Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I live an hour away from Blacksburg, VA, home of Virginia Tech University. When I belonged to a knitting guild, I drove to Blacksburg twice a month for meetings and fellowship with other knitters. Our group met directly across the road from the campus.

Blacksburg is so small, though, that just about everything is across the road from the campus.

Small and friendly and quiet [except on football Saturdays!], and except for their excellent sports teams I'm sure the rest of the country didn't think much about that school or city at all. Until yesterday.

I didn't hear about the tragedy until after the Boston Marathon elite runners finished. Mr. Shrinking Knitter flipped over to the news and there it was, in your face, every channel. He had to leave about 4 p.m. At 4:45, the howling winds we'd had all day howled just long enough to knock out our power. For the next 12 hours. And this time, for some reason, the phones went out as well.

Today the talking heads have moved beyond reporting the facts of the matter, and are speculating about the shooter's motive and how it could have been prevented. How could anyone predict a horror like this?

The combination of our very ill friend, the cuh-razy weather [West Virginia has been declared an emergency – the entire state!], the news from Blacksburg and the loss of power tested my ability to stay calm and centered. I give myself a C.

We went out early yesterday morning to see how high the river was. We drove down the road where I do my long runs, as far as we could go. The picture on the left is the sixth green of the little nine-hole golf course near the beginning of the road. Three greens were completely under water.

We kept driving, maybe another mile and a half, and had to stop. That's probably a foot and a half of water across the road; the truck in the photo was stalled. In the second picture the driver has the hood open. I did a seven-point turn [hey – it's a one-lane road!] and we went back home.

The road to Alderson was closed, so I didn't make it to the prison last night for drawing class. With the power out, I probably wouldn't have gone anyway.

Technology is great, and I'm quite the electronic gadget collector. But when you're left with a rapidly discharging cell phone and a 5" black-and-white television with 10 dying size-C batteries, you learn quickly that technology is a two-edged sword. The good side, of course, is instant communication and entertainment at your fingertips. The bad side is that the good side needs Mother Nature's cooperation for everything to work right.

Right now, even with the power on, it seems like the world just isn't working right.

Eleven days until race day.


Amy said...

I went to college in Frederick MD and now I'm trying desperately to remember how many of my friends went to Blacksburg for their Masters and if indeed they'd be done by now. The Pentagon, the Sniper, now this, it's all too much.

Jack Sprat said...


I haven't been to Blacksburg, but I went to the college of William & Mary in Virginia, so I have an affinity for the public institutions of that state. The thing I don't get about these school shooting incidents -- they don't happen in Japan, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand or (insert name of far-flung country here). What's gone wrong in the US of A?

Congrats for not LOSING IT TOTALLY with the bad news, the bad weather and the lack of power (electric, not will...)


ws said...

It is totally incomprehensible that someone could do this - it just makes no sense and there is hardly a way to rectify it. I'm not a cable news watcher because it drives me crazy to listen to all day reporting, but I'd take Imus and Anna Nicole over this.

I went to undergrad in DC and everyone always said school in the city was dangerous, but it isn't as bad as school in suburbia or rural areas, in my opinion.

mehitabel said...

I just found a new type of phone charger (got mine at Target) that holds a AA battery, and will charge your cell phone. I got mine for travel but it would be handy in a power outage. It will use the same lithium batteries as my camera, too. And I know what you mean--the world has tilted off-center for me too.

Chris H said...

We get an hour long news programme ever night, and tonight we had 30 minutes all about the tragedy in Virginia, it is just so sad. I don't believe anyone could have predicted this guys intentions, he probably didn't know he was going to go nuts till that day! Anyway, I feel very sorry for all the families of the victims. Your weather is the pitts at the moment, hope your power is back on! We sure do come to rely on modern technology, I enjoy it when we have no power so I can do things the "old fashioned" way.. it can be fun! Maybe not for too long .... then it would be WORK !

M@rla said...

Sadly, this type of thing isn't confined to one country. One of the worst mass killings was in Australia - 35 dead. And don't forget the subway poison gas in Japan. There are mentally unbalanced people everywhere in the world, it's not specific to the United States.