Saturday, December 29, 2012

Random Randomness

We survived yet another apocalypse prediction! Yay us!

A few random thoughts and then I'll let you go on your way:

1. Talk of what the "Fiscal Cliff" will do to our economy: Stock markets will tumble, we'll all pay higher taxes, the economy will stop its recovery.

Bullshit. Yeah, things might seem bad at first, but the thing I've learned about the stock market: It goes down. Then it goes up! Then it goes down again, and then goes up, inching higher and higher until something happens that 'corrects' it. This is one of those corrections. And guess what? When the stocks tumble someone with a lot of money will pick up those stocks that tumbled and then eventually turn a profit on them. Let's make them pay taxes on it! Then the government will have money to do the things it needs to do without borrowing.

2. Speaking of borrowing, I had an idea the other day. I know, I get too many ideas. And not enough money to make them happen. Well I've decided to concentrate my efforts. Not on Mike's News Hangout, though there will be news on that shortly. Project Five Star will have to wait. I'm going to concentrate my efforts on my writing. *GASP* Yes, the one thing I have proven talent in. Some may suggest that talent isn't very good, but I'm going to work on it.

You've seen my 'Shy Boy' snippets here. I want to turn that into a script. I want to sell that script. Now I could and will work on that while I'm homeless (makes for a better background story) but the shelter wants me to find a job, and I can't tell them my job is a writer, when I have no income. Eventually they'll get tired of that and force me to leave.

Instead, I'd like to find a benefactor, a patron, who can provide me with living expenses while I finish that and other scripts. I think you'll find I can survive off a very tiny sum of money compared to others.

I've tried the 'crowdsourcing' methods. I've tried asking for money directly. I know I don't qualify for a loan, so I'm asking one person, with more money than they can use, to help me out.

What do I have to offer in return? To pay back the loan with interest when I sell a script; to give you credit as a benefactor when I win an Oscar ;-); to donate signed copies of my scripts to you that may be worth something someday.

And my everlasting gratitude.

3. My videos have made a record setting (for me) amount of money this month, and it's not over. As of right now, I've made $10.66 for the month of December from AdSense, and the total made is $60.84. I know, to others it's not much, but to this poor homeless person it's a small fortune. I don't get any of it until it breaks $100, though, and then we start over. Please watch my videos and click on the ads!

That's all the randomness I can generate at the moment. Have a wonderful New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Shy Boy - Vignettes 11 and 12

These vignettes are short, and not as detailed as the script might be, but it does reflect my feelings toward my first pet. A year has passed from the last vignette, more or less.

Vignette 11
Jake came home from 2nd grade one day to the sound of barking in the back yard. Jerry, who walked with him, though not on purpose, raced into the house and then out the back. Jake followed him a bit slower and looked out the back window. He saw his stepfather and mother bending over and petting a black puppy. He went through the door Jerry left open and stepped out.
His mother waved. “Jake! Look what we have now. A new member of our family. A sweet buppy!”
His mother always used that word around dogs and he just rolled his eyes. He came up to the puppy, who was tied to a tree in the middle of a yard. The dog was licking Jerry, then saw Jake and jumped up with its paws on his chest and licked his face. He giggled slightly, but moved out of her reach after a moment..
Oh look, she loves you already,” said his mom. “Her name is Cleopatra and she's a Labrador Retriever. She's purebred!”
The dog was bounding back and forth on her leash, letting out a bark every now and then.
Jerry came to his mother and hugged her. “Thanks Mom!”
Jake sighed quietly. “Yeah, thanks, Mom!”
Jake found his way back into the house and put his homework on the desk. Gradually the rest of the family came home from school and made a giant fuss over the 'buppy.' He heard that word so many times that day that when night came he covered his ears to block out the sound – of that and the dog barking.
Vignette 12
Over the next two months several things happened to Jake. Thanksgiving came and went. Christmas was on the way. Cleo had grown, both physically and on him. The dog showed great enthusiasm for both him and Jerry and greeted them when they got home from school.
The dog was kept in the back yard for the most part. She refused to be paper-trained and was not let in the house very often. Jake's step-father and Jack had started to build a doghouse for her, and she was often chained to the tree.
Sometime after his birthday, but before Christmas, Jake and Jerry walked to where the school bus would meet them, a few blocks from their house. They heard a barking behind them and turned to see Cleo running after them. She jumped at Jake's chest and slobbered all over him.
Cleo! You shouldn't be here! Go home!”
Jerry turned and continued to walk toward the bus stop. “Take her back home!”
But I'll miss the bus! Cleo, go home, please!”
The dog kept following them, though, wagging her tail
They reached the bus stop and Cleo stayed with them. Jake was worried that Cleo would try to get on the bus. He made her sit down as the bus approached and looked her in the eye. “Stay. Go home when we get on the bus, okay?”
The dog let out a woof. Jake held out his hand to her in a 'stay' position as the bus came up and kept it out until he was aboard the bus. The dog stayed where she was until the bus door closed, then got up and barked. Jake looked down at her and tried to tell her to stay. As the bus passed her, he heard a 'thump.'
Wait! Stop the bus!” he cried.
The driver ignored him and the bus went forward. Jerry and Jake both tried to look out the windows but Jake could not see anything through the other kids.
He spent the entire day in class worried about Cleo. Jerry said nothing to him.
When the bus let them off late in the afternoon, Jake could not see Cleo at the bus stop. He ran all the way home. He burst through the front door and saw his mother. She was on the phone. Her eyes were red.
Cleo?” Jake mouthed.
His mother put her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. She hesitated for a moment, then shook her head.
Jake went to the backyard and the half-built doghouse stood empty. Tears began to well up and he ran to his room.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Potpourri for the End of the Worl... er, Year

A few last thoughts for the end of this, whatever it might be.

Kinda on a deadline here, so let's get underway!

- Another school shooting. I wanted to wait until we found out more before posting on it. Seeing way too much blame on a 'Godless society,' or 'Godless Schools.' The man was mentally ill, was apparently going to be committed by his mother and he got to her guns first. Would changes to the gun laws have helped that? No. Would a more secure school have stopped him? Apparently he shot his way in. So no. The simple fact is, there was nothing that could have prevented him from doing what he did except his mother never having owned guns in the first place. A ban on assault rifles is a nice place to start, though. How much fire power do you need to kill a deer? Just my two cents on that topic.

- I've suffered from two different types of flu in the last 3 weeks. I'm still recovering from the second one. A flu shot might have helped with one, but probably not both. I suffer in relative silence.

- I finished my Medical Front Office class, and got my certificate. I'm happy about that, and have put it on my resume. Now it's a matter of finding the right job, right? amiright? Hello? Any jobs out there?

- I've had a number of fever-related dreams lately, one entailed a story where 3 cultures clash, one believes in Spirit Guides, one in nature as a god, and the last believed in (dammit I can't remember right now!). They had a Native American feel to them, but the images that came to me of the men involved looked more European. Perhaps this is another planet we're talking about. Anyway, the point is one of the men has a 2-year-old daughter that is destined to draw all 3 cultures together to live in peace. I'm not sure how this happens yet, but I'll put it on my pile of ideas, which seems to grow larger every day.

- Had another idea, not during a dream, but while playing a game, of creating my own MMO game - 'World of Stickcraft' ;-) That has no graphics, just a 3D engine with stick figures. Might be something simple enough for one person to program. Not sure if I want to make this an epic adventure involving fantasy races, alien races, humans at war, or my favorite so far, all of the above and more. Something that combines all the other types of role-playing, fantasy, real life, space opera and mashes it all into one game. I'll think about that while I'm applying for jobs.

That's all that's currently running through my head. I hope you have a happy end of the world or Christmas/New Year, which ever comes to pass!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Shy Boy - Vignettes 9 and 10

Two quick vignettes that still stick with me. My mother never paddled me, but to be paddled by a teacher within earshot of the students was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. The difference from one teacher to the next was like night and day, literally, for me.

Vignette 9
Jake looked at the girl with red hair who sat in the desk next to him and sighed. For a moment, he imagined kissing her like he had seen his stepfather kiss his mother.
Jake Hull! Pay attention!”
Jake started and looked at the blackboard. His teacher, Mrs. Zwerblia, stood with a ruler in one hand and a sour look on her face. She came up to him and slapped her ruler against his desk.
You will pay attention in my class!” She turned back to the math problem on the blackboard. “Tell me the answer to this problem!”
Jake looked at the board. The numbers appeared blurry and he squinted. “Five?”
That's right. Very good. Lorrie, please answer the second problem.”
Lorrie's eyes twinkled as she talked and Jake found himself enamored again. He felt a hand jerk his arm and let out a yelp. Mrs. Zwerblia dragged him by the arm to the coat room, stooping in mid-stride to pick up a paddle.
She stopped, pulled down Jake's pants, bent hover despite his protestations and then walloped him repeatedly on the rear. “You will pay attention to me!”
Jake cried with every pounding and after it was done his bottom was sore. He pulled up his pants and walked into the classroom with his head down. He could hear the other kids whispering, but no one dared talk out loud. He sat at his desk and could not bring himself to look at Lorrie.
He held his tears back until he was home.

Vignette 10
Jake was in his room, doing his homework when his mother came in.
Jake, I want you to know that I don't like what that teacher did to you. I've arranged with the school to move you to a different classroom, a new teacher.”
Jake looked up at her and smiled. “Thanks, Mom!”
He entered his new classroom the next day feeling so much better. The woman behind the desk looked familiar.
Hi Jake,” said Mrs. White. “Nice to have a neighbor for a student!”
That's right,” said Jake. “You live across the street, where that big statue of Paul Bunyan sits!”
Mrs. White laughed. “Yeah, I keep bugging my husband to get that out of the back yard. So I hear you're a pretty imaginative guy, right?”
Jake shrugged. “I guess.”
Well, we're working on short stories, and I can't wait to hear yours!”
Jake smiled. “I'll start working on it!”
Jake sat in his new desk and let out a satisfied sigh.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Shy Boy - Vignette 8

The wedding scene here is hardly detailed, but to a six or seven-year-old introvert, the sights and sounds can be overwhelming.

Vignette 8
Jake knew his time was short, so he flipped over the chair in the living room and climbed underneath it. He positioned his hands as if he were holding a joystick and moved them right and left. He made a roaring sound as he feigned adding power to his makeshift jet. For a moment, he imagined himself in the air. He looked to one side and saw another jet as his wingman. He waved to the pilot, his father, and he smiled and waved back.
The voice startled him and brought him back to his view of the upholstered seat of the chair. “Yeah, Mom?”
Why aren't you getting ready? We need to go soon!” She pulled him out from under the chair and straightened it.
Aw Mom, can't I have a little fun?”
She dragged him to his room where the suit she had spent a month getting to fit right lay on the bed. She pointed to it and started to pull off his shirt.
I hate ties.”
It's a clip on. It won't kill you.”
It's the top button that chokes me!”
He gagged lightly as his mother buttoned his shirt to the top and put the tie on. She pulled down his pants.
Mom! I can do this myself!”
She let go. “I don't have time for this! I need to get dressed too!” She left him with his pants off. He stared at the pants she wanted him to wear. She had forbade him from wearing them at any time except during fittings and they were flat, crisp and clean. He put them on and the material scratched his thighs. He sighed and then put on the belt. All that was left was the shoes and socks. He picked up the pair of black socks and sat on his bed.
Jerry came in, already dressed. “Hurry up loser. Mom says you'd better be ready to go in five minutes or she's leaving you behind!”
Wouldn't be the first time.”
Jerry grabbed him by the tie and forced him to stand up. “Listen dipwad, this is her special day. Don't you ruin it by acting stupid!”
He let go and Jake did his best to straighten out his shirt and tie. “I'll be good if you will!” He wanted to kick Jerry, but his feet were still bare and he knew he'd only hurt himself. He stared at the hard shoes he was going to wear and realized that if he kicked Jerry with those he'd probably scuff them, and he had spent half an hour shining them. He sighed, put on his socks and his shoes. They were loafers, and he was glad. He wasn't very good at tying shoes yet.
He went out to the den, where the rest of the family stood. Priscilla approached him and straightened his tie again and then looked him over.
How did you wrinkle your shirt already?”
You wouldn't believe me.” He glared at Jerry, who snickered.
She gave an exasperated sigh and pulled his jacket tighter over the wrinkled part. “Maybe the jacket will hide it.” She fussed over him until their mother came out. She wore a simple green dress. Priscilla had been disappointed that she wasn't wearing a traditional wedding dress, but Mom had told her that was for first time brides only.
Mom scanned the troops quickly, fidgeted with Jake's tie, shirt and jacket and then sighed. She licked her hand and tried to pat down the part of his hair that always wanted to stick up. Jake shuddered. “Let's go!”
Jake had never been to a wedding before. The sights, sounds and people made him want to crawl away. But this was an important day for his mother and he resisted all urges, and just tried to smile as people he didn't know grabbed his hand and shook it, or hugged him, or tried to talk to him. The ceremony itself was simple. “To have and to hold...” He didn't understand the meaning, but he understood the sentiment.
Afterward, he smiled as pictures were taken, then found his social energy was waning and longed for home and the relative peace of his room.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Homeless Shopping Network

There was a discussion in my dorm earlier today that involved people stealing prescription drugs, phones and clothes. It brought to mind a few things I've noticed around both the shelter and the streets in general.

Homeless people have several sources for getting what they need:

1) Charitable organizations like churches and Human Services and individuals who donate directly to homeless (beggars). These provide food, clothing and to a small degree, medicines.

2) Trading with one another. This happens for a variety of reasons. We give each other food we don't eat; we buy food or provide cash in exchange for services (in my case computer stuff or charging ipods or other electronic items); Technically, this is against center rules, but it happens. There's one guy who regularly and loudly announces that he is selling clothing that I'm sure he gets for free from one of the sources previously mentioned.

3) Stealing. It happens. The center manager regularly announces to lock up your stuff; to leave nothing out where it can disappear. Yet stuff still gets stolen because people don't pay attention. They leave their phone charging, and either walk away or let it sit overnight, and it walks away. I had a phone stolen myself, by accidentally leaving it on the counter while I was being searched. I left it there no more than 30 seconds. It walked away. No one to blame but ourselves.

Well, that's not really the case. We can blame the thieves who take advantage of it. But they really can't do anything about it. The center has security cameras in every dorm and in the dining hall. They tell us, though, that they can't run the tape back because that is managed from downtown. The Wake County Deputy on duty scans the live video pretty regularly, but they're not going to pick up every thief.

The stolen property gets sold or traded or pawned, and the Homeless Shopping Network continues.

Edit: A friend had his suitcase stolen today. It's too big to fit in the locker space provided. Usually he might have his computer in it, but not this time. What he did have in it was his laptop charger, his portable terabyte hard drive and his medications, stolen while he slept. We're hoping to track things down because of the terabyte, not something you see very often and it was something he shared with the community.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Shy Boy - Vignettes 5-7

Vignettes 5 and 6 are short, transitional scenes. Clay is an actual person, but I either don't remember his last name or never found it out to begin with. I can till visualize him in that cowboy hat. Vignette 7 introduces the only fictional character in the whole story, Wile E. Coyote. I watched a lot of cartoons, can you tell? Enjoy.
Vignette 5
Jake stood among a dozen boxes in various states of being filled. His mother, brothers and sisters rushed around him and he covered his ears for a moment to block the noise.
Jake, get the rest of your toys packed,” said his mother. “The movers will be here any minute!”
Jake sighed. “Why do we have to move anyway?”
Because this house isn't big enough for all of us. You know that. Besides the new house is much nicer than this!”
I'll still be sharing a room with Jerry. So it won't be any different!”
Stop whining.”
You never listen to me when I tell you what he does!”
His mother rushed off in another direction. Jake sighed and began to empty his toy chest. When he had packed everything he could, he stepped outside and saw Clay standing by himself. He went over to him. “I'm sorry, we gotta move.”
Clay just nodded and tipped his cowboy hat. Jake felt a little awkward standing there and nodded back at Clay. He went back inside and tried to hide from the chaos that ensued.

Vignette 6

They hadn't been in the new house very long. Jake felt like his situation hadn't improved much with the new house. Yeah, they had a bigger front yard. The house stood on a corner so the yard seemed to go on forever. But grass made Jake sneeze, like everything else, so he preferred to stay indoors.
His ride to kindergarten took longer, and waiting for the van was starting to be a pain, because the weather was turning colder.
With the new house came a maid, something he wasn't used to. Winnie was a big woman, and when Jake came back from kindergarten, he would find her watching soap operas. She would quickly turn to work once his mother got home from work, but that was the only time he could remember seeing her in action.
At kindergarten he had started to relax a little, but as Thanksgiving approached he learned that his class would be required to put on a holiday play. That filled him with anxiety, even though all he had to do was hold up a snowman cut-out and say a line. He practiced the line when he was alone because if he tried it around his brothers he'd wind up with a sore arm from the punches.
As the day approached to present their play, he grew even more anxious. His mother and her boyfriend would be there, along with his brothers and sisters. Before the play started his teacher tried to give him some confidence, but as soon as he took the stage and picked up his snowman cover, he tried to hide behind it. He said his lines quickly and without emotion and only then did he relax. But he felt better once he ran off the stage.
Amanda tried to encourage him afterward, but the rest of the siblings poked fun at him. He went to his room after dinner, pulled the covers over his head and tried to block it all out.
Vignette 7
Kindergarten finally came to an end and Jake sighed a happy sigh since he would have a whole summer to himself to recuperate. That was short-lived when his mother announced one day that she was going to marry her boyfriend, Frank. He wanted his mother to be happy, and she definitely was when Frank was around, but Jake never thought of him as a father-figure. He never played with Jake, not that Jake ever asked him to, but he felt it would have been nice of the man to offer to toss a ball with him, like he always imagined his father would do.
Instead, Frank avoided him and never talked directly to him. Jake had gotten used to that as long as Frank wasn't there very often, but now that they were getting married, Jake realized that Frank would be there all the time. It didn't sit well with him. Plus the man only took him for a ride in his Corvette once, and never offered again.
As a way of celebrating the news, Frank took them all to a local carnival. As they drove in the family station wagon to the carnival, Jake watched the street signs pass. He realized the carnival was pretty much a straight shot down the road from where they lived.
The carnival was fun enough, Jake supposed, but he didn't ride the rides very much. Most of them made him sick to his stomach. But he watched while his brothers and sisters had fun and shot a BB-gun at a target or two, and watched the monkeys climb the pole when you shot water in their mouths. The lights and noise soon got to him, though and he wandered off to find someplace quiet.
After he recovered, he looked for his mother and siblings and couldn't find them. He started to panic and then realized he knew the way home and it wasn't far. He began to walk back home, taking care to wait for the lights to change to cross the street. Soon, he drifted off in his own little world, to help the time pass.
Going somewhere?”
Jake looked to his side and gaped at what he saw. Wile E. Coyote walked alongside him.
W-what are you doing here?” Jake stopped walking, rubbed his eyes and looked again. Wile. E. was gone. He took a deep breath and then started walking again.
You can't get rid of me that quickly.”
Jake turned and saw the coyote again. It appeared as a cartoon, walking with him. He ignored it.
You're not real.”
Of course I'm not real. I'm in your head. But that doesn't mean you should ignore me! Now that's plain impolite.”
You're a figment of my imagination and I'll ignore you if I want!”
Jake passed a street sign. He recognized it and kept going forward.
Wile E. walked with him. “Your mother will be mad when you get home.”
Jake stopped for a moment and then continued walking. “I know. But it's not my fault I got lost.” He walked a few steps. “She's not a bad mother. If she only stopped smoking.”
Your whole family is against you.”
Jake stopped short and watched in anger as an anvil dropped on Wile E's head. “That's for being mean.” He resumed walking as Wile E. waddled after him, the anvil slipping off after a moment. “My family loves me. It's just that they're all so busy, and I'm not. Besides, I like walking by myself.”
Then why am I here?”
Jake stopped again. “I don't know, Mr. Big Shot. Why are you here?”
Because you need someone to talk to and no one else will do it.”
I don't need you to be able to talk to myself.” He began walking again. “Go away!”
Wile E. began to run after him and ran into a street pole. He vanished before Jake's eyes. “And don't come back!”
Jake sighed and began to move his arms to the rhythm of a song that he had heard. About an hour passed, with what felt like a hundred songs passing through his mind, when he found the turn he was looking for, and knew he was almost home. He made the turn and felt his feet suddenly grow tired and sore. He caught his breath and walked slower.
A few minutes later he saw his house, and Amanda outside. He waved to her and heard her shriek. She ran into the house and a moment later his mother came running out. He ran into her arms.
Where have you been, Jake?” Her voice sounded frantic, something he had never heard before.
I got lost! And since I knew the way back, I walked. My feet are tired, though.”
You had us so worried. I almost called the police. I thought someone snatched you!”
I'm all right, really.”
She dragged him into the house amid cries and hugs from his sisters. She took him straight to the bathroom, started the bath water for him and undressed him. She looked at his feet, which had started to form blisters and she rubbed them, fussing at him the whole time.
Don't EVER do that again, do you hear? You had us so worried!”
I won't!” Just the fussing over him alone was enough to keep him from doing it again. She finally left him alone to soak in the tub, in cool water, and he felt more relaxed than he had ever felt as he dunked his head under the water. He relished the silence.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Shy Boy - Vignettes 1-4

This is not a book, per se. This is a layout for the various scenes for my Shy Boy script. It will be a series of vignettes. I had been posting them elsewhere but I think I get more hits on this site so this is where it will appear from now on. One thing to note is the difference between vignettes 1 and 2, in the difference between what actually happened and what was told to the family. This mirrors what happened to my father. Trust the Air Force to tell the truth. More to come and thanks for reading!

The Shy Boy
By Michael Harrison Fox
Vignette 1
James Hull bent over his one-year-old son and kissed his forehead. “Happy birthday, Jake!” He handed him a wrapped gift that Jake just shook then dropped. James laughed. “Gotta work on that grip, buddy!”
The French nanny, Yvette, picked up Jake and hugged him. “Oh, but he is so adorable! Why must you leave him when he has only just turned one?”
Eh, the Air Force waits for no child. Besides, I'll be back in a couple of days and we'll have a real celebration, isn't that right, Kerry?”
Kerry Hull took a drag from her cigarette and took a sip out of her beer can. She smiled at her husband and then gave him a pat on the back. “He's not going to know the difference anyway. But I'll miss you.more than he will!” She kissed James and hugged him, and then gave Jake's arm a squeeze. Jake looked at her thoughtfully.
He doesn't talk much,” said Kerry. “I wonder if he's okay?”
He's like Mr. Ed!” said James. “He'll talk when he has something to say!” He laughed and Kerry laughed. Yvette just looked puzzled.
James stood and picked up his son and then gently hugged him. He put him back into his playpen and watched while Jake picked up a block and threw it. “Hey, the next Duke Snyder!”
Who's Duke Snyder?” The voice belonged to his eldest, Priscilla, six years old.
James picked her up and swung her around while she giggled. “He's a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers! He throws a ball around like I'm throwing you, even faster!”
Priscilla laughed and laughed. When James put her down she walked around, dizzy and giggling.
James looked at his watch. “Time to go, sweetheart!” He bent over and kissed his children one at a time, Priscilla, Jack, Amanda, Jerry and last of all, Jake. He then swooped Kerry into his arms and planted a kiss on her. “Ooh, tobacco breath!”
Kerry laughed and kissed him again. He waved at Yvette, picked up a duffel bag sitting in a corner and left the house.
He drove through the French countryside, admiring the fields and French denizens that he passed until he came to the gates of the base that was his home away from home. The security guard waved him through the gate and then saluted. He was soon in the air in his RF-101 Recon Fighter as it swept south to Algiers.
His mission was simple recon, taking photos of an area that command felt needed a little attention. He experienced no flak, no radar tracking him and no trouble all the way there and back.
He was cruising at 30,000 feet, 300 miles from home when he began his descent. He was flying in dense clouds, but he had his instruments to rely on and saw the altimeter slowly drop. He radioed in for final instructions when something felt odd to him. His ears popped when they shouldn't have. He glanced at his altimeter again and it read 5,000 feet. He gave it a tap and watched in horror as it began to drop rapidly. He looked ahead and saw a hill approaching at 300 MPH. He fired his afterburners and tried to climb above the hill.
An image of his family appeared in his head just before he hit the hill, his son Jake sitting in his mother's lap, looking confused.
Vignette 2
Five-year-old Jake lifted the heavy model plane and began making whooshing noises. He spun around, moving the plane up and down until he was interrupted by his sister Amanda, who was 9. She laughed at him and brushed his dark brown hair.
"Tell me again how he died," said Jake. He sat on the floor and Amanda sat with him.
"His plane had engine problems," said Amanda. "He tried to land safely, but he knew if he crashed near the village that he could kill others, so he flew the plane away from people until it crashed."
"So he could have ejected, but he chose not to?" He put his hand on the cockpit and then pushed it up with a 'whooshing' sound.
"That's right. He's a hero."
Jake picked up the metal plane again. "In a plane just like this?"
She nodded.
"Did you know him at all?" said Jake.
"A little, but I was 4 years old when he died," said Amanda. "He was a nice daddy and loved us very much."
Jake sighed. "I wish I could get to know him."
Amanda smiled. "We all miss him."
"Jake!" came a voice that grated his nerves.
He looked up and saw his mother at the doorway. "Yeah Mom?"
"Clay is asking if you want to come play outside."
He got up and put the model plane back on its metal stand. "Yeah!" He pushed past his mother and made his way outside. Clay stood outside the door, dressed head to toe like a cowboy. He had two cap guns in their holsters. Jake grinned at him and then ran back inside to get his own holster.
They played for an hour, pretending to be indians or bad guys, but blasting away with their cap guns. The smell of sulfur filled the air.
When they were done he waved goodbye to Clay and went back inside. The smell of sulfur was replaced by the smell of cigarettes. His mother sat on a chair in the den, reading a paperback book and smoking. He tried to hold his breath as he passed her, but inadvertently took a breath. He immediately hacked the smoke out of his system.
"Is your bronchitis acting up again?" said his mother, her gravelly voice once again grated a nerve.
"It's the smoke. Can't you stop smoking?"
She smiled at him. "Dinner will be ready soon. Why don't you get washed up and put your caps away?"
He quickly moved past her and into his room, which he shared with his older brother, Jerry. He put his gun and caps away and then picked up a picture book from his toy chest. He sat in bed and poured through the pictures of a boy climbing a mountain. He could not understand most of the words in the book, but his sister had read the book several times, and he knew what happened.
He lay back and dreamed for a moment that he was climbing a mountain. He shivered as he imagined the cool mountain breeze flowing over his body. He had never been on a real mountain before, but the way his older sister described it, the air made it hard to breathe. He had no problem imagining that. His bronchitis often left him with coughing fits and short of breath. He most frequently had the fits after encountering his mother's cigarettes, whether she was smoking them or not. He had tried to hide them one day and she got very upset with him.
He heard his brother come into the room. He opened his eyes to see 7 year old Jerry stick his butt in his face and fart loudly.
Jake covered his mouth and nose. "Oh eww, Jerry! Get that outta my face!" He crawled out from under his brother and heard Jerry laugh as he ran out of the room. He reached what he thought was a safe place, uncovered his mouth and took a tentative breath. He gulped air several more times and then stepped outside again.
The backyard had a swing set and he sat on one of them. He no longer had the book he had been reading, but now that he was alone he let his imagination wander once again to the mountains. The air might have been thin, but it was clean of his brother's smells. He stood on top of a tall mountain looking down, a pole with a flag in one hand. He planted it firmly into the ground.
"I claim this mountain for Jake!"
He looked down into a valley and felt a little queasy. Heights always did that to him, even imagined heights. He closed his eyes in his mind and opened them in reality to his backyard. He started to swing, gently. He never could swing high like he had seen all his siblings do. He often felt sick to his stomach even going a little ways up. He kept his swing to a slow, low pace and let his mind wander again.

Vignette 3
Jake watched his mother put lipstick on. She smelled funny and his eyes began to water. He sneezed loudly.
"Are you getting a cold?" she asked. She felt his forehead.
"I don't think so. Where are you going?"
"I'm going out with a very nice man. He's a pilot like your father."
"Oh." He sneezed again and left the room. He could not smell his mother anymore and felt immediately better. He went to the window that led to the front yard and looked out. A car he had never seen before pulled into the driveway. It looked futuristic.
Jerry pushed him aside and looked out the window. "That's a Corvette!"
A man climbed out of the Corvette. He wore slacks and a button-down shirt. He carried flowers to the door. Jerry rushed to the door as the bell rang. Jake looked at the car with curiosity and then at the door. The man was tall and thin. He had never met an actual pilot, but he had seen several movies about them. He tried to imagine the man in a uniform, in the cockpit of a fighter.
Jerry practically pounced on the man when he opened the door. "Can we go for a ride in your 'Vette?"
The man gave a nervous giggle. "Maybe later. Is your mother ready?"
"Aww," said Jerry. "I'll get her. Mom!" He didn't turn when he yelled, his glance switched between the man and the Corvette.
Priscilla, the eldest sister, came running up. She was 12 and had a pom-pom in her hand. "Jerry! Let the man in!"
The man smiled at her and stepped over the threshold. "Hi. I'm Frank Thomkins." He reached put a hand and Priscilla gushed as she took it. “What's your name?”
Priscilla.” He smiled at Priscilla again and she blushed. She led him into the house. Jake shook his head. He would never understand girls.
Jake moved past them and into the front yard to get a closer look at the car. It almost looked like a jet plane, sleek and silvery. He peered into the front seat and saw dials, and something that resembled the stick pilots used to steer. “Is that a joystick?”
Jerry came up beside him. “No, stupid, that's a clutch. ”
We don't have that in our car.”
That's because we have an automatic transmission. In his car he can control when he shifts.”
It looks like it could fly!”
Yeah it's pretty fast. I bet if it had wings it'd fly!”
Maybe they're built-in, like 'Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.'”
That is so stupid!” Jerry slugged him in the arm.
Ow! Cut it out!” Jake rubbed his arm and moved around the car.
Jake heard the grating voice again. “Kids!” He turned to see his mother come out with Frank. The rest of the family followed them. His older brother Jack zoomed to the car and almost shoved him over.
Frank and his mother came up and went to the other side of the car. Jake noticed that she wore a fur coat and a dress. Frank opened the door for her and she slipped into the passenger seat.
Priscilla's in charge until we get back! Be good!” She waved at him and he gave a small wave back. She looked happy.
Frank climbed into the driver's seat like it was a cockpit and the kids moved away from the car. He heard a roar as it started and then pulled backward out of the driveway.
I'm in charge,” said Priscilla. “So y'all better behave or you'll get it when Mom gets home!”
The only 'it' Jake could remember his mother giving him was a stern talking to. Priscilla sounded like she would do the same thing if he got into trouble. His brothers, on the other hand, used slugs on the arm, and indian sunburns to get their way. Neither choice appealed to Jake, so did his best to stay out of trouble.
He went to his room, found a book in his toy chest and tried to read it in peace.

Vignette 4
The First Day of School
Jake stood at the curb of his house, wearing a raincoat against the wet weather. He carried a lunchbox, like he had seen his brothers and sisters carry. Their buses had come already. Jake was waiting for the van to take him to kindergarten. This was his first day and he felt nervous.
The van pulled up and he tried to read the writing on it. 'St. Francis School.' “St- What's a St? Street? Frankis, I think, and Skool. Amanda taught me that. Street Frankis Skool” The driver opened the door and he climbed in, shaking the water from his coat as he did. The driver was a woman and she smiled at him.
You're going to have so much fun at kindergarten!”
He smiled back, but just showed a little bit of his teeth. They weren't white, something about a drug he took as a baby, and he felt self-conscious about that. Mostly, he just kept his mouth closed when he smiled.
He was the only passenger and it took several minutes to get to the school. He got out, waved to the driver, who pointed at the door. A number of children stood around, most of them older. He felt anxious around them and went to the door. There was a woman behind a desk and he took a deep breath as he approached her.
Hello. My name's Jake H-hull. I'm s-supposed to start k-kindergarten today.”
She smiled at him. All of the adults wanted to smile at him and that made him feel even more uncomfortable. “Hi Jake. You're in Mrs. Jackson's class. Follow me!”
She moved out from behind the desk and he followed her to a room where a large number of children were already playing or talking or running around. She put her hand on his shoulder. “This is your classroom!”
He felt pressure on his shoulder and realized she was trying to get him to go in. But he didn't want to go in. All the noise and voices scared him. He felt her hand leave his shoulder. He turned to see her walk away, back to her desk. He almost wanted to run back with her.
He took a deep breath. “Come on, Hull, you've got 2 brothers and 2 sisters, and they're all noisier than this. You can handle this.” He turned back to the room, narrowed his eyes and slowly walked into class, holding his breath.
He saw a woman surrounded by a group of children and assumed it was his teacher. He moved along the side of the room, along the chalk board. It had letters written on it, but no real words that he could tell. He approached his teacher from the side and stood at the back of the crowd.
He caught her eye and she smiled at him. He took another deep breath. If they were going to smile at him all the time, he'd have to get used to it.
What's your name?” she said.
Jake.” His voice felt small compared to the yelling going on around him. She put her hand to her ear. He knew what that meant. “Jake,” he said, a little louder.
Hi Jake. I'm Mrs. Jackson. Welcome to kindergarten. Oh my, why did you do to your back?” She moved toward him and he backed away. She caught up with him and began to brush his back. “You've got chalk all over your back!”
He heard giggles from the other kids. He wanted to crawl away from her touch.
She showed him to a table with crayons and paper on it and told the rest of the class to settle down.
Once the room quieted, she stood before them and put her hand on her chest. “Who here knows the 'Pledge of Allegiance?'”
A few kids raised their hands. Jake did not.
All right then. We'll learn it together! This is something we'll do every morning! I want everyone to stand and face the flag.”
Jake looked around the room most of the kids were facing a corner and he stood and saw the flag hanging there.
Now cover your hearts with your right hand,” said Mrs. Jackson.
Again, Jake looked around the room. He had no idea which hand was his right and left. He saw half the kids use one hand and half use the other. He looked at Mrs Jackson, who faced them, and saw which hand she used. He had to turn slightly to align his body with hers and then emulated her. He turned to the flag again.
Now repeat after me! I pledge allegiance...”
He and the other children repeated her words, though he did not know what allegiance meant. “I pledge allegiance...”
To the flag...”
To the flag...” At least he knew that much.
Of the United States of America...”
Of the United States of America...” He knew he lived in North Carolina, but not much else. Was France a state?
And to the Republic, for which it stands...”
He puzzled over those words while he repeated them. He had heard the term 'Republican' on TV when used for elections. He still did not know what it all meant.
One nation, under God...”
One nation, under God...” He looked up and wondered why God would look down.
Indivisible...” He felt clueless now.
With liberty and justice for all.”
With liberty and justice for all.” He knew those words. But he couldn't figure out what it all meant.
The rest of the class sat down and he sat too. The talking, laughing and movement started again. He did his best to keep it out of his head.
The rest of the day was spent coloring, playing and talking – at least the other kids talked. Jake tried to sort it all out and gave up after lunch. He lay his head down on the table and buried his eyes in his arms.
When he got home, he let himself into the house and went straight to the dictionary. He sounded out the words he had heard during the pledge and slowly put together what it meant. But it made no sense to him to swear an oath to a flag. It was just an inanimate object. It didn't mean anything to him. He lay on his bed thinking about it until dinnertime came.
How was your first day of kindergarten?” his mother asked.
I don't want to go back. There's too much noise and too many kids!”
Jerry slugged him in the arm. “What a crybaby!”
Jake sighed. “I am not.”
His mother looked at him directly and he knew that she meant what she was about to say. “You have to go to school. Besides, you don't want to stay cooped up in the house all the time!”
Yeah, he did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prisons and Shoulders and Knees, Oh My!

I shared this on Facebook earlier today, but I decided to make it into a blog because it's a rather important topic.

Last night a man came roaring into the dining hall, yelling that someone had stolen the Tupperware bowl he had under his bed. He then went on to complain that he had just gotten out of prison only to be treated like this, his language laced with swears and threats. 

Unfortunately this serves to highlight one of the bigger problems not just with homeless shelters but also with prisons. Ex-cons are not prepared before they leave prison to come back into the system, so they wind up at the shelter. I have no idea what the percentage of former inmates is, but I know that I'm one of the few without a prison record.

The problem is both with prisons and with shelters. Too many think that prisoners should be punished and leave it at that. I'm not soft on crime, but I do believe if you serve your time, you deserve something more than to be let out with no resources to get your life back on track. 

Instead, they are dumped back into the streets. What choice do most of them have but to return to the life of crime and drugs? Even if they work while in prison they are paid so little that they have no cash to fall back on. Employers don't generally hire felons (otherwise why ask?) and especially at the good jobs that pay well enough and are consistent enough to pay a living wage.

I'm not saying hire that sex offender for child care, or hire the man charged with assault with a deadly weapon as the greeter at Wal*Mart (don't get me started on them, please). But I am saying let's get these prisoners trained on a useful skill before they leave prison, and also let's get them jobs as they leave prison. Why continue to put the burden on the county and state to support them after they get out?

[Steps off soapbox, breaks arm in the process...]

Speaking of arms, I've been seeing my physical therapist for a few weeks now. I'm making progress, but I still need to build strength in the shoulder and arm. There are a number of tender spots on the shoulder, and we're working on getting them 'awoken' except for one spot, which my therapist tells me is bone. I see my doctor in a week and a half and I hope to get some X-Rays taken of the arm to make sure there are no additional problems with the bone that was broken in the accident.

I'm worried, though, because it's been 9 months since the accident and if it were going to heal, it should have happened before now. I'm worried that I will need surgery and no one will be willing to pay for it, because I sure as hell can't. I also can't feel that I'm fully healed until that pain in the shoulder stops. If there is a problem and I can't get it fixed, I will be applying for a disability. I've tried to avoid it before, because I felt the shoulder was a temporary disability. I may be wrong about that, though.

My knee has good moments and not-so-good moments. Sometimes I walk normally, a slight limp, and sometimes I have to stop and sit. There have been a number of times when I've felt the knee and it seemed like the bottom part of the leg, the drumstick if you will, is protruding slightly from where it meets the knee, especially compared to the other knee. That worries the hell out of me, but I know that without surgery, it will never fully heal. That, at least, I can overcome, as long as I don't have to walk very far and as long as I don't have to stand for long periods of time, so I don't really consider that a disability for the kind of work I want to do.

Yet, I am not entirely able to the kind of work everyone wants me to do, which is "Anything." I'll have to talk to my doctor to see if I can get something in writing to that effect.

That is all, as always thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Addiction, and how to treat it

I'm no stranger to addiction. A few years back I had a number of episodes where I gambled away everything I had on the slots and poker machines of Las Vegas. And this while I worked for the company that serviced those machines.

Even now, if you put me in a casino and put money in my hands, that money will soon be gone.

I beat that addiction, if you can put it that way, by simply not going to casinos anymore.

In my time as a homeless person, I've seen many people who shows signs of addiction: Alcohol, Crack, Cocaine, Marijuana, and yes, Gambling.

I've sat through a few of the 12-Step programs, forced to, really, by the kind folks at the Salvation Army shelter in Roanoke, VA. I have serious issues with that type of program, and I have some suggestions on different ways to handle addiction, which works in well with what I want to do with Project Five-Star. Yes, I still want that to work, somehow.

The problems I have with 12-Step programs are:

1) They don't work for everyone. I don't necessarily believe in a higher power and that's one of the central points of the program.

2) You are in danger of falling back into your addiction if you stop going to meetings. This is because the program does not handle the reason for the addiction in the first place. Personally I think this is why so many drop out of it, only to return at a later time.

3) They don't address the reason for the addiction. (I know, I said that before, it's rather important.)

4) It assumes you're addicted for life, something I don't necessarily believe in.

So, with those issues addressed, let me talk about what I'd like to see in an addiction recovery program:

1) A sit-down with a psychiatrist to get to the root of the problem. In my case, lack of money has always been my issue, so I had a desire, fed by the endorphins that the pretty lights and sounds of winning caused in my brain, to get the 'big win' so I would have more money. The problem is, I didn't know when to stop. I didn't need a psychiatrist to tell me this. Other people might need a little help to discover the root of their addictions and address those issues.

2) Once you have those underlying problems cornered, you learn to deal with them. This is a highly personal adventure yet the addicted need to be guided through the process. But rather than make you sit through meetings where the same topics are covered ad nauseum (think the 'losing is an illness' scene from 'The Natural,') let's redirect the energy spent on an addiction and thinking about an addiction to something more positive.

3) Redirect the energy to a hobby that you enjoy. Maybe even more than one hobby in case the hobbies you choose are easily finished, boring or otherwise unsatisfying. Find a hobby you can enjoy, a skill you're good at that makes those endorphins flow in a productive manner.

When you think about it, all 12-Step meetings are simply a redirection of energy, but it only lasts as long as the meeting.

In my case, writing has redirected much of the energy I might have spent gambling. Also playing video games, though some might consider that to be unproductive. It's a hobby I enjoy, and the endorphins flow just fine without me spending more than $15/month. As far as writing being productive, well some might argue that in my case it hasn't been as productive as it might be. I say I have 3 books published. How many do you have? I have 168 posts in this blog and a few more in other blogs. I say I have at least two movie scripts at various stages of development, one TV series, and thousands of ideas flowing through my head, which have ultimately thrown any ideas of gambling out of my head. So this idea has worked for me.

That's the gist of what I hope to put together for Project Five-Star. I'm no expert, I don't claim to know everything. Falling off the wagon is likely to occur whichever method you choose. It's just an idea. You can take it and run, or leave it and go back to your AA meeting.

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Living Will

In my medical front office class, we've been discussing ethics and other juicy tidbits. One of the things that came up was a Living Will.

I've already let my daughter know my wishes, but just to clarify matters here's my version of a living will:

I, Michael Harrison Fox, being of sound mind and body (at the moment), do hereby set forth my wishes for all to see on this 10th day of November, 2012.

1. If I am incapacitated in any way, I expect doctors to take every action necessary to save my life. I don't care if I don't have insurance, and have no money. I'm fighting for every moment of life I can have.

2. If the above actions don't have a happy result, and I die, I want to be cremated and dump my ashes in the nearest trash can. You may have a memorial if you like where you can badmouth me, I won't care. I won't be looking down at you. I fully expect my soul to have found a new body way before then.

3. If I have any belongings or assets that aren't taken by my creditors, they can go to my daughter. She knows who she is. And to the creditors who will stand in line: My mother was fond of an old saying: "You can't get blood from a turnip." And I might add: "You don't get warm blood from a dead body."

4. If I have any other heirs, first, I'll be shocked. Let's face it, I'll be dead, so, no I won't be shocked. Second, I doubt there will be much to go around. I've never been good at managing money. Sorry.

5. I am a registered organ donor. If I die, you may take any organs that aren't already diseased or rotted away and put them into bodies of those that need them. Just, please, be sure I'm dead before you do it. I'd hate to wake up and find my liver missing. Not that I'd wake up from something like that.

6. When I die, I leave my writing to the world. If any money is made from it, it goes to my daughter. My only question is: Why did you wait until I'm dead to enjoy it?

That is all. I hope it will be 40 years before this goes into effect, but then, I don't get my way very much any more. I'll fight to the end, though!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finally, Election 2012 is over - mostly

A few meanderings about the election:

I dunno, I feel like the election may have been called a bit early. CBS based their info on 'exit poll data,' which to me is stupid, because I voted, and was ever asked who I voted for.

Not that I'm disputing the result, my guy won, after all, but I felt more time was required.

Two states voted to legalize marijuana. I have very negative feelings about that. I'm allergic to smoke in general, or at least hypersensitive about it, so if I had my way, both mary jane and cigarettes would be illegal, but I rarely get my way.

Moore Square, where the buses congregate to breed, is filled to the brim with smokers, and yes, the smell of marijuana. It's also filled with cops, and you'd think they'd enforce the law when it comes to pot, but they don't. And what this basically means is they've already declared pot legal.

Alcohol is at least as dangerous as pot, yet it's legal. Yet when I see someone who is drunk and smell it on their breath (a frequent occurrence), I'm not in danger of getting drunk myself. On the other hand, when someone smokes marijuana nearby, I stand the risk of inhaling that crap and failing a drug test.

Even if pot were legalized, I'd still fail that drug test, because you can't be in the program under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

So while part of me is resigned to think that pot should be legalized, but only because it's not enforced anywhere, the other, larger part of me is warning that no good can come from it.

(Steps off soap box)

It bothers me that while Obama won, the Republicans retained control of the House. Isn't that what led to the stalemate we've had over the last 2 years?

I'm happy that the jerks who let show their true feelings about rape and women were not re-elected. Shows we have some common sense after all. Some.

So I wish President Obama the best of luck in the next 4 years. Oh, and can I have a job? ;-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go Vote

Some would say it doesn't matter who you vote for, as long as you vote. I say it's important to vote for the candidates that best reflect your own positions.
There is no such thing as a perfect candidate. They all have flaws. Some lean too far left, some too far right. I've always been squarely in the middle. My own views and needs rarely get served. Even so, there is only one candidate that will help the homeless and poor like me, so my decision this year was easy.

I voted early for Barak Obama.

You may vote for whomever you wish.

That is all.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

5,000 Views and Counting

This site just passed its 5,000th view. I want to thank those that took the time to read my rants. I'm hoping for a lot more views in the future!

A few meanderings:

On "Superstorm Sandy": My heart goes out to those affected by the storm. Here in Raleigh we experienced rain and wind, but not as much as other areas. I'd like to comment to those who blame this storm on global warming, or God's Retribution: First, this was only a category 1 hurricane. It happened to hit land in the most densely populated area that it could, and that is what caused the damage. Second, this was an act of nature. It wasn't nearly as intense as it could have been. If the storm had come ashore in the Carolinas, it would have fizzled before hitting anywhere else. Let's clean up and move on.

I will be starting a new class at Wake Tech on Monday that will cover working at the front desk in the medical field. It's a free course to me. I'll learn about medical billing etc. It should be fun!

I'm still hoping Mike's News Hangout will get funding. After all, if no one else will hire me, I know I will! Current totals from AdSense are $45.40. And growing.

That is all!