August 19, 2005

It was nice, for a change, to have been able to sleep with the windows open last night. It has been ages since we were able to do that. It was still a little bit on the warm side but not too bad. And the dog didn’t get sick tonight, that was really nice.

I had to get up early this morning and find a rental car for the week. I didn’t have any luck getting one here in Geneseo so I had to get one from East Rochester. But I can’t pick it up until this afternoon.

The weather finally broke today and it was nice and cool. It rained this morning which was very nice. Min and I had lunch at the Omega Grill, that is my fourth time there this week. I have eaten almost every meal at the Omega this week.

After lunch, Min took me up to Enterprise and I picked up a Ford Taurus SE that I will have until next Friday. I talked to the shop this morning and they said that my car wouldn’t be ready until late next week. There is a sensor that is needed and it isn’t expected to be available until at least next Wednesday. What a pain. Three weeks without my car.

I met with Craig this afternoon at The Spot downtown and had some coffee. We hung out until about 6:00 and then I headed down to Geneseo to pick up Min and meet dad over at the Omega. Yes, that is the second time today. And the fifth time this week.

After dinner, Min and I decided just to hang around the house watching the last of the sixth season of The Simpsons and also a Disney WDW Travel DVD. This travel DVD was one of the worst attempts at marketing that I have ever seen. The one kid, Luke, on the video looked like a high crack addict on his day off from selling Dell laptops to the cast and crew of Blue’s Clues. This video dramatically made me not want to go back to Disney World. I can’t imagine any marketing material doing a worse job at promoting something so easy to promote. All of the people in the video were completely inane and Disney didn’t even manage to find a cameraperson who was able to operate his handycam. The camera was jiggling and zooming in and out the entire time. And the highlights, according to the entertainment challenged hosts, of Disney’s 50th anniversary celebration are its… new movies. Um, movies? Who thinks that it is okay to go to Disney world and have the hottest new additions to the park – yes that is plural – to be just more stupid movies to watch. The last thing that I want to do is to fly to Florida so that I can watch a movie about California. If I wanted to see California, I would have just gone there. I live in this country, in case they didn’t figure this out. WDW is known for its rides. No one ever says “Man I can’t wait to get to Disney World so that I watch California state marketing materials. Maybe if I am really lucky, Whoopie Goldberg will show up and tell me why California is better than Florida and we are all stupid for having vacationed in a Republican state. Oh wait, they both are. Maybe she will just tell us why we suck for not watching Hollywood Squares.”

So here is a piece of news: a seventeen year old high school senior was killed today by a tiger while having her senior pictures taken. Oh, and did I mention that this girl lives in Kansas. Now this is one of those stories that really gets you thinking about how many stupid people have to get involved before something truly dangerous can happen to us. Let’s start at the beginning. This seventeen year old high school senior didn’t learn enough in her twelve previous years of high school to know that spending time in a room with a wild tiger is just plain dumb. Oh yes, did I fail to mention that she was having her picture taken with the tiger. This isn’t a freak accident like she was on a mission trip to India and decided to have her picture taken there and a tiger just happen to wander into the photobooth or anything. No, not at all. This girl’s family paid for an illegal animal handler to bring the tiger to the photoshoot so that their daughter could have her picture taken with a dangerous carnivor. Apparently, the school that she attends has made this into a tradition. They would appear to have handy access to a man who owns a number of animals and is more than willing to violate some safety regulations in return for a few measly dollars. Now, the first line of defense here should have been this girl educated by the fine Kansas state public school system. She should have had the common sense to take part in her own self preservation. This isn’t some big thing that she was trying to accomplish here. She put her life on the line for her crappy senior picture. What is wrong with this picture – pun intended. Then there is the school. Surely the teachers and administrators having attended college know the dangers and legal implications of having students spend time with animals intent on eating them. But the school hangs the pictures of students with the wild animals in their hallways as memorials to the blatant disregard for student safety, common sense and the law. Then there is the photographer. She didn’t think to stop anyone from letting their child die in such a ridiculous way? But what does she care, she makes a few bucks. It isn’t like it was her kid. But okay, students are stupid at that age, teachers really do wish that most of their students would be eaten by tigers and photographers and animal handlers have a seedy business to attend to – so none of these parties had real motivation for protecting these kids. But how did this girl’s parents get convinced to allow this to happen? What would make a parent think that something like this was okay? Now here comes the worst part. After all of these people made awful, careless decisions – the innocent party that really gets hurt here is the tiger. Of course the tiger had to be killed after this happened. The tiger who acted completely as expected. Of course the tiger wasn’t sick. Of course it wasn’t deranged. It is a tiger. Seventeen year old idiots are one of its favourite foods. These jerks have been dangling tasty treats in front of it for years just begging it to cross the line and have a delicious snack. And the flashing camera lights weren’t bothering it at all either. It isn’t like the tiger isn’t stressed here. So now this endangered animal has to be killed just so some seventeen year old loser can get her kicks – because she thinks its cool to have her picture taken with a dangerous animal. Won’t her friends think she is totally cool. How brave she is. Just like when she put that whipped cream can in her nose. Just like that time she smoked that crack. This will set her apart from the other losers. Now she will be the queen of cool. Oh wait, everyone else was jumping off this bridge too. She is just the one that landed on the rock. But personally, I think risking the life of an endagered animal for your high school thrills is a pretty rotten thing to do. Downright pathetic and bordering on evil. And just in case you think I am being too harsh just keep in mind that what was going on here was almost definitely a felony and manslaughter or worse charges are a very real possibility. This girl, like so many other “cool” students at her school was a willing participant in a crime that resulted in her own demise but also the death of a great cat. What a horrible, rotten girl she was.

Now to really rub salt into the wounds – students have to return to school shortly and see the walls of the school lined with pictures of other students with dangerous, endangered animals. Most likely, almost for sure in fact, there will be many pictures of students with that very tiger. How many students will be traumatized by this. Some will be struck by the awful notion that they had had their picture taken with that very tiger just hours before and there is the proof on the wall. They were just as dumb, just as cruel but just didn’t have their bullet in the chamber on that particular day. But now they will never forget the peer pressure that they created helping to steer this girl to her own end. Others will just be reminded of her, day after day. Others will have to live with the knowledge that that innocent tiger whose tortured pictures hang on the walls is dead thanks to other students in the school. And others, for whom I have no pity, will be hurt because they were the first to be robbed of the right to participate in the school’s criminal tradition. They might have been next in line and all ready to have their picture taken with the hungry feline. Maybe they are only juniors who were looking forward to having their pictures taken next year. All of those pictures lining the walls and filling the yearbooks. Everyone else got to be part of this long tradition. But not them.

The bottom line is that this entire scenario happened because a massive chain of people failed to care, obey the law or just think for one second. Obviously this was a horrendously stupid decision. And, just in case common sense didn’t work this out for you, the law was pretty darn clear on the whole thing. I am not saying that the law is always right. But for some people who shall remain nameless, having simple safety laws is a much better proposition that just guessing when it might be safe to cross the road. I’m not saying that I am glad that this girl was mauled to death. What happened in Kansas today was horrible. But what I am saying is that a number of people did really inappropriate, uncaring, illegal and, in reality, evil things. These people were bad. This girl was just another girl who gave into peer pressure. But when you give into peer pressure, when you give up your own decision making and let other people do it for you, sometimes life just carries you along and sometimes, just sometimes, the jungle eats you. It’s your decision. This girl, and everyone else involved, had every right, reason and opportunity to stop this entire thing from ever happening. But they didn’t. They all gave into peer pressure or simply greed. Now a girl and a tiger are dead. No one made these decisions for them. The parents, students, animal owner and photographer each bare their own responsibility for what happened. This wasn’t an unforeseen happening. Given enough students with enough tigers, bears, leopards and other animals that they regulary took pictures with anyone could have surmised that this was going to happen. No one knew when. These people were just participating in Kansas Roulette.

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