21 March, 2007

Being Homeless: 1 year and counting

Well, I've been homeless for over one year now (a year ago today, I was in the psychiatric ward at Phelps Memorial Hospital for my depression). However, because I can (usually) find a place to sleep at night, Westchester County doesn't consider me to be homeless. This is in direct contravention to the definition of homelessness, as promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which defines homelessness as "an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence...."

Currently, I don't have a fixed, regular nighttime residence. I've been couch-hopping among friends, mostly spending the weekdays down-county and the weekends up-county. Up-county, I have more of the accoutrements that I grew up with, or at least I have access to them (computer, Internet, television, etc.) Down-county, the people I know are dirt poor, so I pretty much have been reading a lot (that's why I've been posting a lot lately about books I've been reading).

There was one friend, in particular, where I considered myself to be "based," as I spent more of my time there than any other place, and I felt safe leaving most of my possessions behind me at his apartment. Unfortunately for the both of us, his apartment (it was the third floor of a three-family house) burned down. He lost most of his possessions, and well as his three cats (this photo is what they looked like, but is not of his actual pets). I don't know if any of my possessions survived the blaze. Thankfully, there was no loss of, or injury to, human life.

My friend is devastated over the loss of his pets, and is now, himself, homeless (and couch-hopping), which leaves me in more of a pickle than I was in before this devastation took place. So my unstable life has become even more unstable. My depression is getting worse. I need to get back into treatment.

I'm beginning to feel as though I'm taking my bad luck with me and inflicting it upon those who are left in my life that I care about. :'-(

I called my worker at Cluster Community Services at the beginning of the week, to enquire about the status of my housing (I had met with her and a director of the housing where I was supposed to go into, and they said it was only a matter of getting the paperwork through the county's Department of Community Mental Health, which sponsors the housing), and was advised that she is on vacation this week. I spoke to her supervisor, who told me that things are moving along and that they're moving people into housing, so it shouldn't be long for me. I thought I was one of the people that they were going to be moving in, but I guess not, since he would have known about it if that were the case, no?

So the hope that I'd been holding onto over the past few weeks is slowly, but surely, fleeting away into the sea of despair.

19 March, 2007

Nomination for Jerk of the Year Award

I'm really surprised that people don't show more initiative at times. Perhaps I need to get back into doing web sites and create this one: Jerk of the Year Award. Basically, there are some people out there who just have nothing better to do with their time than annoy (or attempt to annoy) others, and we need a place on-line where we can point these people out.

As you know, one of these such individuals is Peekskill Councilwoman Mary F. Foster, who recently spent some energy in an attempt to to create an issue out of nothing.

Then, we have the likes of Pete Tubbs, who I gladly nominate for the 2007 Jerk of the Year Award. You see, PT (as he apparently likes to be called) responded to a post I had made on craigslist, seeking technical assistance for a friend's computer. Here's the text of the ad I put up:
Hi, I'm an IT professional and have already fixed what otherwise needs to be done on my friend's computer but there's just one more thing. I could do this but would probably be easier for someone else to do so (I shattered my hand a number of years back and the long-term effects are starting to show up).

Here's the problem:
When you press the power button on front of the mini-tower (it's a Compaq/HP), it pushes in but the actual power switch has loosened from its seating so it just pushes the switch back into the tower casing, instead of pushing the switch to make contact and turn the computer on/off. The area of the case where this is located is very cramped and small (thus, the reason it would be easier for me to get someone else to do it) but all in all, we're talking about maybe five minutes of your time. For the time being, I've used duct tape (the universal fix-all, right?) to secure the switch but I know that it's just a matter of time before it comes loose again.

Please let me know how much you would charge to come to my friend's house in Throggs Neck (Bronx) and install a permanent fix to this tiny problem. Again, this should take about 5-10 minutes.

Thanks much.
So the good PT felt it necessary to respond to my ad. This is the email I received from him:

From: Pete Tubbs pt@petetubbs.com
Date: Mar 14, 2007 1:58 PM
Subject: Need someone to replace power button on front of computer
To: gigs-293536301@craigslist.org
** CRAIGSLIST ADVISORY --- AVOID SCAMS BY DEALING LOCALLY
** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.html

Hmm……..


I shattered both my feet and I can still walk.


Why not just admit you are no professional at all in any field and you have no clue what the hell you are doing.


Then have your friend be prepared to pay at least 200 bucks for anyone to travel to the god forsaken Bronx.


Because you won’t find anyone in that area that could even turn a computer on much less fix one!


Why not just go buy a whole new tower for $39 bucks and transfer his pc to the new tower Mr. IT Professional? HUH?

Aside from the attitude, great use of white space, don't you think? But let's take a look at his suggestion of buying a new tower and replacing her current one. First, as this is a Compaq PC, I most likely would have to get a Compaq case, because these PC manufacturers like to "customize" their cases in a manner so that using a "standardized" mini-tower case well, just won't fit quite right. But secondly, and more importantly, is that I was trying to find an inexpensive solution to a very inexpensive problem. Why get an entirely new case when a $0.05 (that's five cents) part is what's broken? Why spend $40 on a case when spending $20 to fix it would suffice? I believe that the throw-away mentality that society has created is to blame for this: when something breaks, throw it away and get a new one; don't bother fixing it. But in many instances, things are fixable and we needn't throw them away (or freecycle them, or what not).

Now, I will admit, this response to my ad got my goat a bit, and I fired off an email to PT that was based on my emotional response. Here's what I shot back:
From: Peter C Frank
Date: Mar 14, 2007 3:01 PM
Subject: Re: Need someone to replace power button on front of computer
To: Pete Tubbs

How Nice For You That You Can Still Walk. How Long Ago Did You Shatter
Your Feet? Can You Still Run, Jump, Leap, And Dance? Is Your Mobility
Limited In Any Way Whatsoever? What Do YOU Do For A Living? Do You
Have Skills And Abilities For Every Position And Task In Your Own
Field? You Must Be Quite Fortunate That Shattering Your Feet Has Left
You In The Same State As Beforehand. You Must Feel Very Sure Of
Yourself That You Would Take The Time To Write Such A Lenghty Email
Offering So Many Useful Suggestions.
The formatting isn't the greatest, as I sent that from my mobile phone using Google's Gmail's extremely fantastic mobile email application, where the options for formatting messages aren't all that great (however, it's great to be able to use). However, I thought I had gotten my point across. I mean, people are individuals; we are all different, and we each have our different limitations. As I stated, I could have gotten the job done for my friend, but it would have been difficult and, quite frankly, with everything else I'd done for her, I didn't feel that it was worth the difficulty it would have posed for me to do this when someone with more agile fingers could have gotten the job done in less time, and with less difficulty. Obviously, this point was lost on PT, as he sent this in response to the missile I fired back at him:
From: Pete Tubbs
Date: Mar 14, 2007 4:26 PM
Subject: RE: Need someone to replace power button on front of computer
To: Peter C Frank

Yep, I can run, jump, dance, do the hustle, and break my foot off up your
ass if I care to.

Yes I am proficient in every aspect of my life.

And yes I am smart enough not to waste bandwidth with a stupid question.

And it ain't nothing to type a few paragraphs for me, not really something I
would call lengthy.

But for you with your decrepit hand, I bet it was quite painful for you to
reply.....

Was it?

I hope it was, because for such a dumb witted post, you deserve to
suffer.....

Have a good one numbnuts, no one is going to fix your stupid power button.
Now then, I really was tempted to respond to this. Really, I was. I'm human, after all and, as a human being, I have emotions and at times act upon them without first thinking such actions through. But this time, logic prevailed. Instead of firing back another quick, emotionally-based missile, I decided to look into this Pete Tubbs. Here's what I've found:

He has a really crappy web site (all flash and no substance) where just about the only useful thing on it is his resume. And from his resume, we learn that he graduated from John Dewey High School, located in Brooklyn, NY, and that he's held a number of positions as an Edgar operator working for some printing companies in NYC, as well as maybe a financial services firm or two. Oh, and his resume says that he lives at 1901 ½ AVE B, Fort Pierce, FL, 34950 with a phone number of 772-408-0298.

Now, if we take a look at his web site records, we see some different information:
Registrant:
Pete Tubbs
1905 Voorhies Ave.
Brooklyn, New York 11235
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: PETETUBBS.COM
Created on: 04-Jun-06
Expires on: 04-Jun-08
Last Updated on: 06-Mar-07

Administrative Contact:
Tubbs, Pete ptubbs@optonline.net
1905 Voorhies Ave.
Brooklyn, New York 11235
United States
(646) 247-7807
So what does this tell us? For one, PT uses cablevision for his Internet provider. Two, more likely than not, as he's providing a Florida address on his resume, he either just moved down there and is keeping tabs on his hometown, he maintains two residences, or he lies about them (or maybe some other things that aren't worth mentioning). Three, he hasn't owned his web site for very long, so he's new to creating web sites (and from his first foray, I'd say he hasn't done that good of a job). And finally, since this is the only information I was able to pull up about PT on the web, it tells us that he keeps his jerk-award-winning activities fairly covert.

So thus serves the purpose of this post, to expose to the world at large through the Internet exactly how much of a jerk Pete Tubbs truly is.

18 March, 2007

Peekskill City Councilwoman Mary Foster's Trouble Telling the Truth

It's amazing the lengths that people will go to in order to stir up trouble. Take, for instance, Peekskill City Councilwoman Mary F. Foster. She had to do a bit of digging to come up with this one, and I'm sure that the good citizens of the City of Peekskill would rather their representatives make better use of their time than attempt to stir up trouble over something so petty. Here's the scoop:

It seems that Peekskill City Councilwoman Mary Foster has had a bit of a conniption over a new blog about the City of Peekskill by one of its former councilmembers, Bill Schmidt, even before he has made his first topic-centric post. You see, Bill's friend Andy Bazzo, who posted about Bill starting his blog on the Lower Hudson Forums (aka, LoHud, which is sponsored by The Journal News), received an e-mail from Ms. Foster. Here is the email that she sent to Bill's friend, Andy:

From: "mary f foster" maryfoster7990@msn.com
To: Andy Bazzo
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 16:34:54 -0400
Subject: FW: posted on LoHud today: Bill Schmidt starts a new
blog

Andy,

At least you have the sense to refer to Bill as a former council person. Bill’s website calls Bill a council member and a council liaison. Perhaps he’d like to correct that before his site is live. He can certainly refer to himself as a member of the Peekskill IDA Board, since the mayor appointed him to that in December 2006. If his site continues to say council member since 1998, someone will post to it that he was fired from that position in November 2005.

mary



Now, it appears that Ms. Foster's eyes have gotten a bit crossed reading her spreadsheets, because the web page she refers to as being inaccurate is actually partly under her control: it is one page of the official web site of the City of Peekskill Common Council. Apparently, Ms. Foster is unaware that when she clicks on a link from a blog (or, in this case, she actually went into Bill's profile, as he doesn't link to this page from his bog at all from what I have read), it can take her to a completely different web site.

Of course, had she bothered to look at the address bar in her browser, she would have realized that this page is, in fact, hosted by the City of Peekskill -- not by Bill's Blog -- and, as Bill no longer is on the council (which, by the way, his blog makes absolutely picture perfect clear) he has absolutely no control, whatsoever, as to what the City of Peekskill web site publishes. Conversely, Ms. Foster, who currently sits on the council, has control over such content. I would also like to point out that the web page in question is the top search result in Google when searching for "Bill Schmidt Peekskill" so this page appears quite frequently throughout the net.

So, you see, not only is Ms. Foster conniving and sneaky, as instead of bringing this issue up with Bill directly (his contact information is on the his BlogSpot profile page, which actually is where he links to the page hosted by the City of Peekskill), but she apparently is so scared of him that she feels it necessary to disguise her own oversight and ineptitude as foolishly petty untruths.

Further, on Ms. Foster's own council page, which she updated as recently as January 2007 to advise that she retired from Deloitte & Touche LLP, she lists herself as being on the council since 2005, although she was not inaugurated until 2006. In fact, Bill served on the council through December 31, 2005 in the seat she now occupies, so it puzzles me how both she and Bill could have served in the same seat, at the same time. Additionally, a little birdie has told me that the "mayoral appointment" of Bill Schmidt to the city's IDA, that she refers to in her email to Andy, was actually a city council resolution, of which she voted in favor.

Apparently, it is Ms. Foster who is untruthful about her public service record and the actions she partakes on the Peekskill council.

I feel quite sorry for the citizens of Peekskill, especially if she will (as the scuttlebutt advises me) be running for mayor. With people like Ms. Foster running the big-four accounting firms, it's no wonder they've been getting into so much trouble over the past few years.

27 February, 2007

I just discovered Kathy Reichs

As I've been blogging about lately, one of the things that I've been doing to help with my depression is to read. I guess one of the things that this does for me is keep my mind off a lot of the stressors that are in my life right now. Additionally, it helps keep my mind focused, and as I've blogged about, I find a lot of things in books to be applicable to or reflective of my life, or more generally, there are passages that "speak" to me. Two of the authors that I've been reading a lot lately have been Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell. Because the selection of books that I have not yet read by these female authors has dwindled, I recently asked a librarian if she could recommend something else to me along the same genre/style of the two woman powerauthors, and she recommend Kathy Reichs. I picked out Death du Jour and within a few pages, I was in love.

Reichs, like Cornwell, is employed in the forensics field. In addition to being an author of great caliber, she's a forensic anthropologist in North Carolina and Quebec. Additionally, like Grafton and Cornwell, her characters are well-formed, three dimensional representations of individuals that you could swear you've known about for quite some time. Take, for instance, the following passages:

"Do you have a religion, Dr. Brennan?"
"I was raised Roman Catholic, but currently I don't belong to a
church."
The ghostly eyes looked into mine.
"Do you believe in God?"
"Dr. Jeannotte, there are some days I don't believe in tomorrow
morning."

One of the things that I haven't really talked about is my spiritual affiliation. Like the main character in the novel, I was raised Roman Catholic, but don't currently have a religious affiliation; I consider myself spiritual. And like Dr. Bennet, my depression has me to the point where there are many, many days wherein I can't conceptualize there being a tomorrow morning for me.
"You've heard of subversion myths? Anthropologists love to discuss
these."
I dug back to a grad school seminar on mythology. "Blame giving.
Stories that find scapegoats for complicated problems."
"Exactly. Usually the scapegoats are outsiders -- racial,
ethnic, or religious groups that make others uneasy. Romans accused early
Christians of of incest and child sacrifice. Later Christian sects accused one
another, then Christians pointed the same finger at Jews. Thousands died because
of such beliefs. Think of the witch trials. Or the Holocaust. And it's not just
old news. After the student uprising in France in the late sixties, Jewish
shopkeepers were accused of kidnapping teenage girls from boutique dressing
rooms."

Full of useful information. As you may be aware, anthropology is the study of humanity, and this may explain why I find these books to be so fascinating, as they really delve into the human condition.

One of the things about Reich that I found somewhat irritating is that she held out. What I mean by this is that she didn't reveal the plot as the story was revealed; there were certain aspects that she kept "mysterious" and didn't reveal until almost the end of the book. For instance,

I told her Elisabeth's skeleton was packed and ready, and that the report
was being typed. She said the bones would be picked up first thing Monday
morning.
"Thank you so much, Dr. Brennan. We await your report with great
anticipation."
I did not avail myself of the opening. I had no idea how
they'd react to what I'd written.
Now, she's been alluding to some finding for quite a few chapters, but has yet to reveal, exactly, what this suspicion of hers is. It's a tease, of course, and meant to keep the reader engaged but, trust me, with her writing, she really doesn't need to use such an obvious ploy.

Another passage that spoke to me:
Though age has mellowed Sam, I doubt that it will ever
change his discomfiture at social interaction. It isn't that he doesn't want to
participate. He does. His seeking the office of mayor proves that. Life just
doesn't operate for Sam the way it does for others. So he buys bikes and wings
for flying. They provide stimulation and excitement, but remain predictable and
manageable. Sam Rayburn is one of the most complex and intelligent people I have
ever met.


I, too, find the need for life to stimulate me. One of the things that I used to do to find this stimulation was drive fast. Safely, but definitely fast. My last car, the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp G, allowed me to do this, quite safely.

Here's another example of the annoying "toy with the reader so the reader will continue reading" ploys that Reich employs:
Sam dragged a ladder from under the field house and
propped it against the trailer. He brushed away spiderwebs, tested his weight on
the first rung, then climbed up.

"What the hell?"
"What?"
"Sonofabitch."
"What is it?"

He rotated something in his hand.
"I'll be goddamned."
"What is it?" I tried to see what
the monkey had dropped, but Sam's body obscured my view.

Sam stood motionless at the top of the ladder, his head
bent.

"Sam, what is it?"
Without a word he climbed down and held the object out for
my inspection. I knew instantly what it was and what it meant, and felt the
sunshine go out of the day.

I met Sam's eyes and we stared at each other in
silence.

[End of chapter]
Not to sound ungrateful, but couldn't she tell the reader what it was that was found before ending the chapter?

Well, I guess when a writer is able to evoke such emotion out of an individual, it merely is a testament as to the high quality of her writing. So if you like Grafton and Cornwell, by all means, check out Reichs. I did, and I'm glad. I hope you will be, too.