Tuesday, April 24, 2007

kika's response to an email...

> I was thinking about you last night. How are things in your area?
With school starting up again, yesterday, it seems like things are starting to get back to normal. People are wanting to get back to normal. Last week was difficult, because schools were closed for the week. I am talking- all schools. So lots of families were dealing with kids being home. There were lots of different events all over town- memorials, near and in the university campus. Orange and maroon ribbons decorate everything... there were so many media people everywhere...

> Did Shane know this student that went on this killing spree?

> Did he know any of the students injured or killed?

> I knowyou said that he knew two of the faculty that were killed and one that was injured.
> What is the atmosphere like over there these days?
It has gradually improved. People still talk about stuff... everyone you meet always asks "how are you? did you know anyone of the victims? were you on campus that day?"

> Where you able to visit the students in the hospital like you had intended to do?
No. The hospitals were limiting visits to family members only. But we heard that lots of friends and VT students were hanging out at the hospitals already so we didn't end up going.

> How many students were injured? Over here the media keeps talking about the 32/33 murdered
>individuals but do not say much about the injured and how many there were.
There were 32 victims and if you include the shooter, there was a total of 33 dead. I believe there were at least 15 others injured. Not all shot. Some broke bones from having jumped out of windows- 2 stories.

> This kid was so disturbed, I hope he repented what he did before he died.
I doubt it. Check out this article. It;s kinda long, but I really appreciate how it is very well written and gives a really good picture as to what occured that day. Go here.

> How are you?
I am okay. I have mixed emotions. Sometimes I am overcome with sadness for the families affected. Other times I feel like an eavesdropper. Basically we have not been here long enough to really feel part of the whole Hokie Nation.... so it's kinda awkward to be part of this. It's kinda like an initiation to this university family. Not what people would like to go through, but if we didn't feel like we were part of this before, we sure do now. At the convocation and at the Vigil- it was something I'll never forget. The cry of the Hokie Nation- "let's go Hokies!" At the convocation this was recited- and it was amazing.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The events of Monday, 4/16

Last fall, I was called up and asked to speak at a physics conference in Florida, a conference to take place in April 2007 with my talk scheduled for the morning of Monday the 16th. That's why I was out of town this past Monday, and not in my office on the 2nd floor of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech, where the worst massacre in recent memory occured.

Jessica and I were together on Monday, taking some time to sightsee a little bit before travelling back to Blacksburg. We got a call around 10:30 am from one of Jessica's friends asking if we were okay. Okay? Why, what happened? We heard that some shots were fired around Norris Hall and one person was killed. We thought maybe it was some isolated shooting.

In the following hours, we heard from others that the death toll was much larger. I heard from my dad, a cop with the Baylor Univ campus police, that 20 people were dead at Virginia Tech. And he said it happened on the second floor of Norris Hall, the same floor as my office. He believed it must've been the grace of God that I wasn't there.

I tried to call colleagues, but couldn't get through. I didn't know what the scene was like or what had happened. I finally got email access and found out that my grad students were okay and let them know that I was too. I also immediately had requests from media for interviews. But I wasn't there, wasn't a witness, so didn't respond to them.

By mid-afternoon, we heard that the death toll was over 30 people, and I still had no idea who I might have known among the murdered. It wasn't until late that evening, after getting back home, that I learned that two faculty colleagues in my department had died, died trying to save students' lives.

A well-written article on what took place in Norris Hall on that fateful day is here.

It is awful. And so senseless. I hope there will never be a repeat of this tragedy anywhere ever again.


Monday, April 16, 2007

We are okay

Jessica and I were thankfully out of town today (in Florida since I was here for a conference). It's terrible news and I don't know who among the faculty, staff, or students was injured or killed. Keep us in your prayers.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter weekend.

The last couple of days have been cold. I think the freezing temps started up again on Friday where at some point it even snowed. Saturday morning everything was covered in snow, about an inch (if that). It melted away by noon.

Yesterday we had "dinner" at a friend's house. I write "dinner" because it was scheduled for noon. She called it "dinner" because it was "dinner" type food. There were many yummy dishes such as ham, mashed potatoesk, fried-onion-green bean casserole. So yesterday we learned, from some folks, that calling an afternoon meal "dinner" is quite a Southern thing.

We basically spent the day over there. It was very nice. They live out in a more rural part of B-burg. Their place is very countrystyle. They live on 3 acres, there's a creek (stream?) that goes through their property, there's a railroad really close-by, and there are cows in their neighbor's yard. Her husband has a veggie garden and a chicken coup. He recently had to shoot a possum that got in the chicken coup. He blasted him to smithereens with his shotgun. Okay, not smithereens exactly... but you get the picture. Poor chickens, they needed some rescueing. He says it's his first time ever having to shoot an animal.

It has been very pretty out here, now with spring blooming all around. Not everything is in bloom, but it's enough to give you the spring feeling. On our drive to our friends' house I was reminded of the song "Take me home, country road" by John Denver. It was a winding road with lots of vegetation on the sides of the road. Pretty bushes and trees, some with lavendar colored flowers. We drove through a one lane tunnel where I almost had a heart-attack. ( It was scary because the road was not straight, it curved then there was the tunnel. So you couldn't see that there was a car in the tunnel until you were about to drive through it. So the rule, that was later explained to us, is that we are supposed to honk to announce that we are coming. Actually both cars are supposed to.) Anyhow... it is a country road, just like most songs write about. Alright, enough of my country road musings. It was a pretty day yesterday and, thankfully, today is not as cold.