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The Adventures of Steve

Episode 33: Making a living in Maine

Friday, August 20, 2004

Deep down, there's a part of me that keeps expecting the hot weather to arrive any day now. Seeing that August is almost over, it's now clear that there won't be any hot weather. I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed by not having a real summer this year, but the tradeoff seems worth it.

Maine is possibly the loveliest place in this country. The forests are thick and teeming with life. Pleasant little valleys and rolling hills offer fantastic views. The towns embody "quaint" with their two-century-old meeting halls and churches. Water is everywhere, whether along the fantastic winding coast or inland in pristine lakes or burbling streams.

This is not a small state, either. I've done way more than my share of driving in the two months I've worked here. My new base of operations is Corinna, (PO Box 361, ZIP 04928), a quaint lil' town on the shore of a lake. There isn't much to Corinna beyond a three-story town hall and library brick building capped with an impressive Hogwarts-like steeple.

Most of the state is found in rural towns like this one. The entire population of Maine is approximate to the population of Sacramento County in California. The largest city of Portland is half the size of my podunk home of Eugene. So everybody lives out in the woods. The commercial hubs to the communities are the gas station/quickie marts that dot the two-lane roads throughout the woods. Surprisingly, most of these quickie-marts also feature a pizza kitchen, meaning that pizza-by-the-slice is available almost anywhere.

The pioneer spirit is still very much alive here in the woods. It's a major mark of character if you've built (or significantly reconstructed) your own home. The house I'm staying in now was constructed from timber felled right here on the property. There's even a giant planing saw in a clearing in the woods behind the house. The house isn't quite finished, a very common trait amongst Maine dwellings, I've noticed. There are quite a few Home Depot stores, I've noticed.

So how did I get to this place? In my last installment I indicated how I had been contacted by an organization in D.C. to offer me the job I thought I had lost. Well, I do have that job now. I'm aiding the field campaigns for some thirty candidates in the southeastern quadrant of the state. And it is a paying job.

It has been requested that I keep poignant details of the employment situation to myself, as it would seem that my Web site has attracted a bit more attention than I would have expected. Little did I know that my wacky adventures would attract a cloud of jaded ex-campaigners, but alas, the power of Google (I have since edited my complaint letter to D.C. to remove recognizable proper nouns).

It was never my intention to send angst towards any political activist group. The whole point of this chronicle is to illustrate what a weird life I lead. I was saddened to get "yeah, I hate them too" e-mails from unknown campaigners because the way I see it, we all need to be on the same side somehow.

That's because the other side is evil! Just kidding, I'm not the type to call half the nation evil. The other side has acquired too much power, however, and the abuses are becoming more apparent and appalling every day.

To that end, I've begun a new feature on entitled "Bush Bites." Every day I'm posting a quick observation on the Bush administration that only takes a few minutes to chew over. Since I believe that there's easily enough fodder out there for 100 such bites, I'm doing one-a-day until the election. Best of all, each bite includes a suggested action: something you can do that can make a difference. I'm a bit behind schedule due to the unexpected lack of Internet access for three weeks, but there's already a number of bites posted and I'll be adding a bunch more this weekend. Take a look, see what you think.

I did most of the programming while sitting overlooking Rockland Harbor. For a number of weekends, I kept driving back there to enjoy the picture-perfect scenery. (I also was doing my laundry in Rockland). The cool sea breezes countered the warm July humidity making it a great little old sea town to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon.

Internet access has been a bit of a trick, and I'm noticing how much I've become dependent on it. Over the last two weeks I had almost no access. For a while, I was able to pick up a wireless network at one particular corner in a decent-looking Bangor neighborhood, but that practice came to an abrupt end when a neighbor came out to quiz me what I was doing parking for hours in front of his house. So I was in blackout for almost two weeks, a period I haven't endured in years (I had plenty of access in China). Now I have a dial-up connection that I can use anywhere and so I'm a happy camper again. The bandwidth bandit days are definitely over.

I also have a new cell phone (207-446-0635) for those that want to give it a try. I enjoyed my Sprint service while it lasted, but I had to give it up in Maine where they have no towers beyond the Portland area. I have nothing nice to say about U.S. Cellular at this time.

I've been working with the house candidates for a few weeks now and that's keeping me quite busy. I spend plenty of time on the road or on the phone and I've been engaged in quite a bit of number crunching to help determine which towns to target. The highlight was probably marching in the Dover-Foxcroft parade a couple of Saturdays ago. Tomorrow I'll be joining the Greenbush parade in support of our candidate there.

Well, I'm in place for the next 78 days. I have a job, a place to stay, a paycheck and plenty of work to do. After that depends on all what happens in this election. If the election is postponed, or if another Florida strikes, I plan to be on the spot making as much noise as I can. So I'm not making career plans for 2005 at this time. Wait and see is the name of the game at this time. I'll do everything I can to help smooth the way for a clear and clean transfer of power, but I'm only one person.

Please do what you can.


All of the Adventures of Steve

   Episode 1: In which Steve leaves Eugene and arrives in Rancho Cordova.
   Episode 2: In which Steve visits the Jelly Belly factory and gets a haircut.
   Episode 3: In which Steve gets a cold, a big box, and a seat on a train.
   Episode 4: In which Steve receives shiny new toys and loyal old friends.
   Episode 5: In which Steve departs for Iowa and rants a bit about why.
   Episode 6: In which Steve takes a trip to Des Moines.
   Episode 7: In which Steve gets really involved.
   Episode 8: In which Steve starts hobnobbing but is haunted by Arne Baker.
   Episode 9: In which Steve becomes a groupie and is informed that we all have love in our hearts.
   Episode 10: In which Steve becomes a media whore.
   Episode 11: In which Steve takes on Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and Michigan.
   Episode 12: In which Steve is pitted against Fort Dodge, Iowa and seven vans of unruly Texans.
   Episode 13: In which Steve learns that all his hard work wasn't enough to put the candidate back together again.
   Episode 14: In which Steve does nothing.
   Episode 15: In which Steve reaches a decision and attempts to get virtually hired.
   Episode 16: In which we thank the good doctor for all he did.
   Episode 17: In which Steve suits up for a new life in the Cap City!
   Episode 18: In which Steve starts to realize he’s not in Eugene anymore.
   Episode 19: In which Steve switches from job seeking to home seeking.
   Episode 20: In which Steve starts to learn some things via the error side of trial and error.
   Episode 21: In which Steve experiences his first blizzard.
   Episode 22: In which Steve contemplates his next move.
   Episode 23: In which Steve prepares to switch gears... again.
   Episode 24: In which Steve spends a week in a hotel with four thousand teenagers and then gives his 30-day notice.
   Episode 25: In which Steve reminisces about his 10 weeks in Columbus while waiting in the wings.
   Episode 26: In which the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
   Episode 27: In which Steve changes everything.
   Episode 28: In which Steve finds Brood X, gets a teeny crush on a fellow trainee and learns where he's going, approximately.
   Episode 29: In which Steve starts to see how politics really works.
   Episode 30: In which Steve writes a letter to Kelly, executive director of the group that fired me.
   Episode 31: In which Steve spends a tentative week commuting to work in Maine.
   Episode 32: In which Steve learns he's just one piece on the board.
   Episode 33: In which Steve settles in for three months of intense campaigning.
   Episode 34: In which Steve is deep into the final countdown.
   Episode 35: In which Maine wins, the nation loses and Steve heads home.
   Episode 36: In which Steve doesn’t do much more than comb the classifieds and update his Web site.
   Episode 37: In which Steve slips into a normal life.

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