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Yesterday's historic inauguration was as expected - millions of people in the subways, streets and on the national mall in Washington, freezing cold temperatures and a great deal of joy and hope.
Ask anyone who dared to venture to the protected zone downtown yesterday and you will get wildly varying stories from each. Some waltzed through security checkpoints while others waited for hours. Some froze in the 30 degree temperatures, while others stayed warm in office buildings, bars and restaurants.
My (and my family's) story, perhaps not surprisingly, was aided by technology. Our plan was simple - my partner and daughter and I would take the Metro to the 7th and D Street, NW security checkpoint to go to the Consumer Electronics Association party just one block away. There we'd have an indoor HD jumbotron with free food and drink to boot.
But it wasn't to be. Unbeknowst to us (or any of the hundreds of others waiting), nobody was being let through that checkpoint as of 10 AM, and another nearby checkpoint was no better. With my daughter starting to wilt from the cold and crowds, we headed for a nearby restaurant.
Luckily, Rosa Mexicano had just opened for lunch, and we took our place at a bar stool just a few feet away from the overhead TV. Which had no sound. And despite the desperate efforts of the restaurant staff that resulted in three ear-splitting howls from large speakers, we were left to watch Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma play a new John Williams song in silence, and could only imagine the vigor with which Aretha Franklin belted out "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
Moments before President Obama was to take his oath of office, a young photographer named Jaime Alvarez, who was seated a few tables away, saved the day. He pulled out his Apple laptop (who brings a laptop to inauguration day?!), pulled up the webcast and hooked it to the restaurant's speaker. Yes, the timing of the video and the audio were a little off, but nobody cared. Our inauguration experience was saved by a generous photographer and the power of the Internet.
Here is a picture of Jaime (second from the left with glasses) and his pals at the restaurant.
And speaking of the power of the Internet, here are some pictures from the Google-Vanity Fair party that evening. We missed the stars (particularly bummed that we didn't get to meet Sarah Silverman), but enjoyed the company of good friends.
Left to right, Qorvis Managing Director Maura Corbett, Rep. Doyle's Legislative Advisor Kenneth DeGraff, National Journal Reporter Andrew Noyes, me and my partner Lara Ballard.
Lara and me with one of our favorite Googlers, smart grid and broadband guru Harry Wingo.