HOMELESS

April 2, 2018


The month of March was a very active month for my wife and me.. Four weeks ago, we were in Dallas helping our family recover from the flu. Two weeks ago, we took our second granddaughter to Nashville for her birthday to see the Nashville Predators.  (She loves the Preds.)  Last week we were in Atlanta helping our oldest two granddaughters.  Tell me—what do these three cities and our hometown have in common?  Can you guess? Tragically, the answer is homeless people living on the streets and camping out on any available vacant lot.  In the greatest country on the planet, we have people living hand-to-mouth trying to scrape and fend for food.  In mid-March my wife and I were coming back from downtown traveling on eleventh street.  The waiting line into the Chattanooga Community Kitchen was at least a block long.  The Community Kitchen does a marvelous job and that service comes with great expense.  All funds come from donations and the United Way.

We are told in Matthew 26:11 the following:

Jesus Anointed at Bethany
10Aware of this, Jesus asked, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful deed to Me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me. 12By pouring this perfume on Me, she has prepared My body for burial.

Today that seems to be more prevalent than ever. Let’s take a look.

  • An individual may be considered homeless when they lack permanent housing and have to stay in shelters, abandoned buildings or vehicles, on the streets, or in other forms of unstable situations. They may also be considered homeless if they have to “double up” with friends or extended family members because they are unable to maintain their own housing situation.
  • More than 500,000 people are homeless in the United States: reports (Reuters) – More than 500,000 people – a quarter of them children – were homeless in the United States in 2016 amid scarce affordable housing across much of the nation, according to a study released on Thursday, Nov 19, 2015.

 

  • Staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every thirty (30) childrenin the United States.

 

  • The highest rates of homelessness among states are in Hawaii (465 per 100,000), followed by New York(399) and California (367). The lowest homeless counts per capita come in Mississippi (81 per 100,000), Indiana (94) and Kansas (94). Aug 8, 2014

 

  • Frequently, references indicate that homelessness, as we know it today, is rooted in severe HUD cuts during the early 1980’s. While policy changes did have a large impact exacerbating the problem, homelessness has been documented in America since 1640. In the 1640’s homelessness was seen as a moral deficiency, a character flaw. Nov 16, 2011

 

  • For women in particular, domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness.  In our country the primary causes of homelessness among families are: (1) lack off affordable housing, (2) unemployment, (3) poverty, and (4) low wages, in that order.

 

  • The Treatment Advocacy Center’s newly updated backgrounder, “How many individuals with a serious mental illness are homeless” examines the percentage of homeless individuals with serious mental illness and their abysmal quality of life. Approximately thirty-three (33) percent of the homeless are individuals with serious mental illnesses that are untreated.  Many of these people suffer from schizophrenia, schizo-effective disorder, bipolar disorder or major depression.

 

  • In Massachusetts and Ohio, twenty-seven (27) and thirty-six (36) percent of people released from mental institutions became homeless within six (6) months.

 

  • Previously hospitalized people were three times more likely to obtain food from garbage.

 

  • Studies show that psychotic individuals are much more likely to get assaulted or threatened while homeless.

 

  • Though officials believe that they are saving money by releasing patients from mental hospitals, there is a significant cost to the patient and to society at large.  “In 2001, a University of Pennsylvania study that examined 5,000 homeless people with mental illnesses in New York City found that they cost taxpayers an average of $40,500 a year for their use of emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, shelters and prisons.”

 

  • The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated one hundred (100) million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing (Habitat, 2015).

 

The U.S. map below just about says it all.  Take a look.

CONCLUSIONS: 

Obviously, I do not know the answer, but surely there IS an acceptable answer to those who live on the streets.  I think about all of the children and the future they have while being homeless.  Wasted potential.  Hopefully we all can think about this and put those thoughts into action.  THERE MUST BE AN ANSWER.

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WORST POSSIBLE

January 26, 2018


There is an expression you have heard time and time again: “You have to bloom where you are planted”.  I think this means you are encouraged to flourish where you are and try to make the best of any situation until you can change that situation.

One of the best books I have read recently is “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance.  It details the story of a family having to move from Appalachian Kentucky to Ohio.  In his words, their family was “dirt-poor” and when jobs vanished they had to move just to survive.  Mr. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister and most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life.  It’s a very insightful book and one I can highly recommend to you.

Let’s face it, there are good places to live and not-so-good-places to live in the United States.  A recent Gallup survey basically tells the tale.

If you live in Illinois, Connecticut or Rhode Island, the chances are you know someone who is not happy. Not happy at all. Around a quarter of the population living in these regions have described them each as the ‘worst possible state to live in’, according to a Gallup survey. The map data doesn’t explain the nature of the residents’ grievances but that map, according to the Gallup Survey, is given below.

While twenty-one to twenty-five (21-25) per cent of people ranked these three states as the ‘worst’, Louisiana and Mississippi also featured prominently – with seventeen to twenty (17-20) per cent describing the two southern states as the worst.

On a positive note, ten states had only one to two (1-2) per cent of their population who weren’t happy: Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Maine. Apparently weather was not a significant factor in their happiness.  If you look at individual cities, we find the following, again according to Gallup in the list below.

If you want to lead a happy life, Boulder, Colorado, it seems, is the place to be – because it was named as the happiest city in the U.S. last October.  It topped a list of twenty-five (25) of America’s happiest cities, revealed in the book The Blue Zones of Happiness, by National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner.

Along with National Geographic and Gallup, he developed an index to measure a population’s happiness based on fifteen (15) metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options.  Boulder tops the list with walkability, access to nature and sense of community being contributing factors to its residents’ happiness.  The metro area of Santa Cruz-Watsonville California came second in the list, followed by Charlottesville, Virginia, Fort Collins, Colorado, and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande in California. California is clearly a dreamy place to live, as eight of its cities, including the metro areas of San Diego-Carlsbad and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, make the happiness list.  Let’s now take a look at that list.

If we look at population densities by city, we find the top ten (10) as follows:

You will notice that number seventeen (17) on our most popular list is also on the most-dense list. San Fran must be a great place to live. I know, having repeated experience with Atlanta traffic, LOVE TO VISIT, but would not want to live there.  Great place with lots to do but the traffic is a real bummer.

As always, I welcome your comments.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE OLD WHEN

December 16, 2017


Your grandchildren start graduating from college or a university system.  One of our oldest granddaughters graduated this past Wednesday from Georgia State University in Atlanta.  Magna Cum Laude.  The commencement program is shown below.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY:

There are several very interesting facts about Georgia State as follows:

  • 7 campuses
  • 10 colleges and schools
  • 51,000+ students from every county in Georgia, every state in the U.S. and 170 countries. (This one blew my mind. Fifty-one thousand students?????? I’m sure that includes part-time, online, and night students but fifty-one thousand?)
  • 3,000+ international students. All you have to do is look at the graduating class and try to pronounce the names to see there is a significant international presence.
  • This graduating class, forty-four (44%) percent were culturally diverse or from backgrounds being non-native-born American.
  • 250+ degree programs in 100 fields of study at the Atlanta Campus — the widest variety in the state
  • 30+ associate degree pathways at five campuses and through the largest online program in the state
  • $2.5 billion annual economic impact on metro Atlanta*
  • 84 research centers
  • 72 study-abroad programs in 45 countries
  • 400+ student organizations, including 31 fraternities and sororities
  • 9,500+ degrees conferred each year
  • 240,276 all-time degrees conferred
  • 88% of faculty with the highest degree in their field
  • A campus without boundaries in downtown Atlanta, the leading economic center of the Southeast with the world’s busiest airport and third most Fortune 500 companies of any U.S. city, where internships, jobs and connections to the world’s business, government, healthcare, nonprofit and cultural communities are just blocks away.
  • One more fact that I would like to throw in. Traffic in Atlanta is the worst—the very worst on the planet.  Orange barrels everywhere with associated road work.  If you plan on taking a look at the campus, plan your trip then double or triple the time for transit when in “hot—Lanta”.

The graduation ceremony was held in the Georgia Tech McCamish Pavilion.  This is a beautiful stadium. Ground was broken for the construction of Tech’s new on-campus arena on May 5, 2011, and eighteen (18) months later, the Yellow Jackets had a state-of-the-art building with 8,600 seats and a luxurious club area, which provides a cozy view of the court. The lower level seating bowl has 6,935 seats, and the balcony level seats 1,665.  There were approximately fifteen hundred graduates that walked that day so the pavilion was just about full of family, friends, faculty, and assorted people getting in from the thirty-two (32) degree cold weather.  It was a beautiful day though.

(NOTE:  I want to apologize for the quality of the digital pictures below.  The lighting was not very good and our vantage point gave us a great overall view of the ceremony but at a distance.)

You can see from the picture above the size of the pavilion.  McCamish is the site of Yellow Jacket basketball.  Note the vacant seats behind the overhead screen.  Other than these vacant seats, the auditorium was absolutely full.

In the picture above, all prospective graduates were standing for the opening ceremonies.  Hopefully, you can see the bagpipers coming down the isle to open the event.

Georgia State used the overhead screen in a marvelous way by posting the name and college of the graduate.   Excellent use of the overhead and those of us in the upper seats were allowed to get a great look at our graduate.

When the ceremony was over and all of the graduates having walked, balloons were released from overhead netting.  That’s when the mortar boards started flying.

Our granddaughter, her mother and father are shown in this picture.  Next year, our oldest granddaughter—this young ladies’ sister, will graduate from Georgia State.  Both granddaughters have two degrees indicating hard, intense, focused work over four and five years.  We are certainly proud of their considerable efforts.  Remarkable work ethic for both.  Their futures look very bright.

 


Our youngest grandson is twelve (12) years old and happens to be an avid Falcons fan.  As you probably know, the Falcons have their home in Atlanta, Georgia.  Actually, he is a rabid fan!  He has a Falcons “T” shirt, sweat shirt, ballcap, socks, underwear, rain jacket, wind-breaker etc.  Our grandson bleeds red and black.  You get the picture.  For his birthday, last week, we purchased tickets to the next-to-last Falcons game.  They played the San Francisco 49s and won in a handy fashion.  The 2016 season will be the last year for the Georgia Dome and the Falcons home field. Next year, the fans will watch the team in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Let’s find several facts about the “Dome” and look at the complex.

In 1992, the Georgia Dome was completed at a cost of $214 million (US),  The funding came from the Georgia General Assembly, making it one of the largest state-funded construction projects in state history.  It seats 74,228 for football, and can hold approximately: 80,000 for concerts, 71,000 for basketball when the dome is fully open and 40,000 for basketball and gymnastics when the dome is sectioned off (one half closed off by a large curtain). For most Georgia State football games, the dome is configured with 28,155 seats, with tickets for the bulk of the lower level and the club-level seats on sale. The record for overall attendance at the Georgia Dome is 80,892,  This occurred during the 2008 SEC Championship Game in football.

The structure is located on 9.19 acres (3.72 ha) of land.  It has a height of 270.67 feet (82.50 m), a structure length of 745.75 feet (227.30 m), a structure width of 606.96 feet (185.00 m), and a total floor area of 102,149.51 square feet (9,490.000 m2). The dome is the largest cable-supported dome in the world. Its roof is made of Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric and has an area of 374,584.08 square feet (34,800.000 m2). From its completion until the December 31, 1999 opening of the 20-acre (8.1 ha) Millennium Dome in London, it was the largest hooked domed structure of any type in the world.

In 2006, the Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority announced a $300 million renovation to the Georgia Dome. The project was separated into two stages. The first stage, which took place before the 2007 NFL season, focused on updating the premium seating areas, including the creation of eight ‘super-suites’ as well as an owners’ club.  In 2008, the exterior of the stadium was repainted, replacing the original teal and maroon color scheme with a red, black and silver theme to match the Falcons’ team colors; the stadium’s original teal seats were replaced with red seats in the 100 and 300 levels and black seats in the Verizon Wireless Club Level (200 Level). The entrance gates and concourses were also renovated and updated before the 2008 football season.  In 2009, the video screens in both end zones were relocated to a new exterior monument sign on Northside Drive. The interior end zones each received a new and considerably wider High Definition video screen that significantly enhances views of replays, as well as graphics and digital presentations. A new sound system was installed in the same year, replacing the previous system that was nearly 20 years old.

The external structure may be see below.

ga-dome

The dome is adjacent to the Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta.  Very close to the Park is the CNN Center and the Georgia Convention Center.  As you might expect, this area is always hopping with things to do, great restaurants and other mesmerizing activities.

centenneal-park

Falcons field may be seen from the JPEGs below.  As you can see the internal structure is absolutely huge—huge with no internal supporting members to restrict vision.

falcon-stadium1

falcon-stadium2

One thing you must love about NFL football is the enthusiasm on display from the fans.  One of which may be seen below.  The foursome sitting in front of us would always turn and give us high-fives when the Falcons scored.  The final score was 41 to 17—Falcons.  We were high-fiving most of the night.

fantastic

NEW HOME FOR THE “BIRDS”

Next year the Falcons will move to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium leaving the dome behind.  The existing structure will be torn down to provide much-needed parking in the area.  The Benz stadium will be cutting-edge with all the amities you might expect.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is an under-construction retractable-roof, multi-purpose stadium in AtlantaGeorgia, that will serve as the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). It is intended to replace the Georgia Dome, which has been the Falcons’ home stadium since 1992. The total cost is estimated at $1.4 billion.  Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl LIII in 2019.

In December 2014, the Georgia World Congress Center’s board of governors approved a resolution to raise the cost of the stadium to $1.2 billion. The stadium was initially slated to cost $1 billion, then rose to $1.2 billion in October 2013.

The city has agreed to contribute $200 million in stadium bonds, but with additional tax revenues[42] and with the state of Georgia contributing $40 million for parking expansion, public spending is expected to reach near $600 million.

In January 2015, the Falcons announced the sale of personal seat licenses (PSL) costing up to $45,000 per seat, depending on the section of the stadium. The most expensive tickets will be priced at $385 per game, in addition to one-time PSL fees, for the first three years.

On August 21, 2015, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mercedes-Benz would acquire the naming rights for the stadium, and this was later confirmed by a press conference at the stadium site on August 24. Under the stadium deal with the city of Atlanta and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Falcons organization controls the stadium’s naming rights and receives all related revenue. Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon stated that the sponsorship would last 27 years, calling it the largest marketing deal in Mercedes-Benz’ history, but Cannon would not disclose the full value of the deal.

As artist rendition, may be seen below.   A real departure from the existing structure.

mercedes-benz-stadium

We had a great time and I certainly hope you find the time in the very near future to visit “HOT-Lanta” and the Centennial Park area.

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