeing that article was, and I quote, "Aw, hell, no!" So after work, I made a beeline straight for City Hall to attend the council meeting. I'll devote a sole post to that, too. It was quite an interesting experience.

Ness' birthday was yesterday, June 11. She turned 9 (going on 39, I like to say) and in an indication of just how pathetic her old man is, she not only didn't get a birthday party or a present, I had to work to boot! Fortunately, the mom of one of her best friends had been planning a surprise party for her and she had a great time, but I still feel like a low-grade rat for not being able to at least come up the $7.00 tub of Floam that she really wanted.

We experienced our first storm since moving into the apartment, and we've discovered that a corner of the living room has a small leak near the floor. It's not too bad, but we've noticed that the harder it rains, the faster the water puddles. So far, we're controlling it with towels and keeping electrical items out of that corner until I can get hold of Maintenance. Just an annoyance, really, but a torrent might actually cause a problem. We nearly got one yesterday. A cluster of severe thunderstorms moved through the Triad, creating some impressive llightning and wind gusts and knocking out our power twice. Rockingham County, the county immediately north of us, got a tornado warning. Our storm got rambunctious enough that I did scan the sky at one point for funnel clouds, but fortunately it didn't get to that point.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?