Brokaw/NBC Operation Yellow Ribbon Re-Airs

A local official stood in the front and said, “If there’s anything you need, anything at all, just ask and you will be taken care of.”

Helaine and I are watching the rerun of “Operation Yellow Ribbon,” the Tom Brokaw NBC documentary about the 7,000 passengers stranded when their planes were forced down in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. I wrote about this earlier when we stumbled upon its first broadcast during the Olympics. Back then we were well into watching before we realized what we were watching. Not so this time.

We cried again. It was just as poignant, just as sweet as the first time.

The people of Gander showed the kindness you hope mankind is always capable of. In one scene, as the passengers were being shuttled from the airport on a school bus (driven by a striking driver who came back because of the emergency) a local official stood in the front and said,

“If there’s anything you need, anything at all, just ask and you will be taken care of.”

As a passenger later added,

“There’s not one person we’ve come across that hasn’t offered to help us. It’s overwhelming.”

Since my blog was one of the few places this program was originally mentioned I’ve heard from some of those involved including Bev Bass a stranded 777 pilot, Diane and Nick the transatlantic couple who met in Gander and Shirley Brooks-Jones.

Shirley has set up a scholarship fund for students at the Lewisporte Collegiate School where many passengers stayed. As soon as I get the proper contact info I’ll post it here.

Why My Blog Traffic Exploded Today!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google

On March 11, 2010 NBC announced this documentary would re-air. More details here.

My blog is my entertainment. I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing how many people read what I write. Recently that number has been between 1,200 and 1,500 page views a day. Not too shabby, especially when you consider it’s never been mentioned on-the-air during our newscasts! Today I’m at 9,000 11,621 and counting!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google.

brokaw-google.pngI watched the Tom Brokaw documentary about Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001 tonight (and wrote this about that remarkable doc). On a Saturday afternoon there aren’t too many people writing abut what’s on TV, but there were a lot of people interested in this documentary.

When I ‘publish’ an entry word is automatically sent to Google and its competitors. My pages are in Google’s index in minutes. Usually on popular topics I’m drowned out by more powerful websites. Today, if you searched for “Brokaw, Gander” this site was number one or two (it changed during the day).

I experienced this once before when I wrote about Ashlee Simpson’s lip sync debacle on Saturday Night Live. My East Coast entry was up early and pulled lots of traffic. As Sunday progressed and the story was picked up my search position kept falling–as you’d expect.

This Brokaw doc brought thousands of page reads for both the EST and PST showings!

The second traffic driver was an entry I wrote in 2004. A friend sent me a note about terrible storm damage in California. Attached was a photo of a deck chair on its side. It was pretty funny.

Today someone on attached directly to that same picture with a link reading: “Tsunami damage photos begin trickling in, not for the weak of heart (” I guess that was funny after Hawaii prepped for a tsunami that didn’t come.

I only ‘saw’ that traffic by accident. Since Fark’s link was directly to the photo it didn’t register through my normal counting mechanisms. It was only because of my checking on the Brokaw doc that it was caught.

Linking directly to a photo without linking to my site’s content is like running your house off my electricity! That upset me.
Luckily it’s easy to command this server to redirect photo traffic to the original entry.

They still get a joke and now a little of my site too. I can live with that.

By Monday my traffic levels will return to normal.

On the other hand, links from other sites plus Twitter and Facebook mentions will help Google think more highly of me. This is how traffic is built.

Tom Brokaw’s Gander, Newfoundland 9/11 Lookback

Back here in the family room I was crying like a little baby. OK, I’m a soft touch for crying, but this real story is a real tear jerker.

On March 11, 2010 NBC announced this documentary would re-air. More details here.

Helaine and I were watching Olympics coverage this afternoon when Tom Brokaw was brought on to introduce a feature piece about Gander, Newfoundland’s part on September 11, 2001. I already knew much of the story. Helaine hadn’t heard any of it.
From Gander Airport’s website:

On September 11, 2001, 39 heavy aircraft were diverted to Gander International Airport when airspace was closed in the United States because of tragic terrorist hijackings. Runway 13/31 was converted to a temporary aircraft parking ramp. The airport terminal was turned into an aid centre as food and clothing was distributed to stranded passengers. The airport and its surrounding community afterwards received high praise for their response to the tragedy.

gander airport 9-11-01.jpgAll of a sudden Gander’s 10,000 residents had 7,000 guests¹!

The piece started slowly. At two minutes in it was obvious they’d buried the lede, until I realized this was no two or three minute piece. Brokaw and team had produced and NBC was showing a full length documentary!

It’s a shame to say if NBC had told its audience they were about to see a full length documentary they would have bailed in droves. They probably did anyway in which case they missed a truly wondrous story.

There are few superlatives to describe how kind and generous these Newfoundlanders² were. They opened their schools, homes, and wallets.

Back here in the family room I was crying like a little baby. OK, I’m a soft touch for crying, but this real story is a real tear jerker.

In the crush of news this 9/11 story was mainly lost. Without this Brokaw package it was destined to become more obscure. I was surprised at how many abandoned links I found while trying to find some interesting quotes for this entry.

Mostly the Twitteratti seem to agree with my assesment:

  • cukawen : Watching the brokaw special on #gander on 9-11-01…all I can say is wow.
  • porcupineridge : Great NBC/Tom Brokaw story on Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11 ground stop. Why can’t I find it online?
  • villageous : Just saw Tom Brokaw’s report on Gander, Newfoundland. Compassion people everywhere showed that day truly is lasting legacy of 9/11.
  • trs614xc : this tom brokaw segment about Gander, Newfoundland’s response to grounded flights on 9/11 is one of the most touching things i’ve ever seen
  • RoccoDeMaro : Tom Brokaw is a legend. But his never-ending, meandering piece on Gander / 9-11 felt like a trip to my wife’s grandmother’s house.

Thanks Rocco. There’s one in every crowd!

I agree with “porcupineridge.” Why can’t I find it online?

¹ – To say Gander is rural is an understatement! I landed there for refueliing on a westbound Overseas National Airways DC-8 transatlantic flight in the mid-70s. We flew in over a deep pine forest without seeing a sign of civilization. I figured we’d see the town on the way out, but again, nothing but pine trees until we were back over the Atlantic.

² – Originally this entry contained a less elegant nickname describing Newfoundlanders. Brian J. Mallard of Memorial University in St. John’s told me, “The majority of us do not like the term.”
My apologies to anyone offended. It was a poor attempt at showing affection.

Sh*t Happens

When do you first know you’re coming down with a cold? For me it’s that moment when I realize my mouth tastes like I’ve been sucking on a crowbar (not that I’d actually know). That happened Wednesday evening. From then on, it’s been downhill.

This time it’s not just getting a cold. For the past two days nearly everything that could go wrong did!

My Internet connection had been slowing down. We have so many computers and devices spread around the house, finding the real culprit becomes very hard. By last night, there was virtually no connection at all.

I spent a half hour on the phone with Comcast (where in India is Newfoundland?) with nothing to show for it. It might not be their problem.

Meanwhile, at work I had pushed the button to lower the volume on the TV near my desk. The button fell directly into the set! Now you can raise, but not lower the volume… well, once.

Also at work, the computer which displays weather watches and warnings decided to disregard two warnings. I was watching, actually more anticipating, so we only missed by a few seconds, but it was frustrating.

With thunderstorms in the area, I asked some friends who were going to dinner to bring something back for me. They went to Friday’s. When I opened my dinner, it was someone else’s leftovers! That’s a first.

Since I hadn’t gone out, I went upstairs for coffee from the machine. The cup was leaky. No problem, I just double cupped… except I didn’t realize it would continue leaking. All it took was me tilting the cup back as I went to finish it for it to pour on my white shirt… about 30 seconds before air.

And then, of course, there’s the cold. I tried to just grin and bear it, but acquiesced to Sudafed at 6:00 AM.

Last night, knowing I wasn’t going to be better before I got worse, I sent an email to my bosses asking if someone could fill in. I called midday, no email had been received!

I think I’m better off staying in bed today, even if I didn’t have the cold.

Blogger’s addendum: I have the Internet working again. I left the modem off all night, though I’m suspicious the real fix was replacing the cable between the cable modem and router. Meanwhile, it’s the first thing that’s gone my way today.