Should you give to Panhandlers?

pnhndlrPanhandling seems to be getting worse in San Antonio.  I don’t know what it is like in other cities but there are many intersections where they camp out every day with their cardboard signs and guilt you into giving them your change.

I am confused inside about what to do.  I don’t want to promote the idea of intersection panhandling but I also want to help them.

Some of them really need help and others are just lazy.  I’ve seen a surge of young people who are fully capable of getting a job out there begging for money while sipping on their Starbucks.  Both boys and girls.  I call them boys and girls because they are probably less than 30 and sometimes less than 20.  That’s very wrong.  The sad thing is that they are probably making more money panhandling than working at a fast food place.   I can’t give money to these kids.  They need to try harder.  They most likely didn’t pay attention in school and are now paying the price.  Maybe they are just in a temporary ditch but this isn’t the way out.

The majority of the panhandlers are haggardly and old.  These people are obviously long-term homeless.  They likely lost their blue-collar jobs and are too old and unskilled to make it in today’s society.  I sometimes will give them my change or maybe a $5.  Still, I don’t want to support panhandling so usually I don’t if I don’t have money handy.  I wish I could take one to lunch and find out what his/her story is.   On the other hand, you don’t want to get caught up in other people’s problems.

The third category are often middle-aged veterans (or so they say).  Some are missing limbs so they are likely telling the truth.  Those are the ones you feel for the most.  Usually unkempt and hairy indicating long-term homelessness.  It’s strange to know that someone who lost part of their body in service to their country are left to beg for money on the side of the road.  Obviously the country can’t support them 100% but there must be something that can be done like temporary housing and an education program to prepare them for civilian life.  Veterans have often joined the service because they don’t have the skills to make it in the first place.  I want to help them the most but still don’t want to promote the way they are doing it.

The road that I work on is a high homeless area.  Probably because of Goodwill store.  I am often approached in nearby restaurants.

San Antonio has support for the homeless but few seem to take advantage of it.  I’m guessing that panhandling pays rather well so why get free soup?  The weather isn’t usually bad here so they camp out wherever they want for free.

You can give to the local charities but it won’t get to these particular people.    Also, I would probably not give to one of those charities because I would not see it get to anyone.  I wish there was something else or a better way.

There doesn’t seem to be a better way so maybe I’ll keep some Ones and Fives handy in the car to give to those who really seem to need it.  Giving does actually make you feel a little better about yourself.  It’s a tough call. I can see why most people just ignore the homeless as if they don’t exist.  I at least try to make eye contact in some way.  It’s something.

What do you do?

Shopping Spree

shppnspre.jpgWow!  I’ve really gone on a shopping spree over the last few days.

I spent $1200 on solar panels and inverters.

$120 on a new rear hatch handle for my Prius.

$50 on some nifty new flame effect bulbs for the front of my house.

$120 for a new video capture box.

Cha Ching.  Cha Ching.  And the month is only half over.

Oh well.  That’s the thing about money.  You don’t feel it unless it is moving.  That’s not exactly like me but every once in a while it’s good to just buy the crap you need and want.  Funny how a little retail therapy works wonders.

More Solar Panels

s-l1600I’ve decided to add more solar panels to my current system.

My system is made up of 6 250W panels currently generating approximately 1KW peak power.  It has been great for a few years now.  I had originally planned to expand it slowly over time but then the Electric Company began rolling out Smart Meters in the area which would quickly shut down my guerilla solar installation.  My house is right on the edge of the circle on their map and I haven’t gotten my Smart Meter so I’m going to pretend that it is not coming any time soon or even ever.

I have plenty of spare money so I decided to buy 4 more this month.  Each 250W panel is priced at $105.  I’m buying four panels plus four Enphase microinverters.  The total cost with shipping will be around $1000.  Not bad I guess.

$105 is a damn good price for 250W.

The inverters I’m ordering are 250W unlike the 215W units I currently have.  Because of this I should be getting close to 1KW out of the 4 new ones.  Same as the 6 old ones.  If it turns out as I expect, I might replace the 215W units with 250W units and squeeze the extra energy out of the existing panels for maybe 2.25 KW total.  I’ll sell the smaller ones back to Ebay and get much of my money back for the upgrade.

I will be taking my investment with me when/if I move so I don’t feel like I’m wasting any money.  The equipment last for decades too.

Solar power is fun.  I should probably make it legit but ain’t nobody got time for that.
Paperwork, people, time.  Bleah.  Maybe later.

I’ll let you know how it goes when I get it installed.


Can I be contented

cntntmtSo we come back to this again.

My recent plan to get what I’ve always wanted came really close but no cigar.  The house I wanted to buy was just maybe too far gone to be realistic.  See previous post.

Once again I return to the bigger picture.  Would it not be OK to just be content with what I have?  Millions of people would consider my life accomplishments to be highly desirable.  Even people I know would kill to be in my shoes.  Yet still, somehow, it isn’t enough for me.  I have a dream and that dream demands to be satisfied no matter how unnecessary it may be.

My time is running out.  I’ll be 49 this year and due to hereditary heart disease, my days may be numbered.  I don’t know that for sure but you kind of have to plan for the worst case scenario.  I may not make it to the Social Security retirement age of 63.  Single people have a tendency to live shorter lives as well.  Loneliness makes life less worth striving for.  I think I may be lucky to have another 10 years left. 20 Maximum.

I don’t like living in the big city.  I don’t like working 8-5.  I don’t like paying $3000 property tax.  On the other hand, millions of other people are doing it so what makes me special?

Would it be possible to just be happy with the really nice house I have in a neighborhood full of other houses within arm’s reach of each other?  Is it good enough?  Everyone else here seems OK with it.  Why am I not OK with it?  Could I be OK with it?

Technically, I could just stay here and live out the rest of my life as is.  The backup plan is really to sit tight until my mom passes away.  At that point I would be free to move about the country at will.  She’s 86 now but in good health.  I certainly don’t want her to die and she may not for another 15 years.  That would put me dangerously close to my end of life.  If I make it that long I would not have much time left to experience life outside of San Antonio.

So should I be content now?    Surely that’s not impossible.  Rather than spending another two decades fighting reality, maybe I should welcome it and get as much as I can out of life as it is.  It’s really not all that bad considering the human condition.  It’s pretty much as good as it gets unless you win the lottery.  (Still buying tickets occasionally but it’s harder than it looks.)

I wish I wasn’t so intelligent.  Maybe I need beer.  Beer seems to do the trick for everyone else.  A little liquid mind control might be just the thing.  I hear there is legislation in the works for Texas to make marijuana legal.  That would content me out I think.  I won’t hold my breath for it though.  Texas is very conservative and uptight.

Thinking is bad. Don’t do it!  It will only lead you down the path to unhappiness.  Be content.  Right?


House Update

mynwhseMajor bummer.  I was set to meet a realtor out at my potential future country home this weekend.  I thought it might be a good idea to check to see if it was still available.  Good thing I did.

According to Zillow, it is no longer for sale.  I sent an email to the realtor to double check.

I had taken a picture of the original For Sale by Owner sign that was laying on the porch.  It had a phone number to send a text to.  I sent one just in case maybe they gave up and took it off the market.  I’ll try calling voice if I don’t get a response.

I’m not holding my breath though.  It’s probably gone.

I’m disappointed but strangely not despondent…yet.  I’m surprised.  I spent the last two weeks braining about it and dreaming. My life was about to change for the better. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone else bought it.  I told you there were too many people on this planet.  I should have acted faster.  I had planned to get quick about it after meeting the realtor there this weekend.  I was ready to make an offer and buy.

The lazy side of me who is afraid of change is relieved.
The desperate side of me who wants to Live is disappointed.
Maybe the two cancel each other out.

Like I said before, this property was 80% like what I wanted.  Something like that doesn’t come along very often and I missed it.  I’ll keep on the lookout but I think I’m screwed for quite some time.

Maybe it hasn’t really sunk in yet.  I’ll probably cry later.

UPDATE:  I heard back from the owner.  The house is still available.  YAY!  Maybe it is meant to be.  If it has disappeared from the market but still available then that may limit the competition.

UPDATE2: I met a realtor there at the house today to get his thoughts.  He had a few for sure.  First… The house is a dump.  I knew that but my eyes were clouded.  His main concern was the foundation which still looks sturdy to me.  It is composed of cedar posts in cement.  They look and feel perfectly fine and they may be but if I was to turn the turd house into a diamond, it would still be on a questionable foundation should I ever sell it in the future.  I can see where he is coming from.

He recommended trying to get the property for the value of the land only and demolish the house then start fresh.  I like the property even though it is a few more acres than I need.  The place has been on the market for a long time and I can see why.  It is certainly not worth $100K.  The land only is valued at around $70K.   I’m at a loss as to what to do.

I think I’m going to put it on the back burner for a while and see what happens.  I’ll still consider seeing if I can get it for maybe 60-70K and still attempt a fix-up.  Maybe do the demolition and start new.  I don’t know.  I guess I don’t have to rush on this.  It is unlikely to be sold anytime soon.

The realtor knows what I am looking for and is going to see if he can find anything special for me.  In the meantime, I’ll let it go for now.  Sometimes if you let something go and it comes back then it was meant to be.  No rush I guess.