What the? The barn indicator appears to be malfunctioning

barn_indicator_36741So……….apparently this happened quite a while ago, but as you may know I’ve had a year or two with very few photo jaunts.  This tilted weather vane sits along North 26th Street and used to point to a large, red barn.  For some reason, that barn appears to have been razed.


This is how it looked back in 2008 when I first noticed the perfect alignment of the weather vane to the adjacent structure.  I thought I was pretty clever when I deemed it a Barn Indicator.  Here’s the post.

I swung by again a few years later, and yes…it was still functioning normally.

So…wha hoppen?  I have no idea.  I looked through Google Earth to discover that it seemed to vanish in late 2013.  The structure looks sound, so who know why it suddenly disappeared.  Maybe it was damaged in some way and deemed too costly to repair.  I think I’d recall hearing about a fire if that caused its demise.  Strange.


Drove the Chevy to Double Ditch, but Double Ditch was dry

doubleditch_pano_0513Click for full-size image

I ran up to Double Ditch today to have a look around and get some fresh air, and I was stunned at the low river level.  I’ve been so busy moving this year – moving into our new home, moving our church, moving my office and studio – that I haven’t really gotten out much.  So maybe this isn’t news to many of you…but I was blown away.  It looks like the geese were enjoying it, though!

More on this trip later.

Cell phone photo stream part 6

The best camera is the one you have with you, and thankfully cell phone cameras have gotten a lot better lately.  I want to continue to share a few things I’ve grabbed since the last time I posted under the “Cell Phone” category.

ipod_photostream_6391I saw this bumper sticker at an paramedic/EMT event this summer.  Very cool.  Since then I saw a guy who had it tattooed on his forearm.


ipod_photostream_5833 That “Crazy Russian Hacker” dude wasn’t kidding.  This works like a charm.



Photographing the Gray House in Sims, ND after taking off work early.



The cockpit of a King Air 200.  It actually wasn’t too hard to push into the hangar – as long as you have enough guys. We used the hangar as a venue to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on Pay-Per-View.



Shooting some video of picturesque Powers Lake, North Dakota. Moments later I found a wood tick on my leg.  Ew.


I’ll post a bunch more in the next few days.  I have a pretty good batch collected, but I don’t want to dump them all in one gargantuan post.

Apparently we really could use around $35 million right now…

commish_thanksFeeling spunky from ramming through the FiveSouth project, the City Commission (with Commissioner Marquardt dissenting) is starting to talk about another sales tax. According to the Bismarck Tribune reported that the commission is examining the idea of taxing us even more to pay for road improvements.

If we need money for roads so badly, why were we throwing $35 million into a TIF district for the pet project of the Commission and their downtown cronies?

When that issue was brought up, Mayor Seminary (who I like personally, even though his policies drive me bat-scat crazy) simply said, “they were separate issues” (according to the Tribune).

Really?  If I tell my wife that I’m going to spend $1000 on a new big screen TV instead of replacing a leaky house roof or an ailing vehicle, do you think she’s going to consider them “separate issues” as the Mayor said?  Heck, no…and she’d be right (as usual).

Perhaps by “separate issues” Mayor Seminary means “we’ll just dip into the pockets of the citizens for the additional money”.  That’s something you and I can’t do; if we have financial responsibilities, we own up to them before recklessly spending money on foolish luxuries.  This is a concept that has completely eluded Mayor Seminary and the Commission.

If the City doesn’t have money to repair the roads it has, then it certainly doesn’t have the money to make some cronies’ pie-in-the-sky pet project a reality.

The lone voice of sanity, Commissioner Marquardt, can’t quell the stupidity on his own.  We need to get him some company on the City Commission.  Our city needs some responsible leadership from a Commission that will obey the will of the people and act in a fiscally responsible manner on our behalf.

South Unit overlook

wind_canyon_35576_hdrI got to cross one more location off my photography wish list, sort of, as I took my family to the Medora Musical a couple of weekends ago.  One place I wanted to scout for a future “dark-to-dark” photography day was the Wind Canyon Overlook at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It was everything I expected, but even more challenging to photograph.


wind_canyon_ip_7025Click for larger image

I took a quick panorma with my mobile device and scouted out some other potential locations for the future.  I’d like to catch this location at pre-dawn, sunrise, sunset, and at night.  A friend and I are scheming to make that happen yet this fall…we’ll see how that actually works out.

I’ll never run out of things to photograph in Bismarck-Mandan, or North Dakota in general.  Time, however, is another issue.  But I had little boys who loved to grab one of my spare cameras and photograph prairie dogs and bison with a 300mm lens, so I intend to make more trips as soon as we get more settled into our new house.


parhelion_60d_0813Here’s one cool side effect of the bitter cold today!  There were plenty of ice crystals in the air today, and the sun didn’t disappoint.  Brrrr.  Thanks to my friend Zach for the tip, or I’d have missed this.

Smile! It’s time for a new week

smile_ip_3160Thanks to the skywriters who gave me this smile a few weekends ago.  I thought I’d share it as we begin a blustery new week.  I have so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of such challenging times for our family.  Temps are expected to hit the 80s again later this week, I’ve got some very exciting irons in the fire, and I have God and my family.  It’s already a great week.

Gettin’ big

ducklings_30047This year’s batch of ducklings don’t look like babies anymore, even if they do still stay hunkered down together!  They’re still pretty cute.


ducks_19862Just a reminder, this is what they look like when they’re younger. 🙂

If you need more cuteness, don’t forget to go to visit the Daily Squee!

Bismarck Tribune article shows racism, bigotry, hatred, hostility, and abusiveness

bistrib_20140504_1I love North Dakota history, and the truly fascinating stories of many North Dakotans remain untold or in danger of disappearing into total obscurity.  That’s why I’m such a big fan of columns by Curt Eriksmoen for the Bismarck Tribune.  But today’s column about Hilaire du Berrier treads on dangerous ground with its Hostile and Abusive™ content.

As you can read in the text of the above graphic, Curt makes a couple of racist, bigoted, hateful, hostile, and abusive comments about the neighboring Native American people:

  • He calls them Sioux;
  • He accuses them of bravery;
  • He asserts that they accepted dangerous challenges.

What, you say?  Why the offense?  Exactly.  These are the very same things that have been targeted and banished by the NCAA with regard to the UND Fighting Sioux logo and nickname.

I haven’t been to a UND hockey game since the banishment of the logo and nickname, but before a video used to play prior to the games.  It described the brave heritage of the Sioux warriors and the admired characteristics that were inspiration for the UND Fighting Sioux moniker.  I can’t forget the quote by Archie Fool Bear of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: “We went to a hockey game, and they talked about the courage and integrity of the Sioux people. We looked at each other like, ‘Wow, we don’t even honor our Sioux warriors or veterans like this on the reservation.’ ”

It’s unfortunate that I have to drag Curt Eriksmoen into this, but it shows the hypocrisy of the NCAA and opponents of the Fighting Sioux name.  One could say that he obviously didn’t mean anything offensive or controversial by his generalizations about the local Native American population, and I agree – but neither did the proponents of the UND Fighting Sioux.  For our beliefs we were branded as Racists™ and other typical epithets used by the “politically correct” enforcement goons.  Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Curt or the Bismarck Tribune.

Cold War Mancation, Part Six: Strategic Air & Space Museum


If you aren’t familiar with my Cold War Mancation series, don’t worry: I’ll provide some links for you to get caught up at the end of this post.  My best friend and I took the opportunity last week to visit the Strategic Air and Space Museum (formerly the SAC Museum) in Ashland, Nebraska.  We’d been talking about it seemingly forever, and finally made it happen thanks to some overtime and my gracious wife letting me bolt for a few days. To put it mildly, this trip was absolutely worth the wait.  Let’s get started.


I’ll begin with a snarky comment.  This is a Snark missile, the SM-62.  It was an early cruise missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the Russkies, and it waits to greet you as you pull into the parking lot.


Zoom.  Weapons and aircraft like this, deployed by the Strategic Air Command, are the focus of the museum.  That means everything from bombs and missiles to rockets to bombers to…well, let’s just go inside.


This is what greets you in the lobby: an honest to goodness SR-71 Blackbird.  Sigh.  Seeing one of these was on my bucket list.  Touching one (yes, I leaned over the railing) wasn’t something I ever imagined possible.  Yet, here we are.


Right off the bat I was astonished at how BIG this thing is.  I’ve been enamored of this plane since the 1980s, and I thought I was reasonably familiar with its stats as a civilian fanboy, but until one of these things is perched diagonally above your head you will have absolutely ZERO comprehension of its girth.


This is how the SR-71 looked to Russian planes and missiles, although far less distant.  If this thing flew past you at peak speed and you fired a 150 grain 30-06 bullet at it, it would still outrun the bullet by over 300 feet per second.  As a former motorcycle roadracer I can appreciate that kind of speed.  My puny 180mph seems rather insignificant by comparison.

sac_museum_HDR_28342-4One more thing on my bucket list: the Convair B-36 Peacemaker…the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built.  Note the three giant piston engines and rear-facing propellers on this wing…each blade is taller than I.  Then we’ve got the pair of jet engines on the end of the wing for good measure.  As the phrase goes, “Six turnin’, and four burnin’.”  I was able to walk beneath this behemoth’s bomb bay without even ducking my head.  These used to be based out of South Dakota.   Now they’re rare, and none fly.

sac_museum_HDR_28316-18Then we’ve got this beast: the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.  I have encountered one of these in flight before, and I must say it is by far the single loudest sound of any kind that I’ve ever heard.  It was deceptively quiet until the pilot poured it on and shot up to over 70,000 feet.  Even with my custom-made earplugs I was astonished at the noise.

sac_museum_HDR_28517-9Here’s a bright, shiny Soviet Mig-21 fighter jet.  No need for paint, comrade.  It was cool to see the Russian labels stamped into certain parts as well as the way they riveted the panels together.

sac_museum_HDR_28457-9In addition to some other really cool spacecraft and aircraft, this KC-97 Stratotanker was among the largest on display.  As with the other big birds, it had an absolutely hilarious looking front end.  It was also open for tours from time to time, so we got to go up and run around in it.


One other bird on my list was the B-58 Scrambler, a hardcore bomber that set a long list of speed records during its period of service.  Later models had “capsules” for pilots to eject with, because apparently ejecting at supersonic speeds is bad or something.  Huh.


I once made a record run from Dickinson to Bismarck (I won’t quote the time), but nothing like averaging over 900mph for the length of an average work day!  This plane really knew how to rock ‘n’ roll.

Some of my favorite pics are just waiting, eager to be posted.  They’ll come soon.  In the mean time, I would like to share with you the previous iteration of our Cold War Mancation via the links below.

Cold War Mancation Part One: The Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site

Cold War Mancation Part Two: Nekoma Missile Site, Mickelson Safeguard Complex

Cold War Mancation Part Three: The Tower formerly known as OMEGA

Cold War Mancation Part Four: Cavalier Air Station

Cold War Mancation Part Five: Minot

Bonus: The Cold War in North Dakota

There.  That should keep you entertained until I get around to posting some of the REALLY cool photos from the trip.