Thursday, January 29, 2009

Inauguration Twitter map

I've had a Twitter account for about two years - it used to be the one thing you could say in a job interview to make it sound like you knew what you were talking about, even when you had no idea what it was any use for. I still don't. But recently my followers have tripled - people probably assume I use it and have something important to say? Well, you all know that's not true!

There must be something in the media talking about Twitter at the moment, because people who I'd never have thought would be into it seem to be swallowing up the hype, hook line and sinker.

Anyway, through Twitter, I came across this map showing the tweeting (no, really) activity on and around Inauguration Day. Somehow it knows where you are geographically (maybe I told it this when I signed up?) and if you tweeted (sigh) something positive about the inauguration, it puts a dot on the map. Or something like that. Anyway, check it out, it's cool.

And, the concentration of dots in the UK goes something toward highlight Twitter's huge popularity in the UK right now - pretty much the entire UK landmass is filled in by the end.

Jon Favreau

Thanks to Tom for bringing this to my attention. Barack Obama's Director of Speechwriting is called Jon Favreau. Not the Swingers guy. Another Jon Favreau. And he was born in 1981. The little fucker! How does a 27 year old get to write like that???? Quite rightly, he's now getting an awful lot of sex from hot women.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where's Wally?

I think I've spotted me in the crowd, in this awesome Gigapan panoramic photo by David Bergman. According to his blog, it's a 1474-megapixel image, made by a system that stitches together photos taken by a robotic rig, attached to the top of the north media platform.

I knew roughly where I was in the crowd obviously, but it took ages to find me, and I'm still not exactly sure. I've gone by a number of pieces of evidence in my own photos, basically triangulating my location based on people wearing particularly distinctive hats and coats - in particular, the guy in the left of this image wearing a sky blue coat with hood zipped all the way up, and the person with the furry hood stood immediately behind me. This is what I was wearing on the day - I think the hat matches, and I think you can also see Amy and Melissa's white beanie hats too. The cyan blue top is a mystery, but I'm willing to believe that's the left shoulder of the person stood in front of me!

You can spend hours pouring over that photo, checking out all the dignitaries on the podium etc. But my favourite thing I found is these guys. See if you can find them too. I hope they're the good guys...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I did some radio reports whilst I was here

Earlier this week, I got an email from my mate Steve who works for Hertbeat FM in Hertfordshire - as a small local radio station, they wanted to be able to pretend they had a man in Washington, so their news guy called me up and I waffled some crap down the phone to him from my bed.

So here's the audio, and here's what you can learn from listening to it
  • There was a good atmosphere
  • It was a big day for patriotism for America
  • They were very patriotic
  • There was lots of patriotism
  • I am actually proud of the term 'Obamarama' for which I should be shot
  • I shouldn't give up the day job

Thanks Scott

Glad to hear my friends at work are enjoying my blog :)

Inauguration links I like

Photo Mosaic on Washington Post - an image of Barack Obama giving the oath of office, made up of lots of other images from the week.

All the world's newspapers - a collossal page of newspaper front covers from around the world. Very long page.

White House website - just like the interior and occupant, it has a whole new look

The Balls

Last night we went to the inauguration balls - we had press credentials for 4 balls in total. The Neighborhood Ball, the Mid-Atlantic Ball, the Biden Home States Ball, and the Obama Home States Ball. We spent the night hopping between the balls - ball-hoping, as we called it.

We saw the President and First Lady dance twice, and the Vice President and his wife dance twice as well. Having press credential is brilliant!

Here's the photos -

And here's the First Dance with Beyonce from the Neighborhood Ball

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Swearing-in ceremony

Today was the most incredible day. Incredible because of the occasion, but also in the stunning disorganisation of what you might think is an event run to military precision.

After much discussion about what time we should get up, we got up at at 6.30am and left at 7am. There was no metro access, so we had to walk to our entry point - we had 'blue' tickets, for the West Standing area - so far, so very well organised. Roads were closed to allow for pedestrians - we walked for about an hour, including under the 3rd street road tunnel (where Bruce Willis crashed a helicopter in Die Hard 4).

We arrived at our designated place to join the blue line, but it was already a complete melee. There were two vague blue lines, that were more throngs than nice orderly British queues. There was no barrier system, no marshalls, and no signage. There were people in our queue who were meant to be in other queues on the other side of the city, and had no idea. We queued for three hours, and proceeded about 50 yards. We realised at the this point that we were at serious risk of not making it in in time.

We had press credentials for a different area, and were thinking about moving to there, so we took the brave step of leaving the queue! It was when we did this that we realised how utterly ridiculous things were - the queue we were in was a queue to nowhere. People had formed a line, and other sheep had just stood in it. It was vaguely joining the main blue gate queue, but there was another very short line for blue gate, which we just got in, and were inside the gates within 15 minutes. Amazingly ridiculous, and it makes me shudder now to think we almost missed out - and that all those thousands of people behind us did miss out.

When we did get in, the sense of relief and excitement was intense. We pushed our way through the throng to get to a good spot - again, another example of shepherding - everyone was gathered around the outskirts of the standing area, with lousy views and no standing room. Once we pushed through, there was tonnes of open room with a view directly up the centre of the Capitol. And pretty much as soon as we got there, the ceremony began.

Now admittedly, if you watched this on TV, you had a better view of the actual ceremony that we did, and you were probably aware of the scale of the thing, from the incredible aerial shots of the crowd pouring back to the Washington monument. But to hear the wave of "O-ba-ma" sweeping from the Washington monument, all the way to the front was quite incredible. To hear the boos when George W Bush was announced on the stage, followed by the whole crowd singing "Na-na, na na na-na, heeeeyy, good bye". And to hear the people around you shouting things like "amen" at points during the speech, and seeing old black ladies crying into their hands. The scale of things juxtaposed with the small personal reactions around us.

I still need to watch the ceremony on a repeat somewhere, because I didn't really appreciate much of it - I've heard since the chief justice fluffed the words, and Obama had to correct him. Brilliant. It seems fitting, that he should be so confident while all around him are flustered in awe of the occasion.

On the long walk back to Dupont, we walked up K street, which was lined with people selling all the Obama tatt you could wish for. I've never seen anything like it. So much of it was awful tacky fairground crap. Some of it was nice, classy and looked kinda official - that's the stuff I bought. All of it brought home how messianic this guy's image is. He has been put on the biggest pedestal there's ever been, the expectation on his shoulders is surely unfulfillable. I wouldn't like to be in his shoes now.

Here are the photos I've taken today (also, in the slideshow below).

Here are a few bits of video I've shot today as well. Check out the boo-ing when Bush is announced, and the "O-ba-ma" chanting. Heading to several balls later - more photos from there!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Forrest Gump

I knew I'd seen yesterday's scenes somewhere before. "Jenn-nnny" -

Me vs Getty

Good to know my access to yesterday's event was as good as Getty Images'. Check out these images on the BBC website, and compare them to mine on Flickr :)

Obama concert

Today was the "We Are One" inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Thanks to Melissa's friend Liz, we had press credentials, so were stood audience's right, right at the foot of the memorial steps. The crowd went back as far as the Washington memorial (about half a mile), so we were incredibly lucky indeed. My 12x zoom got a lot of usage - full photos on Flickr.

Stars included U2, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Usher, Jack Black. Both Joe Biden and Barack Obama did speeches. At the end of the concert, all the artists came out on stage, and once a lot of the crowd had left, Obama came out to see them - I was about 25 yards away and he gave us a little wave. I didn't have my camera ready though, unfortunately!

It was basically a live TV event, very polished and nicely shot (lots of big screens around the site). The artists sang patriotic songs and read patriotic readings, about previous presidents, the military, previous inaugurations, etc.

A great mood setter for the week ahead. And great preparation for the cold weather - I had my thermals on, and some of those hot gel packs in my shoes :)

On the way back, I bought a beanie hat and 5 badges. I intend to buy a lot more tatt this week :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What we're doing this week

OK so here's the Bailey Does Obama itinerary. Today (Sunday) we're heading down to the Lincoln Memorial for the special inauguration concert. There's a whole bunch of people playing, including Bono, Beyonce and Bruce Springstein (apparently, your name has to begin with B). Thanks to Melissa, we have press credentials, so can swan in and out. Tonight, we may go to a party for the state of Montana, called the Big Sky Party, at a club called Ibiza.

Tomorrow night (Monday) we're going to the Texas Black Tie and Boots ball. I won't be wearing boots, but I will be wearing a black tie. I intend to be the charming British man that everyone wants to talk to. In the daytime tomorrow, I might help Amy at her work, handing out the inauguration tickets to people that are coming to collect them. Or I may check out a musueum or two that I didn't check out before - but, it's Martin Luther King day, which is a holiday here, so everything could either be very closed or very busy.

Tuesday is the big Inauguration Day. We have tickets to the blue section of the West Standing area in front of the Capitol Building. We have to be there incredibly early - I think the plan is to leave Melissa's apartment at about 5am, and walk the two miles (from Dupont Circle) to the Capitol. We have to be screened, then we have to get in line, and then we have to get a good spot. They've given out more tickets than they have spaces for, so we have to be there super early. The swearing-in must finish by midday (it's in the constitution). You can watch it live online, or on possibly every television anywhere in the world.

On Tuesday night, we're going to the Obama Home States ball at the Washington Convention Center. It's one of the ten official Inauguration Balls, which Obama himself is therefore guaranteed to be at. He'll probably be there for 10 minutes in a room full of five thousand people, but it's still quite exciting.

Cool links -
Inauguration on Flickr
Inauguration weather
Inauguration senate committee
Inauguration of Obama, official site

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Obamarama begins

My first experience of the Obamarama and I've not even left the uk yet. I'm sat in the plane at the departure gate and the plane is chock full of excited Americans. One lady just yelled 'raise em up for Obama!' and half the plane whooped an hollered. I've a sore throat at the moment, so my voice is too hoarse and my sensibilities too British to join in.

This same woman keeps on shouting 'who's actually going then, to the inaug, I'm actually going'. Show off. I should tell her I'm going and I'm also going to three balls, including the Obama Home States ball on Tuesday night, with the man himself. But, as I said, too hoarse, too British.

They have now just whooped and cheered when the pilot said the word Washington. And then they made a pact to, everytime anyone says Washigton, to say Obama. I can't help but think of Randy from South Park (watch the whole episode):

Ok, off we go....