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Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Obama Daughters as Beanie Babies: Are They?

In Malia and Sasha Obama, Michelle Obama, Toys on January 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm


The First Lady is already having to defend her daughters in the first week of President Obama taking office. Ty Inc.–the same company worldly known for their Beanie Babies–has released dolls resembling the First Daughters: Malia and Sasha. Michelle Obama’s press secretary released a statement stating, “We feel it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes.”

The dolls are part of the “TyGirlz” collection. Although the dolls are named “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia,” Ty Inc. insists that the dolls are not made to be exact replications of the president’s daughters and are not based on the Obama girls. WHAT? Do they really expect the public to be that stupid? How coincidental would it be to release two dolls, obviously with darker skin and named Malia and Sasha? And I’m sure that if they were to release two young  female adult dolls, both Caucasian–one named Jenna with blonde hair and the other Barbara with brown hair–that they would in no way be referring to the Bush twins. YEAH RIGHT…

Read more about this story from the Washington Post (free subscription required).


The Presidential Inauguration: Numbers Are In!

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Picture above shows a mass of people trying to exit one of the Metro train stations via non-working escalators.I’m so glad that I was not one of the many that got stuck in tunnels, security lines, or in streets. After all, I left around 4:30am as instructed.

The following was released yesterday from the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

The 56th Presidential Inauguration was more open and accessible than any other in history. To help you understand the scale of it all, we’ve broken down the Inauguration by the numbers…

1,120,000: Metro train rides taken on January 20th, setting a new record for one-day ridership.

18,000: Volunteers provided support for the inaugural activities.

Over 13,000: Service events organized in response to President Obama’s call to service.

13,000: Participants marched in the Inaugural Parade.

8,000: Members of America’s police departments provided security on Inauguration Day.

1,382: Applications received by the PIC, from groups requesting to march in the Inaugural Parade.

Over 1,000: Neighborhood Ball Parties organized across the country.

432: Presidential Inaugural Committee staff worked to put together the most open and accessible inauguration in history.

Over 90: Groups marched in the Inaugural Parade.

76: Years since Mickey Rooney, who rode atop the Spirit of the Lincoln Highway fire truck in this year’s parade, participated in his first inaugural parade.

58: Agencies collaborated on the security for the Inauguration.

10: Jumbo screens on the National Mall broad casted inaugural events.

3: Bipartisan dinners hosted by President Obama.

I can attest to the number of people there. With almost 2 million people in attendance, one could only imagine the amount of trash that was left behind.

Although our area was closed off before reaching maximum capacity, all one had to do was pan around to the grids behind us to see the sea of color outstretching for another mile and a half. When the ceremony was over, people rushed to the nearest warming stations. We went into the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Immediately people rushed for the warm bathrooms. I really don’t think people utilized the 5,000 port-o-potties as once expected. It was way too cold to pull those 3 layers of pants down! We waited inside for about an hour and half before heading back out to find food and a way to get back to the apartment.

Below is from inside the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, approximately 45 minutes after the Inauguration Ceremony had concluded.You should have seen the place by the time we left! Aye carumba. I really felt bad for the staff at the Smithsonian.

Aretha’s Famous Hat Seen From Satellite

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Barack Obama, Entertainment, Music, Washington D.C. on January 23, 2009 at 11:06 am


Ok, it wasn’t actually seen from that awesome Inauguration Day satellite shot. But so many people fell in love with her bodacious bow and hat during her rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” that calls began pouring into the hat’s shop origin. The Detroit hat shop owned by Luke Song has become quite popular in the last few days.

From the AP:

Franklin, who wore a gray felt custom-designed hat from Mr. Song Millinery, has inadvertently caused an economic boom for the South Korean immigrant’s store.

Song said he wasn’t prepared for the hundreds of calls requesting the hat with a Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow.

“We even have a lot of men calling to get it for their wives, mothers and grandmothers,” Song said.

The hat worn by the “Queen of Soul” was hand-molded and would cost upward of $500 — if it were for sale, the 36-year-old designer said. Customers instead were offered a satin ribbon version for $179.

“They want the same hat, but they understand it’s for the ‘Queen’ only,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent said, ‘That’s fine. I’ll get the next best thing.'”

The family millinery has been in Detroit for about 25 years, and Franklin has been a customer for about 20 of those years. The store also sells to about 500 boutiques across the country.

“We always make hats for her for high-profile events, so for us, the inauguration really was no big deal,” Song told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The design for Franklin’s hat came from two different hats at the store.

“She walked through the shop and said ‘I want that bow (put) on that hat,'” he said. “She had the coat already, but she needed the hat to set it off.”

I, for one, loved her hat. I even became a fan of it (yes, the hat itself) on Facebook. It shouted “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” with the diva-ness that only Aretha could exude. Admit it: no one else could wear that hat and get away with it. So for all of you that are bombarding Mr. Song’s shop, just quit it. You cannot and will not be able to wear Aretha’s hat without looking like a fool.

This is from my view at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration:

Amazing Time In DC

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 18, 2009 at 9:09 pm


Well I’m having an amazing time here in Washington DC. Aside from the fact that we still don’t have cable and a very limited internet connection, time here has been great. I’m going to miss things when I leave Wednesday.

I’ve seen so many great people and visited so many cites! I’ve been fortunate to see Bob Schieffer, Ted Koppel, Sam Donaldson, Bob Beckel, and Cal Thomas to name just a few. I’ve been to the Embassy of Canada, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Capitol Hill, the Newseum, and countless rides on the Metro.

Today I braced the cold weather and arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 8am. Me and about one million of my closest friends from around the country made an early start to get a spot along the Reflecting Pool in anticipation for the We Are One Opening Inaugural Ceremony. We had great music, saw famous people, and got to hear a few words from our new Vice President and President. A couple of bald eagles even made the program. You should have heard the crowd when a cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama began crowd surfing.

I was fortunate to get a ticket to the Texas Society’s Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball. I’m heading out first thing in the am to try and find a dress. I didn’t have any luck last night so keep your fingers crossed! Originally I was going to head back out to the Lincoln Memorial to hear Obama’s speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; however, a million people on the Metro tonight and around me all day today has made me rethink things. I’m trying to prepare myself for Tuesday.

Yes, Tuesday is Inauguration day and I must be half crazy and lucky to plan on being a part of the ceremony. I’ll be at the Mall along with an even larger crowd than what I was with today. Think about this tidbit: there are 5,000 strategically placed port-o-potties for an anticipated 4 million people. YES – 5,000 for 4 million. WHAT? That just doesn’t seem right. But if the weather is as cold Tuesday as it was today, I won’t be risking my rear end freezing to some nasty outhouse.

Make sure you check out that hundreds of pictures that I’ve taken since I’ve been here. I’ve only got two and half days left. 😦

The picture above was taken Saturday at the Newseum. CNN and MSNBC were there broadcasting as well.

I’m Only On Day 2? Should I Be This Exhausted?

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Academia, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 12, 2009 at 3:23 am


The beginning of my second day in DC took off at full speed and never came to a complete stop until I crawled in bed at midnight. Today was a day of reflection, appreciation, and admiration for a nation that we share. At times I found myself tearing up at the various war monuments. The tears were not just an expression of sadness for those who have bravely given their life for our freedom, but also for the pride and progress that we have made in our great country.

This morning’s seminar began with an ice-breaker exercise which allowed us to get to one another. Not only do we have students representing 47 states (plus the District of Columbia and Guam), but also 14 countries from around the world. Students from far away places such as Ecuador, South Korea, and Ghana have made their way to The Washington Center. We have students who have attended the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, campaigned for presidential candidates, and interned for local congressmen. Of course we had the some “Have you ever…” questions as well. Students came up to the stage to do political impersonations: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, and George W. Bush. However, the latter seemed to draw the loudest applause and laughter when the impersonator ducked just as a pair of shoes came flying straight toward him. When the audience was asked if anyone had ever sang the National Anthem at a major event, a student responded and made her way to the stage where she delivered a beautiful rendition of our national hymn.

By looking around the audience and seeing the diversity of such a gathering, I realized that my goal for this week’s seminar would be to learn how we have progressed in civic engagement not only as individuals, but as a nation. I understand that the most obvious example of this progression is the election of our incoming president, but what were the circumstances of progression in this election that stood out amongst all past elections? Was this only a door opening for future progression and is it possible for this nation to continue to move forward in future campaigns and elections? I would hope to walk away from this experience with the confidence that America has only cracked the door open for such a movement, but the fact is that the door IS now open.

We had our official introduction to the Academic Seminar Staff, Senior Faculty and Student Life. A program overview was also outlined. Our speakers then had their turn: CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash and Dr. Michael Genovese of Loyola Marymount U. were today’s guests.

As Bash came to the microphone, I felt excited to see someone on stage that I could instantly recognize. I found her candor to be authentic as she referred to topics such as objectivity and bias in the media, the McCain/Palin ticket–including the turning point in his campaign, and the differences of working “on the beat” for campaigns versus on the elite Capitol Hill. In regards to bias in the media and what seemed to be like preferential media time to Obama, Bash said that media did appear to do so but because of the demand from its audience. She stated that people in general like a new phenomenon such as Obama and because of the factor, the media appeared to give positive preferential treatment to Obama which in turn left Hillary Clinton sitting on the sidelines–just as Saturday Night Live captured  in a skit portraying the two candidates in a CNN debate. Therefore, those that create scandal or controversy will seem to exude negativity from the media. Even this evening I keep hearing Bash saying, “Obama No-Drama and you can’t cover the Clinton’s without drama.”

I’m also looking forward to hearing Dr. Genovese return tomorrow. Just reading the introduction in his latest book made me appreciate how someone with his level of expertise can also stand back and recognize his own pompousness when suggesting a memo to an incoming president. Would his background in academia and research make his memo any better than my own? I’ll soon be finding this out as my own essay assignment is to write a memo to the incoming president.

By the way, the day wasn’t just filled with academic instruction and lecture. In fact, today’s seminar session was over by noon! We had a quick lunch, met with our faculty adviser, then boarded buses according to assigned group names. The groups were named after candidates from the 2008 election.  I got placed in the Edwards group which had to make me laugh when I saw a picture of him and his “I’m so innocent” grin taped to the front window of the bus. Once my Edwards buddies and were seated, Bob our bus driver / tour guide showed us the sites of DC in a little under three hours. Why am I so exhausted? In that short period of time we made our way to and disembarked at the following:

Along the way Bob would point out places such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Watergate Hotel, the Kennedy Center, the George Washington Bridge, the Hay-Adams Hotel (the Obama’s current residence) and the U.S. Capitol (we couldn’t get any closer because apparently there’s some big special event this week 😉 ).

At the WWII Memorial, the VP’s motorcade drove by. Whether it was Cheney or Biden riding behind the dark glass was anyone’s guess, although I have convinced myself that it was Biden. I didn’t have a chance to get cold in the 28 degrees weather because I seemed to drop into powerwalk mode every time I stepped off the bus.

While some workers were busy aligning what looked like miles of port-o-potties in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the surrounding war memorials, others were busy constructing the platform where Obama will be standing when he gives his speech next Monday, a.k.a Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My roommate and I have decided to brave the weather and early morning hours amongst millions of others on that day to witness Obama’s pre-Inauguration speech. A speech which will be given in the very same place where King spoke, “I have a dream…” Gives me goosebumps to think about such an event.

As Bob told us goodnight and dropped us off at Union Station, I was thankful for not only being given this opportunity to be in DC for such a special inauguration (thank you UST!), but also for having the opportunity to witness and be a part of a transition of power from one party to another in such a manner like no other county does.

Pictured above: My roommate and I with the ginormous Abraham Lincoln

Note: More flikr photos to be posted soon. I maxed out my free account with pictures from today; therefore, I have upgraded to a larger account which will now include video and unlimited photos. Check back tomorrow!

UPDATE: It’s bad enough that our cable isn’t working in the apartment, but as I was working on today’s post the internet connection was lost. I’m now in the basement using a computer room that has limited access to the desktop computers. Thus, I can’t use my thumbdrive to upload pictures. Guess it’s going to be an early morning at Starbucks. Check back Wednesday for a post and pictures. Flikr pics will be loaded as well.

I’ve Made My Way to DC

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Academia, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm


Well, the day finally came. I left Bush Intercontinental Airport at 7:30am this morning and arrived in our nation’s capital a little before 11:00am. My biggest adventure today was just getting from the airport to my apartment on the Metrorail.

Having memorized my route and sporting my neckbrace (for those who may not know, I fractured some vertebrae in my neck so I’m supposed to wear this hideous thing even to Washington DC) I tried to remember all the advice that many have been so kind to give me:

  • walk and act confident; don’t look like a tourist
  • keep your wallet in front of you
  • don’t open your wallet to get your Metro pass out – keep it in your pocket
  • be aware of your surroundings and constantly look behind you
  • never take your hands off of your suitcases
  • don’t eat/drink on the rail…even if you’re dying of hunger and thirst – you’ll get a ticket…seriously

and so on…

I did just as I was told and made my way from Ronald Reagan National to Grosvenor Tower in North Bethesda, Maryland.

I checked in, got my free swag and keys and made my way to the 16th floor. One other roommate had already arrived, but she was fast asleep in the bed that she had staked out. I went to the second bedroom, choose the bed with the window view and settled in. I ditched the neck brace and just sat on the bed, looking out of my window. I was so exhausted having lugged my suitcases around and grimacing with each stubborn start off and on each escalator and rail. I’ve been able to spend the last four weeks doing very little while using pain management for my neck. I almost canceled my trip last week because of the fact that the pain had not diminished. Today’s adventure has taken a lot out of me and has left me in no condition to go exploring this evening. However, there is still plenty of time for that.

There’s supposed to be 6 of us sharing a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment; however, as of 10:30pm three of them are MIA.

My biggest disappointment so far is that unless you have a car, you cannot walk to anything without taking the Metro. We were not allowed to rent cars because of limited parking space. I have now found out that many people actually reside in these high rise apartments so they get first priority in terms of parking. In any case, the attendants in the lobby said that there is a small little store on the bottom floor of an adjacent building. My roommates and I were off in the freezing rain to get some basics for our empty refrigerator.

After spending twice as much as one should at the grocery store and bringing home very little to show for it, we made our microwavable dinners and skimpy salads. Only after the 6pm orientation were we told that there is a Safeway only two stops down the way via the Metro. Nice tidbit to have known BEFORE I spent $20 on lettuce, tomatoes, oatmeal, water, salad dressing, paper bowls. and plastic ware.

With the apartment to myself (my roomies went out to get mugged exploring). I got in my jammies, put my soft brace on, and crawled into bed. I’ll probably fall asleep while starting my first assignment: reading the first 59 pages of Michael A Genovese’s Memo to a New President: The Art and Science of Presidential Leadership.

I’m glad that I didn’t cancel my trip after all. Even sporting a neck brace and hearing the constant popping and clunking in my neck (what is that???) I’ll be able to share in an event that many thought they would never see in their lifetime.

Tomorrow will be another adventure indeed.