US Inauguration Traditions

Yesterday for the first time I actually got the chance (or remember) to see a lot of the activities prior to the actual presidential inauguration. As someone that absolutely loves history – yesterday was so magical for so many reasons.

First of all – to see over 2 million people peacefully (no arrests) come together to share this moment was amazing. It really shows you that we are an incredible and good hearted people. There were so many stories of strangers becoming friends and enjoying the company of the person to the left or right of them.

Second of all – I got to witness a lot of the traditions that I never saw before because of school, work, etc. After seeing them – I did some research so I could provide a few interesting facts that even my sister might appreciate.

  • George Washington was sworn in on April 30, 1789 in New York City. He understood the importance of it all, but decided to wear very plain clothes to show he was a man of the people.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be sworn in as president in Washington, DC.
  • When Adams got sworn in – many of the people there paid more attention on the Washingtons leaving – so now it is custom that the ex-president leave quietly after the ceremony so all attention is on the president-elect.
  • Any book can be used to administer the oath. What would I use? One of my LBJ biographies of course.
  • In 1949, Harry Truman was the first president to have his inauguration on nationwide TV
  • In 2009, Jennifer Zelazny watched the ceremonies for the first time ever streamed on cbs.com

Best of all – there is such a sense of hope from so many individuals that never felt it. To see them so happy, so excited, and looking into the future with such promise…it is really inspiring. Let’s hope that Obama can turn things around!

The Story of My Life – Told in the Header

For the last few versions of Jappler.com – I have had images in the header arranged in a way to tell a story.

  • My roots. This picture was taken out of my car on the road my parents live in NY.
  • My home. Old Main on the Penn State campus. I was destined to go to Penn State and it was my #1 goal since I was 3 years old (besides a few months in 7th grade when my #1 goal was to beat Super Mario Brothers) I spent a lot of time sitting on the front steps reading, people watching and hanging out with Amy.
  • Pita. Right after we moved to Chicago – I wanted a kitten and we chose Pita. She is my little helper.
  • Salsa. We figured Pita needed a friend so a year later after getting Pita – we got Salsa. Her name is perfect for her – she is a spitfire.
  • My Apple tattoo. Back in 2000 – I decided it was time to get a tattoo and what better and more meaningful than what changed and formed my life more than anything else?
  • My first trip to Vegas. I finally made it to Vegas in my early 20s and it was unforgettable.
  • September 11, 2001. This changed me – and probably all of us forever.
  • Chicago’s Bean. Millennium Park opens four years late – but is an awesome place!
  • Triscuit. My first dog – Triscuit who was absolutely amazing (and fast).
  • My mecca. Doug and I went to the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. As a huge Coca Cola fan – this was awesome.
  • My Apple Cube. As an Apple collector – I had to have it (and it looked great next to my B&W!
  • Sears Tower. How could I not have this in my header? I absoltely love the Sears Tower and spending time in it.
  • Golf. I finally started golfing after a few years of not golfing and bought my first set of Ping irons – which I love.
  • My S80. This was Volvo #3 for me – and my absolute dream car. I cannot imagine getting rid of it.
  • Penn State football. After a rocky game at Northwestern that we were at – Penn State not only turned around their season, but their entire program.
  • Evan. My first born son brought a new perspective and endless entertainment into my life.
  • Colby. Colby – Triscuit’s brother found us right after Triscuit died and we feel very fortunate to share our time with him

And so you have it – the history of my life…all in a web site header collage of pictures.

Generation Social

As a history major – I tend to look at everything and find trends, think about what historians will write about our time, and all kinds of fun things that drive Amy crazy. The other day while I was thinking about playing Super Mario 3 on my Wii, I thought about the definition of being social (“interactions between people”) and then thought that my son Evan’s generation will most likely view our generation as very unsocial. We wrote letters that took days to deliver, interacted with people very limitedly, played games by ourselves, and worked independently.

Our definition of communication has completely changed. When I thought about it, I went to college before cell phones were really popular. If you wanted to get in touch with someone it was by phone, email, or by the chance of meeting someone. No one had digital cameras so most of our college pictures are tucked away in a shoebox somewhere in one of our friend’s closets. We had the beginning of networked games, but our interaction there was limited to typing in “hi” or “Don’t go in the dungeon without me Ken!”.

Now – we have instant access to other people’s statuses and whereabouts by the second. SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, cell phones, etc – people share what they are doing that moment, while other people can comment, look at your whereabouts, get notified the second any change has been made (RSS, etc), read about what you are doing/what you have done all in a community setting. People take photos and videos now and within seconds share the photos and video with family and friends…and even “strangers”. If you want to get ahold of someone – you can do so electronically and it is a good chance I will be talking to whomever I want within a matter of moments, not minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months.

The definition of face to face communication has also changed. The majority of us have high speed connections which allow us to chat via video so we can see our friends and family at any time, any place within seconds. No more waiting to see cousin x until our yearly trip to Germany. Same goes with business. Why have your office fly to somewhere to sit in a room with others while you could save money and time by doing business via video? Of course it is still nice to meet in person on occasion, but it is not always needed or the best solution.

Even gaming – all of my favorite games are highly interactive with my friends online. I cannot even tell you how many times I had to explain that I was a girl and not a 10 year old kid playing So Com II because we planned our attacks and defense using voice. I have friends online that I know I can play games with at almost any time…from scrabble to planning a sniper attack on the enemy.

On trips, I take photos with my iPhone and send them instantly to family members so they can see their grandson in his latest cute pose. Sharing no longer waits.

I look forward to talking to Evan about how he perceives me and my generation compared to what he knows and understands about the world. I am sure he will one day comment on how crazy it was to not have instant or almost instant access to everyone and everything.

Career Night Speaker at Penn State

I will be back in State College, PA in April to speak at the History Department Career Night. So, if any of you State College folks are around, I would love to get together with you while I am there (email me about my arrival/departure). I will be talking about my career outside of the typical History major norm (teacher, lawyer, etc) and how my studies at PSU prepared me for what I am doing now. I am quite honored and excited and look forward to seeing some of my old professors!