Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow, part 2

So I have always wanted to marry a guy that drove a truck. It wasn't a dealbreaker criteria, nor was it a reason to be with somebody. But it is icing on the cake that J drives an F250. Especially when 11 inches of snow is dumped on our town.

I have known from the beginning that J was a hard worker and does whatever he can to help others. He didn't have anything to prove to me, but I was still in awe at all of his hard work dealing with the snow during the last three days.

J picked up a co-worker and me from the newsroom on Thursday afternoon after we were surprised by the amount of snow that arrived. After dropping my co-worker off, we stopped in Walmart for food supplies and a shovel. The roads got pretty terrible when we got close to my house, and J had to circle back. Even in his F250, we got stuck for a minute on a hill — that's how bad things were.

We finally made it back to a street close to my house, and he pulled in to park on the side of the street. He then proceeded to shovel out a spot behind his truck in an attempt to protect himself from getting plowed in. But when he went to reverse into the spot, he kept sliding forward and into the curb. So he just kept shoveling.

After more than hour of this, a neighbor offered to pull him out. At that point I went inside to cook a pizza and warm up. It was another 45 minutes before J came in. I asked him what took so long, and he said he stayed out there to help shovel the neighbor's driveway. Of course he did.

Friday morning he drove me to work, and then he picked me up that afternoon and took me home before going back to work.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to find him shoveling my really long driveway. It took him almost four hours. He did all of this even though my street hadn't been cleared and my car was still in a parking garage at school.

I can't believe he went to all of that trouble for not just me, but a neighbor and a co-worker.

Here's a tip: If a guy shovels three inches of snow after one date, it means he's OK with being on the hook for a lot more snow than that in the future. Although I'm sure J's relieved that he'll only be responsible for one driveway next winter.

Here's hoping that we don't get another six inches of snow this week!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow, part 1

Well, it has been a crazy few days, and there's nothing like a big snowstorm to make me love my job more.

On Wednesday, forecasters were predicting we would get 3 to 6 inches of snow on Thursday morning. As the early morning person, I decided to go ahead and go into work before my 6:30 a.m. shift started. When I left my house, there was not a flake of snow. By 9 a.m., it was coming down fast and complete with thunder.

Since the snow started after most people got to work, many ended up stranded as they tried to get home at midday when they realized it got bad. The interstate was shut down, there were cars and even buses stranded everywhere and the university ended up closing (a very rare event). By 3 p.m. we had 11 inches of snow — a much bigger deal than 3 to 6 inches.

It was the kind of day journalists live for. I was so busy managing our website and social media accounts, the first time I got up was to go to the bathroom at 12:30 p.m. (I did have a stash of food to sustain me.)

I was doing everything I could to inform our readers and share any information I had. I was tracking the MoDOT traveler map and sharing screenshots of interstate cameras. I was tracking everything people said about the snow using a hashtag. And I was trying to translate the information I was sharing with our audience on social media with those using our website. I was juggling so many things and easily had 20 tabs open on my browser, but those are the situations where I thrive.

Meanwhile, our outreach team was collecting people's pictures shared on social media in an easy-to-view format. This was our first experiment with the tool, and it turned out awesome. The team also had a Google map going that showed road conditions based on submissions from our readers and staff. All this stuff on our site was so popular, the site actually went down about 1 p.m. on Thursday. The tech guy got it up and running quickly, but it was a testament to how many people wanted the information we were providing.

I did make an escape about 4:30 p.m. to come home and get some rest before I went back bright and early Friday morning. On Friday, I did much of the same. What was cool was that people realized we were a good resource for information. People on Twitter started asking what we knew about road conditions at various intersections and roads around town. Using our Google map, MoDOT and anecdotal information from reporters and Twitter, I responded to each question. And that was my favorite part of the day. I loved that "direct" interaction with people and knowing that people turned to us for information.

This was one of those adrenaline-rush events that even though it is fun for me in my job is a pretty serious situation. Fortunately, there were hardly any accidents, and we didn't hear of any fatalities. But there were a lot of people stranded or students who had a long walk home.

But it was a reminder that the newsroom is exactly where I want to be during an event like this and that's what was missing in my time in Virginia. The bonus of this newsroom is that we got to do all of this stuff and teach our students how to do it at the same time. The downside, of course, is that two long days of hard work doesn't let me me off the hook for teaching class Monday morning. I'll be spending some time preparing for that on Sunday!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A year ago

I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately. It's at the bottom of my to do list right now, and I'm OK with that but I thought today was worth marking.

A year ago, J and I went on our first date. We had talked on the phone once, but it was basically a blind date. We met for dinner at Macaroni Grill, and it was one of those first dates where we never ran out of things to talk about. I didn't know then that a year later we'd be engaged, but I did leave that date looking forward to another one. And I'm so glad there were more dates after that.