September 17th, 2001



Ow ow ow, ow ow, ow ow ow ow. Oh, and lest I forget, ow.

I went into the city today, caught the 2:20 bus into the city and went to the Javits Center. There I was resoundly REJECTED. They are not taking any volunteers there who aren't official Salvation Army registered volunteers who have been called to come in.


So I took their advice and went down to the Salvation Army HQ on 14th Street. There they were taking volunteers on the fly without registration, they actually didn't have all that many people and had a lot of work to do. The HQ is the new drop-off point for all non-monetary donations and so they had truckload after truckload of stuff come in. Thousands of gallons of water, gatorade (we loaded around 1000 cartons of gatorade bottles, something like 8 to a carton, no exaggeration either - I have never seen so much cherry gatorade in my life, it put supermarkets to shame), juice, and other things. Canned food. Thousands of pounds of dog food (for the police/search dogs that are sniffing through the wreckage for people). Clothes. Blankets. Pillows. Socks. Lots of socks. Masks. Goggles. Work gloves. Toothbrushes. Teddy bears. All kinds of things, and lots of it. The SA HQ is also where they ship out deliveries of the materials to various sites around the city, and so we also had to load as well as unload.
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Back to the grind

It's weird being back at work. After a week where I basically didn't go to work except Monday, where I spent most of my week in the city joining in the disaster relief efforts, going back and being at work feels strange.

I wasn't as deeply affected by the experience as my brother in law was, I wasn't the one on the front lines digging up bodies and hearing the screams of the trapped people, seeing people next to him get hurt by falling rocks or flames that burst from underground flames. I'm worried about him. He was there on Wednesday and part of Thursday, and he's still heavily shaken. Fortunately he's admitted this and is going in for some of the free post-traumatic counseling NYU is giving. I'm glad to know that, hopefully it will help.

I'm trying to adjust to "normal" life again, but life will never really be normal again. A lot of what I do feels really trivial now. I'm having a lot of trouble seeing the point to so much of this. I'll get over it in a few days, maybe even a few hours, but it's very weird being here and thinking about what happened and seeing them in perspective.

Oh well. I gotta get back to work. We'll see.


My old best friend when I was a child tracked me down (Go go Google go!) and emailed me today. Rock on. :) Haven't spoken to her for something like 15 years.

Trick or treat


While working on the disaster relief effort I saw enough food and liquid to feed an army. Literally. A large one. Thousands and thousands of pounds of water, drinks, food, snacks, etc.

That's probably enough food to feed all of the homeless people in the city for weeks. It was collected in a few days at most.

Isn't it funny how when there's a huge tragedy like we had that suddenly people are pouring out generosity from every pore but there are people starving to death in those same streets every day and people don't even blink?

It took a tragedy to open our eyes. What I want to know is how long they'll stay open, how long we'll continue to show this generosity before we forget and go back to our careless existences.

Sort of depressing when you think of it that way. Still, at least it's shown just how good people can be when inspired. I just wish it didn't take 5000 lives to inspire people to such levels. :/

It really upsets me, not because I expected better of others, but because I expected better of myself. Sure, I had put in some volunteer time, and I had spent dozens of hours trying to find a way to contribute my skills online to various efforts, but in the end I put in more work in the past week practically than I have in my entire life until now. The hours might not add up, but the effort I put in this past week easily outstraps any volunteer work I've ever done. That's horrible. I'm ashamed. It's bad enough that it took 5000 lives lost to move other people, but it took 5000 lives lost to move ME.

I once thought to myself that the physical effort I put in didn't matter. After all, my skills are worth $100 an hour or more, it seemed like putting in a few hours of work every month online should make up for any time in a soup kitchen or whatever that I missed out on, right? No, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I'm realizing that now. What really matters in the end, I think, is the effort you put in. I was taking the easy way out by doing that. A few hours of bullshit tech work in a month don't really do much. It might sometimes help but a lot of the time it doesn't really accomplish all that much in the end. A day or two in a soup kitchen, or a shelter, or working disaster relief has the potential to do so much more. You don't just set up a server, you change peoples lives. You make an impact, you make a difference, you make the world a better place than it was, and you show those around you what a difference it can make. Maybe 99 people won't see, but if just one does, then you've done some good.

So why did it take 5000 deaths to make me see?
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