On the Road Again

A Place in the Sun

My stay at the corner of Chelsea and Hyde Park in Memphis was bracketed by gang violence.  The day before I arrived a guy had been gunned down just up the block from the auto shop where me and Bandit were staying.  His T-shirt was one of two planted in a makeshift memorial, in an untended lot just across the street from where Bandit and I were holed up (see header pic).  A daily reminder of the senseless randomness of street thuggery in the US today, a good deal of which is fueled by the ongoing refusal of some states to come to terms with legalizing marijuana.  As was the case with alcohol prohibition, this inevitably leads to black market activity and violence is the only ‘legal’ recourse for solving “market” disputes.  There’s a “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” happening almost every day somewhere in the poorer parts of the American landscape, but since the dead are mostly poor Blacks and not upscale Italian mobsters, it doesn’t make the ‘news’.  I knew moving in here that the area was a sketchy, but this was underscored in a seriously dramatic fashion Sunday evening. 

Why We Left

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“Nelly Belle” loaded up with Bandit taking one last look at the ‘hood.

There was an honest to goodness running gun battle that took place right at this spot early Sunday evening.  

Bandit and I hunkered in for the night and when daylight appeared Monday morning, I decided not to continue to remain in an area that appears, for all intents and purposes, to be one of the primary gang “drug dealerships” in Memphis.  

To be fair, I had never before felt personally threatened by the gang activity.  I was living in their neighborhood and they treated me with kindness, dignity and respect. There was no hint of racial animosity whatsoever.  This in no way abated the fact that the internecine gang skirmishes were a fact of life or that the general deprivations of the area played heavily on my ability to retain my exuberant upbeat attitude.  None of the businesses seen in the pics below are open and even the church shown in this slideshow was ‘out of business”.  You know things are bad when both the pool hall and the church give up on the area!

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Though the deprivations in our living arrangements were harsh. I was thankful to have a place for me and Bandit to bivouac while attending to the issues of the van that my friend Drew Pittman had so graciously gifted me.  I consider Drew one of my secular guardian angels.  The van he gave us is truly a life saver and game changer for me and Bandit as we continue the daily struggle to rebuild our lives back here in the US.

What’s Next?

Bandit and I have moved to a safe location outside Memphis and are in a holding pattern awaiting paperwork on the van which has been promised to be forthcoming.  I will be meeting with Drew over the fourth of July weekend to finalize all that before heading on to Pike’s Peak as has been my intention since arriving back in the US last November.  In the meantime we are both doing fine and expect to have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend just like the rest of America.  Memphis wasn’t all bad by any means and I do not wish to leave that impression.  We loved the parks and the general vibrancy of the city.  Memphis is definitely moving in the right direction and there is a lot of opportunity awaiting those with the gumption to grab it.

The circumstances of my poverty greatly exacerbated the situation and though I actually started working within a week of my arrival, getting both the van in shape and trying to acquire the basic items necessary for life made it difficult to accumulate any real wealth.  It’ll be touch and go for sure until we’re actually in Colorado and settled in but that challenge is more appealing to me at this point than gambling with my safety in Memphis.

Enjoy.

Exodus Update

Changes in Attitude

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Today is the day after me and Bandit were planning to head west to Colorado on a seventy day forced march from our outpost here in Oklahoma.  Among those closest to me (and who chose to make their opinions known) there was an overwhelming amount of fear and trepidation about the course of action I had planned.

I thoroughly understand their many reservations and fears because I share (and shoulder) all of them.

The only difference between them and me is that their choices in life haven’t been narrowed thru circumstance and the fickle hand of fate so close to the event horizon of disaster as mine have.

Changes in Latitude

For Fundamentalist Christians wishing this Godless heathen continued pain and suffering, I have some rather bad news:

I have been showered with blessings yet once again in what can ONLY be described as a certified miracle of secularism.

I shall refrain from boring you all with the happy details at the present time. Suffice to say that it involves an offer of employment and an abode for me and Bandit to reside. It’s not the Hollywood Hilton but it’s straight up out of a Hollywood blockbuster movie the way it is all working out for us.

The Struggle is Real

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We could still use a couple dollars in the collection plate to help smooth the transition if you’re so inclined. I can ALMOST guarantee that you’ll get back multiple times the amount of any donation you make towards helping me and Bandit get a head start in the form of positive karma. After all, dog is God spelled backwards.

On a Wing and No Prayer

Like a Rolling Stone

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Bandit and I are going to head out to Colorado Springs on Saturday May 2nd. We don’t yet have a car and traveling via bus with a pet dog is not permitted here in America, so we’ll be traveling on foot and carrying whatever of our meager possessions we can drag along.  The weather is warm enough now that I feel confident we won’t freeze to death en route, though I expect there will be enough other challenges and deprivations to suffice for the lack of blizzard conditions.

We will attempt to traverse the 700 mile divide at a minimum pace of ten miles per day, which works out to a total travel time of around 70 days.  If we hump it, or catch a ride here and there, we might make even arrive in Colorado Springs before the 4th of July, which will give “Independence Day” a whole new perspective for the both of us!

Carpe Diem

Of course we’re totally unprepared to walk the 700 miles to get to Colorado Springs, but what we lack in preparedness we will make up in moxie.  I’m determined to do whatever is necessary in an attempt to get to a place in the country where I can reasonably expect to make an honest living in an environment which is conducive to maintaining my physical and mental health.  Bandit and I aren’t looking for nirvana, just a place in America where the density of meth addicts and poverty isn’t higher than the national debt.

Fond Farewells

Come Saturday, we’ll be saying goodbye to Kelly Weaver here in Wagoner OK who has been heroic in providing me and Bandit a temporary landing zone midway between Mississippi and Colorado.  She has many burdens herself, and for her to step up to the plate the way she has to help me is a testament to her character.  Bandit and I will miss her joviality and companionship, as well as her precious pup Fidel.  She’s a good mom and a great friend and deserves better than the hand she’s been dealt in life.  Kelly is going to look after two of the four suitcases that consist of the totality of the personal possessions that I managed to get back to the US with me from Germany.  If I die along the way she is welcome to keep them.  If not, I’ll send her money and shipping directions in the near future.

On the Road Again

Next week, I’ll be just another of a large and growing cadre of aging homeless Vietnam era veterans wandering the streets and byways of America, but that’s a condition I will attempt to abate as soon as is humanly possible.  Even though me and my buddy Bandit have already lost nearly everything of a material nature and we’re still saddened and mourning Rita’s cancer death last year, I’m still optimistic and upbeat about our longer term prospects.  The fickle hand of fate hasn’t yet snatched my mental acuity or my health, though I imagine the former is up for review and debate, same as it ever was.  The latter is about to be tested in ways most men my age would be hard pressed to survive let alone embrace.  I’m actually looking forward to the challenge which I suspect is also prima facie evidence my mental acuity is not as sharp as I perceive it to be.

I still feel bad for those in worse shape than me and my dog, even as we are poised to crowd around the campfire at the hobo camps and highway underpasses ourselves.

Rocky Mountain Magic

Bandit Busted

I’ve settled on trying to rebuild my life in Colorado Springs because of the fond memories I have of living there during my (more) youthful years in the Air Force.  Because of the large military presence the support system for Vietnam era vets should be strong there if push comes to shove.  I hoping the vibrant economy in Colorado, coupled with my liberal mentality towards legalized marijuana might come in handy but finding a job in the marijuana industry isn’t at the top of my list of employment desires.  My first choice of employment would be in a vape shop where I could help people switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping (e-cigs), a switch I made myself shortly after arriving back in the US last year.  That noted,  I’m not turning down any legitimate means of employment.

If I’m lucky I’ll land several jobs and just manage to survive really close to the edge of disaster without falling off the cliff–you know–just like most ‘normal’ people do all over the country.  Sure would be nice for things to return to ‘normal’ again.

As fast as I’m approaching age 60, I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to waste sitting around and hoping things will work out on their own.  If you want to help add a degree of possible success to my life or a bit of a buffer against the fickle hand of fate,  I’ve included the requisite support links below.  It pains me to realize that if I were a fundamentalist Christian trying to deny gays a catered pizza wedding I’d have a greater chance of fundraising success than I’ll likely have trying to survive as a homeless liberal veteran, but such are the angsts of life.

I’m going to try and get a YouTube video up before I take off on Saturday.

Financial Support Options

Immediate Emergency Travel Assistance !!!

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Assistance to help me get established After Arriving at Colorado Springs.

Indie Gogo

If you’re able and interested in helping me obtain a vehicle and secure an apartment after overcoming the turmoils of travel once Bandit and I get to Colorado Springs, I created the Indiegogo Life account for that purpose.  It is set to expire in sixty days and any funds collected are frozen and unavailable to me for the next two and a half months.  See you in Colorado Springs.

My long term goal of fundraising for the building an off grid tiny home is still active but I will not be promoting it again until I am established in Colorado and can contribute to it along with those of you who are fans of Tiny Homes, Me, or more likely, Bandit.

GoFundMe Tiny Home Project
Enjoy.

Kit That Can’t Be Killed

Digicam Accumulation

From the old to the new. Canon S110, Samsung D53, Olympus FE-230, Nikon Coolpix S3000, Apple iTouch, Apple iPhone4S, Sony DSC-QX10. Photo taken with Apple iPad mini.

I’ve been sorting through my vast collection of old personal electronic devices  Over the decades I have accumulated a fairly fat pile of abandoned equipment.  Some of it is still functional, though obsolete, because the function of the device has, more or less, been absorbed by the the smartphone universe (what hasn’t?).  I will be focusing this blog entry on the oldest working camera tech that I purchased to support my blogging addiction over the last fifteen or twenty years, my first ‘real’ digital camera, my beloved Canon S110 Digital ELF.

Digital Camera Tech – The Early Years

Sony Floppy Disc .3 MP Digicam

For the record, the first mass marketed consumer digital cameras of the 90’s were large and heavy (The Sony model shown above weighed 1.2 pounds), used floppy discs as storage and sported optical sensors as small as one third of a megapixel (.3 MP) though in fairness, did contain honest 10x optical zoom.  The cost?  Suggested retail was right at $800 and that was a bit out of my purchasing ‘sweet zone’.

The first digital camera I could afford to buy was a .8 megapixel no-name cheapie with all the light sensitivity of a blind man, no zoom, no flash and no LED viewfinder! It had a very limited and fixed internal memory with no slot for a memory card (wasn’t invented yet!).  It was something less than a hundred bucks in it’s day and was passed down to my kids when I finally jumped into my first honest-to-goodness “high quality” digital camera.  I might have gotten all of a half dozen decent pictures out it in the entire time I owned it, such were the vagaries involved in getting all the conditions just right to tickle the fickle optics in that cheap POS.  I hope it has found the way to the dump heap by now.

Canon Digital Elf S110
Canon S110 Glamour Shot

A hero enters my blogging arena.

It was right at the start of the new century, in 2001, when I managed to cough up the funds to buy a Canon Digital ELF S110.  I purchased the display model because at the time, the only retail store I could find that had one, only had the display model left in stock.  I paid $350 for it after getting a $50 markdown for buying the display unit.  I normally refrain from purchasing display electronics, specially things as fiddly and motorized as this camera, but it came with all the accessories and a full warranty, so I went ahead and make the purchase.  This 2.1megapixel model was state of the art back in its day.  It is the oldest camera I still own, and outside the bangs and bruises, and despite having lost the flash card door cover (as well as the lens cover that is suppose to protect the lens when in the off position, this camera still manages to provide images almost as good as when I first bought it.  Here is the camera and some sample pics I took recently to test it.  The only thing I have replaced on this camera is the original battery.  Note that the S110, unlike any digicam I have seen since then, still has a true optical viewfinder to supplement the very tiny led display on the backside of the camera.  The camera came with an 8 meg flash memory card that was sufficient to hold about seven full quality images (1200 x 1600).

Sunday Morning Services

666th post on The Tim Channel.  Just sayin’.

Good Morning all.

Shortest Church Service in history.

Pray Away

Just one song for today.

Adele

Past Services

Enjoy.