Sunday, January 29, 2006

Being Homeless

For the past couple of months, I've carried my camera with me taking photos of Chicago's homeless and I have to say that it's been a really interesting endeavor. Mind you, I'm not just taking pictures of them without their consent, but rather, I talk to them and offer them five dollars if they'll let me snap away. They've been very willing and most have told me their stories. One fellow and I have become acquaintances and know each other by name. I always give them my business card and let them know that if they call me I could probably help them find housing of some sort.

I've yet to hear from any of them.

I've worked with the homeless population and those living in subsidized housing for five years now. I don't have an answer regarding what society should do or any quick fixes, but just a few observations.

They're friggn' crazy.

No, seriously, I think mental health issues are the one common denominator among the homeless. I'll be willing to bet that the majority can be diagnosed with schizo-affective or bi-polar disorders and that is the most common barrier to them obtaining housing and keeping themselves housed. Add alcohol and drug addiction in the mix and you've got a population that just cannot keep themselves housed.

One of the housing programs I managed was part of a government study which indicated that it actually costs taxpayers about 30 percent less to house someone with disabilities than it does to leave them homeless. A homeless, disabled person will end up in emergency rooms about eight times as often as one who has housing. A homeless person will end up in the criminal justice system much more often, is much more susceptible to HIV infection, and is much more vulnerable to violent crimes. You do the math. It might sound crazy, but it saves taxpayers a lot of money to provide housing for the homeless, that is, if there are also wrap-around mental health services provided. Good, caring social workers are a pretty rare breed these days but that's what it's going to take to tackle this issue.

Lot's of tax dollars? You bet. But only a drop in the bucket compared to what Bush spends on our nation's military. You do the math.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Beef & Whale Pie Taking Britons by Storm

After rescue attempts failed yesterday to save a Northern bottlenose whale that had unexpectedly ventured into the Thames river, Beef & Whale Pie began popping up on pub menus across the greater London area.

"It's brilliant!" claims pub patron, Nigel Biggleswade, having stopped off for a pint on his way home from work. Plunging his fork into the flakey whale-suet crust, he continues: "This is just the type of treat we English truly fancy."

His wife, Beryl, concurs. "I'm dying for the recipe. It reminds me of luncheon my mother used to serve when I was a wee thing in Buckinghamshire."

Pub owner, Heath Leedsham, explains that the pie contains tasty items such as ground beef lungs, oats, onions, and "whale bits" boiled into a heavy suet crust. "We've been serving it with a bit of pickled whale as well. This menu item really exemplifies British cooking at its best."

Pub owners expect to be serving this popular item while supplies last.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Co-Worker Becomes Annoying After Canadian Residency

Chicago, IL. Fellow co-worker, Ron Henderson, has become even more annoying after a two-year residency in Canada to obtain a graduate degree.

Marketing representative, Sheila Weinberg, complains, "If I hear one more time how great it is to live in Canada, that guy's going down. It's really become ridiculous! You'd think he'd just finished working for the Peace Corps in Zimbabwe or something the way he goes on and on about having lived in a foreign country. Jeez. It's friggin' Canada, for crying out loud!

Henderson proudly displays a copy of his Canadian visa on the wall of his cubicle even though it had previously expired five years ago.

Sales consultant, Dan Capehart, also notes Henderson's annoying behavior: "It's bad enough that he asks for "a favour" in his emails, but then this loser sends another email correcting the spelling, saying that he's still used to Canadian spelling. Who cares?!"

"I don't think a day goes by that he doesn't mention something about having lived in Canada. It's either something about how great the metric system is or how Chicago winters are nothing compared to Canadian winters. If he thinks it's so great then why the hell doesn't he move back to Toronto? He probably flunked out of school and had to leave or something like that."

Capehart pauses and then scowls. "But if I hear him humming 'O Canada' one more time, that guy's gonna get pounded."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

FEMA Officials Arrive at Sago Mine Disaster

SAGO, WV - FEMA officials arrived yesterday in response for rescue assistance by town officials. Thirteen miners were trapped over two weeks ago on January 2 when an explosion ocurred blocking their exit and all attempts at rescue. Although the miners bodies had been recovered and one was found alive, FEMA officials nevertheless finally arrived at the small West Virginian community after President Bush signed funding approval and the officials had completed a Mapquest training session. Although there was little they could do help, the officials were able to assist with coffee service at the memorial reception.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

God Smotes Pat Robertson Over Intelligent Design

Having grown increasingly annoyed with Pat Robertson's campaign to remove the teaching of evolution from the classrooms, God finally had enough of the televangelist's arrogance and smoted him yesterday.

"It's very rare that I actually smote anyone these days, but this idiot's had it coming for a long time, really," reports The Almighty.

Robertson has been the leading proponent of "intelligent design" with claims that certain forms in nature are so complex that they are best seen as the handiwork of a designer rather than produced by the Darwinian theory of natural selection. Last month, Robertson came under fire after he claimed that the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania might incur the wrath of God after voting to continue teaching the scientific theory of evolution in its public schools.

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city,” Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, “The 700 Club.”
“And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for his help because he might not be there,” he said.

Most recently, Robertson alluded to the fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was caused by God's vengeance for Israel's retreat from the Gaza strip.

"Can you believe this guy?" exclaimed God. "Here, I fashion this wonderful means of creation called 'evolution' where consistent goodness and progression can continue into infinity and this durf-wad has the gall to attach the human quality of 'intelligence' to it. He was just itching for a good old-fashioned smoting."

God continues: "Didn't this bozo ever study Aristotle's concept of the 'Uncaused Cause?' Aristotle pretty much nailed it with that one but this arrogant know-it-all demands that everyone pigeon-hole My Ways as science. Jesus! It's philosophy. Take a course, buddy."

God sighed and gathered his thoughts. " Someone just had to put this guy in his place."

Due to the recent smoting, Robertson's brain has devolved into that of a learning-disabled Cro-Magnon.


I really, really hope this is a vegetarian cookbook.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Puree of Octopus and Mussels

Seafood is one of my favorite food groups. I'll eat just about anything that crawls or swims around in the ocean. So I was particularly interested in these two-pound bags labeled "seafood combo" that were recently on sale in the frozen food section of my friendly neighborhood market. At $2.59 each, these were a real bargain too. Each bag contained a melange of squid, octopus and mussels. The really cheap stuff that most people don't eat a lot. That should have been my first clue.
I decided to make a red Thai curry containing my seafood combo. I sauteed onions, celery, peppers, lemon grass and lime leaves, added a glop of red curry paste, a few squirts of 'nuoc mam' (which is actually fermented anchovy extract - - - anchovies are covered in crocks, covered with salt and allowed to ferment for 18 months. The liquid is then extracted and bottled - - I can see you all rubbing your bellies going "mmm-mmm!"). Then a pound of my octupus-squid-mussel combo was added along with a can of coconut milk. . . .
. . . and for the next two days I really couldn't venture far from the bathroom.
That was my second clue.
Next, I decided to make "mock fried oysters" which was my own creation, thank you very much. It involved puree-ing the octopus, squid, and mussels in the food processor along with flour and spices. While I stood there and watched this dark grey matter whirling around in the Cuisinart, it hit me: "I'm actually puree-ing octopus!" It reminded me of an early Saturday Night Live episode where Dan Akroyd pureed a bass in a blender and drank it. I then dropped these little fritters in hot oil until golden brown. . . .
. . . They were awful! Not only did they smell and taste like Puss-n-Boots cat food, but they had a really wierd consistency, similar to that of a Nerf ball. What's worse is that it took me forever to get the smell out of my apartment.
They ended up going down the trash chute. I'm surprised that they didn't bounce back up forty-nine floors upon hitting the bottom.
I could probably write a best-selling diet book called the "Pureed Octopus and Mussel Diet." I could guarantee lots of weight loss too. And I'm sure lots of Paris Hilton wannabes would buy it.