Back into the swing of things today. It was this evening before I realized I felt normal today. Weird. I’ve plowed through many long projects, pulled far more consecutive all-nighters and found myself in lots of anxious tests, papers, projects, work assignments and so on. But the comps last week beat me up far better than any of those things. I wrapped that up Thursday and I couldn’t get back to feeling normal (meaning exhaustion and general ease) until tonight.
I went to bed last night before 10 p.m., for example. That just doesn’t happen.
Anyway. Back to it today. Back to the phones and the email and the syllabus and grading and so on. Lots of grading this week.
Also rode the bike a little bit. A tiny bit. My pedals arrived — I’m not sure if I care for them — and so I did a few laps around the neighborhood sizing everything up. Feels like a good bike, the new Felt. Now I just have to remember how to ride.
It’s like riding a bike. Yes, I know. I learned to ride a bike on a gravel road. Merry Christmas, and thanks. It was no one’s fault in particular. My first big boy bike was delivered by Santa to my grandparents who, until the last few years, were so far out their county didn’t even realize they were out there. Necessity being a mother, I was taught the Jedi trick of balance, was pushed, pedaled and fell.
But if you fall on gravel you learn quickly how to prevent that from happening again.
[I fell off a bike just a few weeks ago, so take that gravel road! (My grandparent's road is paved now) I couldn't stop fast enough, and I had the choice between a curb or a port-a-potty. I got over the curb, saved the bike and managed to execute a perfect fall, distributing the kinetic energy of my motion as evenly as possible over the ground ... and laughed as I was covered in mud.]
So maybe gravel doesn’t teach you how to never fall again. But you learn quickly all the same.
On this day in history, since I couldn’t anywhere to take pictures today, this is stripped directly from my Twitter stream and indulgently embellished beyond the 140-character limit.
In 1997 there was the North Hollywood shootout. It was a Friday. (I just clicked back through my calendar to be sure. You want depressing? Click back to the point you were in college and wonder why carpal tunnel is kicking in. Too many clicks.) I was a sophomore, so I’d probably gotten smart about morning classes by then. Let’s say I was just waking up. Two bad guys killed, eleven officers and seven bystanders shot. More than 2,000 rounds of ammunition were expended. There was a television movie, which was better than it should have been. Some of the footage was made at the scene of the shoot out, six years earlier. Also, the film used 40,000 rounds of blanks.
You can just imagine how that played out in production meetings.
“So we’ve got to find a way to get more than 2,000 rounds in 44 minutes. That’s almost a shot per second!”
“Have you seen the work of John Woo?”
“Right. Better make it 40,000.”
On this day in 1993 the Branch Davidian raid started the standoff in Waco. I was in high school (and, thus, am not clicking back that far to see what day of the week this lands on.) Four feds and six Davidians were killed as the ATF tried to serve a search warrant. Since that worked so smashingly they decided to lay siege for 50 days. Seventy-six people, including almost two dozen children, died in the infamous fire. Not the government’s best moments.
Something brighter then! Remember 1991? I don’t recall specifics of this, but I clearly remember when the Gulf War began. But on this day, 20 years ago, President Bush declared victory, seemed destined for a second term — if Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf didn’t swoop in — and life was grand. Oh, sure, some folks wondered about Baghdad and why the good guys didn’t march on in, but other than small details like that, life was good.
A few others wondered how they could spell Schwarzkopf and make it count on write-in ballots. So beloved was the general from New Jersey that even Madonna had a lyrical fling.
Can’t imagine that these days.
In 1983, there was the M*A*S*H finale. I don’t remember seeing it then. I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet, but I do remember the intro from the original airings. It was years before my mind could convince my eyes the helicopters weren’t flying backwards. Optical illusions are tough, I guess. It was longer still before I would see the finale. And I worked for a year or so at a television station that aired M*A*S*H constantly.
It is still in the top five, ratings wise. There are four Super Bowls and the farewell. I wonder how that show would do, today.
And, finally, in 1958 a school bus rear-ended a wrecker on a foggy morning in Kentucky. The bus fell off into a ravine and, ultimately, into a flood-swollen river. Twenty-six kids escaped. Twenty-six more, and the driver, could not get out of the bus and drowned. This is the worst school bus disaster in American history. The other worst bus disaster in the country was in 1988, also in Kentucky, also killed 27. (That one was a drunk driver hitting a school-turned-church bus, causing a vehicle fire that the victims could not escape.)
Because of these two incidences Kentucky requires buses to have more exits (nine) than anyone in North America.
The drunk driver that hit that bus in 1988, incidentally, received a 16-year sentence as a repeat offender on 27 counts of manslaughter. He was considered a model prison and was released after 10 years. (He declined an offered probation.) The church members, those most profoundly impacted by what was a truly national story, largely forgave him. The profound amount of courage that must take will always mystify. Now he lives just a few miles from the crash site.
You’d think you would get as far away from that as you can.
And now, for no particular reason, Dilbert:
I went back 20 years (more clicking) on this date. Dilbert has said exactly five things on February 28th. You’re welcome.