Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I fought a bowl of oatmeal

What an eye opening spring break. I went down to New Orleans with UC's Alternative Spring Break organization. This organization is such a worthwhile cause. Unlike most things that UC sponsors, I genuinely think that this organization actually has pure intentions. I really respect the leadership and goals of ASB. Consequently, I think I'm going to lead a trip next year.

Anyway, the state of New Orleans is unbelievable. I still cannot rationalize why so little has been done in almost two years since the hurricane. Prior to the trip I heard from several people that not much had been done to repair the neighborhoods that were completely destroyed by flood waters. However, I was totally unprepared for the chaos that is flourishing in the city. It's hard to know who is responsible for the lack of progress. If you talk to locals, they'll all say the same thing: the federal government is at fault. Thousands of residents live in white FEMA trailers while there houses are being rebuilt. By providing trailers, FEMA hopes to allow former residents to return to the city and pick up there old jobs and supervise the rebuilding of their homes. However, in many cases residents didn't even receive their trailer until last month. Now, the trailers are being removed from properties because they were designed for only temporary usage. I had the opportunity to talk to three individuals who were all living in trailers provided by the government. While they had been living in their trailers for awhile, none of them have recieved enough federal relief funding to rebuid their homes. Without, proper funding middle and lower income families cannot afford to restore their homes to meet with fire and structural codes.

Volunteer organizations help quite a bit by providing free labor and materials but the non-profit intiative is not functioning on a large enough scale to meet the needs of the New Orleans community in a realistic timespan. Because the rebuilding effort is so sluggish many former residents have decided not to return. In the St. Bernard parish, only 5,000 of the 65,000 residents have returned. No community infrastructure can function when 92% of its members are not residing within the area. As a result, roads can't be repaired, there's very little public education and utilities are slow to return to functionality. To make matters worse, the city of New Orleans is beginning to demolish abandoned buildings.

I had many opportunities to see the progress of the rebuilding process. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity are doing great things but it is clearly not enough. I couldn't help but ask myself, "is it even worth it to rebuild?" as I observed the thousands and thousands of empty homes with no sign of rebuilding intentions except for the plea "please don't demolish my home" scrawled in spray paint on hundreds of house in the 9th ward.

Friday, March 09, 2007

When the man comes around

School's over. I have one more final to take and two papers to turn in next week. I really need some off time. This has been the hardest quarter of school in a long time. It feels good to have stuck this one out though instead of withdrawing from everything difficult. Only 1+ more years of not changing my major and not dropping classes to go. I'm not really in any hurry to get done but I'm also not a big fan of paying too much more tuition. I also don't know how I'm gonna keep my cash flow up once I'm done co-oping. I only have one more quarter to do and then I don't have to co-op anymore.

I can't wait for this friggin cold weather to leave. I'm really craving some outdoors time. Robert Kleemeier and I are gonna have to hit up the fishing hole before too long. It's been forever since I've been fishing or done anything outside. We took a spritual assessment at Key Laborers a couple of weeks ago. The purpose of the assessement was to shed light on how you best worship and relate to God. I scored a 97/100 in the creation category. So apparently I need time outdoors. I can totally buy that. I really do need to find a job as a park ranger or something.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

1.21 Gigawatts

There's beens some recent banter around my house about the new gold coin. Someone started up this crazy chain email calling all Christians to arms over the lack of the inscription"In God We Trust" on the coin. I like how it's no problem to get "Christians" all fired up over something like this but its like pulling teeth to get them to raise a finger to feed a starving kid or accept an outcast into their community. It makes you feel good about where the church is headed. That's all I have to say about that really. I'm sure Davie will have a much more prolonged rant coming in the next couple days. Oh yeah...the coin actually does have the "In God We Trust" slogan on it, it's just around the circumference of the coin where people with too much time and no purpose can't see it.

So, once again I'm in real danger of completely failing a class. This time...Organic Chemistry II. And unlike other times in my college career, it's not for lack of trying. This class is just rediculous and the instruction is terrible. I talked to the professor yesterday and she explained to me that in order to pass I would have to get a 77/200 on the final. That's doable right? You'd think so but that would actually be the best score (percentage wise) that I've gotten yet on an exam, in this class. I'm really pretty worried about it.