03 September 2005

first week of classes

In light of the events of the past week on the Gulf Coast, I've no room to complain about anything, but I am exhausted after the first week of the autumn semester, a week during which I've found myself listening too often to Aaron Neville's version of the Randy Newman classic, "Louisiana 1927."

Classes seemed to go well with what appear, at first impression, to be a pretty good bunch of first year students. Having 8am classes three days a week, however, will take some getting used to, especially after a summer of "sleeping in" (though with a two, now three year old, "sleeping in" is very relative). At least it's already light out when I wake up, unlike the beginning of the winter/spring semester.

The semester is fairly well planned out, though when planning for the semester I always seem to let my preparations for the one credit "First Year Odyssey" sections go until the last possible minute. I just finished setting up that part of my website about an hour ago and it still isn't completely firmed up. I also realized while working out some of the details that I'd created some scheduling conflicts that will have to be resolved.

The semester looks to be busy too. My freshman advising load is lighter this year than last year and I don't have many conferences this fall, only one out at Notre Dame where I'm a commentor and the campus panel discussion on the Haight book. But I've gotten myself sucked into too much committe work: Judicial Board, Arts and Sciences technology committee, Core Curriculum advisory board, activities funding committee, Core Curriculum faculty meetings, philosophy faculty meetings, advising workshops, and probably something else I'm forgetting. At least the Independent Study I was tapped to oversee fell through.

My birthday was this past week as well, so I'm older now, even if not any wiser. On Thursday Laurel took me out for dinner at the Manayunk Brewery, which is a pretty good restaurant with a fabulous array of their own brews. I enjoyed the Brown Dog Ale (a dark northern English style ale, almost like a porter) and the Golden Ale (a refreshing summer ale), as we sat out on the open deck overlooking the Schuykill River.

The restaurant, however, is also obviously a bar, complete with large screen televisions with the closed captioning on. Like many of the other patrons, we spent most of dinner in silence and near tears, watching the images from the Gulf Coast, particularly the New Orleans convention center, finding it difficult to enjoy what we were eating and wishing we could do more for those affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. The stories and images of infants and the elderly succumbing to the conditions left us with feelings of sorrow, anger, guilt, and helplessness.

I was encouraged later, however, to see that La Salle, like many other schools, is extending a welcome to college students displaced by Katrina. I don't know if we'll get any of those students, but it's a generous and kind gesture on the school's part.

It was also good to see that Desire Street's website was back up and running with an update, though it seems that their facilities have likely been destroyed. Desire Street's a PCA church and ministry in New Orleans, directed and pastored by Mo Leverett (who is scheduled to be speaking at our Urban Missions Conference in Philly in the spring, assuming he still is able to do so). Despite the effects on their physical facilities, the ministry does continue and a number of the children remain in the care of their staff.

In any case, tomorrow is church and I need some rest. Our quarterly "Day of Prayer" was scheduled for tomorrow; it will take on particular significance as we pray for the needs resulting from this past week and which will continue in coming months.