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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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Recent entries

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

Jan 19, 09 - 07:10 PM
So far, everything going according to plan

Jan 18, 09 - 04:47 PM
This improbable quest: A dispatch from Chicago

Jan 18, 09 - 06:45 AM
A Visitor Inaugural

Jan 17, 09 - 09:10 AM
Let's talk about the weather

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