actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

ScienceWe are astronomers and chief scientists at the Griffith Observatory in LA and the Franklin Institute in in Philadelphia. And we just got back from a cosmic road trip through the Miniverse! Ask Us Anything!

Apr 18th 2017 by Laura_Danly • 31 Questions • 88 Points

My short bio: I was a senior about 7 weeks away from graduating when 4/16/2007 happened. I knew several people that were either killed or injured. There isn't a single week that goes by since that day when it doesn't cross my mind.

EDIT: Some additional insight so you don't have to dig through comments:

  • I was not in a classroom, and I was not shot. I was on my way to an unaffected class room.

  • I was good friends with one person that was killed, acquaintances with a few who were shot, and knew several others affected.

  • The top takeaways from the incident for me were:

  1. The media is an extremely sharpened double-edged sword. The same vehicle that generated a global outpouring of support also arm-chair quarterbacked their way into criticizing our school, and stalked students around campus trying to generate tears-on-camera. I was set to graduate with a degree in mass communication, but abondoned the media industry altogether after that incident.

  2. Virginia Tech is one of the most resilient, kindest communities I've ever known. Everyone parents asked us to "leave and come home," but not a single person I know did. We all stayed. Even the 20-or-so injured students all came back to school as soon as they could. Everyone wanted to be at school to help each other and not let something like this define who we were. One guy who was shot in the leg left his hospital bed against doctor's order on crutches, just so he could walk across stage at our departmental commencement ceremony. People gave him a full five minute standing ovation.

  3. I remember being rather hurt/upset that it can branded as "the Virginia Tech massacre." No one asked us (the students) if that was okay. I realize that's not historical labeling works, but it just always bothered me.

My Proof: http://imgur.com/a/XuFRS

EDIT 2: The intent here was to simply give folks a personal perspective on how a school/community is impacted beyond what you may recall hearing from the media. I care about my school and wanted awareness for my 32 heroes to live on a decade later. Even though I created a throw-away account and remained anonymous, there are redditors here who somehow believe I'm doing this for personal attention(?). There are certainly accounts and stories to be told of those "closer" to the incident itself, but I never claimed to be one of those accounts, so I'm having trouble reconciling some of the outrage and hatred in the comments.

With that, I'm going to stop responding to things now. My sincerest apologies if any one found this exploitative or disrespectful, it certainly was never the intent.

neVer forgeT.

Q:

What is it like riding shotgun in a Tesla with a former test pilot during the filming of Miniverse?

A:

Bill, what was it like collaborating with Tyler, the Creator for the theme song for the new show? What made you choose him initially? Do you have an ongoing friendship with him?


Q:

Do you think that this sort of thing is common in Hollywood? Why or why not?

A:

Do you get random bouts of survivor's guilt?


Q:

First thought... FUN. First, the Tesla is an amazing car. I also drive an EV and there's nothing like the acceleration of an electric car. So put that power in the hands of a test pilot, and well, you get the picture. We had the joy of driving through the desert .... the lonely, empty desert without a car in sight ... so you can imagine Tesla, test pilot, and open, empty road....

A:

Oh we hang out all the time. He comes by The Planetary Society; we talk about the cosmos and our place in space.


Q:

yes, because it's true and we all know it is

A:

One additional survivor's guilt story: I lived next door to a first responder EMT. Loud jovial lumberjack type, loved everyone and everything. He did not even come out of his apartment for 10 days after that. It was the most broken I have ever seen a human being.

Later (much, much later), we talked about that day. He said he was "walking through a sea of corpses, and it was completely silent, with the exception of cell phones going off constantly, with parents and friends trying to reach someone." He said he can't even hear cell phone ringers the same anymore.

He's gotten a lot better, but he truly hasn't been the same since. I can't process how haunting something like that must be.


Q:

One thing I have to say about the TS is that it is wicked fast on 'takeoff'. And if you hold the accelerator pedal down it just keeps accelerating aggressively! You can really feel the acceleration pushing you into the seat, unlike any other vehicle I've felt.

A:

Thanks so much for being here. Any chance of working with Disney again on the Energy pavilion at EPCOT? Lots of people would love to see an update based on everything we know about the subject now as opposed to twenty years ago - especially if you had something to say.


Q:

How do you feel about the statement "... Separate the art from the artist" in cases like Polanski's?

A:

Hi! I'm actually writing my dissertation about the Virginia Tech shootings right now. It's a study on how the media portrayed the event in the month following it. How did you feel about the media broadcasting and showing a lot of the videos and images that the shooter sent to NBC News? A lot of what I've read so far has commented on the backlash against it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.

I'm sorry to hear that you lost friends, I can't imagine how awful it must have been and still is. :(


Q:

Yeah, he was trying to pull as many g's as a shuttle launch ... you can take the boy out of the spaceship but...

A:

Not my choice. Please ask the Disneynians to refresh the ride. It was a fun job. It was sponsored by Exxon, while they still owned a division that made bearings for wind turbine generators, and before their climate denial documents from 1977 were discovered and published in the New York Times. I'd love to do a new show though.


Q:

I feel that is an individual decision. However, my opinion is that you do not throw a person's life and accomplishments away because they have committed a crime or done something you feel is heinous. His art, his employment, his achievements have nothing to do with me. They should be judged on their own merit, and we all make mistakes, should the rest of your life and contributions to society be ignored. I say no.

A:

Finally, a question I was waiting for someone to ask :)

I was a mass communication student set to graduate just a few weeks later. I had a job lined up at a PR Firm, had just finished interning at a news station, and thought for sure I was on my way to a journalism career.

After 4/16 and the loss of my friend, Ryan Clark, CNN contacted the Marching Band for someone to interview about Ryan's legacy. I volunteered and agreed to be interviewed, on the condition that it was to cover and discuss Ryan's legacy.

Jim Acosta showed up with his producer and interviewed me just outside Newman Library about 3 weeks after the incident. I talked with him for 45 minutes on camera about Ryan, all the wonderful things he had done, and what he meant to the Virginia Tech Marching Band. In between topics, Acosta asked me--in a tone that would almost seem to indicate that he was personally inquiring, not interviewing--"Hey, what's it like for you, having to graduate in just a couple of weeks." I responded with something personal and honest to the effect of "It's hard to feel accomplished, to be honest."

That was the only fucking thing that CNN aired of the entire damned 45 minute interview.

I quit my job, started working in a different field other than media, and have never gone back.

The media was such a double edged sword in the days and weeks that followed. The out pouring of support from the entire planet was just incredible and helped way more than I even expected it could have. And we owe that awareness to the media. At the same time, you couldn't walk 50 feet without someone and a camera trying to get you to cry on screen so they could air it in between ads. It was awful.


Q:

Hey Laura! Thanks for all you do for women in science! I love ASC! Who would be your dream guest on an upcoming ASC ?

A:

Bill, What are your thoughts on Elon Musk and what he is doing for the scientific world through Tesla and SpaceX?


Q:

To echo /u/Eats_Ass comment, I find your attitude both commendable and admirable. I'd actually like to develop more of this type of attitude myself. If you'd permit me a follow up question, how did you come to this position? Was your view more ingrained or learned over time?

Thanks for doing this AMA.

A:

Hi, currently a junior at VT. Wanted to ask a more happy question. What was your favorite dining hall?


Q:

Thank you for your nice words! I'm thinking about a dream guest and I'll think about that more. First thought that popped into my head: Stephen Colbert! Stephen are you listening (reading)?

A:

He and is companies are shaking things up in a great way. Some disclosure, he served on the Board of The Planetary Society for a while, but has had to recuse himself as SpaceX became Yuge. (I gave him a ride to the airport once.) The Tesla outperforms conventional gas-powered cars (as does my new all-electric Chevy Bolt). If the reused lower stage of the Falcon rockets proves profitable, it will change space exploration in great way. Go Elon! (He's an immigrant to the U.S., bt-dubs.)


Q:

I had been asked the question when Roman won his Oscar, which was directed to me as "how do you feel about his nomination". My immediate reaction was, why should I care and who am I to judge the quality of films? So it seems it was ingrained, but I have limits and use my purchase power to avoid certain things. So I think you decide that personally. But the idea of disregarding someone's accomplishments because they may be/have been a shitty person, in general runs contrary to how I see things. I don't like the idea that someone cannot be redeemed. I do have my own limits as do others. I say your limit is yours alone, you should not told what you can and cannot accept.

A:

Great question! Haha

Day-to-day: Owen's. The philly cheese steak place was always spot-on, and the general tso's was surprinsgly on-point as well.

splurge-day: Of course West-End. I lived in East AJ, so it was all too easy to waste money and get fat there. The London Broil and Buffalo chicken wraps were my jam.

Such a great array of food options there, though. Even when I lived off campus, I still paid for a meal plan for that very reason.

I haven't been to the new dining hall they built behind the drillfield though, how is it?


Q:

What do you think is going to be the most important observation/discovery we make with JWST?

A:

Hi Bill, thanks for doing this - I've got a question, I know that maybe it's not specifically in your field, but I would still appreciate your thoughts as someone trying to "save the world".

To what extent do you envisage automation replacing common jobs anytime soon, on a large scale? If this is accomplished do you think it will be a current player (amazon/google/tesla), something completely left-field no one expected, or a community effort from thousands of small to medium sized enterprises working together?

Thanks!


Q:

I'd be more sympathetic to Polanski and willing to consider redemption if he hadn't fled from the consequences of his actions or was willing to turn himself in to face the consequences. Being as neither of those are the case, can he really be redeemed?

A:

How long did it take you before you were comfortable again on campus?


Q:

Oh gosh, another tough one. A toss-up between (1) earliest galaxies, (2) extrasolar planet atmospheres, and (3) have no clue at this moment - as in, the universe has more surprises for us. Any of those could provide a paradigm-smashing discovery.

A:

Self-driving vehicles seem to me to be the next Big Thing. Think of all the drivers, who will be able to do something more challenging and productive with their work day. They could be erecting wind turbines, installing photovoltaic panels, and running distributed grid power lines. Woo hoo!


Q:

he faced the consequences, but the judge thought he should go back on his word. you know press conferences in his chambers thought he might look bad

A:

Everyone was comfortable being on campus pretty much that same night. In fact, for many of us, it was the only place that actually felt comfortable, because it was the only common space we could all grieve together.

The weeks that followed actually became more uncomfortable to be on campus simply because there were reporters doing any and everything you could possibly think of to score an interview or gain a reaction on camera. The Corps of Cadets were ordered to stop wearing military uniforms simply so they would "blend in" while on campus.

The drillfield (where the memorial now is) pretty much became a giant ceremonious visitation gathering spot though, so everyone naturally congregated to it in the middle of campus, despite it only being 100 yards from the building where the shooting took place.


Q:

Where (on which city / planet) was the driving the scariest?

A:

Bill, Should I continue being a paramedic or just go for it and try to become an emergency department physician?

Edit: spelling. The ambulance gets bouncy and I got a 911 call as soon as I typed this.


Q:

Commendable. Personally, I just refuse to put another penny in their pocket. I love Polanski's body of work, and will torrent the shit out of it. But I won't buy it.

A:

Current senior Hokie here, are you going to come up for the 10 year anniversary?


Q:

Wow, that's a toss up between 120 mph on a lonely desert road and heavy traffic on the 10 in Los Angeles. Actually, the LA traffic is over-dissed. Seen much worse in DC and even Denver. But I guess part of living here is to complain about traffic and use phrases like "the 10" as much as possible.

A:

Go for it! People seldom regret what they do; they, or we, regret what we don't do!


Q:

I am cool with that, I feel that way about alot of things too. Make your own choices.

A:

I really wanted to, but I don't have anywhere to stay, and none of the people I was closest to can make it (they're spread all over the country now). I haven't entirely ruled it out, but as of now, I don't think I will.

I made it back for the Spring Game last year and was able to pay my respects, though.


Q:

Where (on which city / planet) was the driving the scariest?

A:

First, thanks for making science class so great in middle school. I still have that theme song stuck in my head.

What is our worst case scenario assuming nothing gets done to save the world and what does the timeline look like? How much is my life going to be affected? My kids? I know we need to do something, but what if it doesn't work out?


Q:

Does this mean you won't fly United?

A:

How did you keep your Hokie passport in such good shape after 10 years?

I graduated in 2006 and within 5 years that shit was pretty much completely faded.

I admire your dedication to keeping your Hokie passport.

While I wasn't there since I had already graduated, many of my friends were still students and one was in Norris Hall that day (the one where they barricaded the door with tables and chairs to keep the gunman out as he was firing inside).

It was one of the most stressful and horrific days of my life. Glad you are doing well. I'll never forget checking the news online that morning at work and seeing that 2 people had died and me thinking it was some tragic but contained situation. Then seeing the count go up and up and me just panicking in the middle of work.


Q:

Oh misread. I thought you asked if there's anything we didn't do!

No, the only challenge was that the day we were in the desert was OVER 110 degrees and we couldn't have the air conditioning on because of the sound. So that was, um, fun. So I suppose I wish I hadn't been in the desert on that particular day.

A:

The quality of life for people everywhere will go down. There will be less food and less clean water available in the developed and the developing world. It's reasonable that this will lead to conflict: more violence, more war. Here in the super-developed US, people will have to abandon homes in Miami, Galveston, Norfolk, and other coastal towns. It will lead to defaulted mortgages and people looking for jobs inland. Where will those jobs come from? Sooner we get to work the better.


Q:

Yes! I haven't bought a tabloid since the day Princess Diana died. When I go, it's all in!

A:

Haha, I keep it behind my driver's license in my wallet to avoid exposure I guess.

Also: FREE PASS ON THE BT WHEN I VISIT!! :)

I wonder if they've since changed the design, because they still don't have "expiration dates" on them.


Q:

Favorite books? That's like asking which of my children are my favorite - almost! Anything Mary Roach writes is really good, hooked on science biography right now too.

A:

Hey Bill, what's your take on our chances of becoming a multi-planetary civilization in the foreseeable future?


Q:

As the only other person present, I am good with, lets say a very bad mistake.

It's only a mistake if the perpetrator regrets the crime. Do you think Polanski feels this way or does he just regret getting caught?

A:

Current sophomore at VT. Hokie P hasn't change, I would post a pic but mine is literally the worst picture ever taken of me haha


Q:

I'm really going to have to think about this one. This is not what you were expecting, but my Mom wrote some books in her 80s and I'd have to say that because, you know, she's my Mom. Sadly, it's been a long time since I read a book for pleasure. I'm going to have to really think about this. Derek?

A:

Infinitesimal. If you think you want to live on Mars, try living in the dry valleys of Antarctica for a few years. And to play fair, you have to bring your own air to breathe. Inhaling the local atmosphere on Mars would kill you in an instant. You'd never go outside, not really. You'd live in some dome, and when you go out, you have to be in a spacesuit, which is just another dome, only really tight fitting. Oh, and there is absolutely nothing to eat.


Q:

at first getting caught, later his actions as he got older and had a daughter of his own

A:

Continued free BT rides it is!! WOO!!


Q:

What is the Best space related video game of all time?

A:

Hey there Bill!

Was curious, what was your favorite episode of the old Bill Nye the Science Guy show? There must have been one episode you did that stood out to you more than others.


Q:

What is your advise to underage girls that are involved with an older man?

A:

How was it going back to the "normal daily routine" after a couple of days/weeks??


Q:

I'm afraid I don't have an answer to this. Back when I worked for NASA in the early 90s I was asked to develop a video game with an artist friend of mine who had just finished another project with the game publisher. Myst had just come out and Hubble had just launched and we were excited about what we could create through self-guided exploration. Something contemplative, beautiful, magnificent. The publisher wanted to chase a princess all around the galaxy (I think that was done in 1977) and explosions, lots of explosions. We abandoned the project! Maybe we could free baby pandas in Andromeda or crush some candy in M101.

A:

Nope. When you get your job as a dancer on broadway, don't ever tell people who your favorite dance partner is. Otherwise, you won't get a chance to dance with anyone else. There is something in every episode that I just love. The spit take in Ocean Life cracks me up as does the screaming skull I'm holding in Bones & Muscles. And, who doesn't love passing out in a fighter plane pulling 7.5 g's?


Q:

I think it is probably unwise, but you have to take your own path. When a man is attracted to much younger women, I think it implies a lack of maturity on his part. And you may be manipulated and taken advantage of. I don't think you can tell that to someone who is already in it.

A:

Since I was only in town for 2 months after the fact (I graduated), there truly wasn't enough time to resume a "normal daily routine" for me. I'd be curious to know that from someone who still had 1-3 years left to go, though.

But when the time did come to leave Blacksburg, it hurt bad. It felt like I was being forced to abandon something in need of help that I had no choice but to leave behind. The months that followed were routinely painful as I went to job interview after job interview, and got asked the same exact sequence of questions in the middle of a job interview:

<looks at resume> "Mkay, I see here that you majored in mass communication at Virgin...oh. you were there? Did you know anybody?..."


Q:

I don't have an answer...other than Galaxian, of course!

A:

In your opinion, why are so many eager to discredit climate change brought about by human activities? What are the most obvious signs that they are ignoring?


Q:

Did you file a civil case against Polanski in the US? LA Times claims you did. If yes, did you receive a settlement payment from him?

Edit: LA Times article claiming you settled for $500,000 in 1993 with Polanski and he still hadn't paid you any money in 1996. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/10/roman-polanski-paid-samantha-geimer-601583-in-civil-settlement-of-sexual-assault.html

A:

Fellow Hokie here, class of '08.

I feel conflicted about this and similar AMAs. On the one hand, I bristle at the notion that my / our experience with the massacre would be of any note to anyone. "Hey look at me, I was near a thing that happened." On the other hand, I think people need to understand what goes on in those kinds of situations. There was so much confusion, so much uncertainty and panic in the hours following, that in the moment I could hardly process what was happening.

So maybe I'll just sum it up here:

Two of my friends died that morning. I was in the building next door, and was able to evacuate the area without incident. I heard the shots but didn't realize at the time what it was. That day will forever suck -- it will never be "okay".

What I remember most clearly, though, is how the community changed. Of course there were big things happening, like organizations coming in to provide services and counseling. But it's the little changes that stuck with me: people offering help to strangers with no expectation of return; drivers waving each other on in traffic jams; offering kind words, and meaning it. I can't be the only one who saw this -- did you also notice the town's transformation?

Blacksburg was always one of the best places to live, but it became much more than that. The community was faced with absolute evil, deep tragedy, loss... and from that loss came perspective, and kindness, and understanding. Y'all can ask me anything as well, but my response is probably going to be the same for most questions:

Just be good to each other, there's nothing more important than that.


Q:

We don't do any of that at Griffith Observatory. I'm going to say something kind of terrible, but we don't do much to promote the Observatory because it is almost always packed. It is renowned for the heavy traffic up the hill and parking can sometimes be up to a mile away. (That's all JUST changed though with the addition of a public bus for 50 cents that connects to the metro, so we hope this will help things. It's only been about three weeks that the bus has been in service.)

We are free, so there is no money to be gained with a higher gate. And we have the benefit of being in a lot of movies and TV shows (you'd be amazed how many people wanted to dance in the planetarium after Lalaland!), and then finally, you can see the Observatory from pretty much anywhere in LA because it sits on a mountain 1000 feet above most of LA, so we're pretty well known out here.

Also alchohol is prohibited in Griffith Park. Griffith Observatory is owned and operated by the Dept. of Recreation and Parks, City of Los Angeles, so we don't have cocktail nights!

A:

The fossil fuel industry has successfully introduced the idea that ±2% is somehow the same as ±100%. Just as the cigarette/cancer deniers, did, only global and affecting billions rather than millions. Sooner we embrace renewable energy sources, the sooner we can bring the military home and be energy independent. Let's go!


Q:

Yes, I sued him, yes he paid me. I really appreciated it. I was young and had children and had paparazzi filming my home parked at the end of my drive. I was very scared, I wanted to sue them, but my attorney advised that I should take it to who was really responsible. I thought that made sense.

A:

YES!! The change is what I'll remember most as well! It was like going from one extreme experience to the other. It was like everyone became an inseparable family overnight.

FWIW, I was conflicted too. I was convinced to do this AMA, but I stayed anonymous because I don't need/want this to be a fame-generating event. I just wanted public awareness.


Q:

How do your work places get It's funding to operate every year?

A:

We've heard the chant of your name even wayyy over here in New Zealand. :) Just a small question. Favourite astronomy point in the night sky?


Q:

Do you think think this has affected how you speak of him now?

Not asking if he bought you off, but by repairing some of the damage and helping your life, did it helpe you move forward?

A:

Im so very sorry for the loss and trauma each of you experienced that day. I want to ask though, how do you feel when you reflect on Cho personally?


Q:

Griffith Observatory is a public institution and part of the gift agreement between the estate of Col. Griffith (who wasn't a colonel, but he called himself that!) was that he would give the park and the Observatory if the City maintained its operation. Col. Griffith had had such a revelatory experience looking through a telescope on Mt. Wilson that he wanted to share that experience with the public. He was quoted as saying "if everyone could look through a telescope it would change the world!" We agree! So our agreement is to provide telescope free of charge to the public. Most of our basic operation to fulfill the mission and the terms of the gift agreement is funded by public dollars.

Now, we do a lot more, and most of our discretionary spending is supported by a "Friends" organization, Friends Of The Observatory. Become a member! http://www.friendsoftheobservatory.com/

A:

Thanks for your support. I don't have a favorite (favourite). Saturn is beautiful. And, I am fond of the Earth's Moon.


Q:

I forgave him long ago, neither of us wanted what we went through. In 1977 my mother and I were the villains, now it's him, I just have empathy for being mistreated.

A:

It's hard for me being so close to it, to evaluate him in an unbiased way. Frankly, most of us refuse to even utter his name.

My roommate had a small intimate (12 person) creative writing class with him. He once stood up and basically shared a fictional free writing assignment about how he would murder people. So there were plenty of signs and cries for help that we should have all taken more seriously. My roommate still carries a sense of failure in that regard.

I still feel sorry for his family, and for anyone struggling as an outcast or with a mental illness, but as you can imagine, it's very difficult for me to muster any sympathy for him directly.


Q:

Pi.

A:

Hey Bill,

What are your thoughts on animal agriculture and the promotion of a vegan diet as to reduce our impact on climate change?


Q:

I'm glad you got your settlement.

A:

I can't imagine the pain that you carry everyday. In the ten years since this occurred do you feel people for the most part treat you differently because you were there?


Q:

oh good one. Can't top it (except maybe with ice cream)

A:

Plant-based diets are the future. I look forward to food preparations that are not "derivative bits," as we say in comedy writing. Instead of "coconut bacon," for example, I hope there is just delicious stand-alone coconut preparations. Cooking is a competitive business. I look forward to the emergence of new plant-based dishes.


Q:

me too, it helped alot during a scary and difficult time

A:

Not anymore. Definitely the first 2-3 years afterwards they did. It was impossible to get through a meet and greet without answering the "Yes I was there, yes I knew people questions."

But now that there's been 2-3 generations of Hokies go through the school since then, no one thinks to specifically ask "Oh, were you there?"

I usually don't volunteer the information that I was there, unless the topic of gun control or school shootings comes up, just to allow someone awareness in preventing them from saying anything they'd later regret.


Q:

Great to be on with you today Laura. The next time I'm in LA I'll let you know ahead of time and hopefully we can visit! I did just refer someone to you but cant recall who it was. Likewise let me know if you're coming to Philly. Cheers! Hey say Hi to Tony Cook and Ed Krupp for me please. Bye!

A:

Mr. Nye, How tall are you?


Q:

Is there anything in particular you'd like to say?

A:

Hi fellow Hokie. I was a freshman at the time. It feels so odd that the massacre was 10 years ago.

It was by far the most defining day of my life, as it was for many. At 18 years old I felt myself change from child to man almost overnight. How did you change, on a personal level?


Q:

By Derek and everyone who joined us. It was a lot of fun. Now I'm off to do my taxes....

A:

183


Q:

I would like to say investigate the judicial misconduct in this case. The integrity of our justice system should be placed above a single crime.

A:

<3

I have to say one of the best things to come out of that was how respectful and mindful future generations have been since we've left Blacksburg. Everyone time I've gone back to visit, there are current students there at the memorial paying their respects, reading the placards. It's nice.


Q:

what's the best food/takeout near griffith observatory?

A:

Where do you shop for ties? I grew up in a bow tie family. I want a Bill Nye Science Guy Signature Bow tie!


Q:

So what are you up to these days? You know, outside of the shadow of Roman Polanski?

A:

Did you know the shooter? If so, what were they like?


Q:

My regulars are Puran's for a nice meal, Mustard Seed to grab something quick and tasty.

A:

Check out Nick Graham. com. Consider buying our ties!


Q:

nothing crazy, mom of 3 grown men, grandma of one baby girl (that is super awesome) I do accounting and business management for work. Live back in Hawaii now, kinda regular stuff. But if I had the opportunity, I'd advocate for young women and victims of the media's cruel use of those who have been hurt.

A:

I had one class with him, but it had 300 other people in it so I never met him.

I knew two close friends (one was a roommate) that had small classes with him, though. They said he hardly ever spoke, and when forced to speak, seemed "angry but restrained."


Q:

I just had a shower thought about this the other day.

In tv shows and movies aliens are always depicted usually green lizards looking things. I know atmosphere and everything else would play a factor. But if we did find another life form what do you think they would look like? more like us or the movies?

A:

Hey Bill,

Do you think your TV show has helped or hurt the messages you're trying to spend? Does your reputation make people listen or tune out?


Q:

Glad you have a full and rich life. Congratulations on the granddaughter!

A:

Did you or any of your classmates encounter the sides of the internet that were either joking about the shooting, or glorifying Cho? How did you/they handle that?


Q:

Glad you think about think about these things at all times of the day. Almost certainly, if life exists beyond Earth the majority of it would be microbial. Life on Earth is dominated by microbes and in some sense, it's "easier" to create microbial life than it is for that life to evolve into the macroscopic creatures that we see here on Earth. Still, it happened here and if it happened elsewhere, you might imagine they would have mechanisms to sense the world around them, to ingest food into a favorable metabolizing environment and kick out waste, to move around in its environment (swim, slither, fly, etc.), to circulate nutrients, to control the signal flow among the parts ... in short all the things that help the organism survive and even thrive in feeding off its environment. From there, imagination wins!

A:

I hope people coming of age have a respect for the process of science in part because of my show(s). If not, I guess I've failed, but I did and continue to do my best. Checkout Bill Nye Saves The World, which starts on Friday on Netflix. There are 13 episodes. Binge 'em, and turn it up loud!


Q:

Thank you very much. The good, the bad, the ugly.... and then a granddaughter after 3 boys. I'm in heaven.

A:

Yes.

The Penn State ass clown that dressed as a "Virginia Tech Shooting Victim" as a Halloween costume that fall was probably the most faith I had ever lost in humanity, and several us were deeply offended that someone would find that as an acceptable halloween costume (myself included). Which was unfortunate, because Penn State in particular was enormously supportive as a school, and everyone realized that it was not reflective of Penn State as a whole.

Fortunately, he was universally condemned and even lost his job.

There was also someone who created a video game on newgrounds.com where you could re-enact the path as the shooter and murder named victims in the order he murdered them in. Just fucking disgusting.

Several of us emailed newgrounds.com admins but we never got responses. I don't know if it still exists today or not.


Q:

Hi Bill!! You're doing great work.

My questions for you are:

What is your favourite element and favourite subatomic particle?

What scientific mystery do you most want to solve?

A:

How are you enjoying being a grandmother compared to a mother? Seems like it comes with a lot of the nicer parts of being a parent, minus a lot of the worse parts. Congrats!


Q:

I had just graduated from PSU the year prior, moved to a state and a job with a ton of Hokies, and felt so, so, so goddamn angry and ashamed when that asshole did that.

A:

Favorite element? Don't have one, but I am fond of the compound water. In fact, now that I've sipped it, I don't think I could live without it. Subatomic particle? Not sure, but I'd sure like to know if there are particles associated with dark matter. Darkons?


Q:

Thanks, its amazing. It's been all boys til now, I hope we all do a good job with our little lady, we took her to our Women's March, raising her right

A:

I would too in your situation, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much our entire school fell in love with Penn State after 4/16. The support your school gave was just incredible. You gained several thousand Penn State fans for life.


Q:

Bill Nye! My AAAS membership led me to the IDP Career Test at ScienceCareers.org. I am 27 years old and am finally considering a college education. My top result is "Science Education for non-scientists" of which I believe you have ample experience. How would you suggest entering this career field? Would any specific college major help or will any science based major suffice? Would you ever consider letting an individual, such as myself, job shadow you for a couple days? Lastly, do you plan to attend this year's StarTalk Saturnalia party? I'm also a member of the Planetary Society and have to thank you and your team for your science advocacy! I look forward to watching "Bill Nye Saves the World"; keep up the great work!

Bonus Question: Have you heard of "The Show About Science" Podcast run by 6 year old (Yes only 6!) Nate Butkus? I would love to hear you interviewed on his show! You have been an inspiration since my youth; I know you'd inspire him also.

A:

So very commendable. I am very impressed with your character and grace. You have my sincere admiration. Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter - I hope you have many opportunities to impart to her your strength, integrity and wisdom.


Q:

April 15th, 2007:

I was struggling through my second semester of general engineering as a freshman at VT, I never planned on going to college, honestly I thought I'd be in Iraq with the USMC by that point in my life, but a wonderful hippy high school girlfriend talked me out of that, and I made it into VT early decision by the skin of my rural Appalachian teeth. I'd snagged a job at West End Market in the pizza shop with a gaggle of hilarious frat boys, community service workers, and some genuinely good people. One of them was Leslie. I remember how excited she was for her soon, oncoming 21st birthday that night, and she also lucked out into working the register that night. The cushy job, way better than the serving lines where students wouldn't listen as you called out their orders and it was a regular 90 degrees behind those catering racks.

We had just entered the evening dinner rush, so pasta, bread sticks, garlic bread, pizza, and calzones were flying off the serving line as fast as we could make them. Except strombolis, no one ever ordered those bready abominations. I felt a sneeze coming on, a pretty wicked one, and I managed to rub it off into my sleeve a few times, but I couldn't hold it any longer. So I had two options, blow aerosolized mucus all over the serving line, or turn and shoot it into the sink. I made the obvious decision.

Unfortunately Leslie also decided that would be a good time to run some pizza orders back to our pizza tossing guy, and, well, world's collided. I sneezed all over that poor girl, to that point she was without words, and I was completely horrified. Then she started laughing, not cursing, not yelling, but laughing. Because that's who she was.

I apologized, our group of misfits survived another dinner rush, and then I apologized again, because what else can you do in that situation? We finished cleaning up, I wished her a happy birthday in absence, and said I'd see her next weekend for our shift. One step closer to finals and finishing the academic year.

April 16th, 2007

Fuck. Fuck. I had an 8am geography exam that I hadn't studied for, thanks Mario Kart. But hey, I could do rocks, walked in, answered some questions, mic drop, time for some DX breakfast. On the walk up towards Dietrich Hall I noticed the unnecessarily large group of police cars gathered around West AJ, didn't think much of it, and got my biscuit and retreated to the comfort of Pritchard Hall, 7th floor. Then the emails, texts, and calls started. It was almost impossible to contact anyone that morning, every cell tower was over loaded. We all knew it was bad, but we just stayed in our lounge, where we could kind of see across the drill field to Norris, and waited and hoped for it to end.

I didn't learn the damage until about 5pm that day, but Leslie was murdered, as well as my friends Mary and Jarrett. I remember feeling numb for the rest of the day, my friends knew I was fucked up, and took me to Hokie Grill to get some dinner. I remember eating a Chic-Fil-A sandwich (no pickles) and losing it. All self control gone, just weeping without end into a goddamn fried chicken sandwich. My friends got me out of there as soon as they finished dinner and I just collapsed in my dorm room on the floor.

Every day I think about them, and every breath I draw I do the most I can for whoever I can. Because everyone likes to push the dead into sainthood, but those three were about as close to perfect as I've ever known. Kind, smart, and driven to help others. And that's how I plan to live and die, for those who had their lifes cut short.

And that's all I have to say about that.

A:

Be sure you can do algebra. It is a key to success in a technical field. I work in a writers room these days. If you want to do what I do now, look for a job as a television writer. Thanks for being a member of The Planetary Society. We advance space science and exploration. Let's know the cosmos and our place within it!


Q:

you are grace in a tough world

A:

Thanks for sharing this. Really glad that you and your roommates had each other that day (and the impossible days that followed). I didn't know Mary, but several people I've talked to that did seemed to just love the mess out of her.

I can't imagine what all of this would've been like if we had to go it alone. <3


Q:

Do you think the widely reported story that roman fled because he was not going to be given a fair trial was true or just an excuse? What would you like to see happen to him at this point if it were up to you?

A:

Gobbles in support Hello fellow Hokie, I am proud to call myself a part of Hokie Nation. I'm a recent grad of 2016, but people I meet in the real world always ask me about the shooting, even though I was only in middle school.

My questions, how often do people ask you about the tragedy and how does the conversation go? Is it the first thing people ask about when you say you are a Hokie grad?

(Thanks for doing this ama).


Q:

I know for a fact that the Judge Rittenband lied to Roman and his attorney, the judicial misconduct that occurred is beyond belief. Any person in their right mind would have fled rather that trust a Judge engaged in such bizarre behavior and who had lied twice before. There was to be no trial, just a plea deal broken by the Judge. I would like him to be sentenced to time served, in absentia if necessary, and then get an apology from from the DAs office after they are forced to investigate and the truth sees the light of day.

A:

Hokie Hi!

Hope the real world is treating you well :) I remember wishing I could just live full time in Blacksburg instead of graduating. VT feels like a young adult retirement community by comparison.

It's interesting that you get asked that question still. Since it's been so long, I don't get that question anymore. 2-3 years afterwards, people asked me it all the time though.

Sadly, I think since other tragic shootings have happened since then, it's not as much as a 'novelty,' as messed up as that sounds.

Being the "worst mass shooting in America's history" was both a title that we never wanted, and a title we never wanted to give up. So Orlando's nightclub was almost just as dreadful for that reason.


Q:

Do you make a personal effort to avoid Polanski's movies now? Do people around you do it out of respect? Hope you are well.

A:

Well said fellow Hokie.

I get asked about it when I travel to non ACC states most often. I had an intetview in Minneapolis and I was probably the only Hokie they met, so they asked me two questions: one about the shooting and where I was but the other, "But what is a Hokie?"

I went full-freshman on them and said "I am!" It's cheesey, but it was a venue to explain the unique community and sense of respect we have, especially as Hokie that wasn't there at that time.

Thanks for answering!


Q:

No I don't, I just have crappy taste in movies I guess. I loved the fearless vampire killers and the ninth gate, hated rosemary's baby, not impressed with Chinatown and never saw the Pianist. I think his style is to dark and hopeless for me. They are only movies, alot of good people work hard to make them happen.

A:

I still use the cheesy "I am" line too :) haha


Q:

You seem to have forgiven him. Was there any work you did around forgiveness? Writing? Meditations? I've had a hard timing forgiving many people in my life, but when I work on it I'm always glad to get closer to letting go. Thanks!

A:

What class were you in during the shooting? My friend Leslie was killed and for a long time afterwards I searched obsessively online for accounts of the specifics of how she died but never found more than a brief outline of the sequence of events.


Q:

you just have to remember that you are only hurting yourself by carrying anger and regret. I don't want to hurt myself, do you?

A:

I was on my way to a class in Squires, walking on campus. I wasn't yet inside any class room.

If you know which specific class she was in, it would probably be easier to find out details.


Q:

Do you still hold any ill feelings toward him, or have you forgiven him entirely?

A:

Wow! I was also there that day. I was a graduate hall director at the dorm next to West AJ where the first shooting was and one of our RAs was killed. My masters's graduation was 3 weeks away and it was the most depressing graduation with all the posthumous degrees. I know victims' families who were upset at how the President handled the incident for not cancelling classes after the first shooting happened and they had no suspect in hand. What do you think about the university's decision to not let him go? Also - I can't believe it's been ten years.! That day haunted me for so many years. I was able to visit campus a few years ago again and they've made permanent memorials that are really great.


Q:

No ill feelings period. We and our families have been through so much because of it. I honestly did not think it was a big deal in 1977 and was shocked to learn it was. What the courts and the media did to me, and now him, that's what's hard to forgive. I didn't have today's lens to look at what was happening then, it was a very different time to be growing up in.

A:

Sorry, maybe I'm mis-reading but I didn't understand the "not let him go" question.

I lived in East AJ my Freshmen year and loved the East/West AJ bridge. Many shenanigans were had.

I heard that they renovated both buildings and are spoiled with HVAC now! Can you believe those whipper-snappers??!


Q:

You didn't feel like it was a big deal at the time? Do you feel like it was a big deal now? Would you say that what Roman did has caused a lot of harm or pain in your life afterwards?

I saw in a lot of your other comments that the judicial case was a lot more traumatizing, which I can totally understand--one incident was private, one was very public...

A:

Hello there. I was a victim of a high profile shooting as well (I did an AMA couple years ago), and just wanted to say I wish you well. I hope you don't blame yourself for the deaths of others like I do at times. It's certainly had a terrible impact on my life in some ways and it's so weird to go through life with this invisible burden on me (or us). I don't really have a question, just wanted to wish you well. I guess my question would be that: how are you now? Are you living as normal a life as possible? Do you have any personal advice to deal with it? Obviously everyone deals with trauma differently, so I'm just curious how you deal with it since you're putting it out there. Thanks


Q:

I never had the chance to experience the rape, without all the traumatic events that came after, so I'll never knwo

A:

So sorry you've had to witness that :( And I wish you the best as well.

I'm doing very well, all things considered, and I count myself fortunate to not have been in any of the classrooms that morning.

I have a reliable well-paying job, best wife ever, and my first child due in a few weeks, so I certainly count my blessings. This time of year though, as I'm sure is the same for you every year, is just difficult to think "that was another year that friends of mine will never experience."


Q:

How did this happen to you? What were the circumstances that put you at risk where you, as a child, were raped by a man?

A:

Can you walk us through what it was like on campus that day?


Q:

hollywood, modeling, not a safe thing in 1977. Didn't seem like a risk at all, but then I guess you never know where the danger can be hiding

A:

It was winding down to be the end of the school year, but ramping up to be end-of-semester exams. Because of that, there had been a few bomb threats just the week prior because a bunch of ass holes were trying to get out of exams. So campus lock downs were still an inert annoyance, at best.

Legitimate police activity was no stranger to us either though, because an escaped prisoner had recently terrorized the area as well.

So when it was a blustery cold damp morning that Monday and students got another lockdown notice, we all just sort of discounted it as an isolated incident and mild inconvenience.

When details started to break of an early morning shooting in West AJ dorm room, we then felt as though actual facts had been married up to the campus email notice, but still weren't certain on the details.

I felt as though that wouldn't possibly affect my specific classes, so I began walking around 9am towards my class in Squires Student Center, which took me right by the drillfield and Norris Hall. As I was getting closer to Burruss/Norris Hall, I saw people running in the opposite direction. They were running in isolation though, there was no mass exodus or groups of people running. That detail in particular struck me as weird.

I continued walking towards the area, but just remember being mildly confused. It wasn't until I spotted someone I knew running the opposite direction that I knew anything was happening. I stopped him and asked why people were running. He said that someone with a gun was inside Burruss and started opening fire (he mis-heard, mis-saw, as it was actually Norriss Hall, nearby). So I hurried back to my apartment just off campus where my roommates and then patiently awaited information on the University's website and our email inboxes.

We were able to get more information through the grapevine of text messages and student emails emailing one another than we were the university itself. They were wholly unprepared to deal with something like this.

Eventually, around 10am-ish (if i remember correctly), we were told that the entire campus was closed, and that everyone should return to their homes/dorms. From that email until the first press conference that afternoon, it was a massive panic of who was where and "why haven't we heard from person x."

Once the press conference announced "approximately two dozen fatalities" everyone's entire demeanor changed, and the mood shifted from panic to "there's absolutely no fucking way this is real life right now." There was just a constant sound of emergency sirens running about town, empty fields turned into satellite truck farms where news van after news van would just pop up out of no where.

Everyone knew someone. It was like a scavenger hunt from hell trying to piece together who all didn't make it. The student body had pieced it all together before the news had announced anything, but it still stung just as bad hearing their names read publicly.


Q:

First off, a huge thanks for being involved in the "You Must Remember This" Manson Family podcast. It was an incredible learning experience about that whole time period and the overall vibe and mentality of the people who lived through it. I'm very happy to see how much you are enjoying your life with your family!

Since you went through so much with the media personally, are you trusting of anything your read or hear even from "reputable" new sources? Its great that you were able to move on and even forgive Polanski but I could understand if you turned out eternally frustrated with the "news" industry. I can't imagine they have ever apologized to you.

A:

How do you feel about that certain cards against humanity card?


Q:

my experience is if you don't see it hear yourself, you can't really believe it or judge. I am skeptical of everything, cause I know it can be 98% lies

A:

Yeah, I discarded that exact card immediately. I knew what I was buying when I bought it, but it hits too close to him, so I just leave that one out.


Q:

even though you have forgiven him, do you think he should return and serve time in jail if the court says so, or would you rather see him remain free?

A:

What's up Hokie, Hoo here. I remember our first responders in Charlottesville departing en masse immediately when the news broke, and I often think about what you and your classmates must have been going through and how surreal it all was. What kind of changes were made in your life the moment everything went down, and how have you approached even the smallest tasks in life with the memories you have?

I applaud you for this AMA.


Q:

He served the time he was promised by Judge Rittenband. He has since serve a total of over 355 days after his arrest in Switzerland. The maximum sentence would have been 365. He served what he was given and then was lied to by the Judge. I never asked anyone to put him in jail for a single day and certainly think he should never serve another day on account of a corrupt and celebrity obsessed judicial system in Los Angeles

A:

That week was the week I stopped "hating" UVA :)

I still make fun of them whenever I can :), but seeing the response out of UVa brought me to tears more than any other school. Seeing the bridge you guys painted orange and maroon. That was an incredible, incredible feeling. On behalf of every Hokie, thank you.

I'd say the most significant, small change day-to-day is probably just thankfulness. I find myself being more thankful for interactions with people that I would have previously taken for granted.


Q:

How did everyone find out what happened? Like did you tell your parents? How did they react?

A:

I can't imagine what it would have been like. My Geoscience professor was telling my class yesterday about his experience in McBryde 100. I'll be attending the memorial.

As an attempt to lighten the mood,

Are you surprised to hear that we are still suffering with the Empo here at Tech?

Q:

my sister overheard me tell a friend, then all hell broke loose. Our life was never the same

A:

The Math Empo was the most frustrating academic experience of my life. I can't believe they reduced human interactions to red solo cups on top of monitors.

I actually dropped my math empo calculus class... while IN THE MATH EMPO TAKING CALCULUS. I was that frustrated.


Q:

What can we do to stop this relentless digging up of the issue to just give you peace? I'd rather you live on happy and not have to deal with this constant emotional digging up of the bad thing that happened to you.

edit: and by what can we do, I mean as in political pressure, what judges / prosecution / mayors should we shame constantly to get this wider attention?

A:

I am a professor for a community college, and we have gone through a number of trainings and seminars to prepare us for an attack in the campus (gun related or otherwise). However, I find it annoying when I get criticized for coddling "snowflakes" with our safe spaces on campus. Frankly, I would rather have a student vent and talk about their issues with a coloring book and stuffed puppy than come shoot up my classroom.

My question is, what services do you think we should have on campus to help students with mental health issues? What can I do as a teacher to help my students (without being weird about it)?


Q:

Have DA Lacey stop objecting to roman being sentenced to time served (now 355 days) and investigate the misconduct in the courts and her own office that has been going on for 40 year. This is not just me, a corrupt justice system needs to be exposed! And thanks, I am mostly all good, I get pissed once in a while, but this is my life. What can ya do right? Culprits, Judge Rittenband, Steve Cooley, David Wells, Judge Espinosa. It is really on the DAs office to stop the cover up

A:

Great question that I'd like a solid answer to as well, but I'll try to answer it this way:

When I was distraught, shocked and grieving afterwards, I went to the Cook Counseling Center that offered licensed mental health professionals to students. I attended 8 sessions over the course of 6 weeks, was prescribed an anti-depressant, and came out of it much, much better. Once I was there, it was very easy. Everything worked the way it was supposed to: I no longer felt alone and scared, I got help from professionals, and assistance from medicine on an as-needed basis. None of that was difficult.

What WAS difficult, was just showing up. If we could find creative ways to remove the barriers of getting help, I think we'd be far better off. We need to start treating mental health the same way we treat the dermatologist: there's no stigma in going, and it's a small burden to remember to go every 12 months, but you don't feel "weird" for going.

However you can make students feel "normal" for caring enough about their mental health to just show up and ask for help is the solution we need.


Q:

Do you feel Sharon Tate's murder directly affected his ability to view the world morally? I certainly don't justify nor condone his behavior. But it must have drastically altered his life choices.

A:

I was on campus for one at NIU, a few months after VT. I remember a few people from VT sent messages to people through Facebook, and it meant a lot at the time.

I was fortunate to have not been too nearby (was eating lunch across the street and didn't see more than all the emergency vehicles arriving) and to not know anyone who was injured/killed personally. I did share a class with someone who was killed but did not know them.

But anyway, I know many of the feelings you describe. Every time I see one of these in the news, I'm right back there even though it was almost 10 years ago. I remember what I was wearing, I still have gloves that I spilled wax on during a vigil, I still remember that afternoon of not knowing. I don't think it's something I'll ever fully escape. My heart breaks that anyone ever has to feel the way I do or worse, because realistically, I was not directly affected. So many people have had to feel so much worse, to never really recover, or to not even get the chance to recover. I'm luckier than many, as much as this event still haunts me.

I'm sorry that you and your school and your friends had to go through that, too. I'm sorry that anyone does.

And because I think I have to ask a question and I don't feel like making it related: what's your favorite kind of cheese? I think I'm going to go with smoked gouda.


Q:

I really don't know him that well

A:

I'm fond of most soft goat cheeses, I think.

I remember the candlelight vigil we had at our memorial for NIU. It's terrible that these things keep happening. Just awful. It's like you're thankful that other people know the feeling, but at the same time you feel terrible that they even know the feeling to begin with.


Q:

How common was it to be into the occult back then in the counter culture crowds? Do you have distaste for the whole counter culture scene and how its romanticized now?

A:

I was on campus for a different school shooting. What I found most haunting was the sound of all the helicopters flying overhead. It was just like audio/video from the Vietnam War. What still haunts you about that day?


Q:

I think I may have been too young to have had a grasp or knowledge of that type of thing back then

A:

That, the sirens, and all the field lights for live remote broadcasts, yes. It was like living in a hot zone, I agree.

That part isn't too "haunting" to me, for whatever reason, but yeah, those audio visual cues stick with me as well--hope you're doing okay.


Q:

How do you feel about rape fetishes or people with rape fetishes? Have you met or know someone that you know has this certain fetish? Would you feel uncomfortable being around someone with this even if you didn't think they would hurt you?

A:

Hi! Thanks for sharing with us all today. After the shooting took place, was there any negative stigma against asians on campus? I was in elementary school in 2007, and as a korean, my mom didn't send me to school the day after the shooting in the fear that I would be subject to racial prejudice and hate.


Q:

Wow! Now that's a question. I don't think I know anyone with a fetish thing, but if I do, as long as they keep it private, I say your life is your life. But depending, if I knew, a rape fetish I could not tolerate, I foot fetish maybe. I guess it depends on the person and there "interests". I don't like to judge, but I certainly do sometimes.

A:

None that I witnessed or head of at all, no. That sort of thing never even crossed the minds of anyone I knew.


Q:

I was there as well. Engineering '10. I was in Randolph 2nd floor. I heard all of it. Do you have any remorse over graduating? Do you have any reasons you would have liked to stay? Not for college party like reasons of course.

A:

Yeah, graduating and leaving felt weird at that time. None of us wanted to leave after something like that. It felt like we owed it to the university and each other to stay. It was like none of us wanted that moment to define us or the school.

It was too late to apply/stay for grad school, so I left, but I sure wish I could have stayed a little longer.


Q:

Of the many victims, is there one you knew well or one that sticks out in your mind?

A:

Ryan "Stack" Clark.

I'm sure there the other 31 were just as amazing in their own right, I just didn't know them as well as Stack.

I had a few classes with Stack. I was in the marching band with him. I ate lunch with him. That guy was a beacon of hope in an otherwise uncertain world.

He was just so damn fun I can't even put into words how much his fellow friends cared about him. I never met a single human being that had anything but smiles to say about the guy.

He had a voice that could penetrate and soar over top of an entire football stadium of people. It was a surprise to no one that he died responding to help another person.

He was pursuing multiple degrees, majors, and minors, all as an undergrad. He also decided to work in the dining hall to support himself. He also did countless other charitable work. No one's quite sure how he managed to do so much as a college student that most of us won't accomplish our entire lives.

My first "college party" experience was traveling as a Freshman with the marching band to the 2003 game on the road vs Pittsburgh. After the game was over (we lost) and the band went back to the hotel, stack grabbed me from my hotel room and said "hey, some guys from the Pitt band invited us to a frat party, let's go." (He didn't even know who I was at the time).

We were driven to this basement party downtown, where a naked man was playing Billy Joel's pianoman on a baby grand piano, and a homemade punch of some kind that tasted like cough syrup was being served to anyone entering the basement.

Before I could even ask anyone's name, Stack had me swaying and holding hands with Pittsburgh band members, singing Piano man, and drinking horrible mystery purple drink.

That was probably my favorite of many memories of him, but it was also the first interaction I had with him.