Saturday, January 16, 2010

A note from Haiti 

A note this PM from one of my alumni who knows a family there.
Some friends of my family, the Williams', have been working with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Haiti for the past 20ish years. They are affiliated with a school that is engaged in the relief effort that is accepting paypal donations:

Everyone except Mark, the father/husband in this family, is currently safe state side. The two younger boys left for college a week or so ago. Here's something Glee, the mom/wife, said in her facebook status yesterday morning: We just had another large, rumbling aftershock that sent us out into the streets again. Then we heard singing from the ravine, in Creole tranlated, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All Other Ground is Sinking Sand. The Haitian people are amazing!
Glee notes separately, when we asked permission to post this, that she and the children have left because to stay would drain very scarce food resources. "Pray the gas holds out for transportation," she concludes. The school's website says they have converted themselves into an orphanage and temporary hospital; there are people camping on the soccer field.

I couldn't find the song in Creole, but here is the song those Haitians were singing at the bottom; I'll be asking the band I sing with to do this song soon. There was a wonderful caller -- "Paul in Alabama" -- on Dennis Miller's show this week, where Dennis was wondering that most basic of questions, how can a loving God permit such pain in the world. He had referred to it as an "act of God" and the caller gave a mild correction (paraphrasing; if you are a Dennis Miller Zone member, it's the Thursday call of the day.): "An earthquake is not an act of God. It is an act of nature. The act of God is what we do about the earthquake and the suffering."

What are you called to do?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

It's my lucky day 

What are the two first words you say to your new class of students the first day?

"Thank you."

I was at a party earlier tonight as my sister-in-law and her husband send a son off to college. Another guest is a music professor at another school nearby. SCSU's semester starts today (Monday), a week earlier than in the past due to consolidation of the MnSCU schedules. It really feels wrong: The State Fair is supposed to bring the curtain down on summer, not open the fall. Labor Day is always the barbecue that says goodbye to your kids' summer vacations. It's a little more poignant for us this year as Littlest enters high school (she starts today as well.) You just don't want all these transitions quite so soon.

So this is the conversation with the other professor, and in the middle of this we sort of stop and catch ourselves. "I get no sympathy from my wife about this," he says. And he's right. We get three glorious months to self-indulge, or teach a summer class to make that tuition check for the school in fall, or travel, or what have you. In the fall he gets new studio students to work with. He looks forward to it. And so do I. Does anyone else get to do this? We like to call athletes lucky to play a child's game for money, but my luck is as good as theirs even if the money isn't.

I ran into a former student of mine, one of my first students here from more than 20 years ago, who now teaches at a school in the Cities on Saturday. He's just helped one of my graduate students find some teaching at his school; he sends some of his students up to St. Cloud to become my students. I ran into the grad student later to retrieve some books I had lent him. He is now being helped by my older student. I gave a couple prayers of thanks driving home and thought maybe August isn't so bad.

Putting a monkey wrench into this mistiming is that I'm also on jury duty the next two weeks. I already put this off once when it threatened the conference in Waikiki, so I felt I couldn't ask again. You probably won't notice, as I'll be forward-dating posts. But I'm not so concerned about missing the blog, or the Fair or the RNC next week (where I will be on the air a couple of nights -- details as we finalize them). I hate missing that first time to see students, and thank them for being there, for signing up to have me as their teacher, for wanting to learn economics ("I only took it because it was required for my major" is a challenge I accept; "I didn't think I was going to like this course but I did" is the prize), for coming to SCSU, for allowing a 50-something to feel a little younger (and a little older) every September.

Or August, as it now turns out. I'll get used to it. My lucky day just comes a bit earlier now.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Theories come later; now, just pray 

I was in class from about 4:30 to after 8, and only when I got in the car afterwards did I hear of the shootings at Northern Illinois. My first thought getting home was to see if Stephen was OK. He is, and has a full report.

I have no words of wisdom; what was said after Virginia Tech continues to apply. We're a big and open place, and you wouldn't want a university to be anything else. Sometimes the rest of the world wanders into what we think is our retreat from it.

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