Reporter's Notebook: Wising Up in Boston

As happens at the end of any news report from the field, reporters learn things they wish they'd known earlier in their adventures.

The same was true this week as the staff neared the end of their trip to Boston for the Democratic National Convention (search). On their last day covering the four-day rally, they discovered some interesting tidbits they wish they had learned on their first day out.

For instance, reporter Liza Porteus breathlessly worked out of the FOX News skybox throughout the convention, emerging after her nine-hour confinement each day beaded with sweat from the extreme temperatures that occur high above the convention floor where the collective body heat of the delegates combines with the hot emissions from the bright TV camera lights.

Liza had been rationing water throughout her stay in protest of the $3.50 cost of each bottle at the concession stands. Secret Service (search) refused to allow people to carry plastic bottles into the FleetCenter (search).

But lo and behold, was Liza chagrined when she learned on the final day of the Democratic convention that water was not the rarity she thought.

"We in the skybox sent the FOX News interns down to find food and water before the rumored lockdown of the FleetCenter occurred. Not only did they come up with beef stroganoff, but cold bottles of water that apparently have been just a floor below in the Green Room the entire time," she said.

Liza said she had been fortunate throughout the week that one of the camera crew from FOX 5 in New York had been coming around each day with a bag of candy to share. That had sustained her through the long hours despite its toll on the waistline. How the cameraman got the candy into the convention center is still a mystery, but Liza may want to ask the all-knowing interns.

Even with limited amounts of water to drink, Liza still had to make frequent stops to the ladies room each night. Early on her last evening, she ran into rapper and clothing designer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who she said was conducting business nearby the bathroom.

Wearing a white T-shirt that said "Vote or Die" in black letters, the entertainer and one-time beau of singer Jennifer Lopez was fielding political questions by the crowd surrounding him. Liza was pleased that she hadn't bothered to seek out an interview with him earlier since, as she said, his answers left her questioning where he stood on political matters. Another useful lesson learned.

Peter Brownfeld learned on his last daily trip to the Sheraton Boston Hotel, headquarters for Democratic National Convention organizers and host to a wide range of caucus meetings and convention events. Apparently, the hotel serves many interests, Peter found out just a day before departing Beantown.

"The weekend after the Democrats leave town, I came across advertising that a very different convention would be holding court in the hotel the following weekend. On August 7, the New England Leather Alliance will be at the hotel holding its 'Fetish Fair Fleamarket,'" he said. Too bad Peter's flight leaves a week earlier.

This reporter remembered very late in the week a request her sister had phoned in on the first day of the convention. She had been asked to purchase a collectible dog tag that her sister had heard was being sold here. The tag, not quite like the one that the Democratic nominee sported in Vietnam, had a colorful picture of the 1940s icon Rosie the Riveter (search) and a message that said "Women for Kerry."

The Rosie tag, along with all the other convention souvenirs and paraphernalia, had been sold all week in the convention hall. Remembering at 6:40 p.m. EDT on Thursday of the request, this reporter sped over to the arena and went to the first souvenir stand she could find. Alas, all that was available in the way of dog tags was a flag-inspired image with a "Kerry in 2004" message on it.

Devastated to have failed to fulfill a simple request from a cherished sibling, she asked the vendor whether any Rosie Riveter tags were left. He answered that perhaps a few were left at the stands on the seventh floor of the convention center since that is a much less crowded area than the main floor.

After trekking by steps up the five flights — the escalators and elevators have been packed all week — reward was at hand. The vendor at the top of the stadium had about a dozen Riveter dog tags, but two fewer following a hasty purchase. Now, that's a universal lesson for the ages — always go to the top!