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Obamalog, Stardate 021909


Velvet
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When I first heard the most famous person on the planet was planning to visit Ottawa I knew I wanted to be there. If our generation has a voice a la Dr. King or Winston Churchill Obama is it. The man is a masterful orator and if he was going to speak I wanted to be there. I immediately called my MP and booked tickets to parliament in case the President were to address the house and I eagerly marked the date on my calendar.

As media updates trickled out and it became apparent that there was to be no public speaking engagement I lost my enthusiasm and pondered whether or not to brave the cold at the Hill merely for a chance of seeing the man from a distance. I spoke to my dad yesterday about it and we came to the conclusion that in addition to being the world's most famous person he is also the world's biggest target and why would I go out of my way to try and be near such a dangerous entity? So I decided to give it a miss.

Then I woke up this morning a bit earlier than usual and after a coffee and an internet session I found myself playing Spider forty minutes before Barack's scheduled arrival at Parliament Hill, and I found it hard to believe I was just sitting here wasting time when with just a modicum of effort I could be a witness to today's biggest news story. Living as I do a handful of metres from the Presidential route and a reasonable walk to the Hill I set out.

And immediately came accross a bevy of police. I mean within a hundred metre radius of my house there must have been fourteen cops. I soon found out that it was virtually impossible for me to get to the Hill. With Obama scheduled to drive by in just a half-hour nobody was allowed to walk across Colonel By Drive. It was suggested I wait with the others where Main Street meets the canal. I'll admit I was a bit plussed about having my movements as a citizen restricted just because a car was eventually going to drive by, but I joined the fifty or so others waiting patiently for their glimpses of the man.

As I waited I noticed that the street was uncharacteristically lined with flags, half Canadian and half American. It looks pretty nice actually. I hope they leave half of them up there after the visit. I also noticed cop cars and OC Transpo buses marked CHARTER in abundance in pretty much every direction. I boggles my mind to think how much this visit must cost.

Just as I was considering walking home and watching it on tv, the guy beside me got a message that the motorcade was on it's way. We heard the helicopters first, and soon we could see one fairly high up above Colonel By Drive. Then came a pair of Ottawa Police cars, and another pair, then another. In all I think about 14 local cop cars went by at thirty second intervals. Then the all black mysterious looking vehicles paraded by; weird shaped vans and small buses and SUV's and RV's, all black as night and all with expensive looking diodes and radars and cameras sticking out of them. Then came the official Presidential limos, with a second, Rambo-like helicopter hovering about fifty feet above them. There were four limos, each with the flags on the front fenders and each with a single black man in the back waving to the crowd through darkened windows. That's right folks, it was Barack and the Fauxbamas. Of course, it's quite possible that none of them were the real President. Regardless, the limos were followed bay another barrage of jet-black vehicles of officialdom.

I'd say there were about forty or fifty vehicles in all, plus the two helicopters. Frankly, it was pretty impressive. Especially the chopper that hovered close to the limos. That's totally only-in-the-movies stuff, and that's the kinda stuff I dig.

So of course I heard no speech and I quite possibly didn't even see the President, but really, for the three minutes I had to walk from my front door, and for a guy who tries to make a point of checking out unique events whenever possible, it was well worth it.

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I remember seeing the Presidential Motorcade when President Bush came to Halifax - where I was living at the time - in 2004. Velvet you thought the motorcade was cool, which I understand, but I found the whole thing rather creepy (aside from the difference in who the president was at the time, of course).

Robie St. - one of Halifax's major arteries - was completely shut down and largely deserted, which was eerie. The size and scope of the motorcade also creeped me out - there must have been at least eighty vehicles including cop cars, vans and limos, cruising through town at breakneck speed. It just seemed so overdone and unnecessary (to that extent, at least) that it bordered on the militaristic. I'm glad I saw it, but would not say it was an experience I enjoyed.

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I concur h-phone excepting the last ten words. I also found it overdone and probably unnecessary, and I do find it creepy just how much effort is put into every movement of one person, though I bet Obama finds it a bit creepy too.

I did enjoy the experience though, as I enjoy most diversions from the norm (as a spectator, at least).

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My grandfather was cycling along the beach in Scheveningen, near Den Haag a long long time ago when from behind him he heard someone yelling at him to make way. He started telling the guy off until he looked behind him to see the queen of Holland and her entourage cycling up behind him so he pulled over, smiled and waved.

Simpler times

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I concur h-phone excepting the last ten words. I also found it overdone and probably unnecessary, and I do find it creepy just how much effort is put into every movement of one person, though I bet Obama finds it a bit creepy too.

I did enjoy the experience though, as I enjoy most diversions from the norm (as a spectator, at least).

There was an excellent piece in a recent National Geographic (I believe it had a story about Darwin on the cover) about life inside the "Presidential Bubble". It talked about how much activity swirls around the president all of the time, and how it can be isolating to be one of the most visible characters in the world, yet almost completely cut off at all times. At least Obama has convinced them to let him keep his CrackBerry, though.

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good work todd! i'm glad someone kind of saw.

i heard on the radio this morning that he would be riding in his vehicle which they call "the beast", apparently it's bigger than a big hummer and it's hermetically sealed and bulletproof this and extra protective that. it sounded real fancy-like. :)

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I was lucky enough to accidentally catch the motorcade and it was exactly as Velvet mentioned...

Two things....

I was on my way to work when my bus got detoured...I ended up at Lansdowne Park. I need to be at work in 15 minutes so I got off the bus to walk. Came up to the Bank St. bridge and was greeted by an RCMP officer. He was extremely friendly. We started talking, he was in from Montreal for this and will be heading to the Olympics next year. He said the security for the Olympics was nothing compared to this. Anyways the whole time his radio was on and they'd keep announcing where the 'cade was. The officer and I had a great laugh when across the radio was announced "The package is on the hill!"

I immediately came out with "that's what she said!" and the cop couldn't stop making "package" comments!

Needless...even though the package was already on the hill, I still wasn't allowed to cross.

Next, over the radio "a bus has broken through at Hunt Club and the Parkway" the look the cop gave me followed by the laughter from him...Then...out of nowhere making a bee-line south towards the airport a chopper goes screaming by, "look, they are off to get your buddy!"

I think the poor RCMP officer was delirious, he said he'd been standing there since 7:30am.

So that's my Obama story.

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What a great way to waste money in a global recession.

He should have addressed Parliament and said something outside at the hill.

There WERE snipers...

The 45 minute press conference was nice but didn't really say much of anything - not that we can expect that from Governments and their leaders these days anyway - but it'd be nice to be proven wrong about these kids of things again and again (which unfortunately doesn't happen).

I can't expect much from a first visit, but it's not much of a stretch to presume that Obama would like to make the best use of Canadian labour, ingenuity, and energy to keep the USA running smoothly. Lots of nice, reassurances and positve direction in the press conference though...worth the millions spent on the visit? Parliament needed that pep talk more than the general public. If he's such a great orator he should have been asked to share his gift with MP's that sorely need the skill.

And what's with everyone calling him 'the U.S. President'...the United States President? While we know what they mean, the phrase itself makes no sense.

They're missing an apostrophe.

"The U.S.' (You-Esses) President", "the American President", "President of the U.S.A.", or "America's President"...I heard 'the US president' too many times on the radio yesterday - and I was listening to the CBC. What happened? I was taught that a higher education was a prerequisite to work at the CBC.

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"The U.S.' (You-Esses) President", "the American President", "President of the U.S.A.", or "America's President"...I heard 'the US president' too many times on the radio yesterday - and I was listening to the CBC. What happened? I was taught that a higher education was a prerequisite to work at the CBC.

If something is plural and ending in "S", then the proper way to indicate possessive is s-apostrophe, rather than apostrophe-s. "States" is plural, so he is the United States' president, which, to my understanding can correctly be shortened to "U.S. President."

Aloha,

Hartamophone

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