Archive for February, 2004

‘Start me up’ shoots me down

February 26th, 2004 No comments

As most of you know, I’ve been interviewing pretty intensely lately. I’ve talked to seven different companies since January, and found out some don’t like me or really have any positions open. Such is the life of a graduating college senior.

I’m pretty far along with one particular company right now, and I think I’d accept an offer is one was given. I’ve gotta get a phone call sometime in the next few days and talk to one last person before I hear back with a decision. That should all be done in a week. Wish me luck.

In January I did a phone interview with a company I’ll refer to as “Macrohard.” who has a small location in Fargo, ND. It’s where they create and support their “Eight Pains” (again, a false name) business software. My phone interview went well enough that they decided to send me on a trip to Fargo for more interviews. I decided to do it. Not necessarily because I’d jump at a chance to work in Fargo, but moreso that I figured I’d never get to North Dakota in my life, and free trips are always good. Especially if a very large software company is picking up the tab.

Because Cam and I are nearly twins when it comes to school at work, he also was invited for an interview in Fargo. Seeing we do very little academic or work things w/o each other, we had Macrohard schedule our interviews at the same time. They agreed.

We watched the movie Fargo the night before our trip just to prep ourselves for what was to come, don’t ya know. It was creepy to get off the plane there and realize it was just like the movie: flat, cold and boring. You could see for miles in either direction due to their lack of hills. It was actually slightly warmer there than in Wisconsin, but the week before told us that Fargo was at -36.
They put us up in a really nice hotel (separate rooms, thank “god”), and gave us a rental car to drive around in. We decided to get some food at a restaurant right out the door of our hotel. It was called “Space Aliens.” I’m not kidding. Think of a Chuck E. Cheese for adults, with an alien theme.

Because everything was on Macrohard, I decided to enjoy a bright blue alcoholic beverage. Cam said it was too girly for him, but free booze is never too girly for me. It was called “Alienade” and was darn good. We each had ribs of some sort for our meal, and our appetizer could almost have been served as a dessert. Somehow the appetizer was sauced in chocolate rather than barbecue sauce and took longer than usual.

After our meal we headed out into the Fargo nightlife. We drove around aimlessly looking for the “center” of the city. I can honestly say we never found one. We eventually found what is considered their strip, and that was just like any strip you might come across. Every possible big box store you could think of was there, from Menards to Home Depot to common chain restaurants. It’s just there was absolutely no “downtown” central area with big buildings and people walking around. It was quite boring.

I woke up early the next day for my interview. Cam had somehow gotten lucky and his interview was 2 hours later than mine. I headed over to the campus and watched all the people stream into work. They were all happy, and middle class small townish. Good for them.

I talked to a total of 7 people, in about 6 different hour long interviews. Talk about intense. I thought all of them went equally well, except for some school marm lady who was kind of put-offish. But I found out later that Cam had gotten the same reception from her.

I asked everyone I talked to what there is to do in Fargo. They all said cross country skiing, snowmobiling, hiking and the like. And of they bowl too. It’s kinda like any town in northern Wisconsin, but with a weirder accent. One person mentioned that “the cities” (Minneapolis/St. Paul) are “only 3-4 hours away.” Well sheesh, that close? I can get to Chicago from Madison or Milwaukee in less than 2 hours. And that’s more of a real city.

At the end of the day I said goodbye and headed to their mall and waited for Cam to get done. West Acres mall has the usual stores in it, along with some countryish ones to ensure all the rural folk have someplace to shop. I would compare it to a Mayfair in the middle of nowhere. “Nowherefair” if you will. They added a huge new foodcourt area, which made the 1972 mall look as if it was now part of 1997. Based on how small the town is, I’m sure the foodcourt was big news and quite the entertainment and dining destination.

My preconceptions about the area proved mostly to be true. It is a small, cold town in the middle of nowhere, with little to do unless you enjoy long walks in the snow and sunsets over snow. I was surprised at the demographic makeup of the area however. I saw less than five African Americans the entire time I was there, and everyone was middle class. I expected low-class rural people at best, but was pleasantly surprised. I guess Fargo is the place to go when you have money and no major cities for 300 miles in any direction.

I got a call last week telling me they “no longer wish to pursue my candidacy” basically. I asked if they could give me more info on why and she basically said they didn’t think I would be a good fit. Which I took to mean that they understood I disliked Fargo. I can say I was surprised they didn’t give me an offer, yet didn’t feel horribly dejected when they didn’t. It’s for you to ask Cam what happened to him.

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Shootin’ Dem. candidates

February 16th, 2004 No comments

I was home this past weekend to see my sis’ basketball game, interview at the Journal Sentinel, and shoot some candidates at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Jefferson/Jackson dinner (link takes you to the gallery of images). The dinner is a yearly event, but this one was something special. Because of Wisconsin’s prominence, three presidential candidates attended and spoke.

I showed up an hour or so early so I decided to shoot outside for a bit. Lots of supporters were there with signs etc. I noticed about 6 satellite trucks lined up on Wisconsin Ave. so I got a few shots of them. As I finished up the last one, someone yelled “If I woulda known you were going to take a picture of my truck, I would have washed it first.” Um, OK. The guy was an engineer from Fox News out of Chicago.

He went on to explain that his truck and the CNN one behind it both park in the same garage (under the Sun-Times building) in Chicago. Then I asked him a few questions about the satellites they use and other stuff. We talked for about 10 minutes until he asked if I’d be at the debate on Sunday. When I told him no, he walked me over to the cab of the truck and offered me a Fox News hat. I took it, but added that I probably wouldn’t wear it and asked if he had a CNN one instead.

After I got into the ballroom where the event was held, it became even more clear that my dinky little lens wouldn’t cut it for where they had photographers set up. I saw some other photographers there with lenses that put mine to shame in both price and size. Luckily, before the event started, some rep from the DPW came over and said they’d be allowing ONE person at a time to come up the aisles for some close shots.

As Kerry was about to be introduced, I made my way up front and huddled with the other photographers. Someone came by again and let them know they we could crouch up front, but only for a minute or two while he was speaking. Kerry was introduced a short time after that, and a boatload of photographers followed him.

I was right there in the mix, until the traveling press (those from the AP and Reuters who travel with the candidates from stop to stop), notified me that no one could be in front of them. We’ll see about that. I think I got some decent shots despite the weird angle I was at and a huge annoying light behind Kerry’s head while he spoke. I was right next to the guy who shot the pic that made it on’s main section that night and into the next day.

At one point, a number of photographers camped out right in front of the Governor. I caught his eye and smirked as we both saw the lady in front of him clearly block his view – clearly not realizing who she was sitting in front of.

The same ordeal happened when Edwards came out, except he decided he wanted to wander around the audience instead of heading right to the stage. I got some decent shots of him too, but nothing stand-out.

Dean’s campaign sent some crazy congresswomen who literally babbled for 15 minutes. Hardly anyone paid attention to her. It’s too bad too, cause Dean is the guy you should be voting for.

I came back to see Kucinich, and by that time just about everyone had packed up. I was the only photographer around, and I didn’t even care to move that much to get some shots. He did some crazy dance on stage showing he had “no strings attached,” which eerily reminded me of N*SYNC. As a side note, Mimi Kennedy, of Dharma and Greg introduced Kucinich, which means her on-air persona as a sandal wearing hippie is pretty accurate to her real-life political views.

I got home and edited my pics and sent them to every news org I could think of. The only response I got was from the Wisconsin State Journal, who told me to let them know in advance next time that I’d have pics for them. I took that as them saying they liked my pics and would consider stuff from me in the future. I’ll make a note of that.

Too bad I wasn’t able to see all the candidates together tonight at the Milwaukee Debate. I’ll have to settle for shooting another Dean rally on Monday and Edwards’ party on Tuesday.

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Majestic Dean

February 5th, 2004 No comments

Dean Gallery

Walking back from taking some pics at the Capitol yesterday, I heard some Dean supporters yelling about their candidate coming to town the next day. I hadn’t heard Dean was visiting again, so I called the campaign headquarters in Madison and asked what was up. Sure enough, Dean was coming to Madison for one of his Meetups.

After finding out the event would start at 7, and realizing I had class until 7, I was disappointed. Then I remembered the last half hour of class was reserved for group work, and my group had most of that done already. I decided I’d attend the event even no matter what.

As soon as I could, I got away from my class. I bolted towards the Capitol to find out that Club Majestic was full to capacity…except for media. So using my credentials, I checked in with the PR lady and headed towards the stage.

I asked the security looking guy if I could slip past the rope to get some pics once it began, and was told no. However, after standing there for a while, I noticed some AP photographers were let into that area. That was invitation enough for me.

Prior to this, some extremely drunk guy was yelling, screaming, cursing and spilling things. He was directly behind me and claimed that he learned how to yell like that back in Oklahoma. Someone eventually asked him to politely quiet down, and he didn’t. The drunk then decided he was going to speak with the man who asked him to quiet down. The drunk told me to move so he could get up there and I gave him a simple no. I had claimed my spot. At this point he actually took me by the shoulders and threw me backwards, drawing the attention of at least 50 people. No one from security noticed though. The guy really was a pain, and I’m glad I got away from him later on.

As Dean was speaking, the photographers there were allowed to rotate in and out of the roped off area so that everyone got a chance for good pics. I had my HUGE backpack on, with 2 binders and my winter jacket stuff into it, so moving around was difficult, at best. More than a few times did I bump into someone who seemed to be a few feet away from me yet wasn’t due to the size of my huge bag.

At the end of the event I met up with another Cardinal photographer and we went to Madisons for more pics of Dean. He had ventured over there to meet the overflow crowd from the other event. After snaking our way into the hot steamy basement, we realized there were no good shots to be gotten there. We found out where Dean would be exiting Madisons and stood around in the lobby area at the back.

A Dean staffer came to us and told us to wait outside for shots of Dean leaving. We obliged at the time, and kinda stood there for a bit. Luckily, Kathleen Falk (Dane County Supervisor) was walking over at that time. The photographer I was with mentioned to Kathleen that we weren’t being allowed access, and Kathleen wouldn’t have any of that. She marched into the lobby and told the staffer that if Dean wants any of the student vote, he better talk to the student newspaper. The staffer ran off to check on this and came back to tell us we would get a chance to see Dean again.

I thought this meant getting a couple of shots of Dean before he left. It was quite different than that. We were led down some stairs and taken into a room that had been converted into an impromptu interview area. It was me, the other photographer (who was now playing reporter), John Erpenbach (State Senator) and Howard Dean. The shots you see at the end of this gallery are of this situation.

I was really excited after all this happened because I got to meet Dean and wish him luck with his campaign, while getting some great shots tonight. I sent Kathleen Falk a thank you email for help. She was very nice to speak with in person also.

What an interesting day.

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