If You Want to Know What’s Going On in Madison, Wisconsin, Don’t Ask the Local News

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I currently reside, has four major news stations and one major newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. These local news sources, like every local news source across Wisconsin and now America, have been reporting on all of the latest developments of the budget protests in Madison, Wisconsin and providing up-to-the-minute information whenever possible. The protests started seven days ago and when they did, they were given some interesting labels by the local news.  The protests in Madison were referred to as “Mayhem in Madison,” “Madtown Frenzy” and “The Mad City Showdown.

Mayhem in Madison? To me, the word mayhem implies absolute chaos, political unrest, anarchy, maybe even some weapons of mass destruction.

Madtown Frenzy? Referring to Madison by its affectionate nickname in this situation implies that everyone is running around crazy. Frenzy further implies a state of confusion.

I think the one that makes me laugh the hardest is referring to the events in Madison as “The Mad City Showdown.” It’s even fun to say. Mad City Showdown? Seriously?  This isn’t the wild west. Nobody is facing off at high noon, nobody is wearing spurs or ass-less chaps. The best part is that in the seven days of Madison protests, there have been zero arrests!

I am so tired of the way that the local news has been covering the events in Madison that I decided it was time to see the situation for myself. Well, that and I strongly believe in the cause and fully support unions and working families in Wisconsin.

When I arrived in Madison on Day 5 of the protests, the first thing that struck me was that life on the east side of the city (which is how you enter Madison when you drive from Milwaukee) was that people were going about their daily lives completely unscathed by the events at the Capitol. Some frenzy!

Secondly, the protests and rallies in and of themselves were peaceful. That was the whole point. There were even signs posted inside the Capitol reminding folks that “this is a peaceful protest.” The point of the rallies was for union members and supporters to have their voices heard and to stand together in solidarity. The people I encountered were warm, respectful, and passionate. Having the opportunity to voice my opinion inside the halls of our state’s Capitol along with thousands of other people who felt the same way was pretty powerful to say the least.

After witnessing the events first hand and then comparing them to the headlines and articles I  read, I am through consulting local news sources to find out what’s really going on in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve stopped watching Milwaukee’s local news reports on Madison because their depiction of events in Madison versus my experience in Madison are complete opposites.

Instead, to find out what’s really happening in Madison, Wisconsin, I’m consulting scores of alternate news sources such as the Huffington Post’s live updates of events, eyewitness accounts on Twitter and Facebook, footage on YouTube, video montages like this one, and Mother Jones.

Anything other than the local news.

Inside the Capitol.
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Help Find Joe Sjoberg

Joe Sjoberg (pronounced SHOW-BERG) has been missing from Madison, WI since Monday, November 29th.  Originally from Washington state, 22 year-old Joe Sjoberg was reported missing after he didn’t show up at work or his apartment.  Joe left with his car and cell phone and nothing indicates any foul play connected with his disappearance.

I have personally never met Joe, but he is the younger brother of two guys, Rob and Pat, that I swam with at Beloit College for several years. Because of the fact that there are not many tangible leads in Joe’s disappearance, the most important tool to use in finding Joe Sjoberg is word of mouth.  Joe’s family and friends have launched an online amber alert through Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media outlets.  Through these platforms, detailed information about Joe’s car and last known whereabouts, photos of Joe, “Joe is missing” fliers, and the latest information/leads have been shared quickly and viewed by a  large audience. The more people who are aware of the situation and pass along the information, the quicker we find Joe Sjoberg.

That’s where you come into play.  Even if you have never met Joe Sjoberg or have no direct connection to his family or friends, just sharing the information goes such a long way.  As I said before, the more people who are aware of  Joe Sjoberg’s disappearance, the better the chances of finding Joe sooner rather than later.  Here are some simple things you can do to help find Joe Sjoberg:

  1. Tweet the information. Here is a simple phrase you can tweet: Please RT, #JoeSjoberg has gone missing in WI. Please help us find him. http://bit.ly/ieE12p
  2. Check out the Help Us Find Joe Sjoberg Facebook page.
  3. Join the Help Joe Missing Facebook group.
  4. Post a “Joe is Missing” flier.
  5. Look out for Joe’s license plates.
  6. If you know something or see something related to Joe Sjoberg, contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post.  Please spread the word about finding Joe Sjoberg on Facebook and Twitter.  My thoughts and hopes are with Rob and Pat and their family as the search continues.

Take A Picture, It Lasts Longer

That some people are keeping photographic food diaries and posting them online does not surprise psychotherapists. “In the unconscious mind, food equals love because food is our deepest and earliest connection with our caretaker,” said Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders and food fixations at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “So it makes sense that people would want to capture, collect, catalog, brag about and show off their food.” –“First Camera, Then Fork,” New York Times. 4/7/2010

Ever notice how these days, people  love to take pictures of their food?   Go in to any restaurant and I bet you will find someone who is snapping a picture of their sandwich before digging in.  In fact, go no further than your Facebook or Twitter news feed and I guarantee you will find someone who has just posted pictures of the savory breakfast sandwich they just ate or dishes from a lavish dinner party they recently  prepared.  It’s almost as if these photos scream, “look at my incredible culinary skills; too bad you weren’t here to enjoy them” or, “It’s a shame you aren’t as skilled at cooking as I am.”   I’ll admit, sometimes I feel a tinge of jealousy when I see such photographs.  I wouldn’t mind sampling your chicken parm or salmon ceviche next time I’m in your neck of the woods!

Before I go knocking this recent phenomenon, I’ll admit, I’m just as guilty of taking pictures of my food, too.  Due to my slight obsession with sandwiches, I will take picture of a delicious sandwich before eating so that I might forever remember its beauty and its ingredients.  I’ve been known to snap a photo of the dinner I cooked next to a floral arrangement and strategically placed glass of wine in the background and then posting them  to my Facebook or Twitter pages.    Should I feel embarrassed about taking pictures of my food before eating it?  Is taking pictures of your meals and then posting them online a little too boastful?

To gain insight into this phenomenon of food photography, I decided I needed to dive deeper into the culture of foodies and food photographers.  To do so, I got myself invited to the Wisconsin Board of Cheese’s Grilled Cheese Academy party at Cafe Soleil in Madison, WI.  The exclusive party was for food bloggers and people like myself who had won invitations from Wisconsin Cheese on Twitter.  Thankfully, my friends at Burp Blog and new friend from Cake Walk were also attending (and graciously drove me to Madison), thus granting me a portal into the world of food bloggers and food photography.

The moment we arrived at Cafe Soleil, it was apparent that along with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, food photography was also on the menu.  Food bloggers from all over Wisconsin gathered at Soleil not only to sample the cuisine, but to network with other food bloggers while meticulously cataloging the dishes of the evening.  Food photography was encouraged and done with pride.

After sampling several grilled cheese sandwiches and the beers that were paired with them, the food bloggers began to record what they had sampled.  I watched in awe as my blogger friends grabbed samples of the sandwiches and moved them to the window in order to get better lighting for their photos.  They arranged the sandwiches on napkins and placed them with their beer pairings.  After snapping photos of the sandwiches from various angles, the bloggers wrote down a list of each sandwich and its ingredients to post along with the photos on their respective blogs.

It was fascinating to read their posts about the Grilled Cheese Academy on their blogs because I had learned what went into recreating such an event in a blog post; the sampling, the photography, the write-up.  After witnessing this event, I realized that food photography is not boastful when used for a good purpose, such as food blogging.  Simply posting your food photos to Facebook or Flickr with the tag line “look what I can cook” can come across as a little boastful.  If you are going to post pictures of what you recently cooked or tasted at a restaurant, tell the story behind the photos.  People love a good story especially when food is involved.  However, if you’re not the storytelling type, at least share the recipe along with your food photographs!