Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pictures from the Inaugural

A friend at work sent me this incredible series of pictures from the inaugural. They really capture just how historical the day was.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Dreaded S Word

That would of course be snow. There is nothing that fills people in DC with more dread then snow. You would think the world was coming to an end. It's not like we never get snow because we do. It just puts everyone in a complete and total panic. You can go to a grocery store and watch the shelves empty of bread, toilet paper, milk and eggs. As if it would be impossible for these items to be restocked for months.

I've lived here for over 30 years and it still makes me laugh at the reaction of people to snow. I don't think we got more than a couple of inches. They interviewed one person on TV who was shoveling the snow and they said they were just trying to
keep up with it. Keep up with what was my reaction.

Part of the problem is that people have no idea how to drive in snow. Of course that could also be said of when it rains here. No one seems to get the idea of the need to slow down and take it easy.

The real problem I see is that we don't get enough snow. It is going to warm up just enough over night and in the morning so we'll get sleet and freezing rain. Or as I call it slop. This is much more dangerous then snow. People have no idea how to drive in slop. They think it's rain and can just go as fast as they want to. I can't tell you the number of times when slop's been coming down how many people I see unable to stop at lights. Getting across the street to the Metro takes on a special challenge then.

So I would rather have snow any day over slop.

Here are a few pictures of how things looked this morning when our first "winter storm" came through DC.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sober Reminder

I was cleaning up my hard drive and found a folder called Those We've Lost. I haven't made a post about this in a while. The economy and the election and just about everything else took center stage.

But we are still in two wars and we are still loosing people. So a reminder of Those We've Lost; heroes all.

Spec. Stephen G. Zapasnik
December 24, 2008

Spec. Stephen M. Okray
Lost December 24, 2008

Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith
Lost December 24, 2008

Something to Make You Smile?

How stupid is the far right? How silly is "Fox News" Here's a clip from the Daily Show. It is very very funny and yet at the same time very scary. But it is nice to see the right reeling. Jon's Comments are very funny too.

The shear stupidity of the one women talking about the swearing in "do over". She said he didn't even have his hand on the Bible is he really president. If she knew anything, having your hand on the Bible has nothing to do with becoming president. If she knew a little more then she would know:

1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

And that would be from the Constitution of the United States of America.

If she had even been slightly aware of this she would have know Barack Obama because President of the United States when Aretha Franklin was singing.

Sunday Smile

It's a bright beautiful sunny Sunday here in our nations Capital. I'm trying to get over a cold, yet again, I figure running around last Sunday and Tuesday didn't help matters any.

But here's something that brought a smile to my face.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Heading Down to History, My Inauguration Day

Here's how my day went on Inauguration Day when I got to witness history.

I got up around 6. I turned on the TV to see what was going on down on the Mall. The reports were of thousands of people down there. They had pictures but you really couldn't get a sense of how many people were really there because it was still dark.

My original plan had been to leave around 8. But I decided to leave a little earlier. I made my video saying I was off and then I was off. I went down to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro stop. The platform wasn't too crowded. There was even a train on the platform going downtown.

But there was a small problem. The doors were opening and closing repeatedly. This is a sure sign that one of the doors wasn't closing properly. It was a good bet that this train was going to go out of service. Luckily a train going in the opposite direction pulled in. Many people, me included, jumped on this train. We headed up to the next stop, Brookland, and got off there. And it just so happened there was a train on the platform. So we all jumped on.

Sure enough the train operator came on and said we would be holding here because of a train having problems closing its doors at Rhode Island Ave. We waited on the platform. In the car I was in were members of the media. The cameraman was holding a camera that said BBC on it. I never found out if that is who the crew was actually with. As we waited, the crowd got to know one another. I started talking with a couple of people by me. You found out where they were from and where they were going to go. A couple women were from out of town and asked how many more stops a certain station was.

As we continued to sit on the platform, one women, who actually had a seat, near me made a call on her cell phone asking her mother to pray for the train to start moving. The cameraman was standing by her and turned on the camera and then moved his mic toward the woman. I'm not sure how much of the conversation he got. I will say moments after the women got off the phone the train started moving.

My goal was to reach Union Station. I figured from there I would be able to work my way down the Mall and get my spot near the Smithsonian Castle. The train was packed by the time we got to Union Station. I was, thankfully, able to get off there.

Lots of people got off at Union Station. Once outside well that's when I got my first idea of just how many people were actually around. The crowds during the course of the day would only continue to grow.

What I didn't realize was that a few blocks down from Union Station was a gate for people with tickets to view the swearing in. This was the start of my move west. The problem was figuring out the place to go to get to the Mall. This is the one fault I would have with the way security ran. Most of the time you find a security person to talk to and ask "hey I want to get on the Mall. how do I do that?" What I didn't understand is why no one had a bull horn telling people what to do.

The perfect example of this was around 6th Street. There was a huge line of people coming up 6th Street. They blocked the people who were going West, I think we were on E Street. It would have been great to have a police officer with a bull horn saying this line is for people going to the parade route, which it was, if you want to get down to the Mall go to 12th Street.

I found that out by asking people. So it was off to 12th Street. At 12th Street it was go to 13th Street. At 13th Street it was go to 17th Street. But in order to do that you had to head further north. First the cross street was H, then I and then K. It turned out you could take I Street and get across. I ended up waking by my office.

Now at least the crowd had a purpose and a goal. Throughout this time every so often I would call my dad and ask what he was seeing on TV. He said lots and lots of people. For a time I thought I would not make it in time to see the ceremony. It was almost 9. I thought there was no way I would get through security in time. Little did I know that the Mall would be closed at 9:15. As it turned out things could not have worked out better.

Finally got to 18th Street. Once again you got to know your neighbors. I ended up walking down with a women and her daughter. We talked about why we were there. We both said we just had to be there. We could not not be down here when such an historic even took place. I also added that I had to see first hand that Bush was no longer president. That drew laughter from the people around me.

As we crossed Pennsylvania Avenue, we all got our first glimpse of where we were going. All you could see was people. People the entire width and breadth of the street. And if you looked back you saw the same thing.

On the steps of DAR Constitution Hall were people holding signs. One said MLK is smiling today. At that point there were cheers and the chant went up Obama Obama. It was a chant you would here throughout the day. Even though there was a huge crush of people, there were no problems. There was just this overwhelming sense of joy and happiness. You could just feel it in the crowd. You could see it on everyone's faces. And it just grew and fed off the ever increasing number of people heading down to history.

We all finally made it. We were on the ground of the Washington Monument. There was no security which the women I was with and I both thought strange. But we were not on the Mall and so there were no check points. If there had been, I don't think I would have seen the ceremony. As it turned out it was after 9. Maybe 9:30. I wanted to wander around some so I said good bye to my new friends. I said enjoy the day. They said we will and you do too.

Around 10:20 I found my spot and waited. I got a good spot near a jumbotron and speakers. I was just north of the Monument. The day had started out a little cloudy but the sun slowly came out.

As the dignitaries began to arrive, the crowd reacted to them. As I said before the Republicans did not fair well. When the elder Bush was shown on the screen, there was a smattering of boos. Then a guy shouted out "Sorry about your son." Laughter to that response. Then when the current Bush was shown the whole crowd erupted into boos.

However, the Democrats did much better. Best round of applause was for the Clintons.

As the time for the ceremony drew closer, there were pictures of Obama making his way toward the Capitol. Every time his limo was shown people applauded. Then you saw Michelle and the kids, a huge round of applause.

Finally Obama was announced and came through the doors on to dais for the ceremony. People went nuts. I took in a deep breath and thought it is really going to happen. This is REALLY going to happen.

I should say that at this point the any direction you looked all you could see were people. People were still pouring on to the Monument grounds even as the ceremony started.

Biden was sworn in. Everyone applauded and then and then. When the Chief Justice asked if Obama was ready to take the oath of office a woman said in a very loud voice Yes you are. (You can hear that on my swearing in clip)

"So help me God" Obama said. The crowd exploded. Chants of Yes We Did and of course Obama. People hugging and jumping up and down. It was amazing!

I'll talk more about the speech and the journey back home later. But for right now I'd like to say:

Here was a transcending moment in American history that will always be remembered and talked about. I can say I was a part of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Thoughts on the Inaugural

Here are some more thoughts that I have on the incredible events of yesterday.

Video of the Swearing In

Here's my vantage point of the swearing in of Barack Obama as President on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pictures of the Inaugural, On the Way To the Mall

My day started at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro stop. There was actually a train there when I arrived. But it became obvious very quickly that it was having problem with its doors. Luckily, a train going in the opposite direction was just pulling in. I got on that one and road up to the Brookland stop.

Hopped off that train to another one going back down into DC that was sitting on the platform. The train was packed. There was even a news crew on board. I'd decided to go down to Union Station and get off there and then head down to the Mall. That turned out not to be the best idea.

This first couple of photos show what I found right outside of Union Station. It was a hint of the tremendous crowds I would find today no matter where I went.

I'll go into more details about the whole day and some of the fun stories like when we saw Marine One with Bush in it the crowd erupted into the song Hey Hey Goodbye.

Right now I'm going to unwind a little from this incredible day and then head off to bed.

Pictures of the Inaugural, Made it

I was starting to get concerned about getting down to the Mall and getting through security in time to see it. I learned later the Mall had been closed. The grounds of the Washington Monument there was no security.

I had a nice talk with a women and her daughter as we walked down 18th Street. We talked about why we'd come. I said I just couldn't stay home on such an important day; I had to be here. She agreed completely. I then added I had to make sure Bush was gone. I needed to see that in person. That brought a general round of laughs from the crowd around us.

Pictures of the Inaugural, On the Grounds of the Monument

When you could still walk around the grounds of the Washington Monument, I did so. Eventually, as you will see, it just about all filled in. I tried to get a view of the Mall but couldn't find the right spot to do. I did realize that if I was on the grounds of the Washington Monument the Mall was full. I found out later that the National Park Service closed the Mall at 9:15 am.

Pictures of the Inaugural, The Crowd Continues to Pour In

The crowd continues to pour into the grounds of the Washington Monument.

This is a crowd shot looking back towards 17th Street.

Pictures of the Inaugural, Leaving the Monument Grounds

After Obama finished his speech, people began to leave. It was orderly but it did take a little while. We had to climb over some barriers and weave around a couple of buses but finally got off the grounds. 17th Street was closed so they moved everyone towards 18th Street.