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September 2001

(My September 11, 2001 story)

September 28, 2001
11:42 AM EDT

"If Lou Pickney ain't talking about it, it ain't happening."
-10 News Anchor Reggie Roundtree, in the WTSP newsroom, Sept. 26, 2001

There's so much to say, but so little time. Last Saturday night was great fun, as a bunch of us from work went to Gators, a restaurant/bar down in St. Petersburg, to celebrate the birthdays of Diane and Mark from work. It was a good time, except when some guys walking by and said "How about those Dolphins?", noting my Titans jerseys I had on. I looked over at my friend Scott Massey and said "That was a shoot!" But what could I say -- the Dolphins had beaten the Titans. And here I was, a guy out of Tennessee in a bar called Gators! The place was all decked out in University of Florida memorabilia (hence the name).

From there, Desi and I went over to Mark's apartment and played some Madden 2002. Those guys quickly learned the pain of my solid gameplay. Don't mess with my punt blocking skills!

I came home, then shaved my head. It was 3:30 in the morning -- by 5:30 I was on the road to Orlando to meet up with the crews there to go to the Dolphins/Raiders game in Miami.

My friend Gary in Orlando had rented a minivan for the trip. Along with him and I came his friends from work Rod and Brandon, and Brandon's wife Kim. The five of us rode down to Miami early Sunday morning.

I had hoped to sleep on the ride down -- that didn't happen. Once there, we waited in the parking lot and did a little tailgating. We didn't bring any beer, but that was fine, as I didn't drink any alcohol -- which turned out to be a very good thing. It was a sweltering hot day, with very little cloud cover and a Miami sun that was punishing and unforgiving.

Security to get in was tight, which was to be expected given the attacks on our country. It was so strict, the guy at the gate made me actually squeeze out some sunscreen on my hand to prove it was actually sunscreen. I'm a Titans and Colts fan, but after the snide remark made at Gators, I decided to pull for the Raiders out of spite. Plus, the Dolphins and Colts are in the same division. So I wore my black Eerie Pub Crawl shirt from Edinburgh. Despite it saying nothing about the Raiders, ignorant Dolphins fans assumed I was for the Raiders.

Let me reinforce just how HOT it was at the stadium. I bought an ice cream cone, figuring if there was any time to have one, it was there. The thing melted before I could finish it! Hot and humid Florida...

But at least with the ice cream, I was in the shade with that deal. Once up at our seats, the sun really kicked in. The upper deck at Pro Player Stadium has no shade, unless you happen to be right under one of the two mammoth scoreboards, which we weren't. All I can say is: thank goodness I had the presence of mind to bring my 48 SPF sunscreen with me. Otherwise, I would have been sunburned much worse than the time I was badly sunburned at the Indianapolis 500 in May 1999. But even protected from the burn, the heat was punishing. We were getting lightheaded by simply standing up to cheer. It was brutal. I felt bad for the Raiders, forced to wear their black jerseys (the Dolphins wisely wore white at home) and suffer in the heat on the field.

At halftime, this guy who was built like pro wrestler Perry Saturn (i.e. jacked up) but who evidentally didn't have much thinking power decided to take issue with my Eerie Pub Crawl shirt. He decided to inform me that although I had survived the Eerie Pub Crawl, one place not listed on the back of that shirt was Pro Player Stadium. Great, I thought, I'll end up in a Miami street fight. Luckily he ended up being distracted by something else. But... that lead to this hot blonde girl asking me about Edinburgh, and we talked for awhile about the Eerie Pub Crawl tour. She was all like "Did you feel like there was some mystical presence there?" I had to fight not to laugh, but I was all like "Yeah, yeah". But I know the number of single women at NFL games is usually 0, and sure enough her fiance showed up a moment later. Though as hot as it was, I was more concerned with staying cool than flirting with the Miami hotties.

Anyway, the damn Dolphins won the game on a last second Jay Fiedler rushing TD. That drew a few choice remarks for us as we made our way out of the stadium (Gary had an actual Oakland Raiders shirt on, and it was guilt by association I guess). I managed to catch a couple hours of sleep on the ride back to Orlando, then I drove home long enough to nap for a half hour before going to work. Monday at work sucked, but that's the price you have to pay sometimes to live life.

Today I take my first airplane trip since the terrorist attack. This will be my first visit to Indianapolis in more than a year, though most of my time will be split between Terre Haute and Fort Wayne. I'm not afraid to fly... but it will be interesting to see the beefed up security first-hand...

September 16, 2001
3:19 AM EDT

There's not much to say at this point. Mostly I've recharged my batteries this weekend, and mourned for the victims of Tuesday's attack. There's not much else to say at this point...

September 13, 2001
12:08 PM EDT

I've worked 26 1/2 out of the last 40 hours... but I'd work another 40 in a row if that's what it took. Here's a brief timeline of the past few days, and my experiences concerning the attack on our country, and everything in general...

Monday, 9/10/2001, 9:05 a.m. -- I received an e-mail from my friend Justin Smith concerning plans for Joe Pacheco's wedding at the end of the month. I called him right away, and we made travel plans, with him agreeing to pick me up at the airport in Indianapolis the Friday before the wedding (scheduled for a Saturday). With plans set, I went on-line and priced various airline tickets... before deciding on Southwest Airlines. I purchased my tickets for the trip, and after taking some NyQuil (remember, I was home sick), I went to sleep.

Tuesday, 9/11/2001, 7:15 a.m. -- I left work and came home. I had lost my week 1 fantasy football game, but I was pleased that Terrell Davis had rushed for 100+ yards. How incredibly trivial and unimportant that seems now. Once home, I turned on the Playstation 2 and got a game of Madden 2002 going. My Colts franchise mode, with a home game against the Falcons. Again, how incredibly trivial and unimportant that seems now. I had the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show playing.

Tuesday, 9/11/2001, 8:50 a.m. (or so) -- Preparing to go to sleep, and still fighting my cold, I took some NyQuil... which normally equates a quick knockout to sleep. At the end of an interview with Gayle Sayers, Bubba the Love Sponge show producer Brent Hatley came on and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. In disbelief, I paused the game and flipped my TV to cable. Sure enough, the image shown on WTSP (my station, carrying the CBS Early Show) was of smoke billowing from one of the towers in the World Trade Center. Right away I went to my phone, and dialed my friend Brook Gardiner, who is in law school at New York University. He answered the phone; I asked him if he had heard about the World Trade Center. He said no, and I told him to turn on his TV. Soon enough, Brook saw what was going on, a mere 20 blocks from his apartment. After a brief conversation, he said he was going to go outside to get a better look. The phone call ended.

Tuesday, 9/11/2001, 9:03 a.m. -- Scanning the network coverage, I had ABC on, and then, right there on my TV screen, I saw a second plane hit the other WTC tower. Impact, explosion. The conversation among the broadcasters went from debating if the crash was an accident or intentional... to the almost ironclad belief that it was a deliberate attack. A few minutes later, I called Brook back. He was in his room, and it was a situation of disbelief for both of us, but especially so for him, with it happening right there in his city.

Tuesday, 9/11/2001, 10:15 a.m. -- The two World Trade Center buildings had collapsed.. and the Pentagon had been hit as well. I called Brook for a third time, to be sure he was okay. I said hi, and he said hey.. and then click. The call cut out. The 10 or so attempts to get back through were unsuccessful, and I didn't speak with Brook again until this morning. I watched the coverage on TV, both local and national, in a stunned disbelief and disgust. It was like when I was on Spring Break in April 1995, watching the coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing from Panama City, Florida... but that times 100. I called into work twice, trying to see if they needed me to come in, but the newsroom was plenty busy, so I instead left a message after being shuffled to voice mail. During the day, I managed to get maybe 5 1/2 hours of fitful sleep. NyQuil or not, it's tough to sleep after you see things like I saw that morning.

Tuesday, 9/11/2001, 8:30 p.m. -- I pulled into the parking lot at 10 News (WTSP-TV), ready to work. I did my best as a news producer, as we worked to cover the tragic terrorist attack. 14 1/2 hours later, I went home.

Wednesday, 9/12/2001, 8 p.m. -- Finally caught up on sleep, I got ready for work, then pulled another 12 hour shift.

September 10, 2001
6:17 AM EDT

I hate being sick. But even more than that, I hate being home from work sick. As I type this, I feel my attention span coming and going, riding the cold medicine roller coaster. But as I was saying, I really don't like calling off sick from work. I figure I'm getting paid, I should earn my money. But with Brian and Amy and Desi and who knows who else having been sick at work this past week, I decided to do the smart thing and tap out, calling in sick for the first time since I moved here. No sense infecting someone else and keeping the illness train rolling.

With my shift, it's a difficult thing to call in sick. Not the actual phone call -- I mean you tell them you're sick, period. But I called in at 2:30 yesterday afternoon, in order to give Heidi (the Executive Producer of 10 News This Morning) time to get in to work to cover my shift. When you work overnights, there's not much of a safety net if you're not able to make the bell.

I wrote a real long commentary piece about college football on Saturday morning, giving my arguments about why Division I-A football desperately needs to go to a playoff system. However, I somehow managed to delete all but the first paragraph, and at that point I didn't feel like trying to retype it all from memory. But long story short, all other levels of football, from the NFL down to Pop Warner/Parochial League, has their championships determined on the field, not by voters in a poll. I was lamenting the ridiculousness of Florida beating Marshall 44-10 or whatever it was (I don't feel like looking it up again), yet falling in the AP poll behind Miami, FL. What else was Florida supposed to do? They were up 35-0 at the half. But long story short -- until college football reforms its playoff system, I don't want to hear any bitching about running up the score.

That made alot more sense the first way it was written, but sadly you can't read that. Gotta love technology...

A few reviews of movies I've seen recently... Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back is a funny movie. But, unfortunately it was built up to me too much, and a bit too much of it was spoiled for me in various comments, reviews, etc. But, it is entertaining, particularly after having seen the New Jersey Triology (Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy). Also, I went to a sneak preview of the movie Rock Star. It was amusing, though shallow. Compared with, say, Boogie Nights, it's very shallow and by-the-numbers and formulatic, but it did have some good music.

Time for me to lay back down for awhile...

September 8, 2001
7:16 AM EDT

I don't ever want to hear anyone complain about "running up the score" in Division I-A NCAA College Football ever again.. at least not until the current joke of a system used to determine a national champion is abandoned.

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