Saturday, July 26, 2008

Colorado, Here We Come

Today was officially the last day of the fellowship. My work as a fellow ended with a couple hours of calling and hanging out with two friends from the campaign and a great volunteer. We sat around exchanging stories like old men as the afternoon wore on.

I leave with a bit of sadness in my heart, but I'm also excited to be done with this brief stage of my life. Why excited? Well, read down a few posts and you'll see. It was a bittersweet end.

Now it is the rush to get everything ready for our road trip to CO and WY. I can't wait to get out there. See you all very soon.

Photo courtesy of Aaron.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

100,000 in Berlin

Senator Barack Obama is going to speak within the hour from Berlin, Germany in front of a crowd of 100,000.

At least one part of the world that we have lost favor with over the last eight years is ready to love America again. That makes me smile.

Starbucks Closures

A full and official list of all the Starbucks that are closing across the country can be seen here. It is interesting to see and nice of the company to make the list available to the public. This is a huge step for the Bucks. Just take a look at how many stores in California are closing! 87 stores! And you know there will still be well over one-hundred stores open in California.

No surprise about Highway 119 and Martin in Longmont going under. However, I am a little surprised about the Bucks at Centerra. That seems like it would be a popular location, but what probably killed it in the end is its inaccessibility. If you aren't going into Centerra for something other than coffee, it's just not worth it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Joker and a Dance

My review of The Dark Knight is going to be short because it will be like all the other ones...positive. The movie fulfilled expectations. It was, perhaps, a little too long, but it remained so captivating that I didn't notice the length that much. As expected, Heath Ledger's Joker was the highlight of the film. His performance was not at all any better because I knew he was dead, rather, it made it more painful to watch because this was his last performance. It couldn't have been any better.

If you haven't seen the movie and want to avoid spoilers, don't read the next paragraph.

How do you have another Batman movie with the Joker still alive? You don't. Or you cleverly make it a trilogy and just don't address the fact that the Joker isn't killed off in The Dark Knight. This is a problem because there is no replacing Ledger's interpretation of Joker.

Another movie that you should see, and one that is much better if you are looking for a movie that provokes thought and succeeds in more than merely entertaining you, is War Dance. This is a new addition to the documentary DVD section at the Oak Creek Library, and a much welcomed addition. War Dance chronicles a group of schoolchildren from the Patongo refugee camp in northern Uganda who travel to Kampala for an annual music festival. Not surprisingly, this movie was incredibly sad, but if you stick with it through the hellish testimonies of how the orphans lost their parents, brothers, or sisters, you will be rewarded with not only a hopeful story, but one that spurs action. I really can't recommend it enough.

Try to watch it and not cry. You will fail.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Chip

I realized that I may have never shared with you this picture. This is the chip I sold on eBay. I said it looked like a bird. If you tilt your head to the left it may look like a whale with its mouth open, but to clarify, this was sold as a potato chip bird, not a potato chip whale.

Fizzled Out

I feel I need to apologize ahead of time for my writing. Frankly, I don’t know what the heck I am doing right now. I have taken five weeks off and have sort of forgotten how to be a halfway decent writer. I have forgotten how to be precise. Maybe I was never those things. Either way, I feel like a poorer writer now.

Sorry. I just had to get that out.

The fellowship officially ends on Saturday, but it could be over now. The program has pretty much dissolved into nothing at this point. That was the status I was given by a staffer yesterday. There are lots of reasons I think it has come to be that way and I will elaborate about some of them now, and some later, but I must say my frustration with the program has grown exponentially in the last couple of weeks.

As soon as the fellows completed their fourth week of the program I noticed a difference in how some people were being treated. By noticed, I don’t mean imagined. In essence, there has been an aura of inclusiveness extended to people willing to be staffers for the next four months. If you aren’t willing to be a staffer, that would be me, you have a window of time in which you are giving 40+ hours a week. This window closes on July 26th.

I completely understand why the campaign must recognize those fellows that are willing to work “100” hours a week. It is necessary for the campaign to take those people under their wing and start preparing them for the work that they will be expected to do for the next four months. If they didn’t do this, there would be time lost after the end of the program before those fellows were completely ready to take on the role of a campaign staffer. However, there is no downtime in a campaign. Time lost for one person translates into voters being lost. Multiply that by several hundred across the country and it could mean the election.

Now that I’ve established an understanding of the expediency of finding new staffers, I can move on to something I think is just as important—providing an accurate and defined work template for the duration of the program. For those fellows that won’t become staffers, meaning most of us, there should be a clear end to the program. There shouldn’t be miscommunication just because we aren’t going to be in the office every day after Saturday. To have such a program dissolve with two weeks to go should be unacceptable, but that is what has happened in Milwaukee. My team started with 7. There are three or four of us now, depending on which day of the week it is. The other teams in Milwaukee are nearly nonexistent as well, or they have dwindled away to a few people.

I wish there was a formal evaluation of the program to be completed by the fellows this week, but I haven’t heard of such an evaluation. I would give the first two weeks an A+. The middle two would receive a B to C+. The last two weeks, although not concluded, receive, without a doubt, an F.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kate's Birthday

A clarification. We are arriving in Colorado on the 28th of July, not the 29th as I have told many of you in the last week. My bad.

Kate started her three week vacation on Friday afternoon. This week she is going to spend some time down in Chicago with relatives while I finish up the fellowship in Milwaukee.

It was Kate's birthday yesterday. She turned 25. I took the day off and we went to Chicago and had an awesome day. Pictures later, but for now...

We drove by a crime scene on the way to the train...a crime scene with a dead person.

I took a picture of R2-D2 made out of Legos.

The restaurant was out of Fat Tire. I was instantly depressed.

After a misty, cloudy, muggy beginning, it ended up being a clear and beautiful day in Chicago.

I enjoyed walking around Chicago with my beautiful wife.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Open Season

This blog is soon going to be back in business. After several seconds of deliberation I lifted the additional security on it today so all people can once again access the blog. I figure with nine days left of the fellowship it doesn't really matter to me if they discover I have a blog.

That said, the fellowship does continue until July 26th and then we are leaving for some time in colorful Colorado and wonderful Wyoming. will be blogging light between now and mid-August.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aaron's Birthday

I wish we got to spend more birthdays together. As it is today, the first day of your 24th year, like on so many other days, I feel like we are being pulled in opposite directions. To feel that way about a best friend is scary and disconcerting at times. I start to worry that we are growing apart. I worry that we will never live near each other again. I miss you by worrying. Which, I suppose, is silly, but that is my way.

After all we have been through and survived I should know better, but I think this year has been especially hard. I've missed being around you more this year than any other. And maybe I will miss you more next year than any year before. I'll probably deal with that by worrying, but we will still have our talks, our history, and our brotherhood, all of which helped me weather this year.

My wish for the future is that we will live near each other again, but above that, I wish for you a great year filled with hope, joys, challenges, and promise.

With that said, I hope our paths intertwine more in the next year than they did in the last.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

From the 4th

Milwaukee could use some improvements, but one thing they do know how to do is 4th of July fireworks. They shoot them off for an hour from four locations right on Lake Michigan. The locations: top of the US Bank Tower, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Veterans Park, and a barge in the harbor. More photos here.

There Were Four of Them

I did some canvassing in a rough neighborhood today and this is a snippet from a conversation I had.

"Well, I appreciate what ya'll doing out here. Ya'll be careful now. This is the hood," the man said to me.

"We are. There are three of us," I said.

"Yeah, well, there were four of them."

He refers to the four that were shot and killed last week while outside a party on the 4th of July just a few blocks from where I was speaking with him.

I nod and wave to him as I walk on, noting his good point.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Big Night in Milwaukee

We just wrapped up the Grand Opening of the Milwaukee Obama Office. I'm going on 14 hours of work today and I still haven't had dinner so I'm going to make this quick.

The numbers....

A lot of us would have been happy with 150 people at the opening, but we had over 470 people sign-in. Many couples or families arrived and one person signed up to represent the whole family, so by our expert estimation, we called it 550 people. It was off the hook.

Out of that group we got over 100 hardcore volunteers and scheduled over 300 volunteer shifts.

75 people were deputized so they can help us register voters in Milwaukee.

We blew the other cities in Wisconsin out of the water. Today was our day to shine and the movement started off with a bang tonight. Goodnight.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Right to Vote

It has been a long time. I'm sorry. Very sorry. I wasn't expecting this...the not blogging at all thing, but things are going to get better on this end. I promise.

Let me share a little about registering voters.

At times when we go out into the public and register voters we aren't wearing any Obama stickers, buttons, or shirts. Actually, this happens a lot because just like our lack of yard signs, we also lack any boxes of stickers, buttons, or shirts. Anyway, on those days when we are out there registering voters with no Obama bling on the only way a person knows that we are with the campaign is if we tell them, but we don't get to telling them unless they stop and talk with us first. Somehow a lot of people pin us as Democrats or Obama supporters before we can even get a word in. These people (often angry Republicans) see us registering voters and assume we are with the Dems. That struck me as incredibly sad the first day I noticed this. It still makes me sad. Why is it that people know I'm an Obama supporter just because I am encouraging them to do their duty as a citizen of this great country and vote? I think it is telling of the time and maybe this specific area, but I doubt it.

As of right now, we are the only ones going into communities of ex-felons and informing them that once they are off papers they are once again allowed to vote. You can't blame them for assuming they have permanently lost the right to vote, but conveniently, somehow along the way, person after person has forgotten to let them know that once they are off parole they can vote again.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yard Signs

What is the obsession with yard signs? Everyone wants one. They don't win elections. Don't ask for yard signs or I'll find one just to beat you over the head with.

You should see the reactions we get when we tell them we don't have any signs right now, but that they can buy them on the website. They sometimes launch into a rant about how people want visibility, they want a slice of history. I say calm down. We have four months left. History is expensive. We don't have a yard sign for you.