* Light Inside: A Hallowe’en Message

(Below appears a tract I passed out with the Hallowe’en candy in 2007. “Chaos overwhelms the poor” describes that neighborhood.)

Light Inside

Hallowe’en is the night before a Christian holiday.  The name of the holiday is “All Saints’ Day.”  Years ago, they called it “All Hallows’ Day,” and the night before, “All Hallows’ Evening.”

Trick or treat, jack o’ lanterns and all the stuff with ghosts, come instead from a pagan holiday called Samhein.  These customs became attached to Hallowe’en, but are not really part of it.  Hallowe’en comes on October 31 every year.  Samhein comes on the first full moon after September 21, which can be any day between September 22 and October 19.

A jack o’ lantern is a pumpkin with the insides carved out, and a candle or other light inside.  What about the light inside of you?
Continue reading

* The new panhandling controversy in Baltimore

City considers crackdown on panhandling near businesses, parking meters
Baltimore has another fit of panhandler anxiety

For years, I had the mantra: “Most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.”

Now I have many acquaintances who do one or the other.

Given recent instability in my support system, I myself may soon become one who does both.

My experience is much informed by what I’ve seen at the McDonald’s I frequent at Baltimore and Light Streets, where some people seem to panhandle outside all day long.
Continue reading

Marketing strategies, part 4: Jillions of details

I’ll begin by quoting the e-mail that started all this. Brian said:

Bill – You have some very good points in this article.  I wonder how we can increase readership of your blog?

Two ideas come to mind:

  1. Consider changing the name of your blog to something like “The Homeless Blogger”
  2. There are a number of newspapers that are by homeless people for the broader community.  We have one here in Columbus called Street Speech.  You could submit a weekly blog there.  Here is a partial list:  http://www.homeless.org.au/directory/news.htm

Some background: WordPress gives me very detailed stats about who visits my blog: where they are; what posts or pages they read; where they clicked on a link, if they did, to get here; what search engine terms they used, if any; and more.

The quickest way to increase my readership is for my readers to link to and quote from the blog early and often throughout the day. Incorporate links into your e-mail signatures. Regard any Facebook post or Tweet as incomplete until it includes a link. Do the same with comments on other blogs or news articles …

I have the conviction that the right eyes will find the blog at the right time. That doesn’t mean I should do nothing.
Continue reading

* “Chaos Overwhelms the Poor”

Yahoo! Voices has released my latest piece:

Chaos Overwhelms the Poor
10/18/2013
“Personal failings” and “an environment that is not conducive to success” so interact that many poor folk come into a state of self-generated, self-perpetuating crisis.  Personal failings can be outgrown, however, and untoward circumstances transcended.

For the moment, this is my definitive expression on the subject.

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

* Will the real Malala please stand up?

Malala, survivor of Taliban, resented in Pakistan hometown

Malala Yousafzai’s friends wounded in Taliban attack continue education

Malala Yousafzai: Why the global hero is scorned in Pakistan

The media have been bringing us contradictory reports of how Malala is viewed in her homeland.

Conspiracies do occur.  In my previous work as a legal secretary, I was privy to secret campaigns to manipulate public opinion in various ways.  That often comes to mind when I see a flurry of media coverage on any given subject.  In recent years, for example, there was an explosion of coverage of the creation of vaccines for new, terrifying strains of the flu — that may not have proved so terrifying after all, but for the media hype itself — that impressed me as very likely a campaign to raise public esteem for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Here we have two competing constituencies that, for whatever reason, are competing for U.S. public opinion concerning this woman.

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

* I really have nothing better to do

(Transcribed from a letter to my mother dated 25 September 2007.)

This conversation yesterday with a co-worker astonished me.

“Peaches” is a 42-year old, very short woman, certainly a grandmother and very likely great-grandmother, who has about half her teeth. She works principally as a cashier, and is a really good worker and co-worker. She constantly teases me by pretending to flirt with me.

I was stocking the trash bags shelves, and became aware that she was in quite a pickle. Her shift was over, and she had appointments she had to keep at a certain time across town; but she also had assembled this bag full of items she needed to buy at once and before leaving the store. And the line at the cash register was quite long. (Long lines at cash register are a constant, intractable problem at this store.)

I told her facetiously, “Just go down there and push ’em all out.” She said, “No, that would be unmannerly, and that’s not like me.” (Conduct that can be called “unmannerly” is a big, big issue in this community, and a big issue for me personally since I see so much of it and find it offensive.) She went on: “Now, I like your manners. You speak to the customers …”
Continue reading