Meet Mitchell. He’s a Chicago Senior Software Engineer who is helping build ETL (extract-transform-load for us non-techies) data tools in OpinionLab’s next generation of software. If that weren’t impressive enough, he also keeps our current infrastructure humming including our Alerts system which on its own accounts for an outstanding 20,000+ emails daily to clients. While a coder at heart (Python and Clojure are his weapons of choice), Mitchell can also hold his own on the trivia scene. A member of the $10,000 first place winning team in the Team Trivia National Championships, Mitchell also cut his trivia chops on “Who wants to be a Millionaire” twice. Yes, twice. Once as an actual contestant and again as a lifeline (receiving the call at our offices even) for his friend Shea. Pull up a seat and get to know Mitchell!
It’s almost the weekend, what can we find you doing most weekends?
Most weekends I’m at home caring for my son Zachary (he turns four years old on March 7th). I’m working on improving my Polish and Spanish language proficiency (I speak Polish to my son at home). Otherwise, I work with various community media and media-related projects, including Chicago Media Action, Chicago Indymedia, Chicago Independent Television, and radio shows on both WHPK and WLUW.
Anyone in the Chicago office knows you are a Scrabble force to be reckoned with. What was one of your best game ever?
When I played tournament Scrabble, I was in a tournament in LaGrange Park, Illinois, playing in a tight game with the division lead at stake (my opponent and I were both 5-0 going into the match). I blew the game open about three-quarters of the way through with the only bingo of the game, RATIONS. I wound up winning the game and the division, and took home a first place prize of $45.
Any other honorable mentions?
I’ll mention the most memorable game I ever played; I didn’t win but I came quite close. In July 2001 I participated in a charity Trivial Pursuit tournament across the street from Wrigley Field. I qualified for the hour-long finals with six other participants. One of the other finalists, a gentleman named Paul, took a 5-0 lead after the first 10 minutes. The rest of the finalists were demoralized, but I said to myself “Time to mount a comeback.” Indeed, over the next 45 minutes, I crawled my way back to take a 6-5 lead with just five minutes remaining. Paul sat on the last question for the last five minutes, with a correct response needed to force a tiebreak. Paul responded with the correct response, “Mikhail Gorbachev”, and wound up winning big in the tiebreak by a 6-3 score, but even so I count the comeback as the most memorable trivia “win” I’ve ever had.
What other games do you play?
These days, I play the classics with my son: Candy Land, Go Fish, Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Pengoloo, and a homemade variant of Scrabble where we share a single rack and make words together (it helps build his vocabulary).
Here in Chicago, the bleak cold continues. How are you dealing with the Chicago winter?
As perverse as it may sound, I kind of like it. I grew up on the other side of Lake Michigan, where snows are more frequent than they are in Chicago. In the 17 years I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve often complained that Chicago winters are too gray and not enough white. Not this year.
Favorite food to eat? What’s your go to restaurant in Chicago?
I’ve been vegan for 20 years, so when I eat out I’ll go to a vegan or vegetarian-friendly restaurant. My favorites include Native Foods, Chicago Diner, and the Pick-Me-Up Cafe. My great weakness is anything with BOTH peanut butter and vegan chocolate.
Do you shop online or in-store?
Mostly in-store, mostly groceries.
What are you reading now?
I’ve got a copy of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger in my backpack and “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt on my desk at home; one of these days I’ll finish the books, I swear. I’m a big nonfiction reader, and among my all-time favorites, I count the books of Robert McChesney (who writes on media history and media policy), Timothy Ferris (a science and astronomy guru), and Robin Hahnel (a political economist who writes for actual human beings).
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a part of our rockstar team? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions over on the Careers Page for open positions in our Chicago headquarters.