Brain Trust Session

E-mail Harrigan

Jan. 25, 2006 10 a.m.
Amman, Jordan

Eleven-hour flight on Royal Jordanian, which is not hard because they have flat seats. Slept until they woke me up for breakfast, a warm cinnamon raisin bagel and coffee. The guy next to me had a tattoo on his right forearm and didn't say a word, which made him a good neighbor. I don't believe I've spoken a word on my last 50 flights, although I am ready to assist the elderly with overhead luggage.

Forgot RJ does not do e-tickets so a bit of a last-minute scramble. Also forgot to have 10 Jordanian dinars for the visa. I am rusty.

Long sessions with the brain trust before departure. Carey put in a wireless card and a phone card on my PC. He walked me out to a wireless area in Rock Plaza and went through it once, then had me do it in front of him. I should have done the same with my new Kartmaster, a metal trolley for gear schleppers that comes complete with red buttons and metal latches to reduce it to baggage size. I squatted over it at the airport like a giant Rubik's cube, hoping someone would come to my aid. I called Jachman, who hinted that the order of folding was important — which was enough to get me through this time.

Jan. 18, 2006 1:45 p.m.

I sat on the floor of the hospital near a window for good reception, poking my blackberry with my left hand and making notes on a card. I was on with Russ, who was the first guy that day who really knew something about body armor. I had him on the line and he was in no rush to go. I was two hours early for my appointment so there was time.

"I'm not talking about street protests or plastic shields here. I'm talking about places where people get shot. I need the best you've got."

"That would be the Delta," Russ said. "It can stop an AK and it's lighter weight than the other ones so you can wear it around."

The neck guard was like a priest's collar that velcro'd around your throat and extended out to guard the shoulders. Two new side protectors had ceramic plates. A lot of guys got shot in the side. Russ could have said I needed a new vest, that the attachments would not fit on, but he was honest. They sold reconstituted helmets at lower prices. They tried to help people who were going over. They were mostly ex-military.

I had a blood test to determine blood type in the hospital. You need blood type for military flights. The man who drew the blood snapped the finger off his rubber glove to get a better grip. He did it in one quick snap, as if he had done it thousands of times. Now his brown forfinger extended out from the glove to take the needle from my arm and press a gauze against the skin.

What did someone say to me the other day..."it's dangerous everywhere."

Jan. 17, 2005 5:24 a.m.

Just off an all-night flight from Chile. Miami Beach gets up late. There is a good wind coming off the ocean, almost a storm wind... in the dark, a little feel of a hurricane. Next season it would be nice to have a team dedicated to hurricanes, who go out and follow each one from where it starts to where it finishes... who sit around with gear and camera fanatics, to determine what equipment, and how to rig the vehicles to show something new.

It's always a good idea to walk after a long flight. No tourists on Lincoln, but in each store doorway there are one or two homeless on cardboard flats. The store entryways break the wind. I found myself looking in, then looking away.

Going to buy armor today. I want to look at a new helmet after the snaps broke off my old one. The old one was an SF helmet with big spaces around the ears for coms. I didn't need coms around the ears. I need metal around the ears. I also want to see if they have the new shoulder protection that the Marines wear. And a neck guard. And pants. And a ballistic blanket. It is a special store where you have to get cleared to shop. The man who cleared me is called Angel. So I get to walk in and say, "Angel sent me."