Wednesday, April 16, 2008

About breaking news

In my job as web site administrator for a Catholic publishing company, while most days pretty calm, certain news-worthy events cause us to spring into action. Papal deaths and elections being at the top of the list.

And I have a predilection for being on vacation as news breaks.

Three years ago, Pope John Paul II had been hovering near death for several days. At work we lingered near the TV (nearly always tuned to CNN), waiting for news. I was scheduled to head to Florida for spring break, with several family members. Loath to cancel my vacation, we instead made contingency plans for some long-distance workarounds, and I quickly trained a co-worker in several web and email tasks.

So of course: As we left the house for Indianapolis for our flight, it was not looking good for the former pontiff. At the airport, he was still with us. Just before we boarded, I called my mom and said, if the pope dies in the next couple of hours, call me and leave a message so I can get it as soon as we land.

Our flight plan was Indy to Washington Dulles, then on to Tampa. A thunderstorm in Washington put us on tarmac hold. With no news source. We were late into Dulles and missed our flight--along with several hundred other testy travelers.

And as soon as I deplaned and turned my phone on, it beeped. Sure enough, the pope had passed away while we were over Pennsylvania.

Then my phone started ringing. And ringing. As my co-workers, in the office on a Saturday, tried to get the web site updated and the emails sent in my absence.

That set the tone for the week. For even as we visited Busch Gardens, lounged at Clearwater Beach, and attended a Devil Rays game, stuff happened, and I had to deal with it long distance. So I was kicking myself our motel didn't have internet access (how did that happen!? never again!), and I had to haunt the Panera Bread nearby to get email and update web stuff.

And my phone would ring at very interesting times--near tiger exhibit at Busch Gardens, for example--and I'd find myself explaining "how-to" while watching tigers sleep, or while in line for a roller coaster. Or viewing the Budweiser Clydedales. Rather surreal.

Last week, it was a pre-news-event vacation. We spend that latter part of last week in Minneapolis, freezing and shopping (in that order). And the office was consumed with getting ready for Pope Benedict's visit this week. Luckily, I took care of most of it before I left; and the Radisson had free internet, so I could email and update with no problem (and no Panera).

It's a little crazy this week. I'm posting news and sending emails, and keeping in touch with our news team in Washington (later, New York). It's easy in the office, and at home too (thanks to my trusty Sony Vaio and Verizon FIOS).

And fun, especially when you hear stuff like this:

How about you? Are you following any breaking news?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, we apparently had a cougar roaming the very urban and granola streets of Roscoe Village yesterday. Of course, me with no TV, I read about it long after the poor animal had been cornered and shot. Good thing I wasn't down at my favorite wine bar Lush, three blocks from my house and on Roscoe, drinking a fine red zin. I might have come face-to-face with the biggest buzz kill ever!