Winding down

My first year at Tech is winding down. My first finals are tomorrow, and continue through Tuesday or so. With regards to everything that has happened, ever professor I have has said that grades will not be lower than they were on 13 April regardless of how we do on the final. Grades can only improve. That’s pretty good, because honestly it has been kinda hard for me to get back into the swing of things.

I’ll be in Blacksburg for most of the summer. Anyone who wants to visit is welcome to the more-than-ample floorspace. My lease runs through the end of August and has been paid up to that point, so pretty much I’m just sitting around until fall, working enough to keep me fed. Pretty much everything is fluid. Yup. Super exciting.

Psst! I have a secret. I just told you what it was, but you weren’t looking hard enough. It’s not so very hard to find. Also, one more thing which actually isn’t secret, but I haven’t gotten around to mentioning. Steve and I broke up a few weeks back. I’m OK. He’s OK. We still talk. If you’re my family, he’ll probably still pop in for a visit. I’ll pop in to visit some of his family still too.

Beyond words

I am honestly at a loss for what to say about the events that unfolded on the Virginia Tech campus this morning. I was walking across the Drillfield towards GBJ when firing broke out in Norris hall. I had heard nothing about the previous shootings in West AJ. While I recognize that the decision to go on with classes was an informed one, I still feel that it was the University’s responsibility to inform the students of potential danger.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that neither I nor anyone I know was involved. I spent the morning trying to touch base with as many people as possible until the phone network here became absolutely saturated. I hope that I was at least able to set up a cascade so that people wouldn’t have to be worried about my safety. That being said, it’s extremely difficult to place my reaction. Obviously I am not as heavily affected as those whose loved ones have been injured or killed. At the same time though, this is very jarring for everyone involved. I don’t think I’ll really know how I feel for a while yet. They don’t tell you how to react to this sort of thing.

UPDATE 17 Apr 2007 11:21p: I have been mostly disgusted by the media coverage of this event. I think that larger and more distant news outlets get things the most wrong, and locals do the best job. CNN’s article is as sensationalizing as the rest, but if you scroll down towards the bottom, Gov. Tim Kaine’s remarks perfectly echo my sentiment. “People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them.” I don’t deny that there are questions that need to be asked, but there are more important things to deal with right now.

On the other side of the coin, I am deeply touched by the outpouring of support from universities and individual students across the country and abroad. There has been a huge “We are all Hokies” movement, with students wearing maroon and orange to show support. That is probably the best response that I’ve heard about. I’m glad that the younger generation have a grip on what’s important. We’re going to need it going forward.

Ben Folds

So Ben Folds came to Tech last night. He rocked my socks absolutely off. I was sitting right-center JJ, but I don’t think there’s a bad seat in all of Burruss Auditorium, at least not for a show that big.

The opener was a guy named Eef Barzelay. He’s the frontman of an “alt-country” band called Clem Snide. I haven’t heard the band, but Eef has an interesting sound (and I don’t just mean his name.) It’s quirky. He also covered a bit of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and all of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in his own style which was interesting too. I definitely plan on checking him/them out.

After Eef went off, house lights came up and crew were running around doing those things that crew do before the main act goes on, and the crowd grumbled because that’s what they do. Suddenly the lights go off and “The Final Countdown” comes on. Ben and his accompaniment on bass and drums launch into the first two songs before introducing themselves or saying anything. He made a joke that he would work the keyboard part from “The Final Countdown” into every song, and he did slip it in to the first few but then decided to skip it. He did slip it in though whenever there was a little lull in the show, and it always got laughs.

In my opinion, one of the best parts of a Ben Folds show is the audience participation. The man is as amazing a songwriter as he is a musician, including a number of very interesting harmonies. He had the audience sing backup vocals (and flugelhorns) on a few songs, which was super nifty. There was even a three-part harmony on “Not the Same.”

When he played “Gracie” he started over three times from the middle plus a number of restarts right at the beginning, because people were hooting or hollering at some point. I thought that was adorable. Granted it was annoying, but I was annoyed with the audience, not with Ben. This is a song he wrote for his daughter, and he just wanted to get through it.

While I’m raving, I’ll mention how impressed I was with some improv he did. He just started playing, then started singing about Blacksburg, saying that it had a distinct lack of “black… buildings.” What can you say? The south isn’t known for being especially hospitable towards black… buildings. He also worked in the local pub where he ate, and plugged Gay Awareness Week. Afterwards he asked if it was Gay Awareness Day or week, and said “As long as you’re fighting for some time for recognition, you might as well go for a week.”

So basically that was one of the top two rockinest shows I’ve ever seen. The other one was also a Ben Folds concert.

On a side note, guys yelled “I wanna have your babies” on three occasions, whereas I didn’t hear any girls say that. Now Mr. Folds is married with twin daughters, so I’m afraid these gentlemen are going to be disappointed. It does raise the question though, do more men or women ask to have his babies?

And much bad driving ensued

We finally got what I consider to be a substantial snow yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve seen proper snowfall all winter. It’s been mostly bitter cold and windy, or raining and damp. Needless to say, I was very excited. There’s even enough left on the ground now that sledding would be feasible.

Unfortunately, snow in Virginia seems to transform normally passable drivers into elderly grandmothers. It took me twice as long to get to class as it normally does. I grant that you should not speed when there is snow on the road, but even the hill that I live on wasn’t bad enough to merit traveling below the speed limit. Over-cautiousness is as likely to create an accident as recklessness.

But maybe that’s just the New Yorker in me talking.

I get upset.

There are reasons that I get upset sometimes. For example:

And tomorrow on the Drillfield from 9-5 there will be some awesome festivities!!

  • Shirts for sale!
  • Vagina pops for sale!
  • Wage gap bake sale (.75 for women, 1.00 for men) OH SNAP!
  • Positive v. negative body image displays!

I guess I can’t complain though, I did see it on lj

Vacuuming Leaves

There was a massive effort on Friday to remove all the leaf litter from campus. There were crews with mowers, leaf blowers, and a couple of massive trucks with three foot wide hoses attached. I could see the plumes of leaf dust and fungal spores rising off the vacuum truck.

Why on earth would they do that? I understand the need to remove a portion of the leaf litter, or at least get it broken down. It keeps the grass prettier. Why on earth would they have to put that much dust and allergens in the air in the process? There has got to be a better way.

Schedule

I have a terribly scattered schedule. I have to be on campus for a brief period every morning and for most afternoons, with a big empty space in the middle. Gives me time to blog… er… do homework. Yeah. Homework. My schedule is below.

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Class cancelled on the first day

There are a lot of things to say about my hiatus, but first, breaking news!

William Morva escaped custody at the Montgomery Regional Hospital yesterday. He was being held on charges of armed robbery. He stole the sherrif deputy’s sidearm, wounding the officer and killing a hospital security guard in the process. He shot and killed a police officer while being pursued early this morning.

As of 11:30a all classes at Virginia Tech have been cancelled. There were rumors of a hostage situation in Squires Student Center, but they turned out to be unsubstantiated. Students not residing in dorms have been evacuated from campus, and all dorms are closed to non-residents.

I’m sitting in my apartment chatting with some friends about the situation. Charlotte, started at VT last year, had told me that there was almost no crime here. I didn’t hear of a single incident of this magnitude in the 4 years that I’ve known Steve, most of which he spent in New York City.

What a first day of classes!

link

[UPDATE: 5:13p]
Morva has been taken into custody.