Monday, July 5, 2010

City slicker livin' in the sticks...but, I love it!

Here is a quick glimpse at the place I call home:

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,066 people, 1,129 households, and 788 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,215.2 people per square mile (469.8/km²). There were 1,253 housing units at an average density of 496.6/sq mi (192.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 42.24% White, 56.78% African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.36% from other races, and 0.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.98% of the population.

There were 1,129 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 24.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the town the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 80.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $21,763, and the median income for a family was $25,651. Males had a median income of $25,054 versus $12,837 for females. The per capita income for the town was $11,161. About 26.2% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.7% of those under age 18 and 21.8% of those age 65 or over.

The largest challenge we have in this town is ourselves. In the past three years I have seen a few businesses come and go. The stats show us why...more than 25% of the people living in this town are surviving on incomes below the poverty line. Growing up in an area much different than this, it is hard for me to understand why people idolize those in this town who "do well". In fact, according to these statistics, my family and I are fortunate to live much above the means of the majority in this town.

The stats put my life into perspective. It makes me look back and realize that we do have it quite well. I am able to provide on one income, what most households aren't making on two. Our children are forever wanting more...but, perhaps in the future they will see how well they have it compared to most and that life isn't all that bad. These stats also make me very grateful for my employment and being able to do what I am passionate about. Sure, I am at a disadvantage with my physical limitations and I know that there are opportunities I may never have. But, what I do have is what I have worked very hard to achieve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Working for the Government...

Now, I must start by saying that I am in full agreement that there are people in our country who need these funds and fully deserve the assistance. But, there are millions of Americans receiving Government funded subsidies like welfare, social security, etc. every month that really do not deserve the money without paying back in some manner.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person qualifies for SSDI if they:
- have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from engaging in any "substantial gainful activity", and
- the condition is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and
- they are under the age of 65, and
- generally, have worked 5 out of the last 10 years as of the determined date of onset of disability

“The work requirement is waived for applicants who can prove that they became disabled at or before the age of 22, as these individuals may be allowed to collect on their parent or parents' work credits. The parent(s) experience no loss of benefits.

Medical evidence is signs, symptoms and laboratory findings and is required to document the claim. Symptoms, such as pain is considered but must be reasonably be expected to come from a medically determinable impairment which the claimant is diagnosed to have. The decision is based on a sequential evaluation of medical evidence. Medical evidence that demonstrates the applicant's inability to work is required. The DDS or ALJ may also require the applicant to visit a third-party physician for medical documentation often to supplement the evidence treating sources do not supply. The applicant may meet a SSA medical listing for their condition if their condition does not meet the requirements of a listing, their residual functional capacity is considered, along with their age, past relevant work, and education, in determining their ability to perform either their past work, or other work generally available in the national economy.”

As most of you know, I was born with cerebral palsy and severe scoliosis due to a breach birth and I’m one of the millions that qualify for Government funding. However, with my pride in-hand, I refuse to accept the assistance and I acquired a Bachelor’s degree and work very hard for (ironically) a Government contractor to provide for my family. With my personal life experiences in hand, I will provide my take on a completely new idea that would make those receiving our assistance responsible citizens.

These persons should be placed on a weighted scale (seems I have a curious affection for these methods as seen in previous blogs) based on a persons condition, age, ability, progression of condition and education. Once they have been evaluated, they would then be required to “work” for the Government for a number of hours based on the amount of assistance provided monthly divided by the current minimum wage rate. These folks are more than happy to receive the assistance and most would even be willing to work for the assistance provided. Most of us receiving the assistance have abilities and are willing to share them but, mainstream American companies (even though there are regulations against discrimination) are reluctant to hire them because of their stigma. I’ve seen this first hand in a PA DMV office where a great young man was in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy and was working his tail off. He was proud of his job and (more importantly) he was gaining self-confidence.

This “plan” would cost the Government NO MONEY! In fact, this would save the Government millions of dollars because they are already paying out the funds with nothing in return. If set-up correctly, those working could receive more “assistance” if they are able and willing to put in more hours…more hours = more work, healthcare, daycare, etc. Their skills would be used accordingly and placement would be done in Government offices or private companies (providing a break to those participating in the program).

This would increase their self-esteem as the stigma of receiving assistance would no longer be seen as a negative thing. I also disagree with this social satire because those who should receive assistance for the right reasons have nothing to be ashamed of. The program would also eliminate those willing to receive the assistance for little to no reason at all. I see it all to often where people claim they have a disability and they a miraculously cured of their problems when they are not being “seen” by the Government rationalizing their required assistance.

As you can see, there is a lot I have to offer and being in politics would be dangerous for the American people. I just don’t see why ANYONE should be able to continue to “sponge” from our tax dollars and continue to raise the deficit. If you can work, work for the assistance you say you need. This should be seen as an opportunity to give back to the Government and not a way o force people into working jobs they’re not able to. If we continue to send our soldiers out into harms way, the least the people at home could do is give back to the country they are taking from.

If I'm fortunate enough to have captured anyone's attention that may also share my vision, please drop me a line at: twitter: 318cg or email: or LinkedIn: Thanks for reading! Until next time...ciao!


Friday, April 9, 2010

We are the world...let's help build it safer!

When I started my blog I had hopes of posting each week. I've become busy with work and I've let you (my true inspiration) and myself down. So, this is a well-overdue posting with a much needed thank you for your patience.

The past few months have brought us a number of devastating disasters throughout the world. The most impacting of them have been earthquakes. But, these have been earthquakes that have been a bit different than usual; larger and in areas not usually prone to them, like smalltown central USA and third-world economically hindered Haiti. These have triggered tidal waves, mudslides, aftershocks, etc that further devastate the areas.

Most Americans take the strength of our economy for granted. Although we are coming out of one of the lowest economic slumps in my lifetime, our economy has remained stronger than most countries and continues. The strength of our economy (although most don't realize) is impacted by our building codes. When a natural disaster strikes, our buildings are constructed to withstand the impact. This allows Americans to use the buildings with little reconstruction necessary and a small amount of disaster relief money is required. Commercial buildings remain open, Government continues and businesses remain open to continue to operate and earn the income that keeps employees with jobs, feeding their families and spending their money on their wants and needs.

Ok, you've just been briefly introduced to the cycle of life that is impacted by the building codes. Now lets look at how the lack of codes impacts an area. In a previous blog, I had touched on the pre-earthquake status of the small country of Haiti. The earthquake on 12 January 2010 is a prime example of the opposite effects brought on by the lack of proper codes. When the 7.0 magnitude quake hit, hundreds of thousands of people were lost, dead or trapped in the buildings and rubble that had become the new skyline of Port-au-Prince. The Government's most prized building (and an iconic figure in the city) had been one of the more than 30,000 buildings and 250,000 homes destroyed; more than 3-million people of Haiti were immediately disconnected and affected by one event. But it doesn't stop there; the hospitals and major infrastructure was destroyed. The months to follow brought more than 50 aftershocks and numerous mudslides while the rubble was being sifted for any life that could still remain. One in five jobs have been lost and the cost to rebuild has been estimated to be in the billions.

Could this all be legitimately reduced through a Global building code? This would significantly reduce the impact of those countries (including the United States) which are caught by the evil wrath of Mother Nature. The plan would take years to build, but by placing the world's countries on a weighted scale based on their economic status, current codes, forecasted natural risks, etc. and by utilizing the expertise of countries throughout the world, the use of agencies already in place (such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent, United Nations, USGS, USGBC/LEED, etc) the process could be put on a fast-track schedule. Within months the program could start focusing on those countries which are deemed least developed and present the highest risk. Leveraging the experience of larger nations, the necessary codes could be developed and begin saving lives in months. This would stimulate the economies of those less fortunate countries and give those in need a chance to have the economy and lifestyles we all deserve.

I'm very passionate about this idea and would love to be involved. If I'm fortunate enough to have captured anyone's attention that may also share my vision, please drop me a line at:
twitter: 318cg or email: or LinkedIn: Thanks for reading! Until next time...ciao!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

traveling through a bygone era...

As I sit here in Enterprise AL, I realize just how fortunate I am and how much my life has turned in the past three years. Before I took this job, I was sitting in central PA as a project manager for commercial and residential construction companies. But, deep inside, I knew I had the talents and knowledge to be more than what the people in my hometown were giving me.

Through my drive here I had 8 hours to do a lot of thinking, pondering and exploring. I left at 11:00am and set the Tom-Tom with the address and went off to the east. As dumb as it sounds, technology has taken over my life and I am grateful to be living in this era. When I moved to Louisiana I set the GPS and relied solely on it. There I was, like thousands of others each day, I was relying on technology with absolutely no paper map to help me if I needed. And this was no different. I was very happy to see that the GPS had taken me through a part of the world I had never seen...besides on "Nick @ Nite" each evening. I was enthralled by the small towns I was guided through in Alabama. There still exists the "old" Main Street towns with the small shops where everyone in town shops. The photos in the windows were reminiscent of those found in "Mayberry" where Aunt Bea and Gomer were often found walking. As I passed through these towns I often looked down at my Tom-Tom to make sure I was still on the correct path.

It was on one of these "Main Streets" when my BlackBerry had beeped and I suddenly realized...this is where my past, present and future may all meet. Here I was looking at a small slice of a true southern town where technology had guided me and technology had reminded me. It was a moment in my life that I had actually not wanted to partake in my email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I realized at this moment that my life was much different than those of the life where this town had originated...before technology was born, before I was born.

Then there are the photos and stories of the approximate 9-million people in Haiti. This is a third-world country that has been devastated by poverty, corruption and poor political practices where roughly half of the population is illiterate and practices voodoo. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. While the economy has recovered in recent years, registering positive growth since 2005, four tropical storms in 2008 severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US. HOPE II, passed in October 2008, has further improved the export environment for the apparel sector by extending preferences to 2018; the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports. Haiti suffers from high inflation, a lack of investment because of insecurity and limited infrastructure, and a severe trade deficit. In 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. Haiti is expected to receive debt forgiveness for about $525 million of its debt through the Highly-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative by mid-2009. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability. There is currently no regular military forces - small Coast Guard; the regular Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH) - Army, Navy, and Air Force - have been demobilized but still exist on paper until or unless they are constitutionally abolished. There is no human that should endure these horrific conditions and my biggest problem I have with the "Help for Haiti" telethons is that it should not take a natural disaster of epic proportions to help these people. We are all on this Earth and should be living on it as one...not many. We should all be working to lower poverty, lower the upper class and raising education throughout! If we were successful in doing this we would raise everyone's quality of life.

I look forward to the future but, I am grateful for the technology to remind me of the past. No matter how technology has taken over our lives we must remember:
  • technology isn't a bad thing
  • we are all humans with many like us
  • many more are still living without the technologies we rely on and deserve these as well

Being human is nature...where we are born has dictated our future. Until next time...ciao!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

the 1st full week of 2010...

We've done it and with little change. "What the hell are you talking about?" you ask...we've entered a new decade, and believe it or not, the sun still rises and sets, there are still 24 hours in a day and we have all decided to continue to eat. Well, except that weirdo I saw on "Wife Swap" the other day that believed she got her food from staring at the sun. I wonder how hungry she gets during the rainy season? And does she get fatter in the summer from all that sun? Personally, I think she just needs a good holsum burger!

This new decade is sure to be good...besides, who the hell looks back and says, "ya know, the past ten years really sucked!"? I've decided that no matter how good life is, mine can always be better. I've taken on a few new attitudes and made a few mental decisions that won't be broke...unlike those of you who were going to go to the gym everyday and diet and have decided next year will be "your year."

I'm working more this year on my personal life and how it can effect my professional career. I'm going to attempt to pass the LEED GA exam and the PMP exam this year. But, if I don't it won't be personal let-down, it"ll just mean that there were more important things going on in my life.

I've also made a few goals for myself. I'm going to set a more professional example on Twitter. I'm trying to get 1010 "quality" followers by 10.10.10. This isn't a goal of trying to have more followers than the last's about trying to make an impact on more people in my industry. I've also taken this blog very seriously. This is a great vehicle for me to reflect on a hectic work week, a place for me to share my thoughts, a place for me to educate my peers about life from my view. More importantly, this is a place where I can learn about myself. If nobody, but myself, reads these blogs I will be a better person at the end of the year than I was at the beginning.

What are some of the topics you might like to hear my view on? Some of the daily chores I face? What do we have in common, or perhaps our differences? Can I show you a new perspective on life? Do you think everyone has it as good, or bad, as the next? Drop me a line at:
twitter: 318cg or email: or LinkedIn: Thanks for reading! Until next time...ciao!

Friday, January 8, 2010

3 years and just starting...

Today is the 3rd year I've been with John J Kirlin Special Projects LLC as a project manager. I want to thank the entire team for this amazing opportunity and I look forward to many more years with them.

When I interviewed with them I had knew this was the place I could finally call "home." The drive was about 4 hours from my hometown and when they called I was elated. None of us knew what had brought us together, you see i never sent my resume to them and they had no idea how they got it either. When there I had assured them I was their man but, I was not interested in mechanical construction (the mainstay of the parent company). I was relaxed and nonchelant, probably the best interview I ever had. They had promsed me they would get back with me by the ed of the week...three days later I was hired.

The team is made up of some of the most personable, friendly, dedicated, intelligent and hard-working men and women I've ever met. They've given me so many wonderful opportunities to see our country and "serve our military" in my own way. My hat's off to everyone and thank you again to the best three years and I look forward to many more years to come!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010...a new endeavour

I've created this blog to share my thoughts, experiences and past with everyone and anyone who might find it a bit interesting. I plan on doing this at least every Sunday...perhaps much more if there is a great interest that I feel the need to share.

I am truely the happiest I've EVER been. I've got a great job and an amazing woman by my side here in Louisiana...she is my best-friend, my confidant and soulmate. She has learned quickly who I am through quiet conversation and intense study of my wants, needs and desires. She's enabled me, strengthened me and taught me to push through life. She is my life, my world, my everything and I would give my life for her. I've also got three very energetic southern-style step-children in my life that mean the world to me. They keep us busy, keep us laughing and keep us young. Each one is unique and we have our own fun-filled relationship. My family and friends back in Pennsylvania all mean the world to me and I miss them tremendously. I've missed my nephew growing up, the nights out with my friends and spending time with them all on the holidays. With that said, I have no regrets because they continue to support me and see what I have accomplished by going outside the box and exploring life with nothing but my few essential items.

If you would've told me in 2005 that I was going to be living in the south, I would've laughed at you. But, a few years I am! In October of '06 I decided it was time for me to make a DRASTIC change in my life. So, I prepared my resume and placed it online on a few key sites. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of offers, phone interviews and tough decisions. I wasn't sure where I was going, or what I was going to do...the only thing I knew for sure was that there was change coming.

Today, I'm a construction project manager for a national contractor and I've never doubted my decision to leave Pennsylvania one bit. I enjoy seeing the country throughout the year as I travel to various bases for a week or so at a time for site visits. My duties include interaction with facility occupant/FM during site visits and follow-up, coordinate subcontractors’ proposals/bidding, prepare 803 technical reports, material take-offs/IHE, complete preliminary design and as-built drawings, O & M manuals, APP’s and project close-out documents. I complete my work in design, estimates, proposals, material take-off, reports, technical write-ups, etc from our house in Northeast Louisiana. It's very rewarding for me to give back to the soldiers who defend our country through my work everyday.

The past year was very busy as I became a husband to an amazing woman and a step-father to three witty children. Although they're not mine by blood, they're my world and I wouldn't imagine life without them. We've settled down into our new home here in Northeast Louisiana and we're enjoying life to the best of our abilities. I've become a huge fan of Twitter (318cg), Facebook and LinkedIn and love my BlackBerry Curve. I'm utilizing the internet and social media to my very best advantage. I've met some of the best people in the world through these mediums and keep up with my amazing friends as well.

Through the next months I will continue to share life and my endeavours...from a perspective you may not have seen before. Thanks for reading and enjoy the ride...until next time!
The views in this blog are of my own and do not represent those of John J Kirlin Special Projects, LLC or BMH Engineering...all questions should be directed to me at