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Daydreaming

When I was a kid in high school and while sitting in the amphitheater for school assembly, I use to imagine the school was getting attacked by terrorists and it was up to me to save the day.

I remember how I would do it and the small spaces I would climb through and the ledges I would jump off to get to my position of advantage to take out the bad guys, one by one.

I can’t recall whether these daydreams started before or after I had seen Die Hard for the first time.  Most likely before as Die Hard came out when I was in year 11 and I am sure I had rescued the school and all of the teachers and students a hundred times before then.

It was definitely before Sean Astin saved his school from terrorists in 1991’s Toy Soldiers, which is well before he became a hobbit.  I still think that the producers of that movie tapped into my daydreams and stole my idea, though I didn’t have Louis Gossett Jr. in my daydreams which is a shame because he was so cool back in the ’80s and ’90s.

So back to reality and fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, I have never had to face off against terrorists and save the day.  I did once chase down a bag snatcher which you can read about here, but other than that, my heroic days have been few and far between.

I wonder though what I would do in such circumstances.  Have I seen too many movies where the good guys win and save the day? Does this really happen in real life?  How many reports do we see on the news where the day hasn’t been saved?

The attacks on 9/11 and Bali prove that sometimes terrorists get what they want and even if John McClane or Casey Ryback or Jack Bauer were real and available they probably would have been able to do bugger all about it.

Yet we do hear of good news stories where terrorists do get stopped but it is generally by the agencies responsible for keeping us safe.  The Mosman Bomb Threat is one recent example even though it was only an act of terrorism against one person.

I would like to think that if there was no one else specialised to do it, that I would stand up and fight against anyone trying to cause harm against my fellow man.  Perhaps if more people stood up and said no to crime, the world might be a little better place to live in.

Luckily terrorism in my neck of the woods is rare and we live in relative peace in Australia.  We have criminals, as does every society, but I think the major crime saving days will still be on the big screen with the score conducted by James Horner or Hans Zimmer and the credits roll at the end.

I’m not ready to prove that what I think is a reality of me saving the day in my mind is actually a one-way ticket to that giant big fluffy cloud in the sky with my last thought being, “you dickhead, did you really think you could make a difference, did you?!”

But if that day comes though, I will try and make that difference.  For now, I’m quite content to daydream about it.

What about you.  Did you ever daydream of battling terrorists at school or have you had these daydreams as an adult?  Would love to hear from you.

911 – You Suck as a Number

We all know that the emergency contact number in the United States is 911. That’s great information for when/if I ever get over there and when/if I ever have an emergency while there, but I was thinking about the actual number itself.

Nine. One. One.

Other than the zero, you couldn’t get two numbers further apart from each other on a telephone key pad.

So you don’t have to look at your phone to see what I mean, here’s one I prepared earlier.

I want to know who the genius was who decided that in an emergency, the two (different) numbers you need to dial are so far apart?  It is an emergency for petes sake.  You want to be able to dial the emergency number as soon as humanly possible.  You don’t want to have to take a cross screen trip from one side of the number keys to the other.  This is valuable time and time that could mean the difference between living and dying!

Sure it’s only a fraction of a second but I would like to have that fraction of a second up my sleeve in case I need to use it later.

I might have a bullet about to hit me and that extra fraction of second I used dialling 911 has left me with no time to dodge. Boom! I’m dead.  Damn you 911. If only you were a little closer together on the keyboard, I could have that time back again. Now it’s too late.  Dead or injured cursing the guy who invented the 911 sequence as my world turns into eternal blackness.

In Australia our emergency contact number is 000.

Yep, due to Aussie ingenuity we have the 3 essential numbers that we need, all in the one spot for rapid dialling. No cross number key pad detour required.

This is why the murder rates in Australia are so much lower. We have that extra time to call emergency services and dodge bullets.

000 – Carry on.  Great work so far.

911 – You suck! Take a long hard look at yourself and pick up your game!

Please rate this post out of 5 stars and leave a comment if you feel compelled. Thanks for reading!

I Remember – 9/11

On September 11, 2001, the world lost its innocence when terrorists crashed hijacked airplanes into The World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania.

This is my story of where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news.

I was living in Sydney.  It was around about 11pm and I was preparing to go bed when my best friend Dave called me and told me that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York.  I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centre was.

I turned on the television and was confronted with both buildings on fire with smoke billowing out of each building.  The reporters were explaining that terrorists had crashed commercial airliners in each building.

Images of people crying and watching in horror at the scene unfolding before them occupied the screen.

My mother was staying with us at the time and she had just gone to bed.  I decided pretty quickly that this was the biggest story in the world for the last 50 years so I woke her as I felt she would want to be watching this event as it unfolded.  I tried waking my wife but she was too tired and couldn’t be stirred with some gentle persuasion.  She slept through the night.

Reports were saying that there was another aircraft uncontactable and another hijacking was possibly taking place.  I remember thinking that this is just the media sensationalising an already sensational event.  Not long afterwards the news feed from the US was showing an explosion at the Pentagon which ended up being one of the hijacked planes reported not long before.

Then images I thought I would never see in my life filled my screen.  At first I couldn’t believe that people were jumping from the buildings.  I remember thinking why the hell would someone jump from a 110 story building.  What terror were they experiencing to not even wait for rescue?  What were the conditions like in the bulding that they would rather jump to a certain death?

It was heart wrenching.

Not long after, one of the buildings appeared to be getting swallowed up in a dust cloud.  I said to my mum that it’s collapsing.  She said that it couldn’t be.  Within seconds it was confirmed on live TV.  One of the buildings was collapsing, floor by floor and in no time at all the building had completely collapsed and all that was left was a dust cloud and a pile of rubble.

The images of people running and screaming from the collapsing building are permanently imprinted in my mind.  I’ll never forget it.  Their looks of anguish and horror and uncertainty.  These people on the streets didn’t know what was happening.  They weren’t watching the news like we were.  Most wouldn’t have known that this was a terrorist attack.  They were running for their lives, uncertain that their next step could be their last. They weren’t running from the buildings.  They were running to their future.

During the first hour or so of watching this destruction I was on the phone talking to family and friends, sharing our fears about what was going on.  Fearing for those still in the buildings and acknowledging those who had died.  Talking about what must be going through the minds of the people on the planes as they smashed into the buildings and for those who saw the planes coming their way.

Then the second building collapsed in the same way the first had done earlier.  New York was now a war zone.  A huge pillar of smoke and dust and grit covered the iconic city.

People were covered in dust.  They looked like they were from an alien planet.  Some were injured.  Most were simply scared.

Then news came through that a plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  At the time we didn’t know if it was connected or not but it had to be.  As history tells us, the passengers on this plane fought back against its hijackers and paid the ultimate price but they saved thousands of lives in the process.

I eventually went to bed around 3am.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer but watching this historic event unfold was too important to miss.  The replays of the planes smashing into the World Trade Centre had been permanently seared into my brain.  Even nine years on, as I write this article, I can still see each image as though it was being replayed in front of me.  It is something I will never forget.

I woke at 6am after a few hours of shut eye and went straight to the TV for the latest news.  Hoping that there were no more hijackings.  Luckily there wasn’t.  I woke my wife and told her what had been happening.  She was shocked and appalled at the news.

The next few weeks all anyone could talk about was the tragic events of 9/11.  The images of George W Bush when he was first told while reading at a school.  Mayor Rudi Gulliani fronting the press each day.  The scene of the firefighters hoisting the American flag amongst the rubble.  The pride of the Americans for their firefighters, when so many of them and many police officers died in the line of duty trying to save those in the buildings. 

These are images I will never forget.

The thing to remember from this is that while almost 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, thousands more have died since in the War on Terror, both those from the Coalition of the Willing lead by America, Britain and Australia but also those Iraqi’s and Afghan’s who have died as well.

Australia has lost 21 diggers in the war in Afghanistan including Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney who died last month.  His funeral was held yesterday in Brisbane and on the same day, his wife gave birth to their son.  A son, that Lance Corportal Jared MacKinney will never see.

The impact of the attacks on 9/11 will be felt for many generations to come.  I will never forget and I would like to dedicate this post to not only the people who died on that day, but to all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice since then and for those who will unfortunately pay that price in the future.  My heart goes out to your family and friends as well.

Thank you.

Do you remember where you were when you first found out?  What did you do that day/night?  What were your initial thoughts?