Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thursday Oct 4 More transit guys

Primo: I wanted to go to the evening shift meeting of the transit union, but when I stopped by, a guy told me I didn't want to go in there.

Me: Why not?

Primo: Because they were having some kind of intra-union squabble.

Me: Yep. Best to avoid that.

Primo: But I told him who I was and he told me that they had talked about me and voted to endorse me. He said that someone who had been in the morning meeting told the story of how you had gotten a job just so I could run and that you take the bus to work. They really liked that story.

Me: Good. Who knew our personal financial decisions would turn into a campaign benefit?

Primo: Except you don't take the bus for the right reasons. You don't care about the earth or reducing oil consumption.

Me: Nope. I just care about my costs. Does it matter why I do it if the result is the same?

Primo: You have to do it for the right reason.

Thursday Oct 4 Working with volunteers‏

I have been nagging at Primo for weeks to let me contact the people who said they would volunteer for him. We need help. He is too proud to ask for help and he is a micromanager, which makes the whole thing more complicated.

But I finally convinced him. I emailed about a dozen people yesterday - people who had said they would love to help on the campaign, and heard back from one of them. Which is about what I expected. People have limited time and although it sounds good in theory to help a candidate campaign, reality intrudes. But I'll take what I can get. 

I am less sympathetic to a friend who approached me. I didn't ask her. She asked if she could volunteer on the campaign. She is an ardent Polka Dot and really, really wants Primo to be elected. What can she do? How can she help?

This was last week.

I emailed her two days ago. "Can you address postcards?" I asked. "Could you deliver yard signs? We really need help with those things."


Radio silence.

It's fine not to want to volunteer, but don't come to me telling me how much you care about Primo's campaign and offering to help only to blow me off.

Thursday Oct 4 Primo runs into another jerk while he is doing doors‏

Primo: I talked to another jerk today.

Me: What happened?

Primo: I was talking to the wife. She was really nice. She said that maybe I should talk to her husband, too. So I was expecting someone nice like her. But when he came to the door, he started arguing with me. He asked me how I felt about Obama and about Romney. I said I didn't really like either one of them.

That is true. Primo thinks Obama has not done a very good job but he doesn't care for Romney, either. We are worried about associating too much with one candidate and are trying to figure out the yard sign strategy. "I don't want my signs just with the Polka Dot candidate," Primo said. "The ideal situation would be a yard with an Obama sign and mine and then a yard down the street with a Romeny sign and mine."

Primo: Then he said, "The real problem with politics is that there are too many lawyers. And engineers."

Me: He thinks that there are too many engineers? In politics?

I want to know who the other engineers are.

Primo: I know! Most people like that I'm an engineer. To them, it means an impartial problem solver.

Me: Fact based. Engineers make decisions based on fact.

Primo: Exactly. But he said that engineers are "Self-appointed intellectual elites."

Me: I thought that the self-appointed intellectual elites were the college professors like your dad.

Primo: I think some people just like to be jerks.

Me: What did you do?

Primo: I finally said that I needed to be moving on. He said that he wanted to talk some more. I just said, "It was nice to meet you, sir. Have a nice day." Then he had to get in a parting shot. He said, "I'll bet it wasn't so nice to meet me."

Me: What a jerk.

Primo: Yep.

Thursday Oct 4 Primo talks to the transit guys

Me: How'd it go?

Primo: OK. I got the most response when I said that my wife and I were vested in public transportation because you take the bus to work every day. I told them that you had convinced me we didn't need to buy another car when you got your job because you could take the bus.

Thursday Oct 4 Primo's mother breaks her wrist‏

I am really really really starting to understand the people who would rather be at work than be at home. There has been way too much drama at our house recently. First the stuff with Isabel- which we knew was coming, but still - does torture bother you any less because you anticipated it? - and now more drama with Sly and Doris.

Sly went into the hospital on Tuesday for knee surgery.

Last night, Doris, visiting him at the hospital, fell. She broked her wrist and cracked her kneecap.

Doris is already pretty feeble and was not going to be able to do much to help Sly in his recovery. Now they are both hobbled.

I was at a play last night, so I didn't get home until 10:30, which was awful because I am usually in bed by 10 and the play wasn't even that good. My friend and I should have left at half time. But neither of us suggested it to the other, even though we were both thinking it. That's the problem when you don't communicate: you end up at the second half of a play that neither of you are enjoying that much.

I didn't get home until almost 11. Primo had been home for a while. He'd been at a debate-watching party, but in the middle of the party, Stephanie called to tell him about Doris.

Now Primo is all verklumpt about Doris.

"I worry about her," he says. "My dad says she falls all the time. She never eats - she only weighs 120 pounds." [She is 5'9", so that's pretty skinny.] "All she does is drink. He tries to get her to stop drinking but she won't."

Considering that Sly is the main reason Doris drinks, I can understand her reluctance to quit.

Primo is worried that his parents can't take care of themselves. He is angry that they have refused to do any planning about moving into assisted living or even about finding help so they can stay in their house.

"Why am I expected to take care of everyone?" he asks.

Which is a fair question.

I guess I am more ruthless than he is. Maybe it goes back to my lifeguard training. They taught us that when we are rescuing someone, it is likely that in his panic, the drowner will start to pull the lifeguard under. The proper response of the lifeguard is to go deeper in the water to save himself. You can't save someone else if you are dead.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wednesday Oct 3 Trash talking the opposition‏

I ran into an aquaintance at the library. He started talking about Primo's campaign. Which is fine. I don't mind talking about Primo's campaign, but I really don't want to get into Obama and Romney and the campaigns for Senate and Congress. I stop at the very local level. I stop at Primo.

He didn't know that Primo and I are in a mixed marriage. After he made several disparaging remarks about the Stripes candidates, I mentioned casually that Primo and I don't agree politically. "I support Primo wholeheartedly," I said, "because he is a good man, a man of integrity, who will have to legislate as a moderate because of the composition of this district. But I hope nobody else on the Polka Dot side wins." I said it with a smile.

He shrugged. "I'm not worried about the Polka Dots. They don't have any problems. But the redistricting - that woman, Sandra Vampire, she doesn't represent me. What an idiot. And Jane Sundstupid. I can't believe she continues to get re-elected. She doesn't have a brain in her evil head."

He was talking about Sandra Vanderpool and Jane Sundstrom.

Name calling. That's mature.

I took a deep breath. "I do not agree with the Polka Dot agenda and I am not pleased with what the Polka Dot candidate has proposed for the country. But I do want Primo to win. And I am pretty sure that if the Stripes had had the majority, they would have drawn the districts to benefit them."

My modeling of good behavior had no impact on him. He shook his head. "No, they wouldn't! They would have been fair!"

I suspect his definition of "fair" is that the lines would have been drawn to benefit the Polka Dots.

Wednesday Oct 3 Primo gets his yard signs‏

On the phone as I am walking home from the bus stop.

Primo: There's a surprise for you at home!

Me: Cool! 

I'm thinking flowers, kitty litter changed without my involvement, appointment made for furnace repair, takeout goodies sitting in the microwave - never on the counter because the cats are excellent hunters of kitchen food. I'm thinking something that benefits me.

Primo: I got my signs!

Me: So? 

I'm still thinking surprise = something I will care about.

Primo: So I put one up in our yard!

Me: Is that the surprise?

Primo: Yes!

Me: Oh. So it's not a surprise that's good for me at all.

Primo: Well, I suppose not.

Wednesday Oct 3 Updating the voter lists‏

Primo has purchased these voter lists from the Polka Dot party. You can select names by neighborhood, likely party affiliation, voting record, sex, age, whatever. So he generates lists of the people he wants to target and we take these lists with us when we do doors. After you talk to someone, you score the person: 1 for someone likely to vote for him, 5 for someone who would never vote for him.

There is also a dropdown list for indicating if someone was not home or if the person has moved or has died.

Once we have the data, I go back into the database and input our information.

Some of it is useful just to us, but the moved/died information is defintely useful for the party.

So apparently, there is a small discount on the list price.


So I was inputting six weeks' worth of data - it's not hard, it takes about ten minutes per list and there are a couple dozen lists - when I got an error message that the list was more than 30 days old and I couldn't open it.

I emailed Ralph, the communications guy, who told me he would get to the bottom of it.

Part of the problem, as defined by Ralph, was that Samantha had never told Primo that he had to update the data within 30 days of pulling it from the system.

Then I told Primo, who freaked out because that is how Primo rolls. He does not like surprises. Bless his heart. I thought I was a control freak but I am piker compared to him. Plus he is already stressed out because of Isabel wanting more money. Which she is not going to get but man, what a crummy situation. What do you do when someone is in bad financial straits because of illness but also because of very poor financial management? She has gotten a lot - OK, I'll just tell you - she has gotten over $150,000 from Primo over the past five years. That is money we have not had to save for retirement. That is money that means that we don't take expensive vacations or buy new cars. We live very, very frugally. We do not go hungry, but we don't have money to throw around, mostly because of the alimony. She has gotten enough that she could have paid off the townhouse where she and Primo lived. But it has not been enough to pay for the house that she bought after the divorce, which cost a lot more than the townhouse. It's cuter, but more expensive.

Anyway. Primo is stressed because that's hanging over his head. He feels an obligation to make sure she is taken care of. Not to give her more money, but to talk to her daughters to ask them to step in. Isabel has not been sharing the financial details with her children. They are fine people, as are their husbands, so I know they'll do what's necessary, but Primo feels this burden of obligation that I do not share, probably because I was never married to Isabel. She is not an evil person. She is not a bad person. But she is a very bad money manager. Who should step in? That's the big question and one that I am not prepared to answer.

So Primo was not happy about the voter list thing and got all stressed out, which stressed me out because I remember when my life was simple and stress free. I miss those days. I really do. 

Fortunately, Ralph was able to get me access to the old lists, so everything is fine, but there was some tenseness. I cannot wait for this election to be over.

Wednesday Oct 3 Primo the moderate‏

Overheard as Primo was talking to another politician: "I'm doing well on doors with my moderate message, but I miss protesting."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Monday Oct 1: I'm not doing it right

After I have spent an hour addressing postcards for Primo:

Primo: Oh no!

Me: What?

Primo: Well, I guess those will work.

Me: What do you mean?

Primo: You didn't put the state on here.

Me: Because we are in the same state that they are addressed to.

Primo: I guess.

LATER, after I have done data entry on the voter lists.

Primo: What do we want as a symbol that the data entry has been done?

Me: How about if you just write, "Data entry is done?"

Primo: That will work.


Me: You need to pick a day to go to the senior center.

Primo: You can't talk to me about that now! That's something that has to happen in a meeting! With action items! And checklists!


Primo: All the political stuff you do for me, I wouldn't do for you, would I?

Me: Nope.

Primo: Thank you, sweetie.

Monday October 1 Primo talks to Isabel about the end of the alimony

Primo talked to Isabel last night. He had to remind her that the last alimony check was sent in September.

It did not go well. Some of you may have read the part where Isabel has cancer. (Or is it Imelda? What do I call her on this blog? Obviously, neither Isabel nor Imelda is the real name of Primo's ex wife.)

She has had cancer for several years. It is a crummy, crummy situation. It is crummy enough that Primo has at moments sympathized with Newt Gingrich, who allegedly took divorce papers to one of his exes while she was in the hospital for cancer treatment. Isabel used her cancer as an excuse not to sign the divorce papers for a long time.

Who can blame her? What would you do if you discovered you had a horrible disease while you and your soon to be ex were negotiating a divorce that you hadn't wanted in the first place? 

I do not blame Isabel at all for dragging it out. She was struggling to survive.

I will say, though, that her history of poor financial management and decision making made all of this harder than it had to be.

So anyhow. Primo called her to remind her that there was no more alimony coming.

And of course she still wants money.

She hasn't worked since before the divorce five years ago. 

She is still sick.

She is on disability and medicare.

She has a house she couldn't afford when she bought it (after she and Primo separated) and certainly can't afford now. It doesn't help that the house has declined in value about 20%.

It is awful. AWFUL.

But it is no longer Primo's problem. Legally, he owes her no more money and I would say that morally, his obligation is ended as well. 

That doesn't mean he isn't tortured over it.

I don't know how to fix things with Isabel. I feel awful for her. She doesn't deserve to have cancer - but we can't fix this for her.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sunday Sept 30 Primo says he might not be able to go to the play Wednesday evening

Primo: I might have to go to a debate-watching thing on Wednesday.

Me: But I already got tickets for that play.

Primo: But you said that if something came up, it would be OK.

Me: I meant something productive for your campaign, not a watched a debate between Romney and Obama. Unless the other people there are going to give you money or canvass for you, that is not a productive event.

Sunday Sept 30 Sly and Doris don't have a clue about campaign strategy

Primo: My parents also think I need to highlight my Polka Dot credentials more. 

Me: And that would be why?

Primo: To appeal to more people like them.

Me: Which would accomplish what?

Primo: They want me to appeal to more Polka Dots.

Me: Do they understand the part that you are trying to appeal to the people in the middle? That the Polka Dots who vote are already going to vote for you because they most certainly are not going to vote for your opponent?

Primo: No, they don't get that at all.

Me: They are clueless.

Sunday Sept 30 Sly and Doris try to micromanage Primo's campaign‏

Primo: My mom and dad were really negative today. [On his weekly mandatory phone call.]

Me: What else is new?

Primo: They looked at my candidate page and then at my opponent's page. They think I need to do something to counteract his time in the military.

Me: Like what? It's a little late for you to enlist.

Primo: They think I should modify my candidate biography to include that my father was in the navy.

Me: Who the #$@ could care about that?

Primo: That's what they think.

Me: But it's completely irrelevant.

Primo: They say it would show that my family has a military tradition.

Me: But it doesn't! Your dad was drafted! And he got out as soon as he could!

Primo: He did go to OCS.

Me: That's just because he didn't want to be bossed around so much. Your father's few years in the navy before you were even born have nothing, NOTHING, to do with this. It's not like he was my dad, who made a career of the military. It's not like you're me and grew up on military bases. Your father is just clueless.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Friday Sept 28 A co-worker rolls her eyes when she hears that I make lunch for Primo‏

My boss brought his lunch. "My wife made it for me," he said.

"That's nice," I said. 

Sandy shook her head. "My husbands have been on their own. My mom used to make my dad's lunch and I could never understand it."

"I make lunch for my husband," I said.

She rolled her eyes.

"If I don't, he'll eat crap or go out," I said.

"How old is he?" she asked. "Old enough, right?"

This from the woman who wanted to throw away leftover muffins rather than give them to the IT guys because who needs all the extra calories anyhow?

In her very slight - very slight - defense, she does not know that Primo is running for office. I have not told anyone at work because I just don't want to get into any political discussions here. 

Maybe she wouldn't roll her eyes if she knew that the reason I make a sandwich for Primo is because he is spending five hours a day walking through the district, knocking on doors and meeting voters. He gets hungry. He's already lost eight pounds. I want him not to be hungry while he's campaigning. So I make him a sandwich. It's not that big a deal. And isn't that the kind of thing you do for someone you love?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thursday Sept 27 Primo the micromanager strikes again

Primo: I need to tell you how to do the postcards.

Me: I thought you already decided on the criteria.

Primo: But we have to talk about it.

Me: We did talk about it. You finally came up with the criteria - that I would send a postcard to anyone you had spoken to.

Primo: But then I was thinking about it. I was thinking that it would be a good time to do some data entry, as well.

Me: No.

Primo: There's no point in going through the voter sheets more than once.

Me: No.

Primo: We need to talk about process.

Me: No. We don't. You need to give me an objective and then let me decide how to accomplish it.

Primo: No, I need to tell you how to do it.

Me: Not if you want me to do it.

Primo: But we have to discuss this!

Me: No! Just tell me what you want accomplished! I am not an idiot!

Primo: It makes no sense to go through the sheets more than once.

Me: If I am addressing postcards, I don't want to switch between writing something by hand and then keying in data.

Primo: But then you're wasting time.

Me: Let me tell you how to manage. You give me an objective. I decide how to get there. Otherwise, I'm not doing it.

Thursday Sept 27 Primo has something good happen to him

On the phone, while I am making Spanish tortilla so I can use some of the potatoes before they go bad, listening to Waylon and Willie on

Primo: Hey! You know how you said how I needed something good to happen to me?

Me: Yes.

Primo: Because it's been such a crummy week because I've had to be bogged down in all the details?

Me: Yes.

Primo: I just knocked on this lady's door. As soon as I introduced myself, she said that she knew who I was. She'd gotten my robocall - only she just said my phone call - and had looked me up online. She said she liked me and was going to vote for and that her husband was going to vote for me and their two kids were going to vote for me.

Me: Wow!

Primo: This is like a rollercoaster.

Me: Yep.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wednesday Sept 26 Samantha invoices Primo for some purchases in July and we discuss again how Primo did not get his money's worth for the SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS he/we paid her

But first, Primo had a crummy day because he had to spend all day arguing with the graphic designer about the yard sign. The first sign was too busy - too much crap, mixed fonts, blah blah blah. Then the designer, who has done good work for Primo in the past, finally gave Primo a design he liked.

Primo approved it.

The designer sent one more file.

This time, he had added the legally required "Paid for by Friends of Primo Digger, Lisa Elliott, Treasurer."

(Samantha had insisted on a female treasurer for the optics. Do people really care about this crap?)

The new copy threw everything off balance.

Primo had to fight with the designer to get what he wanted.

Which bugged me. Because even though Primo is overly picky sometimes, if you are the customer paying for a job, then you should be able to have the job done the way you want. I don't care if the artist has a vision he wants to realize - he is being paid to realize Primo's vision.

What a pain.

Then he got an invoice from Samantha for the maps she bought in July.

"I never even approved that purchase!" he said. "I don't want to pay it!"

"That kind of business practice makes me nuts," I said. "Why did she wait so long to invoice you? And why can't it come out of the $7,000 you paid her but got almost nothing from?"

He sighed. "I guess I'll pay it. There are too many possible bad outcomes if I get on her bad side right now."

I concurred.

"But once the election is over, she and I are going to have to have it out. I want her to know that I don't think I got $7,000 of work from her."

I will watch that conversation. We could have paid a chunk of our mortgage with that money.

Wed Sept 26 Primo's opponent has never voted in a presidential election

Primo bought these voter lists. They show likely party affiliation - gathered from publicly-available data, such as petitions and campaign contributions.

Yes, if you sign a political petition - an official one, such as a nominating petition or a recall petition, it is public information. It's not like a vote. It's not private. If you have a problem with that, change the law. Until then, it's public. So deal with it and quit whining.

He has these lists that show voter name, age, address, and the number of times someone has voted in the past three primary and the past three general elections.

Of course they know if you've voted or not. Not who you voted for, but if you voted. You have to be checked off the voter rolls when you get your ballot. I've never lived anywhere that didn't work like that.

So Primo looked up his opponent. And I think talked to some people.

Turns out that his opponent, Mark Smith, has never voted in a presidential election!

And only started voting in general elections a few years ago!

I was explaining to my friend Lindley that we only approach people who have voted in at least two of the last three elections.

"I'm surprised you don't go to the other people and scold them for not voting!" she laughed.

Trust me. 

I have considered it.

Those people make me mad.

Some people have said they don't vote because they don't want to get on the jury duty lists.



If you can't live with serving on a jury for a few days once every four years, then you don't deserve to live in this country.

You also don't deserve to complain about how this country is run. If you don't vote, you lose your complaining rights.

So Mark Smith hasn't voted?

That is really, really bad.

How do you reach the age of 35 without having voted?

I am beginning to think that this race might be more up for grabs than we thought.

(Although knowing what I know now about how inaccurate those lists can be, I wonder if this is true information about Mark. I also know he was in the military in Iraq - do absentee ballots show up on these lists?)