A little over a year ago I packed up my car with a weeks worth of clothing, left my home in Chicago for the unknown awaiting me in St. Paul, Minnesota. Two weeks previous I had agreed to take on the position of State IT Director for Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign.
Campaign is most definitely the right word. I have never been in the military, but given the stories I've read and heard from strangers and friends I feel that even if I can't total relate, I understand parts of the experience: Life away from home; 18 to 20 hour work days, seven days a week; extremely limited resources; time, money, personnel and materials.
The job was something akin to working as a Quartermaster for the Army; Optimizing limited technical resources so that the campaign staff and volunteers could get to work. In one quite surreal moment I was aghast in our Mankato office - a town of 30,000 people some 90 miles southwest of St. Paul/Minneapolis - shaking my head at a hulking old HP LaserJet 5 printer that the DFL had procured. The machine was useless. Actually, less than useless since it took up quite a bit of room in an office that had none - the "office" being housed in a former beauty salon that had a total of three salon stations turned into desks. The printer in question had no internal printer server - the card no doubt having been removed by the refurbisher who sold the unit, no standard parallel cable - HP having used a non-standard PIN configuration for their parallel ports and a power cord that would work just fine, for a 240 volt outlet commonly found in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
I've been asked if working on the
campaign was "fun." Fun is not the word I would use to describe
it. By my third sleep deprived, highly stressed day on the job, I
felt like I had made a terrible mistake. I can say without at doubt
that I "worked more" in those months leading up to the election
than in any other period of time in my life. While the feeling of
misstep abated as I got a better handle on the job, fun still doesn't
come to mind. The controlled chaos of Election Day, participating in
a Michelle Obama Rally, witnessing first hand Al Franken's Senate
run, meeting new and interesting people and watching people's
passions being unleashed would be, haunting, impressive, and
extraordinary. Memorable. Yes, memorable would be a better one word
Of course that, in part, is to be expected. To try and take advantage of just that I wrote a bit while working on the campaign. While my plan of writing at least once a week ultimately didn't pan out, I lacked time to decompress and organize my thoughts collectively; I did get in a few moments of thought clearing writing in:
July 26th: Tired On The First Day
August 2nd: What Day Is It?
August 10th: The Olympic Movement
August 23rd: The Ticket
Oct 30th: Five Thirty Eight
Plus the usual photos and videos which can be found here on pdw.weinstein.org and elsewhere: