Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Have Seen The Bus, And It Is EVERYTHING It's Cracked Up To Be

I'm pretty tired, but I wanted to share this photo album. It's of the building on the TEMA bus we did today. This bus is beyond amazing. I'll give you a more complete tour later. I had no idea how all these people were going to not just fit but live comfortably in a school bus--until today. Now I'm a believer. This is going to be a-fuckin'-mazing!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Am Getting on the Bus!

Ok, I'm getting on the bus. No question. I was fluttering for a while -- can you blame me? I'm about to fly across the country so I can drive across the continent to places I've never been with people I've never met. Not only that, returning from Central America after nearly 4 months off the bike has me (and no doubt my coach) worried about racing for next year. But I'm doing it. I'll get back, and I'll start training. I'll be a little slow out of the gates, and my fastest races might not be between February and April like last year. Instead they'll be between May and August (when the racing counts for a lot more!).

TEMA, here I come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So What Am I Doing Exactly???

After three weeks of post-election doldrums, the winds of purpose and direction have returned to fill my sails once more (and with such vigor!). The tides are with me; the weather is fine indeed -- I must set sail without a moment's hesitation lest I lose my opportunity. Through a strange and delightful (albeit suspenseful) turn of events, I was granted a spot on The Extra Mile Adventure (TEMA) not but a few hours ago. For the next two months, I will be a part of an artistic and humanitarian Odyssey throughout Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Everywhere we go, our bio-diesel bus will be stopping at communities all along the way. We will be donating our labor, our creativity, and our zest for life everywhere we go, as well as collaborating on art projects the entire way. I'll be bringing a bicycle on the trip (they said it would be fine so long as I can somehow lash it to the exterior of the bus), so hopefully I can tour some of these countries by bike while building fitness for next year. This will be awesome!


The Extra Mile Adventure from Nicholas Weissman on Vimeo.

But I need help.

While most of the trip is paid for, I am expected to make a small financial contribution. They want me to summon far less than two months worth of travel, lodging, food, and fun would cost me, but large chunk of money nonetheless. Keep in mind, I just spent the last two months working for free; think of this as your last chance to donate to the Obama campaign. I'm not quite prepared for this trip either -- I need a new sleeping bag (mine was completely ruined by the playa dust at Burning Man). Lastly, I'm responsible for travel to and from San Francisco (the bus's departure location), so I've got to buy myself a plane ticket. I've never asked for money here on Glider Bison before, but there's a first time for everything isn't there? I've set up a "donate" button to my paypal account over on the right side; it's fast, it's secure, and it's easy (you can use any major credit card, and you don't need a paypal account).

If you want your Glider Bison blog posts to include pictures of me restoring sea turtle habitat outside Oaxaca, stories of riding my bike through the highlands of Guatemala, or links to the impressive TEMA website (which will be updated by all of us regularly) then by all means, donate now! Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Tell everyone!

If anyone has questions or concerns about donating, please e-mail me at glider.bison@gmail.com. Otherwise, just stay tuned -- cuz this shit is about to get CRAZY!

Thanks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Guys -- I just got a spot on The Extra Mile Adventure. I'M GOING TO MEXICO!!!! I'M GOING TO GUATEMALA!!!!! I'M GOING TO EL SALVADOR!!!!!

I'm leaving for San Fransisco on FRIDAY!!! FUCK!!!!

FUCK YEAH!!!!

SWIRLING MADNESS, KNOW MY NAME!!!


I am the steady hand in the storm. I see through the looking glass. I'm a ninja folks- it's true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here I Go A-City Hopping...

Here I go a-city hopping
Here I go, yippee
I'll start my day in Santa Fe
But end it by the sea.

My first stop is Seattle
That shiny Emerald City
But won't be long 'fore I am gone
It's really quite the pity.

I'll head my way South to Portland
One of my favorite places to play
But before the rain can make me insane
I'll pack up and be on my way.

Next I'll head east and inland
To the fine little town of Boise
I'll be in the state of the 208
And I'll stay 'til it gets too noisy

Last on my list is a doosie--
I'll attend my mother's Thanksgiving
She lives in Pratt, and I can't believe that
A place I never dremt she'd be living.

And that should conclude my travels
Unless it is just the beginning
If things go my way, in Pratt I won't stay
For a spot on that bus I'll be winning.

Monday, November 17, 2008

So About That Fired-Up-O-Meter...

So after three days in the campaign office, I decided it had to be done: we needed a Fired-Up-O-Meter. With a little butcher paper, some markers, and a few post it notes, the Fired-Up-O-Meter became the physical manifestation of our Fired-Upedness. The meter initially went from a 1 to 10, but after a day or so our Fired-Up-O-Meter went all the way to an 11. Here's the Fired-Up-O-Meter right above Michelle Obama's head:
For the record, Michelle Obama was the second most fired-up person in the office that day (second only to Barack Obama, so was so fired up his sticky note was inches from the ceiling).

It wasn't uncommon for us all to be completely off the charts:

The Rhythm

8:15 AM. Wake up. Don’t bother with eating breakfast, drinking coffee, or brushing teeth – all that stuff was waiting for me at the office.

8:45 AM. Arrive at 3493 Zafarano Drive Suite B. Immediately start making coffee. Begin planning what I wanted on my breakfast burrito.

9:00 AM. Do whatever cleaning we failed to do the night before. If needed, we would have a meeting to discuss what everyone’s priorities for the day were.

9:25 AM. Call in burrito order to Aldana’s, the New Mexican food place next door.

9:30 AM. Regional conference call. First Alfred, our regional director, would make sure all the field offices in Region 4 were listening. We would discuss our goals for the day, share what worked and what didn’t, and ask any questions we had. Alfred would usually close us out with a pump-up speech of some sort: “you guys are the best region in the country what you’re doing is SO important NOW GO OUT THERE AND KICK ASS –YOU’RE NOT JUST GOING TO MEET YOUR GOALS YOU’RE GOING TO BLOW YOUR GOALS OUT OF THE WATER YOU KNOW WHY??? BECAUSE THIS IS REGION FOUR AND HERE AT REGION FOUR WE ALWAYS HOLD OURSELVES TO OUR OWN BEST STANDARD YEEEEEEEE-HAW!!!”

9:55 AM. As soon as that conference call was over, someone was out the door to grab the burritos.

10:15 AM. After my breakfast burrito (with bacon, red chile, and avacado, smothered in green chile, with a side of breakfast potatoes) had been consumed, the work day really started. It was different form day to day, but usually I’d do an assortment of the following tasks:

  • Make several hundred phone calls (recruitment calls and confirmation calls mostly)
  • Train volunteers to: go canvassing, make phone calls, or enter walk-data or call-data into the database
  • Assign turf to outgoing canvassers
  • De-brief with returning canvassers
  • Scheme
  • Meet with volunteers. I quickly learned that investing time in volunteers would almost always pay off big. Spending 15 minutes getting to know someone, sharing why this campaign was so important, would save me hours of time later on. I could ask a lot more from the volunteers I knew well. Saying “I need you to find five friends and sign the up for five canvass shifts apiece,” or “I need you to organize a ten-person phone bank out of your house,” would actually work with the volunteers I knew well.
  • Fix the printers
  • Fix the internet
  • Fix the vacuum
  • Make more coffee.
  • Help keep the office habitable, functional, or hygienic.
  • Adjust my status on the Fired-Up-O-Meter

9:00 PM. The law prevented us from calling into the public past 9:00, so all the phone bankers would go home. By this point, the only people remaining in the office would be the full-time staff (and possibly a truly gritty data-entry volunteer or two). Because the office was technically closed to the public at 9:00, the atmosphere relaxed a lot. Most of us were pretty wound up (or wound down) by then; all those hours of being professional, sociable, and friendly, all those ridiculous questions we would politely answer over and over again, all those hard-asks for recruitment, all those annoying volunteers we wanted to strangle but couldn’t – would take their toll. Everyone in the office loved 9:00. We would turn on some music, and maybe even drink a beer, but most importantly, we would relax. There was still a great deal of work to do, but the atmosphere shifted enough that we had fun.

9:30 PM. Another regional conference call. At the end of the day, Alfred would once again lead us through a round of sharing with the rest of the region. Often times he would simply ask for “ups” – something that went well that day. He would give us another chance to ask questions, or go over details, and end things with some more inspirational stuff for the next day. While we were listening to the 9:30 call, everyone in the office was usually scrambling to enter all the call or walk data into the database.

10:00 PM. State conference call; like the regional call only bigger. The field offices wouldn’t talk on the state call, only the regional directors. We tried to have all our data into the system before the statewide call so that when Brent Messenger, the state director, asked Alfred for region four’s numbers, he would have as big a number to report as possible. Just like the rivalries that existed between offices in the region, the regions were fiercely competitive as well. The campaign fostered competition at every level, even between states themselves. In October we had Knocktober Fest, where each battleground state kept track of the number of knocks they had compared divided by the number of field organizers. New Mexico lost Knocktober Fest to Oregon (which is TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT – not only are they not a battleground state, their metrics were inflated because they had almost no paid staff (because they aren’t a fucking battleground state!) – they just built a massive infrastructure from the primary that stayed intact through the general even after they stopped paying their staff), but we were in the top 3 for performance in every category every day. The state call was one of my favorite parts of the night, usually because region 4 was the top performing region.

10:30 PM. After the state call, after all the data was in, it was time to recut all of our walk-packets and call lists. The voters who were contacted that day were sifted out of the lists so that (in theory) the only voters remaining on the lists were ones who hadn’t been contacted before. Many days we would re-print our entire universe (the list of voters we were trying to contact that round). This would take about an hour. Those of us who weren’t printing would clean up the office, or assemble walk-packets.

11:30 PM. Once all the work was done, we had a decision to make: go to bed? Or go out? Naturally we all needed as much sleep as we could get, but hanging-out after work was an important part of staying sane. Losing another hour of sleep was well worth it if it meant getting to see smiles on all my co-workers faces, getting to have conversations that weren’t about the campaign, or getting to unload some of that mountain of stress we’d all been building throughout the day. We would hang out after work at least every other day. Sometimes we’d go to a bar downtown. Other times we’d go to someone’s house and watch TV, or soak in a hut tub.

Repeat every day (with slight variations), until the election.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meet Region 4

Here's the roll-call we'd hear every morning of all the field offices in our region.

“Is Taos on the call?” An old Spanish colonial town turned hippy/artist colony, Taos is beautiful, quirky, and smells strongly of patchouli, ganja, and sage. It is known for its killer skiing, infestation of crystal healers, and for lots of mean dogs on its canvass routs.

“Espanola?” The low-rider capitol of the world, Espanola had almost no geo-coded doors (meaning they had to blind-knock most of their turf). Due to it's mixed, but largely Hispanic population, Espanola was seen as representative of much of Northern New Mexico, and earned visits from both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – not bad for a town of fewer than 10,000.

“Los Alamos?” A company-town created to house the scientists working on the Manhattan Project, Atomic City, as it's affectionately called, was famous for its nerds. Thanks to its nerd power, Los Alamos was the only field office to have a flawless performance entering data during the election day 'dry runs'. Predominantly republican, Los Alamos County went blue for the first time in like forty years!

“Las Vegas?” Not the Vegas you’re used to, this Las Vegas has a very uncharacteristic classical Victorian feel to it, instead of the pueblo-style architecture found throughout most of northern New Mexico. After the railroad arrived, Las Vegas became one of the biggest, baddest boom-towns in the wild-wild-west. While no longer attracting outlaws like Billy the Kid or Jesse James, Vegas did manage to attract Michelle Obama the week before the election (who in turn drew over a third of Las Vegas' population to her rally).

“Raton?” Right on the Colorado border, Raton is a strange fuckin’ place. It’s way up in the mountains, and I would recommend avoiding the tamales sold at Raton gas stations at all costs. You WILL get food poisoning.

“Chama?” A teeny-tiny little town also far to the north. The turf up there is so rural it’s basically not canvassable, so in Chama they focused all their energy on phone banking. The organizer Renee built such an army of dedicated phone bankers that over 1% of the town was routinely in the office making phone calls. Chama would usually account for something ridiculous like 70% of the region’s phone calls. At one point, our region was tasked with calling up every Vote-By-Mail recipient in the entire state; that list was given to Chama, and they completed the list within two days. There was some disagreement out of state headquarters about whether or not an office up there would even be worth it – those opposed to the Chama office had to eat their words big time.

“St. Mikes?” The northern half of the city of Santa Fe. St. Mikes was almost identical to our office in terms of number of targets (targeted voters were ones we thought were likely to support Barack Obama, but not necessarily likely to vote -- we devoted most of our efforts towards turning out our targets). Also, since our turfs were basically two halves of the same city, we were competing over the same resources, namely volunteers. Since the goals for both of our offices were usually absurdly high, each office guarded their volunteers fiercely. Most of the time, the competition between our office and St. Mikes was healthy and productive, and drove both of us to achieve phenomenal results. Occasionally, the competition between our office and St. Mikes would descend into the pettiest squabbling you’ve ever seen. E.g. “Dorthy McGuire has been coming into our office for weeks and now she’s scheduled to canvass out of St. Mikes this Saturday? What the fuck!? THOSE FUCKERS! THIS MEANS WAR!!!

“Zafarano?” Undeniably the best office in the region/state/country, and not simply because I worked there (although that didn't hurt). Zafarano was in charge of organizing the southern half of the city of Santa Fe, as well as the entire southern half of Santa Fe County, which stretches almost all the way to Albuquerque. Our turf was huge, largely rural (and therefore more difficult to canvass), and very important; in terms of number of targets, ours had the second most in the whole state--only south-central Albuquerque had more. The energy in the Zafarano office was remarkably positive, and dangerously contagious. By many metrics, ours was the highest performing office in the state. We rocked the party that rocked the party.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Keep Everyone Informed: HAGENS BERMAN '09!

HAGENS BERMAN 2009 BABY!!!! That's right--I shopped around; I weighed my options; I even test-rode some other team's bikes -- but NOTHING fit as well, felt as good, or fired me up as much as the team I already ride for, Hagens Berman.

These guys have taken care of me for the last three years. I've been with them since I was a wet-behind-the-ears cat 2. Every year, after my attempts to get onto a pro team didn't succeed, I've taken a good look at my possibilities, and always come to the same conclusion: there's no amateur team I'd rather be riding for. Hagens Berman has grown as a program as I've grown as a rider, and I feel like 2009 will be our best year yet. Thanks to everyone at HB, and here to a successful next season!

Here are some pictures of my teammate Lang Reynolds and me riding around northern New Mexico. Enjoy:



And Here We Go....

So I know I said I’d start blogging about this campaign a few days ago. I know it’s been over a week since the election ended (9 days to be precise). I know you’re all sick-and-tired of hearing about the friggin’ campaign, and you're excited to get serious about more important stuff (like football). But I don’t care. It’s my blog, and I’m going to write about the campaign a little. I’ll start off with a fairly general (and congratulatory) post about why it’s sweet to have won New Mexico by such a large margin.


Allow me for a moment to articulate how fucking amazing it is that we won New Mexico by 15%:

IT’S REALLY FUCKING AMAZING! 15%???? FIFTEEN-FUCKING-PERCENT????? THAT’S NOT A “SWING STATE” MARGIN—NEW JERSEY WENT BY 15%. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME NEW JERSEY WAS “IN PLAY”? --FUCKING NEVER, THAT’S WHEN!
We kicked so much ass in New Mexico it’s mind boggling. We were the top performing swing state by a lot – so much so that we stopped showing up on some lists of swing-state performance.

And to think that when I arrived, 42 days from the election, every poll was showing a dead-heat in New Mexico. The state was a grey as it got. This made sense; historically, New Mexico was one of the swingiest of swing states. Here’s a little slice of why:

  • In the year 2000, New Mexico went to Al Gore after several re-counts by a scant 300-some votes, the closest margin of victory in the country.

  • In the year 2004, New Mexico went to George Bush by under 6,000 votes – that works out be less than 3 votes per precinct.

  • New Mexico was identified by a group of statisticians at UC Berkeley and Columbia University as the state where a single vote was most likely to impact the election. Basically, New Mexico was determined to be the state where a single vote was most likely to swing the state, as well as being the state most likely to swing the election. Read this very interesting paper for details.


Naturally all this information kept us extremely motivated, but motivation alone wasn’t enough. How on earth did we do it?

Well we started out with a very solvable problem; with enough hard work, we knew we’d win the state. How did we know? When it comes down to population, New Mexico isn’t a swing state at all. Even before the Obama Campaign’s massive registration drive (where we registered over 30,000 new voters statewide), there were 200,000 more registered democrats in the state than republicans. Strictly by number or registrants, this state should be a hearty shade of blue, but all those extra democrats doesn’t mean much if none of them vote. 186,000 democrats failed to cast a ballot in 2004; join that with Bush's popularity with independents at the time, and *poof* there goes that numerical advantage. Our challenge wasn’t so much about locating supporters, or even changing the minds of undecideds, all we had to do was encourage New Mexico’s “sporadic voters” to actually show up at the polls. This was easier said than done; some of New Mexico’s dems were remarkably resistant to the idea of participating in democracy. But like I said, we knew the whole time that if we all worked hard enough, if we knocked on enough doors and made enough phone calls, if we pushed Vote-By-Mail and Early Vote firmly enough, if we organized our volunteers well enough – then we would win.

This campaign succeeded where others failed: it gave a truly representative picture of New Mexico’s electorate.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

OK Blog Land, I'm Back.

The election is over. Barack Obama is our new president elect. Never in my life have I been more proud of being an American. I am very tired, very happy, and very emotional. Also, as can be expected, I've been partying very hard. The last two days have been difficult; my decompression from the campaign has been jarring thus far to say the least, and I'm sure that the worst has yet to come. Now that I'm back to having little else to do other than pedal a bike and surf the internet, you can expect a blogging resurgence here at GliderBison.blogspot.com. But bear with me -- I can't wait to start translating snippets of what I've just been through into writing, but first I've got little more partying to do, a lot of sleep to catch up on, some out of state campaign workers to bid farewell to, and a mountain madness my mind has yet to make sense of.

For now, I'd suggest you head to theMonstro, where my good friend Aaron Mandel has posted once or twice about working at our campaign office.

For now....