* I’m getting interviews!

Yesterday at noon I had an interview for a Program Assistant position at a medical professional society downtown. This is straightforward secretarial work, and if I get hired will be $15.00/hour 40 hours/week. Thus my gross pay would be $600/week.

I have another interview on Tuesday, October 15, for a Secretary II position at a City agency. I am well familiar with this agency from my previous work with the City, and the job is located just a few blocks from the shelter. The pay would be the same.

(I observe that secretaries’ pay hasn’t changed since 2006.)

An income of $600/week has been my long-range financial goal for a long time. I figured out several years ago, long before Obamacare was ever conceived, that this income level was the threshold for my being able to buy my own comprehensive health insurance. Also, now I will be able to give $60/week to church! But will I be able to get my own place?

Or instead merely take my place among the working homeless?

I want to get a little studio or efficiency apartment in Washington Hill, a nice neighborhood located midway between my church and downtown. Then I’d be able to walk to and from work, and to and from church also. But will I be able to get that for $600/month? (The rule of thumb is that one month’s rent should not exceed one week’s pay.)

Affordable housing is a big issue in Baltimore, one I’ve heard a lot about, but have not personally had to face till now.

I’d rather not get a “room”; I just spent five years in a rooming house prior to becoming homeless, and am not eager to go back to the “drama” such places offer.

The other question I’m asking is spiritual: Do I deserve these opportunities now? Have I earned them? Have I done the work that my homelessness was meant to do? I recall having had the sense in January that my fortunes were about to turn around; that homelessness for me had accomplished its purpose. Maybe I’ve been homeless long enough. It’s been 2½ years.

* Grow the pie, or re-slice it?

Here comes the spoils society

Don’t let that odd title put you off.  I think this op-ed by Robert J. Samuelson is pretty important.

The question is whether we direct the economy so as to increase wealth for everyone, or instead merely give poorer or richer people larger pieces of the “pie.”

In my conversations with other homeless folk and poor people generally, I hope to emphasize the desirability of creating wealth as opposed to merely taking it away from others.

On that point, I’m certainly prone to agree with Andy Kessler, though I have uneasiness as to whether or not he would support corresponding policies.

Other recent articles on similar questions:

An Obituary for the American Middle Class
Race, income, education increasingly polarize U.S. families since recession
Higher education’s biggest challenge is income inequality

As to Catharine Hill’s piece, I really have to question what “special services” rich families are “demanding” that are bidding up tuition costs.

 

My record cannot be expunged

Yesterday I researched expungement in Maryland.  My conviction was in mid-October 2010, and I’d understood one could get a misdemeanor expunged after three years, so I was hoping to take care of that now.  Turns out there is no expungement of any guilty verdict, except in the case of any of a long list of truly trivial nuisance crimes, e.g. urinating in public or not paying one’s fare on the subway.  To clear my record, I must apply for a pardon, for which I become eligible only after five years of being arrest-free after the end of probation (Oct. 2011).  The paperwork is extensive.  One’s application must include copies of one’s high school and college diplomas, any discharge from bankruptcy, and certified copies of one’s driving record from any state in which one has ever had a license (as in my case, Ohio until 1978).

So for the time being, until October 2016, my one (1) misdemeanor conviction will continue to bar me from employment with many of Maryland’s largest employers.

Previous post:  Hiring discrimination and “backgrounds”
 

* The power of presence

[Note, 08/15/13: Releasing this now as I will have another post on similar topics in the very near future.]

Wednesday afternoon 07/03/13 I stepped into the shower and said, “OK, what will I think about?” The answer came, “Think about nothing. Give yourself completely to this activity, this experience.”

And at once, for the first time in weeks, I felt the boost that comes from conserving one’s energies, when they are no longer being drained by attention to things distant from here and now and what I myself can do.

This is the power of presence.

[Notes to follow up on in the future:
– Scott Morrison
– Brother Lawrence: silence; feelings
– Forgive us our trespasses
– Take no thought
– The needle’s eye
– Just for today
– Serenity prayer
———
– Be here now
– Wherever you go, there you are
Conspiracy Theorists:  America’s Lost Sheep?
Was There a Jesus? If So, What Was He Like?]

(Reblogged 05/21/14.)

The Zimmerman Verdict: Get Over It

Zimmerman protesters raid Wal-Mart, stop freeway

The world will not turn itself upside down to please you.

Neither will the law.

Neither will the facts.

Neither will the fact that the law is what it is.

Nor the fact that, under American law, a jury verdict is prima facie (Go ahead, look it up!) correct.

Under the rules of due process, the lawful evidence was presented to a competent jury. This was not so with TV news or radio talk shows.

Moreover, in civil suits, the standard of proof is “a preponderance of the evidence,” but in criminal trials — all criminal trials — it is much higher, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This standard is so high I wonder that any criminal conviction is ever obtained. Thus in a very similar local case here in Baltimore, an off-duty police officer was recently acquitted in the strangling death of a black teen.
Continue reading

* When you can’t get what you want

There is a song from The Sound of Music that relates; it concludes, “… I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Wednesday morning I stood outside McDonald’s having my last smoke before leaving.  I considered that as soon as I got to the library, I’d need to count my pennies and plan spending for the rest of the week.  I pondered whether or not to buy a soda on my way there.  I’d had some unusual spending earlier in the week, and faced some more unusual spending in connection with the 4th of July (The library’s closed.).  The wisdom of having bought or not bought a soda at this time would depend on the outcome of that planning.

I decided not to buy a soda at this time.  If I had enough cash left, according to the plan, I could enjoy a soda later in the week.

This isn’t sacrifice; that’s a topic I must discuss in later posts.  It’s a matter instead of delaying gratification; a decision to forego a pleasure now for the sake of possibly having the pleasure later.  This is an important strategy in learning stewardship (right management of one’s resources) and in improving one’s lot in life.

It still leaves me without a soda, when I want a soda.  What to do?
Continue reading

* A simple lesson

My normal day runs as follows.  After breakfast at the mission, at 5:45 I head for McDonald’s, where I drink coffee ($1.06) and do my prayer routines.  Around 9:15, I head for the library, stopping at a convenience store en route to buy smokes ($2.75) and a soda ($1.69).  From 10:00 to 2:00 I’m online at the library.  When my time’s up, I go to the Wi-Fi café, write in my diary and have another cup of coffee ($1.00).  Then it’s back to the mission, where I have to pay admission ($3.00).

Sunday mornings, I am normally left with bus fare to church ($1.60) and pennies.  I meet my patrons at church and obtain an allowance for the next week.

Without rehearsing the arithmetic now, as of bedtime last night I had enough cash to cover McDonald’s, the afternoon coffee, rent for tonight, and bus fare for tomorrow.  I have about $3 left on my debit card, and could use that to buy smokes.  I would have to go without a soda today completely.  Things are already looking skinny for next week, as I know one of my patrons will be out of town tomorrow, and I need to pick up a prescription ($2.50).

When I got to the convenience store, the EFT system was down, so I could not use my card.  The clerk offered to let me take a pack of smokes today and pay tomorrow.  I took it.  As I walked away, it occurred to me that I could probably stop in at Fresh & Greens and buy a soda there using my debit card.
Continue reading

* Jacob’s ladder 06/19/13

Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness.  Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream.  I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.”  Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

  1. Fear of the unknown.  See From my diary: Learning to pray.
  2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am.  In particular, at the shelter in recent months have been several guys who just “came home” from doing “hard time,” and within days had found jobs.
  3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  The question isn’t whether I fall down, but whether I’ll get back up.  A moment of despair doesn’t rule out faith long-term.  It can be OK for me to lie there and have a little pity party, as long as it’s reasonably brief.
  4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  (I may rename this if I think of a better name.)  Several weeks ago after church, I became impatient waiting for the person who had promised me a ride downtown, and waiting also for my principal patron, who was tied up in conversation with others.  I became disgusted with myself over feeling that way; and disgusted that I was hanging out there long after I would otherwise have left, having feelings all about obtaining favors for me, me, me.

That’s not a pretty way to end this just now, but in the long run I do think I need to be candid in admitting what it takes to climb one’s way out of poverty.

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

* This guy is a career criminal, and other news

3 Years Is Just Desserts for Man Who Refused to Pay Dinner Bill

No comment.  Read the story.

Fatherhood programs teach men to be dads

This is a good thing.  Many young men are eager to step up to the plate and, in these circumstances, overcome the disadvantages of their own background.

Give ’em a chance.

With exposure to babies, rodent dads’ brains, like moms’, become wired for nurture

We mammals aren’t reptiles.

(Reblogged 06/18/14.)