UVA's country cousin.

While in Dallas on business recently, I heard the sports news mention a "tech" basketball game, and I thought "What do they care about Virginia Tech?" Of course, they meant Texas Tech, but where I live, it means Virginia Tech.

[hockey Hokie]

I live in Charlottesville, about two hours northeast of Blacksburg. Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia, where looking down on Tech as the goofy country cousin of "Mr. Jefferson's University" has been a popular pastime for years. You can even buy T-shirts in UVA book and souvenir stores showing Tech students as gap-toothed hillbillies. Any football or basketball games between the two schools is a big deal; they even have a trophy for the most recent winner of the football game.

Plenty of people in Charlottesville went to and root for Tech, and any kid here who wants to grow up to be a veterinarian wants to go there, because they're famous for that. One of my daughters knows an undergraduate there studying "animal science," as they call it, right now. The guy who cuts down any dangerously leaning trees in our yard quoted Tech forestry research to me when we were discussing whether it's better to cut a branch off flush with the tree. I've never been to the campus, but my wife and daughters have when attending 4H-related horse events. Through one of those "whatever happened to" Google searches, I recently found that an old New York friend who was originally from Cleveland is now a sociology professor at Tech, and I'd been meaning to go with my family to one of the horse things and try to hook up with him.

When my UVA law school graduate wife says that she'd rather see our daughters go to UVA than Tech—and she does this often—I usually add "unless they want to study computer science." In the four years I've lived here, geeky news sites such as Slashdot or reddit have mentioned interesting projects at Tech several times, and I've never seen UVA mentioned there. Many of the victims Monday were computer science students.

Two weeks ago, while listening in the car to a solo acoustic 1971 version of "Ohio" on the new Neil Young live in Massey Hall album, I tried to explain something about the Kent State shootings to my older daughter. I told her how on the one hand it was soldiers shooting students, but on the other hand it was twenty-ish Ohio kids shooting twenty-ish Ohio kids, and what an awful landmark it was in America's relationship to its war in Vietnam. (I once heard guitar player Joe Walsh, a student there at the time, describe how he had many friends among both the students and the local National Guard.) I told her that while I'm sure it's still a good school that many kids aspire to attend, for many Americans the simple name of the school will always conjure up the shooting and one Life magazine picture in particular. I hope this doesn't happen with Tech.