The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for January, 2009

Obama’s Inauguration

Posted by thearrow on January 28, 2009

On January 20th, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and I left home at 5:30. On TV, they were showing people running on the Mall to get as close to the Capitol as possible. I was in the metro a little before 6:00 and could barely get on the train. It was packed! At -7C (19F), I had a zillion layers on me and, with the train crawling and stopping frequently, I felt like I was in a sauna.

We had to choose between watching the parade, for which Pennsylvania Avenue was completely blocked and where you could only get through checkpoints, or the actual swearing-in ceremony on the Mall. I chose the latter. I should have got off the metro at a stop closer to where I wanted to be, but couldn’t take the crowd and the sweating any longer so I got off 3 stops earlier. I thought, no big deal, I’m used to walking so I’m just going to walk to where I want to be. Ha! I had to go around the entire Mall through a tunnel to get on the other side of it; all in all probably around two miles (3.2 km). At 7:30, I arrived at a spot that looked good and planted myself there. The Mall was full up to there and was quickly filling up behind me.

Turns out I was lucky. I started chatting with the three guys in front of me and we had a great time hanging out and commenting. One of them was very sweet and gave me hand warmers (some packets that you put in your gloves), without which my hands would have become icicles. My city gloves were totally unfit for that frigid air. Then, when I complained that my feet were frozen, too, he found one more pair of warmers. Then he started looking for stuff I could climb on to because I couldn’t see anything :). That guy saved the day for me, really.

And the icing on the cake? He went to the same high school with Obama in Hawaii 🙂 I kid you not. So now I can say I’m two degrees of separation from the U.S. President. How cool is that.

The atmosphere was vibrant; everyone was patient and was counting down the hours, the minutes, the seconds. It was like the Millennium New Year’s Eve in the middle of the day. The crowds were cheering wildly every time Obama appeared on the screens and every once in a while someone would say that they couldn’t believe they were witnessing him becoming President.

We booed Bush when he was introduced (although they did edit the sound out on TV). I know that was not particularly dignified of us and it must have felt like adding insult to the injury — the latter being Obama’s popularity vs. Bush’s dismal approval ratings — but boy did it feel good to let all that frustration out!

I was in Boston visiting some friends this weekend and, whenever something was on TV about Obama’s latest decisions or his interview on Al-Arabyia, my friend was saying, “it’s like I’m President. I would have made the exact same decisions.”

Without further ado, enjoy my pics 🙂



Posted in American Politics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Robin Williams on Obama’s Election

Posted by thearrow on January 22, 2009

Something fun while I’m away. I had a great time at the Inauguration but I’m out of town for a few days, so will get back with impressions and photos some time next week. Meanwhile, enjoy the video 🙂

Posted in American Politics | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

A True Love Fest

Posted by thearrow on January 19, 2009

That pretty much sums up the atmosphere at yesterday’s Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial, “We Are One.” I think one million people showed up and they were all smiles. Some of you may have seen it on HBO. It was a very tasteful and well-thought show, not to mention extremely well-organized. It was impossible to be anywhere near the stage if you didn’t come early in the morning, but they had big screens so I saw and heard everything crystal clear even though I was at the Washington Monument and the show was half a mile away. I couldn’t even see the Memorial from where I was and yet I didn’t miss anything. The atmosphere was vibrant and it really felt like we’ve already inaugurated Obama. What? We have to do it all over again on Tuesday? Oh, well. I guess we’ll make a sacrifice :).

I took some pics but didn’t have much room to move around because I arrived at 2:00, half hour before the concert started, so my photo ops were relatively limited. I hope I captured some of the enthusiasm. You can see the album here:

It was a good recon opportunity, too. Now I know what to wear tomorrow, particularly since I’m leaving at 4:30 a.m.!!! I’m going to be completely frozen in a matter of minutes, but I want to make sure I can move around a bit, take pictures, and find a good spot near a screen before the place becomes a can of sardines.

I know some folks are wary that we are so taken with Obama that it might start to smack of the cult of personality, but I think we’re safe. We’re in the midst of a perfect storm of huge disappointment and frustration with the Bushies, the unimaginable economic and international mess they’ve left behind, and big hopes for normality. This is really what so many people see in Obama: the promise of a thoughtful guy who listens to others and makes informed decisions. I don’t think anyone expects of him anything other than him trying to fix this to the best of his abilities. And, thank God, he does seem like an able guy. But nobody expects a miracle and folks are aware that these are unprecedented circumstances, without a textbook solution.

So let’s enjoy the honeymoon while we can, people. Because YES, WE CAN! 🙂


Posted in American Politics | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Their Inauguration Plans

Posted by thearrow on January 18, 2009

I started doing my homework on how things are going to unfold on Tuesday and it looks like there are two parts to the Inauguration and I can attend one or other other but not both. Sigh… The first part is the swearing-in ceremony, in front of the Capitol, starting at 11:30. All those little yellow squares you see on the Mall (that green stretch of land) are JumboTrons (a.k.a. projection screens). So I can go there to watch the ceremony. The other part is the parade that takes places at 2:30, as Obama goes from the Capitol to the White House. It’s still not clear if he’ll want to mix with the parade folks or just stay in his limo. There’s no rule here; every president does it differently.

The problem with the parade is that the police will let in only around 300,000 people. See those purple circles? They’re security checkpoints and the police will close them when they reach capacity. That’s the spot where you really want to show up very early.

I’ve decided I’ll be where the JumboTrons are because there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to see any part of the parade even if I get in that area. At least on a huge screen I’ll see the ceremony, which is what everyone is going there for, after all.

Washington Post has a neat little video explaining what will happen:

New York Times has a nice overview of the ceremony, too:

Inauguration Ceremony map (from the Washington Post)

Inauguration map (from The Washington Post)

Today I’ll go to that Inaugural Concert that HBO is broadcasting live in Europe (or at least in Romania). I’m not sure I’ll be able to see much because I’m not going there too early, but at least I’ll do some reconnaisance and practice changing the camera’s lens in a crowd, which I’ll have to do on Tuesday.

Later edit: It was great. The show was really something. It was a mix of short speeches and songs, very tasteful and well-thought. Everyone had a good time, was smiling, dancing. I got some shots I like and I hope to post them tomorrow. Right now I’m absolutely exhausted. The concert ended at 4:30 and I got home at 8:00… The metro was bursting at the seams, so I walked for about 50 minutes to the bus stop, for which I waited for an hour. I gave up and took another route. I thought I was never going to make it home and eat :). More tomorrow; I’m half asleep already.

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My Inauguration Plans

Posted by thearrow on January 16, 2009

Needless to say, I’m very excited about Obama’s inauguration. I know there are skeptics out there but for the most part people are enthusiastic about his victory and can’t wait to see him and his family in the White House. (It feels like this transition thing has been dragging on forever.) I wouldn’t miss the January 20th festivities for the world. While I don’t have a ticket to the more privileged parts of the ceremony or the parade (let alone one of the many inaugural balls), I plan to be on the Mall before the crack of dawn.

Just to give you an idea, Metro will start running trains at 4:00 a.m. that day. They don’t ever do that; they normally start at 5:00 a.m. and, on weekends, at 7:00 a.m. But there’s nothing ordinary about the coming days. Four bridges over the Potomac (from Virginia to DC) will be closed starting at 3:00 p.m. the day before! People will have to take the metro and be prepared to walk a lot. And, of course, be in crowds where they won’t be able to control whether or not they can move. That’s why I want to start that early, to have a  chance to move around a little bit before it becomes completely packed. Now that I think of it, I should probably start at 4 a.m. :).

I got the case for my telephoto lens, too. We’re not allowed to carry backpacks; not even umbrellas are permitted. I’ll be carrying that monster hanging on my belt. I only have three wishes: to take good shots of people celebrating, be able to get near a projection screen, so that I can see and hear what’s happening, and not freeze. The whole Northeast is gripped in a bitter cold these days. I froze in just the 10 minutes it took me to walk from the metro to work this morning! I thought I’d never make it to a warm place. It’s supposed to be bearable on the 20th though; somewhere around zero Celsius (30s Fahrenheit). Now it’s around -11C (6 F).

Let’s hope my three wishes are granted. After all, if I got the moon on my balcony, I shouldn’t worry, right?

Near Congress, Nov. 15, 2008

Near Congress, Nov. 15, 2008

Posted in American Politics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

I Give You the Moon

Posted by thearrow on January 14, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the moon; story below.


On Saturday, I read in the paper that the moon that day was going to be the biggest this year and that the best time to see it was when it comes out, at sunset. Cool, I thought. I got my backpack and tripod, and went to the movie (“Milk”) in the afternoon, with the plan of chasing the moon afterward. But when I came out of the movie theater it was raining, so no chance to see anything else other than dripping clouds. Darn. I went home. The article said that the moon was going to be quite big for a few days, though, so we could get another chance if we missed it the first time.

On Sunday the sky was clear but I got lazy and didn’t feel like going out at all. I forgot all about it until this morning. I wake up at 7 (there was light outside but the sun hadn’t come up yet) and, lo and behold, what do I see in the sky: a big, beautiful moon.

All I had to do was dress warm and get my tripod on the balcony 🙂 It’s the umpteenth time when I wish for something and get it. But the trick (in my case) is to be at peace with the thought of not getting it. And then, voila, there you go my dear, your wish is granted and the thing is at your fingertips.

What made me chuckle was that we have this expression in Romanian, to want/to give someone the moon in the sky, meaning, obviously, anything that person might possibly want. I thought, hm, if the moon was so beautifully presented to me on my balcony, maybe other things I really want will come true, too :). They’re right whey they say, “ask and thou shalt receive,” I’m telling you.

Posted in dream, photography | Tagged: | 17 Comments »

You Can Fly

Posted by thearrow on January 12, 2009

Check this out. Unbe-effing-lievable! You have to be nuts to do this, but it sure looks extremely appealing (if you have a death wish).

Posted in fun | 4 Comments »