Where was I when I heard about Osama? In a Ford F-150

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If you have been following my Tweets, posts or Facebook page, you know that I am currently coming off a fuel challenge road trip with the CleanMPG crew in a Ford F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. At 9.30 p.m. last night, I was somewhere between Williams, Ariz., and Santa Rosa, N.M. No radio. No TV. And, even though we were a traveling wireless hot spot, no Internet because we were in the middle of the desert.

So, how did I hear about Osama Bin Laden? On Twitter. My Sprint PCS service was on roaming, so the Tweets started pouring in via Spaz and text message. It started at around 9 p.m. with a heads up that President Obama would be making an announcement and was quickly followed by unconfirmed reports that Osama was dead. I heard this well before the POTUS got up and delivered his speech.

I bet you did, too.

The 4 guys in the F-150 with me chalked it up to Twitter rumor and hearsay. But with the large volume of Tweets on the matter from respectable sources, I was hesitant to fall in line. I wish I would have called for a wager. Four to 1 are pretty interesting odds.

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I find this utterly fascinating because, in my "other life," I'm the Social Media Director for Barrington Broadcasting, a media group that owns 14 different local affiliate TV stations nationwide. When I finally got my wireless connection back, I hopped on our Facebook group and saw that the managing editor at our Columbia, Mo., station had been watching Twitter as well. She had her first story online by 9.27 p.m., faster than any of our other stations by about 15 minutes. Then she continued to update as the Tweets and news continued to pour in.

She done good. And I have to say, she made me proud.

In this new age of "social" media, information is largely commoditized. Before you read this blog post, before you woke up this morning, before the POTUS got up and delivered his message, you already knew Osama Bin Laden had been killed. What you want is some perspective and, perhaps, what that means to you in Chicago. What you want is something you don't already know.

In a weird quirk of fate, I have something you probably don't know: The fuel challenge I participated in over the weekend is a direct result of Osama Bin Laden's terrorism.

Wayne Gerdes, the founder and moderator of CleanMPG.com, quite literally changed his life overnight after Sept. 11. He wanted to fight back, and the only way he could think to do that was to try and reduce his own dependence on oil from the Middle East.

A small decision that had a big ripple. He changed his driving habits and launched the "hypermiling" movement. Seriously. The word didn't exist before Gerdes made it up. So, that glossary of tips and terms I posted yesterday isn't something I pulled out of thin air. It's a dictionary I created with the guy who made up the words.

And since this is a blog, I also have a little perspective for you. I'm the last person who'll tell you to FAS or drive 30 mph under the speed limit to wring every single iota of economy out of a gas tank. The LAST person. But what can you, a random person living in Chicago do to make a small mark? Be smart about your driving habits.

You don't have to be the rabbit. And you don't have to be the impatient bobber and weaver in stop-and-go traffic. You may save a couple seconds, but you'll lose several dollars at the gas station. And those dollars you're losing? Well, some of them go into the pockets of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, which is bad enough, but some of them end up in places unknown. Perhaps even in the pockets of people who fund terrorist attacks like 9-11.

Just something to ponder the next time you feel like honking your horn at someone who has a coexist bumper sticker and is driving slow in a hybrid.

I'm proud to be an American today. I'm proud I was in an American pickup truck when I heard the news that the man responsible for that abysmal day is dead. I'm even more proud to say that we drove 2 days and nearly 900 miles in said pickup truck with 5 adults and more than 1,000 pounds of gear, and we didn't need to fill up the tank once.

Hmmmm. There could be something to this hypermiling stuff after all.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Jill: Thank you for an outstanding article. Thank you very much from everyone at CleanMPG!

    I have a terrible memory, but 9-11-01 will be imprinted in my mind as long as I have one.

    I was a supervisor for a construction company and was finishing some ancillary work for a gas turbine installation. I had the door open on my work truck with the radio on while I and another worker were picking up tools and odds and ends for the punch list on the job. 100.7 KGMO Cape Girardeau was blaring as usual when the news caster broke in and reported that they had received the news that a plane had hit the world trade center. I thought I had misunderstood so I walked closer to the truck. The report was repeated and the news got worse. I pulled the truck closer to where we were working and continued to follow the events as they unfolded.

    Likewise, I will never forget the night of May 1, 2011. I was one of the

  • In reply to msirach:

    mike, many thanks to you and wayne and all the cleanmpg guys ... it was a pleasure to be on the road with you all, and i really do think i learned something. now, whether it makes a difference in my driving habits ... hmmmmmm. we'll see.

    during the week following 9/11, i remember driving home from work each day and looking at the sears tower. i would have a flash of the world trade center at the moment of impact. it was a connection that was hard not to make ... even though no planes were flying. such an eerie, quiet and weird feeling.

    i'll never forget the hours, days and weeks i slept in front of the TV waiting for any bit of news, and i'll never forget my trip to ground zero a couple months later. the mangled tennis shoe hanging by a lace in a nearby tree almost broke my heart.

    i would like to think this whole horrible incident is a moment in the past, but unfortunately as long as evil exists and people live, it will never be over. so, perhaps a chapter closed. ...

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