The first week or two of September has been the busiest time of year in all the Unitarian Universalist congregations I have served, as we rev up again after summer slow-down. This week at First Unitarian has been no exception. Church phone ringing, meetings, people stopping in to say hi, lay leaders trying to get thigns done — the usual. On top of that, Carol and I still don’t have DSL service at home, and there’s something wacky with the DSL service here at church. Net result — I haven’t posted anything to this blog since Saturday.
But here are some odds and ends from notes I’ve accumulated over the past few days….
Sunday evening: Candleworks restaurant, two blocks from our apartment, had an outdoors band which was, um, pretty mediocre (to be charitable) and all too audible from our windows. Rather than suffer, um, listen, we took a walk down by the waterfront. Talked with a crew member from the cruise ship docked at the end of state pier — fascinating guy, loves to travel, hiked most of the Appalachian trail a couple of years ago, has gone all over North America, has found perfect job working for a cruise ship. He’ll take a couple of weeks off in the fall to go deer hunting in Michigan, where he comes from. Also spent a couple of hours talking to J. S., director of the port facilities. He regaled us with tales of what it’s like to run a port as a local official having to intereact with state and federal agencies. He grew up on the water in Revere, and rowed all over Boston Harbor in his youth — salt water runs in his veins.
Monday: Carol and I drove to Horseneck Beach in Westport, the big state beach for the Southcoast region. All the lifeguard chairs had already been removed from the beach and stacked behind the showers building. I wandered over to the snack stand, which was still open. “Hi, any hot dogs left?” I asked. “Well if you want hot food, we have fries and clam cakes,” he said. The clam cakes looked soggy. I had fries. I could see the staff emptying out the shelves and scrubbing everything down. The end of summer.
Tuesday: The news from the Gulf Coast continues to be depressing. Might be some refugees coming to Otis Air Force Base near here, and one member of our congregation is working for a non-profit agency that will probably provide services to them. I am following the “blame game” that’s going on in the press — Bush is to blame, the Louisiana state governor is to blame, the Army Corps of Engineers is to blame, local governemtn is to blame. I’d love it if someone in authority just said, “Things aren’t going well, I’m sorry” — but we no longer say “I’m sorry” in our culture, do we? Bush is taking heat for his “weak leadership” — too early to second-guess anyone right now. As a minister what I’ve noticed is that Bush, an avowed Christian, has insulated himself from the poor and destitute. This, too, has become a national trait — those of us who are comfortable don’t want to get too close to the poor, the hungry, the destitute. It’s easy to write a check for disaster relief in a place a thousand miles away, but much harder to have to deal with hunger in someone standing next to us. Maybe that’s why some Americans are so angry at Bush for avoiding the poor and destitute — his actions are merely a reflection of our actions. No one likes to see an ugly reflection of themselves.
Wednesday: Had an appointment over at the Standard-Times, the daily newspaper here in New Bedford. Fun to walk through a real newsroom, although it looks nothing like the photos we have of the newsrooms my grandfather worked in. One picture shows him with the green eyeshade, sitting at a big wood desk covered with papers, sleeve garters, a couple of guys witting near him smoking cigars. The Standard-Times newsroom — big modern open space, fluorescent lights, windows looking out over the downtown, cubicles, computers on every desk. I was talking with Linda Rodrigues of the Standard-Times, and we discovered we are both interested in the new news media. Newspapers are moving more and more to Web sites, blogs, and so on. But I’ll bet the move away from newsprint will not change the basic newsroom — the computers are already there on everyone’s desk.
P.S.: Latest news this morning is that no one will be relocated to Otis Air Force Base.
Update — September 10, 2005: Evacuees have been relocated to Otis.