Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Literacy!

February 27, 2015

Stop right there.  Think about what you’re doing when you come here.  Why did you come here?  It wasn’t for pictures was it?  Well you didn’t come here for anything other than that.  It’s obvious.  You came here to read what words I may post.  You do this everywhere you go.  Not just here or online.  You read everywhere.  Signs, books, newspapers, even text on your phone.  But have you ever thought of just how literate you or anyone else is.

Dictionary.com gives three separate meanings for literacy.  They are as follows:

1.     The quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.

2.     Possession of education.

3.     A person’s knowledge of a particular subject or field.

Let me go one step further here.  Without the first you will NEVER have the latter two.  If one can not read nor write as I’ve shown you here then one does not have even the barest of education nor do they have knowledge of a specific field or subject (well in some cases this can be learned without reading in the case of on the job training).  Both skills are taught in school or at home.  In the case of the later, we usually learn that in school.  In the case of the prior, we should ALL know how to read at least by no later than four years of age.

Reading is by far the most important part of literacy.  If you can’t or won’t read then you’re missing out on an entirely different world view and distort your own perceptions of the world.  We as adults should foster the need for reading and literacy in children when they are of the most impressionable years of age (usually from three to twelve and I’m just guessing on the high end).  Even if you can’t read yourself seek help learning.  You’ll be glad you did.

I did some interesting research prior to writing this.  I’ll give two particular sites here for information:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/number-of-american-adults-who-cant-read/

http://world.bymap.org/LiteracyRates.html

The first site gives a pretty appalling report of literacy in the United States alone (as of 2013).  The second is a map that shows the literacy of the world.  Overall, our world looks good for reading and writing.  Now take into account the levels at which you, your children, and myself read at.  Today’s children can read no better and in many places worse than those that grew up when I was a child.  The best most people can read at is a 6th grade level and often times there are places where people can’t even do that.

There are things we can do to stop this backwards slide of illiteracy.  Parents must spend more time reading to their children till they are of an age to understand symbols (a.k.a. the alphabet) so they might be able to read on their own.  If this can’t or doesn’t happen, then perhaps the grandparents could assist.  I personally know one grandmother who has all her grand kids reading alone by three.  I’ve met some of her grand kids.  They are very bright indeed.

Alas, corporations as well as government attempts to dumb down our society in order for them to better control your lives (it’s part of a POWER play).  Even the newspapers (corporate owned) only print to a sixth grade level and some even print articles at a fourth grade level.  It’s no wonder people are not learning nor are they capable of learning if you’re reading comprehension is at that level.  It follows that your quality of life will suffer as well.  It’s also no wonder that companies are either outsourcing or screaming bloody murder about the lack of education in new employees.  We must do better than this.

As a child, I for one spent more time with books than most kids my age.  By the time I was twelve I read at a college junior’s level.  Funny thing was I was understanding those books as well.  If I were reading a book you would find a dictionary nearby in order for me to find out something about a word that puzzled me.  Even now that I’ve aged, I still read pretty heavily.  A lot of life’s lessons can be found through reading.  I’ve read from fantasy, science fiction, biography, as well as technical manuals to self help books (transcendental meditation).

Reading has a vast affect on society as well.  Those less learned than even myself find themselves out of touch or just plain ignored by the more learned.  The bad thing is people who are learned should instead of turning away and ignoring the issue should be less rude and more pro-active in helping those that can’t read.  We (due to the fact we can’t read) are sliding down a slope we need NOT be on to begin with.

The philosophy here is to spend more time reading and less time on the television (boob tube is the aptly given name for it because of the low quality of it’s educational purpose).  Spend that time researching the web or with a good book for an escape.  You’ll be better off for it and may just develop into a good human being instead of devolving.

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Bicycling!

April 29, 2013

Some would think I’m not really a bicyclist.  Actually I’m a die-hard bicyclist.  I quit driving in 2000 after having a second Ford product blowing up and remembering that if I took one more severe whiplash I’d look like Christopher Reeve.  My neck injury in a 1982 automobile accident is the cause of this diagnosis which I’ve ignored till 2000.

So let me tell you my experience of touring.  First off, my tour from Michigan to Florida.  I’ll cover my trip as well as the equipment I used for that trip.  Then, in a separate article, I’ll cover my trip from South Carolina to Michigan and back.  Lastly, I’ll cover my current bike and hopes for a future and hopefully final bicycle build.  Without further ado, I’ll start with the first of my bicycling articles.

In 1998, I lost yet another job and was not seeing a possibility of working again soon.  With the final check from a subcontracting job (not computer related), I purchased a reasonable bicycle (from Sam’s Club).  It was better than most from Walmart or the likes anyway, though not as good as the bike I once owned in California in my final two years in the Navy.

The bicycle I purchased was a Motiv.  I forget the model.  It was a twenty one speed mountain type bicycle with Shimano Altus components.  It really wasn’t all that much.  It didn’t have a rack nor at the purchase time did I have a set of panniers.  Those were purchased afterward at a local bicycle shop in my hometown of Three Rivers, Michigan.

From that point, I had to plan what I would take.  Since I was going to be pretty much homeless, I had to prepare for the trip with a minimalistic living style.  Of course I had a small tent and sleeping bag, but beyond that I had to have the bare essentials in clothing.  This amounted to four t-shirts, two pair of shorts, two pair of jeans, socks, and shoes for clothing (it was in the beginning of June that I left for Florida).  I didn’t pack much more than that because I had no room.  I was only running a rear rack and panniers for it.

Why Florida for my first choice of destinations you ask?  Simple.  My uncle god bless his departed soul had offered me two years before to come down to Florida to get further education at a branch of Florida Technical College where he’d become the only non-relative Dean.  The college was nationally certified and the head of it use to be Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education Secretary.  To me, that made this school a good bet.

The day I left Three Rivers, Michigan was a partly cloudy day that turned into a mostly cloudy afternoon.   I made good time the first day cutting across the northwest corner of Indiana and into Illinois.  My intention was to go visit my cousins in Pontiac, Illinois for a day or two before going on with my journey.  I made it into Valparaiso, Indiana before the bottom came out and rain ruined the rest of the day’s ride.  That night I spent a rather soggy nasty night under a park picnic area roof with the tent on top of a picnic table.  It was a rather stressful night to say the least.  By morning the weather had abated and I was off on my second day of travel.

The second day fared better.  I was finally able to make it to Pontiac where I was able to catch one of my cousins around and asked to stay a bit before moving on.  That turned out to be almost a week.  It was a time of discovery, learning, and re-association between myself and one of my cousins.  I still cherish that time I spent there and always will.  It was also a time of true relaxation.

After day two, days get jumbled together quite a bit.  However, I do remember rolling around St. Louis and down through and into Rolla, Missouri in about three days time.  I went this way in hopes I might meet up with a lady I’d talked to online.  Alas, it wasn’t to be so I continued my trek from there back to Kentucky and southward.  I pretty much followed the Mississippi after returning to the east side of it.  Crossing the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau, Kentucky, I continued from there through Tennessee avoiding Memphis altogether.

It wasn’t even a week after leaving Pontiac, Illinois, that I made it to around Montgomery, Alabama.  This was via Kentucky, Tennessee, and the northeastern corner of Mississippi.  I vaguely remember staying in St. Louis and Montgomery for two days each to do laundry as well as rest.  From Montgomery, I went through Dothan, Alabama via the southwestern corner of Georgia and into the Florida panhandle at Monticello, Florida.

From Monticello, Florida, I turned south and east ending my trip in Winter Haven, Florida where I visited my grandmother on my mother’s side for a week before my uncle picked me up and got me started at Florida Technical College.  I actually ended up in Jacksonville, Florida where I attended that college branch where my uncle was Dean of for a short time before going back south to open yet another branch.  I traveled from Winter Haven to Jacksonville via my uncle’s car so that doesn’t count as part of my tour.  In all, I spent thirty days on the road.  Of that, I spent twenty-one days riding.  I figured it out to be a shade over two thousand miles one way.  Average mileage per day ended up being around a century a day with on long day being over a century and a half.  Not bad for at the time a thirty-eight year old man.

Next up, my trip from Columbia, South Carolina to Centreville, Michigan.  Different bicycle and equipment for that.  Stay tuned.

20 years later! Discharge anniversary. A small look back!

November 28, 2012

Come this December 14th, I’ll celebrate 20 years since my discharge from the United States Navy.  However, I have nothing really to celebrate other than more freedom (though several of those freedoms are being challenged by our current congressional leaders), more police harassment, and politicians who refuse to find jobs for and help those veterans that protect their rights.  Of course, I can believe this since there are only 103 people in the upcoming Congress who are veterans themselves.  That’s not even 25% of our congressional leaders are veterans.

Before I give you my opinion on that, let me give you a brief synopsis of my life since I left the military.  Well maybe not so brief, but it will be enlightening to say the least.  Let me add that before I entered the military, I had some if not much college education.

Ok, I was discharged in December 14, 1992 and I remained in San Diego for approximately four months living in what some would call a studio apartment.  At the time rent was $425/month in San Diego and that was behind the San Diego airport.  Living anywhere near the beach or in a decent neighborhood was cost prohibitive.  What sucked was, I was attempting to do this on a security officer’s (as most call them “rent-a-pigs”) salary.  No easy task back then.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.

In May of 1993, after already filing my Veteran’s administration claim, I had to leave California due to monetary reasons.  So off I went back to my home state of Michigan only to find no work for almost three months.  Then it was back to the recreational vehicle industry (manufacturing).  That move cost me almost everything I owned and eventually cost me the pickup truck I was driving at the time.  Then my transportation became a bicycle.  Probably a good thing too.

Between 1993 and 1998 I stayed as actively employed as I could.  Even in the rust belt it wasn’t easy at the time.  While I was in Michigan I got to visit with my uncle who is now deceased.  He was the only non-family member of Florida Technical College Dean’s.  This college was set up by Ronald Reagen’s ex-Education Secretary with multiple locations all over Florida.  He offered to help me further my education in the field of my choice.  It would be later that I’d decide to take him up on his offer.

Out a job and in financial trouble (about to be evicted from my rental mobile home and forced to call the bank and return a truck I bought just less than a year ago), I took the last $1500 I earned spending it on a reasonable bicycle and what I thought might be appropriate to travel around 2000 miles with.  I left in June of 1998 headed to Florida to see my uncle who made me the offer.  Needless to say, I had little or no knowledge then what I was letting myself in for not to mention I became homeless for the first of many times to come.

Trip to Florida

Now this was the most interesting or harrowing trip/vacation I ever made.  It was also a vast eye opener as to what was going on in the country most people don’t see and our politicians try to hide.  It took me one full month (21 actual riding days) to roll from Three Rivers, Michigan to Winter Haven, Florida.  I traversed Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in my travels.

While many only see what they view from the interstate highways and tollways, I got to see America up close and personal as bicycles are not allowed on those roads.  Most of my travels were on two lane highways (some four lanes).  What I saw was that there were only a certain few people who used what they earned properly (i.e. good home and functional automobile).  One such case I witnessed, a man owning a mobile home with no less than five automobiles in the driveway (one of which was a BMW sport sedan).  Now all of those vehicles may or may not have been his and some or all could have been non-functional.  However, no person should put an automobile of that expense over a home.

The vast majority of what I saw on my trip was shocking.  Most people in the areas I traveled lived in modest homes and had modest cars.  Many were living paycheck to paycheck to keep what they had.  They WEREN’T competing with the Jones.  Only a small percentage of people had any true wealth (i.e. luxurious home, extravagant automobiles, mobile homes, boats, and other luxuries by my standards).  All this got me thinking of who pays the most taxes.  Come to find out it’s not those with the luxuries.  It’s the ones barely making ends meet.

Sure there may be more of us who barely make ends meet.  However, the ones that can barely make ends meet are those who are most likely to become homeless and also those most likely to be imprisoned because of trying to stay alive while those that rob other people blind (i.e. white collar criminals) generally get of with little or no punishment.
As they say “The best law money can buy.”  Basically stating, if you have money you can buy the law/lawyers.

Needless to say, this trip opened my eyes up more than my time in the military or advertisements for aid to the hungry and homeless in Africa.  I saw both homelessness and hunger right here in America and am still witnessing it growing by the day in Columbia, South Carolina.  All this because of a small percentage of greedy people whom DON’T want to pay any taxes whatsoever.  It’s this, petty jealousy, religion, and the fight over resources that cause wars both civil and otherwise.

Jacksonville, Florida

After making it to Winter Haven, Florida and getting to talk with my grandmother for a week, I was picked up and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida where my uncle was opening up another branch of Florida Technical College.  It would soon be my new school since I told my uncle of my decision on his offer of further education albeit two years later.  It’s also where I took up residence with my aunt and uncle while I attended school before they were transferred south.

Once my time at Florida Technical College ended, I moved out from my aunt and uncle’s apartment.  I held a studio in Jacksonville for just a short bit before becoming homeless yet again.  Eventually, I got back to work for a day labor place and moved from there to full time work.  It didn’t last.  I ended up back on the street in 2000 without a home, a job, or any unemployment benefits per say.  It was at that time, I decided on a location change as there was nothing in Jacksonville.

Thinking with the little head!

In 2000, I met a lady online whom I fell for rather hard.  Thinking with my little head,  I decided to move to South Carolina.  Alas, she moved to Texas and I was stuck again.  I ended up in Columbia and remain to this day.  Still homeless (I was living out of a cheap used car I was driving at the time), I started working day labor again in an attempt to get back off the street and into something a little more permanent.

In the last twelve years, I’ve been on and off the street time and time again.  Each time it gets harder to get up and off the street.  Coming up on my 53rd birthday, I wonder if I’ll make it up this time.  Will I be stuck on the street while awaiting my Veteran’s Association claim to be denied yet again?  Will I finally be driven beyond the brink and do what I thought of doing last when I was 15?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

At this point, I can no longer do the physical labor I once did and Information Technology jobs in this state are far and few in between.  All I can hope for now is the resolution of my VA claim and my disability payment goes above 50% so I can at least find myself off the street.  From there I can at least run a part time business fixing computers from my home to supplement my disability pay.  Perhaps eventually, I’ll be able to garner the other certifications that will allow me to return to the work force in a much better job.

With all this on my plate, I’ll leave you with something about my next post.  It will be entitled Why do they do this? Police brutality!

Relationships and being homeless!

August 2, 2012

Is it possible?  Can a homeless person have a relationship with friends and or the opposite sex?  Look around.  It happens just like it happens in everyday society.  The only difference is you don’t see many relationships developing between those that are working and the homeless as you do the homeless working out relationships with the homeless they are with.

As in any of society, there are relationships.  Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you don’t interact with society developing friends or even a romance.  I see the exact same thing being on the street with homeless as I do with while working and dealing with others who are employed.  It’s the same thing with some minute differences.

Developing true friends on the street is not easy.  Trust is a big issue in this.  Some can be with friends for years even out on the street.  I know, I was with one such friend for approximately three years before that relationship turned sour.  Others have shorter relationships.  Not many go as long as I did with one friend.
I do have other friends but they are more acquaintances than true friends.  I’ve found the biggest problem for those with friends on the street is that you never know when your friend will turn on you.  It could be mentally, physically, or both.  Usually it’s something simple that starts it out and is blown out of proportion.  Just like in the rest of society there is usually DRAMA behind the split between friends.  If it’s not a fight for foolish reasons it’s from theft.  Yes homeless steal from each other.  Often times more from each other than from stores.

As to relationships with the opposite sex, they do happen.  Again, like the rest of society, they can be lasting and then they can blow up.  The difference is the blowup are generally too public and again DRAMA over something he/she said or he/she did starts it all.  I have to admit though, I’ve yet to witness any physical abuse in any case.  It’s mostly shouted words instead of physical domestic violence.

Now for the most touchy of all the relationships.  The relationship between people who have and people who have not (home owners vs homeless).  In most cases you WON’T see any kind of relationships (romantic or otherwise) between them at all.  Homeowners/people who are considered wealthy no matter what they still owe out for their properties absolutely refuse to associate with the homeless in downtown Columbia.  Their personification is that ALL homeless are bad people.  We’re either thieves,  con artists,  nor even disabled according to people like those on city council or the mayor’s office.  If they had their way they’d lock all the homeless up on Bluff Road (southwestern part of Columbia city proper).

My answer for that is similar to the answer for getting rid of corrupt politicians.  In the case of homeless, there are a very few who make it bad for the rest of us homeless.  Alas, they are the ones who demand the most from society as well as government.  And yes, a great deal of those have served jail time.  Most for trespassing.  Otherwise, there is no felony conviction.  Pull those off the street who are consistently causing the issues and put them in a place more fitting.

Romantic relationships are almost non-existent between the homeless and those that have homes.  Believe me, I’ve made an attempt or two myself in getting to know ladies in town here.  I’ve used subtlety when dealing with those women who I’m attracted too.  Alas, even just trying to get to know a female who has a home is next to impossible.  Harder yet is getting one to go on  a “date” with you.   In most cases, if you haven’t got any money you need not apply.  It doesn’t stop me from trying to communicate with the ladies.   But then, I’m not in it for money nor sex.  I’m into it for companionship.  The other things will come in time if there is any chance at all between people.

The Pursuit of Happyness!

July 19, 2012

This is the title to one of my favorite movies.  It gives people like me hope however little it may be.  This isn’t a false story that Wil Smith portrayed a part in.  This story is very real.  Wil’s character does exist and went through a lot that I’ve gone through.

Alas there isn’t a program for Information Technologists like myself similar to the stock brokerage firm where Wil’s character interned at.  If there was such a program, I’d have gone into it myself.  Sadly, companies like Microsoft and other high tech companies who scream bloody murder at our federal government for more and more H-1b visas don’t push these programs to get the workers they need.

Yes, Microsoft has something very similar set up but they seem to want only the younger set of people to train thinking the older people are not open enough to change.  BAH!  Seems to me that Microsoft and other companies aren’t taking into affect that a lot of older people want to work and are willing to learn new things in order to stay active in society whether it be in the Information Technology field or not.

The saddest thing is that corporations are sitting on hundreds of million if not billions of dollars supposedly set aside for training people.  Take one look at the average age of the homeless man on the street.  Sadly it’s decreasing.  When I was first homeless the average age was around 50.  That average age has gone down  to around 35 in less than 15 years.  Why aren’t corporations spending on retraining these people who want to work instead of farming jobs overseas or importing labor where American dollars are sent overseas?  I’ll tell you why.  Greed pure and simple.

Don’t get me wrong.  I”m all for corporations making money as is their rights.  But at what expense?  Alienation of your employee’s?  Lost employee’s (think layoffs here)?  What is currently happening in the United States right now will happen to countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand and even the Philippines as the workers become more knowledgeable and want more for the efforts they put out.  Case in point is Foxcon in southeast Asia.  They’ve had workers commit suicide even after raising wages 3 times inside two years.

Myself, I only want a little bit of the pie that WAS the American dream.  I don’t want any automobile or home (what does a title show?)  We don’t really own a thing.  we just rent it.  I’m a man of little needs.  If I have a laptop computer, a bicycle to get around on, a place to call a home (rent or otherwise),food to subsist on as well as female companionship I’m fine.  I’m not the materialistic person I once was.  Being materialistic is not the dream or the way anyone is suppose to be.  It’s something the advertising executives want you to believe in.  It’s also why EVERYONE in the United States owes approximately $40,000 to pay for the deficit that our federal government has spent us into.

As I grow older (don’t we all) I see my dream of ever being in a position where I can have even a little bit of what I want slipping away due to the greed and petty jealousy of others.  Even on the streets there is petty jealousy not to mention greed.  I had a set of panniers worth $200 cut up because of greed and jealousy.  Hell the things weren’t even paid for yet.

I leave this with just one question, why does this world have to people who have and people who have not?  Can’t we all just get along well together and share what this world provides?  Why is it that less than one percent of the world’s population want everything and not willing to work for just a share of what the world has to offer?  To those of the less than one percent of the world’s population, “When people stop believing in money, then money is truly worthless!”