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We'll bring you first-hand accounts of local Seattle-area residents and their journey to D.C. and generally all things inauguration. If you're going to the inauguration and would like to contribute, contact us here.

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January 21, 2009 12:24 PM

BET Inaugural Ball

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

After the horrendous start to the day trekking down to the National Mall in the freezing cold after only having 30 minutes of sleep, I was so not in the partying mood tonight. But regret would not be sufficient enough word to describe how I would've felt if I had missed this party.

The BET Inaugural Ball was celebrity packed and over the top crazy fun! When we arrived, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, were making a speech on behalf of America's Promise. It's a charity designed to help young kids succeed. Colin Powell made a comment about turning the reins over to his wife when he was appointed to office, and now she wouldn't give them back. But when it was her turn to speak, she zinged him right back and said it was because she did a better job at it. I don't know why I was surprised to see Colin Powell at a hip-hop party, but it turned into a sight to behold. More on that later.

teresa_Colin and Alma Powell

The highlight of the night was a performance by Wyclef that basically turned into an hour-long concert. It was FREAKING AMAZING!!! He sang some of hits plus some from The Fugees. But it was his rendition of "No Woman, No Cry" that led Colin Powell to the front of the dance floor. Before I knew it, his hands were in the air and he was waving them like he just didn't care!!! He even sang along on the chorus!! (He won't be winning "American Idol" anytime soon.)The one thing that surprised me the most was how he moved amongst the crowd like he was one of us commoners. No entourage. No throng of media. Just one body guard who followed him around all evening.

teresa_wyclef

Continue reading this post ...


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January 21, 2009 12:12 PM

My view of the parade

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

Howard_Marine Saluting Motorcade

howard_car

It was a cold, but spectacular day from the parade route. After leaving my dorm room at 3:03 am and walking the 3.2 miles to the parade route, we arrived at 12th & G Streets shortly before 4am. In the four hours between then and the time the gates opened a not so surprising 55 minutes late the crowd behind us swelled from fifty into the tens of thousands. We got prime spots along the barricade overlooking Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th & 14th Streets and settled in for the long cold wait.

howard_parade route west

howard_parade route east

The sound of a multitude of cell-phones ringing, would alert the crowd that something was happening. It happened for the first time at 11:00, when CNN showed the motorcade departing from the White House. Minutes later President Bush and President-elect Obama passed by us on their way to the swearing in ceremony. I tucked my phone into my knit cap. I would stay on the phone with my father for the next hour and twelve minutes. He talked us through everything that was happening, I would relay it to the crowd around me. "They've arrived. Cheney's in a wheel chair. They are now seating President Bush... they are playing Hail to the Chief for Bush for the last time... now, the girls are coming out. " A cheer echoed from the National Mall. From the speakers two blocks away, we could hear Michelle be announced. "She's got on a gold dress," I heard my father say. "Ask him who the designer is?" My best friend asked. My dad, Mr. Fashion Clueless, wouldn't have known if it was Vera Wang, Oscar De Larenta, or Isabel Toledo. It was Toledo, we later learned. Then Biden stepped out into the 25 degree air. Soon only Obama was left inside the capital. "Obama looks nervous, he's not smiling," my dad narrated.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 21, 2009 10:51 AM

Seen. Heard. Said

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

We all got up to the alarm clock's call at 4:00 am. The train leaves the station at 6:23, but getting five adults showered, dressed, caffeinated and out the door does require a certain degree of orchestration.

Polly, Bookbag, Blueboy, Native Guide and myself find ourselves on the train platform at Monocacy Station, and we are immediately face-to-face with the media. A local television station interviews us about where we're from and why we're here. Polly and I feel every bit of the morning chill (6 degrees F), but our hardy Midwesterners and East Coaster shrug it off as just another day in January. The train shows up and all dire predictions about the trains being overcrowded are utterly unfounded. The train is full, to be sure, but everyone has a seat and we are comfortable.

We arrive at Union Station without incident, and it would appear the incidents have decided to wait until we got there. We have been directed to walk down a street that proves impassable when a man has a medical emergency in the intersection and requires immediate treatment. It apparently hadn't occured to the organizers that emergency vehicles might have to actually negotiate ther way through these crowds. The media reports two million people were in attendance today, a record. If one one-hundredth of one percent of those people encounter a serious health problem such as a heart attack or a seizure, that still adds up to 200 ambulance calls, and the Law of Averages appeared to be in force. There literally wasn't a single moment where we weren't aware of an ambulance trying to go from one place to another, crawling through a sea of humanity as they go.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 21, 2009 10:42 AM

Video dispatches from the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

We started the day off with a 5:30am phone call. "Hurry up! We've got to go! There are lines already!" We were dropped off about a quarter of a mile from the Roosevelt Bridge and made our way to The Mall.

On the metro:

Our goal was to get "lucky" and get as close to the Capital as the Washington Monument. Crossing the bridge we were surprised by the small amount of people crossing. We made our way up Constitution Ave. and before we knew it were at the Washington Monument. People were chanting, singing and surprisingly awake! There was plenty of room to navigate so we decided to get just a bit closer. Turns out we made it halfway in between the Capital and the Washington Monument with a jumbotron right by us and a decent size space.

People from around the world:

Garth Brooks and "Shout!"

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January 21, 2009 8:42 AM

Reflections on ceremony

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

The walk to the ceremony was perhaps more joyous than the ceremony itself. We were part of what my friend, Jenny, described as a tsunami of people walking together through barricaded streets. Even though we had maps, we're visitors to DC and were quite perplexed by the maze that the scattered security detail had put us through.

Still, there was happiness and a shared sense of celebration. The fact that an African American was about to be sworn in as president and an unpopular president whose policies had frustrated so many Americans was about to depart seemed to create a conviviality that could overcome other irritations.

The sight of the magnificent Washington monument brought tears to my eyes. I've seen it many times, but it always impresses me. Today with birds swooping around it in circles it seemed to hold spiritual significance.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 20, 2009 2:01 PM

Overview: the good, bad, ugly and popular

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Last night my partner's father suggested that we stay at home on the couch and enjoy the swearing-in from the warm comforts of our pajamas. As tempting as it sounded, we knew we couldn't, so we woke up at 4:30am, left the condo by 5am and were on the lawn by 6am. We'd remain there, in the freezing cold, until after the ceremony.

markert_bundled

A short overview of the day:

The good: We have a new president who gave an amazing speech! The jumbotrons were functional and the speakers were loud and clear, and police were visible and helpful with directions if approached.

The bad: Pedestrian bottlenecking, pedestrian street closures, and Metro station closures. It took us 2.5 hours to wind our way to a functional Metro stop!

The ugly: Desperate times called for desperate measures. As the hours went on people became more and more creative trying to keep warm.

The popular: The crowd responded the loudest to Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, Oprah, and (of course) Obama.

The comparison: I said I was looking forward to hearing both Bishop Robinson and Reverend Warren speak, and I have to say I enjoyed both. I think that Robinson had the potential to appeal to a wider audience since his prayer was more inclusive and neutral, but Warren's message was very inspiring.

The unexpected: I found $20 on the Metro platform.

I'm still frozen and I'm still saddened by some of the bottlenecks-gone-wrong, but overall, I'd jump back out there and do it all over again. What a great experience; areas in the crowd turned into close-knit groups where we all shared stories, food and warmth. For six hours we were a part of history, and a part of a micro-community.

Next up -- the Human Rights Campaign's "Out for Equality" Ball, which starts at 7pm. Congratulations, America and congratulations, President Obama!
markert_crowd4

markert_crowd3

markert_crowd

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January 20, 2009 12:40 PM

Lost in the (mall)

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

The big day has finally arrived and my friends and I are sick with excitement. We left the house walking at 7:15 am and actually made it to the mall within 50 minutes. To see that many people walking down the streets like that was amazing. You could definitely feel the sense of unity in the air. But that attitude quickly changed when we arrived at the Mall entrance. After scoring tickets to the nice seating area up front, we walked about 10 blocks only to be told we needed to go back to 14th street because the sections were filling up. My friend was exhausted and upset, but I told her we weren't turning back.

We finally made it to the section for ticket holders, but it was a mess. Silver tickets. Blue tickets. Orange tickets. Go here. Go there. This is closed. Hey, there's Spike Lee!! The line is forming this way!!! It was every man for himself at that point and people were no longer full of peace. They were pushy. Literally. At one point my friend and I got separated and I felt like a kid lost in the mall. (No pun intended). We FINALLY make it past the gate just after 10:30, missing all the musical warm-up performances. Once inside we discovered it was a misplaced Port-A-Potty that was causing the long wait. Who puts the bathrooms in the middle of the walking path?

We made it to our seats just as the Cabinet members took the stage. It was so cold my lips were numb and I couldn't even tell if my nose was running or not. After all that pushing and shoving I still couldn't grasp just how large the crowd was until the pictures came up on the big screen. I was amazed we even made it to Independence Ave.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 20, 2009 12:37 PM

On my way home

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

It's 5:48 p.m. Tuesday, January 20. I'm on DC metro heading back to Fairfax. We're swapping stories with other riders and I am finding myself thinking about the view from the streets I had wanted to convey.

I eschewed efforts to score tickets, buy my way into more comfortable seating or attend inaugural balls. I wanted to feel the inauguration like one of the 2 million or 3 million who were just going to show up and be part of the crowd.

So many plans, hopes had to be scrapped. As a reporter, back in the day, I could dip into a crowd and collect quotes, stories from people. Afterwards, I could escape to a desk in a newsroom and file my story of their stories. As one of the people pushing and feeling herded through street after street, there was no time for story. At least, that story. I could only focus on my story and on not stumbling. Literally.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 20, 2009 11:20 AM

Photo: Our view from the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Simi Gupta

simigupta_inaug

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January 20, 2009 10:49 AM

Turned away with tickets

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Ainardi

We had a ticket stood in line for three hours, us along with a million other people were turned away even though we had tickets. Disapointed. But now we have president obama!

ainardi_ticket

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January 20, 2009 10:30 AM

This moment in "Web"

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

On election night, Web sites across the world reported Barack Obama's historical win. Seattletimes.com captured the home pages of more than 100 sites as the race was called - from every state and from countries around the world.

Today global news sites covered the inauguration of the US' 44th President. Here's a look at how other Web sites reported the event.

International:

El Pais (Spain)

Expresso (Portugal)

Le Monde (France)

BBC (UK)

Times Online (UK)

bild.de/ (Germany)

De Telegraaf (Netherlands)

Hurriyet (Turkey)

El Sol de Mexico (Mexico)

Folha Online (Brazil)

Yahoo India

Tuoi Tre, Vietnam

AIF, Russia

Al Jazeera, Middle East

Yomiuri Japan

The Daily Nation, Kenya

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Herald Sun, Australia


US sites:

L.A. Times

New York Times

Kansas City Star

Washington Post

Chicago Tribune

Honolul Advertiser

Anchorage Daily News

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January 20, 2009 10:17 AM

Say what?: A visual representation of President Obama's inaugural address

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Click here to read the full text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address.

wordle.jpg
Page created using http://www.wordle.net/. Click here for a larger image.


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January 20, 2009 10:12 AM

Traffic jam

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Police are doing a terrible job with directing flow. Unmonitored bottlenecks through gates and road closures - tons of pushing and confusion.

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January 20, 2009 10:10 AM

Who's on the helicopter?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Helicopter flew over. Bush leaving? Obama arriving? Either way, some say, applause.

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January 20, 2009 9:57 AM

After speech, beeline for the port-o-potties

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

After Obama's speech, masses headed for porta potties singing the star spangled banner.

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January 20, 2009 9:53 AM

Live tweets

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Check out the twitter feed of Seattle Times freelancer Liz Langton, on the ground in D.C.
http://twitter.com/lizlangton

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January 20, 2009 9:37 AM

President Obama

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Congratulations, President Obama.

markert

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January 20, 2009 9:14 AM

We have a new president

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by
SarahPaulson


We have a new president! Go barack obama, may the next 4 years be some of the best in history!

paulson_jumobtron

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January 20, 2009 9:13 AM

Past and present

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Where I'm standing we're getting a short echo. It has a nice reverberating rhythm ... Linking past and present.

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January 20, 2009 9:10 AM

Obama begins speech

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Laughing hugging crying and even the obligatory beach ball!

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January 20, 2009 9:00 AM

Franklin sings My Country, 'tis of Thee

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by
SarahPaulson

Aretha franklin rings my country tis of thee!

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January 20, 2009 8:53 AM

Updates from the ground

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson


8:30 a.m. Just caught a glimpse of Maya, sister of Obama.

8:22 a.m. (Pacific) At the base of the monument. Tried to push forward but couldn't see a thing. Frozen fingers, teary eyes, warm heart.

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January 20, 2009 8:49 AM

Too cold to clap?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert
I keep trying to clap, but between my two sets of gloves and hand warmers I'll be darned if I'm producing any noise.

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January 20, 2009 8:46 AM

Crowds behind me

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

li_crowd

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January 20, 2009 8:38 AM

Crowds on the mall

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Keith Houser

houser_crowd2

houser_crowd

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January 20, 2009 7:51 AM

Arrived on the mall

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

We just arrived at the mall. It's reverent, almost spiritual. We walked an hour plus. This is what America looks like united.

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January 20, 2009 7:48 AM

Long lines on the Metro

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

inaug_04

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January 20, 2009 7:31 AM

"Incredible" feeling, Jumbotrons show crowds

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

inaug_03

Shortly after 9:30 a.m. the jumbotrons showed the enormous crowd here. Everyone in my area is so happy and proud to be here. There's a woman from Canada, some folks from Georgia and we are all sharing food and hand warmers. The live footage has really energized everyone. This is incredible. Absolutely incredible.

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January 20, 2009 7:28 AM

Cold, but finally at the Monument

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Paul Weigel

The train was overcrowded. After two or three stops the conductor announced a malfunction and we all had to disembark. We took a another train in the wrong direction so we could catch another line back in. Finally made it into the city to walk around the parade route to the Mall which is already full. We are now watching a monitor from the Washington Monument a mile away. Its cold!

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January 20, 2009 7:19 AM

Dawning of a new day

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Salaha Warsi

inaug_02

Since 4 a.m. this morning, more than 200,000 people have already used the metro to get into DC. An estimated one million are already on the mall. Everywhere you look roads are blocked off. Security is high. Lines to get into the National Mall are long and the only thing you see are the smiles of a nation embracing the dawning of a new day.

About 15 minutes ago President Obama and Mrs. Obama left Blair House and have just entered St. John's church.


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January 20, 2009 6:05 AM

It helps to have connections

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

After a night of bumping into some of hottest Hollywood celebs (I'm talking about you Robert De Niro), it turns out I was sharing a cab with the biggest star of all. The good friend I'm staying with (who works for the New York Times) managed to score us 2 tickets IN THE SEATED AREA at the swearing in!! One of her co-workers casually mentions there are more tickets at the office that no one is using. After a quick phone call they were given the OK to take them. Lucky for me to be sitting in the taxi next to them. I'll wave to you from the good seats Jim McDermott!!

inaug_De Niro


MoveOn.org party: Manifest Hope
I felt like a complete stalker at this party in search of Shepard Fairey, the artist responsible for the cool Obama Hope poster. I never got a chance to see him, but I did happen upon Rosario Dawson. I also ran into Moby and Heather Graham. Funniest line heard from several people all night: "Who's the guy in the glasses?"

Being an art major myself, this party was really cool to me. It was a showcase of artists from across the nation who used their skills to get people out to vote. The paintings were amazing and there were also photographs of the first family and even a pair of Nikes that had been painted with an Obama theme. After an hour or so, we left and went to the real party of the night ...


Huffington Post Party

inaug_Huffington Post

Never have I been to a place where they allow celebrities to roam free like this. I thought they kept them in cages and only let the come out during awards season or the occasional stint in rehab. But at this party, everywhere you turned there was someone way more famous than me. Sheryl Crow was wrapping up a set when we walked in. Then Will.i.am (cq) took the stage to perform his catchy little tune "Yes We Can". Check it out on YouTube if you haven't seen it. Afterwards, there was an "Inauguration Countdown" and people started blowing horns and whistles like it as New Years Eve. The performances ended with a couple of songs from Sting. I totally didn't even recognize him and kept wondering why Ringo Starr was covering someone else's songs. In my defense I had a bad vantage point of the stage.

Celeb Sightings:
Robert De Niro being interviewed by D.L. Hughley, then pulled away by his very annoyed looking wife.
Tracee Ellis Ross (TV: Girlfriends) making a mad dash for the elevator.
Keisha Knight Pulliam: Rudy Huxtable has aged very well.
Josh Groban being interviewed (and fawned over) by a gaggle of women.
Isaiah Washington (formerly Dr. Burke on Greys Anatomy) being thankful for every fan he can get. He posed for pictures and stopped to talk to everyone he saw. But he'll never live down that T.R. Knight dust up.

The night ended with a very painful (yes, I wore heels) walk to the Metro terminal where someone tried to initiate an "Obama-Obama" chant. A few people joined in but mostly everyone just jockeyed for a position to get on one of the last trains of the evening. My friend and I only have about 2 hours before we have to get up and walk down to the National Mall. It's a tough job, but ... what am I saying? It's a great job!!

inaug_Farhana Rosario and Teresa

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January 20, 2009 4:44 AM

On the way

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks


we got our wake up call an hour early bc the dc text messages started at 530 and said the lines had started. that was the best way to sober up bc we didn't have time to think about it! Our goal was to get by the lincoln memorial but there weren't huge crowds we just kept going. We are now in front of the smithsonian castle and a huge jumbo tron! We are a little more than halfway between the washington monument and the Capitol!

Its 19 degrees, we didn't wait in lines and were right in front of a jumbotro in the middle of the mall. When we got settled we met the people around us - ca, me, pa, oh, fl, de, il, va, dc, canada and germany - that's all within a 10 ft radius. Our goal is to meet someone from every state. At 715 est I called my parents and everyone yelled 'good morning seattle!'. This is the only day I'd ever get away with that! People are chanting, singing, dancing and taking tons of pictures. So far everyone is polite and very chatty. Only 3.5 hours to go!

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January 19, 2009 8:45 PM

All about the flair

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Paul Weigel and Laurel Rivers

Today we made it into to the Mall and we're able to walk around freely. We're excited to announce that in spite of the "doom and gloom" economy, Capitalism is alive and well in Washington D.C. Amidst the National Guard troops, humvees, police, military, barriers and non-stop sirens, there is a thriving black market of Obama goods. There is an incredible amount of "unofficial" merchandise being sold on every corner-- including, but not limited to: wool caps, hats, scarves, buttons, calendars, flags, blinking pins, faux tickets, lanyards, sweatshirts, dvds, and t-shirts, not to mention the food options including the Barackwurst ($8 and especially delightful after walking around for hours).

Its' all about the flair. Walking among the crowds, its evident that everyone is snapping us as much 'bling' as possible. Some folks have one small understated button, others have 4, 5 or 6 large colorful buttons. Its incredibly addictive and easy to get caught up in the buying frenzy. After 4 hours spent in the Mall we ended up buying 3 buttons, 2 shirts and a calendar. We think we got off easy after seeing people with tote bags filled with "Obamawear".

Below: one of the vendors outside of the Lincoln Memorial. We bought a button right off of her coat!

weigel_vendor

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January 19, 2009 8:33 PM

All work and (no) play

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

We wrapped up 12+ hours of marching in two days to prepare for tomorrow's Inaugural Parade. The Lesbian and Gay Band Association is made up of members from all over the country. So--while we rehearsed music on our own over the last few weeks--we really only had two days to pull this together. The best way I can think to describe it is walking home from the store while carrying full grocery bags in front of your nose and reading at the same time... for five hours straight.

riggs_inaug rehearsal day two5

We've been rehearsing on the grounds of St. Elizabeth's hospital, which is one of the oldest mental health institutions in the country. We held a number of performances today for the residents and inmates of St. Elizabeth's... people who otherwise wouldn't see a piece of the inauguration. Again, music really does have a way of building bridges and bringing people together.

Tomorrow we head out at 4 am to start a long day of security clearances. There are several stages of security that we have to get through in order to get to the Parade start point at the White House. Our march will likely be televised live between 4:30-6 pm EST. See you then!

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January 19, 2009 8:30 PM

Overheard at Lincoln Memorial

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Paul Weigel and Laurel Rivers

While walking through the Vietnam War Memorial today, we heard the following from a family in front of us:

An African American man, in his late thirties or early forties, was pointing to a name on the wall and said "There he is. Happy birthday!" He was pointing to his father's name, one of the 50,000+ killed.

As he then walked out of the memorial, he said to his family, "With Obama getting elected, I finally feel like he died for something."

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January 19, 2009 7:17 PM

TV vs. real thing?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

The trains are crowded, and the mood is friendly. People are happy in a restrained sort of way. A family from the Greenbelt (Maryland suburbs, I think) saw festivities on TV going on at the mall and decided on an impulse to take the Metro in. "It's history and my teenagers want to feel it," one of the women in the party said. "Me? I want to see it. I'll be watching it on TV at home."

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January 19, 2009 7:10 PM

So far, everything going according to plan

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

It's late Monday night, and we're waiting for something on this trip to go wrong.

This morning, we had the usual anxieties: that we would oversleep, that something would go wrong on the way to O'Hare, that our flight would be delayed or cancelled. Maybe an earthquake or a few locusts would strike. But the trip down to the airport was made with no hitches whatsoever. The biggest "bump" was that I stupidly tried to e-check in on our flight using the code for the return flight (which I blame on the earliness of the hour and the lack of caffeine). Needless to say, that wasn't working. Polly spotted the mistake ("Hey, genius, that's the wrong confirmation!"), and we were on our way. The security check-in line was a long one, but a separate line was reserved for first class passengers only. We walked right to a too-bored ticket agent, who waved us through.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 19, 2009 5:49 PM

Lots of Obama buttons, lots of tired people

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Our flight was an hour late and we're 3 cents short of the bus fare. My husband wanted to slow down and wait, but I was in a rush. Lots of Obama buttons, lots of tired people. I feel good and excited. Night owl rush kicking in.

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January 19, 2009 5:47 PM

Packed subway in D.C.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

wicks_crowdedsubway

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January 19, 2009 5:45 PM

Volunteer work

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks
Volunteering at Marie Reed Elementary School and RFK Stadium for National Day of Service.

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wicks_volunteer2

wicks_volunteer

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January 19, 2009 5:37 PM

Manifest Hope

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today we opted to hang out in Georgetown instead of around the National Mall. In our travels we happened upon the Manifest Hope: DC Gallery so we stepped inside. In a word? Phenomenal. It's a two-story display of nothing but Obama-inspired art, along with a DJ and professional photographers snapping shots of patrons next to a giant painting.

We tried to go back and see it a second time a little later in the day but by that time the line had stretched around the block.


markert_dcgallery

Continue reading this post ...


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January 19, 2009 5:31 PM

Spotting the presidential motorcade

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard
Stopping to take photos of the iced over Potomac River, we heard sirens growing in the distance. Could it be, we wondered. It was. President-Elect Obama's motorcade was heading towards us! This was not the first time I have seen a Presidential Motorcade. In fact they are a common occurrence in DC. Actually after a while the thrill wears off and the annoyance of them diverting traffic builds. Maybe it was the spirit of celebration in the air or the fact that we are in the middle of a four day weekend with no where to be, but I found myself standing there with a grin on my face, one hand waving and the other snapping a photo.

howard_Obama Motorcade

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January 19, 2009 4:59 PM

A visit to Arlington Cemetary

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

howard_arlington3

I am embarrassed to say having spent the last three years going to college in Washington, DC that the last time I visited Arlington Cemetery was when I was visiting Washington during the last inauguration. That's right ... four years ago. It was this realization that propelled my visit. Although cold, it was a beautiful, blue sky day.

Approaching the cemetery, one walks past an often overlooked monument dedicated to the Seabees, or the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion responsible for base building during World War II. At the bottom is a quote that says "with willing hearts ... the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer." These words floated through my head as I passed through the wrought iron gates and I stepped onto hallowed ground. Immediately a feeling of humility overwhelmed me. The men and women buried here gave what Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion." This would not be the last time I thought of Lincoln during my walk.

Almost immediately I left the stream of visitors making their way to Kennedy's grave and further up the hill to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I would not be visiting them. For it was the other 300,000 plus men and women buried at Arlington that called to me. I talked to the graves, occasionally stopping to upright a wreath or straighten flowers, as I passed. Veterans from all the nation's wars - from the American Revolution through to the wars still being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan - are buried in this cemetery. But it quickly struck me that it was not just soldiers buried at Arlington, but wives, husbands, and children too. There are nineteen astronauts, twelve Supreme Court justices, two presidents, and 3,800 slaves, all Americans and each with their own unique story.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 19, 2009 4:33 PM

Notes from the inauguration concert- Sunday

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

We arrived at the gates early ... 7:30 to be exact and the lines already stretched for over a block. It was cold and we were impatient. Slowly the minutes ticked by until 8:00, the crowd began counting down and at the appointed hour a cheer went up through those gathered at the security gate. Nothing happened. The silence gave way to chatter. Talking with the people around us we all agreed that even though we had a six and a half hour wait in front of us before the concert we would rather do it inside than standing on the street. There was something climactic about getting to pass through security. Plus it was cold - hovering right around the freezing point, with wind chill it felt much colder.

howard_inaugconcert2

Howard_inaugObama on the Screens

Continue reading this post ...


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January 19, 2009 2:10 PM

Rock the vote party

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Thomas Bates

I just left a party that was thrown by Rock the Vote and Rolling Stone magazine, celebrating the role of music in politics. Rock the Vote registered over 2.6 million voters during the last election cycle, the largest voter registration drive in history. There was a great conversation about continuing to engage young people and to use music and culture to make politics relevant and interesting. Josh Groban and Cheryl Crow performed. Here's a bad picture of Crow doing her thing. She sang three songs, as did Groban.


bates_rockthevote

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January 19, 2009 1:23 PM

Outside Blair House -Sunday

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

I have come down with a terrible cold so I decided to stay in my room all day today to save up my energy for tomorrow; and in doing so I was looking through the pictures I took yesterday and I thought I would share this one with you. I got a glimpse of Barack Obama's mother-in-law Marian Robinson and the President-elect's oldest daughter Malia Obama as they were returning to Blair House yesterday.

Inaug 2009 Pics 004

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January 19, 2009 12:33 PM

Lines, tickets and demonstrations

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

Ticket to the swearing in tomorrow:

li_swearingintix

The line in front and around the Rayburn office building at around 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19:

li_lineatrayburn

President Bush protest at Dupont Circle:

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Li and friends at the White House:

li_obamaeats

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January 19, 2009 12:27 PM

Re-uniting with old friends

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Heading east from my Obama-supporting neighborhhod in Central Seattle makes me realize how huge this country is and how scattered our affiliations have become in this globally digitized age. I'm currently at Denver International Airport encountering people on vacation -- and not on vacation to the nation's Capitol.

I'm traveling now only with my husband but in DC a scattered array of friends is gathering -- from Hawai'i, California, DC proper, and Germany. Fifteen of us will meet face to face for the first time in 5 years at an Ethiopian restaurant on Wednesday after the throngs have left. A common thread unites us -- we all are or were attached to the UH political science department either through a personal affiliation or that of a partner/spouse. And we all have shared seminar space or work space at some point in our lives with the brother-in-law of the almost president.

Tomorrow ... It may be frigid in more ways than one. My goal is to stay calm and patient and not to let the scattered human encounters -- the shove, the frown, the glare, the snide remark, and slammed door -- get to me. America is vast in its races, languages, viewpoints, and forms of self-expression. Democracy is great, but it can get irritable and uncomfortable at times. Finding comfort in that discomfort for one's self is a part of life.

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January 19, 2009 11:14 AM

All planes lead to Obama

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

I left Seattle at 8:40 am Sunday and after a quick plane change in Chicago, I only encountered one person who wasn't on the plane for the Inauguration. Marie Powell, from Indianapolis, had to go to a meeting in Syracuse but wanted so badly to get off the plane in D.C. That whole hope and change thing Obama keeps talking about? You can FEEL it in the air. Everyone on the plane to D.C. were such Chatty Cathys, talking about where they were on election night, the Obama speeches, etc. Can't wait to see what happens next.

9:30 p.m. Sunday: I'm surprised the DC Metro isn't as crowded as I thought. I was expecting this huge crowd at the airport, but I got on the Yellow line within 10 minutes of getting off the plane. I changed trains at one of the main stations and all of a sudden it was a madhouse. It was like stuffing your face at your favorite restaurant and then unbuttoning your pants when you're done. The slow release of passengers was a welcomed feeling. But it wasn't the people who were the problem. It was all that luggage.

9:50 p.m. Sunday: I'm staying with a friend and I thought I was meeting her at her apartment. Instead she tells me to grab a cab and come join her at a private party. I'm dressed in "traveling clothes": comfy sweater, jeans and sneakers. Not to mention a laptop and a polka dot duffle bag. I get to the private party and I'm standing on the corner changing shoes so I can at least look decent from the knees down. The party had thinned out but I did meet Obama's speech writer! I missed all the cool celebs but it was a nice way to start the night.

11:30 p.m. Sunday: Crashed a party hosted by The Root/Washington Post. My "entourage" tried to think of people they knew who could get us in but when we got to the door nobody asked any questions. We just walked right in. Biz Markie was the DJ and Samuel L. Jackson made a quick appearance toward the end. They were serving the most awesome drinks (PomObama)... champagne and pomegranate juice. After 2 of those I was done for the night. We finished the evening with an early morning meal at Clydes. (I had the shrimp linguini). After 2 metro transfers, 2 parties and 3 cab rides, me and my polka dot bag finally made it to Dupont Circle. If this is what the rest of the week is going to be like, I really need to pace myself.

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January 19, 2009 10:52 AM

Al Gore: Inauguration is a "vantage point in our life"

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Colin Adams

Today I got to watch Al Gore's speech. He told us that this inauguration is a vantage point in our life and we need to look towards the horizon of our lives and begin planning out our journey through life.

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January 19, 2009 10:16 AM

Notes from Simon Elementary in D.C.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Thomas Bates

I just finished a service project at Simon Elementary school in DC. There were several different activities at the school - new books for the library, installing technology, painting walls and murals. I painted a wall with a group of folks from across the country. We were supervised by City Year participants. I'm told that Oprah will be featuring the project on her show today. There were lots of cameras from her show and MTV (which will feature service in their broadcast of the Youth Ball tomorrow night).

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January 19, 2009 10:05 AM

Meeting with Representative Reichert

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan LaBelle

We just met up with Congressman Reichert and he was able to take time out of his busy schedule to have a quick talk with us. It was really cool, being here in the congressmen's office to experience yet another once in a lifetime opportunity.

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January 19, 2009 8:30 AM

A new start

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Al Garman

I am waiting to board the flight to DCA to be present at the Inauguration of the 44th president of the United States. The president whom I not only voted for but did whatever I could to see this day "01/20/09". I had a bumper sticker announcing that day for so long, I had a key chain counting down to the day, and I had a countdown application on my Facebook page, it is time for all of them to go.

It is time for a new start, I am fully aware of the hard road ahead, it will not be easy but I am very hopeful of the possibilities.

It looks like that most of the passengers on this flight are going for the same reason. We are a happy smiling nation today because of tomorrow.

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January 19, 2009 7:31 AM

The Bishop that didn't exist

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Let the controversy (potentially) begin! I've been so caught up with being here amongst the masses that I'd been neglecting my typical headline-reading duty. This morning I learned that HBO decided not to air the prayer that Bishop Robinson delivered prior to yesterday's concert. If anyone is interested in reading it, transcripts are available online, but good luck finding them from a major news source; according to media it's as if the man didn't even exist yesterday.

Many viewed Obama's decision to include Robinson as a way to balance out some of Rev. Warren's more popular messages; but if no one heard or experienced Robinson, what sort of balance does that offer? It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops with this.

*Editor's note: Here is a post from DCist, which also includes the transcription.*

Speaking of things that don't exist, let's talk about the influx of bodies. Here's a photo from Saturday - have fun comparing it to any photos of the Mall you'll see from here on out.

Empty Mall on Sat. Jan. 17

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January 19, 2009 7:19 AM

More people than yesterday?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Paul Weigel and Laurel Rivers

We've now been here for a little more than a day - flew in through Baltimore and then drove to Reston, VA to stay with some friends...
Yesterday we attempted to get down to the mall area for the Inaugural concert. We thought we'd be tricky by taking the Metro from the farthest point possible on the orange line in Virginia into the city and arrive a little late (4pm) to avoid the influx of people at the start of the show (2:30pm). Given the headliners we assumed the concert would be going for a least a few more hours.

Oops. As we walked toward the Mall, what felt like thousands of people were leaving the area. As we actually got into the Mall, (shoulder to shoulder with the crowd), we heard what sounded like Amazing Grace, looked up to one of the TV monitors and saw the credits rolling. Ah, thats why we were the only fish trying to swim upstream.

Ok, next plan. Let's stay in the Mall and try to visit a few of the sites while everyone else leaves. We especially wanted to get down closer to the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial. Ha! There were still thousands of people hanging out and the National Guard was limiting access. We felt much like a rat in a maze as we continued to try to walk in each direction but would end up at a fence or barrier only to be turned back.

We made the executive decision to abort the mission and joined the crowd leaving the area. We'll attempt again today hoping that fewer people will be at the Mall. I guess we'll find out soon if that is faulty logic. Could more people be there than yesterday??

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January 19, 2009 6:42 AM

"Service" is a theme here

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Thomas Bates

I'm sitting in the gymnasium of Ballou High School in southeast Washington for the "New Era of Service" breakfast. Civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, who walked across the bridge in Selma, AL with Martin Luther King Jr., just gave an inspirational talk about his life in service. The room is filled with people who in ways big and small are committed to serving this country. Service is a big theme of the Inauguration and, I hope, for years to come.

We'll be heading to an elementary school down the street for a service project in a few minutes. As Martin Luther King said: "Everyone can be great, because everybody can serve." So go out and be great today. You can find a service event at www.usaservice.org.

Some celebrity sightings at the service breakfast: Tobey Maguire (an ambassador for ServiceNation), Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (who produced a film about pledging to serve, which should be on YouTube today).

More name dropping: I chatted with Ben Affleck about his political involvement last night at one of the parties. Maroon 5 and John Legend performed. DJ Samantha Ronson was spinning. Her partner, Lindsay Lohan, was also there taking it all in.

More from the red carpet later.

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January 19, 2009 6:35 AM

Lines everywhere in D.C. today

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

Ticket lines in D.C. Monday

Ticket lines in D.C. Monday

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January 18, 2009 10:21 PM

Travelling light, but always be electronically prepared

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks


I spent all yesterday and night running errands and packing. Who knew the cost of extra batteries and memory cards for my camera, camcorder, and computer combined with a run to Joe's for DC weather would add another couple hundred bucks to the trip. Ah well, at least I'll be electronically prepared and as warm as possible. There’s something about trying on full-body spandex-like material that really humbles a person. They say humility is a virtue - thank you ski-wear - mission accomplished! I have not proof, but I just may have tried on my ski mask in the dressing room to top off the aerodynamic feel of the moment. So hot.

Arrival in D.C. - Union Station


Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 9:40 PM

D.C.'s magical metro passes

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

inaug_richard_obamametro.jpg



Submitted by Richard Li

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January 18, 2009 4:49 PM

Inaugural parade directives: No hands in pockets, march in form

Posted by blog

Submitted by Karin Riggs

Day One of Inauguration rehearsal was great. We marched and played for about seven hours today. Our sound is pretty phenomenal (especially since this is our first of only two rehearsals before the big day). We had a very serious debriefing from national security and the local police. Rest assured, the parade route is expected to be extremely safe and regulated heavily by national security. We were warned to refrain from doing anything but blowing air in our instrument (or banging it, as the case may be) and marching in form during the parade. If members do so much as put a hand in a pocket or make a gesture they'll be taken down by national security. No joke.

I learned today that CBS/Logo is doing a documentary on us as the first GLBT contingent to ever march in the Inaugural Parade. It's called "My First Time."

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January 18, 2009 4:47 PM

This improbable quest: A dispatch from Chicago

Posted by blog

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

Polly and I arrived in the Windy City to rendezvous with Bookbag and Blueboy. "This improbable quest," to borrow a phrase from our President-Elect's candidacy speech, still feels slightly unreal. We're here. It has started. And yet, the reality of it hasn't sunk in fully. After the two graciously picked us up from O'Hare, we went out to dinner and then back to their house to unwind.

Here there be Democrats. A well-thumbed copy of "The Audacity of Hope" sits on the bookshelf. The historic "Obama!" front page from the Tribune sits in a frame on the upstairs wall. Another, handsome "commemorative" version hangs in the living room (OK... lots of people have framed copies of that paper, but how many people do you know have two of them?). Blueboy and Bookbag have another framed document, an autographed picture of Bill Clinton.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 3:24 PM

What a difference a day makes

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

inaugblog_markert_clinton.jpg

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today was drastically different. Not only was it about 20 degree warmer, but the city was no longer a ghost town. Yesterday we were able to walk freely around the Mall, and only a handful of people were milling about the field near the Washington Monument which was certainly not the case this afternoon.

inaugblog_markert_washmem.jpgEven though we were anxious to get to the Lincoln Memorial for today's kick-off concert, we decided to take a detour and grab some food at The Palm. We had eaten dinner there the previous night and the wait staff was so friendly and accommodating that we thought it'd be a great way to start the day today. Unfortunately when we arrived we learned it was rented out for a private party, so we walked out. As we were rounding the corner a motorcade pulled up in front of the restaurant, so of course we walked back to take a look. Who came out of the vehicle? Former president, Bill Clinton.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 2:56 PM

Crowded, but no wait for D.C. metro

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

inaugblog_frasier.jpg

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

I made it out!

After the concert, it was like a mad rush for the metro stations! I don't think I have ever seen so many people! Most of the streets were closed to traffic so people had more room to walk. I was worried that I would be in line for a train for hours but I lucked out and walked to a far metro station and was able to get right on a train!

It was a crazy day but I don't think I've ever had so much fun!! There is so much to see with an event this big, it is just amazing!!

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January 18, 2009 2:29 PM

Powell & Tutu (cont.)

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Colin Adams

Powell told us to great leaders have a vision and then break up their vision into accomplishable steps. Archbishop Tutu told us how what really makes us human is the relationship we have with others. He talked about some of the things he went through in his life and explained that it is our turn to lead the world. He told us to follow our dreams and inspired me that anything is possible. He told us that no matter what, it is possible to live in a world of peace.

Read Adams' previous message.

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January 18, 2009 12:44 PM

Huge crowds

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I can't believe how many people are here. Yesterday only 50 or so were by the Monument, and now god only knows how many are here! Obama to speak soon.

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January 18, 2009 12:42 PM

POTUS on POTUS: Seattle band's Obama ballad

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Seattletimes.com's T.J. Ortenzi

Seattle rock band The Presidents of the United States of America were on American Public Media's "Weekend America" this week. They wrote a catchy ditty titled "Moving In," about Obama's (surprise!) move to the White House.

The song sort of reminds me of something I've heard on a car insurance commercial, but it's timely and heartfelt, so who am I to judge? Last year, the band showed they could have fun when they fielded suggestions for a new song from Seattletimes.com readers.

Listen to "Moving In" and the "Weekend America" interview below:


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January 18, 2009 11:33 AM

Coronations and colonizations

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

I'm still in Seattle. Our flight leaves Sea-Tac at 7:27 a.m., which means catching a 4:58 a.m. bus from our neighborhood in the Central Area. Or earlier, if we can, my husband suggests. We're on almost the latest possible itinerary we can take to D.C. and still get to the inauguration on time. We land Sunday night at Baltimore-Washington at 7:20 p.m. and have a bus-train trek from there to my aunt's place in Fairfax, Va. In the 24-hour countdown, all the "How are you going to it?" warnings are coming back to haunt me. Can I really pull this off?

Barack Obama taught us to say, "Yes, we can." Instinctively, though, we Americans seem more likely to say, "No, I cannot" or "What if I fail?"

Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 11:17 AM

Recording history

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

I am walking through this sea of people in search of anything interesting and I came across this artist from california who is painting the scene here at the lincoln memorial. He told me that he plans to paint the other side of the national mall on tuesday with the capital building in the background. Just about everyone here is recoding this moment with their cameras but this guy chose paint and canvas!

IMG00015

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January 18, 2009 11:07 AM

Powell and Tutu

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Colin Adams

presidential youth inaugural conference just finished listening to General Powell, & Archbishop Tutu's speeches and we r now heading to Lincoln memorial. I am so excited. traffic getting there is going to be terrible tho

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January 18, 2009 11:03 AM

So many people

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

The area of the national mall from the washington monument to the west toward the lincoln memorial is really filling up with people for the concert that starts in a half hour. There are big screens and speakers set up all over and right now they are playing video message clips from several celebrities. I am also amazed at the number of people who are selling Obama things; everything from t-shirts to key chains to coins, stickers, and hand warmers!

IMG00014

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January 18, 2009 10:58 AM

Clinton

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

We just ran into former president Clinton. Photos to follow; we are now making our way to the Lincoln Memorial for the concert.

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January 18, 2009 10:56 AM

Protesters

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

As more and more people are coming out to the national mall I am seeing several groups of protesters.

IMG00013

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January 18, 2009 10:37 AM

Arrival

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan LaBelle

It is 11 o clock here! We are at the U of maryland and we are extremely confused with long delays at the airport we finally got here.

we wr fed then dirctd 2 a speaker that was already tlking when we got there it was done we were bustled to a hall & led up to r luggage

Us to buses; buses r scattered & it's extremely hectic Ive finally found my bus & have an hr ride to my hotel only to get up early 2mrw!

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January 18, 2009 10:33 AM

Bush sighting

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

President bush just landed on the south lawn of the white house in marine one; I had heard he was at camp david this weekend but now he is back at the white house.

IMG00012

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January 18, 2009 9:45 AM

Heading out

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Ainardi

Dropping kids off with my mom. Kinda bummed they are not coming with. At least can enjoy it better. Getting on the plane at10:55pm. Nervous.

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January 18, 2009 8:27 AM

Tiger Woods and journalists everywhere

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

What a day!

There is so much going on in DC today that it is almost too much for my senses! I just saw Tiger Woods and I went by the MSNBC tent. I swear there are journalists on everywhere I look! I have been walking around all morning and the weather has not been too bad, I am staying nice and warm. I just stopped by a sandwich shop for lunch and then it's back to exploring!

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January 18, 2009 7:01 AM

Near the Lincoln Memorial

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

A large crowed is starting to gather for the opening concert. Security was a breeze but everyone is being kept a long distance away from the stage.

IMG00011

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January 18, 2009 6:45 AM

A Visitor Inaugural

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

Sung to the tune of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from the operetta "Pirates of Penzance"


I am the very model of a Visitor Inaugural,
I'm travelling in D.C., I have Native Guide to show it all,
A tourist destination just like Napa where they sell the vin,
Instead of Sauvignon we have the ceremony swearing-in;
I'm very well acquainted too with matters met'rological,
I'm checking out the MTA and memorizing sched-u-le,
The crowds are quite impressive and it's hard to get a view in here
I'm looking for a bathroom and a chance to buy a souvenir.

I'm very good at wrapping up and putting on a sweater warm,
Because forecasts are threatening another wintry Arctic storm;
So though, I'm badly phrasing it inside this bit of doggerel,
I am the very model of a Visitor Inaugural.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 6:39 AM

Obama sighting

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

Just saw Obama leave Blair House!!

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January 18, 2009 5:54 AM

T-shirts

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

On the metro going into DC this morning there was a guy selling Obama t-shirts out of his backpack. I also notice an increase of police around the metro stations.

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January 18, 2009 5:36 AM

Stuck

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

Well it's 8:30 and rumor has it, they are still sweeping the area and gates have not opened. Here's hoping they open soon.

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January 18, 2009 5:25 AM

Holding our position

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

We arrived on constitution avenue, to be met with an already long line! To help forget about the cold we have been keeping track of the number of people whose lives are worse than ours. At the top of the list are the five people whose cars we saw towed off Virginia Avenue. If you have a sage green Volvo Cross Country and you can't find it, well it's currently circling Foggy Bottom, and it's now on lap two.

Although we heard a cheer when the gates were opened the line hasn't moved. Reports are the independence avenue entrance is shorter. But we'd have to walk probably three-quarters of a mile, and by the time we arrive there are no guarantees. We're going to hold our position.

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January 18, 2009 4:33 AM

Setting out for the concert

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

It is 7am and we have set out for the inaugural concert on the mall... There was originally suppose to be three of us, but our ranks have slimmed and we are a person short. It is 1.6 miles to the Lincoln monument. However, the organizers were kind enough to put the security screening points as FAR from us as possible, so it looks like it'll be more like E miles by the time were there. Initial reports from our friends who left at 4 am is that there are a few thousand people already camped out at the gates, which don't open until 8M. Even M street is pretty deserted. Somewhere in the distance a fire alarm is going off.... Looks like it is at Banana Republic, but there is no fire truck in sight.

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January 17, 2009 6:43 PM

Travel essential: longjohns

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Ainardi

I'm so ready to go. One last thing to buy on my way to the airport tomorrow. Longjohns! Here we come organizing for america!

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January 17, 2009 4:28 PM

Volunteering in Tukwila to start the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Thomas Bates

My Inauguration actually started this morning in Tukwila as part of the Inauguration's Renew America Together weekend of service that runs through Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I was part of a group of volunteers helping restore Duwamish Riverbend Hill, which is being turned into a park by the Cascade Land Conservancy and the city of Tukwila. (I should have some pictures of the volunteers later today.) The organization I run --Democrats Work -- and its partners worked with the Presidential Inauguration Committee to identify and create service opportunities across the country. One of our great volunteers, Brian Gunn of Auburn, helped turn out some folks for the event this morning in Tukwila to help kick off the weekend of
service. (On Monday, we'll have volunteers at Northwest Harvest Food Bank in Kent and another group in Beacon Hill doing restoration work.) Everyone can get involved at www.usaservice.org. You can find an event in your area
and help be part of the Renew America Together service movement.

I'm taking a redeye to DC tonight (through Dallas) and will let you know i I make it in one piece.

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January 17, 2009 4:27 PM

Passing motorcades, no Washington Monument

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Simi Gupta

So we just had dinner with all of the other world strides kids from other parts of the nation. Obama ended up passing where we were eating in his car. We didn't get to climb the Washington Monument because it was closing and didn't want to handle 35 kids.

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January 17, 2009 4:08 PM

"Feels like a holiday"

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Karin Riggs

Flight to dc was seamless. excitement in the air is palpable and all are in good spirits - feels like a holiday. Everyone on the flight laughed during the survival instructions in the 'rare event of a water landing'. Oh, and it's freezing!

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January 17, 2009 2:41 PM

Arriving in D.C.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Colin Adams

The Dulles airport is extremely busy. They switched our baggage claim concourse 3 times. We are standing in a group of an estimated nearly one thousand people.

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January 17, 2009 1:44 PM

Airport hassles

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Alex Lazear

Well we made it to DC and we have been here for about an hour now and they have managed to lose my bag!

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January 17, 2009 1:34 PM

History in the Making

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

As we were driving back from the airport last night a funny feeling came over me. Bear with me as I offer up a poor analogy.

I'm an embarrassingly huge fan of 90s grunge, but I wasn't living in Seattle when it hit. Sometimes I get a little humbled when I pause to remember I walk the same streets as, say, Kurt and Courtney. I can't help but think, "This is it. This is where it all happened."

The same feeling hit me last night: this, D.C., is where it all happens. I can feel it now. I'm walking amongst history. And I'm about to see history.

We spent the morning and afternoon walking around D.C. It's surprisingly empty, so we were able to stroll around the Mall in the ridiculously cold weather. The Capitol steps are set up for the swearing-in, workers are busy placing barricades and painting streetlights along Pennsylvania Avenue, and tents are being erected near the Washington Monument.

Jan. 16 - Inauguration prep

Jan. 16 - Preparations in D.C.


The most exciting part of the day was when John Mellencamp and U2 did their sound checks at the Lincoln Memorial. The second most exciting part of the day was when our Little Hotties Hand Warmers kicked in, our fingers would have fallen off without them. I'm tempted to duct tape several to my face for Tuesday, it's really really cold.

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January 17, 2009 12:23 PM

My countdown to D.C.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

My last few days have been filled with pre-inauguration logistics and a slow buildup of excitement. Among other things, I've been:

* learning how to shoot video on my new Blackberry

* learning how to upload both video clips and audio commentary to a website called Utterli.com from my new Blackberry

* creating an event page on Facebook

* setting up a virtual classroom for students in my two political science classes

* connecting with friends, family, and colleagues across the nation as I re-practice the craft of observation and documentation

* and reflecting on what exactly it is that I am doing.

How did I get here? To this point of being a teacher, a scholar, a writer, techno-experimenter, and political activist? I have learned how to move through these worlds almost seamlessly in the last six months.

How did I get here? To this point of joining a few million others in Washington, D.C., to help create a rough draft of history? That question has a lot less to do with Barack Obama and more perhaps about Obama's assertion that the inauguration is not about him but about all of us.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 17, 2009 11:58 AM

On my way

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

I am currently sitting in LAX waiting for my plane to leave for DC. I am looking out the window at the nice warm sunshine knowing that really cold weather awaits. A plane to DC just left a few minutes ago and it was full of high school students; I'm sure they are going for the inauguration too!

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January 17, 2009 11:52 AM

Skyline arrives

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan LaBelle

image(2)
The calm before the storm. Photo by Jordan LaBelle

image
Skyline students T.J. Forney, Simi Gupta, Molly Jenny and Jordan LaBelle wait for their redeye to arrive at the Seattle airport. Photo by Jordan LaBelle

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January 17, 2009 9:30 AM

Journey begins

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Ainardi

Drove across the state of Washington last night. Five hours, staying here in Seattle with family till we fly off Sunday night. Journey begins.

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January 17, 2009 9:10 AM

Let's talk about the weather

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

Polly and I are packing for the big trip, and we are doing so with one consideration: it's going to be cold.

And I don't mean that "Gosh, it's January in Seattle and the thermometer almost got down to 30" kind of cold. Perhaps some of you saw the news footage of a man throwing a boiling cup of water into the air ... and having it come down as snow. We're talking about that kind of cold.

You see, Polly and I are stopping off in Chicago to meet Bookbag and Blueboy before moving on to hook up with Native Guide in Baltimore. Those of you who have been to Chicago know that the area has two seasons: oppressively hot and unbelievably cold, and they are solidly in the latter. Bookbag reported that the air temperature in her town was -11F on Thursday. Figure in the wind chill, and you get -38F, which is right around the average daytime high on Mars.

No kidding. You can see why early man developed in Africa, where it is warmer. If our ancestors came from Chicago, they never would have developed tools. They would have discovered fire, invented Gore-Tex, and called it good.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 17, 2009 6:05 AM

Motorcade sighting

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan LaBelle

Sorry we didnt get a picture but Obama's motorcade just passed us while we were eating dinner! so cool!

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January 17, 2009 4:35 AM

Arrival

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Simi Gupta


Just arrived in dc. Its about 1 degree f right now and really really really cold

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January 17, 2009 4:20 AM

Washington chill

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Russell Storey

"And the current temperature in Baltimore is 12 degrees." These were the words of our pilot as we neared BWI (the Balitmore airport). A brisk wind greeted our arrival. True to my word from my first piece we headed right for the city after procuring our rental car. I strongly recommend renting the GPS unit if you don't already have one. A city as old this one offers many challenges driving wise. A myriad of one-way streets, diagonals, roundabouts and poor signage can be very confusing to a visitor.

We cruised down Constitution Avenue. I was pulled over by local police. Unbeknownst to me I was driving with daylight running lights only. He realized I was in a rental and let me go.

We parked the car near the Capitol and took off on foot down Pennsylvania Ave toward the White House. By this time the temp had dropped to 9 degrees. We really were not prepared to walk for a few hours in that weather but we ventured on. Sadly we saw many homeless bedded down right on the sidewalk. I didn't have the heart to use my camera flash. In a few days the parade will pass by this very spot. These people are not here to secure a viewing location.

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January 17, 2009 1:03 AM

Who eats here?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

When Austin and I were roommates in college, we lived four blocks away from the Obama house. This week I learned that, in addition to having been my dean, Michelle Obama was also the advisor for my community service fraternity, one semester before I pledged. Despite our proximity, somehow I managed to never once see an Obama. Or perhaps I did and just never knew it at the time. Hmm, there was that one time when I didn't give candy to the two little girls who were Trick or Treating. And there was another time when I rear ended the guy with a vanity plate that read, "BRN2BPRZ."

Anyways, while the Obamas no longer live in Hyde Park, the community has certainly not forgotten that they once did, nor has Austin, who still lives there. He informed the rest of us that The Medici, a popular neighborhood restaurant, was selling the above shirts ("The Medici on the front, "Obama Eats Here" on the back, apologies for Austin's mildew colored couch). Austin thought it was only appropriate that we wear those shirts in Washington DC. Thus, they will be our Inauguration outfits. If we were cool and/or rich enough to go to a ball, we'd wear them to it as well.

front

back

Continue reading this post ...


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January 16, 2009 6:01 PM

Getting ready

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan LaBelle

Just about finished packing here and getting ready to leave for the airport for our red eye flight. The skyline group and I are heading into DC early to get some extra tourist action before the Inauguration. Had to make sure to pack some warm clothes, highs are expected to be in the low 30s and I think that will have quite the toll after sitting on the cold possibly snowy ground for seven hours...but it's all worth it to see history in the making.

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January 16, 2009 12:40 PM

Honored to be in the parade

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Karin Riggs

Today is a full day of packing and last minute preparations. I've amassed a ton of cold weather gear to get me through the long hours of rehearsal and marching for the Inaugural Parade (this will not be a pack-light trip). Our gracious ride volunteered to pick us up at 4:15 AM to head for the airport (wow, thanks Stan!).

I'm very honored to be able to play in Obama's Inaugural Parade. No doubt he will stumble and falter as a president (eh-hem, need I say more than "Rick Warren?") -- but I believe he will make America a better place not because of what he does but what he inspires us to do. He has already mobilized scores of us. Everywhere I go, from work to the local coffee shop, the hair-dresser to band practice, people are telling me that they know more about what's going on in our country than ever before. They're paying attention, they're getting involved. And for a nation of apathy, that is no small feat. Obama--ever the community organizer--helped us take back our county. I hope he carries out his promise of transparency, of lending an open ear and of inspiring us to be part of the solution during his Presidency.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 16, 2009 12:02 PM

Getting here

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today was a travel day. When we got to Sea-Tac we somehow managed to get through security and to our gate in about 20 minutes. Right off the bat I couldn't help but start playing the, "Who's going to the inauguration" game, sizing up fellow travelers. It turned out it didn't take a super-sleuth to spot them; many were wearing Obama lapel pins or stickers, one woman had even created her own Obama beanie.

Despite sitting through two full flights, everyone seemed happy and accommodating, as if we all knew we shared a common ground and a common mission. Around 7:30pm local time we arrived safe and sound in Baltimore. As we landed the pilot was kind enough to tell us it was all of 9 degrees outside. Nine. And, just in case you didn't catch that the first two times I'm going to repeat it once more for good measure: nine. But, considering we had just come from 3 degree Detroit, things were already looking up!

Continue reading this post ...


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January 16, 2009 10:47 AM

Scalpers are mean people but my dress rocks!

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Brown

So, I got on Craigslist looking for two tickets to the Moby gig that was supposed to be at midnight on the night that I fly in but Leah discovered that it was actually the night before. Sort of like a Saturday night, Sunday morning thing. Anyway, looking for the tickets I couldn't help but notice the abundance of swearing in, parade and Official Inaugural Ball tickets for sale for ridiculous prices. Who are these people? Keep it real! If you really did score these tickets, that means you scored them for free and out of pure luck. Now you want to rip someone off? How did that become ok? Now someone who wanted the tickets for the right reasons will miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime because of your greed. Shame on you! There I have said my piece, now let's talk about my dress!!!!!
I got it at Macy's and let me tell you.....IT'S HOT, BABY!!! Well it's pretty! I must have thought of a million different ways I would have rather spent the $$$ that I spent on it but I am going to an Inaugural Ball so I pulled my coin together and I bought the dress. I bought some cute shoes too. (I might need to do a few practice walks in them if I don't want to look like a man walking in heels). Check it out!

IMG_0890

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January 16, 2009 9:19 AM

"I knew this was our time"

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Ainardi

A little over a year ago I heard Barack Obama speak. At that time I
was flip flopping between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton and even a
little bit Dennis Kucinich. I didn't know who Obama was and could
barely say his name. I only could recall a little of the speech he
gave at the DNC in 2004. But, I heard him speak. It was when he lost
New Hampshire in the primary. I always like to see what happens to a
candidate when they are forced to humility. But, Barack Obama shocked
me. He stayed fired up, he ranted on hope, never showed a sign of
defeat...and he made me cry.

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January 15, 2009 5:59 PM

Name-dropping and the Green Ball

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Brown

I spoke to Leah (Tuesday) night to discuss what our plans are and who will be at our ball. She seems VERY pleased that Blair Underwood is attending!!!! The name drop total included: Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Joan and John Cusak, Jamie Foxx, Melissa Etheridge, and of course Former Vice President Al Gore. Needless to say, we were very excited! She had mentioned some transportation options to and from the Ball. Then we discussed how we would watch the swearing in. It sounds like it will be insane, she mentioned a back up plan to the back up plan should the crowds be too overwhelming. All the talk of potential chaos actually makes me want the day to be here. With a crowd that big, we are destined to meet tons of cool people. After she mentions that there will only be X number of port o' potty's for X number of people, I say to her, "So it's like a Dave Matthews Concert!" She giggles in a way that probably implies that she was probably thinking that she has invited a fool to Washington, D.C.!! She then replies, "I am thinking, it will be worse than a Dave Matthews Concert!!!"

Conversation turns back to the ball. Leah says, "Do you know what you are wearing yet?"

I tell her, "No not yet, I mean, I have checked out a couple of dresses that look good to me."

Then, there is a pause. Leah's pauses are the best pauses in the world, usually something funny comes after the pause but I don't think she does it on purpose. Either way, it makes you laugh and feel good anyway.

"You're wearing a dress?!" she says

Continue reading this post ...


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January 15, 2009 5:42 PM

LGBA band's musical selection

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Karin Riggs

The Lesbian and Gay Bands Association announces our musical selection for the Inaugural Parade (press release below). Four members of Seattle's Rainbow City Band are traveling to DC to play with LGBA in the Inaugural Parade. Personally, I thought we should've chosen to play the 'Wedding March' for when we get to Obama's viewing stand...

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January 15, 2009 3:31 PM

The Green Ball and other things

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Brown

There are two Green Ball Events that will be held prior to the Inauguration. There is the Green Ball hosted by Wyclef Jean and the Green Ball that is hosted by Former Vice President Al Gore. Leah and I will be attending the Al Gore event.

We were hoping to get tickets to an event in which Moby would DJ at midnight on the night I fly in but those tickets sold out. There was also a Beastie Boys Concert the night of our Green Ball but considering the Green Ball tickets were not cheap, we will be skipping that concert too. We are checking out the availability of tickets for other events. We'll see how that goes.

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January 15, 2009 11:59 AM

Traffic nightmare

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

My friend who commutes back and forth to DC and Seattle received an email today from the state of Virginia about road closures. Starting at 2am on Tuesday, all major freeways will be completely shut down to all traffic except emergency vehicles, buses, taxis and for-hire car services. She said it would be the equivalent to holding the Inauguration on Mercer Island, and then closing off I-90, I-5 and I-405 for 20 miles in each direction. Oh, but 99 would be open (and would then collapse).

I can totally handle massive crowds - it's part of the fun in going to DC on this trip and it will add to the atmosphere and excitement. However, when it comes to vehicle traffic - do yourself a favor and BACK AWAY FROM NICOLE! Seriously. After two years of commuting from Renton to Magnolia everyday during rush hour, I need a continuous IV of Xanax just thinking about traffic. SO, as you may have guessed, getting in a vehicle anywhere near DC on Tuesday is not an option for me. I know there will be people who will try it anyway though. A lot of people. Too many people. Anyone who is stupid enough to do so deserves to get stuck at a roadblock for at least 24 hours and needs to be contained and neutered. One this is for sure, I'll be packing my best walking shoes and staying clear of any vehicles.

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January 15, 2009 10:50 AM

The Clone Wars

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I just experienced the first, and hopefully only, travel speed bump of our trip. Our flight leaves early tomorrow morning, so I went online today to check us in. That's when I noticed that I was traveling twice (sitting nine rows apart from myself, even!) while my partner wasn't traveling at all.

So I called the airline. The airline had me call the travel agent. I called the travel agent. The travel agent called the airline. The airline called me. The airline called the travel agent. We all called each other. A few stress-related melted organs, a $150 ticket re-issuing fee, and nearly an hour later the problem was resolved and I printed off correct boarding passes. Whew! (PS: I'll be re-visiting the $150 fee with my travel agent later, but for now I'm celebrating getting the issue worked out.)

Tomorrow had the potential to pose another travel speed bump since we had planned on taking the bus to the airport at an ungodly hour, but a friend has swooped in to save the day. I was going to do the polite thing and decline her offer, but she wrote, "You're going on the American version of a Mecca trip -- driving is the least I can do, and I know Barack would want me to." So how can I refuse that? Thanks in advance for the ride, S.K.!

Tonight I'm getting a haircut and then packing my bag. Tomorrow is D.C. or bust!

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January 15, 2009 10:25 AM

Going to the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Crystal Brown

Not sure how I was introduced to the name, Barack Obama. I can recall a few times that the name was mentioned and my exact thoughts were, "Say what?" I can recall what may have been the first time I heard the name. I had texted my friend Leah asking her what she was doing and she replied, "Watching Barack Obama on Oprah." Not knowing what a Barack or an Obama was, I remember asking who or what that was! She replied that he was a Senator from Illinois and could possibly run for President. The next time I would perk up to his name, Barack Obama had just won Iowa in the Democratic Primary. My first thoughts were, "I need to know who this guy is." I began educating myself on Obama and all other candidates (Republican and Democrat) and soon I found myself in love with politics. Sure, I had followed some politics but not enough to want to dig deep on all the issues and candidates involved.

Leah and I met 10 years ago at Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. I can't remember what it was that exactly sparked our friendship. I think she may have seen me as a little rowdy and wild. I saw someone who was amazingly intelligent with a calm personality and wonderful manners; traits I could only dream of having!! And maybe then we both thought we could live vicariously through each other. Whatever it was, it worked out in the end because here we are laughing about 10 years ago. Keeping in touch hasn't been easy...for me I mean. I never return phone calls; I never even answer my phone...ever!!! I guess you can say it is one of those friendships where I am actually loved for my flaws because they make me, well me.

So fast forward to 2008, my hunger for politics has grown and throughout the election, I would send a text to Leah every so often talking about something related to the election. We would end up having a phone conversation and she extended an offer to stay at her place should I find myself attending the Inauguration. Shortly before Christmas, I called Leah. We talked about a few things and then I brought up Inauguration. We talked some more and she mentions that she managed to score two tickets to the Al Gore hosted, Green Inaugural Ball. We talked some more and then she asks, "Well I've got an extra ticket to the Ball, you can go if you get your ticket." I don't think I can repeat here the words I used to accept but you can take a good guess, I am sure. We talked a little more and then I got online and made sure I had a way to Washington, D.C. Then it started to sink in, "I have to dress up!" But if dressing up is what I have to pay for the chance of a lifetime, well let's do it! As you can imagine by now, I am not the type that takes dressing up lightly, not to mention, I am planning on actually wearing an evening gown. My friends are stoked!

Now here I am, 4 days away from boarding a plane to our nation's capital and participating in the historic event of the first African-American President.

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January 15, 2009 10:00 AM

A huge undertaking, but worth it

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Karin Riggs

In two short days we'll be in Washington D.C.! I'm so proud to have this opportunity to perform in the inauguration with theLesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) and participate in this historic event.

Harvey Milk said that gay people will not win their rights by standing silently in their closets. He urged every gay person to come out so that straight people could no longer blindly submit to the lies, myths and distortions that hurt the queer community. Being able to come out in my day to day life by saying that I'm performing in the inaugural parade with LGBA is truly an honor. There is no shame, no apology, no afflicted pain that surrounds it... just pride. This is one of the things I love most about Rainbow City Band (among many others).

This trip has been a huge undertaking. LGBA's inauguration acceptance happened very quickly and we didn't have much time to get our affairs in order. Considering registration, uniform, cold weather gear, travel, hotel, etc. etc. I believe this trip will cost upwards a month's salary. Yet, I believe this huge undertaking will be worth it and then some.

My resource anxiety was somewhat reduced earlier this week when I scored a (relatively) great last minute hotel deal. I canceled our room in Chantilly (20-some miles from DC) and reserved a room in Arlington (4 miles from DC and two blocks from the Metro station). This means I also canceled our car reservation, saving us a chunk of money and a lot of hassle.

The transportation situation sounds like it's going to be a mess. They're closing most roads and bridges into DC to general traffic and I'm still uncertain as to what's happening with the Metro. My contact at the hotel said they may be closing the metro station nearby (for security reasons). She said they are expecting people to walk the 4+ miles into DC. At any rate, sounds like it will be quite an adventure... stay tuned.

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January 15, 2009 9:49 AM

Hope. Change. And yes, we can.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

I work for the College Success Foundation with a program called HERO. The mission of HERO is to increase college enrollment for young men of color, whose current college enrollment rates are less than optimal. As field staff, my time is spent exclusively in schools and with students.

Yesterday, after school, Greg walked into my office. Now an accomplished senior, Greg was a HERO student and has already been accepted to three universities. Despite his mountainous stature, he is soft-spoken and gentle. He is also highly intellectual, articulate, and cerebral, everything his country believes young black men cannot and should not be.

While Greg's presence in our office usually brings my co-workers and me great joy, this time a new component of Greg's ensemble piqued our concern. He was proudly sporting two fresh tattoos on the backs of his catcher's mitt sized hands. On each hand, five yellow and blue stars underlined adjectives that Greg believed described himself. They were bright, highly noticeable, and very gaudy.

My co-workers, who have known Greg for much longer and who have been much more instrumental to his success than I, gaped with dismay. Greg has an interview with an Ivy League university next week.
"How could you do that?" said one.

"As if stupid people don't have enough reason to judge you already!" said another.

Ultimately, amidst the chiding and scorning, one question just begged to be answered.

"Greg, why did you do that?"

Hope.

Greg responded softly. "I wanted to show people that you don't have to be somebody you're not to get what you want. I hope that they can see me for who I am, not for who I have to be."

I sympathized with Greg. It wasn't the first time I had heard a student say that. I had heard it from students in Chicago and the Pacific, students just like Greg. I had even shared nearly identical thoughts myself. Greg was in an unenviable position. He was on the cusp of greatness, but the closer he came, the more closely his actions became associated with a cruel form of treason. Why couldn't he remain true to himself, he wondered, and still succeed? Why was it such an unforgivable crime to be a good student and black?

My co-workers and I grasped for responses. We discussed the embarrassing injustice of it all, the unfair pressure Greg feels, and the impossible decisions he has to make. We told him that he had to play by someone else's rules or else he would never be able to share what everyone deserved to see -- his talent, his intellect, his character. But nothing we said had enough gravitas.

Then someone mentioned Barack Obama. And I jumped at the opening.

I told Greg about how Barack Obama recently solicited Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington DC. I told Greg about how, when asked if he wanted change for his $20, Barack Obama told the black cashier, "Naw, we're straight."

"That's a man who knows who he is," I told Greg. "He has never lost himself." Greg nodded in agreement.

"But Greg," I began, "what he said to the cashier, can he talk like that to the press following him around? Can he speak that way in Presidential debates, in front of everybody watching?"

Greg thought for a moment. "No, he can't," he answered.

"What would happen if he did?" I asked.

"He wouldn't be president," Greg said immediately.

"So would you want him to speak like that?" I questioned.

Change.

Greg didn't say anything. He looked down, rubbed the corners of his eyes with his catcher's mitts emblazoned with bright yellow and blue stars, and rested his head on my co-worker's shoulder.
"I don't know why I got these tattoos," he finally said. No one spoke. Greg then continued, slowly and deliberately, "Do you think I can do it? Can I be who I am and still be great?"

Yes, Greg.

Yes, we can.

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January 15, 2009 9:29 AM

D.C. - getting our bearings

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Russell Storey

The first few days in Washington we will spend figuring out the logistics for dealing with the forecasted gridlock.

We have reservations for the Capitol tour Saturday morning. I am hoping the real maddening crowds won't appear until the kickoff event concert Sunday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial. We should stick around DC. proper, visit the museums, Fords Theatre, Arlington Cemetery, and the White House while we have the chance.

The concert Sunday should be awesome. Hopefully we can get close enough to the action to get some photos of celebrities in the crowd. We should have a pretty good idea how difficult or impossible it will be to find a parking space after this event. We can't pick up the inauguration tickets until Monday morning. It will no doubt be gridlock then with the addition of the usual rush hour traffic. Once we secure the tickets we'll get out of town. We'll probably drive out to Mt Vernon. Maybe venture 2 hours south to Charlottesville and see Monticello.

The weather is looking good. It should be mostly sunny in the mid to upper 30s. I was dreading that it might be cold and rainy. They won't allow umbrellas in the ticketed areas. The gates open at 8am. They recommend taking the Metro into the city Inauguration Day. They will start running at 4 a.m. We need to locate the Metro station which is 12 miles from our motel in Baltimore. From there it's a 30 min. ride to Union Station. More later...

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January 14, 2009 2:41 PM

Everyone is talking about the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

Today I officially signed up to attend two community service projects on Monday - MLK Day. Yesterday, Ja'Von told me very matter-of-factly, that "Flat Ja'Von wants to feed hungry people" so I made sure to sign up as a cook and food distributor at the Washington DC Mayor's Office Outdoor Soup Kitchen in the morning. In the afternoon I'm signed up to assemble care packages at the old Redskins Stadium for our troops overseas - the service project highlighted by Michelle Obama. They have so many volunteers for this event that they're limiting people to one hour shifts... I hope I get one! If not, there are many other things to help out with as there are dozens of major community service events in just a two mile radius. I'm thinking I'd like to do something with a DC Public School... from the sounds of it, they are in desperate need on many fronts...

Today was the first day I felt like everyone was talking about the week ahead everywhere I went. My old teammate at Notre Dame (I played softball in college) is now a teacher with Teach For America in St. Louis. She had her 11th Grade Current Events class read my first blog and discuss the Inauguration. She told me that she "was truly humbled and inspired by how motivated my students became during the last weeks of the election." She's asked me to answer their questions via email during my trip and I can't wait to share the experience with them. I also heard people discussing the Inauguration on the 93.3, 94.1 and 107.7 morning shows, standing in line at Chipolte on my lunch break, and at dinner with my friend Liz - who I haven't seen forever! We were catching up on the last several months and she was telling me about her mother, Kathleen, who lives in Portland. Kathleen is 80-something years young, and for the first time since 1951, registered as a Democrat just so she could vote for Barack Obama. When Barack won, she called Liz so she could "share the moment" with someone.

(Join hands and cue the "We Are The World" music here) At risk of being overly corny and sentimental - which very rarely happens with me so document it now and make fun of me about it over a glass of wine (on you, of course), because it's going to be awhile before this happens again - I have to say it's stories like Kathleen's and the kids in Ms. F's class that I want to remember years from now when I look back on this experience. They remind me that this moment in our Country's history transcends race, age, sex, class, and yes, even party affiliation. Even my friends and family who didn't vote for Obama in November admit to celebrating (some more than others) and appreciating the significance of Tuesday. In less than one week a man who won a Presidential election in the same state (VA) where it was illegal for his mother and father to marry at the time of his birth because they were of different races, will become our President. A woman who is only three generations removed from slavery, and who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with a partition dividing the livingroom into her and her brother's "bedrooms", yet went on to graduate from Princeton with honors and Harvard Law School, will be our First Lady. Their life stories will be those that represent our country and its possibilities to the rest of our world and our children, and I can't help but be proud of that.

Okay, I'm done being obnoxiously corny now. I can't promise it won't happen again when I get to DC and caught up in the experience, but whatever. Deal with it. Besides, you know you've sat on the couch on a rainy Sunday and watched at least one Lifetime made-for-TV-movie that had scenes that made you feel like you were going to vomit rainbows and flowers while riding off into the sunset on a prancing unicorn... but you still watched it to the end anyway.

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January 14, 2009 10:49 AM

Part IV - Excuse me, but where's the bathroom?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

From Inauguration

Illustration by Kevin D. Boze

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

When I was in the Army, I participated in a field training exercise in Holland. At one point in the exercise, we found ourselves on government-protected land. We were not allowed to dig latrines, and no portable facilities were available.

While appreciating the rural bounty of the area, one of the soldiers got the brilliant idea of buying some oversized pumpkins from a local farmer. We hollowed them out with shovels and converted them into makeshift temporary toilets. Bookbag, Blueboy, Native Guide and I all made good use of the Port-o-Gourds. After our five-day mission, the biodegradable pumpkins were sealed up and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. This really happened. I do not exaggerate. It has become the stuff of legend. A Thanksgiving or a family reunion doesn't go by without someone saying, "Tell us the pumpkin story!"

Why do I mention this? Because two things make Americans extremely embarrassed and fidgety:

1) That we have genitals, and
2) That we need to excrete waste from time to time.

An estimated quarter-million people will be in attendance in the "ticketed" area of the inauguration, a number that would fill Husky Stadium three and a half times over. Those people will need to excrete waste from time to time; they cannot simply cross their legs and hop around for six hours. It distracts from the solemnity of the ceremony.

Native Guide reports that he has seen port-o-pots stretching from here to eternity at the Capitol, but none of them are located inside the ticketed seating area. We also have heard rumors that anyone leaving the area to take a bathroom break will not be permitted back inside the seating area, even with a ticket.

Could this be true? And, if so, why would anyone plan an event that discounts the laws of human physiology?

Maybe the Secret Service is worried about someone using the portable facilities to hide a bomb. That is not altogether absurd; I saw tactical nuclear warheads when I was in the service, and one of them would fit very neatly inside your basic Sani-Can.

Where this all collides with common sense is that people NEED these facilities. This is why architectural standards include toilets. This is why sanitary facilities are required for event and parade permits, and at construction sites. This is why everything in America from the Capitol Building to the remotest campsite in a national forest has some form of bathroom. You do your business, or you die. Both of my grandmothers were nurses, and they assured me that uremic poisoning is a lingering, painful and unpleasant death. A nuke hidden in the john is starting to look like a quicker and better way to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Without adequate, accessible facilities, my party and I are going to have to make some contingency plans:
1. We will be putting ourselves on a liquid-restricted diet. That grand old Seattle tradition of pounding a non-fat vente for breakfast will go by the wayside.
2. We will be stocking up on the salty snacks, so as to improve our water retention. Deep-fried pork rinds, anyone?
3. We will travel light, like any good survivalists would. The Secret Service already has banned glass and thermal containers. It will be plastic water (in limited doses) and a flask of something stronger for us.
4. We will check e-Bay to see if there are any deals to be had on surplus Apollo mission suits.

We'll also be checking with the people who received the official, engraved invitations to the event. If the invitations say "Bring Your Own Pumpkins," we'll know we're in trouble.

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January 14, 2009 10:45 AM

Marching band on the move

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

As I chronicle my inauguration journey and document my own excitement for the event, I am beginning to see just how my excitement is shared by people who will not even be close to the festivities in Washington DC.

This afternoon I gathered in a local park with a few-hundred community members and local officials. We had come together in celebration of Washington State's only marching band contribution to the inaugural parade.

The Evergreen High School Marching Band and Color Guard, out of Vancouver, WA and the Evergreen School District, will represent our state during the inaugural parade playing the state song, "Washington My Home."

After months of planning and frantic fundraising, the Evergreen Marching Band and Color Guard will make their way to the nation's capital this Saturday. They will leave behind a proud community that collectively made it possible for these students to experience history.

During the event today it was evident that the Presidential Inauguration Committee made the right choice in selecting Evergreen High to represent the Evergreen State in the historic tradition that is the inaugural parade.

From Inauguration

The Evergreen High School Marching Band and Color Guard makes their way down the street to a send-off celebration in their honor Tuesday, January 13, 2009. Photo by Jordan Frasier.

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January 14, 2009 9:56 AM

Two nights to go

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Planning this trip has made me realize how infrequently I hear the word no.

Maybe I'm lucky. Maybe I don't take enough chances. Maybe people around me are extraordinarily accommodating. Maybe (my parents would be so proud if this were the root cause) politeness and gratitude work to my favor. Maybe I'm spoiled. Maybe I will good things to happen. I'm not sure what the reason is, but no is typically not a part of my routine -- until now.

Can I tour the Capitol building? No.
Can I tour the White House? No.
Can I get swearing-in tickets? No.
Please? No.
Can I have a window seat? No.
Will Obama stop by the ball I'm attending? No.
Can I have coffee with Senators Cantwell and Murray? No.
Pretty please? No.

I realize I'm one among a sea of many and statistics simply aren't in my favor, but nonetheless the stack of nos is a little disappointing and strange. Despite this newfound disappointment in my life, I'm like a kid before Christmas. The anticipation and excitement -- combined with the numerous yeses I've received -- are overwhelming, so overwhelming that I've developed a horrendous case of insomnia. I haven't been able to sleep more than a few hours all week. I want it to be Friday morning already! I want to board my plane and I want to be in D.C. I can't sit still and I swear the air around me is crackling with electricity.

I am excited, folks. Very excited.

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January 13, 2009 12:23 PM

Forget it Richard, it's Chinatown

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

My goals for traveling to Washington DC were straight forward -- get back in time to keep my job, and don't journey through Columbus, OH. After checking flight prices, I formulated a new goal -- kick the next airline executive I meet in the face. Seriously, Congress is passing legislation to prohibit the sale of Inauguration tickets, but airline companies are allowed to gouge me for wanting to attend? Basically I'm not allowed to unethically take advantage of this historic moment, but the disgustingly wealthy airline operators are allowed to pillage and plunder the same historic moment to their hearts' content. Yeah, sounds like our government.

Luckily for me, Joe came to the rescue. He informed me that he would be visiting his family in New Jersey the weekend before Inauguration and could pick me up from any city along the way, such as the lovely city of Philadelphia. Were flights into Philadelphia any cheaper, wondered Joe? Good question. Unfortunately, I couldn't find out because I have Comcast internet. I could be dramatic, but I'll just say that for about three weeks Comcast and I were locked in a decisive Mortal Kombat-like battle to the death regarding my internet connection. Feeling like a fetus without an umbilical cord, I wandered the streets searching for a surrogate cord through which I could check flight prices. I found it at a public library.

For over an hour I huddled outside the library, shoving my laptop as close to the library and life-giving wifi as possible. Passers-by were clearly very confused by my presence. Do desperate medical students deserve sympathy? Do homeless people with laptops deserve change? Ultimately, I was able to coax a consistent enough internet connection to find what I needed. Flights into Philadelphia were, indeed, cheaper. Like, a lot cheaper. However, while Joe could pick me up from Philadelphia, he could not drop me off in Philadelphia later that week, and flying out of Washington DC would once again force me between a rock and a hard place -- the cruel whims of the airline industry, and Columbus, OH. What to do?

The Chinatown Express, that was my solution. I would surrender myself to those ubiquitous and laughably cheap buses which follow each other up and down the east coast like lemmings. It's $15 dollars from Washington DC to Philadelphia. The airline fat cats, whom I will soon kick in the face, charge me more than that to get unrandomly searched at the airport. Perfect. Convincing Ann and Austin of the perfection of my plan, however, was another story.

Me: Comeon, it's perfect!
Ann: Dude
Me: It's the Chinatown Express! What could go wrong?
Ann: Dude
Me: What?
Ann: I don't trust a bus that costs less than a toaster.
Me: Columbus, OH?

She was in. Austin soon followed. She's coming from Minnesota, and Austin from Chicago. Ann and I will be taking flights into Chicago and all three of us will be boarding the same flight to Philadelphia and the same bus back to Philadelphia. But Ann raised another question.
Ann: So if the four-wheeled toaster doesn't kill us, what do we do in Philadelphia? How do we get to the airport?

Me: Well, I did think about that. It turns out that Matt (another friend from college) is in law school there. He said he would pick us up from Chinatown, grab a cheesesteak with us, and drop us off at the airport. But
Ann: What?
Me: He just won our fantasy football league.
Ann: So?
Me: He'll want to talk about it. A lot. Loudly.
Ann: Dude
Me: He'll be laughing
Ann: Columbus, OH?

Matt will be picking us up in Philadelphia and driving us to the airport. For the record, his team sucked and he shouldn't have won.

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January 13, 2009 12:17 PM

Fingers crossed

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Russell Storey

Last February I had the pleasure of taking my two daughters to the Obama rally at Key Arena. It was so inspiring. I knew that if he were to get the nomination and were fortunate enough to be elected, his inauguration would be not only historic but a truly emotional thing to witness.

In the spring my brother Paul, my lifelong friend Gene and I committed to making the trip to D.C. if the airfare was reasonable, less than $300. I would periodically check airfares, keeping my fingers crossed that Barack would remain competitive in the race. Feeling confident that he would win, we booked our flight a couple weeks before the election. We found tickets for Seattle to Baltimore round trip $268. I am sure glad we booked them when we did.

The night of the election I was a nervous wreck. I couldn't even eat dinner. I was of course anxious to hear if Obama would be our new president and at the same time, I was worried that I could have blown $268 dollars. There was no way I was going to fly over to D.C. and see McCain/Palin get sworn in! The news of Obama's victory came as a great relief to me in more ways than one.

Two days after the election, Inauguration Mania had begun. Our plane ticket price had more than doubled to over $500. Had we waited, our plans would have ended right there. We found a motel near the Baltimore airport for $100 a night. When the news became full of stories about the millions expected to attend the inauguration, we felt quite smug having secured our airfare and lodging before things went crazy.

I had figured we would just get down to the National all early and be amongst the masses. It didn't matter if we were close enough to see anything. I'd seen pictures of the Million Man March where the people were lined up all the way back to the Washington Monument. Surely there would be enough room for everybody. I started noticing ads on the internet selling tickets to the swearing in ceremony and inaugural parade. Would we need tickets? Could it be that the area would be under such tight security that it would be all fenced off for ticketed people only?

In mid November came news that only 240,000 tickets would be printed, available only from your congressional representative. I kicked myself for not doing my homework and writing before the election. I e-mailed my 9th district congressman Adam Smith figuring I was too late, but what the heck. I referenced the Million Man March and my naivete about the necessity for tickets. I knew he was a graduate of Tyee High School which is in the same South End school district as my alma mater Evergreen, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention that the two guys coming with me were also Evergreen Alums. I told him that we would be in D.C. Jan 16 -21 and would appreciate anything he could do. Realistically, I was hoping to maybe get Congressional House Gallery passes which are necessary these days to get into the Capitol.

More stories came out about how each congressman was getting thousands of requests for the less than 200 tickets each would receive. I figured most of them would go to volunteers and folks who had contributed financially to their campaigns. At this late date, I thought our chances of getting tickets were nada!

I was needless to say pleasantly surprises to find out on December 16th that 3 inauguration tickets were being held for me. I don't know if it was my brilliant letter or just plain luck, most likely the latter. Either way, we are thankful for the opportunity to witness history.

Weather permitting, we'll fly out Friday morning. After a stop in Newark we should get into Baltimore about 6pm. We're renting a car and will be making the 30 mile drive down to Washington first thing. There is no way we'll just sit in our motel in Baltimore that night! We'll cruise down Constitution Avenue, take in the view of the majestically lit dome of the Capitol, and we'll get out and run up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Maybe stop by the White House. We're going to soak it all in, get the positive vibes going. Change is coming and we're going to be a part of it.

Submitted by Russell Storey

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January 13, 2009 12:04 PM

The not-so-fun details

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

Today is the first day I'm starting to check into the not-so-fun details of the trip. Weather.com forecasts sun, but temperatures in the 30s. Any true Seattleite knows our kind doesn't function outside of the 40-85 degree Northwest window of comfort so I'm already starting to get mentally prepared for mayhem. I went to school at Notre Dame (in Indiana) so "Lake-Effect Snow" taught me all about shielding every inch of my body - including my eyes - during sub-Arctic temperatures. I developed a talent of walking in a straight line even though my eyes were completely covered under layers. I very rarely ran into things because my arms were permanently sticking straight out due to a couple of coats over a couple of sweatshirts over a couple of long sleeve shirts, so I'm hoping to resurrect this skill for next week.

Jennie (my friend I'm staying with) and I spent time today looking at a map and "strategerizing" (okay, that's the first and last time I'll poke fun at you-know-who) our possible routes for different events and days. We found out there's going to be an Inaugural Kickoff concert at the Lincoln Memorial and are hoping to get within audio range. WARNING: I'll do whatever I have to do to get close to a concert with Garth Brooks, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Sheryl Crow, Springsteen and Stevie Wonder, so if you hear about Secret Service fishing for what looks to be Jabba the Hutt fording the Potomac with an Ugg oar and arm floaties screaming "You're The Sunshine of MY Life Stevie! No Bono, YOU'RE The Sweetest Thing!" - no worries - it's just me and my 15 layers of clothing trying to get in a request. (Yes, it was tempting to throw out a Beyonce Bootylicious reference just then because she's right, I'm definitely NOT ready for that jelly - oh, and there it is).

I also met with my Little Brother Ja'Von today. We made a "Flat Ja'Von" (after "Flat Stanley") to travel with me on my trip. I had him pick his favorite landmarks out of a book and promised I would try to get pictures of each one. He made me write the list of his favorites on "Flat Ja'Von's" shirt so I wouldn't forget... smart guy - there are a lot! When I return, Ja'Von is going to help me present the story of my trip and pictures to his second grade class at Emerson Elementary School. He'll do great! Now I just have to get all those pictures...

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January 13, 2009 11:42 AM

Planning and preparations

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I've got three evenings left to prepare for the trip. Yesterday I went shopping for a few inaugural ball accessories, and today I plan on shopping for the biggest necessity of the entire trip: long johns. Even with Seattle's recent Snowpocalypse, I'm afraid I'll be unprepared for D.C.'s winter bite. I then plan on spending Wednesday and Thursday brushing up on geometry; I'm sure I'll be put to the test while trying to cram seven days' worth of items into two carry-on bags.

Details of our trip are still being played by ear. Although it's a bit of a long shot we're waiting to hear if we will have access to an abbreviated tour of the White House on Saturday. On Sunday we plan to attend the kick-off rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and on Tuesday we will head as close to the swearing-in and parade as we can get, followed by the H.R.C. ball that evening. Transportation is also still a bit up in the air since there are rumors of bridge closures and Metro re-routes. Typically I'm a sucker for itineraries and schedules but a news article I read sums the week up perfectly, it asked travelers to be sure and "pack their patience." So I'm doing just that. No matter where we end up, and no matter how we get there, this is sure to be an incredible experience.

One last thought: it's been announced that Gene Robinson will lead the prayer at the inauguration's kick-off event on Sunday. Robinson is the openly gay bishop who has sparked quite a bit of controversy within the church. On the other side of the spectrum, Tuesday's prayer will be led by Rick Warren, the controversial reverend delivering the inaugural invocation. It will be interesting to hear the two men speak; hopefully both can manage to find a message of inspiration, inclusion and cooperation.

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January 12, 2009 6:49 PM

Part III: The train tickets

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

kdboze_illustration2.jpg Illustration by Kevin D. Boze

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

SYNOPSIS: Three of my old Army friends and I committed to having a reunion in D.C., where we plan to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama and a new era of progress for our country. So far, this inauguration project is going well. We have made the commitment to attend, and the pieces of the logistical puzzle are starting to come together. Our plane tickets to the East Coast and back are arranged, albeit at an inflated price. Native Guide solved any lodging issues by offering us the use of his home, and we lucked into tickets for the event itself, thanks to Blueboy's connections.

Who knew that ground transportation would prove to be just as daunting a challenge as scoring tickets to the main event? Staying at Native Guide's home is great, but we still need a way to get to the Capitol and back to rural Maryland. Driving is plainly out of the question. Driving (and parking) in the Capitol is a nightmare, even on a good day, and Jan. 20 isn't going to be a good day. When one drives, one needs a street to drive on, and the Secret Service will be closing most of the Capitol area to vehicles. We ruled out taxis and buses for the same reasons. Fortunately, Native Guide's travel method of choice does not use the roads and can't get stuck in traffic. Thanks to his inside knowledge and experience, we will be riding the MARC, or the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train. MARC announced it would be selling special day-of-event-only tickets in advance, and Native Guide volunteered to go online and buy them.

Here, I feel compelled to inject a side note about transit. I think about how lucky I am to live in Washington state. Can one even compare the Evergreen State to Maryland? After all, we have the Space Needle, Black Sun, and the Aurora Bridge Troll. We have Sendak's version of "The Nutcracker." We have the greatest coffee, the best microbrews and the finest seafood. We have a wealth of scenic beauty, from our coastline to our forests to our breathtaking mountains. We have salmon. We have Babeland, Fantagraphics, Hat and Boots, and Archie McPhee. We have Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Edward R. Murrow and August Wilson. We have John Keister, Ivar Haglund and J.P. Patches.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 11, 2009 10:12 PM

The trip is a "gift to myself"

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

My travel plans are solidified and I'm officially off to DC in one week! Despite the endless warnings from everyone about how "over-crowded" the DC area will be and how "there's no way you'll get anywhere close to anything", my tickets are booked and I'm really excited to go! I think a small part of me is making this trip because such a journey makes me feel like I'm closer to 20 rather than 30... it's my mid, mid-life crisis. I figure it's cheaper and less painful than getting some form of plastic surgery...

It's hard to believe almost exactly a year ago at this time I had zero involvement in the political process. However between having friends in Iraq, a mother with a brain tumor who will lose her health care if anything happens to my father's job, and after being treated like crap on multiple trips overseas because I am American, I finally cared about an election. I decided since I was so unhappy with the way so many things were going in our country, I should do everything in my power to change it, or just shut up. The first step I took was doing my homework in January of last year. I really looked into the remaining three candidates and the more I educated myself, the more I realized Barack was without a doubt my guy. So much in fact, that by the end of the election I had given tons of hours canvasing, phonebanking, registering voters, recruiting and coordinating volunteers, and even traveled to Oregon to canvas prior to their Primary and to Spokane as a delegate for the 8th CD. The month leading into the election I helped a WA State Coordinated Campaign staff member with the Renton volunteer office everyday after work. By the time November 5th rolled around I was exhausted and ready to be done, but at the same time so thankful for all the great people I met along the way and of course, that all the hard work resulted in victory! I can now definitely say I've been involved in the political process.

Originally I never considered attending the Inauguration, but after a lot of thought I decided just before Christmas that this trip would be my gift to myself. I'm 26 years old and my generation has yet to have a big, historic, positive event to look back upon. September 11th is the only day during my lifetime where you can ask anyone "where were you when" ... and everyone can give you an answer. Although I didn't vote for Barack because his election would be historic, IT IS" and I want to be there to experience it! I want to document the experience for my future kids to look back upon and for my Little Brother Ja'Von (through Big Brothers Big Sisters), who one day informed me that Barack Obama is "awesooooooome" as we passed a McCain/Obama poster in the school hallway.

I'll be flying from Seattle to Philadelphia and then taking the Amtrak from Philly to DC on Sunday, January 18th. The train will drop me off a few blocks away from where I'm staying with my co-worker, Jennie (a DC local), who I can not thank enough for her hospitality! I don't have any definite plans because I want to see how difficult it's going to be to get around, but I don't plan on sleeping much. Sunday night I'm going out with Jennie and her friends which should be a good time because a lot of people will have MLK Day off of work, and those who don't probably won't be able to make it to work anyways due to the massive amounts of traffic expected. For Monday, also "National Day of Service", I'm looking into several different volunteer opportunities, including a clean-up project at DC Public Schools, serving food at an outdoor soup kitchen, and assembling care packages for troops overseas - whichever event is the easiest to get to will be the one I choose to attend, although I wish I could do them all. On Tuesday I plan on getting as close as I can to the action, and on Wednesday I plan on playing tourist. I just hope getting from place to place isn't as bad as I'm imagining, but I'm prepared for the worst.

I'll be leaving DC on Thursday the 22nd, going back through Philly on Amtrak and flying to Arizona to visit one of my best friends, Amy, her husband Barry, and their two daughters. I grew up with Amy in Renton and we went to the same schools from third grade through High School - she's family. Amy and Barry have both been to Iraq as Marines and are now both in the National Guard. Barry just found out he's getting redeployed to Iraq this year which will be a lot harder and completely different this time around, now that they have the girls. Amy, Barry, and my many other friends and family members in the military are such a huge part of why I became involved in this election, so I find it fitting that the last part of my trip will be with them. I will be returning to Seattle late Sunday, the 25th.

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January 10, 2009 3:42 PM

Part II: Can we get inauguration tickets?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

By Nov. 5, with the election over, our collective thoughts turned to our half-baked D.C. plan. We all had scrambled to buy our plane tickets. Having never been to a presidential inauguration before, we had plenty of research to do.

Thankfully, the media read our minds, and the news services were full of stories such as "SO YOU WANT TO GO TO THE INAUGURATION ... NOW WHAT?" We quickly found out that if you simply wanted to be on hand for the event, hey, just show up. It's still a free country. But if you wanted to get one of the 250,000 tickets being issued for the reserved viewing area, that was another story. Tickets were available ONLY by writing your Congress-folks, smiling real big, and hoping for the best. This "ticket" thing sounded slim at best, so we were resigned to joining the throngs on the Mall and watching the event on TV screens. Just us and roughly 3 million or so of our closest friends.

Bookbag certainly wasn't going to miss it. A mixed-race man — literally, one of her kind — was going to be made president of the United States.

Blueboy certainly wasn't going to miss it. He didn't know what excited him more, watching the Obamas come in or watching Bush, Cheney, et al, leave town.

Polly wasn't going to miss it for all the tea in Pike Place Market. This was living, breathing news — history in the making.

Thus, we all were committed to going, ticket or no ticket. Still, we thought "nothing ventured, nothing gained," and we all dutifully wrote our elected representatives and said pretty-please.

Native Guide reported back to say he got a "Drop Dead" from all of his representatives on the Hill (I'm sure they were a little more cordial than that, but "no" is "no"). Polly and I tried contacting our Congressman-for-life, Jim McDermott, with predictable results: "There is unprecedented interest in the inaugural activities and my office alone has received more than seven thousand requests for the 198 inauguration tickets allotted." In other words, "Not likely." We struck out with Congresswoman McMorris as well. Blueboy and Bookbag tried their Congresscritters, and got a ringing silence in return.

Eh, I thought to myself, no big deal. We certainly weren't expecting anything. I mean, what are the odds? The entire Federation of Planets is going to be there, and we thought we'd get some tickets? Still, it'll be nice to be on the Mall, and we'll have a great time talking and seeing the sights, and taking advantage of our Smithsonian membership.

Then, I saw an e-mail from Blueboy with a subject line so improbable, I thought it was a misprint: "WE'RE IN!! WE GOT THEM!!"

It turns out that Congresswoman Bean (or, as Bookbag likes to call her, "Our Revered and Most Reverend Benefactress, Representative Melissa Bean, D-Illinois, Eighth Congressional District") heard Blueboy's pleas and decided to favor him with six — count 'em, SIX — tickets. Our story now has a new heroine. If I lived in her district, or even her time zone, I'd vote for her. She could vote to repeal Trial by Jury, and I'd smile and say, "I'm sure she knows best."

And now my friends and I are off to the big ball game, and we don't eve n have to peek through a hole in the fence. Melissa (may I call you Melissa?), if you're reading this, thanks.

Next mission: obtaining actual possession of the paper tickets.

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January 10, 2009 6:32 AM

D.C. before the madness and a Roland Burris spotting?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

Friday, January 10, 2009
The University announced today that they will be hosting a ball on the Friday night prior to inauguration.Since I am a poor college student and cannot afford the $500 and up official ball tickets, I think I am going to have to settle for attending this ball.


Thursday, January 09, 2009

As my friends and I ate at late dinner at the infamous Tombs restaurant, and local college student hangout, I glanced up from my tomato soup to see none other than Roland Burris standing four feet away. Now the friends I was dining with are not quite as up to date on current issues as I am and I had to explain Mr. Burris' unique presence in Washington, DC. After all, it is not every day that the person appointed by a Governor facing impeachment charges for attempting to sell the vacancy of the President elect's senate seat stands right in front of you looking lost. Showing my friends his picture off my blackberry, they agreed there was a 90% chance it was him. Does anyone know if Mr. Burris is beginning to go bald on the back of his head?...because that would definitely seal the deal. Following my explanation, my friends' interests were piqued by the potential CNN celebrity sighting and we looked around the restaurant for him. Nope, nada, gone. We like to believe that the gentleman from Illinois got lost and happened to find himself in the step-child of the much posher and expensive restaurant that calls the upstairs home. After all, 1789 is a much more acceptable establishment for an appointed senator to be seen in than the local college bar, no matter how good the college bar's tomato soup might be.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 10, 2009 5:57 AM

The cast of characters

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

Twenty-five years ago, I was stationed in Germany with some amazing soldiers who went on to become good friends. On Jan. 20, I'll be reunited with them at the Inauguration. They are:

BOOKBAG -- She picked that name for herself, which ought to tell you something of her love for reading. When I first met Bookbag, she was covered in motor oil and clay cat litter. (For a super-elite, code-breaking, Cold War-era Military Intelligence outfit, we spent an astonishing amount of time in the motor pool.) Bookbag went to law school after the Army and moved up to the Defender's Office in the Great State of Illinois, (specifically, the seething cauldron of Cook County). Like Obama, she is of mixed race and has known prejudice from both sides.

BLUEBOY -- Born in a Red State, raised in a Red State, lived in various Red States, Blueboy has always been the dash of azure in a sea of crimson. Blueboy is so far left that he's even left-handed, a Democrat's Democrat. This man could give liberal lessons to the Kennedys. When I met Blueboy, he was on the lube-rack, working on a Jeep (see above). He and Bookbag married shortly after I left Europe and have been together ever since. He is a talented artist, but so modest you practically have to threaten him to see his portfolio.

NATIVE GUIDE -- Without Native Guide, this trip wouldn't be happening. After leaving the Army, he returned to his home state of Maryland and got a job with the Treasury Department. At any given time, he can tell you how many days he has until retirement (on a good day, he'll give it to you in hours). It is Native Guide who knows D.C. inside and out, who has spared us the expense of hotels by inviting us to stay at his house. (Our gratitude goes to Mrs. Native Guide and the three little Youth Guides for agreeing to go along with this scheme.) And he sagely recommended flying into Baltimore instead of Reagan National. Native Guide is the brains of the outfit.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 10, 2009 4:57 AM

Richard, Barry, Ruochen and Barack

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Richard Li

Very little in life is less bearable than being named Ruochen Li and having to live in Idaho Falls, ID, where all other men are named Bill, Joe, and Billy Joe. Fortunately, my loving mother had foreseen these circumstances and, from an early age, had given me the pseudonym "Richard" to hide my funny sounding name. Unfortunately, my loving mother did not devise a clever strategy to hide my equally funny looking face. Much ridicule and multiple identity crises ensued.

I managed to escape to the University of Chicago for college, but could still hear the scorn of the Billy Joes from my bedroom window on quiet evenings. Thus, after graduating from college, I ran away to the Marshall Islands, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in the hopes that the Billy Joes would finally leave me in peace to pursue even more identity crises that would escalate in both frequency and angst. It was there, amidst the white sand, green trees, and brown diapers in the blue water, that passenger pigeons and messages in bottles informed me that, back in America, someone with a funny sounding name was laying down the proverbial smack on his political opponents. The man's name actually sounded familiar, and I soon dusted off Barack Obama's first book that I had acquired at the University of Chicago bookstore and brought with me to the Marshall Islands.

Feeling a connection to this self-proclaimed skinny kid with a funny name, who had spent significant time in the Pacific, had lived on the south side of Chicago, and had taught at the University of Chicago, was inescapable. His meteoric rise coupled with the nagging of my mother finally convinced me that it was time to go back to America. Immediately after Barack Obama laid waste to Billy John, my college buddy Joe, who has no Billy in his name and is now working in Washington DC, Gmail chatted me asking if I could request Inauguration tickets from my congressmen, since tickets are distributed through congressional delegations and I would likely have very little competition from the Idaho Billy Joes. He kindly offered his apartment in Washington DC in exchange for a ticket.

On December 8, 2008, my tormented existence in Idaho was finally vindicated when I was rewarded by Idaho's Congressional Delegation with four tickets to the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Moments like this are important in revealing a man's nature – when he is bequeathed with a priceless gift and the opportunity to share pride, joy, and mirth with his close friends. How a man first reacts to such a windfall is very indicative of the very essence of his spirit. My first thought was to royally screw Joe by giving my remaining tickets to the three hottest liberal chicks I could find on Craigslist.

Alas, I'm a better man that I would like to be, and I will be attending Inauguration 2009 with Joe, my college roommate Austin, and our mutual friend Ann. However, we quickly discovered that flights in and out of Washington DC around that time are, in a word, stupid. Unless I became allergic to my money and wanted spend 15 hours laid over in Columbus, OH, I would need to get creative with my travel plans...

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January 8, 2009 8:07 PM

The Five Ws of My Inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

WHO: My partner and I will be traveling to D.C. together. Want to know a little bit more about us? Well, I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona but have been living in Seattle for about eight years, and she's a Northwest native. We are both politically-minded, love 80s and 90s pop culture nostalgia, ride Vespas and are convinced it's impossible to find a good cup of coffee outside Seattle.

WHAT: We are heading to the nation's capitol to witness Barack Obama's Inauguration. We plan to take in the sites of D.C. and attend several Inaugural events, including the Human Rights Campaign's "Out for Equality" Ball on January 20th.

WHEN: We will be in D.C. from January 16th until January 22nd. (We booked our flights in October, prior to the election's outcome. Whether it was McCain or Obama, we felt we had to attend the Inauguration.)

WHERE: My partner's father is a reporter for a major news station, and his reports take him around the world following the president; however, he lives in Arlington, VA. He graciously offered up his spare bedroom for the week, so we are two of the fortunate travelers not caught up in the financial supply & demand fiasco of finding a hotel room in, or around, D.C.

WHY: When Barack Obama was announced the winner of the election on November 4th, Capitol Hill exploded. Thousands of people took to Pike, filling the street with camaraderie and happiness. Anyone who danced on the asphalt that night is well aware of how it felt. Will the celebrations and atmosphere in D.C. feel similar? Why, let's find out!

I suppose there's one other W on everyone's mind this inauguration ... but this election was about the country's focus on change; thus I shall not write about him.

Submission by Debra J. Markert

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January 8, 2009 2:56 PM

University Says "No"

Posted by Blog Administrator

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

This morning [Thursday January 8, 2009] President-elect Obama delivered an important speech regarding the economy from the campus of George Mason University. This happens to be the very same university where I am a political science student; but unfortunately I am still enjoying my winter break here in Southwest Washington State and was not on campus to witness the address firsthand.

However, at the same time the President-elect was making his speech in the Center for the Arts at my school, the George Mason Office of Housing and Resident Life was sending a mass email to all students living on campus, including me. This email message was a friendly reminder that no matter how difficult it is for visitors coming to Washington DC for the inauguration to find logging during the event, students are not permitted under any circumstances to sublet their dorm rooms.

So for all of the resident students at George Mason who had taken note of the well publicized hotel room shortage in the city around January 20th, they will have to find another way to make a quick dollar during the inauguration. It certainly is ironic that these two events coincided on the same day.

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

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January 7, 2009 5:34 PM

Map: I'm heading to the Obama inauguration

Posted by Blog Administrator

Are you heading to the inauguration? Map your starting point!





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January 2, 2009 7:42 PM

Getting Ready!

Posted by Blog Administrator

Submitted by Jordan Frasier

I have been planning to attend this inauguration for more than a year. The planning began at the same time I started thinking about where to attend University; I figured the only way I was going to be at the inauguration was to pick a school close to the nation's capital. So that's what I did. When I received my acceptance letter to George Mason University, a year ago this month, I think I was more excited about actually being in DC for the inauguration than anything related to school.

Since early fall I have had a daily routine of checking all of the inauguration websites. I have to admit that at first my quest for information was slow, but I am happy to say that the inflow is picking up!

I continue to be shocked at the sheer number of committees and organizations involved in the event and that have information to share; everything from a Congressional Committee to the Office of the President-elect, to the Secret Service and Metro Rail. And even with all of these outlets it is not always easy to come by inauguration details, instead I am left with a sort of patch-work-quilt of information to go off of.

Ordinarily I would be curious about inauguration details even if I were planning to watch from home; but given that I will be in DC this time I feel increased pressure to make the most of my experience and to be informed about everything that is going on.

Now that January 20th is only a few weeks away I have had to concede my hope to be up-close to every event like the home viewer is on television. I realize I may not have the best view of everything but I am still excited to be as close as I can. I expect the excitement in the city to be absolutely contagious!

Last night I was searching the public events calendar on the Washingtonpost.com and I found a great map that outlines the parade route and viewing areas available to the public for the inaugural events on Tuesday the 20th. I plan to print this out and laminate it because I think it will prove very useful in getting around and planning.

I will of course continue to gather information and formulate my plan but here is what I am thinking so far; President-elect Obama will be holding a Sunday rally at the Lincoln Memorial and I think I will make that my first inaugural event. Then on Monday I will spend some time exploring and photographing the different venues that will be used on the 20th.

On the actual day of the inauguration my plan is to watch the swearing-in ceremony from the National Mall and then make my way to the parade route. This is the part that makes me nervous because I’m not sure how easy it will be to move around or what other obstacles I may encounter given the huge crowds expected and the tight security.

On the day following the inauguration Washington Senator Patty Murray will be holding an event in her office for Washington State residents who travel to DC for the inauguration. I plan on attending this as a way to cap-off what should be a very exciting few days!

Submission by: Jordan Frasier

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Recent entries

Jan 21, 09 - 12:24 PM
BET Inaugural Ball

Jan 21, 09 - 12:12 PM
My view of the parade

Jan 21, 09 - 10:51 AM
Seen. Heard. Said

Jan 21, 09 - 10:42 AM
Video dispatches from the inauguration

Jan 21, 09 - 08:42 AM
Reflections on ceremony

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