Checking in from grad school

As I write this, I'm listening to a Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris live album, sitting in the University of Texas Architecture Library (the most sublime room in Austin), and gazing out a window onto another spectacular Austin fall day. This is the 200th post on the Nateblogg.

As Jon Riley reminded me this morning at church, I haven't updated in awhile. I have a good excuse - balancing 30 hours as an engineer and nine hours of grad school leaves me little time to muse on matters in this space diligently - but that doesn't mean that there aren't matters to muse on. There are things on my mind, but I lack the time to do them justice here. For now, I'll offer a quick update in bullet form:

1) In coming to graduate school, I felt I had unfinished business in my education. I graduated from Civil Engineering at Texas by the skin of my teeth with a D in Steel Design (which I ended up doing professionally at LCRA, and rather well, but I digress...), and it left a bad taste in my mouth. This time around, I am determined to get things right - do the A-level work I'm capable of, be involved in the life of the school, help my classmates when I can (and allow them to help me), and make the most of the opportunity. By this measure, so far so good.

2) The atmosphere in the Planning Department is completely different from Engineering. Community and Regional Planning is a small division of about 90 students in the Architecture School at Texas, and makes its home in Sutton Hall, one of the classic old buildings on campus. I know my professors, and will have occasion to work with many of them on meaningful endeavors during my time here. My first-year class of about thirty comes bring with them educational backgrounds that range from history to biology to geography to education, and most chose planning with aspirations of helping to shape communities for the better. They are a talented group, and will make the next two years of my life rather fun, I think.

3) Riding a motorcycle to school/work (or work/school, depending on the day) has many advantages. The crisp, clear mornings are perfect bike weather, I can park 300 feet from class, and dodging Austin traffic leaves enough adrenaline in my bloodstream to keep me awake through my morning classes. The Lord has been good enough to keep my safe so far, and I'm thankful for that. My prayer each morning is along the same lines as the one I pray when I'm on a plane - "As I rise, let me rise on your wings, and if I fall, let me fall in your arms."

4) For work right now, I am designing a new power line west of San Antonio, in some of the most picturesque country I've ever had the pleasure to work in. It's a two year project, so it should keep me busy through graduate school. I feel like I'm at the point as an engineer where I am comfortable with my role in the company, but am still challenged enough to keep my engaged. Good place to be...

To sum up, I have a lot of responsibilities right now, but I am enjoying most of them. If the schedule I'm maintaining is a burden, I think it a rather light one as burdens go. My life has a good rhythm, and it requires little effort to see life in light of my own good fortune. As with the athlete in Chariots of Fire, I feel the Lord's favour as I run.

That's all I've got for now. I plan to post more as the holidays approach. Godspeed...