I can't turn off my mind after a day like today. I'm at home and in comfy pajamas trying to turn it all off. I can't so I write. And now I have this long blog. When I sat down to write, with the cranberry/pomegranate martini I made, I only had two or three things to say. Really...

before 1pm
I knew today would be a busy news day with President Obama in Denver & signing the stimulus bill. I didn't have to come in early though for the coverage so I had hoped it would all be running smoothly. When it all just comes together, the news crews do their stories and the newscasts go on as planned and my role on the desk is more that of a babysitter. It's like mom and dad have already fed the kids, showered and changed them into pajamas. I'm there to make sure the kids are safe and sound and get tucked into bed for sweet dreams. This is what I hoped for when I walked through the door of the station.

I watched all the live coverage I could at home and then listened to the rest of the President's speech on my way into work. During the live coverage there were glitches on the screen and outside my house the wind was howling and shaking the house. I knew the live trucks and wireless cameras were taking hits from the wind causing the signal disturbances. The radio station I tuned in even lost the signal for a few seconds as the wind tried to blow the big blue dodge truck I was driving to work.

about 1:30
The wind whipped around me while I walked a block and a half from the parking garage to work and my eyes watered. Bleary eyed I made my way into the station and upstairs to the newsroom. I knew wind would be a story we'd cover. I stopped at Jennifer's (producer) desk and asked for a kleenex so I could wipe my eyes to see again. That's when I heard my desk mate, Doug, shouting out that the fire was 100 acres with wind gusts of up to 60mph.

Ok. Now I knew we'd cover Obama, wind and fire for the rest of the day. I'd only been in the station for maybe 2 minutes. I got a quick update from Doug and other desk mate, Jason, and headed into the afternoon meeting. In this meeting we discuss where we are with stories for the 5 & the 6 and then assign stories for the 10. I learned the hits taken during reporter Kathy Walsh's live was due to the wind blowing the receiver off of the live truck. Thankfully, it wasn't broken and was reattached to continue with coverage. I was right on all stories to follow through the day, with the addition of being prepared to cover the Alex Midyette trial if the jury came back with a verdict.

Ready. Set. Go!

About 2:15pm
I log in at a computer at the news desk ready. I go over the assignment board with Jason so I know what crews have done all day and what they're expected to do for the rest of the day. We go over live shot plans together. I'm good to go.

I turned to my newest and favorite resource, Twitter, to tweet that I want to know if anyone sees any wind damage, like trees down, more fires, etc. Within seconds, I get a reply. I immediately tell the reporter and photographer of the report and they head out the door to check out a tree down blocking Logan near Yale. This news crew has also been assigned to head to Loveland to relieve the dayside crew covering the 100 acre brush fire, if it spreads or threatens homes.

The newsroom is loud as usual. People talking loud just to be heard over the rest of the talking and the shouting. Yes, shouts of updated information, of people holding on the phone line for someone, etc. As I'm typing updates and filling out live shot information sheets, I'm answering the phone so I'm multitasking pretty good. Then I get the call.

Around 3pm
A woman called and said she was an employee at Walmart in Longmont near Hwy 66 & Main St. She'd been evacuated from the store because a gunman was in the store. She reported SWAT had surrounded the building. She didn't want to leave her name so I thanked her for her call and hung up. As I'm hanging up, I'm shouting, "I have a report of a gunman inside Walmart in Loveland!" A couple of people heard my shout and stopped to see what was up and what to do.

I asked Jason to call Longmont while I called Boulder County Sheriff's dept. Neither of us got information. I was sent to voicemail. Jason was told the PIO was on scene and couldn't be reached. (A PIO that can't be reached is useless - that's a rant for another blog.) There was nothing we could do but send crews to Longmont to check the situation out. We can't report something like a gunman in a store without confirmation. We don't want to start mass panic.

This is where it starts to get really confusing. ALL of our crews are assigned to either President Obama or a handful of other local stories. I pull a photographer covering an event in Golden. Jason pulls a reporter covering a press conference at Mullen HS. I send a photographer from the station in the last available live truck.

(Sports wanted that last truck to help with their coverage of the AVs game. I see the exec. sports producer as I'm shouting at the photographer to take the live truck to Longmont. The sports producer looks at me and just turns to walk out of the newsroom. I shouted out an apology and he waved a hand in the air on his way out.)

Now it is a wait and see game. Wait for either the police to call us back or to have one of the crew members call from the scene. I'd tried to call Walmart but no one answered at the service desk, so I was pretty sure something was definitely happening.

It should have been time to take a breath, but wait, I forgot to mention in the chaos of trying to find crews to send to Longmont we received a call from the reporter at the Midyette trial. The verdict was in and going to be announced in 20 minutes. This just adds to the flurry and chaos of the newsroom. Producers have to change their rundowns AGAIN and decide which reporters to keep and which to drop from the show. There was just no way it could all fit.

During all of this I'm on the phone a couple of times with the Copter4 pilot to get updates on when the air space would be cleared and the copter could fly again. With so much going on, especially the fire, it was necessary to get the copter in the air. But, of course I understand, POTUS safety comes first and airspace would only be clear when Air Force One was safely on its way to Phoenix. (POTUS code word for President of the United States. I wish they would use codes like Optimus Prime, just to have some fun.)

Finally a reporter with contacts in Boulder was able to learn a little about the Walmart situation and it started to sound like it wasn't as serious as reported and may be cleared up soon. With this information I took a deep breath and watched as I received an email from the reporter at the courthouse to report the Midyette sentence. (Love blackberry's, iphones, whatever in courtrooms to receive up to the minute reports instead of having to wait until court adjourned like the old days when there was no such technology.) I shout the verdict out as I'm passing along new info to Longmont crews. I look up and see Jim going live from the newsroom camera with an update on the Midyette verdict.

It all kinda brought a tear to my eye as I see us all over several big and potentially big news stories. We have gone live with updates, run a crawl at the bottom of the TV screen, updated our website, and several of turned to Twitter to tweet updates. A couple of tweets even went out on a water main break in Denver. (On any other day a crew would have been sent to the water main break.)

Next a staffing issue for the night was brought to my attention again because the investigative reporter needed a photographer at a city council meeting, but I didn't have enough photographers for all the needs. It became time to do some fancy footwork, and yes even downright begging for a photographer to stay after on an already long day.

Don't know exactly where the time went...
By now it's a little before 5pm and someone in the newsroom reports that one of the stations just reported that someone had been shot inside the Longmont Walmart. WHAT?? Jason was just on the phone with the photographer that was sent from Golden and had been told there was no scene at all at Walmart. Jason was in the process of telling the photographer to check out the only other Walmart in Longmont just to be safe when the other station made this report. This really sent the newsroom into a flurry. We don't have a 4pm newscast like 2 of the other stations. If someone had been shot, we needed the information to lead the 5pm.

Within a couple of minutes the Longmont photographer called back because he found an officer at Walmart who told him what had happened. A man walked into the tire service area and asked for a Walmart employee and then made threats against that employee and said he had a gun. The suspect then left Walmart. But, to be safe, Walmart security and Longmont police were notified. The store was evacuated in case the suspect had gone in another entrance. Walmart was cleared, and the suspect was found in another part of town and was arrested. The suspect never had a gun.

Getting this information definitely caused a lot of fancy footwork and movement, but it was what had to be done. We had the facts. The station that reported the shooting probably reported one scanner report that went out reporting the situation. That report was wrong. We'd been ready to cover whatever scene we found, even if that meant no coverage at all. I'm just glad we never reported a shooting that never happened.

Finally it seems to be all settling into place. I finally have time to work on getting crews arranged for the night. I put a plan in place. I eat my microwave dinner and try to catch my breath.

At about 6:30
I felt completely drained. The adrenaline that had been rushing through me had seeped out my fingers. They felt heavy and overdone. I take some yoga breaths to calm my mind which is still going through every detail of the day. I come to when I realize I'm part of a conversation regarding the night. I'm told the city council meeting won't take as long as planned. I rearrange crew plans to let a photographer go home. What I thought was an agreed plan, turned out to be just a suggestion. The producer had valid concerns that the meeting would end early. If it didn't end early, the photographer at the meeting couldn't get back in time to get the lead story live.

I lost the lead live shot because the meeting went long. The reporter ended up being live from the newsroom camera.

Lessons & reflections:
-When I feel that drained I need to clarify even the simplest of conversations to not lose a live shot today.

-The vending machine should really have fresh oranges and other fruit instead of burritos and hot dogs. An orange would have done me wonders tonight.

-My hair wasn't a mess when I got to work even though I was tossed around in the violent wind. Before I left the house I pulled a scarf that belonged to my grandmother from my hope chest. I tied it around my head like she always did. (My husband didn't want to kiss me goodbye when I left because I looked like his grandma!) I've never done this before, but I'd spent 10 minutes on my hair and didn't want to waste that effort. Her scarf, that still smells like her, worked wonderfully. My hair stayed and didn't end up looking like I'd walked thru a wind tunnel.

-Grandma Baker lived through the depression and saved everything. She and Grandpa only spent what they had. In fact, they only ever used cash or check. No credit cards. These are economic plans we should learn and understand, on a day a massive stimulus bill is signed by President Obama in our mile high city of Denver.

I love you Grandma and I miss you.