7-20-12, Aurora

21 07 2012

I’ve been examining my feelings about the Aurora massacre all day long.  The tragedy happened about 2.5 miles northwest of me, almost precisely half as far away as I was from the Alfred P. Murrah building when Timothy McVeigh blew it up.  I’m not comparing the two.  I was a responder at the OKC event, and I know from personal experience that it was of a different order of magnitude compared to the event at the movie theater here in Aurora, CO.

But I feel almost exactly the same.  There is this horrible sadness.  Even though I didn’t lose any loved ones at that theater, I feel this sense of loss.  I know what the family members of people who were killed have lost.  I know what the people who were injured have lost.  What have I lost?  Why do I feel this way?

I remember about five months after the OKC bombing I was at the State Fair.  In a particular building they were displaying these panels which had come from all over the country, and upon which people had written messages to express their love and concern for us in Oklahoma after the event.  I remember that I started crying.  Just out of nowhere tears were coming down my cheeks, because I had totally blocked the bombing from my mind over those scant few months.

I was born in Oklahoma…raised in Colorado…spent most of my adult life in Oklahoma…moved back to Colorado.  I’ve had my heart broken in both states.

And I love them both dearly.  I sincerely pray for God’s “peace that surpasses all understanding” for the people and the families devastated by this tragedy in this–my current home town–Aurora, Colorado.  I can tell you from experience, those who have suffered in this tragedy…

There is an end to every nightmare.


You Tube’s “Angry German Kid”

18 05 2008

Watch this first, as much of it as you can stand, anyway.

I discovered a link to this in someone’s signature line over at a writer’s message board where I hang out.  It’s basically just a German kid yelling like a maniac at his computer monitor over some dumbass video game.  As with most of the stuff on You Tube, my initial thought was that it was staged.  Maybe it is.  But for the sake of discussion, let’s say that it is in fact what it appears to be.

I play video games, and I will be the first to admit that I have yelled at a few of them, not to mention having thrown a few controllers as well.  But I have never exhibited anything remotely like the behavior this kid is showing.  Where the hell does that sort of rage come from?

It’s funny, because my wife and I had just discussed, prior to my having viewed this clip, the fact that people in general seem to have become more selfish, more self-absorbed, and more violent-tempered.  We were wondering why.  It’s as if people are coming to believe that they are, in fact, the center of the universe, and everyone else is nothing more than a distraction, at best, or, at worst, an outright impediment that must be shouted at, shoved aside, or eliminated.

I think the Internet has a lot to do with this.  It’s akin to the phenomenon of “road rage.”  You ensconce yourself in your car and suddenly everything outside that tiny, confined space becomes less real, and an endless source of frustration.  Surfing the web really isn’t that much different.  You ensconce yourself in a slightly larger (but still confined) space, you log on, and suddenly you own the whole damn Internet.  It’s easy to vent your rage to it’s fullest because, thanks to the anonymity, there are rarely consequences or repercussions.

I suppose if this sort of behavior never went beyond the Internet we could ignore it.  The only person who might be harmed would be the one exhibiting the excessive behaivor.  I think if the kid in the video tries that again in forty years he’ll probably keel right over from a stroke.  Of course, that is assuming that some other goof, equally convinced that the world revolves around him, doesn’t blow the first goof’s head clean off with a shotgun.  Not entirely unlikely, either, because this sort of behavior does go beyond the Internet.  People take it back into the real world, where there are consequences and repercussions.  We can’t all be the center of the universe, and therein lies the seed of an horrific conflict, looming on the near horizon.

Letting The Cables Sleep

24 02 2008

Sometimes–a lot of times, really–I think we had more when there was less.

Less what. I don’t know. Less everything. I remember as a kid, growing up in Colorado, it was a big deal for my mom to let me stay up late on a Friday night to watch “Shock Theatre.” We only had four television channels back then, one of which was the Public Broadcasting System (boring stuff, mostly). Shock Theatre came on around 10:30 p.m., maybe 11:00, and they always showed some old black and white horror flick. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave! sticks out in my mind. By the time the movie ended, everyone in the house but me was asleep, and it was easy back then to imagine that I was the only person awake in the whole world. Well, me and the guy running the movie that I was watching on t.v. What made it special was the fact that all the other stations had gone off the air. We didn’t have 110 channels of crap running 24/7. When Shock Theatre was over, that was it. You were done. They flew the flag, played the anthem, and then the screen went to snow.

There’s a song by a group called Bush: Letting The Cables Sleep. I love that image. Sometimes I wish we could just shut everything down for awhile. Let the cables sleep.

Does anybody else feel like we got cheated, somehow? This isn’t the world that I grew up thinking I would live in; this isn’t the life that I always thought I would lead.

There’s too much. Too many voices, mine among them. The Internet has turned out to be a disaster, a digital cacophony of rage and free trade.

Too many movies and books and stories and ideas. The creativity that used to spur our imagination, stifles it. The urge for real exploration and adventure is muted by the flood of images and false interactivity that we experience while we are sitting on our asses in front of some screen.

Let them go. Let them lie down.

Let the cables sleep.


14 10 2007

Why is it that everything seemed so much more vivid when we were children? I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. More to the point, why is it that time seemed to move so much slower when we were young, and what causes it to accelerate as we get older? I know that it has become a bit of a cliche, but I think it is worth examining. The obvious example is Christmas (at least for those who celebrate that holiday). As a kid, the distance from December 1st to December 24th is enormous. Civilizations could rise and fall, species could evolve to extinction, all in a little over three weeks. As a 43-year-old adult I’ve come to realize that the entire holiday season actually only lasts about a week. Monday is Labor Day, Tuesday is Halloween, Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, Friday is Christmas, Saturday night we ring in the New Year, and we’re all back to work on Valentine’s Day the following Monday.

People say it’s because we are so busy, or because we have so many responsibilities when we get older. I’m not sure that I’m buying it. I can still get time to slow down. When I’m at work, sometime around midday Wednesday for example, time plods by at an agonizing crawl. I can make it go even faster, too. If I want to get through a particular period of time very rapidly, all I have to do is schedule some unpleasant event…say a doctor’s appointment…about a month ahead. Zing! Goodbye OctobA leaf fallser, hello doctor.

I’ve come up with a theory about it. Obviously the passage of time is a matter of perception. We perceive the world around us through the use of our senses–sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. I think that our perception of the passage of time is directly related to the way that we perceive our surroundings. Take for example a tree. At five years old you haven’t seen a lot of trees. Trees are relatively new to you, noteworthy. You might walk down the street where you live and notice every single tree, the way the branches seem at once randomly placed but vaguely symmetrical, the various shapes of leaves or textures of bark, or just how some trees are big/tall while others are little/short. This imaginary five-year-old’s perception of time would be more drawn out, I think, due to an illusion caused when the brain is taking in large amounts of new, or relatively new, information. If our brains have to slow down–even infinitesimally–to process “new” information, then we feel that time itself has slowed. An adult walking down the same street might not even notice the trees–maybe he’s looking for his five-year-old whose wandered off. An adult has seen trees, lots and lots of trees, so that unless one of them is purple his brain is not going to process anything regarding trees, hence, no illusory slowing of his perception of time.

Here is an interesting idea for an experiment. Have two people take a thirty minute walk. One person will walk in a familiar setting–his or her own neighborhood, for example–while the other person walks in an unfamiliar place. The walks should start and end at some predetermined location within each setting, and neither of the walkers should be given anything with which to tell time. They are simply to stroll about until they feel that 30 minutes has passed. I’m willing to bet that the person in the unfamiliar setting, with more “new” information to be processed, will walk longer and return to the predetermined location last every time.