Sizing Up the Inauguration

16 Jan 2009
January 16, 2009

Porta-Potties Stand Ready and Waiting for Inaugural Hordes.

Am I ready? Well, to be honest, I am a bit nervous. Will I be standing in a sea of four million out-of-towners or two million –many natives have decided to go skiing. (Follow the rules people and we’ll get along just fine.) Will the Metro actually get me where I’m going? The Metro’s General Manager isn’t so sure. He is sure “something will happen on the 20th.” That’s what I like: confidence.

Am I prepared for the cold and the hours I’ll be standing on the National Mall? I’m working at it. Concerned that I might bring some prohibited item with me I checked out the special Inaugural sections of both the Secret Service’s Web site and the DC Government’s Web site. And I found a discrepancy. The Secret Service says prohibited items are just for the parade and Inaugural Balls. While the DC site says that same list is for all Inaugural events. I put in a call to the Secret Service (their headquarters are right next to my office) and they said they’d get back to me, but never did.

I tweeted the problem and suddenly the Canadian Embassy was following me on Twitter. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, right on the parade route, the Embassy requested more info. Suddenly, I was at the center of international intrigue. I immediately requested “heat asylum” (to watch the parade from the Embassy’s incredible vantage point all warm and cozy) but was flatly rejected (but some of my best friends are Canadian!). So much for social media’s diplomatic channels.

Bottom line: I’m traveling light. Got my special mittens with “retractable” covers. Underneath are fingerless gloves so I can take photos without fear of frostbite. Layers, layers, and more layers. Bottled water, camera with extra SD cards and batteries, and energy bars. Check. Everything has to fit into my heavy down coat’s pockets. No backpacks allowed. Yep, I’m all set.

Am I worried about taking a pee in this sea of humanity? Nope. I took a lunch hour this week to go down and survey the facilities. The photo above even made the front page of the dcist yesterday.

My biggest concern is whether I’ll be stuck in the middle of the Mall. Unlike four years ago, when the Bush Inaugural crowds were a bit more manageable, it may be hard to move around. I like to photograph the “edges” of the action. That’s where the good stuff usually can be found.

Stay tuned. I’ll be reporting in live from the Inaugural on Twitter from the best, albeit the chilliest vantage point I can find.

Related Post: Inaugural Porta-Potties #2

7 replies
  1. Nina says:

    May the force be with you! Looking forward to all the newz you generate. :-)

  2. Mike Lee says:

    Great writeup that recaps things I’ve thought about, but didn’t investigate as thoroughly. I’ve decided not to do the body surfing that day in favor of watching it events in HD on my flatscreen at home.
    You really need to let me loan you my Tekkeon 3450 battery for your iPhone so we can see any pix you care to moblog to Flickr. It’s the size of a large chocolate bar and pretty light. You just plug your USB charging cable into it keeping your iPhone tethered (or plug in periodically to top off your battery). I’ve used it to keep my iPhone powered for several hours of 3G picture uploading at conventions.
    Also moblogging to Flickr will automatically plot your location on the map so we know where you end up on the Mall.

  3. Mike Lee says:

    Upon further reflection, I wonder what 2M people on the Maul will do to the AT&T network around noon that day as everyone attempts to make live “I’m here” calls friends and family.

  4. Jeff says:

    I was wondering if my iPhone would go the distance. Will be in contact. Thx. Mike.
    As to the millions taxing the mobile network, if there are two million iPhones on The Mall I say we light up our flashlight apps and simultaneously wave them in the air.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Good luck, indeed, Jeff! There is just something about that picture of all the porta potties with the Washington Monument that just begs for a caption. Gotta think about that one. We’ll watch for you on TV.

  6. Rob says:

    Jeff, it sounds like you’re in for quite the memorable experience up there. I look forward to the follow-up post as you share your perspectives.

  7. Ed says:

    From what I hear there were cell phone troubles with the concert at the Lincoln Memorial with only an estimated 500k people. Not holding out much hope for good cell coverage on the Mall. hehe

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