Get your swearing-in tidbits here

In the course of interviewing East Bay folks out in Washington, D.C., for the swearing-in of Barack Obama, I obtained some fun details that didn’t make it into the main story:

Cell phones took a hit during the inauguration but not because the transmission system broke down. Someone stole Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover’s phone. Saint Mary’s College government affairs director Tim Farley lost his cell phone somewhere downtown in the mad crush. And Ken Kilday of Martinez left his phone at the San Francisco Airport. (But TSA found it so he’ll get it back.)

At least Tim Farley¬† didn’t lose his phone a day earlier. He was staying in a hotel room offered to him by a reporter (not this newspaper) who couldn’t use it. Early Tuesday morning, a shopping center next door caught on fire, smoke poured into the hotel and the power went out. He had to evacuate using his cell phone as a flashlight.

There were some celebrity sightings, of course.

Veteran Contra Costa political consultant Tom Koch ate dinner at the the Blue Duck Tavern and sitting at the next table was actor Ben Affleck. He also saw CIA director nominee and former Clinton administration chief of staff Leon Panetta talking on the cell phone in Lafayette Square “just like any other tourist.”

Koch also made a very important observation: Standing on newsprint helps insulate your feet from the cold ground. This is yet another reason why newspapers cannot and must not die.

Lynda Kilday, advocacy coordinator for the Contra Costa Child Care Council, says Mariah Carey waved at her. Well, maybe she just waved in her direction but “she could have been waving at us.” The Kildays were standing at the front of the standing section and Carey was seated near the back of the seated section.

Lynda also offered some very interesting advice on the use of those chemical handwarmers: They are not just for pockets. She put them in her shoes, her gloves and under her hat. It’s good thing her husband bought them in bulk at Big 5.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen