Apropos of nothing, I just wanted to post this photo for fun. Back in 2004, when I was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working on my PhD in physics, I was president of the Graduate Employees' Organization, IFT/AFT local 6300. Our union represented the approximately 1500 teaching assitants and graduate assistants, but a lot of the benefits we negotiated for (like healthcare improvements) extended to research assistants as well, so we really represented the whole graduate student community. We had just inked our first contract after 18 very long months of tense negotiations, and celebrated by suing the university for violating the dues collection provisions of the contract (they claimed that their transition to a new payroll system made it impossible for them to actually abide by the contract that they had so recently signed, but a little bit of legal leverage did wonders for their abilities to collect our dues.)
At about that time, a young and energetic state senator had just swept the Democratic primary for US Senate (against one of my father's law partners, no less), and due to a recent scandal involving the Republican candidate and Seven of Nine, was poised to become the junior Senator from Illinois. The union office got an urgent call from his campaign manager (a guy who I recall went by "Rocket"). Apparently, the Champaign County Dems needed a university group to reserve the ballroom at the Student Union, because non-student groups couldn't make such reservations, and would we be so kind as to handle it? I had heard Obama speak a few weeks before, when we were lobbying the state lawmakers in Springfield with the IFT, and he delivered a great address to the group, the details of which I can't remember now. All I remember was that he seemed electrifying. I dashed off to the Union and reserved the ballroom, and he showed up, and gave his stump speech to a packed room.
After the event, we gave him a t-shirt, I got to shake his hand, and he posed with us. If you look closely, you can see my face (with glasses and long hair, ah graduate school!) in the back row, two faces to the right of the now President of the United States. And that, dear children, is the day I met Barack Obama.