Moving On

I posted this on a blog that my Adcenter class keeps to stay in touch with each other as a way to move on from what was such a horrible event by remembering the good times that Virginia Tech experienced before and the good times that will occur in the future. 

Also, it really makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.  If you haven't been to major college football game, you need to go to experience the energy of it all.  Its amazing.

 

Virginia Tech

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It's been a strange week for me, first watching a psychopath murder 32 people at my alma mater, Viginia Tech, then watching the media descend on the tiny town like sharks sensing blood in the water.  Its not surprising that they were there in such force, but what really surprised me, and has made so many people affiliated with the school angry, is their unrelenting drive to sensationalize the story even beyond its unbelievable factual self.  Within hours they were grilling university officials, trying their best to finger somebody, and be the first to do it.  They also tried their hardest to get the students to say that they were scared to stay there and that they were going to transfer.  They managed to make an already awful situation much, much worse.  I wasn't going to post anything about it, but I've been so impressed by the whole Hokie Nation pulling together and doing their best to beat back this invasion of blood thirsty ratings-chasing members of the media that I felt I had to post something.  There's something really great about the spirit of those involved with Virginia Tech; so many positives about the school and community that are getting lost in the wash of this terrible event.  I'm scared that like Columbine before it, Virginia Tech will become a tragic event instead of a living place.  I didn't have words to communicate the spirit of VT, but I think that Chris Fowler of ESPN captured the strength and personality of Virginia Tech, the place, pretty well in an article today:

Campus tragedy will only bring tight community closer

They are clashing colors, maroon and orange. As they say, it's a combination only a Hokie could love.

But Tuesday, maroon and orange came together in a moving display of
sympathy, support and pride. Watching Virginia Tech students in school
colors grieve together at the convocation in Cassell Coliseum got me
choked up. I couldn't speak. When they concluded the afternoon by
together yelling "We Are Virginia Tech!" and "Let's Go Hokies!" I
lost it. Surprising feelings rushed forth. Here were students in a
basketball arena doing a sports chant. It was such a familiar
expression of unity, but this time
summoned for an infinitely more profound occasion.

VT Convocation

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The Virginia Tech community has come together to mourn the lives that were lost.

 

It's a campus I know well, from many visits through the years. You
don't arrive at Virginia Tech accidentally. You have to work to get
there, journeying into the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's lovely …
picturesque … and seems very far away from the dangers of the outside
world.

There is a collective strength of spirit there that feels quite
different from other campuses we visit. It's a big school, of about
26,000. But it feels like a tight community.

The official name is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University. It's not a curriculum or a setting for everyone.
But most students who are there want to be nowhere else. That spirit
seems to endure long after leaving Blacksburg. Once a Hokie, always a
Hokie.

All of this made watching the images and hearing the horrific accounts
Monday even more chilling. All the networks showed maps marking the
buildings the shootings
took place. In between them is the spot "College GameDay" was staged in
September, on the mall near the library and the parade ground.

Those of us who work on "GameDay" (and on the entire ESPN college
football project) have a strong affection for Virginia Tech that goes
back many years.
The pain there is unimaginable and will not soon fade. We hope that the
sense of unity and togetherness that makes it a special campus will
remain.

During the Hokies' run to the championship game in the '99
football season, it was the amazing spirit of Virginia Tech that helped
us take "GameDay's" road shows to
a level we'd never imagined. At the urging of Frank Beamer, an orange
and maroon horde of about 13,000 wedged in to a corner of Lane Stadium
one Saturday
morning.

For us, it was a mind-boggling display. Sure, we knew they
hadn't necessarily shown up to hear three guys on a set many yards away
talk football.
They came to show the nation how strongly they felt about their team
and their school. And I can't tell you how much it meant to us to share
the day with them.

When "GameDay" revisited Blacksburg later that season, we figured that
the novelty had worn off and expected a much smaller crowd.
Instead, an even bigger, more spirited throng roared for 90 minutes.
After that, our little traveling circus was never the same. The ante
had been upped for every other school. Virginia Tech set the standard.
We really have savored each visit since.

This week, that powerful sense of community at Tech is being shown to the world. It is heartening.

Unfortunately, much of the world always will associate this campus in
the mountains only with this massacre. Many will conclude from this
senseless, psychotic
act that the current college generation in America is warped by
violence … and hopeless.

To me, news events of recent weeks have revealed something
quite different. It strikes me: The many Tech students I have seen
interviewed were so thoughtful and reasonable, even in moments fresh
with confused fear. A strong sense of humanity shines through.

In a way, I saw the same sense of dignity and wisdom-beyond-years
displayed by the Rutgers women's basketball team
and the three former lacrosse players from Duke. Under intense
scrutiny, it was the college kids who were level-headed,
displaying tolerant, thoughtful restraint and a sense of perspective,
while so many adults embarrassed themselves, grandstanding for the
voracious 24-hour
media machine, foaming at the mouth on cue.

Not the students. It made me feel pretty good about the generation that will inherit this place.

To the community of Virginia Tech and to the families of the victims,
our thoughts will remain with you during the long, difficult healing
process.
Your sense of unity has never been more needed. It was touching that
under the weight of so many other emotions, Tech students seemed
saddened that the school they love forever could be branded as the site
of an historic massacre.

To those of us who have spent time there, Tech always will be
recognized for much more than the hours of tragedy April 16, 2007. We
look forward to our next chance to experience Virginia Tech pride first
hand.

Chris Fowler is the host of ESPN's "College GameDay."

LInk to the original article

JetBlue is really, really good

I've now flown JetBlue back to Virginia to visit my parents twice, and it makes other airlines look silly.  Not only were the people friendly and helpful, but you get 36 channels of Direct TV and something like 100 channels of XM satellite radio.  It makes you feel guilty for not using the time to read, but it also makes the flight go by quickly and painlessly. 
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I know this looks like the Cobert Report as seen from a TV floating
through space, but its actually the tv screen on the seatback in front
of me.

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Even the in-flight snacks were better than anyone else.  And the option of Arizona Iced tea had me at hello. 

So who cares…it sounds like I've been paid by JetBlue to advertise for them…and here's why:  no matter how much I tell people about how great my experiences have been with JetBlue, they keep bringing up the JetBlue incident from a few months ago where snow forced passengers to stay aboard aircraft for up to 11 hours.  Even a couple months after the fact, its the first thing that my parents bring up when I talk about how great my flight was. 

What I expected out of a brand that seems to know what it's doing was some kind of very loud, very public, and very cool concession made to those who experienced problems on that day.  But it hasn't happened, or if it has I haven't heard about it.  I've notice more frequent TV ads, but nothing that acknowledges that they screwed up.  It's like they are pretending it never happened, which I hope works in the long run, but so far it seems like the public still associates JetBlue with stranded passengers, which can't be good for business.