Tag

Wyndham

What Defines A True Friend?

By life, rants

One year: With certain things, it seems like an eternity, and with others, it seems the blink of an eye. A year ago this month, I was finishing out my last days of high school. It seems like forever ago. I’ve changed and grown so much in so many different ways over the past year since I left Deep Run. More than anything, I’ve gained a true sense of identity for the first time in my life. I know who I am and am on the fast track to determining my purpose in life.

One of the biggest things I’ve discovered is what defines a true friend. Looking back on my high school days, I had many people in my life who kept me around simply because I was always there and someone to use as a backup plan for everything. I was always someone who was at everyone’s beckon call. I was way too available and never too busy to give anyone some time. I guess I’ve just always been a nice guy. Too nice. I was played like a fiddle.

I was always the one who someone would call when there was nothing better to do, and I was always fun to be around until someone better came along. I was the victim of one-sided friendships in which I put in all the effort and made all the plans. Now that’s not to say I didn’t have a group of real friends, because I always have. However, there were many people in my life who completely took advantage of me.

In recent months, I’ve kind of segued into a new core group of friends. They’re some of the most caring, compassionate, genuine, and sincere group of people I’ve ever met. It seems a lot of the people I put myself around in the past, and even some who are still friends to this very day, are just complete downers, are negative, or just hold me back in general. I find more and more after being around this positive, spiritual, forward thinking group I have now that some of the other people in my life are just dragging me down.

A true friend is someone who is genuinely interested in what’s on your mind and in your heart. They’re excited for you when you’re excited. They’re there for you when you’re down. They support your endeavors and dreams and build you up. That’s what I’ve found in this amazing group.

However, this has also given me great hindsight to see all the things true friends aren’t and to see all the negative influences that I’ve had in my life. They’re not just someone who sits impatiently as you’re speaking, thinking about what they’re going to say as you talk. They’re not someone who cares only about themselves or what you can do for them when they do nothing for you (oh I could write a book of stories on this one). They don’t get mad over things that don’t make sense and then choose not to talk to you when you make a genuine effort to resolve the so-called problem and even understand what silly thing they’re upset over in the first place (that’s immaturity if I’ve ever seen it). They don’t just expect you to be around at times of their choosing and then aren’t ever available themselves when you want to hang out. They don’t belittle you, constantly mock you, or talk behind your back. These are actual examples of some of the people who have been pulling me down in recent days. This post is just the beginning, too. I have some stories, going back to fifth grade, that I’d like to share with you in the near future that will really give you some insight into what happened that year that shaped me into the person I am today. Simply put, it was moving to Wyndham that year. Oh, the stories I have to share.

I have big dreams, goals, and plans for my life that I’m actually coming to the realization of. One long-time dream of mine is already coming true. It’s amazing to see it in reality. I guess you could say I’ve just started to realize what matters (and what really doesn’t) in life. It started a few months ago and I really feel I’ve entered a new chapter in my life. I’m so happy to have found friends who fit the new productive, goal-oriented lifestyle I’ve chosen to live and who build me up, not tear me down like so many people have in the past.

I’d say it’s time to weed out the garden, so to speak, in terms of who matches up with what I want my life to be and who just drags me through the mud. Sorry, those of you who I’m speaking to have done it long enough, and I refuse to live my life that way and be such a blatant fool any longer. I’m finally truely happy with where and what I am in life, and man it feels good to be in that place for once, after being beat down and defeated so many times in the past.

 

Tornado Outbreak: Suffolk Devastation & Colonial Heights Déjà Vu

By news, Uncategorized, weather

Fifteen years ago, in 1993, a strong F4 (winds of up to 260 MPH) tornado touched down in Colonial Heights, destroying the Wal-Mart store and killing three people, before tearing through Petersburg’s historic district. Well today, history seems to have repeated itself. A moderate tornado touched down in the exact same shopping center (Dimmock Square, near Southpark Mall). Is that eerie or what? I was only five years old the first time it happened, but (strangely) vaguely remember seeing it on TV. The Dress Barn and Target stores suffered blown out windows and minor roof damage, but for the most part there was no extreme structural damage.

It was a different story in Suffolk this evening. The same line of storms marched eastward (and strengthened considerably as they did so) and proceeded to completely flatten a portion Suffolk’s historic district, then went through a golf course community and completely wiped large, substantial homes clean off their foundations to the point where all that was left was a concrete slab beneath. This part was especially eerie to me because the neighborhood looked very similar to mine (Wyndham) from the aerial shot.

Suffolk is completely devastated. It looks like an atomic bomb went off the way the homes literally exploded with the extreme winds. At the time I’m writing this, there has only been one person confirmed dead, but unfortunately, it would be miraculous if the death toll didn’t rise, by the looks of the flattened neighborhoods. Hopefully it won’t, though. Virginia is no stranger to tornadoes, but usually experiences much weaker ones than this. This was extremely rare. Keep your thoughts and prayers with the Hampton Roads community during the aftermath of this immense, widespread natural disaster.

I find all of this very interesting since most of you know how much I like weather and storms. I flipped through the local news channels and hooked up my Comcast digital box to my Mac to record everything as it happened. Here are some screenshots from the live broadcasts I recorded from NBC 12 (WWBT), 8 NEWS (WRIC), CBS 6 (WTVR), and WAVY 10 (WAVY) (NBC affiliate in Norfolk, via live streaming on-air web simulcast).

1993 archive video footage of the destruction of the Southpark Wal-Mart (WRIC)

Meteorologist Jim Duncan advises citizens to take shelter during a tornado warning (WWBT)

Aerial image of Dimmock Square Shopping Center (perimeter highlighted in yellow) and the adjacent Wal-Mart store (now a Sam’s Club) that were both hit by tornadoes that followed the exact same paths in 1993 and 2008 (Blackwood Development Corporation)

Cars were tossed like toys in the Dimmock Square Shopping Center parking lot, in front of Target (WWBT)

A house suffers extreme damage in Suffolk (WTVR)

A Suffolk antiques shop is cut in half with almost no visible damage from the front or rear façades, but obviously the historic building is a complete loss (WAVY)

 The owner of a car dealership snaps a picture through the front windows of his business as a huge tornado barrels through Suffolk (WAVY)

West Chase House Fire

By Uncategorized

This house, in the West Chase subdivision just outside of Wyndham, caught on fire Monday evening. Although the woman who lived there was badly burned (after safely escaping she went back in her burning house to save the family pet), there is an amazing story behind who pulled her out. This story just reaffirms my belief that there are no coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason. A friend of mine, Rachel Rainer, took the photo at the left that ended up in the paper. Article via the Richmond Times-Dispatch (more photos from me follow the article at the bottom).

Two Henrico County advertising executives have emerged as the Samaritans who dashed into the burning inferno of a home to try to save a woman’s life Monday night.

“Thinking about it now, it all seems like a dream. I’d never in all my life pictured myself in this sort of life-and-death situation,” said Barry Martin, the first man inside a fully engaged house fire in the 12100 block of Jamieson Place in Henrico’s Wyndham subdivision. “I never knew I had it in me.”

The victim, career nurse Jo Ann Casazza, remained in critical condition this morning in the burn unit of VCU Medical Center, in a medically induced coma.

The fate of Casazza now hinges on the skill of the doctors and nurses at the burn unit — and perhaps on a higher power.

It’s a belief in that higher power that her rescuers discovered they held in common.

Martin, founder of The Idea Center advertising agency, and Brian Gordon, who works at The Martin Agency, had never met until Monday.

Martin had set out that night with his 9-year-old daughter Mira to put his family dog down, Buddy. Gordon was just looking for a good place to have dinner with his girlfriend.

Martin and daughter Mira stopped to pray at the family church, Mount Vernon Baptist, after the dog succumbed, and set out for home. Gordon, stumped for a dining spot, paused at a Nuckols Road intersection, wondering whether he should turn right or left.

Then Mira saw a throbbing orange glow of light from the house fire. Gordon saw the image at the same time and the two vehicles changed direction and headed together to the light source.

On the lawn of the Casazza home, a crying girl and a screaming, petite woman, Casazza’s mother, were the picture of abandonment and lost hope.

“We heard that the woman had been safe but ran back in to save a family pet,” Martin said. “It was a very strange feeling after Buddy.”

Martin frantically tried to call 911 but misdialed, at first hitting 411. It was about 7:30 p.m. He had been thinking about how to pull himself out of the despair from the lost pet only to be suddenly confronted by another life-and-death situation on a grander scale.

“I just ran into the house. The front door was the only opening, and black smoke was just pouring out.”

Inside, the victim presented a daunting challenge.

Casazza was literally burning up before his eyes.

She was large, and “her skin was literally fused to a rug in the foyer,” Martin said.

When he pulled on her wrists, “the skin just pulled off. It was a gruesome thing to see.”

Suddenly, Gordon burst into the home and together the two men pulled the woman free of the house on the rug, dragging Casazza all the way to the street.

“I will never forget the people who had gathered there, and this terribly burned woman in the middle of the street on a rug with just terrible, terrible burns,” Martin said.

“I tried to comfort her: ‘Have faith. God is with you and you are going to be all right,'” he said.

“Do you mean it? Do you mean it?” Casazza answered.

Martin said he heard Casazza to describe how the family Christmas tree may have ignited. And then she was gone, carried to the hospital by rescue workers.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Times-Dispatch.