Sunday, September 11, 2011


From the Usual Source.

Update, 1020 hrs:  Lex, strangely enough, uses the exact same one-word title on his 9/11 post... wherein he re-tells his "where were you?" 9/11 tale.  I strongly suspect the comments to his post will have many, many such tales before this day is done.  Here's mine, very briefly:
I came up out of the Montgomery Street BART station just a couple o’ few minutes after 0600 hrs, on my way to work at a web services firm where I was the Director of Site Operations. There was a gaggle of people watching a teevee in the darkened window of the Fidelity office on the corner of Market and Montgomery; I passed them by without looking. Someone burst into Starbucks as I was standing in line and shouted at no one in particular “The bastards flew planes into the World Trade Center!” There were maybe six of us in line and we all looked at each other and rolled our eyes… just another crazy person (there were LOTS of ‘em in SFO’s Financial District). The shouting guy saw our reaction and said “No! I swear! I just saw it on TV!”

I got my coffee and hurried upstairs to work, where I had my night-shift switch our large-screen network monitor display to CNN. It was around 0615 hrs…

We all stared at the TV incredulously for about three minutes and NO ONE spoke… we just watched. Then reality hit and we began to launch our disaster recovery plan, preparing to relocate our emergency operations cadre to an alternate location. The rest of the day was a blur…
Well, it was and it wasn't.  My boss, the Operations VP, hit the door to the Site Operations Center sometime just after 0615 hrs.  We had our alternate SOC turned up and working before 1000 hrs; in the interim we had implemented our emergency telephone tree and called everyone in the company, advising them not to come in to work.  Those few who did come in before our calls went out were sent home.  We also called all our clients and advised them we'd gone to emergency operations.  My boss, myself, and one other person remained in our main SOC to take what calls might come in for the rest of the day... mainly because there's always someone who doesn't "get the word."  Things got really, really quiet from a business perspective around 1100 hrs.  We didn't take a single business call all day.

You might wonder why an IT company went to emergency operations on 9/11, Gentle Reader.  The simple fact: we were located in a high-rise building in the heart of SFO's Financial District (that's a pic of my building, above).  No one in those early hours knew if the WTC and Pentagon were the only shots fired or if there would be more to follow.  We viewed ourselves... and our general location... as a prime target.  Thus: emergency ops.

The strangest thing that happened to me on 9/11/2001?  The Second Mrs. Pennington called me early in the afternoon that day, just to talk.  That was the first and only time that has ever happened.


  1. Always Buck, always.

    Spent a very emotional morning at church. It was hard to get thru and beautiful at the same time. All those hearts and minds turned to the same task - praying for the victims of 9/11 and for their family & friends.

  2. I can only imagine, Kris. I suspect the same scene is being repeated at hundreds of thousands of churches all across America this morning.

  3. Bombardier Learjet, Wichita. Building One, Position Two. Doing a Horizontal Stab mate and rig.

  4. I think I'm angry again this year. Really angry, and I can't figure out why.

    But, to show you how very solemn this day is, earlier today I was at an annual meeting of an all-female Krewe when the Captain called for a moment of silence in memory of the date's slaughtered. More than 800 women came to an immediate, dead, and lasting silence.

    That's saying something.

  5. Nice pic and title.

    We did not attend a church service this morning, but we did spend some time in remembrance.

    On 9/11, I got to work at the usual 0800 hours, without having any contact with news media before. All my co-workers were talking about it; I spent the day in mostly stunned silence watching the news on the internets. Being at a liberal institution of higher ed, there was discussion of "what did we do wrong?" to make those people do something like that. That still makes me sick.

  6. My mother was in the hospital on the morning of 9/11. She was on Staten Island, and you could see the towers from her window. She died on the 13th.

    We were not able to call anyone of our family during those first few days.

    I had worked in the WTC, knew a number of people who worked there. Lost some childhood friends on that tragic day. Lost people I knew from my church.

    I will forever be haunted by the smell as we got to about 50 miles away. An electrical burning smell. Seeing the smoke column rising so high above the skyline.

    We went down to South Ferry to look over the ravaged skyline. I cried.

    I had watched those towers being built. I marveled at the sheer size of them. I was in awe of them as I worked in their shadows downtown.

    Seeing Ground Zero a year later was even more devastating, as the footprints of the buildings brought to mind the enormity of the loss.

    I worked in the elevator industry, I worked on the equipment in those towers. The size was something that always amazed me. 14-16 foot high selectors, machines big enough to stand between the field pieces. They ordered the hoist ropes and traveling cables by the mile. I worked there after the car bomb attack, and saw the multi-floor hole and was amazed that the building still stood tall.

    I will always remember.

  7. 14 Cows for America11 September, 2011 20:18

    File this under I never knew!

  8. This is really weird, but I seem to take a day off of work, and some mass murderer pops-up. I kid you naught, I took the day off when OKC blew up, I took the day off on 9/11.

    I don't normally watch TV, but for some reason I turned it on and there was one of the towers with smoke coming out of it.

    My very first thought was, oh shit, how are they going to put that fire out! I didn't know yet, that a plane had crashed into it. After a few minutes, I understood, but I thought maybe it was like a Cessna or something. Still no suspecting of a terrorist event.

    As we know the second tower got hit, and it all made sense now. I understood, and the fire was not going to be put out. Too much fuel.

    I still have the memory of people just jumping out of the fire. I can tell you, that would be very easy for me, I hate even a sunburn, and would rather die any other way.

    I don't fully agree with everything that transpired since, leaning more toward a Dresden or Tokyo style response. I don't believe in plinking the enemy, I believe in Thermal Nuclear style responses, or at least fire bombs if they are available.

    I do not understand why Islamabad and Quetta still exist.

    I will always remember Chappie James when he finally retired from the Air Defense Command: "We have no Air Defense worthy of the name." The big vision of the DEW Line having been relegated to bases of junk 1950's airplanes. Going to an ADC base was like going back in time. I swear to God, they had 20 year Captains.

  9. My brother-in-law worked in a financial publishing house located about a block away from Ground Zero. He was in the area prior to the attacks. We knew this, and were concerned for his safety. We were unable to contact him until very late that evening. Fortunately, he was unhurt.

    To this day, he does not talk at any length about the experience. If asked if he was there, he will say, "Yes", but that's usually as far as he'll go in talking about it.

    He's an erudite man, a former freelancer for The Boston Phoenix when he resided here, so it's not a matter of his being unable to express himself. We respect his wishes, and don't push him for stories about his day. We figure he'll open up about it when he feels comfortable.

  10. Glenn: And work just went on as usual?

    Moogie: I experienced the full range of negative emotions yesterday, anger among them. I held to my vow to keep my teevee off yet I couldn't help but think long and hard on the catastrophe. There was a lot of reading on the blogs that didn't help my mood.

    Your story of the female Krewe is powerful, indeed.

    Being at a liberal institution of higher ed, there was discussion of "what did we do wrong?" to make those people do something like that. That still makes me sick.

    I would have had a HARD time dealing with something like that. Most of my colleagues at work in SFO were moonbats, but my boss and I most certainly were NOT. We were spared all the lefty angst because the only ones at work were he and I and one other guy... who was a closet conservative as well.

    Anon: Thank you for your story. It's particularly sad that your mother passed away so near to the event.

    14 cows: Thanks for that! I'd never heard the story, either.

    Art: I tend to agree with everything you said. Except perhaps for the "nuke 'em 'til they glow in the dark" thang. What goes around comes around. But I've also said that many, MANY times.

    re: ADC. You know I was in the radar bid'niz, right? I spent 16 years doin' that ADC thang...

    Jim: You and YOUR WIFE are wise not to press your BIL. Thanks for the story.


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