The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.
Filling in this morning for Jan Mickelson.
A cold night
As I started making notes on this show, the temperature was -3°F, dropping toward a projected overnight low of -9°F. There's a point at which we just sort of run out of words to describe just how cold it is.
And on a night like this one, there are people -- living, breathing human beings, just like you and me -- who don't have a place they can call their own to stay the night. In Des Moines, that number can reach triple digits.
We will talk with Tony Timm, who directs Central Iowa Shelter and Services. Some questions we'll pose:
- Everyone probably has a stereotype in their own minds for what a homeless person looks like. What are the real facts and figures for who's coming to the shelter at night?
- I'm probably as guilty as anyone can be of falling into the trap of thinking that "If you're homeless, you probably made bad decisions that got you there." I'm guessing that's often true, but not particularly fair. What are the choices and circumstances that put people in need?
- What are people doing on a cold winter's night if they're not in a shelter?
- Help me paint a picture of the services, programs, and shelters that are out there in Central Iowa, and what they each do.
- I think many people have the vague understanding that a lot of homeless people are also veterans. How does that come about? You devote special programs to aiding those veterans, don't you?
- What is the level of need -- especially in a worst-case scenario like this deep freeze? Are we good about taking care of homeless families, but not single adults? Do we miss certain sectors of the population, like teens or substance abusers or victims of domestic violence?
- You've spent just over a year in a new facility. What got you from the old building into the new one?
- What changed about the mission and outreach of CISS when you moved into the new facility?
- What about mental health issues? Especially with incidents of inexplicable violence, it seems like dismissing things as "mental-health issues" and then shrugging our shoulders has become a substitute for dealing with the real problem on the ground. What are the real problems?
- In the famed Toyota Production System, they have what they call the concept of "genba" -- which boils down to saying that you have to go to the real place where the actual activity is done. You can't just talk about it in a comfortable boardroom in abstract terms. Take us on a "genba walk" through the reality of what you're dealing with right now, in late 2013. What are the needs right now, for CISS, and for Des Moines overall?
- Something that really stands out about your shelter is the transitional housing program. Walk us through that. What problems does this solve?
- Your shelter, if I understand correctly, only takes adults (18 and older). Certainly the heartstrings are tugged a little harder by stories involving families with young children. How does CISS fit into the spectrum of care? Is there across-the-board need? Do you coordinate among services and agencies? What happens if people feel like some homeless people are more "deserving" than others?
- About 1/3 of the people they serve have been victims of domestic violence
- About 1/3 of the people they serve have diagnosed mental-health needs
- About 2/3rds of the people they serve have substance-abuse problems
- Elsewhere, a "housing-first" approach to homelessness is taken, but there is a shortage of rental housing available in Des Moines for people living at 30% of median incomes
- Their budget is about $1.4 million a year, from a combination of corporate, government, individual, and faith-based sources
- The shelter serves about 2,000 individuals a year
- A city guide to services and programs
- Family Promise of Greater Des Moines
- St. Joseph Emergency Shelter
- Hawthorn Hill
- Hope Ministries
- Iowa Homeless Youth Centers
- Central Iowa Shelter and Services
Technology toys for the holidays
Some last-minute options for your holiday shopping...
Tablets are all the rage, as you've undoubtedly heard:
- Kindle e-readers: Starting at $69 for the most basic, up through $199 for the biggest e-ink reader. At $69, it's practically a throwaway device, though you'll have to deal with special offers showing up on-screen. The costlier versions come with 3G Internet access for downloading new books.
- Kindle tablets: Starting at $139 for the 7" Kindle Fire HD and rising up through the $379 Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" version. The little guy has a 7" display and 8 Gb of storage. It'll cost you $15 more if you don't want Amazon ads showing up as your screensaver. You'll have to upgrade at least to the HDX for $329 to get Internet without using WiFi.
- Apple iPad: From $299 for the iPad Mini with 16 Gb of storage and basic WiFi access only, up through $929 for the iPad Air with 128 Gb of storage and Internet access via cell signal. The iPad 2 gets you onto 3G access with 16 Gb for $529. Be really careful about which models come with the LTE (Long-Term Evolution...often known as 4G) band support you want, if you plan to use the cellular access.
- Microsoft Surface: $349 on the low end, running Windows RT with a Micro SD card reader, ramping up through the $449 Surface 2 to the $899 Surface Pro 2, with 64 Gb to start and options ranging up through 512 Gb, running on Windows 8.1.
- Samsung tablets: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for $299 or less for the original Galaxy Tab, which runs Android 2.2. The Galaxy Note starts at $549 for a 16 Gb WiFi version. Samsung is really all over the place with their tablets right now.
- Google Nexus: $229 to start for the 7" version with 16 Gb on WiFi, $349 to get LTE broadband access, or $399 for the starting line on the 10" version on WiFi.
- Asus Transformer: This is the one that got me to open the wallet this season. The Transformer T100 is a 10" tablet with a docking keyboard, 32 Gb memory (to start), and a full edition of Windows 8.1 -- for $300, if you can find the right sale, or a little more if you can't.
Listener tech questions we'll answer if we have time
You might have caught our special two-hour edition of the WHO Radio Wise Guys this past weekend. We'll have another this coming weekend. Even with the extra time, we still run out of time to answer all the questions we get. Here are two we missed from this past weekend:
- How do I get a domain name?
- Are there any good calendar apps that synchronize amongs a PC, an Android phone, and an iPad?