Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Solutions for Believers

The Obama campaign has been fresh out of yard signs, t-shirts and stickers for months. There's some question as to how effective yard signs really are, but no matter, if you want one, give up the complaint and make one. This is the most on-purpose, explicitly diverse grassroots movement I've seen in my lifetime, so it seems to me that the home-made variety of swag is all the more powerful.

Here's the sign I made for one of our recent voter registration events (one of many in which we were allowed, even encouraged, to be partisan).

If you really want to help, canvass and register voters. Walking door-to-door and broadening the base are the two most important things we can be doing right now. But if you've still got energy after that, enlist groups to make signs and stickers for others. Any group of Obama supporters, no matter age or ability can help. Gather up all your materials from a local hobby store and host a sign-making party - guaranteed to be less stressful than a debate hosting party.

And while the following music and video will convince probably no one, I consider it important food for the workers. More than a message about Barack Obama, it is tribute to the vision and vibrant legacy of Dr. King.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Barack Obama Visits Northern New Mexico

I finally got to see the man in person as Barack Obama traveled to Northern New Mexico today. He gave his speech at the Plaza de Española where the event reportedly drew over 10,000.

I know Española only as we traveled through here so many times in my youth. It is Española, not Los Angeles, that is the birth place of the "Low-Rider," that large, usually black car with the chain-link steering wheel that moves ever-so-slowly down the street, occasionally showing off the hydrolics and always showing off chrome and sound system. Driving through here on a Saturday night took a loooong time but we enjoyed the street party.

The framework of Barack's speech was that of yesterday's in Colorado. You can see and hear that speech here. To that core, he enhanced the discussion of regulating Wall Street, funding capital markets and clarifying his tax policy. In the latter, he labeled McCain's recent ads on the subject, an "Untruth." Obama also made many references to the Hispanic and Native American communities in New Mexico with a closing plea to "vote your numbers" and "flex your muscle."

(To see a large version of this slideshow, click here. You'll probably want to up the interval by pushing the '+' next to 'seconds' along the bottom.)

He was all that he seems to be: a great orator, passionate, convincing and, to my read, authentic. Indeed I came away inspired and even more hopeful. With all that is going on in and outside the presidential campaign, I become ever-more convinced that this is indeed the most important election of my voting lifetime. I'm fortunate to be here and have the opportunity to contribute.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Canvassing and Expanding

New Mexico is certainly it's own place. Sky, vistas and dry air dominate so much how it feels to be here. That's obvious. Then there's the art and architecture, distinctively and sometimes overly Southwest. But when you spend some time here, look past the presentation and meet these people, hang out in their places, a character emerges. They are unapologetically unsophisticated, behind-the-times, dusty, rusty, complicated and strangely charming. Certainly California and New York have changed this place, but only a small part of it. Most New Mexico remains an intersection between, in order of domination, White, Latino and Native American cultures and subcultures. There are few Asian and African-Americans. Rough edges and tensions abound but largely go unspoken (the state motto being "Crescit eundo", "It goes as it goes"). Still, all seem to share the love of this land and sky.

We all know by know that politically, New Mexico is deep purple. Anti-BLM property-rights ranchers, off-the-grid hippies, retired Chicago businessmen, Hollywood expats, Mexican pro-America middle class, white born-again Christians ... there all here and sometimes it's hard to guess which of the two major parties any individual will align with, if either. It's in this context that we're trying to get the message across: "You're vote really counts. Look hard at the issues and positions. See past the lies and fear-mongering."

I had this little concern as I drove across the country that I wouldn't end up with much to do for the campaign. Well that was clearly wrong as I'm having trouble making time for much else. At the moment, I'm helping in the northeast region of Albuquerque as well as the "East Mountains" to organize weekend canvassing and voter registration. The voter registration effort is currently dominant with only a few weeks before the deadline of October 7th (Hey Reader, Are you registered?). So I'm helping to coordinate sites, events, and deputized registrars all in an effort to expand the Obama-leaning voter base. (Due to past abuses, in order to register voters in the state of New Mexico, one has to be deputized by the county, a mere two hour training.) We have over 175 deputized volunteers in our area and many target sites, so the effort is a lot of communication, placement and where needed, getting permission from site owners and walk the line of non-partisanship.

Belly BobThe newly opened East Mountain Obama office had their first open house last Sunday. There the guest-of-honor wasn't so much Martin Heinrich, candidate for New Mexico's 1st congressional district, but "Belly Bob" the donkey. Belly Bob gave good rides.

And, yes, Corky's "Dead or Republican" joke was a hit.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Miniature Traveling Companions

The route from DC to Albuquerque was simple: I-66 W out of DC, I-81 S to Roanoke where I boarded I-40 W for the long haul to Albuquerque. Two and a half days seemed a reasonable target time. Alas, hurricane Gustav had other plans for me.

After driving 12 hours on day one (Corky did none, N-O-N-E, of her share of the driving), I-40W brought me to Memphis Tenn. which seemed a nice place to stop along the "Musical Highway" (though not quite sure what that meant ... I rolled down my windows but didn't hear anything). But Gustav says "no" all the hotels and motels east of Memphis were full with evacuees. On to west of Memphis and hoping for better luck. But again, Gustav gives me the big blow off and there's no room at the inn. Okay, it's getting really late and I don't want to drive exhausted in this increasingly intense wind and rain. Best pull into a rest stop and resume driving after some rest.

Okay, see that little white dot halfway between A (DC) and B (Albququerque)? That's Memphis. Nice area, big river, lots of vegetation, lots of moisture. Corky and I find our little rest stop right about there, move everything out of the passenger seat into the driver's seat get her some water, roll down the windows a bit for ventilation, and settle in for some sleep. Not so much. Itchy is me. Must be all that dog hair on the seat mixing with moisture that's got my skin creeping out. Turn on the light, remove said dog hair with handy lint brush and it's back to shut eye. But now itchy is really me. Turn on the lights again and notice drops of blood on my legs. What the *&(%? Turns out Memphis is built on a swamp. Right. My car has been invaded by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. Guess the car light was as good as a dinner bell. Thus began a tirade of cursing and throwing everying from the drivers seat to the back seats. Corky's freaking out not from mosquitoes (fur's too think, lucky dog) but cuz Mom's completely lost it. In less than a minute we're on the I-40 ramp with all windows fully down. Only its raining hard now and mosquitoes, being determined to live or something, have no interest in flying out the window into a downpour. They hunker down. Like soldiers on a hill, at least 20 of them stand waiting in the crevice between my winshield and dashboard. At least, for the moment, they seem less interested in eating .... me.

Now well after mid-night, I'm searching again for a Super-8 or somesuch with at least one spot in the parking lot. I decide to focus on towns with no major north/south artery that would bring folk up from Louisiana and Gustav's rain. I find just such a town 50 miles west of Memphis and sure enough, the parking lot is only half full. A friendly woman at the front desk set me up with a room. $10 fee for pets. No problem. Too tired to itch now, I don't remember unlocking the door before my head hit the pillow.

The next day, Gustav's wind and rain continued until noon, but I made it all the way to Albuquerque before 11 pm, periodically rolling down all windows when one of my miniature traveling companions would start circling for a meal.

Even now, a week later, my legs, feet and right shoulder are still covered with little bumpy souvenirs. Safe and mostly sound, we made it. After sleeping the sleep of the dead, I was perfectly refreshed and ready to go. I set out that morning to find the New Mexico state office for Obama's Campaign for Change.


Monday, September 08, 2008


I don't know about you, but I'm worried. Worried that the Rovain machine will scare Americans into choosing four more years of despicable governing. So concerned am I that I've decided to take off a few months from DC to work part time for Obama in my home state, a "swing" state, of New Mexico. The latest polling (if you believe in such things) gives Obama a slight edge for NM's precious, count 'em FIVE electoral votes. Doesn't seem like much, but the Obama strategy needs New Mexico by every wining scenario of close states. So off I go.

Here's the little ditty I came up with while packing the essentials (you know, computers and bicycles) before embarking on this 2,000 mile journey.

Barack Obama LogoWith bikes on the rack,
And Corky in back,
This will be a road-trip-o-rama.

Palin's no Hillary,
Find me a distillery!
Lest I become Drama-Mama.

It will be a long ride,
But McCain? Can't abide!
I'll get NM for Obama.

Hopefully, my ability to sway New Mexico voters is stronger than my poetry. And so it begins and not a moment too soon, what with the republican swift-boating ugliness in full swing. Readers of the Albuquerque Journal's online edition are already being asked to vote in an online poll: "Sarah Palin: Enough Already? Or Do you Still Want More Coverage?" I can hardly wait for the debates.



At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so funny and cute Kristin
Thx, kn


Monday, September 01, 2008


At long last, I am pursuing this long-held idea of starting my own software company focused on software solutions for environmental problems. I’ll start out with consulting, add staff and customers and move to independent product development as opportunities arise. And for this venture, I've secured the domain name "PlanetWare.Net"

The mission of PlanetWare.Net will be to bring the power of software technology to the problems of the environment. We build software for a healthy planet. (Of course, at the moment, “we” is refers to the “royal we.” ;) We'll combine software development expertise, experience in natural resources conservation and other environmental issues with a proven ability to deliver world-class solutions for diverse customers.

Our services include development consulting in technology strategy, system architecture, product definition, project management, software development and user experience. Overtime, the company will independently offer software products, perhaps in the area of water resources management, ecosystem services valuation (that is, systematic economic valuation of clean air, clean and plentiful water and other stuff in-tact ecosystems give us “for free”) and environmental systems data integration. Or somethin’ like that.

I've got my first contract and am building the foundation of a small business. What? Am I Scared? Nah! I'm terrified. But thanks to great friends, family, Pema Chödrön and The Buddha, it's all good.

By the way, the image to the left is an early prototype for a PlanetWare.Net logo. Let me know what you think!

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