Saturday, September 10, 2011

"You want to screw that thing back on Earl?"

That ol' C. W. McCall... God-dang!!

From Scott Heiferman, Founder of Meetup: "9/11 & us"

I got this email from Scott Heiferman who got the idea for shortly after 9/11/01, as he explains.

Fellow Meetuppers,

I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought local community doesn't matter much if we've got the internet and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I hoped they wouldn't bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being neighborly.

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was
born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet -- and grow local communities?

We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups... a wild variety of 100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one thing.

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me.
They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's powerful stuff.

It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it weren't for 9/11.

9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ) Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup New York City September 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My dad could beat up your dad

People unfortunate enough to know me well know that my favorite humorist is Jack Handy of Deep Thoughts and SNL fame. Here is a Deep Thought which comes to my mind at the moment (source):

Grandpa used to describe the size of everything in terms of a calf. For instance, if he was describing a large dog, he would say it was 'about as big as a calf.' Or about a car, he would say it 'could seat four calves comfortably.' (Oh, that was another thing: how many calves could ride in something?) One time he was talking about a calf he had, and I asked him how big it was. He said it was 'about three-quarters as big as a calf.' Sometimes Grandpa would tell time by calves. If you asked him how long something would take, he'd say 'About as long as it takes a calf to drive over here.'

Yes, I know, completely absurd. And maybe you don't think it's very funny at all. I understand. Well, here's something else which is absurd and not very funny, and is a good illustration of obsessing, not about calves, but about Catholics. Witness a man who uses the occasion of a dear friend's death to attack his former coreligionists. Excerpt:

As Catholics, we figured an archbishop would be an exalted personage who carried himself with a sense of inner pomp. By that time, frankly, I had had quite enough of bishops and archbishops.

I was on the ropes spiritually, battered by several years of writing about the sex abuse scandal in my church, and disgusted beyond measure with our hierarchs. They carried themselves with such a pride and entitlement, but when it came to protecting the children of the faithful, they had disgraced themselves.

As usual, there's a lot here. "On the ropes" is a boxing metaphor. But what opponent is "battering" him in the ring? Dreher's answer: "several years of writing about the sex abuse scandal in my church". Ergo, he was beating himself up. Ding!

But this part made me laugh. Check out Dreher's own "santo subito"-induced blindness where his Gandalfian friend is concerned:

That said, Dmitri's leadership was not flawless. I never saw problems, because I came to know him only in the late winter of his life. But some parishioners with long memories told me that as personally holy and pastoral as he was, Dmitri hated conflict, and didn't exercise strong administrative oversight when he needed to have done so. (This is also true of Pope John Paul II, incidentally).

Oh, well, no staff-breaking scene from the Dallas Gandalf. Note the obligatory tu quoque tossed at John Paul II, a recent Catholic Pope, at the end of an otherwise boring paragraph.

Is it a coincidence that just about everything reminds the working boy of how much better Orthodoxy is than Catholicism? On March 17th, Rod Dreher attacked the Catholic Church in the midst of a piece supposedly about the glories of Eastern Orthodoxy. Back a few years ago, Rod Dreher used the occasion of the death of Father Richard Neuhaus to attack his differing views on priest scandals. If you were the proverbial man from Mars, you would have learned precious little about Eastern Orthodoxy or Father Neuhaus from those articles, but you might have probably noticed that the author disliked Catholicism a great deal and waited for a priest who was noted as a skilled rhetorician to pass away before attacking his views.

The Orthodox readers who comment on Dreher at this blog—on this post and others—reinforce the disgust that we Catholics have for his constant Catholic-bashing. They are embarrassed and appalled that someone seemingly ignorant of his new faith is so strident in condemning his former one. I invite them to add a first name or nick name to their comments so we have an easier time getting to know them.

How many times must the cannon balls fly at the Catholic Church? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A midlife crisis is a real bitch

And I'm sure people think I'm compensating when they see this 96-gallon beast in the driveway. But this Big Momma of G-cans will hold freaking everything from an entire week, and unlike our old little guys, it's got a hinged lid. So the raccoons' mouths can keep watering as they kick on down the lane.

The old lids went missing when we lived in Cleveland on winter. I hope the thieves enjoyed their sleds.

We're going to christen this beauty over the long weekend. Still not sure what to name her.