I had not a minute to surf this week (and yes, its been incredibly difficult for me, thank you for asking). Hence, instead of the normal "here's what I've found," today is "here's what I normally surf."
My (online) day usually starts with a stop by my work email and my gmail (I have plenty of invites if you want one). And I usually try to drop by Woot earlier in the day than later. Most times the best stuff has already sold out by the time I get there, which is why some nights I try to remember to check it before going to bed.
If I do have time to surf, I usually kick it off at Metafilter, and that usually leads me to askMeFi and MetaTalk. And from there to all other kinds of places.
If I have time for news, its either Google News or WSJ, usually. And I'm usually learning about a couple random things that come up via the ever wonderful Wikipedia.
Most years I would be checking my fantasy team at Yahoo pretty regularly, but I missed my draft this year thanks to work, so my team stinks, so I've lost most interest.
And I'll occasionally refer to craigslist, ebible, menupages, and Lifehacker, although I get to the latter a lot less than I used to. And sometimes when I actually just need to channel surf the internet, I hit the good ol' StumbleUpon button.
So thanks to a number of different reasons, I've been learning all about the Jewish holidays of late. I've met / spent some time with a number of people who either practice or are interested in how to practice the Messianic Jewish faith - most recently Karen, the sweetest old lady you could ever hope to meet, who sat next to me at (my) church this past Sunday. She gave me a hug and a traditional Rosh Hashana greeting when we reached the part in the service where we greet those around us. And today happens to be Tzom Gedaliah. Happy Tzom Gedaliah. And, since I missed it, happy Rosh Hashana too.
Cooked tonight. My own special pasta meatavera recipe, and its tres delish, if I do say so myself. Used the new Barilla Plus, thanks to this miracle I can eat pasta again. Caught the second half of Heroes, which I had really hoped to catch both halves of - but then I need to kick this TV watching thing anyway, reading has all but dropped off the radar, again. But they are going to have a replay of the premier online, and that's too cool to not watch.
Trying to get an update to the side-bar sometime soon, but doubtful that will happen - I have a lot of work to get done on my day off, if I can't stall it, and I have to get it done before noon because Cregan, Dave, David, and I are headed to Whitetail for the afternoon. And I have a blog post to write.
Saturday I worked all day and did my lesson that evening, and Sunday was your typical fall Sunday - church, youth group, and meeting Dave at Merc Bar (although we ended up at Joshua Tree) to watch the Steelers lose a game they should have won by two touches. Ridiculous. But kind of karmically deserved after the way we decimated them in the playoffs last year.
And I found a new song, from Mayer, that's going to get me to finally pull out the guitar after a summer off. Plus lil bro Jon introduced me to Current Swell, and I seriously dig their stuff.
You peaches from Jamaica? Cause Jamaican me crazy. I love that Stop and Shop ad.
Albeit in a smaller, much more hurried manner...I have that annual happy- its-fall feeling that I get when the weather starts to turn and the regular fall activities ramp up.
First the days get a little more bearable temperature wise, and things are just beautiful for a week or two. Then you start to feel a comfortably cool breeze in the evening that gives you hints of sweat shirts and long pants. Before you know it, its nice enough out at night to leave the windows open instead of the AC on - and you can sleep comfortably with the sound of cars and people walking their dogs and whatnot, passing in the street below.
It will be another week or so and we'll be shifting all the vents again. My room tends to be the hottest in our place, so during the warm months we close the all the other vents and open the one in my room, and in the cool months, close the one in my room and open all the others. And a week or two after that, it will be one of my favorite times of the year - when the down comforter comes back out and the light one goes back in the closet. And I sleep better for 4 months or so.
But its not just the weather. I like fall because usually I've had a good summer with some long weekends and a few adventures and perhaps a weeks' vacation or so. And the beginning of fall kind of signifies wrapping up the fun break and getting back to things - work, youth group, home fellowship group, et. al.. This year there wasn't much of a summer, but I have a feeling it will be a good fall all the same.
The folks are taking me and the sisters to Greece for a week and a half, after all. Life goes on.
As you might have noticed, yesterday I finally threw up a blog post, after some weeks off. And here's the strange thing: it wasn't so much work's fault. Yeah, I've been working the same crazy hours on the same crazy project, but there's been time here and there. And yet blogging seemed like this huge looming burden I had to deal with, even though I knew after just one post I would break through and be, hopefully, back in the swing.
Anyway, I don't expect that to make sense to anyone, it barely does to me. Suffice to say, I'm back, and I'm going to make a earnest effort at throwing something up here on a Mon-Fri basis again, even if its just pointless drivel like this. Because that's what keeps them coming back, the pointless drivel. And my cunning wit.
Tomorrow is Thursday, which means links.
Oh, and yesterday's post - I've had all but the last paragraph or two written since shortly after the trip. Along with a few other posts. And pictures. What is wrong with me?
For me, of all the 300+ photos I took during my trip to New Orleans this past summer, none said more to me than this one. This guy, sitting there, on break from work, reading his paper and smoking his cigarette. For him, life is normal. He lives and works in New Orleans, one year after one of the most catastrophic natural disasters to ever strike our nation.
The city will rebuild. Its part of our human nature - we fight back against the rest of nature, we dominate it, and even though it may lash out at us from time to time, we live in a perpetual state of perceived dominance over it. People will eventually return to this city, live there, work there, worship there, and take their smoke breaks there. But it will take so much time.
Imagine the place that you live, the place where you sleep and keep all your belongings - filled to the top with muddy water. The water subsides, your belongings, what's left of them, settle to the floor after floating for so many days, scattered and broken. And then everything sits for one year. No windows, no locks on the doors, everything just sits in the humid, motionless air. Imagine the dirt caked on everything. Imagine the dank water still sitting in broken dishwashers, refrigerators turned on their sides, tubs with the plumbing clogged. Imagine the smell.
This is the house we walked into on day one of our work week in New Orleans. There were 18 of us, leaders and kids from the youth group at my church, split into two teams. Although this was not your typical international missions trip, we might as well have been on the other side of the planet - this was a disaster zone left to sit, for all intents and purposes. With my team, we helped gut 3 houses. Imagine someone going through all your things, your secret possessions, your life built up around you, tearing it all out and placing it in a pile on the street. This is what we were there to do. Family picture albums, closets full of clothes, books and bibles, jewelry, household chemicals, pornography, kitchens full of utensils, electronics, furniture, guns, everything. All in piles on the street.
They are still finding bodies to this day in New Orleans. The neighborhoods where we were still sat empty by and large - I never once worked in a house that sat adjacent to any other inhabited residence. With so many deserted homes, neighborhoods, and other uninhabited areas, I imagine they'll still be finding bodies years from now.
What amazes me most is that anyone would expect a city full of people who were totally dependent on the government - who couldn't even provide for themselves the most basic of necessities in the time of the storm, and who couldn't find even a ride to points north - that anyone would expect these same people to rebuild their entire house. To gut it, to throw out everything they once owned, to rebuild from the ground up. In one year.
One year after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands of displaced people had begun to move back into the city and rebuild it, but that was a different time. Nobody was waiting on the government to help - in the end, the same government that had ordered the law enforcement to shoot looters on sight was only able to establish temporary housing for some 20,000. And this was in 1906.
We live in a different era now. Now there are cities full of people that expect the government to care for them when things go bad. New York City is no different - the blackouts in Queens recently and the region at large 2 years ago provide preliminary evidence of that. Society at large relies on a system that it believes will be there for them in their day of greatest need. In that sense, we are on a razor's edge.
I believe this is the failure of the church. Our failure was not in a lack of immediate response to New Orleans, when the government failed to act, or even in the fact that the church lacked even the ability to respond to a disaster of that magnitude. The church's failure at large has been to sit idly by while a godless nation has ever so slowly but surely placed its faith in the government, not in God.
I think it was C.S. Lewis that once said, "We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them."
I wonder how much hard He's going to have to shake, before things change.
That said, we were all very glad that we went on the trip. Almost everyone expressed a desire to return and help keep rebuilding next year. And the knowledge that the need would still exist went unspoken - there is simply no question about it.
I think, most importantly, at the end of the day, our goal, whether we realized it at the time or not, was to show people what it really means to rebuild your life. We were there to help people who had seen their physical reality completely displaced. And we did. But in any place - especially a place like New Orleans - our greatest need is to rebuild the misplaced foundations of our faith. To rebuild our lives on something that cannot be shaken. I hope that in some way, some tiny little way that may never be known, we helped towards that end.
OK here's the difference between right now and a couple of months ago before I was sentenced to this gulag of a project: before this I had time to complain about how little time I had outside of work.
Now, my schedule is essentially sleep, work, eat, repeat. Period.
Everything, just everything, has been dropped so that I can work. The only luxuries I'm taking at this point beyond the necessities of sleep and food is the time I take to shower in the morning and listen to the radio on the way to work. I can't do dry cleaning, I can't do laundry, I can't write, I can't read, I can't watch TV, I definitely haven't worked out in weeks, I can't keep in touch with people (although I'm making a concerted effort from work with a few), and I can't prepare a decent meal. I can't find 5 minutes to search for new projects, which it was agreed upon that I'd be doing in the first place when I came to this role. I certainly can't relax, which is what I should be doing with the 2 or so weeks that I actually don't have youth group to worry about before the school year starts again.
And worst of all I am spiritually drained. First this project ate through my physical stamina, then my mental, and now it feasts on what little I have left. And its now that I realize that I can't complain, either. Because I don't have time to do that, either. But more importantly, because in some sense I had no choice to go onto this project, but in another, this is the line of work I've decided to go into. At any point I could quit, but instead I've quietly gone along with an oppressive workload instead of refusing it.
Theoretically its all supposed to end tomorrow night when I work my last day shift, but I doubt that it will be that easy, as things are not settled and the client is certainly not ready to lose the full support team.
This is where I am. This is why I have not even been able to recap my trip to New Orleans at this point. I'm aiming for something decent by Monday of next week, with pictures, but based on my predictions lately...you do the math.
Disclaimers: 1. Formalities: This is a personal web-log. The opinions and information provided on this page are the sole responsibility of the author. These opinions do not represent the official statements or views of his employer, nor do they represent the views of any institution, corporation, or other organization. This blog and all its contents, in each of its parts and as a whole are copyright David Knowles, Jr., 2009. 2. Frivolities: This is a personal web-log. I'm relearning some HTML. Something not working? Shout out. Idea for improvement? Please provide. Surging, irresistible need to confess your undying love for the Dave? You may proceed.
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."