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Harsh Winter

February 3, 2014

"Women sometimes forgive a man who presses an opportunity, but never a man who misses one."
-Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Another week, another round of harsh weather for the WSAZ viewing area. My commute to work last night and back home this morning was easily the most dangerous driving I've had to do this winter, even though the temperature was near the freezing mark as opposed to sub-zero as it was at times over the past two weeks. A heavy, wet snow started to fall in the Huntington area last night, leaving a coating of fluffy snow on my car and slush on the road.

Now, to be sure, slush is better than ice, but there's a fine line between the two. Traction was extremely difficult at times, and it caused multiple wrecks on Interstate 64, including one involving a police officer this morning whose cruiser wrecked and flipped over. He ended up being okay, but it is a morbid part of my job to write about things like that and then crop accompanying scene photos to post online, particularly when the outcome of a given situation is in doubt.

Television news producing is not for the mentally weak. I love producing and there's a reason I got back into the business, but whatever elements of the dark triad are in your personality are drawn to the surface once you've been producing (or reporting for that matter) for very long. There is no time for empathy or remorse or lack of self-confidence with this gig, at least not on the clock; you almost have to compartmentalize all of that for when your shift is over. Too many people are counting on you as a producer to hit your deadlines and to make decisive calls on the fly in the midst of a live broadcast to allow emotions to cloud your judgment.

Between the severe weather that was moving through during the newscast and the thousands of people still without running water in eastern Kentucky (also weather-related with the yo-yo temperature swings doing a number on the water lines there), we were slammed today. That is highly unusual for the morning after a Super Bowl, which is normally brutal for producers because of an overall lack of news story options both locally and nationally.

There is a time-honored tradition in the business to cover pizza shops and delivery drivers on Super Bowl Sunday, in large part because that one day is extremely chaotic and challenging for them and also because there is often very little else going on at that time. And while it makes for an interesting (if not recycled) narrative, repurposing it with a today-based angle for a Monday morning newscast is not easy at all.

The Super Bowl pizza story is in the rotation of stories you will usually see every year, along with 4th of July fireworks, Black Friday lines, etc. I saw my first Super Bowl pizza story from the inside in January 1998 when I was less than a year into the business, and that was more than 16 years ago and doesn't count similar stories I'm sure I saw before then. But this morning, for once, I didn't have to run a pizza story.

As for the Super Bowl game itself, I was pulling for Peyton Manning to get another Super Bowl ring, but I'm not disappointed that the Seahawks won. Sports fans in Seattle have been through a considerable amount of torment since the Sonics won the NBA Championship in June 1979. That's almost 35 years without a championship.

I remember how it was for lifetime Bucs fans in Tampa in January 2003 when the Bucs won the Super Bowl and how excited they were after years and years of futility. The Bucs came into the league the same year as the Seahawks, 1976, so tack on 11 years to that along with bitterness over Seattle's loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL in February 2006 and the departure of the Sonics for Oklahoma City a few years back and you have a sports fan base in Seattle that will be ready to celebrate on Wednesday. And rightfully so.

One great thing that the Super Bowl outcome gave me is this treat, which was sent my way when I was en route to Las Vegas on New Year's Eve last year:

The funny thing is that I was just going with what had as its projected draft order, as through the years with Draft King I've learned that people tend to get really bent out of shape over projected draft orders in many cases more than they do over what I project about a given player or even a given team's needs. But now I can use it for my amusement in perpetuity.

If I could predict the future on who was going to win the games, I wouldn't have come back from Las Vegas last month. But that's not the case, yet you would think that I've insulted someone's family by the vitriolic reactions I get, even after I go out of my way to make it clear that the projected order is for demonstration purposes only.

But, as always, people see what they want to see. That is one long-lasting truth you can count on staying firmly in place.

With the always-interesting advertisements during the Super Bowl, forget the $4 million/30 second national offerings. This ad by an attorney that aired locally in Savannah, Georgia trumped them all on a number of levels. And, no, I don't know why he was hitting a tombstone with a sledgehammer while surrounded by a ring of fire. You'll have to figure that part out for yourself.

Along with enjoying the Super Bowl over the weekend, I managed to catch up on sleep. After work on Friday morning I was like my Droid when it gets down to Blinking Red Light Mode. I might at well have had an icon popping up in my periphery telling me I needed to charge up immediately.

Somehow, miraculously, over the weekend I managed to get an inordinate amount of rest. Working overnights and living the life I live makes sleep a tricky thing, as anyone who has spent much time on the third shift can understand. It's a constant schedule shapeshifting.

And what turned out well is that not only was I able to get fully charged up on sleep, I managed to time it to where I woke up right before the Super Bowl started. I had enough juice to enjoy the game, get ready for work, then handle my shift with energy to spare. That was refreshing and considerably better than several of my past attempts at the Super Bowl/overnight work shift combo. For once the execution matched the intent and thought process, which with sleep is never a sure thing.

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