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Saturday, February 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: -2.0° F  Fair
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#MyMadisonDay: A 24 hour odyssey through the city

Hundreds of people participated in #MyMadisonDay, a multimedia project seeking to capture 24 hours in the life of Madison and its people. Their stories are compiled at, in the form of reports, photos and tweets, and condensed in this week's Isthmus cover story. I spent the entire day sharing the experiences of others -- here is my complete report.

6:00 a.m., Sherman Middle School, 1610 Ruskin Avenue
Head custodian Donna Wess unlocks the front door to Sherman Middle School, and starts readying the 55-year-old facility for its 445 students and 77 staff.

6:30 a.m., Fire Station 7, 1810 McKenna Boulevard
Firefighter/paramedic Chris Homman arrives at Station 7 about half an hour early for his 24-hour shift. Once on duty, he begins his daily check of the dozens of medications and the equipment he's responsible for.

7:30 a.m., Marquette Elementary School, 1501 Jennifer Street
Marquette Elementary School principal Pam Wilson assembles her staff for their annual photo. Lifetouch photographer Adam Brown also takes about 250 individual student photos. Marquette may be the only elementary school in Dane County with a portrait of be-bop great Dizzy Gillespie and a quote from blues giant B.B. King adorning its walls.

9:12 a.m., Meriter Hospital, 202 South Park Street
Laurel (Mrs. Jedidiah) Draeger gives birth to a daughter in the Meriter Hospital Birthing Center, the first of nine births over the next 24 hours and bringing the year's total at Meriter to 2,756.

9:40 a.m., Fire Station 7, 1810 McKenna Boulevard
A 2001 Pierce Quantum Aerial, boasting a 105-foot aerial ladder with water tower, ground ladders, a 1500 gallons per minute pump with 250 gallon booster tank, attack and supply fire hose, hand tools and extrication equipment, and a crew of four, pulls out from Station 7 on its way to 413 South Yellowstone Drive, the third of 14 incidents Station 7 will handle between 1:10 this morning and 11:49 tonight. Firefighters arrive at 9:48, and discover that a fire alarm was activated by cooking; there is no fire.

10:21 a.m., Fire Station 7, 1810 McKenna Boulevard
Firefighter/paramedic Homman is explaining his station's operations when a computer tone snaps him to attention with a call to assist an unconscious person at 7707 N. Brookline Dr. The address is a familiar one. He and fellow firefighter/paramedic Linnea Anderson quickly board their 2008 Ford E450 Advanced Life Support level ambulance and head out, arriving at 10:27; Ladder 7 is already on the scene, providing patient care before transferring the case to the paramedics.

11 a.m., St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, 5313 Flad Avenue
Father Chad Droessler presides over the Mass of Christian Burial for Ruth Jeanne (Schoelkopf) Faulkner, who died last week at age 83 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Born in Bear Creek, Wisconsin, in 1929, she moved to Madison after graduation and worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles. She married Richard Faulkner at 19; after a few years in Madison, they moved to and farmed in the Cambridge/Deerfield. She returned to Madison after he died when she was 47, and worked for St. Mary's Hospital and Anchor Bank; crocheted (especially afghans for infants); taught catechism at St. Maria Goretti, and guarded against rabbits in her garden. She is survived by five children and their spouses, two sisters, 18 grandchildren, 15 (almost 16) great-grandchildren, and preceded in death by her husband, brother, two sons, a daughter and son-in-law, an infant granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren (sisters).

Noon, Waisman Center Auditorium, 2323 University Bay Drive
John Svaren, PhD, Associate Professor, Comparative Biosciences, welcomes a diverse crowd of students and scholars to the 33rd Harry A. Waisman Memorial Lecture, an address by Vittorio Gallo, PhD, on "White Matter Injury in the Premature Brain: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms." Gallo, Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at the Children's National Medical Center and Professor at George Washington University School of Medicine, discusses his latest research on white matter injury, the dominant form of brain injury in the premature infant and the major neuropathological substrate associated with the motor and cognitive deficits observed later in such infants.

1:42 p.m., Mayor's Conference Room, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard
Mayor Paul Soglin, in blue jean work shirt and black T, enters his conference room for a final meeting with senior staff on the 2013 executive budget. Aide Sally Miley's iPhone plays "Tracks of My Tears," part of her "Songs for the Budget" playlist, along with "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." First up -- aldermanic amendments to his Capital Budget, coming up at Monday's Board of Estimates meeting. "Where does he plan on getting the money for this?," he asks about Ald. Mike Verveer's proposal to accelerate street reconstruction in the Capitol Square outer loop, which Soglin has slated for 2016-17. "Where's the financing coming from? GO? TIF? He's gonna do what he pleases (at BOE), but make it clear that by moving it to 14-15, he's setting expectations that may not be able to be reached." When it comes up Monday, he concludes, "we have to establish a schedule and the source of funds;" that if it's from the Tax Incremental District, "it's not free money, and we have to prioritize how it's going to be used."

Then comes an amendment by Alds.Maniaci and Bidar-Sielaff to fund improvements at Reynolds Park with impact fees taken from the Law-Tenney District. "As long as they balance," Soglin says, "I'm not concerned where they spend it." An amendment to add $800,000 to allow Madison Metro to purchase 4 hybrid buses -- which Metro opposes -- leads to a discussion of hybrid technology, and why it's better to wait a few years rather than buying now. Done with Capital Budget amendments, Soglin and staff move to a confidential discussion of the operating budget.

5:00 p.m., backstage, Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State Street
Dave Gersbach, head carpenter and union steward for IATSE Local 251, arrives backstage to prepare for opening night of the Madison Symphony Orchestra's 87th season. His job description is simple and all encompassing: "Make sure everything runs right." The 69-year-old has worked at entertainment venues in the 200 block of State Street since 1966 (Kello, Dolly!, with Ginger Rogers, at the Orpheum Theater), and has no plans to quit: "I'm just enjoying it too much to stop."

He's soon joined by lighting technician Gary Kleven, and sound engineer Paul Giansante. Kleven and Gersbach have worked together since they were both projectionists at the old Cinema Theater, before it became the more family friendly Barrymore Theater; Giansante, who's overseen sound for such acts as Pink Floyd and Neil Young, settled in Madison in 1998. Kleven is responsible for 800 or so lights, all of which he has to maneuver by hand. Giansante, familiar with venues across the country, has a light workload: "My job tonight is actually quite simple," he says. "Because of the superb acoustics, all the music is heard without amplification." The only thing he has to mike tonight is the Prelude, MSO Maestro John DeMain's pre-performance talk.

Brian Mott arrives to tune the Hamburg Steinway grand piano Garrick Ohlsson, making his fifth appearance with the MSO since 1984, will use to perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2, a difficult and rarely performed work getting its MSO debut. The $125,000 instrument, a 2004 gift to the MSO from Peter Livingston and Sharon Stark in memory of his mother, Magdalena Friedman, "tends to sound a little brighter" than the piano which the city owns, the responsibility of another tuner. But it's still an instrument made of wood and metal; great pianists like the San Francisco-based Ohlsson, he says, "play with a great deal of force, and put the piano through a lot of gyrations." A discerning ear, he says, can hear how a piano in perfect tune at the start of a program.

6:35 p.m., stage, Overture Hall
DeMain, in a dark business suit, treats early arrivals to a 30-minute talk and demonstration (on an upright piano) explaining the intricacies and back-story of tonight's program. As he talks, more musicians in formal wear filter in, and start limbering their fingers and embouchures. Once DeMain finishes, they begin in earnest, and a gentle cacophony rises.

7:38 p.m., stage, Overture Hall
Now in white tie and tails, DeMain enters to loud applause. He quickly calls his musicians to attention, and opens his 19th season with the traditional "Star Spangled Banner." Then some sad business -- an announcement that the weekend performances are dedicated to his late predecessor, Roland Johnson, Music Director Laureate, and that the planned all-Russian program has been augmented by John Stevens' Adagio for Strings, dedicated to both Johnson and Paul Haugan, Principal Tuba for 30 years, who died unexpectedly in late July.

8:52 p.m., Varsity Room, Union South, 1308 West Dayton Street
Sporting a snug and skimpy yellow fringe dress, Charlotte Deleste, co-host of The Morning Show on WISC-TV, wows the crowd at the 8th Annual Rhumba for Rainbow fundraiser to combat child abuse and domestic violence, but finishes second in the celebrity dance-off to NBC 15's Leigh Mills, elegant in diamonds and white. Not making the finals: A masked Police Chief Noble Wray, a sinuous cat burglar whose partner bore a decidedly non-standard police outfit, and who made good use of her handcuffs. "A police chief into role playing," a guest noted. "Good to know."

9:48 p.m., Madison Police Department, 2 West Wilson Street
Officer-in-Charge Sgt. David Compton convenes the seventh of the day's pre-shift briefings, teleconferencing with the four area districts. After a brief run-down of recent developments, he reviews departmental policy on when to maintain pursuit of a fleeing suspect. When he gets no response to his first question, he falls back on a pop culture classic: "Bueller...? Bueller...?" A few minutes later, a final instruction: "Stay safe and have a good shift."

10:29 p.m., Britta Parkway
Western District patrol officer Solon McGill is dispatched to a domestic abuse incident at a duplex on Britta Parkway, just off the Beltline on the fringe of the Allied neighborhood. McGill recognizes the address, and the caller -- a woman who had not cooperated with police before. But tonight's different. She's sitting on the porch with her father-in-law and young child, drinking Bud Ice and showing a major shiner around her left eye. The apartment door is open, a 52-inch TV is on the ground. McGill patiently takes her through all the seemingly obvious questions he needs answered in order to get a warrant -- did you give him permission to hit you? Are you injured? In pain? Then he waits for the investigator to come to take the necessary photos.

11:20 p.m., Britta Parkway
McGill is back in the car and waiting when the radio crackles: "Man with gun" reported on Allied Drive. He hits the lights -- but not the siren -- and the dashboard video recorder starts up. He hangs a hard left on Red Arrow, kills the lights and parks. He puts a loaded magazine in the AR-15 patrol rifle, more accurate than a pistol. "You're more likely to hit what you're aiming at, and less likely to hit an innocent person," he says.

McGill knows the need for accurate marksmanship. As a Major in the U.S. Marines -- likely the only member of the UW Class of 2001 with that distinction -- he served three tours in Iraq, from 2003 to 2008. He's still in the Reserves.

Is he an adrenaline junkie? "It's important to me to do something that matters," he says. "And I like to do something that matters and that's exciting at the same time."

Three more squad cars arrive, and the officers quietly fan out. After about 20 minutes, they give up the hunt.

Midnight, 900 Block College Court
Two house parties are getting out of control. Someone calls the cops.

12:36 a.m., Gammon Road
The sudden cold snap has left the streets empty, and McGillis slowly cruises the Schroeder/Hammersley Road area when another call comes in -- a possible knife fight on Doncaster Drive. Running hot with lights and siren, he hits the Beltline and punches the Dodge Charger up to 85 mph; it's a surprisingly smooth ride. No weapons are uncovered, and the story has a sad familiarity -- substance abuse, jail, kids in foster homes. Tonight, back to jail.

12:42 a.m., 900 Block College Court
"Party 1 over crowded and fist fight happening as we get there," Sgt. Tony Fiore tweets. "- party 2 packd had intox high schoolers and people climbing on 4th story roof."

1:20 a.m., downtown
The fall chill that kept the southwest neighborhoods quiet has no such calming effect downtown for Fiore and the five patrol officers in the Central District Community Policing Team. "It's an alcohol-fueled Disneyland," he says while slowly rolling past hundreds of buzzed and horny college students packing pockets of State Street and University Avenue.

1:26 a.m., State Street
"Trying to visit Brats, Wandos and a few others TBD," Fiore tweets, with the hashtag "#barcheck," which he uses to announce when and where the CPT is about to drop in to check for age, occupancy and intoxication.

As soon as he and three other officers enter the packed State Street Brats, a noticeable number of attendees head for the door; the officers check several IDs, but all seem legit. One young woman is so drunk she has to be helped out by three male friends. Outside, the brisk air revives her a bit, she can answer Fiore's questions, and the guys seem stable enough that Fiore lets them leave. Meanwhile, two young men saunter up the street, heading straight for the clutch of officers while holding open beer bottles. Within a few minutes, they each have a $303 citation for carrying an open intoxicant.

1:55 a.m., Wando's, 602 University Avenue
Compared to State Street Brats, Wando's is almost empty, its music just as loud. Suddenly, a wiry figure bursts from the doorway and dashes across University Avenue, Ofc. Jody (Mrs. Solon) McGill in hot pursuit. She dodges a car that almost turns into her, shouts "Stop! Police!," and keeps going him. Fiore joins in, and the chase is on though alleys and backyards till they corner the kid several blocks away. Now it's not just a $177 citation for underage drinking -- now it's an actual arrest.

4:30 a.m., kitchen, Memorial Union, 702 Langdon Street The Chancellor's football brunches start two hours before game time, so an 11 a.m. kick-off is even less fun for staff than it is for fans. To serve breakfast for 100 at the Olin House at 9 a.m., Billie Bach, general manager for Memorial Union catering, gets to her MU kitchen more than two hours before sunrise. Her first task: measuring, by ruler, square inch cubes of watermelon and kiwi, illustrating the menu's theme of "strangely built."

5:15 a.m., kitchen, Memorial Union Chelsea Kaiser-Mecozzi, student supervisor, arrives to assume the brunt of the grunt work. Over the next few hours, she and her six-student crew will cook 150 eggs, 26 pounds of asparagus and 600 mini-pancakes, fry 200 goat cheese coins, and prepare the rest of the fare. Anything that's not served is donated to the Community Action Coalition; students and staff get the leftovers that leave the kitchen. Four hours later, a good time would be had by all.

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