Tag Archives: Hurricane Sandy

The Unbearable Lightness of Giving. (or Karma? Meh.)

Today’s Music: Shawn Colvin – All Fall Down

So this weekend, my girl and I spent a day volunteering for Sandy recovery.
We showed up at a church at 520 Clinton Ave in Brooklyn to lend a hand.

It only looks like a warm cozy environment.

We get there and spend 15 minutes waiting to sign in. We write our names on a piece of tape and stick it to our jackets. (The registration is so that we can be on the mailing list. Glad we weren’t wasting time…)
We go into the pen where we are to wait for the volunteer orientation, and we have a chance to look over the place.
Towers of clothes, water, supplies, tools. Boxes of gear needed to clean up affected areas and give necessities to those that need them.
The entire operation was staffed by volunteers, and looked like a drunk walking – the rear foot constantly throwing the body off balance, the front foot catching it just in time, and repeat.

This is the inside of the church.

In fact, what I was most surprised by is how organized they were, and how people actually seemed to be in charge. Past volunteer experiences seemed to be more along the lines of “show up, and if you see something that needs to be done, do it”.
That seems to work well enough, since people that show up do want to help, and anyone that survives the turmoil for an hour or two becomes defacto leader until they move on and someone else takes over.
But it was nice to see an overall plan being implemented.

So after 5 minutes of sitting waiting for orientation, I learned two things:
– While I try to be open minded and not judge people on appearances, it’s very hard with hipsters.
– Especially when said hipster gets me to do something I’m not particularly keen on, and then offers encouragement wrapped around the word “jam” for the next 10 minutes.

Sitting in a chair with about 6 other people, groovy hipster comes over and shouts “Does anyone have cooking experience? We need help in the kitchen”.
Picture a simultaneously scowling and sneering El Guapo raising his hand.
While I cooked for a living for many years, it is not high on my list of fun things to do in a production environment. My girl and I had been hoping to lend a hand at the Rockaway Beach area. We surf there, and really like the neighborhood, so this would be a good “give back” kind of thing.
But this was also volunteering. And if they needed cooks…
So I said sure, gave a quick run down of my experience, and we follow the guy. Who must have seen my expression. Because i was subject to a litany of encouraging phrases along the lines of “It’ll be cool. You can make the cooking your Jam.” “Once you start, you know, you’ll be in your Jam.” “After your Jam is going, it’ll be great”.

Gee, and to think I’m not such a fan of people. Meh.

So my girl and I and one other go down to the kitchen. Sal is doing a bang up job as the chef, cranking out hundreds of meals from a small kitchen, with a 6 burner stove and 2 shelf oven to work with.
This isn’t gruel or slop. This is good food made almost entirely with donated ingredients.
But he’s weeded (ridiculously busy). And that small kitchen is hot.
Sal (after a moment of our recruiter trying to get his attention): EVERYONE WHO ISN’T COOKING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW, GET. OUT.”

Understood. He isn’t being a jerk. He’s trying to get a job done. Having been on both sides of that when cooking, I know where he’s coming from, and fade back into the small auditorium outside the kitchen, now a massive prep kitchen.
And start peeling a literal ton of vegetables.

The highlights:
– Try and donate potatoes larger than a fat thumb. Seriously. Almost more trouble than it’s worth to peel them.
– Try to donate carrots that aren’t flaccid. Also easier to peel.
– Donate peelers. Really. Having thirty isn’t helpful when twenty five of them are junk.
– Don’t slice your finger while opening pumpkins.

It was more embarrassing than painful…

– Listen to the conversations around you. At one point, Phil (a restaurateur from Connecticut) asked Heather (a Sandy regular from Vermont) about composting.
Heather launched into a detailed five minute explanataion of why they weren’t composting, how terrible it was that organic trash had been mixed with non-organic, the difficulties of finding compost pickup in Brooklyn, and how wonderful composting is.
Phil listened, and when Heather wound down, said “Oh, I don’t really care.” and went back to what he was doing.

Took me about a minute to stop laughing.

In the end, it really was a productive day. While it wasn’t my first choice of how to spend it, it was a useful necessary task. The people that will be getting the food will be very happy they did.
But next time, I think I’ll try to get in the group that’s clearing debris by the beach.

Oh, and the only sad part? After all that, I still didn’t win the lottery Saturday night.


(But in all seriousness, the organizers and volunteers all seemed to be working, and it was for a good cause for people that still do need the help.)

Friday Foolishness – Idling Edition

Today’s Music: KISS – New York Groove
Note on Today’s Music: Yep. I’m back.

Where does the time go? the holiday season is upon us, winter is coming, and the calendar is about to tick the completed box on another year. What is a net junkie to do?
Why, read blogs of course! Here’s some of what I saw this week:
Madame Weebles is offering to reveal herself for a good cause. Live Clay found the next place I want to live, and SandyLikeABeach worked her magic (in her 200th post!) in picture form.
Finally, blame this link on the sciencey influence of Alex and Frank: a Wired article about the future of space exploration with Humans and Robots.

And thank you all for an exceptional week of reads. I wish I could link them all.

Hurricane Isabel (More dramatic than Sandy, but same kind of thing.)

But if I did, you’d all be busy reading those, and never make it to the big question: What about last weeks poll?!?
We asked Why does Mother Nature hate the Northeast? And wow, did your answers storm in! Here’s what you said. (As always, my comments lie in ruins in italics.)
it doesn’t have a tail.. lizzie
(But it certainly was monkeying around.)
she is farting in your general direction..the winds will change.. lizziec
(Someone needs to talk to her about changing her diet!)
she’s pissed that I moved to the Midwest.
(We’ll have to ask her to take it up with you. In the mid-west. Hmph.)
porkroll! (words&otherthings)
(Next time, Can we turn her on to whatever food Minnesota is known for ?)
she upgraded to iOS6 and the map says she’s in Texas! (Kanerva)
Because Jim Cantore needs a reason to visit NYC.
(Doesn’t he know he can order those LL Bean jackets online?)
she adores seeing Christie in his “Christie” stenciled jacket. sandylikeabeach
(She could have just taken Mario Cantore’s)
To make you ask that question. x,Becca
(I’d rather have to ask why delicious donuts hate NYC. Mmmm…)
Because the NE is a good booger, and all good boogers need to be picked. (Frank)
(Well, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but…)
She is opposed to the Nanny State infringing on her credentials. Red
(Could she be a little less “Mommy Dearest” about it?)
She desperately wants Trump to cut his hair by blowing it around Benzeknees
(She can’t make it look scarier than Trump already has…)
of Snooki. Or big hair. One of the two. Signed, former Jersey girl
(Next time, she could just drive up in an IROC-Z and smack her…)
She is trying to fix Mr. Trump’s hair! Your Royal GingerSnaapness
(Or destroy everything around it to make the hair look good by comparison.)
She’s mad that the Soprano’s canceled. Michelle
She’s hoping to finally see the Statue of Liberty in a pair of highwaters.- LindaV
(Wet steel toga contest!)
Northwest is the BEST. (Lily in Canada)
(Got it. 30 feet of snow, first prize. Hurricane, second prize..)
17% of US population live in 2% of land area. People disperse! Quirky
(That’s positively spacious compared to Tokyo)
Dear People, Megalopolis’ suck. Love, Mother Nature. – Quirky again
(Can’t she just suck her teeth and shake her head at us disappointedly, like a normal mom?)
Is it megalopolis’, megalopoli, megalopolises…? – Quirky (I’m done)
(Actually, it’s pronounced Guapolopolis.)
I think she wanted to lay off the south for once – Becca 25tofly
(She could have at least blown some good bbq up here…)
Could it be the quality of your beer?
(But Brooklyn Brewery makes a delicious tasty palatable chocolate beer!)
Mother Nature hates all of us. (Stacy)
(But then why would she give us the natural wonder of Twinkies?)
Donald Trump lives there. I was hoping he’d get blown away. (sandylikeabeach)
(I’m blown away every time he says something. And not in a good way either.)
She knows that Northeasterners can take it (sadly) Elyse 54.5
(Actually, the Northeast took it (angrily).)

Not El Guapo.

Congratulations to Kanerva for this weeks winning answer! (She’s been racking up wins. Is this thing rigged?) And from the offered choices, the most popular was Canada is too polite to get angry at. So congratulations to everyone who picked our way-too-kind friends from the north!

This week, we are deep into fall. It’s almost time for the spring countdown clock to go up. Right now, I’m idling, waiting for winter to start in earnest so i have something to do. Because the halloween mazes are down. Apple picking season ended. There’s nothing to do.
So I put it to you, people of the sphere, What’s an adrenaline junkie to do? Yep, that’s this weeks question. And I’m pretty sure you’re up to the challenge.
If you leave a write in answer, leave a way to recognize you so I can link back to you next week. But answer the challenge by 2359 EST, 22 Nov, because that’s when this one ends.

In closing, I’ve been relatively absent from the sphere of late. I’m still not 100% sure what was bothering me, but I seem to have gotten over it. There should be some new stuff coming along soon.
So on this Friday of Foolishness, let me send you on your way to a hopefully fantastic weekend with one of the goofiest videos I’ve seen in a while.
A Pakistani coworker sent me this video. The song is Punjabi, and is supposed to be an affirming kind of thing.
Hope you enjoy what these guys do to it.

Have a great weekend everyone!