Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012

Only 2 more hours until I resettle in Colorado Springs. I guess it's going to be a nice respite from the last 3 months of insanity in New York. But in 12 months and 3 weeks there, I maybe saw any local friends there once. I heard from them much more frequently on Facebook. I reconnected with some people, and survived some pretty horrific stuff (homelessness due to lack of money and to storm damage, and the longest stay I've had at a hospital since I was born).

And with the Newtown school shootings dominating the news, I was shocked to find something else that (assuming 20 children and 6 educators hadn't gotten killed in their school) should have made the news. It seems "Banana Boat Song" singer Harry Belafonte has gone off the deep end. Under the encouragement of self-proclaimed civil rights activist Al Charlatan, Belafonte suggested that President Obama should "work like a 3rd World dictator" and jail Republicans. Not surprisingly, this load of aural crap aired on the cable channel version of NBC News, MSNBC. I have argued for nearly 20 years that NBC and its news division should be put out of business. They have staged news. They have ignored news. They have slanted news much further to the left than Fox News has to the right. They gave a racial huckster a nightly cable show. (But then, Al Charlatan was previously employed by Fox News before he got paychecks from journalism's Evil Empire.) And now they aid and abet in treason by suggesting that the President destroy the Constitution and jail (if not kill) the opposition. Shut NBC and their corporate enablers (Comcast) down now. And while Harry Belafonte may have every right under the Constitution to spout such violent speech, I have every right to state that he should have been at the barrel end of Adam Lanza's stolen guns yesterday instead of those 20 innocent schoolchildren.

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

Another holiday season, another move. At this point in life, I have done at least 14 interstate moves, with interstate move #15 occurring tomorrow evening. A little over a year ago, I moved back to New York. Within a month of moving back, I ended up in the city's shelter system, and it took over 4 months to get out of that mess. By the end of April, I got a messenger job, and less than a week later, I was back at the rooming house also known as the Oceanview Hotel in Rockaway.

During the time I was a messenger, part of the Northwest section of my hometown burned in something called the Waldo Canyon Fire.
I lost my job after a weeklong stay at Elmhurst Hospital due to a viral skin infection. I had no idea until I after I got out of the hospital that I was unemployed again. While I was recovering from the illness (which took several weeks due to the side effects of the anti-virals), I had to evacuate my home due to a mandatory evacuation order of the Zone A coastal areas of New York City. It was just a precaution, I was told. But most of the people in my neighborhood didn't evacuate. When the storm surge hit Lower Manhattan, it was broadcast live.

It took a few days to discover how badly damaged my neighborhood was. (Check November 5 blog for my photos of the damage.) Thanks to FEMA, I have enough money to resettle. Many who ignored the mandatory evacuation order are now wondering why their aid is delayed if not non-existent. And that's not counting those who didn't live in Zone A and still suffered horrific storm damage. But considering both the city I'm moving to tomorrow and the neighborhood I had to move from both suffered from devastating fires, I wonder if any place is safe. The news this afternoon of what happened outside Danbury in Newtown, CT further questions whether there is such a thing as safety. That situation is still fluid.

And now, people are trying to use this massacre as an excuse to restrict law abiding citizens' rights to own firearms. Do you think a total gun ban would have stopped Adam Lanza from killing people? You think he got his weapons legally? He stole them from his dead mother- whom he killed before the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. I guess no place is safe from fires or floods or hurricanes or tornadoes or psychopathic killers- or Obamacare or fiscal insanity or NBC.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012

Today is Thanksgiving Day. This uniquely American holiday is used to celebrate thanks for the gifts God has given us. For some people, those gifts are obvious- a loving family, a good job, a nice home. Some celebrate their many gifts, some are internal, some are spiritual, and many are material. Others are thankful they escaped the recent Hurricane with their lives. I guess I should be thankful that I survived Hurricane Sandy with all the major stuff safe and dry, and with a FEMA grant that will allow me to move to a place that actually has electricity and heat (although I don't currently know whether I will stay in NYC after the hotel voucher expires in 9 days or else move to Colorado Springs, Texas, or Nebraska). I guess I should be thankful that I'm spending Thanksgiving with relatives in Chambersburg that I haven't seen in years. But it still doesn't mean there is a lot to not be thankful for, indeed to be irate at.

There is still poverty. Jesus said "The poor will always be with you" (Matthew 26:11). But then that passage does not denigrate the poor, it is meant to show compassion and the Christian need to care for those who cannot help themselves. Too many people cannot help themselves anymore. They need help, but the type of help they need is subject to debate. As someone who spent 8 of the last 19 months in homeless shelters, I can argue that you don't help the homeless by building cardboard boxes to "show solidarity" with them (as a report this morning on WHP-TV suggested), but by getting them off the cold streets, getting them into indoor shelter, and helping them find meaningful work so they can afford real housing.

There is still injustice disguised as "help"- Obamacare being a prime example. This program that was intended to get more people to get health insurance does nothing to control health care costs. Indeed, it shifts some of those costs to the lower middle class who cannot afford health insurance and make too much for Medicaid through the insurance penalty tax. It is driving up operating costs for small businesses and franchises (who now are forced to pay for costly insurance) (see: Denny's, Papa John's). To avoid those costs, businesses are reducing hours for employees and hiring fewer employees. It doesn't take an economist to know what that will do to the unemployment and underemployment rates. And by re-electing President Obama, the American public has approved of his undeclared wars on the unborn (by increasing aid to the eugenics loving, abortion profiting Planned Parenthood) and the Catholic Church (by the Obamacare/HHS mandates that force the Church to pay for anti-Catholic health care practices).

For many, the solution to poverty seems to be by throwing money at those who have none. Yes, part of the problem of being poor is lack of money. Just giving a block grant to someone who has no idea on how to spend that money for needs is like burning that money in a fire pit. A block grant that qualifies as poverty in New York would be a middle class grant in Middle America. Many doesn't even know how to budget- something that should be taught in schools. Too many teachers are focused not on educating their pupils, but on their pay. There is so much bureaucracy and waste in some school districts that taxpayers are paying near 5 figure property taxes for schools that pay their administrators and janitors more than their teachers and the students who do graduate know more about President Obama's personal life and Spongebob than about Algebra and Science.

There is still general insanity- the sausage making nature of American politics, the left wing activism creeping into the American education system, the various wars throughout the world, the Satanism that pervades Al Qaeda and radical Islam, disease, hate crimes, NBC News, materialism, and the worship of money which is in full bloom this time of year. But I'll leave those discussions for other blogs at another time.

Monday, November 05, 2012

November 5, 2012

Today is the 21st anniversary of my mother's death. I wonder how she would have reacted to horrors such as the Clinton Presidency, 9/11, her daughter living through Hurricane Katrina, and her son living through Hurricane Sandy.

I have spent over a week in evacuation shelters. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for my neighborhood of  Rockaway Park on October 28. Yesterday (November 4) was the first time I've been in the area since then, because I had to meet with a FEMA employee who inspected my residence in accordance with a disaster claim. Below is the front of my residence:

Afterwards, I walked toward the boardwalk, and saw:
The boardwalk was even worse:
There were several aid stations on my block, offering food, water, batteries, clothing, and even cellphone charging:

But the worst damage was on Rockaway Beach Blvd due to a fire that started October 29 and didn't end until November 1:
Due to no power and no heat (and the fact that the evacuation order has not been lifted yet), I am still in the OEM shelter system. It could be weeks or months before my building is safe to move into again, and even longer before the business district on Rockaway Beach Blvd is rebuilt.

Election endorsements won't be posted today, but it should surprise no one that I'm endorsing Romney for President in tomorrow's election. At least the NYC Board of Elections came to its senses and allowed early absentee voting for evacuated residents at each borough's board of elections office until 5PM today.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

Today would have been my grandmother Hazel Clarke's 101st birthday. She was a very eccentric woman who probably had more influence on my life than my mother did. Grandma Hazel was very active until her final few months. She was extremely outspoken. She liked being around children- children at the mall, her 2 grandchildren, and her great-granddaughter Allie. I'm pretty certain she was the reason my parents had me so soon after they married- at the time, Grandma Hazel was 60 and had no grandchildren to brag about. She died 3 days after her 84th birthday, much younger than her older sister Doris (who died 4 years later at age 98) and her youngest sister Mollie (who died last November at age 92).

My father, her only biological child, died 4 months after she did, at age 60. Neither of them lived to see the 21st Century. My father thought it would be all computers and spaceships by now. He may have gotten the computer part right. There aren't as many room-size or desktop computers as there were in the late 1990s, but there are far more laptop computers- and smaller notebook computers- and even smaller tablet computers, which are used for reading as well as internet stuff. And now most cellphones could qualify as computers- especially I-phones and Android phones (whose Google-created OS uses the same basic premise as the Ubuntu Linux OS on which this blog is being written).

About 8 days ago, I found a dead shark near my residence (echoes of what my father caught while fishing at Jacksonville Beach some 65-70 years ago). Thankfully I didn't find any of that shark's relatives swimming near the beach yesterday. The waves were rough enough to knock me down a few times.

Last weekend, I ended my 9 month computer drought by purchasing a used laptop. I get free wi-fi in my building, and now I have time and means to put photos, blogs, updated family trees, and stuff online without being at the mercy of the local libraries. Now hopefully, I can start searching for better paying employment, less expensive housing (after beach season is over), and maybe find that special someone or reconnect with old friends. But I don't want to spend too much time online- like certain relatives who were completely computer illiterate when my grandmother and father were still alive.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17, 2012

Today is Father's Day. I haven't celebrated this event in a long time, as my father died in 1995. At this point, I don't know that he would be speaking to me were he still alive. When my father was my age (40), he was married for 4 years, had a toddler (me) and a newborn (my sister).  My mother stayed at home, and it would be 5 more years until her alcoholism got out of control. At 40, my father had a well paying job with computers at the Chidlaw Building (then an annex of Ent AFB), and was 3 years away from retiring from the Air Force. The family had a nice house on Russell Circle in the Rustic Hills neighborhood of Colorado Springs. But 37 years later, Mom and Dad are long gone. My sister is about to be divorced for the second time. Her college age daughter is not on speaking terms with her. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband is a raging pill addict who stole her medicine and the medicine of their special needs son. And at 40, I have no family, no house, no decent paying job, no car, no computer even. It's debatable whether Colorado Springs or New York is a better place to live. But both have unemployment well above the national average. Due to student loan bills from the 1990s, I have no chance of ever finishing college, much less earning the $30-40K per year (unadjusted for inflation) that  my father was earning in 1975. But I never survived a Viet Cong attack. And my father never had to deal with homelessness, 15 plus years of poverty, or an ongoing war that started with an attack 6 miles from his residence.

But I've been out of the shelter for 6 weeks now, and I get to enjoy seeing the ocean, beach, and a wildlife refuge on the hour-plus commute from a SRO that takes over half my income.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April 1, 2012

Today is Passion Sunday (also known as Palm Sunday, because of those palm leaves handed out after Mass today). The palms represent the greetings for Jesus as He entered Jerusalem, in a triumphant celebration. The Passion recalls how He was escorted out of Jerusalem (in far less repute than when He entered), scourged, rejected in favor of a terrorist, humiliated, and executed. For those who don't know how the story ends, google "Easter" (which is next Sunday).

Today (as is every April 1) is also April Fools Day, although I quit celebrating that after I left Brooklyn College. The Brooklyn College Excelsior newspaper that I wrote for between 1997-99 used to have a special April Fools issue in which the paper called itself the "Excalibur" and posted such stuff as free tuition, the scumbag Scott Kuperberg taking over the world (to which I snuck in a retraction in 1999), and parrots from the athletic field swooping into nearby Midwood High School and attacking students there.

April 2012 also marks some grim milestones for me- 5 months unemployed, nearly 4 months in the NYC shelter system, 1 year without my own working car, 5 months without my own computer, 5 months since I lived in a place with a kitchen, 10 months since I had my own apartment, and 1 month left of my 30s since I turn 40 next month. I've given up a lot more than just Facebook this Lent.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17, 2012

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the feast day for the patron saint of Ireland. Since 1762, New Yorkers have been using this day as an excuse to throw a parade and party.

I attended 2 parades in honor of this saint- the one that is currently being marched about 8 blocks NE of this library (pics above), and the one that was held 2 weeks ago in my old hood of Rockaway (pics below).

It's amazing how some can justify drinking, carousing, wearing green, and all forms of sinful and non-sinful fun in the name of St. Patrick. I'm still trying to figure out some of the customs of my (partial) ancestral homeland. 

I don't care for corned beef and cabbage. I still go to Mass each weekend (even though most of the Irish branches of my family tree were Protestant when they arrived on this continent). I gave up drinking 13 years ago. And in some ways, going to these parades is depressing, since none of my friends in this area are of Irish ancestry (or willing to be anywhere near one of these things). At 40 (in 2 months), I may be too old to do the partying. Indeed, most of the parade goers I saw at today's parade are young enough to be my children. After about 2 hours at the parade (plus an hour getting lost in Central Park trying to avoid the crowds), I headed back towards the western side of Midtown. Eirinn go brach, indeed, when I'm not slainte, or not having go n-eiri an t-adh leat.

Maybe I should brush up more on my gaelic if my sister really does get tickets to go to Ireland later this year. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012

So much to cover- and only 20 minutes to kvetch...

The Republicans still can't make up their minds. At this point, any of them will be a better choice than Obama.

To my neighbors who threatened my life over reporting a marijuana smell from the next unit over: Marijuana possession and usage is mucho illegal here in New York City. And I'm allergic to that crap. Anyone who threatens me over that reporting is facing full charges and a police visit. Personally I think marijuana and other drugs should warrant permanent prison time, but unfortunately that opinion is in the minority. But that crap is still legal in Denver.

And 12 days ago, Whitney Houston died under mysterious circumstances in Beverly Hills, CA.The first CD I ever purchased was 1987's "Whitney" (which was on sale for $10). The first 45 single I purchased (as opposed to inherited or got from school) was "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", on sale at K-mart for $1.51. I'm not as familiar with the stuff she released after 2004 (when she supposedly lost her voice due to her drug abuse). In some ways, the way she died isn't a shock at all. But Whitney and her music, which crossed boundaries of Pop, R&B, and Dance, will be missed. Below is the video to one of her best songs, which hit top-5 at the dawn of 2000.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February 9, 2012

It has been a long time since I posted here. My residence situation has not improved. I have traded uncertain quarters in Denver for the same thing in Queens. I supposedly have a job with the Parks Department, but I have no idea when I will start collecting that $9.20 an hour. My family situation is still uncertain, with my sister and her daughter not on speaking terms, and being forced to confront the demons on the Stokes side of the family after my grandmother's last surviving sister (Mollie Bayliss) died in November 2011. Uncertainty also reigns in the Republican race to see who can defeat President Obama in November. Mitt Romney has the most money, but he has fewer state wins than Rick Santorum, and spent way too much time attacking Newt Gingrich. And the current President is doing everything he can to lose this fall, especially his cancellation of the Keystone pipeline and the Obamacare mandate on contraception which has outraged the US Catholic Church.

And until further notice, this blog will be composed via library computer. In today's case, look for the lions on 5th Avenue on Google street view.