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For aides, reporters in Hawaii, a mix of work and play

President Obama and the first family are spending the last days of 2010 on vacation in his old stomping grounds.

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To be sure, there is work to be done. The public - and the editors who are on the mainland - still have a lot of interest in the president, so reporters frequently file dispatches on Obama's activities, such as when he went to church here on Sunday.

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And Obama meets with aides, such as Nick Rasmussen, a counterterrorism adviser, and Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, who briefed him on national security developments Sunday.

Then there's the advance team, which prepares ahead of time for Obama's public appearances around the island.

Aside from those routine situations, both reporters and aides try to stay ready in case of major news. Nick Shapiro, a White House assistant press secretary for homeland security issues, bought a waterproof cover for his BlackBerry so that he can go surfing but keep his device with him at all times.

Shapiro was in Hawaii with Obama last year when an airline passenger attempted to detonate explosives on a plane bound for Detroit. That incident turned Obama's Christmas trip upside down, as aides scrambled to learn more about the so-called underwear bomber. Eventually the president appeared before the cameras to give a short speech about airline security.

"So far, this trip has been more relaxing than last year," Shapiro said. "But we are all prepared and ready should something happen, and we are all operating under the posture that of course something could happen."

Yunji De Nies, an on-air correspondent for ABC News, says she can't go surfing at all, with or without a waterproof BlackBerry cover. "I have to be camera-ready all the time," she said. "I can't go from taking a swim to standing in front of the camera."


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