Oct. 10, 2006
3:04 pm Miami

Much-hyped pizza from Andiamo's arrived for lunch. Good, but not Sally's or Peppi's good.

I've never covered U.S. politics — I mostly cover politics where one side is getting violently driven out by the other. With U.S. politics, you can start at a desk on the web. You don't have to talk to anyone. You just plug in the name of the candidate.forcongress.com and it all comes up: biography, news articles, video. In this race, it is one Democrat vs. one Republican in a district that has long been Republican, but is now up for grabs. Here are three observations from an initial study of the opposing web sites:

1. The videos on the Republican site, 30-second ads, were organized, titled, and worked. The Democratic videos were linked through YouTube, unlabeled, and one of two would not play.

2. Someone answered the phone number on the Republican website; the Democratic number went to voicemail.

3. In their advertisements, both candidates portrayed themselves as self-made, from humble origins, but well-to-do now. One said she was a bank teller who became a bank president. The other worked himself through college and now employs hundreds.

Oct. 9, 2006
6:09pm Miami

I got a watch as a gift, a Nike running watch. I'm not sure if it is the Triax Speed 10, 50, or 100, which is significant, because one set of instructions comes for all three, and not all of them have the same functions.

The instructions are in English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Italian, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Japanese. The instruction sheet folds out into one long sheet, with writing and diagrams on both sides.

I currently have a small blinking clock in the upper left hand side of the face, the function of which I can't determine, even after poring over the directions. It also beeps on the hour, an effect I have been unable to remove. I suspect it may be linked to the blinking face. For now, I remedy this problem by storing the watch in another room at night.

Oct. 6, 2006
10:05 pm Miami

Some guy called up from a local TV market in Texas. He said he knew someone who I knew and asked if I had a minute to talk about how to get a job in cable news.

"I was wondering," he said, "is there some kind of secret handshake?"

He talked a while about his experience. He had been doing things for years. While he was talking, I thought of something that might be useful.

"You might want to say you'd be willing to go to Iraq," I said. "They have a tough time finding people to go to Iraq."

"You mean, say if they asked me to go, that I would be willing to spend a certain amount of time there?" he asked.

"No. Say that it is your one goal to cover the war in Iraq and that you really want to go there. Of course you might get killed. But it could get you in the door."

He thought for a minute.

"You know I have a lot of aviation experience... I'm a trained pilot and I could talk about plane crashes," he said.

"I'm sure that would be a big plus," I said. "But I don't know. The one thing I do know is they need people to go to Iraq."

He talked a little more than asked,

"Is there some kind of secret handshake?"


October 4, 2006 7.22 am
Miami, FL

Tight quarters in the satellite truck. Two engineers in a van with lots of electronics. I step over carefully to claim the passenger seat, stowing a bag under a table, a blazer on the dash and a computer on my lap. Not an easy crowd. Before the panel door slides open there is sometimes a raised brow or a single word, almost inaudible.

Love bugs are out. Apparently the acid from the bodies will rot the car paint unless you clean them off.

I'm en route to NYC for FOX's 10th Anniversary. A woman was forced to give up bottle of perfume at the airport. A TSA guy in a white shirt explained the three-ounce rule to her. We all watched the drama: would she leave to go buy a quart-sized Ziploc bag, thereby forfeiting her place in line, or toss the perfume? She began to walk out of the line, then stopped. One hand held the bottle of blue liquid over the bin, then pulled it back. She looked at it like a child she did not want to let go, then dropped it in the trash.

October 3, 2006
Sunrise, FL

I'm sitting at a senior citizens' center, waiting for politicians. I got last row aisle, folding chair, easy escape. The woman next to me has a little trouble getting down into her seat. When her bag falls against her arm, some of her coffee spills from the styrofoam cup. She had a stroke some time ago that affected her speech and her ability to stand. She says she is looking for a job, but can't find one.

"So I lay at home," she said. "I lay at home all day."

October 2, 2006
Miami, FL

Video: Battle brews between U.S. and Cuba over liquor

I'm waiting on a large pie with half pepperoni. It's been more than an hour.

When I delivered pizza, there was a 30-minute rule. If you arrived late, they got a free pie. People would be waiting with a watch ready. Giving up a pie was a loss of face in front of the other drivers.

I drove a Pinto with an illuminated domino on the roof, and wore a red, white and blue uniform. People would shout "Domino" at you when you drove by. I was "high pie man" once, having delivered 51 pies in a night, but that included a multiple delivery to a dormitory party. I delivered to one guy, who's now a major college basketball coach, and he didn't tip me.

I still remember. Kool and the Gang had the hit song then. Managers would stay after closing and clean, working really hard, scraping off dough, singing "Kool it Down" thumping in the brightly-lit neon store — darkness all outside the windows. They wanted to own franchises someday.

Story on Havana Club rum today. We found the last guy who ran the factory in Havana, who now lives in Miami. He told about the day fifty years ago when the factory got taken away. He said they held a gun to his head and told him to "get the hell out." He had on loafers and no socks.

September 29, 2006 11.23 am
Lakeland, Fla.
Video: Manhunt is Over

Of course it is a thankless job to try and call a sheriff on a cell phone when that sheriff is organizing a 500-officer manhunt for a suspect who killed a sheriff's deputy.

He's never gonna answer, or he will be far too busy to talk, so someone might think, why bother? Why not just wait, and the information will come out on the wires? But someone at a desk in New York called and called and called, and got through to Sheriff Judd. He was on the air talking to our anchor when shots broke out yards away from him — and he could tell what had happened, that he thought they got their suspect, that hundreds of shots had been fired, and that he thought the suspect was dead.

September 28, 2006 10:44 p.m.
Sebring, Fla.

We're driving north through the dark, with sugar cane fields on both sides.

"$2.41," Whitey said. He was watching gasoline prices. Whitey told me how gas prices dipped when you drove down to the Keys, then spiked again at Key West.

"$2.41," he said again to me, pointing to a gas sign that posted the price. He was on the phone, on the Blackberry with an earpiece. My father used to notice gas prices.

I cleaned the windows of the Expedition while he got gas, and I washed the rearviews, which were now pasted with bugs. We were going north toward Tampa where two Sheriff's deputies had been shot. One was dead, leaving behind a wife and three children. The other was hit in the leg — in stable condition. A police dog had also been shot and killed by the suspect. The sheriff said the dog had engaged the suspect.

The dog's name was Diogi.

September 28, 2006
Miami, FL

Finishing up a Caesar salad without chicken. Something comes on the monitor from Florida.

There’s a shooting near a school...no details. They want you at two...it is thirteen of two. I have a collared shirt in my trunk…run for it. Not sure where the car is parked. There's the shirt...no tie...no time for a tie. Goop on the forehead for shine. What happened...just facts...just details.

First you've got to tell yourself to calm down, just stick to what you know and stay away from everything you don't know.

A lot of people working around news realize that you can never be wrong -- that you can't say Defense Secretary Rumsfeld left Iraq if he is still on the ground in Iraq. Instead you say he is in Iraq today.

For three hours you watch the hunt, dogs, and helicopters and keep learning more from the wires, from the pictures, and you organize what happened.

September 14, 2006
Havana, Cuba

Video: Fidel Castro's
Rare Appearance

Where's Kolya? He left me in Tbilisi with a bad tooth, came back with no molar and a huge cheek, and still took the camera off my shoulder to finish the job.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?

Where's Mike? He broke his wrist on a jaw in a Moscow crowd, and then worked until dark. He was back the next morning with a green cast on his arm.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?

Where's Woj? He went up a mountain in Jabal Saraj every night to bug the locals with no reporter, waiting alone for the picture of the start of the war.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?

Where's Slim? He wrapped his bleeding fingers with duct tape at night from Bagram to Kandahar, and never mentioned it.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?

Where's P. Rudden? He caught shrapnel on his hand in Karbala, and videotaped himself being taped.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?

Where is Running Man, who ate a bad mango in Zamboanga that caused his left eye closed, but he stayed.

Where are the cameramen of yesteryear?"

September 13, 2006
Havana, Cuba

"Roethlisberger's gonna start this weekend."

"I don't like that guy."

"You don't like him because he was riding without a helmet?"

"That's right. Terry Bradshaw told him a year ago — wait until you're 35, then get yourself a big hog and ride it. There's people on that team, Polamalu, Joey Porter, they're giving their lives, and this guy is riding a speed bike with no license and no helmet."

"They're not giving their lives. You think they care that much? It's just football."

"It's just football? Are you kidding? Terry Bradshaw said he'd give anything to go out there on the one-yard line just one more time. He knows he could do it."

"He'd get killed."

"Fran Tarkenton says not a day goes by without thinking about those Superbowl losses. It's who you are, it's what you do."

"They've got insurance."

E-mail Harrigan
Video: Non-Alignment Summit in Cuba

Steve,

I watched you in Cuba, and thought about October 1962. I am now 55 and I am more worried now about the need to "duck and cover" than I was then. Nice little group meeting — they are what the phrase "thick as thieves" would apply to — and so close to home.

Hope you at least come home with a good cigar.

Be safe,
Donna


Steve,

I started to read your blogs a few months ago and I must admit I have become somewhat interested in what comes next. Your existential style (for lack of a more precise word) has the nuance of someone that has "seen the elephants." Your un-heroic tone when in a deeply crappy place tells me that you are one of the few people in your business that observes well when under fire, an acquired skill that is rare indeed. Don't have too much fun.

Jim, Idaho


Hi Steve,

Wonder if you saw the geese when you were here in Camp Fallujah. We have 19 geese and one duck. When I was here in Oct 2005 there were 2 geese and 2 ducks and shortly thereafter 3 more geese joined the group. In late Feb some of the geese started laying eggs and when I returned in late June there were 19 geese and only one duck. Well I just found out that some bird Colonel was bitten by one of the geese and now he wants them all exterminated. If he was bitten by a goose then he should not have been hand feeding them which was probably the case as many of the Marines do the same thing. The brass has been looking for an excuse to eliminate these geese for some time and I guess this is the newest twist. What a shame.

Have fun back in the States and hurry back.

Cheers Rich Y.
Camp Fallujah, Iraq


Steve, Please come see us. We are in Mosul at FOB Diamondback.

“US’ being the Army Corps of Engineers. We are civilian employees of the Corps but have military assigned to us....We are now drinking bottled water from out very own treatment plant. GEN McCoy had a journalist travel with him, he saw all the good and all the progress and when he got home he wrote a crappy article about how awful the reconstruction was. Come see for yourself.

Sarah
LSA Diamondback


Mr. Harrigan:

Thank you for writing about the daily life in Fallujah. My brother is a SSgt there, and he directed me to your blog. You give me some sliver of an idea of what my brother sees, hears and eats during the day.

This is priceless information for those of us with loved ones there.

--S


I know it is has to be tough, but you should find time to write a book. You have gift. A knack, if you will. Your ability is to convey not just the emotion of a setting but all the small nuances that fill out the story, allowing the reader connect in a way that few journalists have the ability convey.

Keep writing,

Bob
Houston, TX


Mr. Harrigan,

I just want to say bravo. You give the straight scoop, no bs, no ad-lib -- unbiased reporting. In other words, you do what a reporter is supposed to do. I was in the first Gulf War, and that doesn’t holed a candle to what’s going on now. My brother is on his 4th tour their now, and we couldn’t be prouder of him, and ALL the men, and women in country. It’s great to hear that the Iraqi soldiers are taking more of a lead role, and that the training is starting to pay off, albeit a little slow, but it’s starting to build. I’ll never forget the look on the Kuwaiti’s faces as we rolled in, it was almost like what the Allies saw liberating a Nazi help town, it makes you realize what you’re fighting for. I pray things get better in Iraq, for everyone.

Patrick