vs. Basement: Final Round

Update: pictures added!

My blog decided, all by itself, to italicize everything on the page – what? I need to figure out how to fix this. Meanwhile, I need to finish transcribing my notes from spring break, so prepare for the uber-exciting conclusion.

In previous episodes: Galveston, the House of Doom, and preparing for the basement. I will be adding pictures very soon.

Wednesday, 04 March 2009

I’m done packing up my gym bag and am ready to leave after dinner. A quick recap of the past two days:

Tuesday we started off the morning by ripping up the carpet in a bedroom. The room was in a house over a shop in the historic part of Galveston: Morgan Studios. The owner, Danny Morgan, used to be a top costume designer in Broadway/New York (I think), but fell on hard times and set up a costume shop in Galveston. He’s now seventy-five-ish and has emphysema, which involves coughing up blood – lots of it – so the bedroom carpet had huge splotches of black, dried blood. We ripped it up in strips, bagged everything, and took them down the (steep) stairs to the street. The rest of the house/shop was pretty amazing – costumes, fabric, and multicolored feathers everywhere; rooms full of costumes, hats, shoes, and manikins, and just a general feel of the 1920s (and a little Victorian, too) in the decoration and architecture of the house.

That took us about an hour – after which we went back to the House of Doom. To clean out the basement.

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vs. House: Bathroom Round

Monday, 02 March 2009

I think that this ASB (Alternative Spring Break) trip has been a good time to cement friendships and make some new ones. It’s also been a good way to get away from the intellectual constraints of Rice, away from arguing for the sake of arguing, and spend time in Christian community; just to bring up those topics which are so important, but aren’t talked about very much in normal conversation – God, salvation, His glory in nature, Christian service.

We continued on the same house today. I worked mainly in the bathroom, tearing out sheetrock. Unfortunately, the entirety of the sheetrock was backed by wood, which meant that we had to chip away at the stuff with the claw ends of crowbars and hammers, instead of just bashing it in between studs and watching it crumble. The ceiling was a killer. Grossest part: me taking apart a light/fan fixture with half an inch of dust on top. Wow.

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vs. House: Round One

Sunday, 01 March 2009

Pretty tired after a day’s work and a little run after dinner. I suppose a good thing over the last year has been me getting into a pretty routine workout regimen – now I just don’t feel right unless I’ve run, swum, or biked within the last day or so.

Today we were gutting a few rooms in a Galveston house within a half-mile of the gulf shore. Apparently the owners had ridden out the hurricane, and the storm surge, in the top floor of the house (basically the master bedroom). The mold had settled into a room on the bottom floor, and in the top floor from the rain.  We were ripping out drywall and flooring, as well as moving out some really old holiday decorations to throw away – such as light-up lawn reindeer. The owners were grandparents, apparently pretty close with their grandchildren, and the grandmother is currently hospitalized due to some medical problem – a leg amputation? but I’m not quiet sure what it is. When you have a mold filter and safety glasses on, and you’re pounding drywall with a crowbar, you tend to miss conversational details, even if they’re important.

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First Coat

Saturday, 28 February 2009

So yes, sweaty, chilly, and also slightly sunburned (the lips again). When we debriefed after dinner, my team was asked to describe the day in one word. The response was instant and unanimous: “paint”. Lots of paint.

Fixing lunch for our first day on the job

Fixing lunch for our first day on the job

We spent the day at the Christian Alliance for Humanitarian Aid’s warehouse in Pearland. They are a disaster relief non-profit that keeps supplies ready to ship to anywhere in the world, for both natural disasters and poverty. We took about forty-five minutes to pack cans of beans and fruit cocktail into a ship’s container fitted out as a medical clinic, bound for Haiti in a short time. The rest of the day was spent painting the exterior of three other containers, making them prettier and more rust- and weather-proof. One of the containers had been a clinic in New Orleans, and was now being remodeled as a library for Africa. We talked about it as a group later – it wasn’t exactly what we had envisioned doing, and not really related to Ike relief – but still an impact on the world’s hurting and an act of Christian love.

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Initial Conditions

I spent part of spring break doing Ike relief work in Galveston. To those of you who donated funds to Rice’s CIC and to my trip, I’d like to thank you again! I had a really amazing experience, both in service and in teamwork. In this and the next several posts are excerpts from my notes during the week; as usual, I’m trying not to mention too many names for privacy reasons. Oh, and apologies for the lack of style. Most of this was written in the evening just before I passed out. It’s also interesting trying to choose which thoughts to publish – I had many. But you want a story.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Here at Alamo Elementary on Galveston, an unused school turned volunteer center for Good News Galveston. Apparently it hasn’t been used for three years, so they’ve put it to use. Definitely a better situation than in New Orleans, with more space, lots of hot water, electricity and even some computer access. And washers and dryers! I think they said about 1400 volunteers have come through this center so far, with another 1800 to come over the spring break period.

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I Like Ike?

No, not really. What gets me is why they called it Ike. Which is not even a real name, but rather a nickname (thank you, Mr. Eisenhower, for publicizing that). And a nickname generally makes a person/thing sound pretty friendly, unless the nickname happens to be “Spike” or “Killer” or something like that. I wouldn’t say Ike was all that friendly.

Rant aside, Ike was definitely an experience. The real deal, one might say, compared to Rita three years ago, which turned aside at the last moment while giving us a sprinkle in passing. We hung out in the commons for six or seven hours and then went to bed, while other evacuating students took eighteen hours to get to Katy, normally half an hour away. The term “contraflow” was suddenly coined, popping up on all the networks within five minutes of conception.

This time was a little more businesslike, although Ike took its sweet time in getting here. Between meeting with my senior design professor (!!! yeah, I know), bagging my electronics and taking my posters off the walls, prepping my room for possible hurricane damage, packing for a night in the servery/shelter, playing a pickup game of Ultimate, and witnessing the birth of a terribly profound mockumentary (yes, that is tongue in cheek), it was a full Friday. Since we were sheltering in the servery (the actual kitchen part where they had boarded up the two windows), dinner was moved forward so the area could be turned over to us at 7pm, when we were expected to need it.

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