Things can get quite busy as a grad student. I've figured Wednsedays and Tuesdays would be my busy days because I have all my classes on Wednesdays. Somehow I managed to see Little Miss Sunshine yesterday and recommend everyone see it. I have a few more applications coming up, including my volunteer application for the Missouri Photo Workshop in late-September. Photo class will get really busy soon. I already did a photoshoot for our project called "Breaking the Ice". We had to take portraits of 10 subjects. I shot in a working class area toward the Northeastern end of town. I think I nailed some interesting subjects. In my walk I saw a group BBQing next to some dive bar. I asked them what they were up to and they said they were having a cook-off. One guy said he won 1st place at the Montgomery County Fair. Another BBQed a goat. They let me try their ribs and they were damn good. I think I will try to photograph more cookoffs.

All I Got is This

Originally uploaded by noplur.
Photo from my first photoshoot for class.
I had my first day of class today, fundamentals of photography. We have to take a bunch of pictures, and the course seems fairly easy. The challenge will be in coming up with creative ideas based on the topic matter. It appears the professor does not want me to shoot in RAW, and this issue will be discussed later. Evidently they teach us to shoot RAW next semester in Advanced Fundamentals.
There are undergrads in this class too. It will be interesting to see what work they come up with. And they definitely act like undergrads. What separates this class from other photo classes are the oportunities to work with professional photographers. For instance, later in the semester, we will get to volunteer for the Missouri Photo Workshop, where we serve as digital assistants and meet and review the work of photojournalists participating in the project. This year's Workshop will be held in Moberly, Missouri. Also, we will get to hear Reza speak in October. Pretty cool.
I got to shoot yesterday. Our first assignment, just to ensure we know how to upload photos, was to approach people and photograph the contents of whatever they had in their pockets. I stood outside a liquor store. Most people had cigarettes and lighters. But one person had pins. Photos to come.
So I haven't been posting much lately. I guess thats what happens when you don't have internet at your apartment. Boot Camp is officially finished. So I am no longer a reporter. I did get two photo spots and an article in. And for the hell of it, I'm working on a profile of a local artist with an ongoing exhibit. He works with a mixed-medium and often scans and reprints old photographs while sewing embroidery or buttons on top of the print.
Real classes start on Monday and my schedule is basically set. The department has been very bad in preventing required classes from overlapping. So the photo students are holding back until the department gets everything together.
The town of Columbia has not upset me so far. In fact, its kind of interesting. One bum listens to Kenny-G on his boom-box. I have a Canadian for a neighbor; which I totally did not expect. (That really is not her on the link.) She also has a roof-top balcony (a luxory I am not afforded) where one can overlook the happenings of S.10th Street. In a way it makes you feel like Al Swearingen in the HBO tv show Deadwood, where he would oftentimes overlook the musings of the 19th century town from his 2nd story balcony.
With classes starting tomorrow, this will mark the beginning where the photojournalism students go off into our own cluster and pretend the rest of the department does not exist. So long nonphotographers, it was fun sharing a class with you for 2 weeks!
In an unexpected turn events, my photography as once again appeared in the Columbia Missourian, this time as the A-1 story. The power of blind-luck strikes again.
The classroom side of Boot Camp has finished, so now I am a Columbia Missourian reporter for the remainder of the week. Saturday morning I went to the Columbia Public Library for a potential story about adopting pets; then in the afternoon I frequented the news room for a little writing and editing. In the end, after one day as a reporter, I already have an article and two photos published. It appears my pictures are not on the Missourian's online edition, but they are up on the Missourian's eMprint edition. eM is free to register and download; it is basically a PDF file that looks like a print paper, but allows for more multimedia. If you choose to sign up, download today's edition and click the link for the "Keeping the Pace with Peace" article. From there, click on the pages 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. I have two photographs.
Savor these photos, because my work will most likely not appear in the Missourian for another year; once I take my photo reporting course.
As a prospective photojournalist, it is not recommended to follow the lead of this Reuters photographer. Whom was caught doctoring his images.
At Boot Camp we have to write an article for the Columbia Missourian in order to pass. So how is that a class, where 95% of its students are new to the state, can suddenly become experts on mid-Missouri? The professors had a genius plan: send us all on a hunt through town. Personally, I was more than happy for this chance; it meant I got to leave the classroom. Some of the exciting places we were sent to include Boone County Jail and Cosmo Park. I myself got to check the Boone County Historical Society Museum and Blue Acres Little General Store. Both on the southside of town, the museum had a neat art exhibit by Lupus Garrett, a local artist; while the store is a gas station that serves lunch and breakfast. Located next to a trailer park, it serves that type of crowd.

The nice thing about this project was that it provided a cheat sheet for hidden gems within Columbia. I hoped to find these secrets on my own, but I am not sure I would have. One such place is Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, where an underground cave remains a constant 50 degrees. In order to get to it, you must take a canoe; and at some points the cave is so shallow you have to lie on your back.

Another place is Cooper’s Landing. Located 20 minutes south of town by car, it is located next to the Missouri River. The students visiting Cooper’s compared the scene to something in Deliverance, which offended the Professor—his wedding reception was held there. A goose guards the house; early evenings are known to host music sessions; and the restaurant offers a good selection of Thai food.
Boot Camp started today. I found it very time consuming. Boot Camp is what the faculty and students at UM's Journalism school call the 2 week writing pre-requisite I am currently taking. It evens says Boot Camp on the class syllabus; which is why I don't bother to quote it.

Boot Camp starts at 9 and ends at 6. Sitting on the Columbia Missourian's budget meeting was the highlight of today's class. I will get to do this everyday at 11am Central Time. The work does not seem difficult, but it is time consuming. All students must have the Columbia Missourian read by the time Boot Camp starts. Fortunately, the lectures end on Friday and the students take over the newsroom. Unfortunately, Boot Camp can affect the amount of time I spend on this blog.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Columbia, MO, the Columbia Tribune published an informative booklet, Our Town.

It is worth your knowing that Columbia has two independently operated Farmer's Markets at two different locations. However, they operate during the same hours.

I also found this publication funny.


Originally uploaded by noplur.
So it is hot in Missouri. It was 94 degrees Fahrenheit on move-in day. It cooled down on Friday...all the way to 85 degrees. Then it went up 95 again. And the weather people say it will be hot all week when classes start. Otherwise, I chopped off my beard. Now my face is just a mustache and two extended sideburns. My brother says I look like a truck driver, but I think I look like some low-level mafioso.
My apartment is old-fashioned. It was built sometime during the late-19th century. There is a wooden screen door that can be locked from the inside to keep a breeze going. The floors are hard-wooded and not shiny. There is a walk-in closet, a kitchen that I hope to separate with a shower-curtain, and a toilet with an old school silver handle bar flusher—the same kind you see on public toilets. There are some stains, and a small hole in the wall, and the kitchen light flickers, and the oven doesn’t work... But I still contend my apartment has its charm. These flaws will be fixed...hopefully...otherwise I will have to regulate. Plus, I’m a block away from a coffee shop with internet access, and three blocks from campus.

In the Midwest Now

Drive to Missouri_8_1_2006_001
Originally uploaded by noplur.
So I made it to Columbia! The road trip from San Francisco was a nice yet exhausting drive. My brother, Seth, was kind enough to drive out with me and help me load and unload the car. Our first day was a marathon thirteen hour straight-shoot to Salt Lake City. It didn’t take us half an hour to hit our first roadblock: a major truck accident that slowed down highway 80 for more than an hour.

After the jam, we stopped in Winters to meet Robyn at the Putah Creek Café. I had the Putah Creek Scramble and Robyn was excellent company. And she waited at the restaurant for quite a while until we arrived—during which time she finished her book and then proceeded to get really bored. Back on the road, we stopped once more in Auburn to get milkshakes at Ikeda’s, where when I was younger, my family used to stop all the time during our drives to Tahoe.

Seth and I also made a stop in Elko, Nevada for five minutes to gamble. I lost nine bucks and Seth won $19. Luckily, we were not addicted to the slots, or as they say, we “knew when to fold’em”!

By 10 at night, we reached the Nevada/Utah border, where the “twin-township” of Wendover, UT and West Wendover, NV provided an interruption to the nothingness. And from what I saw, it looked like there was a lot more to do in West Wendover than Wendover. My recommendation to Utah: Legalize gambling!

On a side note, while driving through Utah, Seth asked me if I knew Utah’s state moto. After several incorrect guesses (my best attempt was the “Dry State”), I was reminded how little I knew about Utah’s random silly facts. So the answer is the “Beehive State”. There you have it!

Day two took us through northern Utah, Wyoming and three-quarters of Nebraska. Again, another ten-plus hour driving marathon got us well acquainted with Terry Pratchett and his audiobook, Pyramids.

The day began with a slowdown due to heavy rains in Utah. Then just as the rain stopped, so did we— in Little America, Wyoming. Seth and myself unsuccessfully helped a Utah family recharge their car; and we were also unsuccessful in finding a stuffed penguin. Once on the road again, the rains returned and the driving slowed to 30 mph. We could not see beyond 10 feet at one point.

So one detail is missing from our trip so far: Thanks to the advent of cell phones, we could easily call Seth’s fiancé, Skye, for a multitude of purposes without interrupting the drive. It was like having a 3rd person with us, and Skye most certainly made our trip a hella a lot easier (maybe this is the last time I ever use “hella” now that I am no longer in Northern Cali). We “used” Skye to help us decide whether we should lunch in Laramie or Cheyenne, Wyoming; where to stay in Omaha, Nebraska; and where to stay in Lincoln, Nebraska once we changed our plans.

Our second day also brought us a visit to an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary (Pictured above). White as snow, she is located on the Wyoming/Nebraska border. I kind of see this as my “Gateway to the Midwest”.

The third day in the Saturn was intended to be our last— and thankfully, it was. Driving from Lincoln, our first interruption brought us to Ashland, Nebraska (a small town off highway 80), where they built a useless lighthouse located next to a small pond. I will gladly take suggestions to why anyone, sane or insane, would erect a lighthouse in a landlocked state where the nearest ocean is 1,500 miles away.

A half hour later we stopped at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha—there is no other way Seth and myself, brought up on baseball, could not visit a random stadium in Nebraska named after ourselves. Actually, its not named after either of us; nor our father; nor our grandfather. The stadium’s namesake belongs to a former Omaha mayor. Rosenblatt Stadium shares its parking lot with the Omaha Zoo, and it is host to the College World Series and the Omaha Royals minor league ball club. Our schedule forced us to visit the stadium early in the morning, so there was no chance we could attend a ballgame. And as a matter of fact, I don’t even know if they played a game there that day. Maybe next time I’m in Omaha I will get to see the view from the grandstands.

Here are my pictures of Rosenblatt Stadium.

For the remainder of the day, we hauled-ass. The Saturn crossed the Missouri River into Iowa immediately after leaving Omaha. Then, for the first time on our trip, we turned off highway 80 to follow highway 29 into Missouri. The 435 allowed us to bypass Kansas City and connect to highway 70. An hour and a half later (around 3:30 Central Time) Seth and myself finally arrived in Columbia.
Welcome to Hangin' out at Mo’s!