In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Work and More Work

I've returned from my week of travel. Our time in New Orleans was an amazing experience. For one, the community that was formed by our college students was incredible. Someone pointed out, "These are not people who would hang out together." But they made a great community as we worked and played together.

My particular work group ended up spending our entire week gutting one house. Every time we thought that we were getting somewhere, we found that there was another layer of destruction that we had to work through. It was particularly tough for many of the groups to find that the houses we are trying to restore should have been demolished, in our outside opinion. One group tried to hang drywall, but found that the studs of the houses were crooked. Our group discovered that part of the house was being held up by 1x8 inch boards. We almost broke it down, and brought the roof down with it!

The workload in the Gulf Coast is overwhelming. I believe that Hurricane Katrina has fallen into the back of many of our minds. There are other bits of news to follow. However, the need still exists for help.

We learned that one volunteer hour is worth $17.50. That money is taken off the FEMA bill to the state of Louisiana. In on respect, it doesn't seem like much, but it is a quantifiable measurement of what sort of impact we have when we choose to work in a particular area.

We have also learned to marvel at the people who have been able to piece together lives in the midst of such tragedy and frustration. If we were frustrated in a week, I can't imagine what the residents must be feeling.

I hope that we can continue to return to the Gulf Coast to re-build the city. They need us, and we learn and grow so much by working with them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spring Break

This is a VERY brief post to let you know that we are on Spring Break? How am I spending the break? Well, not very relaxingly.

I'm leaving in a few minutes to New Orleans to do some disaster recovery work with some student from our college. Then, I'll be in Chicago for a meeting.

By the time I get back, classes will be ready to go!

Not really a break, but a change of pace.


Monday, March 12, 2007

I've Sprung Ahead

It can be a trade off.

I didn't appreciate walking my dog in the darkness of night. It was this dark in January when I was walking the dog at 6:30 AM. Then, the light was slowly building. By last week, the morning was feeling like morning, not the middle of the night.

Then Daylight Savings Time hit.

Now I'm back to walking the dog under the stars. Also, because of the warm days, the snow is melting quickly. It is flooding the sidewalks. When I walk the dog during the day, I walk through the puddles. But in the morning, these are frozen everywhere on the sidewalk. It's pretty dangerous.

But here's the trade-off. I LOVE driving home in the daylight. I like walking the dog in the afternoon sunshine. I like that it is still light out after 7:00 PM.

I can't complain about one without enjoying the other.

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

If I Had the Money, I'd Make the World a Better Place

I understand that I don't need money to help make the world a better place. I can do that with my smile!!!!

Actually, the title of this posting is about some of the new environmental and justice-oriented options we are exploring in our household. None of them come cheap.

We are very close to joining Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). When you do CSA, you actually buy a share of farm yield. For a number of weeks in the summer and fall (around 15 weeks), you will get a weekly box of whatever produce they are harvesting at the time. You get a LOT of food. In many cases, the food has come directly from the dirt to your produce box. Friends of ours have said that they have more produce than they know what to do with. We are hoping that it will increase the amount of healthy food we consume. We also hope that we will get more creative in our cooking now that we will have new vegetables sent to us on a weekly basis. The prices for a CSA vary, depending on delivery, length of the season, and farm practices. We are looking at paying around $415 for about 15 weeks of food. If we consume the food, then it will be a good investment. If not, then we will waste a lot of money and a lot of food. We found our farm by doing a comparison of the farms and programs listed at the Land Stewardship Project.

The other obsession that is going through our house right now is an electric car. About a month ago, we watched the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? It was amazing to see GM actively destroy the car of the future. Of course, now GM is falling behind in the global market because people don't want these huge gas guzzlers anymore (or, they don't want to pay so much for gas anymore). Most major car companies make it sound like we are at least 2 years away from a purely electric car that can charge overnight. The new car company that seems to be bucking the gas trend is Tesla Motors. They have created an all electric vehicle sportscar, named the Roadster. It can compete with most high end sportscars in speed and handling. The price of the Roadster is around $90,000. Of course, I don't have that kind of money, so I have to wait until they come out with their sedan. The sedan is supposed to be around $50,000. It's still a lot to pay for a car, but somehow it seems worth it.

Those are the two major trends we are looking at joining. Of course, these all take some stewardship of our financial resources. We are looking forward to my other half going back to work, so money won't be so tight. Maybe at that point we can figure out how to change the world in our own economic stratus.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Snowed In: The Finale?

Now that the snow has stopped (after three days, I might add!). Life is very different. This morning, I walked the dog, and I was struck at how beautiful everything was. The sun with shining brightly, and it reflected off this blanket of snow that covered everything. It was LOVELY!

By this afternoon, that same powerful sun is slowly melting the blanket of snow. It won't disappear completely, but it will turn into a much heavier, wetter blanket. Still, my spirits are lifted.

I'm a little surprised at my reaction. Often by March, I'm done with winter. However, we didn't really start winter until February (with extreme cold). So, maybe my seasonal clock is a little behind. Anyway, it's a great day to walk the dog.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snowed In: Part 3

Yesterday, we got home at about 2:30 to find that our driveway was already shoveled. Yea! We love our roommate who loves to snow!

Last night, we decided that we could brave the snow for some fine theatre. We left with a lot of time to spare, and got to the theatre about 20 minutes before the show started. We watch Doubt, with Cherry Jones. The show was wonderful. It was deep, and was probably a true story for someone. It's not a happy story, but about the futility of trying to be a whistle-blower. I highly recommend it.

We got home, and my other half attempted to park our van in the driveway. However, the van couldn't make it up the incline, and there wasn't enough room to get a good running start. Instead, he parked the car around the corner.

My college had not yet called off classes for Friday (today), so I spent time preparing my lesson for my class. Then we crashed.

This morning, I check the school web site, and there was no mention of the school closing, so I took a shower. When I was done, my other half went to the school web site. Now they had called off all operations. We tried to go back to bed, but we were both awake.

Soon after, our neighbor knocked on our door. Apparently, we didn't park the van in the right place. We got a ticket, and we got the van stuck trying to move it. Since we were both outside, I shoveled the driveway.

Now we are warm and safe inside. The snow seems to have stopped for now. I think there might be a little more later, but not as bad as it was yesterday.

It's like we got a 3.5 day weekend!

To see some of the fun, I have photos of our friends helping us shovel during the first snowfall (now a week ago). Here's one of the ladies making snow angels while we shoveled.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Snowed In, Part 2

I'm not quite snowed in yet. Actually, I'm still at work. However, I just received word that we are canceling all our operations in about 20 minutes. When I saw the notice, I got this rush of panic. I think my mind went to, "We will lock every door. If you aren't out by then, you'll be sleeping here."

I'm just waiting for my other half to finish his class (the last class before we "shut down") and then we'll begin the journey home. It's days like today that I'm thankful to live so close to my work. It will be slow going, but that means that the trip could take up to 30 minutes, instead of the regular 15.

I also scored free tickets to "Doubt", which is playing tonight. I'm thinking that I can brave the snow to see some good (free) theatre. I mean, wouldn't you?

What do you do when it's snowing this hard? Well, you could start the first of many shoveling jobs. We also might sit home and watch movies! Woo-hoo! Walking the dog will be an adventure all in its own.