Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Countdown: The Day After

Pix from the Prayer Service for the President at the National Cathedral.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Obama Day!!!!

I woke up at 4 a.m., raring to go. My roomie wanted to have breakfast before we made our way downtown so we got dressed and made our way to the hotel restaurant to be there as soon as it opened at 5 a.m.
After breakfast we caught the hotel shuttle to the Foggy Bottom Metro stop. There was a bit of a backup, but it was not too bad. Once on the subway platfor
m two trains that were out of service passed us by. The next train was full, so we waited for the next one. It was also full.

We started talking to a transit policeman who was directing people traffic in the subway. He wanted us to wait for the next shuttle, which he said was immediately behind this one. While we were chatting, two young girls walked right in front of us and tried to get on the train ahead of us. It was like we were completely invisible to them. The cop made them get off again, though.

Interestingly enough, the train we missed stayed stuck in the tunnel for about 10 minutes before it was able to move. Since I have claustrophobia, I have to say I'm very glad we did
n't get on that particular train.

We moved up on the platform to the front and were able to board the next train without problem. We were standing, but at least we were on the train. The train slowly made its way to Capitol Hill.

We were supposed to get off at the Capitol South train stop, but apparently it was closed because it got too crowded. We had to get off the train at L'Enfant Plaza instead. Needless to say all the planning and scoping things out from the day before got tossed out the window.

By the time we got off the train it was 7 a.m. We asked directions to the Silver ticket area and were told to walk toward third street. When we got to third street saw that the Silver Ticket line extended way 
back past the Native American Museum all the way down to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum --- about five blocks!!!

So we made our way back to the end of the line, which for all intents and purposes was about exactly where we got off the train in the first place.

Check-in went smoothly. The line started to move at 8 a.m. and everyone was orderly and moved quickly. They checked our bags and one officer groped by fanny pack like he was adjusting his family jewels. That was really weird.

We moved quickly to try and place ourselves were we had planned. Only there was a fence running down the length of the Silver section and we could only stay to the left of it
. My friend Pat thought that we should move closer to the jumbotron. I wanted to actually see the Capitol and really hoped to get closer. So I suggested we try to cross the street as soon as we could.

The policeman there held up the crowd from crossing because someone neeed to be carried out on a stretcher. So we waited. By and by he let small groups of people cross the street. Once across we got as close as we could to the divider that faced the Capitol grounds. 

We could see it...but there was a huge tree obstructing our view from the right side of the building. We were almost resolved to having to watch the whole thing on the jumbotron when suddenly the gates fell down opening up the Silver section clear down to the reflecting pool.

Immediately I moved to the left to be in clear view of the Capitol. I didn't go down the steps because I thought there would be a better vantage point from the top of the steps, rather than down below by the pool. 

Unfortunately when I moved, I lost my two friends.

Calling them by phone was no help. All cell phone calls were blocked. I was able to call briefly but got disconnected. I tried texting them. In the end, we remained separated for the entire ceremony.

My view was pretty good. I could see three jumbotrons and had a nice view of the Capitol platform.

I remember when we first caught glimpse of the Presidential motorcade as it headed towards the Capitol The crowd
 cheered as soon as they saw it, and the sound became even louder when we could actually see the black SVUs ourselves as they neared the grounds. It was very hard looking through my binoccu
lars, so I elected to watch the jumbotron like everyone else. More cheers for Presidents Clinton and Carter, little for the first President GW. Boos for Chaney. One women behind me said it would be fiiting to sing the classis song by Steam, "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye," when Bush walked on. Interestingly enough, everyone else must have had the same thought because sure enough, people spontaneously erupted singing that v
ery song.

More cheers for Colin Powell. And then there they were. Joe Biden, Jill, Michelle, the girls and the future president. The crowd went crazy. I think it was then I realized I was crying.
More cheering of course, as Biden is sworn in. Then it was time for Yo-Yo Ma, and other m
usicians to perform. Simple Gifts is one of my favorite songs. I use to sing it in choir and wished I could play it as well as it sounded on the mall. Later we would
 learn it was all recorded, but the sweet musice filled the air almost making the wait for 

the moment of truth somewhat tolerable. Then it was time.

You could have heard a pin drop as Obama was sworn in. When the Presidental theme played indicating our new President was indeed, President, there was cheering and crying and shouting and we all hugged one another. Most of all I remember the hugging, there we were, most of us complete strangers, people of all races, ethnicities, genders, colors, political persuasions, all hugging one another like old friends. It was a moment I'll never forget.

You could almost hear a pin drop as Obama delivered his acceptance speech. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

One more day

Day five: One day before the


Today we went to the Senate building to pick up our inaugural tickets. Every door into the Hart Senate office building had a line that extended for almost the length of the building.  I imagine things were about the same over at the buildings for the House of Representatives. Even so, it only took about 20 minutes or so to get in, have our bags checked and make it to the Senator Carper’s office. 

After picking up our tickets

, we took photographs at the front of the Capitol, and walked around as close as we could to the back to  watch the set-up for tomorrow’s inauguration.  Then we walked down to the Silver ticket area to try to

 determine the best and quickest route to the entrance.  Then we tried to determine the best places to stand to get a good photograph.


I tried out my new binocular camera. It works okay, but it's hard to tell what you're shooting. It has a viewfinder, but unlike most digital cameras there’s no screen that shows you what you’ve taken. It’s also hard to see or focus the image through thebinoculars.  

While there, I thought I took a shot of the Indian statue at the top of the Capitol building, but when I downloaded the photographs to my computer, I discovered I had only shot the inscription just below the figure. 

I got a nice close up of the podium, though.  Hopefully I’ll get one good shot during the swearing in. We’ll see…

We ended up walking to the Women's History Museum, which was breaking down an event -- a Brunch for the President-elect. 

We didn't get to see him, though. I photographed what I could then went to check out an exhibit on women photographers, that included Carrie Weems and Nikki Lee.  I looked at the Mary Cassatt and pottery exhibits too.  You could use your cell phone for an audio tour, which was pretty cool.

I guess I'll end at this point. Can't believe tomorrow's the day.

Inauguration Countdown: Day four

Two days before the Inauguration

Today we spent most of the day visiting a friend in Georgetown. Most were artists, and the discussion centered around, what else, art.

Later we stopped for dinner at Clyde's on M street and shopping in the downtown area.
At Clyde's I ordered a tuna, spinach, portobello mushroom and leeks dinner that was simply wonderful. Our waiter had the most beautiful voice -- very deep, and resounding, like a radio announcer.

My friend Pat joined us and shared her experiences volunteering on the President's Whistle Stop tour from Pennsylvania to Delaware and Baltimore.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inauguration Countdown: Day Three

Three days before the inauguration.

We spent most of the day at the National Building Museum, the official location of the Commander-In -Chief's Official Inaugural Ball. We took a tour of the facility, which has been one of the primary locations for the Inaugural Ball since it was built in the 1800s as was the location of the Inaugural Ball of Grover Cleveland. I took tons of photographs even though tonight they were setting up for a Mayor's Association event. Although you usually can take photos the night before the ball, security is so tight the museum will be closed after tonight.

I finally found the Obama t-shirt I was looking for. At the event in Indiana, I saw a shirt with the red, white and blue drawing of him above the word "HOPE." I didn't buy it then because the vendor said it was up on the website. But when I checked, no such shirt. Today a vendor right outside the Metro was selling one. Now I have that t-shirt, an Obama bobble-head doll, a new Obama/Biden Inaugural sweat shirt and an inaugural wool hat. Guess that's enough Obama-memorabilia for one trip.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inauguration Countdown: Day Two

Four Days Before the Inauguration:

I woke up at around 4 a.m. to hear someone wailing outside ouf our hotel. I couldn't figure out where the cry was coming from, or even if someone was serioiusly in distress or just fooling around. I kept wondering if some homeless person was out in the cold, freezing, with no way to get warm. Or if someone had been mugged and left wounded on the streets. Or if, maybe the sound was really some wayward air conditioning/heat unit making human like moans.
I went to the window a few times to try and determine where the sound was coming from. I almost called the front desk a few times to see if they knew what was going on. I even thought about phoning the police to check it out. I ended up just laying in bed, wondering until it was gone.
Of course, I also noticed that the hotel is directly across the street from a cemetery and wondered if someone was just having a joke on the expenses of hotel patrons. Which, I guess I'll never know.

After I got over the crying in the
 wilderness, the rest of the day was cold, but interesting. We went to the National Archives and the Natural History Museum so that my friend could talk to vendors about her greeting cards. We had lunch at L'Enfant Plaza at the little French restaurant and I bought an Obama bobble-head doll from one of the stores.

We got the chance to visit the Native American Museum and see a few of the exhibits.

We later ventured out to the Reagan International Trade building to see a wonderful political satire/parody group called Capitol Steps. It was hilarious. One of the best comedy skits I've seen in a good while. I particularly liked the way they started using songs from ABBA/Mamma Mia to introduce their political satire. " we go again...My my, how can we resist ya..." Then "McCain" sang "Winner takes all..." You get the idea.

More later...

Inauguration Countdown

I arrived in Washington at about 6 p.m. on Thursday. Snow was falling lightly. I had phoned in a prescription earlier to my pharmacist, only to realize I wouldn't have time to pick it up. Darn.

The train was packed. The plan was I would stop at BWI to wait for my friend's plane to arrive. But the only available train got me there two hours before. So I decided to just head straight to the hotel instead. I was hungry and tired. Sitting for two hours at the airport just did not sound like the best way to spend two hours. When she arrived, I was sitting at Union Station, waiting for the Red line to take me to the hotel.

The trip to Washington was uneventful, really. I found a seat, sat down. I brought my computer, of course, but didn't feel like writing on the train. I also brought a host of DVDs with me and didn't want to watch them, either. Whomever was sitting in those seats before me left a pretty big mess...water bottles left in the seat compartment on the back of the chair where magazines should be. I've had this thing about public trash, a compulsion you might say. I was thoroughly grossed out, but decided to try to ignore it and focus on removing the lint from my wool coat.

Union Station was busy as it always is. I arr ivied around rush hour, so it was full of commuters. I called the hotel ahead of time to find out the Metro train to catch to get me to the hotel. Bought my metro ticket with the help of a busy commuter I let go ahead of me in line. Then I headed off to Woodley Park station to wait for the hotel shuttle.

Hotels should take note. If you have a shuttle, you should at least tell your guests what to look for when they're taking it. An unmarked black van was parked at the curb when I got there. So was a white one and a blue one. Neither of them had the name of my hotel on them. Since all three were down a flight of stairs and I had lots of luggage, I was not too keen on venturing down, only to find none of them were looking for me. So I stood in front of the station, as I was directed by the hotel, looking like a damsel in need of rescue by a hotel van.

Needless to say when I called back 20 minutes later, the hotel said the van had come and gone without seeing me there. And sure enough the van I was looking for was the black unmarked van I had seen earlier. I got to the hotel, had dinner and went back to my room.

I have to mention that when I checked in, I was so hungry and tired that I checked in, got my key, went up to my room and came back looking for the restaurant. It was only then that I realized there was a life-sized standee of Barack in the lobby. Life-sized! And standing right by where I checked in.

I walked over to the attendant to ask if it had been there when I checked in. He assured me that it was. Aye Carumba...

Dinner was great. Funny how a hamburger and onion rings hits the spot. After coming back to the room, my friend finally arrived...hungry and tired. Back to the restaurant again.

Tomorrow, I'll sit down and figure out what we're going to do in the days leading up to the inauguration. Another friend is picking up the tickets on Monday. Sounds to me like we're as far away from the Capitol Hill steps as you could get.

Bought an inaugural sweat shirt and hat. Now I need inaugural mittens, LOL.

More later...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Dilemma Dilemna

Who knew? When working on my latest blog, I discovered something quite incredible. All of these years I've been inserting a fantom "n" into the word "dilemma." I swear that's what I was taught. And it seems I'm not alone. So here's my dilemna, with an "n," thank you. What were you taught in school? Is this a 60s phenomenon? East Coast? Regional? Generational? What gives? I realize the Greek origins of the word have no added "n" but I swear somewhere out there a text book or two had a generation of kids misspelling their hearts out.

Here's an interesting article about this curiosity