Wednesday, December 20, 2006
To-do list: Call mom; chase snowstorm
This is about the challenge of getting to a snowstorm.

But first, indulge me, and hear a little confession from a 46-year-old man: Just about every morning, when I can manage it, I call my mother. I tell her where I am going.

This time, I said, first I thought I was going back to the Chicago bureau. That got changed to an assignment near Texarkana. That got changed to a story in Amarillo. Then to Dallas. Finally to Denver.

She's incredulous. "Your job is nuts!" she tells me.

I didn't argue with my mother.

The truth is -- my job at CNN is to be flexible, to move with the news as it changes, and most importantly, to get there. As Woody Allen is reputed to have once said, 90 percent of life is just showing up.

Sometimes, that ain't easy.

Currently, a powerful storm system is about to blanket the nation's mid-section with rain, ice and snow. We've got crews coming together from at least four different cities. We're coordinating with our travel department so we can all meet up and get to the story. Everybody is Blackberrying everybody. We've got a plan. We're on the move - at least in theory.

I had been stuck in the airport all morning, but as I text message this blog, the pilot tells me we are about to take off ... got to go.

3:41 p.m. update: Now in Dallas. The commercial flight we booked to fly to Denver got cancelled due to bad weather.

The latest plan is to hop on a charter with four co-workers. But first, I need clothes. My team makes a mad dash to a Bass Pro Shop near the airport. I pick up a fleece jacket, thermal underwear, waterproof gloves. The things I just didn't bring to Texas.

Now a Blackberry message arrives from one of our West Coast crews. They're heading to the storm, too. The producer who writes the e-mail issues a challenge: Which team will get there first?

My mother continues to be accurate.
Posted By Keith Oppenheim, CNN Correspondent: 11:41 AM ET
  33 Comments
Ho Ho Ho Keith! At least you'll have a White Christmas. I think the flexibility of CNN reporters is what keeps the stories so fresh. That's what keeps us watching. Thanks for all of your hard work and please be safe. I hope everyone at AC360 and CNN has the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years! I'm looking forward to another great year watching all of you!
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 12:05 PM ET
Hi Keith, I enjoyed your humorous blog, it was very refreshing. I congratulate you on calling your mom every morning. A word of advice from a mother of 5, don't tell her if you're going somewhere dangerous until the danger is over, even though I know she'll probably yell at you later about why you didn't tell her where you were going!
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 12:11 PM ET
Well its important to remind travelers to be safe this coming week, for the love of God please dont sensationalize this storm and scare everyone out of their minds. Truth be told, about 30% of the drivers out there can deal with snow, the rest panic even during flurries and muttle up the interstate.
Posted By Anonymous Zack, Charlotte, NC : 12:47 PM ET
Hi Keith,
I'd hate to disagree with Woody Allen, but I think it's 10 percent of life is just "showing up," 90 percent is wondering why the heck you went..This is the time of year that we all sit, stand or loiter in lines..My theory is relax, work on the "to do list, call mom, chase snowstorms," and listen to some great Christmas music..There's a beauty to Silent Night and Grandma got run over by a reindeer being played over and over and over..Happy Hoildays and safe travel. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 12:52 PM ET
That's funny. At least, you can never say that you had a boring day at the office. I think it's cute that you call your mom every day. I always tell someone where I'm going too. Just in case...Now I know where the snow is. I'm in the province of Quebec,Canada. We always have snow by now and freezing our little butt but we had a trace of snow at the beginning of december for about 3 days(in wich time I managed to fall and hurt my arm badly, that's me!). Now, we are going to have our first green christmas and it's hot! Give us back our snow!!!!
Happy holydays to all the bloggers, AC360 crew and Anderson. Thank you for a beautiful year.

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 1:01 PM ET
It's great that you call your mom every morning and keep her updated on your whereabouts. Not a lot of people have the good heart to do it like you and the rest of us do. And please be safe in the snowstorm - it's dangerous out there. And even knowing that, I'm jealous ... I'm so frustrated with having 60-70 deg weather down here during the holiday season!
Posted By Anonymous Sudipta, Snellville GA : 1:02 PM ET
Hi Keith,

Better you than me. Wear your woolies. And I agree with the comment that you don't need to be completely candid with your mother. My daughters sometimes wait until after the fact to tell me something that they think will worry me. As in, when you were in NYC you took the subway at midnight! What! She didn't want to worry me.

Stay warm. Ciao!
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 1:28 PM ET
Hi Keith, What a thoughtful son!! Your mother must be very proud of the work that you do and even happier that you think of her each day.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn MI : 2:10 PM ET
Welcome to Denver - a.k.a. the North Pole today!

Your flight will be one of the last to come into Denver today! Travel safe!
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Denver CO : 2:30 PM ET
Something in your last paragraph is humorously reminiscent of Captain Planet's "Planeteers" -- remember them? Perhaps holding your BlackBerries up to the sky in unison is in order? Just a suggestion.
Posted By Anonymous Wendy, Dresden, Tennessee : 2:30 PM ET
I think Mr. Konigsberg (aka Woody Allen) said it was "80% percent of success is just showing up." I suppose the 10% increase is 21st century inflation-adjusted. :-)
Posted By Anonymous Rene, Fairfield, Connecticut : 2:35 PM ET
Hi Keith,
Safe traveling and hope you and everyone at 360 and CNN have a wonderful holiday and we will be watching Anderson on New Years eve.Looking forward to another great year watching 360 and CNN.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Belvin Richmond,VA : 2:45 PM ET
I got all excited reading that headline, thinking Anderson has blogged before taking off for Christmas. No offense, we just haven't heard from him for a while.

First, let me say Keith, you're a good guy for calling your Mom. From experience, Moms, and sisters too, worry! It helps to know where their sons and brothers are. That way if a plane crashes and you know they are no where near there, your heart can start beating again. As for the snow, you won't get any sympathy from me; I'm waiting for the white stuff; tired of muddy brown landscapes and Christmas is supposed to be white. It's a rule!

Thanks for keep us informed and spending hours waiting in airports to get to your destination. You are to be commended, that part would drive me insane. Enjoy the white stuff while you're there and everyone have a happy holiday.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 2:59 PM ET
Hey Keith
Well your job sounds really interesting and actually quite enjoyable. Its good to hear that you at least try to contact your mom and tell her where you're going, even if it is 5 different cities or locations in one day. CNN reporting seems like a pretty cool job. I'm only in high school but I would like to be a news journalist some day. I look forward to your report tonight, have fun with the snow... we don't have any here yet.
Posted By Anonymous liz toledo, oh : 3:14 PM ET
Thank you for posting-- and for covering the stories that you do. I think that the Heartland/Midwest area gets overlooked a lot of the time in favor of bi-coastal sensationalism instead of real stories of real people. But you guys work hard to bring those real stories to light. Thank you for that. Hopefully they will get you all home for the holidays.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Chicago, IL : 3:52 PM ET
Seems like your producer failed to plan ahead and send you to Denver last night. Bet they can find a 'local' to cover the 'white out'. Hey, what was the story in Texarkana? Take it from a mom, skip BassPro and phone ahead for some real Rockie Mt. high outdoor survival gear, in case you get there.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 3:55 PM ET
"The commercial flight we booked to fly to Denver got cancelled due to bad weather.

The latest plan is to hop on a charter with four co-workers."

And the reason you think your charter would be better able to handle the weather than your commercial flight would be .... ??
Posted By Anonymous Brett, Columbia MD : 4:01 PM ET
Hey Keith! I guess one can never really get away from their mother can they? I know if I was heading into a bad storm and didn't let the ole mom know, I'd never hear the end of it! Your blog entry sounds like a script from The Amazing Race (except there is no million dollar prize for getting there first). Good luck, stay warm, and stay safe!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 4:21 PM ET
All the contingencies just for a live shot of the weather. How about the satellite shot and a summary and on to... oh, right, never mind.
Posted By Anonymous Ben Sayre, Madison, Wis. : 4:49 PM ET
Hi Keith,

Well, I need to say thank you! So, at least I am not the only 40-something out there who still call's Mom everyday. It makes us both feel better to talk, and I know she worries less. You are a good kid.

Please saty safe and keep your mittens on. Thanks for all you guys do (and give up) to keep us well informed. It is very much appreciated.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all at CNN and at AC360.

I'll be watching.
Posted By Anonymous Pati McMillan, Camp Hill, PA : 5:50 PM ET
You're a good son to call mom! I hope you make it there first. A good challenge will get your creative juices flowing. Good luck.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 6:46 PM ET
Aren't moms great!!! They always seem to get to the heart of the matter rather quickly.

Happy and safe travels.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy - Chicago, IL : 7:33 PM ET
On behalf of Moms everyhwere, Thank you. Talk to your family while you still have them. Those little "Hi, Mom" and "I love you" calls are priceless. Keep your feet warm.
Posted By Anonymous Jane-Ann Davis, Jackson, TN : 7:49 PM ET
Keith, for heavens sake (and your mother's) stay where it's safe. It's just snow and wind. I could never figure out why that was newsworthy. It's supposed to start clearing Thursday afternoon and by Friday we'll be plowed out and back to normal. The best course of action in a storm like this is for EVERYONE to stay home so that emergency services aren't wasting time and energy trying to rescue people who didn't need to be out and about in the first place.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Parker, CO : 8:45 PM ET
For some the lucritive nature of their job allows them to find their comfort zone. Be effective influence is like dry wood.
Posted By Anonymous israel, raleigh, nc : 12:16 AM ET
it is refreshing to know i am not the only one calling mom. but being a mom on the other end of the phone call is a different experience. my daughter called while on her road trip from Philly to LA. she was in nebraska. map in hand. wanted to know should she head south to denver to come home or go to cheyenne cause she heard about some bad weather. i said go north. she is now in Reno, hottubbing away her joy at missing her first blizzard. sometimes moms are right. keep calling her. i am sure she loves it!
Posted By Anonymous cathy Los Angeles, CA : 2:13 AM ET
Lucky you.... I miss my mother and wish I could call her. We lost her in 2002.

Give your Mom an extra hug from me and happy holidays
Posted By Anonymous Jules, S. lake, NJ : 2:59 AM ET
Great, we finally expierienced what winter used to be like, now let's just see what happens in the summer!!!
Posted By Anonymous Tim Chaych Omaha : 4:39 AM ET
Thanks for calling your Mom! That's terrific! My sons try to call home too when they can, but it's hard from Baghdad. Love you guys at CNN and always on the move. Merry Christmas and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Sheryl Cyphert Harrisburg PA : 8:59 AM ET
why not rely on LOCAL REPORTERS IN DENVER? When a local blizzard strikes here, the last thing we need are more newsfolk out on our roads!
The local news reporters know the area and local story better anyway.Use our local reporters for this short term story and get sent to impt places outside the U.S. where we need and rely more on nat'l reporters for updates!

P.S. Here in Denver we don't often get snow, so the city doesn't own that many plows and as a policy, the city won't plow sidestreets. When we do get snow, it is often over a foot,melts partially each day unplowed, then ices over every night and the last thing we need are more visitors driving around on our treacherous streets.
Thanks for what you do internationally but please don't come to Denver when we have a snowstorm!
Posted By Anonymous Robin Cohen Denver CO : 1:10 PM ET
Glad I flew back home to Denver from San Diego on Tuesday nite! I might be snowed in - but at least I'm at home and not trapped at an airport somewhere! By the way, I have an 8' fence in my backyard - the drifts are so high - sometimes, I can't see the fence!
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Parker, Colorado : 2:28 PM ET
Most touching - To honor your father and your mother is a Bible command. Your acknowledgement of her every day shows that you respect her and care for her. You are also meeting an emotional need and that is also part of honoring her. You only have one mother (birth mother) and from the sound of it, she loves you very much and vice versa. I know that its more than just letting her know where you are. Its deeper. I have a son also. You can be sure that her love for you will never die -- she holds it close to her, in her heart, until she gets to hold you again, And that may be sooner than you think! Hope that flight comes through for you and you reach your destination soon but enjoy every minute in Dallas. Those minutes/hours will never be repeated.
Posted By Anonymous Mandarin, Dallas, TX : 2:59 PM ET
Hey Keith!

I'm in Denver, right near the airport. Frontier cancelled my flight to LAX yesterday and I am resigned to the fact that I won't be making it to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with my family.

Am one of the lucky ones since I found out about the cancellation several hours before I needed to leave for the airport.

Travel safe!

Kath
Posted By Anonymous Kath, Denver, CO : 5:55 PM ET
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