12 August, 2010

Social Media and Crisis Response

Social media is a big nebulous thing that is not always useful (Lookin' at you Facebook). However, I've been following the live stream of the Red Cross Emergency Social Data Summit today and it's been very exciting to listen to all the uses of and possibilities for social media in emergency response and, I'd say, international aid and development. If you're into it, you can catch the replay here, I think.
And there's a really interesting ongoing conversation on Twitter at #crisisdata.

11 August, 2010

Where were my drummers this morning?

Ramadan karim to all my friends and loved ones out there.
Though I'm subletting in a clatch of cottages full of musicians, no drummers came around to wake me up in the pre-dawn hours.
Hope everybody makes it through these long, hot summer days alright. Enjoy those great nights together with friends and family and food.

09 August, 2010

19 August - 2010 World Humanitarian Day

19 August is World Humanitarian Day. The date was selected because on that day in 2003 a truck bomb was detonated beside the UN mission HQ in Baghdad, killing 22 people and leaving many more wounded.

This is what I study. This is what I do. The world is my country and this is my community. And, damn, was I excited to see they included social workers in this amazing group.

Into the final leg

Re-reading: Alf layla wa layla (trans. by Haddawy)
Reading: Anything and everything on Iraqi refugees in Syria & Jordan and urban refugee populations overall (toss me anything you have).
Listening to: News in Arabic
Just watched: Restrepo (highly recommended)
Hoping: the rains stop in Pakistan; Israel & Lebanon keep their you-know-what together; Iraq forms a government, the UN's return to Somalia goes well.

I'm settled in my wee subletted cottage on the Southside. Settling in took about 30 mins. of unpacking my two bags. It's rather strange living alone again after so long. I keep expecting somebody to walk in the room yet they never do. You have to love a place where Woody Guthrie, Charles Bukowski (holding a glass of something, kissing his typewriter, bless him) and Rickie Lee Jones are all smiling at you when you walk in the door. I finally feel very Austin living in a cluster of cottages populated by musicians, only they're all on tour for the summer so it's pretty quiet.

Fall semester starts in a few weeks and it will be my last semester of graduate school classes, alhamdulillah! I'm interviewing soon for the final field internship I designed in the Middle East, which I shamelessly, desperately want. No matter what, I'll be on the road again come December for at least a semester-long internship (though may extend through summer) before receiving my shiny MSSW in May, inshallah. At the moment I am scrambling to get my Fulbright application finished. In my standard geeky fashion, I've crafted my own ambitious self-study syllabus for pushing ahead with my Arabic and already checked my course books out from the library. Should have them read by the second or third week of classes if I start now.

It was interesting to totally unhook for one last time this summer, but I'm ready to get back to work. I think it was a good choice given that I was ill the first few weeks, then exhausted, then dragged to visit relatives...next thing I knew I was slapped on an Austin-bound flight. Where did it all go? It was lovely to spend real time with friends (and their amazing, adorable offspring) and Um Taromeet. I got to revisit some of my favorite places, which is always special.

It's going to be a typically nuts semester and, as usual, it's my own fault. I like to be busy, to be working, planning and one thing is never enough. I'm a bit of an addict. Four classes - maybe five if I push on with an independent study - a TA position, two committee positions, my insanely intensive Arabic self-study program, an ongoing project...But, it's all good.

So what about this old blog? I'll keep chugging, posting when so moved.
Stewing, brewing and very disturbed over the NYC (and nationwide) mosque "controversy" (aka bigotry, intolerance, hypocrisy...). If you haven't read Mayor Bloomberg's great speech from last week, track it down and do so. It's on his Web site and there's a like from my Twitter feed. Juan Cole has an excellent post on what the Founding Fathers really thought about religious freedoms. I don't even want to talk about the upcoming Quran burning "festivities" in Florida other than to say that if there is going to be a second coming, I look for Jesus to be rather displeased with those folks, to say the least.

While all that hate has me down, I was incredibly pleased to see Prop 8 reversed (though certainly headed for SCOTUS). As a divorced hetero, I'd say my crowd is doing more than its fair share to "endanger" the institution of marriage. And yet the institution just keeps on ticking after all these zillions of years. And, since marriage here is a civil matter, please get your religion out of my government or your chocolate out of my peanut butter or whatever. Again, it's a right, you don't get to vote on those, folks, an you don't get to squirrel them away from others like nuts (or gold, canned goods and guns, in your case) for winter (or whatever tyrannical government/UN takeover fantasy you buy into).

Oh, and one last rant...Supreme Court Justice Kagan is now a baddie for not having had children? People, we females cannot win with you! If she had kids, you would be on a tear because she was leaving them in daycare and not spending enough time at home. As with so much else, damned if we do, damned if we don't. So, I offer those self-righteous, nosy folks the two-fingered Churchill salute and bid them adieu. Really, go do something useful. Go.