Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nine Eleven 10 Years Later

Ten years ago Karl was in Bonn, Germany with his friend Debbie and colleague David Betsill.  David was part of a GIS workshop while Debbie and Karl were presenting a knowledge management workshop.  The participants were all from the Middle East and were taking part of Sandia's regional engagement program.  

I remember distinctly that late in the day one of the German hosts opened the door and announced that an airplane had struck the World Trade Center in New York.  I thought some idiot in a Cessna had messed up.  But some time later, she returned and said a second plane had struck the second tower.  Now we were truly puzzled. 

The workshop adjourned around 4:30 (remember, Germany was 6 timezones ahead of New York).  By then all the televisions in the conference facility were showing the awful events.  Karl and I ate dinner alone in a daze--Debbie and David understandably didn't feel like eating.  

We spent the rest of the evening in front of the TV in Debbie's room.  Fortunately, the vending machines on our floor had wine and beer.  By late that evening we had emptied them.  

Karl and I returned to our room and, of course, couldn't sleep.  At some point Karl thought to document what was obviously a world-changing event.  The photo above shows me glued to the TV as the terrible tragedy was replayed over and over again.  With all the airlines to the U.S. shut down, we had no idea how or when we'd get home.

E-mail messages instructed us to call Sandia's emergency operations center and our managers at their homes, since the Labs were closed.  You don't want to know what the phone bill was by the time it was all over. 

Debbie and David would finally be able to fly home several days later -- that was it's own kind of adventure.  Karl and I were eventually authorized to continue on to Vienna for another two weeks of work with the Action Team.  The world would never be the same again.