Friday, September 11, 2009

A Moment Of Silence, Please

For all those who lost their lives eight years ago today........

Thank you.
I can't hope to come close to all the other remembrances posted on the Web today, so I won't try, but here's my little story.
I was working the night shift at the uplink for the #1 satellite TV broadcaster. Night shift was a combination of tedium and boredom. We set the schedules up on the video servers and compression equipment for the coming day, made sure all the transmitters and amplifiers were working correctly, made our "meter readings", and did our part for upgrades at the station, like pulling in new cable, moving equipment racks, cleaning tape decks, and stuff like that. Usually pretty quiet. The intercom burst to life from the Main Control Room, and we expected that it was for something that had failed, and needed to be put back on-line ASAP. The BOSS (Broadcast Operations Shift Supervisor) was yelling "TURN ON THE NEWS!!!", so we flipped the monitor wall to CNN, BBC, FOX, etc.
It was horrible.
Working at a Broadcast Center is neat because we have access to all the "Raw Feeds", and the stuff the on-the-scene satellite trucks are uplinking back to their respective networks. It's where you'll see the reporters in the field doing their "Air Checks" before they go live. Sometimes it's hilarious because of the comments they make that you don't see at home when your'e watching TV. Reporters with perfect hair, nice suits and ties, and then you'll see them wearing old ratty jeans and shoes when the camera pulls back.
Not today.
I ran out to the main control room, set up some receivers, and started swinging some of our "Wild Feed" dishes around to the satellites I knew would be carrying the live traffic from the field. Within a few minutes we were getting live on-the-scene traffic, and the BOSS patched it to all the 'local' TV sets on-site.
Utter pandemonium. Nobody knew what was going on, the reporters were in a daze trying to get info, and doing their best to fill in with what little was known.

Then the second plane hit.
Thirty-four minutes later the Pentagon was attacked.
Twenty-two minutes after that the South Tower collapsed.
Twenty-nine minutes after that the North Tower collapsed.

So far I've lived through three of those historic "Where Were You?" moments in time.
President Kennedy is assassinated
We landed on the Moon

I'm not very religious, but I hope and pray we never have to go through an event like this again.


  1. And a toast to those we lost...
    /Absent Comrades!

  2. Took me a day or two to find words, but they're easy in retrospect:

    Never again.


Keep it civil, please....