Posts Tagged ‘saint paul’

Why I think more people aren’t volunteering for the RNC: the volunteer application

08goplogo.jpgThe 2008 Republican National Convention aims to recruit 10,000 volunteers who will be needed to help with:

  • Welcoming delegates at airports and hotels
  • Assisting with transportation logistics
  • Working with security teams
  • Supporting convention operations at the Xcel Energy Center
  • Providing guest services and other hosting activities at CivicFest in the Minneapolis Convention Center

According to the PiPress today, they are still 6,000 short of their goal of 10,000.

After filling out the volunteer application, I think I know why.

When I saw MNSpeak’s link to this story a few minutes ago, I turned to my wife and said, “Umm…did you ever re-sign up to register for the RNC, honey?” You see, we actually signed up to volunteer on September 17, 2007, but apparently that application didn’t pass muster.

This is from the e-mail I got from the RNC on May 1:

The 2008 Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee recently launched a new volunteer application at and are requesting you fill out this application in addition to the one you previously completed.

In addition to the one you previously completed?!? DAMN IT!

“I forwarded you the link to submit the new application,” she tells me, “but you should know it took me like 20 minutes.”

Great. Super. I’m still rolling my eyes. I understand background checks and security clearance are important, but seriously — 20 minutes? No wonder they’re shy volunteers. Anyone in Generation X or Y probably won’t make it past the 3-4 minute mark.

But I pushed forward, knowing there was a red clipboard out there somewhere with a big “My Name is Greg” nametag temporarily stuck on it just for me.

Here are my observations in filling out the application:

  • The password has to be 8 characters, have a capital letter, at least one numeral AND a special character. It’s really overkill. I have maybe 3-4 passwords I use as general rule, and none of them include a special character. Are you like me and just add an exclamation mark to an old standby password in this situation? It’s like my password is shouting. Password1234! But really, that exclamation point is guaranteeing I won’t remember it if I ever need it again, will have to reset the password by remembering what I put for my secret profile password I’ll need in case I forget the first password, which always forces me to chose which of my cats is the favorite (so I use a made-up pet name [that yes, I sometimes forget]).
  • 3. I am conversational in the following languages (this one doesn’t include English)
  • 4. I am fluent in the following languages” (this one doesn’t doesn’t include English, either. Seems pretty self-limiting considering our large immigrant population).
  • 5. Computer skills:
    1. None
    2. Can use standard programs and the Internet
    3. Advanced User: Proficient in Microsoft Excel
    (I’m glad to see an “Advanced User” means you can work a spreadsheet or maybe even tackle one of those fancy =AVERAGE(IF((A1:A60>=Low) *(A1:A60<=High),A1:A60) kind of formulas)
  • 8. Experience with the elderly:
    1. None
    2. Some: Have assisted elderly friends or family members
    3. Expert: Professional counselor or therapist for the aged
    (I wish there was a blank for, “Hate being stuck behind them on 394 in the left lane with left blinker on” or maybe “Please don’t stick me working with an old person who makes insensitive racial jokes, likes to smack me on the back and/or complain about gas prices.” And who has ZERO experience with the elderly, really? We’ve all seen them on TV, at least.)
  • 14. Driver license number
    (If they have your social security number, wouldn’t they have access to your driver’s license? I had to get off the couch and dig for my wallet in the other room. Then I decided to get a drink and next thing you know I’m surfing YouTube “jump style” videos.

Yes! It says it saved my progress so far, and now I’m into the “Referral section.” Time to get up, stretch, find my laptop’s power cord and maybe pick a new iTunes mix.

  • 1. Which group referred you to the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Convention? (I wrote “the internet” — which is probably my favorite group ever).

At this point I got to rate how much I would like to help with certain tasks:

  • 4. Airport welcome desk:
    1. Ideal
    2. Would not mind
    3. Acceptable
    4. Would not prefer
    5. Undesirable

At this point I stopped to ask my wife what she put down for all of these luxurious choices. She stopped what she was doing and tried to remember. You see, we don’t really need to do the same things, but for babysitter and only owning one car reasons, we don’t really want to be downtown and the airport at the same time. We debated event staffing vs. office vs. airports for awhile. She would’ve logged into her account to see what she put down, but SHE COULDN’T REMEMBER HER PASSWORD! (please note the explanation mark).

Then I had the privilege of going date-by-date from August 16 through September 5 to give them availability morning, afternoon, evening or not available. But first I had to get up and find my calendar, then sync back up with the wife. Turns out I’m going up to Lake of the Woods to fish over Labor Day Weekend, but there wasn’t a blank for me to tell them that’s why I couldn’t make it for the RNC kick-off. I hope McCain will understand. Fishing is definitely a conservative pastime, right?

Finally, I was at the last page and ready to hit FINISH. Oh look, there’s finally a link to the Privacy Policy to see how all of my information will be used. Of course, most people don’t ever read these, but I skimmed it just for giggles. Turns out, I really don’t like that they automatically sell your information to third parties:

(i) We may share your First Tier Information with the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention (“COA”), a committee of the Republican National Committee and with selected partners and/or third parties to provide you with information about events and opportunities that might be of interest to you and also would provide you with system information or information about similar events, political candidates or the like; however, the application will allow you to opt-out of having your First Tier Information shared with selected partners and/or third parties other than the COA…

That’s pretty crappy. Most web forms these days have a couple checkboxes for this kind of opt-in list-selling. Looks like I’m going to be on all sorts of mailing lists for the next year or so. Hooray.

Overall, the application took me about 40 minutes to fill out whilst blogging it, watching YouTube, Twittering and generally giving way to my ADHD whims. The average person will probably breeze through the application. And they should. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, after all.

Fill out your application here. And be sure to tell them you LOVE the elderly. I have a feeling not many people are “Experts.”

Barack Obama Rally

Barack and Michelle Obama Fist Pound
Barack and Michelle Obama pound fists. Originally uploaded by chad davis.

More flickr photos from Barack Obama’s appearance in St Paul last night, by Minnesotans and by the Obama Campaign. Bob Collins posits that the almost-two-mile-long line outside the X was the real story.

What is a Haberdashery?

Heimies Haberdashery
According to WiseGeek: “In the US people use the term haberdashery to refer to men’s clothing stores, or men’s departments in stores that sell accessories like gloves, ties, watches and hats. This is more often called a men’s accessory department, and many in the US are unfamiliar with the term haberdashery.”

This photo is of Heimie’s Haberdashery in downtown Saint Paul. I lived down the street from it for quite some time (never once went inside), but it always fascinated me. It seems very manly in there — a place where you can smoke a cigar and drink an 18 year-old scotch while a man measures your inseam without making you feel uncomfortable.

I’m not sure my generation shops at haberdasheries for their clothing. I tend to snag my dress clothes off the sale rack at Penneys.

Then again, maybe this place is way too fancy for me. After all, not many of us would be caught wearing this prototype of “Heimie’s exclusive Gun Coat” found on their homepage:

got big media?

Ever wondered who owns all the TV, newspapers, radio and major news Web sites you enjoy each day?

In December 2007, the FCC “gutted the rules that protect local communities from media monopolies,” and I just got this e-mail from the Free Press Action Fund urging Minnesotans to take action:

As early as tonight, the Senate will have its last chance to roll back media consolidation, and Sen. Norm Coleman and Sen. Amy Klobuchar could cast the deciding vote. All of our work to stop runaway media conglomerates could come down to your senators!

Their vote would overturn a disastrous FCC giveaway of local news outlets to Big Media. If the giveaway stands, it would open the floodgates to the type of consolidation that has allowed tycoons like Rupert Murdoch to stifle diverse voices and skew America’s political agenda…Call Sen. Coleman and Sen. Klobuchar Now.

Tell them to vote for the bipartisan “resolution of disapproval” (S.J. Res. 28), which rejects the FCC ruling. If the resolution passes, our fight will move on to the House. If it doesn’t, then Big Media gets to move into your neighborhood, gobbling up more local outlets.

I found some talking points here:

These new rules are bad for local news. Research by Free Press — a non-partisan, non-profit organization — has shown that allowing one company to own a major newspaper and TV broadcast station in a community leads to less local news overall. Additionally, we know that more consolidation leads to cuts in newsroom staff and erodes quality journalism. Read more.

These new rules are bad for people of color. Right now people of color own only 3% of broadcast media in America. The way these new rules are written, it will put these minority media owners in the cross-hairs of consolidation. They will become targets for buyouts, further diminishing the diversity of voices on the airwaves. Read more.

These new rules are bad for business. As one company amasses more media properties in a given community, it effectively gets monopoly status. By setting up advertising deals across media outlets, it becomes impossible for other small media firms to compete.

The FCC’s process has been corrupt. The FCC Chairman has consistently bucked standard procedure, ignored members of Congress and the public, and snuck through new media ownership waivers that undermine his new rule. The House is currently investigating the FCC on the grounds of bad process.

And if these kinds of topics interest you like they do me, be sure to check out the National Conference on Media Reform coming to Minneapolis this June. More info about the campaign here.


UPDATE: Senate passed the bill around 8 tonight. Bush has said he will veto if House passes, as well. I guess we’ll see.

Already Thinking About The Weekend

Lake Phalen on Mothers DayI know it’s only Monday, but I’m already thinking about next weekend. If today’s weather is any indication of the upcoming week it should be a great weekend to be outside.

Which is why this Saturday I’ll be attending the Ramsey County  Master Gardener’s plant sale in the morning and then heading over to Lake Phalen WaterFest for the early afternoon. 

A few of the WaterFest activities: On-the-water education in Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur canoes (Canoe rides!), Kid’s fishing lessons and stream monitoring, Rain garden tours,Raptors and other live animals, the Toonies Puppet Show, Native plant give-away, Powder Puff and 3M clowns and stilt walkers, and solar boat races.

Where else in town can I see raptors while getting advice on rain garden creation?

For this type of variety I’m willing to brave the clowns and stiltwalkers.

Anyone else want to go?

(Photo courtesy of cameraphone10000 / Mothers Day Sunset)

More Cockfighting in St Paul

I got blasted the last time I brought this up.

A neighbor reported about 20 people carrying chickens into a home on St. Paul’s East Side. When officers went to the home, they were told nobody was fighting chickens inside. But officers heard roosters crowing.

It’s not that I have no sensitivity for animal cruelty. It’s just that the wording of these stories cracks me up.

St Paul Classic Cookie in Danger of Closing

It is with a sad heart that I have to write this when we are so close to making it, but because of substantial price increases in our ingredients in recent weeks, we may be forced to close.

St. Paul Classic Cookie is a small, family owned bakery located in the heart of downtown St. Paul. We make cookies, muffins, brownies, bars, cupcakes, cakes, and cookie cakes. Everything we make in our store is made from fresh ingredients and mixed from scratch and baked fresh daily.

I’m a little late getting this up, but they had a mini-fundraising drive Tuesday and Wednesday. No word yet if they met their goal which would allow them to stay open, but if you’re so inclined to order online (cookies) (bars and brownies) or visit them in the Skyway (they’re in the Alliance Bank Center) go for it.

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