Being the wave in Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA

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So the other two volunteers from the Tulsa area had to cancel. The expected number of local Muskogee volunteers didn't materialize. I think there were about 7 by the time all was said and done, including me and my 10-year-old daughter. Only three of us had any of the four pizzas I bought (for the 16 hungry folk that were expected), and we barely cracked the four two-liter bottles of pop. (The awesome homemade peanut butter and chocolate-chip-oatmeal cookies eased the disappointment considerably.)

But it was still a day well worth while. On the ride down, my daughter read through the sample ballot I brought her from the election board. She read through all the state questions and peppered me with questions. We talked about the judicial selection process, the rainy day fund, and sharia law. Along the route I pointed out the TV towers, and we talked about how television signals get from the networks to the local studios to the local stations towers to the cable company to the TV set (and why the Weather Channel doesn't need a tower at all). I pointed out the KTUL tower, still one of the 100 tallest freestanding structures in the world.

At HQ, while waiting for other volunteers to arrive, we heard about the frequent sign vandalism that has plagued the Thompson campaign. Boren's supporters are showing indications of feeling threatened.

(Ever notice how it's always the insurgent, grassroots candidates' signs that get stolen, while the establishment candidates' signs stay put. By the way, someone stole a John Eagleton sign and a Molly McKay sign out of my front yard Thursday night, even though they were well back from the street. A couple of days earlier, I had found that same Eagleton sign flat on the ground.)

I was happy to learn that our efforts were coordinated with the state Republican GOTV effort. We had a "slate card" -- all GOP nominees for the precinct on a door hanger -- and a push card for Charles Thompson, and we had the state party's list of voters to target.

My daughter and I were originally given a sprawling (10 sq mi) suburban precinct to cover. I opted instead for a compact precinct in town, where distances were shorter and the street layout was somewhat Cartesian. Somewhat.

We began by parking and walking two or three blocks in each direction to cover nearby homes. That became irksome to my little girl, whose legs are much shorter and slower than mine. Also, the three pieces of pizza and Pepsi were not sitting well. After a pitstop, we changed methods. I would drive and hop out of the car to deliver flyers; she would mark up the list of houses to visit, advise me of the next place to stop, and hand me the flyers. It sped us up considerably; still, it took us about 4 hours (not counting the break) to cover about 100 households. It would have been quicker if I had known the neighborhood. (I certainly know it now!)

Here's what I learned about navigating the streets of Muskogee.

  • Given a house with number n, the house next door may have house number n+2, n+20, or any value in between.
  • Given a house with number n, the house directly across the street may have house number n+1, n+101, or any value in between.
  • In other words, two house numbers that are numerically near-neighbors may be quite distant.
  • House numbers on a street are not guaranteed to increase or decrease monotonically with a given direction of travel.

And regarding the display of house numbers: Folks, do you want to die while the ambulance driver tries to figure out which house is yours? The house number ought to be prominently near the door of your house, on your curb, and on your mailbox if you have one.

Also, if you care about political candidates and really want to help them campaign effectively, you will UPDATE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION WITH YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS. Do you want your favorite candidate's volunteers dodging chained pitbulls and risking an ankle to the so-called "steps" -- the wood rot and carpenter ant damage has only left rungs, really -- to try to deliver to you a reminder to vote at the house where you haven't lived for 10 years and which has since passed through the hands of a series of rental owners with decreasing standards for upkeep and tenants and at which no likely voter lives because everyone in the house has a rap sheet as long as your arm? Do you, bub?

I generally left literature at the door, without knocking, but if someone had the front door open or was out in the yard, I'd stop to talk. We and our cause were well received. No one greeted me rudely. Many people volunteered that they had already planned to vote for Thompson and a straight ticket. They want Pelosi and posse gone, and they understand that getting rid of Dan Boren gets us one step closer to that goal. At one home, I was speaking to the lady of the house, when the husband came out. "I just wanted to make sure you wasn't no dam Democrat."

We finished a bit before sunset, turned in our leftover materials, then headed to My Place for barbecue before driving back to Tulsa. We played "I went to the beach and took" to pass the time on the ride home. (Each person in turn adds some oddball object to the list, in alphabetical order, after perfectly reciting the list of all previous items.) Our list: "I went to the beach and took an altimeter, a barometer, a chronometer, a denominator, an elevator, a fraction, a gummy bear, helium filled balloons, iodine, jack o' lanterns, a kilometer, a lamb, a microsecond, a nail, an oscilloscope, a porch light, a quadrangle, a rectangle, a square, a tenacious triangle, an umbrella, a volleyball, a w [can't remember w], a xylophone [natch], a yak, and a zebu."

Then we played the alphabet game. Did you know it's pretty easy to find a Q in Tulsa? A phrase in a Mother Nature's Pest Control billboard -- "sleeping with spiders?" -- inspired another alphabetical game: "Abiding with Ants?" "Bathing with Beetles?" "Cooking with Cockroaches?" "Eating with Earwigs?" "Fellowshipping with Fleas?" (We couldn't think of a good D.)

At home, I played Candy Land and the Wiggles Game with the four-year old. Next time I'm taking all the special cards out of the Candy Land deck. Do you know what it's like for a sleepy four year old to be on the verge of victory and then to draw the Plumpy card? And the Wiggles Game is fun, but it may not be the best way to wind down before bed. ("Tickle someone." "Walk like a pirate." "Dance like Dorothy the Dinosaur.")

(Big son was busy getting ready for the middle school musical -- Disney's Aladdin Jr.. He plays the main bad guy. Tickets are still available for next weekend's performances -- November 5, 6, and 7. Come experience a little private school that knows how to put on a big production. Many of the middle school actors are veterans of Spotlight Children's Theater and Encore! Playhouse.)

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I opted instead for a compact precinct in town, where distances were shorter and the street layout was somewhat Cartesian. Somewhat.

* Given a house with number n, the house next door may have house number n+2, n+20, or any value in between.
* Given a house with number n, the house directly across the street may have house number n+1, n+101, or any value in between.
* In other words, two house numbers that are numerically near-neighbors may be quite distant.
* House numbers on a street are not guaranteed to increase or decrease monotonically with a given direction of travel.

Welcome to knocking doors in Muskogee!! :-D Do you know what precinct you knocked?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 31, 2010 11:18 PM.

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