March 5, 2001 PROBE

March 05, 2001

DEFINING COOL — You ask for a definition of "cool." I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. Bill Gates of computer fame is cool.

He was on stage serving on a discussion panel when the earthquake hit Seattle. He didn't panic. He just stood up and calmly walked off stage…. — Cool, Calexico

And he remained calm — at least until he got out of camera range. That was cool.

We have family in the Seattle/Olympia area so we have some exclusive earthquake stories for you.

Our grandson, James Rowland Farmer (we call him J.R.) was at Capitol High School in Olympia when his world shook.

He was in a room with a couple of other guys.

One immediately assumed leadership. "Stand in the doorway!" he yelled.

"Dude, that's a sliding glass door," objected another youth.

The self-appointed leader barked, "Go outside!" sliding the door open and shoving his buddy through the still-in-place screen door.


That was not cool.

J.R.'s mom (and our daughter), Patricia, was at work at Characters' Corner, a restaurant on Steamboat Island Road, 10 miles northwest of Olympia.

She was talking to newlyweds who had a romantic story to tell. They had dated in their youth but got separated during World War II.

The 80-something groom said, "I searched until I found her."

"What took you so long?" asked Patricia just as the tectonic plates collided.

"Wow!" Patricia said after the 6.8 temblor subsided, "You sure made the earth move for her."

That was cool.

After the quake, there were reports of injuries at the high school. The phones weren't working. Patricia left work to go to the high school to check on J.R.

It took three hours to get there. Before she could make the return trip, emergency officials closed the northbound lanes of Highway 101.

That was not cool. Or maybe it was.

QUESTION: It's been a tradition to post flags in Calexico in the downtown area on patriotic holidays. Why do they take the flags down on the same day when the sun goes down? Why not wait until the next day to show more respect for the holiday? — Patriotic, Calexico

Leaving a flag flying in the dark is considered disrespectful of the flag. You can leave the flag up at night only if you have it illuminated by lights.

EVERYTHING WE COULD — We did everything we could for that young man. We help the mentally ill, the homeless but when you're threatened with a gun, you don't fool around.

The church, not the pastor, decided to get the restraining order. — Central Baptist, El Centro

Isn't it possible everybody overreacted to the situation?

It is our understanding that there were no threats until the young man was asked into the pastor's office where he was out-numbered four to one. The pastor said he asked three men to be there as witnesses.

Under such circumstances, almost anybody would lose his cool and become belligerent.

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