Eric's Daily Weblog
Parade day at the Polk County Fair. I lined up to march right behind the Senior Citizen of the Year, Dean Vikan of Fosston, seen here waiting for the parade to start. It was very windy, as you can see from the flags, and we had to do some reinforcing of my float in order for it to make it through the parade upright. Picture upcoming.
This is what mid-summer baseball broadcasting should be like.
Incidentally, the only foul ball I have ever claimed came off the bat of Jerry Remy, then the Angel's second baseman. The year: 1976. The game: A meaningless affair between two non-contending teams which eventually had so many rain delays that we left. The pitcher: The Twins' Vic Albury.
The foul ball hit off the chest of a man next to us. My mother reached down and grabbed the ball. I snatched it from her and showed it to the guys in the announcer's booth--at that time, Herb Carneal and Frank Quilici.
I have been campaigning this past week. A little of everything. I am sending out a fund-raising letter, which has taken some time. I rode in a parade in McIntosh, which was more fun than I anticipated. I attended a "Breakfast on the Farm" event, the sort of thing I would never go to ordinarily as I am not one to be in crowds unless I am up front speaking to the whole shebang. I knocked doors, including the door of somebody who was later found dead.
"It is lonely out there," a couple of veteran campaigners have told me. That truth was evident at the breakfast, where I felt out of sorts. Eventually, because the garbage was a long ways from benches where people ate, I collected paper plates and took them to the dumpster. That made me feel useful.
But the real battle is internal: I am basically shy, and this experience is forcing me to examine the underlying reasons for my shyness, and to get less self-conscious.
Example: At the breakfast was a man who I recognized. I attempted to catch his eye, but he looked the other way. Oh, sure, I thought, somebody who doesn't like me now that I am a politician. I walked away.
That afternoon in the parade, the same man shouted at me and waved: "There's Bergeson!"
So, he just didn't recognize me that morning.
The parade was an adventure as there was a screw-up (partly my fault) and there was no vehicle to carry Senator Stumpf and me. With five minutes before the parade started, we had no vehicle and we weren't about to walk. Sure enough, somebody offered their pickup. We stuck our magnetic signs to the side and were off as if nothing had happened.
I think there were more people in the parade than watching the parade. But it was fun.
My opponent is a good parade campaigner. She was a few units ahead, running around putting stickers on everybody. So, everybody had one of her stickers one before I went by, which was kind of funny--especially with some of the people I knew!
I can't bring myself to order stickers, buttons, or other pariphenalia that one might see in the garbage at the fairgrounds.
After yesterday's cold weather hurricane, mid 50s with rain, today dawned bright, beautiful and cool. A great summer day. I did campaign things and then ended up starting knocking doors at about 10 a.m. Went for five hours. It went well. You learn a lot about how people live. I met several people I knew. Some Republicans handed back my brochure and said, "no way!" which is fine. We're supposed to study a chart which tells us which houses aren't going to be receptive so we can avoid them, but that takes too much time. I like to visit everybody. And some of them show me their yard, which is also a learning experience.
I went up and down a street and returned to within earshot one of the houses where a man had been a little brusque about a Democrat at his door about twenty minutes earlier. Now he was outside with a sledge hammer pounding on a life-size plastic Santa, attempting to break it down into smaller pieces. Despite the onslaught, Santa tenaciously held on to his Santaness. The beating would have made a great video. Boom, boom, boom. The Republican really let Santa have it. Finally, with one mighty blow from the sledge hammer, Santa's head poppled off and rolled down the driveway. At that point, things calmed. I walked on, afraid to be noticed as the man caught his breath.
I will not make a partisan issue of this. I promise. But it seemed like he was making war on Christmas.
At another house, a nice young man answered, read my pamphlet, nodded his head and said, "I'll tell my wife."
Well, I said, I would appreciate your vote, too.
"Can't vote," he said. "I am a felon."
At that point, that law seemed a bit cruel. Not all states strip felons of their voting rights for their entire life after they have served their term.
Another: I knocked. "Who is it?" came from deep inside.
"Bergeson, from Fertile," I yelled.
"Oh wait, I'll be right there."
He dressed and came to the door.
"So what kind of strawberries do you have?"
It took quite a little discussion before he realized I was politicking and not selling nursery stock.
He promised me his support.
Another woman approached her door from the inside to leave her house just as I approached to knock from the outside.
"JESUS!" she screamed as she saw me looking through her screen door.
We both laughed.
"I am just relieved you're a politician," she said. "I thought it might be one of those religious groups, and I said, 'Jesus'!"
I said I'd been called worse.
Put up a simple campaign website this weekend. A web presence is necessary these days, but the big deal is getting out to meet voters so I didn't want it fancy. Had a good day pounding pavement yesterday. So good that last evening when I knocked on Mom and Dad's door to pay them a visit (and consume sister-in-law Kae's first attempt at escalloped potatoes), I said "ouch!" The other knuckle is wearing out, too.
Kae's escalloped potatoes turned out absolutely scrumptious. She sat and watched us eat them, as she had already had Thai food earlier. I mean, you have to survive. She used no recipe for the potatoes, but we did get it out of her that she added a quart of half-and-half to the dish!
Then we played Boggle. Playing Boggle with two people (Kae and Champoo) who are just learning English is not fair, but they are good sports and Kae insists that it will help her learn English. Eventually, we played another game which allowed Champoo to demolish us all, as she is so fond of doing in competitive pursuits.
Champoo was very excited to have the whole family for supper. "Family eat, then play game!" She is not fond of my rude habit of nibbling before the meal actually starts. Nine year olds are rule-oriented, it seems.
Had a good day doorknocking. I also attended the Red Lake County Fair.
As I went door to door in a couple of small towns, I was surprised to see people from my past, including a substitute music teacher from sixth grade. I was lucky today--many people were home.
I wore out my middle knuckle on my left hand--it has a big welt. So, I have to use my index finger, and I am concentrating upon using the flat part, not the knuckle itself, so I don't develop another welt there and run out of fingers.
Also in campaign news this week, I have been "screened" by a couple of organizations. That is, they ask your views and then they decide over the next month whether to endorse you or not. Some organizations aren't worth worrying about; others are so off the wall that you don't want to even visit with them. The two I did this week were easy as I am in basic agreement with their principles and legislative goals.
The interviews are interesting as the interviewers, to be even-handed, are obliged to read from a script. It is a little like a Lutheran church service when they use the long-form liturgy. It goes on and on. The question is stated, I say, "yes, I do," and the next question is stated, and so it goes.
And also with you.
After many tries, Kae (brother Joe's wife from Thailand) passed her written driver's test today. She was so excited she screamed, tore off the headphones at the testing center, and burst into tears. She had tried Monday, and failed, so she studied through the night two nights before taking it again today and passing.
Thai people have a gift for happiness. Kae is ecstatic at this victory. Only three months and she will be able to take her behind-the-wheel test. She should ace that, as she has driven on the crazy streets of big cities in Thailand.
"Five years, citizen!" she said, referring to her anticipation of becoming a naturalized US citizen. She had been doubting her intelligence, sadly, as she is so blazingly smart, but this gave her a boost.
What got her going was anger at her husband, brother Joe. After she failed Monday, Joe said, well, in about six years Champoo can drive you around as she will have her license!
She got out of bed and went out to the living room to study that very moment, using her phone to translate English phrases into Thai.
Her determination is an inspiration.
Today, East Grand Forks. Worked to finish a neighborhood I started last week. An unusual number of people were home.
Two eighty-something grandmothers in a small house who just said, "come on in!" when I knocked. They were surrounded--inundated-- by five toddlers. The grandmas are the day care. Apparently the parents are at work. The women looked exhausted. I don't think daycare was their idea of retirement.
Some houses look utterly unoccupied. Yet I knock. Somebody comes to the door. You wonder what their life is like. The house shows no sign of any interest by the owner. None.
Dogs. So many people have multiple dogs in the house, screeching and carrying on. So many houses with nobody home have dogs. Dogs, dogs, dogs. I never realized there were so many in the sleeply looking houses in the neighborhoods.
Flowers. People love flowers. Many try. They buy the flowers, then don't maintain them. Or even plant them. I would say fewer than 50% of the flowers purchased that I have seen in the hundreds of yards I have witnessed in the past weeks have been planted or tended.
Other yards are knockouts. People work hard.
Doorknocking is a human experience, that is for sure.
One man looked like a "get off my lawn" sort of crab, but of course I approached him. He was blowing dust off his drive. We ended up having a long talk about politics. He was very thoughtful and informed. A delight.
Not one unpleasant experience today.