Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Touch of Chaos...

A few days ago, I was going to post that after 71 days homeless, I have a place. Not anymore. I evaced north ahead of the Witch Creek fire, only to run into the Santa Clarita fires. I'm now in Indio. The last word I got was that I'm cut off from SD County. I was catching a bit of the skip zone from 600am KOGO in SD, and heard that fire had jumped the I-5 near Del Mar, and Chula Vista was being evaced. I can't stay here - if anyone knows of a place where a former squid and his better half can go to ground, post it. Out of state is defintely not out of the question at this point.

To those still in the middle of it, I send my thoughts and prayers. God help us all.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On the road…next to the insanity we weave…

Man I went off on a tangent didn’t I? Whack my head a little…there. Much better. Lots of stuff happened in the world over the weekend. I found out this morning that Cox & Forkum decided to leave editorial cartooning (h/t: LGF). It’s a damn shame, I’ll miss their work. I wish you fair winds and following seas gentlemen.

In me stuff, I figured out an impromptu drying rack using the little oval shaped auto sunshades (about $10 at Wal-Mart or target for a pair). Just be sure you have a few smooth rocks to weigh the thing down in case of wind. I’m enjoying my loaner camp stove (can cook real food – yes). We still haven’t found a place, and I’m trying to reorganize the car (help me Unclutterer!). Eeehhh.

Supposedly a UN envoy (h/t: Reuters) is trying to meet with the junta in Myanmar, after ‘only 10’ protesters were mowed down by government forces. From what I heard on the Bill Handel show this morning, add a few zeroes to that number at a minimum. Yes folks, yet another example of human caused idiocy in the world. Via LGF and Gates of Vienna, the EU is revamping Nuremberg in the name of ‘multiculturalism’. There’s even a nifty name – the Racial Equality Directive. Here, let me just sign ‘dhimmi’ on the dotted line. I wonder if my aunt-in-law is reconsidering her decision to live in France. I have a better idea EU. Look at this old California proposition. Some might disagree, but it would’ve been a good step. Guess who opposed it? MEChA of course. I almost don’t blame Tom Cruise for building a bunker. At this rate, he’ll need it not to hold off aliens, but to hold off the wave of stupidity that’s sweeping the planet. Got room in there for me Tom? (/sarc)

I’ll just sign ‘human’ for now. Til next post, it's 2212 days since 9/11 and still no one's caught Osama Bin Laden, and at 52 days and counting, I'm still homeless.

‘Fry Guys’ paid more than ‘Glorified Babysitters’…..

The weekend was, well a weekend. The other half was feeling a little better. Despite going on a job interview to find the potential employer was offering her less than what she got from unemployment.

Every once in a while, I hear something about teachers not getting any respect. If that’s true, then preschool teachers must get the least respect of all. At least in California it seems so. Think about it. The average preschool aid has to get a minimum 6 ECE units and be working on the next 6 ECE units to get hired. Even if they already have the full 12 (basically a full teacher), the average starting salary is $8.50 an hour. Assuming you just get those units at the community college, that means you just shelled out about a grand on the low end. That’s $240 and up for the units, plus cost of books (you can hopefully buy used), parking fees, medical fees, gas, etc.; including your time of course. This can be offset by state & federal aid. However, that does not count the cost of fingerprinting and background checks to get a clearance to be hired. That cannot be offset by aid, with the exception of employers who offer to reimburse you for the cost (rare in SoCal).

What does the average team member at In-N-Out Burger make? $9 an hour – no college required. Come on, you know the song – ‘IN-N-OUT, IN-N-OUT….That’s what a hamburger’s…all about’ …okay I’ll stop. But man, doesn’t a Double-Double sound great right now? Let’s not forget most large fast food chains have college assistance programs now. Some managers of your local McDonald’s or Taco Bell make more than some electronics techs I know (damn h-1b’s….I’ll talk about this another time). If I were 17 or 18 again I wouldn’t go through the trouble to get into such a field. I’d work the fast food place and major in something else at college. Something that actually paid.

Let’s get back to the subject. Today if you actually think about it, how many quality people is any community of semi-professionals going to recruit – when the low end of the pay scale is not even in parity with occupations mainly filled by non-college educated workers? Not many, and eventually those will get fed up and go to another career field. I’m not in favor of a union, but you have to admit this is ridiculous. I know probably more than most people who don’t teach preschool. In addition to my other half being one, I was on a school board for a few years. Of course, there’s always the uninformed jacka** who says, “They’re just overpaid babysitters.” To those people I say BS. The babysitter babysits. The preschool teacher if they’re doing their job is teaching your kid how to read, count, spell, tie their shoes, mind their manners and several other skills. In other words doing the things that a mother or father would be doing with their child. If not for the fact that damn near every couple in SoCal has to work two jobs to keep above water.

My other half has it worse. She’s ‘too qualified’ to just be a teacher. But she’s ‘not qualified enough’ to be a director, never mind the fact she’s filled the position several times. In other words though she certainly doesn’t want the director’s job (she just wants to teach), her combined experience and education make some think she does. This is because in fact, she can do the job. It galls me. Believe me if I made more, she’d just go back to college. Unfortunately it’s not an option right now. I mean hell, look at the title of the blog people. Before I lapse into expletive, if anyone’s looking for a Pre-K with 41 ECE units (9 admin), with ASL, current CPR/1st Aid, and some Spanish, drop me a line. Please. She’s looking for $11 an hour ($10 is less than the unemployment). We can use all the help we can get. I’ll be right back. I have more on my mind, but I’ll put it in a separate post.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

On hiatus for a day or two...

I'm bivouac'd near the desert right now; moving again Monday. There's been a lot going on in the world lately. I just simply haven't had much time to write about it. Thought I had a place lined up, it didn't work out unfortunately. But that's how the ball bounces. I expected to be in this pickle at least a few months. Gotta go - access gets killed in a few mics - but I hope to be back soon. Til next post, it's 2210 days since 9/11 and still no one's caught Osama Bin Laden, and at 50 days and counting, I'm still homeless.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More insanity….and more practical stuff

I said I was going to start on gear tips this time. I still may. First though, I want to cover something that quite frankly p****s me off. Courtesy of the AP and Seattle Post Intelligencer, though I actually heard it last night on KFI 640. On Saturday the 23rd someone broke into a preschool and stole their class pet, replacing said pet with fliers protesting the Ringling Brothers Circus. A preschool ladies and gents. Apparently, stealing rabbits in Seattle is a quite popular practice. When PETA’s useful idiots aren’t shaking down fast food joints anyway. I’m all for being kind to animals. But this was not being kind to animals. This was simply cruel. Having known a few preschool teachers in my life, I can say with fair certainty that the bunny in question was not treated cruelly by its owners. In fact, I think it’s safe to say Sugar was well taken care of.

To the person who took the rabbit in question – do you feel better now? Do you? Knowing that you just broke the hearts of a bunch of three, four and five-year-olds? I’m not sure what would be more fitting. You being cornered by the parents; or being confronted by a gaggle of Pre-K’s with wooden blocks. It’s truly people like our Bunnynapper in Seattle that sometimes make me question my faith in humanity.

I don’t have a lot to spare for obvious reasons. But I’ll give twenty bucks to the guy or gal who winds up responsible for Bunnynapper in Seattle going behind bars. I know, maybe I should contribute to some other cause. But hey, it’s my cash. Besides, seeing this jerk sprawled on a cop’s windshield while watching the news would be extremely satisfying. It would if I had a TV to watch it on. Anyone else interested in such an effort? Maybe we could send it to ‘Crimestoppers’ in Seattle or something.

Back to the grindstone.

Okay, before my blood pressure rises even higher. Back to what I was supposed to be talking about – compressing the gear. How it’s important to narrow down your gear and get rid of anything you don’t need. Since when you don’t have a place, storage is obviously at a premium. We started on the wardrobe last post. That post talked briefly about getting together a set of interchangeable outfits; along with a few good shirts and ties to round it out. Obviously that was geared towards guys, since I am one. If there’s a gal out there who wants to put up some tips geared towards the feminine audience let me know.

Like I said before, this is not something you have to do all at once. For me, going through the gear’s been an ongoing process. Find some ‘me time’ and go through your stuff. Divide it into essential, may need later (like when you get in a place again), and non-essential. Among the things you may overlook – vital records. I’m talking about your birth certificate, Social Security card, insurance, will, college transcripts, DD-214, etc. Find a safe place to store these. If you can as time permits, get them scanned and on disk.

Another important thing is medical information. It’s probably not practical to carry your medical records with you. But if you have ongoing treatment, take a lot of meds, or have a condition it’s not a bad idea to get some basic information together. Stick with one simple word document. Put down your name, points of contact for your doctor and any emergency contact you like. List your medications (name, dose etc.) and what they’re for. Then list any medical conditions (diabetes, genetic, etc.) followed by allergies. If something happens to you, that information will help the docs on scene considerably. You can put it on a floppy, cheapie flash drive, or keep a hardcopy in your bag.

Okay we’ve gone way over a page, so that’s my cue. Once again, if you’re in the same tacsit, or just have a random comment, fire away. This is a learning experience in progress after all. Til next post, it's 2207 days since 9/11 and still no one's caught Osama Bin Laden, and at 47 days and counting, I'm still homeless.

Update: Fixed a link.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why we're here....

Welcome to the new blog. I guess we'll just get started. Why this? Long story short, I'm homeless. I certainly did not expect to be however - and certainly not for 45 days and counting. It's something most people don't expect, let alone prepare for. Basically, I'm sharing this experience with you. I'll be posting on the lessons I've learned so far as well as future ones. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Better to hear it from one who's in thick of it before you're out here.

Lesson one - The State will not help you (mostly).
No BS folks. In SoCal, most of the programs that may help you are geared towards one group - completely broke, single drug addicts. If you want a bed, you have to pretty much give up your job. If you still have a job like me, this is obviously not an option. If you have a significant other or any other kind of family, forget it.

On a side note, I didn't wind up here because I couldn't afford the rent. I wound up here because of a landlord who didn't like maintaining their property. Hence when I found that my little box apartment had been infiltrated by several types of mold and a sinking floor, the landlord promptly blamed me for it. I called the city and county housing authorities. Guess what? They won't help you either. They will give you a nice pamphlet on finding housing though.

As someone else put the point, God (or whatever you believe in) does not help those who won't help themselves. In other words, be prepared to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Lesson two - Compress your gear.
Tres importante. You're going to be living a very different lifestyle. Whether you have a car, motorcycle, scooter, or just a pack, everything you need has to fit. If you've ever had to pack a 'GI' bag or seabag, you already have a general idea. I could go on for days about this, but for today we'll just do the wardrobe. Stick with one type of general outfit (pants, shirt, belt, etc). You don't have to do this all at once, but over time, it makes things easier. For example, my daily outfit is a short sleeve collared polo-type shirt (many different colors) with cargo style pants. Specifically I wear Wranger Hero cargo pants. The side pockets are helpful, they look good with anything, they're durable, and at $17, cheap.

Enough rambling. The point is to get about 5-7 general outfits that are fairly interchangeable. Add a few good button up shirts and ties (for interviews, job functions, etc.) and you're fairly well set. However many outfits you have, mulitply by 1.5 for socks and undergarments. Things happen. Top it off with one or two colored t-shirts and shorts. Why? You gotta do laundry eventually right? You need something to wear while you wash your day stuff. Plus if you ever go swimming , work out, etc; life doesn't stop while you're lacking for a place to live.

I think we've lost our minds enough for today, eh? In the meantime, for some ideas on how to compress your other stuff, check out Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/; look for 'go bag'). I'm going to continue next time with the wardrobe, maybe some gear tips, and whatever else I can come up with.

While I'm gone if any of you are in a similar tacsit, or just have some friendly advice for the rest of us, comment! Post your experience. Hell's bells, I can't be the only one in this kind of mess. Til next post, it's 2205 days since 9/11 and still no one's caught Osama Bin Laden, and at 45 days and counting, I'm still homeless.