Category: Virginia Tech

Senior Coffee

I bought my first bottle of cheap wine in the fall of 1984 at a small convenience store near my apartment in Blacksburg, Virginia. By then I had graduated from Harding and moved on to Virginia Tech, so I didn’t run the risk of having two bullet-less Barney Fifes in a golf cart accosting me and frog-marching me to the Dean’s office for immediate expulsion.

I knew they often nabbed Harding students out celebrating their 21st birthdays at restaurants in Little Rock, but alumni in Blacksburg? Surely, purity had its mileage limits. The peace of mind and freedom were more intoxicating than the wine would ever be.… Read the rest

My World Is Crimson and Houndstooth

I remember that 1973 butt-whoopin’ like it was yesterday. What I didn’t remember were all the rest that went along with it.

No, I’m not referring to the time I was playing in my mother’s sacrosanct living room and broke her prized vase. The scalding that followed burned bright and hot. She regretted that one, as I recall, checking me later in the afternoon for “marks” and apologizing profusely, probably worried that Dad would get on her for being a little too rough.

I’m talking about the 77-6 smackdown that Bear Bryant’s boys, with their high-octane wishbone offense, laid on Charlie Coffey’s hapless crew of Virginia Tech Fighting Gobblers (aka, “The Hokies”) in October of that year down in Tuscaloosa.… Read the rest

How I Became An Eyeguy; Or, It’s All In The Wrist

Regarding the various times that I worked construction jobs while in school, there are really only two words that need to be said.

I’m sorry.

Sorry for the outlet covers that were put on upside down, sorry for the insulation that wasn’t stapled in correctly, sorry for that door that just won’t shut quite right.

In numerous subdivisions and neighborhoods throughout the Southeast United States, homeowners are starting to do a double take at some of the so-called “quality craftsmanship” of their suburban executive homes and declare: “Who the @%#$&*! put this thing together?!”

Uh, that would be me, and I like I said, I’m sorry.… Read the rest

April Is The Cruellist Month

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

–T.S. Eliot The Wasteland

I think Eliot was right. And that’s not even counting my own personal tragedies that have occurred in this month.

The Washington Post tells what it’s like to try to archive all the compassionate gestures directed toward Virginia Tech last year.

And here is my own contribution.

Read the rest

I’m a Davidson Man

Duke’s done, but after the requisite 24-hour grieving period, I’ve done switched to another team. I’m now a Davidson Man:


That’s about how much my bracket is worth after week one: 15 cents

Number One and I visited Davidson’s lovely campus before his senior year of high school, so I feel I can lay somewhat of a claim. Also, I actually saw Stephen Curry’s dad Dell play when I was a grad student at Virginia Tech. That makes me old enough to be Stephen’s father, which, on this Monday morning, is just another depressing thought to contemplate.

Oh well. Go Wildcats!… Read the rest

Fire. At. Will.

JRB and I recently found ourselves in a discussion over the willingness of Alabama Coach Nick Saban to go for two points during the Vanderbilt game a couple weeks ago. He felt like St. Nick was “piling on” the points, and I felt that he wasn’t. One of the points I brought up was my memory of Alabama’s thrashing of the Virginia Tech Hokies when they came to Blacksburg in 1973. That final was 77-6 even after The Bear had gone through the entire 3rd string, the waterboys and a couple of tuba players.

As I pointed to JRB, 77-6 is something to complain about, not a measly 2-point conversion in a relatively low-scoring game in which your QB has had trouble finding his mark inside the Red Zone and simply needs the practice.… Read the rest

Time to Move On

On the way to Roanoke last week, we took a turn on 460 West for a short side trip to Blacksburg and the campus of Virginia Tech. I had planned to walk the drill field area, check out any remaining memorials and perhaps take a picture of Norris Hall and post it here. But it was a gray, overcast day and spitting rain. The thought occurred to me that the weather was merely reflecting the sorrow and the tears that were still being shed in that place.

As we drove around the drill field, we noted that the spontaneous memorials had been removed, replaced instead by a permanent one currently under construction in front of Burruss Hall.… Read the rest

Pitch Perfect

Philip Yancey is one of my favorite contemporary Christian writers. My first exposure to him was during my premed days at Harding when I read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, a book he coauthored with Dr. Paul Brand. Since then, he’s only become better and more prolific. As someone who in the past has described himself as a “reluctant Christian,” Yancey to me feels like spiritual next-of-kin.

Two weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre, Yancey waded into the morass of grief that was Blacksburg, Virginia and delivered these words.

I sent this link to Number One Son, figuring that he might appreciate some of the things that Yancey had to say as he prepares to take up the tricky business of learning and living out his faith on a state university campus.… Read the rest

Shut Up and Grieve

Among the more curious reactions to the Virginia Tech killings that I’ve seen bandied about in various circles is one that goes something like this:

The tremendous outpouring of grief over the death of 33 Virginia Tech students and professors is proof positive that Americans are selfish and egocentric and care more about their own lives than lives lost around the world everyday from other far worse atrocities, civil wars, preventable diseases, etc. Why not more outrage and grief over innocent lives lost in Iraq and Darfur, or the thousands lost to AIDs on the African continent? Stupid, myopic Americans; so much grief over their own kids, so much blindness toward the suffering of others around the world whose lives are just as important.

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Think I’m “Hokey?” Deal With It

Saturday I ran another half-marathon. My time was 1:50:40, a full five minutes faster than February.

But it wasn’t easy. Whereas in February I felt I still had a little gas in the tank at the end, this time I was running on fumes. My calves were knotting up as I slouched toward the finish, but finish I did. Of course, this morning I can barely move, but that’s the price a 45-year-old must pay for such “glory.”

I can remember several times thinking about how hard it was and about how it would be nice just to stop and hang it up and start acting my age.… Read the rest

Two Degrees of Separation

It’s been said that there are no more than six degrees of separation between every person on earth. But when I heard that 32 innocents had died in Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech, it hit me how large and complex that particular web of relationships would be and how far it would extend across the country and even the world. I grew up in Southwest Virginia and was a graduate student at Virginia Tech and a resident of Blacksburg for 2 years. One of my first thoughts when I heard the news was, that in this particular case, there would likely be no more than two degrees of separation between one of the victims and me.… Read the rest