Right on, Skoob.

I am, as are we all, saddened by the loss of the lives on the Columbia, but it is not a personal tragedy for me. My feelings are no less valid, but they should not be sensationalised. Real people are dealing with real grief out there. Others are dealing with the fear that must naturally follow after great chunks of space shuttle fall in their backyards. That does make it their tragedy. Not as much as, say the children of the astronauts, but theirs nonetheless.

A fine example of this is the terrible bushfires which swept Canberra two weeks ago and are still wreaking havoc in the surrounding region. I did not lose my house, in fact the only thing I lost was a box of Bob the Builder chocolates. My childhood home and the current dwellings of all my immediate family still stand. I did not know well any of the four people who died. So this has not been my personal tragedy.

I have certainly been scared, and that is perfectly alright. Anybody who was in Canberra or had family in danger had every right to be scared, and it's also acceptable that I have had a few nightmares. So have many other people in Canberra.

I am not upset by the terrible things which have happened to my friends and acquaintances. I am emotionally exhausted from listening to their stories and feeling for them. I tend to get teary driving past the burt bits. I have even sat down and bawled my eyes out a few times. That doesn't make it my tragedy.

Some people survived just fine, but still had scary, life threatening experiences. Orpheum, for example, was in real danger. That makes it a tragedy he has experienced and survived.

Someone for whom the bushfires were not a personal tragedy is a man (if I may use the term loosely) who lives in the suburb, if you know Canberra, of Latham. Latham was quite a way from any fires and backs only onto other suburbs, not onto bushland. It is nowhere near the affected suburbs. He is still scarred by the terrifying experience of flying into an absolute panic and convincing himself that his house was going to burn down. He was so panicked that instead of stuffing his gutters with tennis balls, towels and plastic bags filled with sand or dirt, he used his new wife's favourite Calvin and Hobbes T-Shirt, which he cut up first.

The bushfires were definitely not his personal tragedy. Or even something that really had a damn thing to do with him. So why he is still telling us the dramatic story of his near-death experiences in Latham is beyond me.

Okay, sorry everyone, my rant is over and I will go back to my cave now. Have a lovely day and reflect on the fact that despite all the sensationalising, we are still human enough to be saddened by the loss of a small number of people we didn't even know. I think that's a good thing, and I'm sure it has to do with they way you can be yourself, emotions and all, on E2 without being embarassed.

Thankyou also to all the people who /msged me after I noded about the bushfires in January 20, 2003 and Canberra bushfires, January 2003 to express their concern and sympathy for those affected. Canberra, and Weston Creek, are small, friendly communities who have done so much to help each other over the last two weeks, and I think it's wonderful that another small, friendly community was kind enough to make a fuss over us. :) I love e2.