Solutions? …and Corruption

Pic-09082014-001First let me say that a little pre-plannng on homelessness goes a long way. I ordered a backup solar re-charging battery when I saw that possibility on the far horizon and I am glad I did.

Earlier today the power supply on this laptop finally failed. The cord was cheaply made, got a kink, and that worked into a break. Dead. No way to recharge the unit. The backup computer is a huge ASUS that types whatever the hell it wants when you set to writing making me look like a bigger idiot than I already am – which, I know, is difficult to imagine.

It also has the battery life of a fruit fly.

So that rules out using it really before 10 a.m. at the library unless I want to ante up $2.50 for coffee and I am really just existing on fumes at this point. I need the last little bit for laundry and one last trip to the storage if someone ants to buy the chairs. Then I am done. Broke. Empty. No more Peets.

I won’t miss the drinks…I miss the power like Ironman would miss it.

But as I was walking I realized I had the battery backup and that you can also plug it in! I wndered if I could use it like a relay…plug it in, then route the output to the computer at the right rate and see if it would recharge it?

It works!

And I realized it would also recharge my iPod (which I found in storage, but with no charger) since the solar battery pack came with a kit that has like 87 adapters).

Which brings us, sort of,  to Gregor’s question on my Facebook:

Someone donated 1 million dollars to the shelter, where would you have them spend it? You and I have spent a good deal of time in shelters. Lay out 3 (three) areas where the money could be most efficiently spent; i.e. an IT lab to teach new skills to people for the new global economy? …. You’ve been around the block. Yes, a ridiculous hypothetical, but just for kicks, what would you do?


Well a million is not much given the bigness of the problem. First I would locate the top problems: joblessness and housing. It’s that simple. Food is fine..there are enough donations and groups in town to take care of that just fine as is. I give away food every day to others (all my breaded items, sweets and dairy – hey I’m a popular guy).

Yiu cannot give it to these agencies. They will burn through a million bucks in bureaucratic nonsense in three weeks and provide not a single service to a homeless person. They won’t even use their Costco card and go three blocks over and buy shampoo for The Loft. Forget that.

(Oh, and by the way, they are advertising for a new head of  “Page Smith” the nicest of the homeless centers on campus (up to 18 month stay in a nice mobile home). If I applied and got it I would be utterly nullified and hamstrung from actually doing anything – not that they would hire me…they already suspect how I shake out).

No, I would take the money and form a quick non-profit that was open to others both inside and outside the churches. I would still call it “Azotus House: Theology and Art” but it would be known for transitioning homeless people willing to work and be sober on premises for 6-8 months while they pay extremely low (sliding scale) rents to save for the real rents around here. Rents would be from $100 to $500 a month for a room. No attached moralisms – some basic ground rules because the agenda isn’t to have a great time – it’s a safe haven to build and transition to permanent housing as, say opposed, to the Homeless projects on the premises here (except the family homeless project in the big shiny building – they have done a good job by all accounts placing over 180 families in actual housing)..

Get one Azotus house going and make it self-sustaining. Get two more.You still have money left over. People in the house have responsibilities (to get food from food pantries and do other household things that make for self-esteem. There is wifi and dedicated (donated) computers available 24/7. Donated cellphones…we are about getting people the equipment they need.

Because if I did not have the equipment I have I’d be screwed.

Because I had an interview yesterday I wore slacks, had the interview then went to the Little Red Church (Episcopalian) yesterday. The phone slipped out of my pocket easily (which it never would out of my usual cargo pants..which are like a small set of file drawers.)

Got all the way over to The Abbey when I realized…no phone.

Don’t panic (Thank you Douglas Adams…who I bumped into literally at E3 by the way…same exact height as me…we laughed…face to face.). But no phone and no laptop…that would be bad.

I went back and found a guy who knew a girl…there it was pressed into the cushion and the pew, Whew..


The real problem (Gregor) is how to get leaders on board. Everyone wants to go by the established powers not understanding that the established powers exist to feed themselves.

I sent out a request for supplies (more shampoo (thanks to Scott Dodge and Daniel Burns for already responding) from some church leaders because we are already out again. Now I have some – plenty (a bottle) but THEY DO NOT.

Even though I made it clear it needs to come to me to get it to the Loft, the question still comes back “who (official) can we give it to?” (Magnum head slump).

I mean they can take it to the office but it has a …maybe…25% chance of getting to the Loft even if it say “To the LOFT” all over it. And the other programs have much more funding and far less people.

They are the fancy hospitals and we are the *MASH* unit. And the others are lon g stay and we are 30 days and you are out (my clock is ticking).

Worse – there is corruption. Most of the food is donated and a lot by Trader Joes. I have eye-witness reports of CASES of Filet Mignon steaks, lobster, shrimp – anything of any real value going right out the back door to be resold 20 cents on the dollar by kitchen staff or simply being skimmed off the top by employees. Meanwhile the Homeless who it is donated for eat macaroni salad heavily dosed with mayonaise and not much of it.

You can debate whether it is a good idea to be doing gourmet food at the shelter (though I have heard people grouse at “Feeding the Spirit quiche like it was something foreign when it is absolutely superb). The point is money is constantly being made OFF the poor here and they are not being advanced at all.

Despite the personal done me by City Team at the end in Portland,  I never saw any corruption. Nothing ever went out the back door and the best possible food was put forward every day for everyone.

So this factors in as well Gregor. Every dollar has to go to the cause. And if I run Azotus House someday. I have to pay full rent. No free ride. And all the rules apply to me.

Why theology and art? Because we need content and meaning in life and those are two open avenues if approached without the bullshit.

N one has to participate – but I am a good discussion leader and a good artist/leader. Better still I am one of them.

I’ve been having some wonderful theological discussions over breakfast with folk…and it’s open and fun and everyone has a good time with it. I don’t even start them..usually someone just asks me.

That is the best answer I got buddy-boy.




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