Archive for March, 2010

The rush we all play for…

Posted in Dollhouse and gaming with tags on March 31, 2010 by toresimonsen

I found a very good article online about some experiences
playing Battlefield Bad Company 2. The author makes a great point:

“If you have no intention of participating in the objective then don’t play an objective game type.”

It got me to thinking about some of my better gaming experiences and I was able to dig up this old post I wrote about some real teamwork and a great experience.

And no, this has nothing to do with homeless gamers.

Eliza pwns the dogtags to my heart.

As usual, here are the links to save Dollhouse:

Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

About last night.

Posted in <3, Dollhouse and homeless, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse with tags , on March 31, 2010 by toresimonsen

I spent the night at Safe Bay last night. The night went better than expected but there was no shortage of homeless drama. There was an unfortunate incident in which one homeless person complained to staff about the stench emanating another homeless individual. (Again, it is not surprising people do not want to shower at Safe Bay). Staff intervened. Under such circumstances, the policy is apparently to require the individual to shower.

The shelter was still very crowded. It is two days past project homeless connect and the floor mats seem very crowded. I am surprised more people are not camping out.

Dinner was served at 6 pm, but I missd it. There are no “save” plates at Safe Bay, so if you miss dinner, you are out of luck.

You can get a blanket if you leave some form of id with them, but I opted to sleep on my coats instead. I have two winter coats which I am carrying around for just such situations.

It was very crowded at SafeBay. I arrived late enough not to have to stand too long in the line where they randomly search all of the bags. However, by the time I got past the security checkpoint, I had to stand for quite a while in the line to get an assigned mat.

After getting mat #37, I settled my things in. There was the usual commotion going on around me. Early in the night, there was the typical monologue to no one. This is the type of speech people seem to give to no one in particular. One homeless gentleman spent about fifteen minutes just expressing himself while others tried to shut him up.

Eventually, it gets a bit quieter. There are fewer discussions. I’m sleeping with all of my things on my mattress. I arrange it so that a backpack is stuffed full of clothes to create a makeshift pillow.

I get some sleep, awoken by the occasional disturbance or sound of a snoring neighbor. With so many people, there are bound to be sleep disturbances. Morning comes and I change into some clean clothes. I head over the bathroom to brush my teeth, but the bathroom is extremely crowded. One of the sinks is broken, leaving us with only two functional sinks. Of the two remaining sinks, one of the sinks is missing its handle making it difficult to operate. The conditions create tensions in the bathroom as people are noticeably edgier than they should be.

After brushing my teeth, I take my three packed bags and head over to the main lobby of Harbor Lights to eat breakfast (choice of a bowl of grits, a bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of cereal). I arrive at 6:20 a.m. which gives me only ten minutes to eat. I opt for the oatmeal. I’ve never liked the grits. One small bowl of cereal is hardly enough. The two volunteers serving food seem exhausted and the line moves very slowly. Eventually, I get a bowl of oatmeal with five minutes to eat it. Mandatory exit is at 6:30 a.m. and I leave accordingly.

After that, I depart for the Skyways. It is much to early to go anywhere. I spend an hour just lounging around and talking to another homeless person.

Carrying so many things around, I try to find simple destinations to hang out. I will not be mobile again until I find the occassion to store some of my things. Finally, I work my way over to the Hennepin County Government Center to go to the law library.

In the meantime, I need help saving Dollhouse. While I am sleeping in a homeless shelter and trying to conduct outreach to save the show, all that I am asking people is to sign some petitions, send some emails and to tell people about the efforts to save the show.

Please tell your friends (through Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter) about the efforts to save the show.

Here are the links to save the show:

Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!


Posted in Dollhouse and homeless with tags , , on March 31, 2010 by toresimonsen

I want to relax after a day of moving out of Our Savior. A presentation will put some space between me and the events of the last 24 hours.

I have opted to attend another presentation, entitled “Becoming Truly Marvelous: Artists’ Later Years” with Minneapolis Institute of Arts Director Kaywin Feldman.

These events seem very well attended.

Kaywin Feldman is the director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Kaywin Feldman is discussing the impact of aging on artists. Here is a brief excerpt of her discussing the stairs of aging.

She is focusing on six artists. She begins with Michaelangelo. She is discussing The Rondanini Pieta which was completed six days before Michaelangelo’s death. The work is a sculpture of Jesus and the Madonna. She contrasts the work with earlier works and it is clear that the later work is much more disturbing in its imagery. She asks whether the work is a the product of a tortured soul or a product of turbulent times.

The next artist under discussion is Titian. Kaywin speaks with animation about the beauty of Titian’s colorful early works. Titian’s final painting is “Pieta”. The final work is dramatically darker. For Kaywin, the work presents a host of questions. She draws attention to the image of the pelican within the painting, a symbol of sacrifice. Apparently, the pelican would feed its young the blood of its own self-inflicted wounds. There is some speculation that Titian had difficulty painting in his later years. She raises speculation about whether or not Titian was physically capable of painting toward the end of his life.

Frans Hals is the next featured artist. According to Kaywin, Frans Hals gained a reputation as a wild man, by sometimes being confused as with a different Frans Hals in his vicinity. Apparently, Frans Hals was very poor during this time and occasionally applied for aid. There is a rumor was that he lived at the almshouse, but this is apparently not true. The first piece of discussion is the painting entitled The Governor of the Old Men’s Almouse at Haarlem. Kaywin emphasizes Hals attempts to make the viewer a part of the scene. It appears that the attention of the painted subjects is on them. The Lady-Governors of the Old Men’s Almsouse at Haarlem is the next painting for consideration. Kaywin considers the painting a masterpiece. Kaywin observes that in his later years, Hals’ paintings became gradually darker and emphasized status and dignity. Kaywin finds his later work poetic, grand, and startling.

Claude Monet is the next focus. Kaywin places much emphasis on the impact of a cataract on Claude Monet. The first painting is Grainstack. Sun in the Mist. Kaywin proudly notes the piece is at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She then shifts to his later work, like Water Lilies. The Water Lilies paintings are painted over a fifteen year period, but are undated. The Japanese Bridge, is attributed from 1923-1925 and is a painting of a bridge. According to Kaywin, there is considerable discussion about the impact of cataracts on these paintings. Kaywin utilizes slide pictures (attributed to another source) which simulate the effects of cataracts on the subject Monet painted and it brings home the idea that his paitings could have been a product of his disability. Monet did eventually undergo cataract surgery which was considered quite successful in one of his eyes. According to Kaywin, while many questions about Claude Monet remain about his Water Lilies paintings, they are considered radical and revolutionary.

Kaywin gives a small speech about Marcel Duchamp. According to Kaywin Marcel Duchamp was committed to the belief that art should be about ideas. She shows us slides of Nude Descending a Staircase. The work was considered controversial at the time. Duchamp apparently retired, but continued to work in secret on a piece known as the Etant donnes- 1. The Waterfall 2 The Illuminating Gas. The work depicts his nude girlfriend and is NSFW. Apparently, Duchamp worked on the art for 20 years in secret.

Louisine Bourgeois is the final subject. This artist has the benefit of being alive. Nevertheless, Bourgeios is reaching an advanced age. According to Kaywin, her work is considered psychotraumatic owing to her own painful childhood. The audience is shown a slide of Maman, a sculpture of a 30 foot spider. Although the appearance of Maman is quite disturbing, Kaywin explains that the structure is intended to have positive effects. Kaywin states that Maman was a way for Bourgeois to express admiration for her mothers positive qualities of spinning, weaving, nurturing, and protecting. According to Kaywin, Bourgeois felt that the spider is helpful and protective, like her mother.

As dark as the subject may have seemed, Kaywin is able to end the speech on a bright note about the power of artists to reinvent themselves at all points in their life.

Homeless Connections.

Posted in 1, Dollhouse and homeless, Dollhouse and Jobs, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse with tags on March 29, 2010 by toresimonsen

I attended project Homeless Connect at the Minneapolis Convention center. It began at 10:00 a.m. I got there about 10:15 a.m.

There were many happy volunteers, social service agencies, and government workers in attendance.

I stood in line for a while to get assigned a guide. It is a typical role for a volunteer. Usually, they do a short intake in which they asked you the same tired questions and then try to figure out what you will need. My guide was a very nice young woman who was studying public health issues and looking for a new job this summer. We parted ways at lunch, in part, because I knew that too many services would not be forthcoming and her volunteer opportunity could be more productive with someone else.

As my stay at Our Savior shelter ends tonight, securing some kind of housing was my first priority. I already knew that housing issues would not likely get resolved. Too many programs require either mental illness or chemical dependency problems to get into. Others programs requires some kind of government assistance to qualify for. One odd pre-requisite for assisstance is the one that requires at least one year of homelessness. As expected, nothing was going to work for me. I spoke to Robert from Simpson shelter and explained I would go to the lottery to try to win a waitlist spot tonight.

Discussions with the William Mitchell legal clinic proved more fruitful. In my discussions with legal clinic staff, they made several constructive suggestions for handling a specific issue.

Volunteers from Willliam Mitchell Law School

Even more interesting is the possibility that one organization said they might have the discretionary funds to pay my parking ticket in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine that my parking tickets are greater than other peoples needs.

I got a very nice haircut from Pam who works at a salon in General Mills. I had to wait hours to get my haircut, but finally they worked me into the rotation. Scissor cuts moved faster than buzz cuts. I also reminded people that Tracy Muse is cutting hair at St. Stephen’s shelter. Tracy is cutting hair on Mondays starting at 3:30 pm. He only takes up to 6 people, so sign up and get there early.

Technology issues remain a mixed bag. Margaret from Branch 3 employment center informed me that the computer situation has not changed. (I left her with Linux distros on CDs for anyone who wants to install them on an old laptop- be sure to back up your files.) Ed from TCVM indicated no progress has been made on the internet cafe idea, but it is still being kicked around.

On site at Project homeless connect, a computer lab was set up for making resumes. It was constantly busy. As for internet access, the on site internet cafe closed early. It was supposed to be in the room next to the telephones.

The job fair had a handful of employers there. Doherty Staffing solutions, Hilton Minneapolis, Hyatt Regency, Kraus Anderson Construction company, the Mall of America, Marquette Hotel, and Sheraton Hotel had a presence at the site. Not too many employers in light of the number of homeless people in attendance.

On the transportation front, the MTC did not provide any free bus fares or cards. One bright spot, Minneapolis Public Schools did have some one fare rides in the Education section.

As for me, the sad truth is that I will not, in all likelihood, have adequate shelter beginning tomorrow. The emergency shelters at Tramp Camp and Harbor lights are only good for staying warm- not good sleep or showering.

The lottery did not go well last night. The place was brimming with unmet needs, despite the project homeless connect earlier in the day. At present, I am only eligible for waitlist stays because you become ineligible after each 28 day stay for a period of 28 days. I attended the lottery and did not get on the waitlist.

I spent my last night at OurSavior and must now return to the emergency shelters (either Tramp Camp, Dorothy Day in St. Paul, or SafeBay). None of these options is good. There is no locker in SafeBay or Tramp Camp on the first floor making it a risky environment. At the same time, I find the showers inadequate at these locations. I currently have all of my things packed around with me. I can store a few items at Our Savior, but not until 6pm. I had to do my laundry before obtaining storage- no point in not having clean clothes or storing dirty ones. (As regular readers know, locker storage is a critical unmet need for homeless people.)

Of course, I conducted as much outreach as I could under the circumstances. Thank you to all who listened.
Please help save Dollhouse.

Here are the links to save the show:

Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here! Photo Contest

Posted in 1 on March 29, 2010 by toresimonsen

There is a photo contest on website right now. The license plate frame is one of the few things I have in my possession to try to make a sign.

University of Minnesota Volunteers from Phi-U

Posted in Dollhouse and higher education, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse with tags on March 26, 2010 by toresimonsen

Last night was Bingo night. Student volunteers from Phi U at the University of Minnesota stopped by to run the event. Most of the prizes were simple things like nail clippers or hand sanitizer. Some people won a lot and a lot of people won nothing. The event was a break from the routine and they served some very nice snacks- cheese and crackers and chips and salsa.

After the event, they were kind enough to pose for pictures. I spoke to some of the students about saving Dollhouse. Thanks for listening. Here are the links to save the show:

Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

…Never Runs Smoothly

Posted in <3, Dollhouse and censorship, Dollhouse and gaming, Dollhouse and homeless, Save Dollhouse, Saving Dollhouse on March 26, 2010 by toresimonsen

Recently, I was confronted by a staff/volunteer at Branch 2 of Catholic charities who prevented me from distributing my fliers to save Dollhouse. I will not reiterate the entire story as you can read the background here. In short, I tried to take the staff/volunteers picture. I was told that I could not take photographs inside the shelter.

The next day at Branch 3 of Catholic Charities, I tried to take photographs of people playing Madden 2010 on a Playstation 3 for a second time at Branch 3 and was again told no. READ ABOUT HOMELESS GAMERS HERE.

As a result of these denials, I sought a legal order to enjoin them from preventing me from conducting outreach to save Dollhouse and allowing me to continue to take pictures.

I am asserting that Catholic Charities invades privacy by video taping everything at the shelter. I also assert there is a first amendment right to engage in solicitation and free speech as a homeless resident at Hennepin County secure area. The fact that it is a charity and not the state should not make a huge difference. I maintain that fundamental rights cannot be outsourced by transferring the administration of programs to charitable organizations. Allowing charities to eviscerate the first amendment would effectively create a “charitable” curtain, isolating members of the homeless community and impairing their ability to communicate with the outside world. Disallowing photographs/media in this environment would also fundamentally impair legitimate news gathering activities. What are they trying to hide?

Judge Bruce Peterson denied my motions for an injunction but allowed me to file a full complaint.

My complaint can be obtained here.

In any event, Catholic Charities finally responded to my complaint. Here is their answer. As you can see, Catholic Charities is essentially denying almost everything.

One interesting note, Catholic Charities admits it is taping homeless people while they are sleeping in paragraph 18. They write, “In response the allegations in paragraph 17, Catholic Charities alleges that it maintains security video cameras which monitor activities in the common areas of Branch II which operate while guests are sleeping. Catholic Charities denies the remaining allegations.”

Some readers will recall that I asked Minnesota Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) whether homeless people should be videotaped while they sleep in homeless shelters. My efforts were featured in a City Pages article. You can watch the video to see her response which is carefully crafted but open minded.

I want to make clear that all of this stems from my simple wish to express my love for Eliza Dushku and save her television show.

Recent events are not making it any easier for me to help save the show for the woman I love. I do not have much longer to stay at Our Savior Shelter. My last day is Monday night. At the same time, TWITTER has suspended all of my accounts again!

Please help sign my petitions and send some emails.

Please sign the TNT petition online.

Please take the time to send TNT EMAILS.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

Thank you.