We’re continuing to hear from Liz Hirsch, a homeless woman who’s communicating with us via email while she seeks warmth in local coffeehouses.

In one of her latest messages, she writes about spending the night in a shelter: “I forgot to add in my last email that [Wednesday] night they had to turn away several women. These women were new, [their] first night, but there was no room. One lady had to leave because she never wants to do chores and you have to be willing to do something, even just wipe off tables.”

While some reaction to her plight in our comment section has been negative (’tis the season of the Grinch, after all), we’ve also received several emails and phone calls offering help and ideas. “This is really a nice feeling,” Hirsch wrote after reading one of the emails.

• As part of our continuing look at homelessness, we’ve compiled links to several recent stories that shed light on the problem. One, from The New York Times, explores how more young adults are homeless: “Without a stable home address, they are an elusive group that mostly couch surfs or sleeps hidden away in cars or other private places, hoping to avoid the lasting stigma of public homelessness.”

• A commenter writes that solving homelessness would be easier if all transients were like Hirsch: “Articulate, willing to take advantage of charitable support opportunities, and–equally importantly–not drunk, drug-addled or mentally ill.”

So how many homeless people fall into those categories?

In 2011, I interviewed Dr. Chris Searles, a family physician who treats the homeless around the county, and asked him about the mental ailments afflicting the homeless. His response: “The majority of homeless people don’t have a strict mental illness aside from an addiction problem. About a third of those folks identify themselves as having a mental illness, and a little more than half say they have a problem with addiction like drugs or alcohol. Overall, 60 percent will have one or the other or both.”

The VOSD Encyclopedia: Filner, Bob

From son of a labor organizer to Freedom Rider to professor to school board member to City Council member to congressman to mayor: Bob Filner hasn’t spent much time out of the spotlight.

If you’d like to wrap your head around his life as an activist, educator (we uncovered his almost 500-page thesis) and politician, check the guide we just posted. “Consider this the Voice of San Diego encyclopedia entry on Filner,” our Liam Dillon writes.

Up Next: More Debate Over the I-5

By the summer, U-T San Diego says, Caltrans plans to be ready to seek approval for its $3.5 billion plan to add four express/carpool lanes from La Jolla to Camp Pendleton.

Last year, our Scott Lewis explained what was behind this plan and the debate about it.

It will be years before construction begins, if ever. And there’s still a potential roadblock looming in the regional transportation plan that’s now tied up in litigation.

Quick News Hits

• A former officer of the San Diego Municipal Employees Assocation, Tony Ruiz, reported on Twitter that Judie Italiano, the former longtime leader of the organization, died. The union is the largest of all city employee groups.

• The Sacramento Bee has a special report on the $285 million state funded project to replenish sand on San Diego beaches.

“The project and others like it across the country spark questions about beach nourishment and its longevity, the effects on fish, birds and other animals and the void left at the offshore sites where the sand is removed,” the Bee writes.

It’s Christmas Time in the City

• If getting into the holiday spirit means putting on tunes by the likes of Bing Crosby and Perry Como (or John Lennon and Paul McCartney), check out a holiday music quiz I put together last year for the North County Times. You’ll see questions about creepy and grim Christmas songs, the half-Jewish celebrity who appears in “The Hanukkah Song” and more.

My other columns about holiday music are here, here and here. One year I even interviewed novelty song guru Dr. Demento about wacky Christmas songs. Look out, Grandma!

• In honor of our very own Dr. Seuss (who lived in La Jolla and whose widow is one of our valued supporters), researchers decided to calculate the metros that are the most and the least likely to convert the Grinch to non-grinch-itude — “or, in other words, real-life Whovilles with demographic characteristics that could turn even the strongest-willed holiday-merriment-haters into jolly good fellows,” Atlantic Cities reports.

To make the top 10, metros had to score high in things like meat markets (“for the roast beast”), stores (“more presents for the Grinch to steal and eventually return”) and hospitals (“for the Grinch when his heart grows ‘three sizes that day”).

San Diego doesn’t make the top 10 or the bottom 10. But somewhere just a few hours away turns out to be the least likely in the entire country to transform the Grinch from grumpy to pa-rum-pa-pum-pum-y.

L.A.? Orange County? Nope. It’s Yuma, Ariz.

Feel Free to Write Your Own Joke

Mark Fabiani may be best known as an attorney who serves as the public face of the Chargers front office. But he has a long history of high-profile gigs, including a stint as White House counsel during the Clinton Administration and advisor to folks like Al Gore and Lance Armstrong.

Now, as one of the most disappointing Chargers seasons comes to a close, he’s co-written a new book called “Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control.”

In the spirit of the season (the holiday one, that is), and through super-human power of will, I’m just going to let this one lie.  

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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