Friday, April 20, 2007

Crazy, Crazy World; Crazy, Crazy Times

Since the Virginia Tech shootings, I've really been unable to get thoughts of Jamie out of my mind. For some reason, I keep remembering a field trip that the gifted class took in high school to the state capitol. My memory is one that is neither terribly enlightening or encapsulating of him as a person; it's simply this:
We're on the interstate heading either to or from Atlanta in a school bus full of kids. I was a freshman at the time, very close to his younger sister. The bus was loud in the way that buses are when filled with kids and barreling along a highway. Things were blowing around inside because everyone had a window cracked. I remember looking back at Jamie and some of the older guys. They were the older, bright kids that I admired; I looked up to them. So, there in the din of the bus, Jamie sat in the rear with his friends, talking and smiling.
That's the one image that keeps coming back to me.

My Dream
Obviously, the tragedy of this event is haunting me. The other night, I had terribly strange dream that, in it's own way, helped me deal with it a little better.

In the dream, I'm again working at a software company with my colleague, Scott M., we're teaching a big class to what seems to be an auditorium full of people. I don't know, we could've been at a convention or something. I remember hearing the R.E.M. song "Fireplace." Anyway, some sort of commotion breaks out. Unsurprisingly, it makes us question our lives, identify those things which we hold so dear that we'd sacrifice ourselves to protect. He talks to me about his kids, all four of them, and his wife. Those are the things for which he'd die without any reservations. Then, he started talking to me about living a good life, the life you want to live not necessarily the one you're living. If you love what you're doing and die doing it, things are OK.

I don't know, I woke up comforted by Scott's words. Even though they occurred in my sleep, I don't think they're terribly different than something he'd tell me over lunch.

More coverage about Jamie:
  • NPR stories here.
  • An article in The Red & Black, UGA's student newspaper, here. This one has great photos of Jamie playing Toli while at UGA.
  • An article in The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On a Lighter Note

From yesterday's Red Sox game...

Food at the park is way too expensive to waste ... unless you get on television and written about in the Boston Herald.

John Tomase at the Boston Herald caught up with the parties involved. Read his article here. An excerpt:
... Sole had given them grief about having a large pizza in the stands just moments before the at-bat. He wanted to know where they got it.
“He turned around and said something like, ‘Your mother,’ ” Sole said.
“No,” interjected Ho. “He said, ‘The pizzeria.’ ”
Either way, all parties were annoyed.
“They had been giving us (expletive) about it,” Madore said. “Next thing I know, there’s a fly ball to left field and it goes foul and my buddy says, ‘You want some pizza now?’ And he hits him right in the face. Hey, the guy wasn’t paying attention. When you’re in the stands you’ve got to be ready for anything - a foul ball, a flying slice of pizza, everything.”
This will be my strategy for ballgames this season. At the very least, I won't pay for any pizza.

Thinking of the VT victims

This morning, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those involved in the shootings.

Jamie Bishop, the German instructor who was killed, went to my high school. He was a couple of years older than me. At the time, I was close friends with his sister who is my age. Admittedly, I never knew him well. In fact, I probably had only a handful of conversations with him. I know, however, that he was a ridiculously smart kid who had grown into a pretty interesting guy.

I'm trying to process all of my emotions about this. Like most everyone, I'm shocked by it, disheartened by it, saddened by it. With this tangential connection to it, I'm drawn to the story, more empathetic to the victims, hungrier to know why this happened.

I am so sorry for his family and his friends.

At this point, I'm waiting for more information to come in from friends with contacts back home. If you'd like more info, leave a comment on this message (with your email address) and I'll pass it along as I learn more.

Go to the AJC article about Jamie, here.

A Few Thoughts on Major Media Coverage
Thankfully, I missed most of the story as it was unfolding yesterday. As horrific as it is, I really hate the media's coverage in times of such crisis.

Flipping by CNN last night, I was treated to Dr. Phil preaching about the dangers of allowing potential psychopaths to play hyper-violent video games. I'm thrilled that he used that time to so wisely instead of offering any sort of advice on how to emotionally comfort the survivors and the family and friends of the victims. This confirmed my suspicions that Dr. Phil is a self-serving, talentless ass.

Later, I watched as the reporter on "Anderson Cooper 360," who, in fact, was not Anderson Cooper, clumsily revisit the story, attempting to entrap a student into claiming that the university president was negligent in not closing campus, and literally saying that "this is a story with a human toll." Then, he fumbled his tag line, "Live from Virginia Tech...Massacre at Virginia Tech."

Honestly, I find that an on-site reporter narrating such an event in such a manner is highly insulting. People are smart enough to realize that such an event is horrific, that it has snuffed out promising lives for no reason, that families and friends will never fully understand why their loved one was killed, and that the experience was truly, utterly terrifying for those involved.

I await the day when the media shows respect for the situation, for those involved, and for those who want to be informed by the news, not entertained by it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

In the Grind

Gearing up for finals. Had a killer Physics test today covering Optics. Anyone need any custom crafted lenses to correct near-sightedness? I'm your man. Of course, they'll be constructed from Saran Wrap and Scotch tape and will be accompanied by a pencil drawing of how they should work.

In better news, this afternoon, I shadowed by friend Beth (aka Griffer) at her pediatric practice. By shadowing, I mean that I followed her around and watched her work her magic all afternoon. At first, I thought that the parents and kids wouldn't be that accepting of an older, unshaven man wearing tight-fitting denim cutoffs and a neon green muscle-shirt but, boy, did they surprise me. I really think that winking and raising my beer can whenever they looked at me helped to alleviate any tension. Really, Griffer is fantastic. She's got an incredible way with the kids. They love her.

(More on this later. Very tired at the moment.)