Here’s something to lighten the mood.

I’ve been mostly unable to think of anything other than Virginia Tech this week. Regular blogging will return tomorrow or Friday. For now, I’ll content myself with going to the Phillies-Nationals game tonight instead of watching the media vultures continue to make irresponsible assumptions and conclusions.

Until I can offer more, enjoy this video of The Smoosh. Danielle and I adopted The Smoosh last summer from a rescue organization. The Smoosh was neglected and used mostly for breeding by an unscrupulous individual who found it more interesting to perpetuate a genetic mutation¹ than to respect animals. Anyway, her playful side breaks through her angry disposition sometimes. I captured this over the weekend. Enjoy.

¹ The Smoosh is a Himalayan Munchkin,so her legs are exceptionally short. Her primary difficulty is in properly cleaning herself because she can’t reach parts of her body.

Pep rallies can heal.

I don’t know how many of you watched the Convocation at Virginia Tech yesterday. It was mostly good, with poignant words from Virginia Tech President Steger, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and President Bush. There were some weak spots, and an excess of specifically religious sentiments (I know it’s a convocation…), but overall it was wonderful. As Gov. Kaine said, the current students and faculty of Virginia Tech have shown the world that we will not bow to a victim mentality. We are hurt, but we will heal. And the character and class shown by the students braving the media vultures made me proud to be a Hokie. I don’t know that I could answer the same inane, insensitive questions over and over again with such grace and dignity.

The convocation really got to me during Nikki Giovanni’s speech and the moments after. As she started, her immediate passion startled me. It was what we needed, but not what I expected. In the middle I thought she was going to go off the rails with her words, but she danced the fine line that makes emotion and creativity dance together. She was perfect for the moment. We ARE Virginia Tech, indeed.

The most cathartic part of the program was the spontaneous (?) eruption of “Let’s Go Hokies!”. I’m sure it struck many viewers as a tad bizarre, but the Hokies knew. I got goosebumps, followed by a few tears. I’m sure many other universities have the same sense of loyalty and camaraderie, but this was ours. That audience wasn’t telling the world anything. They told each other, and the rest of the Hokies, that we’re going to be alright. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually, we will be alright.

On Being a Hokie

I’m nothing in this story. I wasn’t there yesterday. It’s been nine years since I last graduated from Virginia Tech. From my occasional visits to campus since, it’s clear how the school has changed since I left. Virginia Tech was a different place on even April 15th than it was when I was a student.

Still, Virginia Tech is a family. There is a passion that develops from being a Hokie. It’s the sense of community that one hopes will develop when going off to college, only it’s better because it becomes real in so many unexpected ways. Whether it’s lifelong friendships or a knowing glance at encountering a stranger in a foreign country wearing a VT, a connection builds that never goes away. The feeling grows from happiness that you attended a great school to impatience for the day when your children can attend Virginia Tech.

Now I’m worried. I’m not worried that this sense of community will disappear. The bonds are too strong. But it will change. I worry that today’s students will only be able to remember the Virginia Tech of April 16, 2007. There will be a sadness, I imagine, although I know that what I think is only a guess. There is now a large group of Hokies that will be different in some way. Each student will internalize these events in his or her own way, but I don’t doubt that something will be there. Whether it’s a sadness at friends lost or anger at tragedy not averted, time will be the only salve. Even that will not be completely effective, of course. Time heals wounds, but only by covering them with scars.

So I worry. I wish I could help them. Instead, they will teach, an unfair burden on the innocent.

How will this change us? I wish I knew. I wish we didn’t have to find out. We do, and we will. Somehow. Being a Hokie means being part of a family larger than any you ever imagined possible. Through this indescribable cruelty, Hokies will continue.

Some people have no shame.

We don’t even know how many people are dead at Virginia Tech, and the slime comes crawling out.

There will probably be blame to assign. There will probably need to be new strategies¹. We know this, but we can discuss this later. Those seeking a pulpit to push his or her own little agenda out of a tragedy like this are using the deaths of innocent people to score cheap, political points. They should stop it. It’s disgusting. Let these families and the Virginia Tech community mourn.

¹ Let’s not make assumptions what these should be, either. Same trap.

Non-libertarian School Spirit

I would never endorse defiling private property. (Link courtesy of Fark.)

The athletic logo of Virginia Tech was discovered on the hardwood court at John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday.

The “VT” logo appears to have been carved on the corner of the basketball court. University officials say the marking will be removed. The “VT” carving was done with some precision as the lines were very straight.

John Paul Jones Arena is where the University of Virginia plays its home basketball games. Again, I would never condone such an action. But I am laughing from the bottom of my toes.

Sports Weekend Update

As great as last weekend was for sports, this weekend is (so far) almost its polar opposite.

Phillies: A good, if scary, win yesterday, but it didn’t matter. With the Dodgers and Padres both winning, the Phillies barely missed the playoffs, breaking my heart in the process. Again. Don’t fret, though. Like every spring before, I’ll be back next year, as gullible and full of optimism as ever when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.

Virginia Tech: Having attended last week’s dogfight against Cincinnati, I knew we weren’t the 11th best team in college football. Running into a quality conference opponent scared me. And we lost. It was one of the more frustrating losses we’ve had in recent memory, for we were terrible in every aspect. But I can’t lie and say I was surprised. Until we start blocking for Sean Glennon, the other faults we discovered won’t matter. A one game deficit in the division standings is hardly insurmountable, so hope remains.

Redskins: The Redskins face Jacksonville this afternoon. Jacksonville is good. Their defense against our offense will likely result in a loss for the Redskins. I’ll watch the entire game, regardless, because I’m that way.

My brother’s first day of college

My brother was supposed to start college today, but his first days of classes at Virginia Tech were cancelled because an escaped inmate (allegedly) shot and killed Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Sutphin and hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. The inmate also shot another police officer. The Virginia Tech campus is in lockdown, as a result. Welcome to college.

I don’t say that to be flippant or funny. It’s not funny. Sitting in my hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, I’m watching the news show Hokies running from Squires Student Center after an alleged sighting of the inmate. That turned out to be false. I barely remember my first day at Virginia Tech, but now the 2010 class of Virginia Tech has the memory of being forced indoors to their dorms under guard of a SWAT team because this scumbag would rather kill police officers than face charges of attempted robbery.

My thoughts today are with the deceased men and their families.

Hokies thank you for free WiFi

This story is a few months old, but since I visited Blacksburg last week, I learned about it now. The facts:

The New River Valley will soon be more connected than ever as Blacksburg Transit goes wireless with a pilot program offering Internet service aboard select buses.

The new service, created as the result of a partnership between Citizens Telephone Cooperative, based in Floyd, and Blacksburg Transit, has already begun wireless Internet service aboard a single bus, but plans are in the works to add six more by the end of May. “We’re still testing, but we should have them all done by the end of the month,” said Tim Witten, manager of BT Access.

“We’re doing it as a pilot program. We’re deploying this to see how it works, and hope it would be a really attractive part of our service, and serve as an example to the rest of Virginia,” Witten said.

That’s fancy enough, but I don’t imagine students clamored for this service. Although my experience is eight-plus years old, I’m confident that local travel patterns among Virginia Tech students haven’t changed that much. Most users aren’t on the bus long enough to scan for the wireless network and connect, much less to check the status of their fantasy football. Those students who are on the bus long enough and want to download the latest Paris Hilton song should pay for it themselves.

The program is being paid for by a series of grants from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the federal government, thus restricting the number of buses that will receive wireless service.

Because it’s some tech nerd’s vision of cool does not mean it’s a public good. Should I also point out that Blacksburg Transit does not intend to test the program on specific routes? That the routes could change daily? I’m sure that will inspire riders to bring their laptops on a regular basis. Hopefully this flawed premise will help the program fail. As long as it’s in place, when the Hokies take the field and the leaves change colors this fall, you should stop by Blacksburg and surf the free wireless you’re providing.


(General hat tip to Kip for the basic structure of this post.)

Editorializing can be premature

Reading through more analysis of Marcus Vick’s recent troubles, I found a useful fact in this column. It refutes a little of the heated, holier-than-thou rhetoric some have used over the last few days. Consider:

And for what it’s worth, Vick and Tech coach Frank Beamer did wait outside the Louisville locker room in hopes of apologizing personally to Dumervil and Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino. They were told by a U of L official that Dumervil and Petrino weren’t interested in discussing the incident.

I’m not going to start defending Vick because of that, but I think it shows that indicting the entire Virginia Tech football program, as some have written this week, is excessive. Facts still matter. Everyone, including me, forgets that at times. This is just another example of why we should strive to be smarter and less reactionary.