So legendary, we outsource stuff like this

I posted earlier about the new North Dakota wordmark done in three varieties of the Futura font, scrambled around and with a round part of the k’s tip removed. It hasn’t been well received online. Many have asked where it originated. Apparently, it came from Minnesota.

According to KNOX radio, a Minnesota design firm was hired to come up with the new branding. If I’m reading this properly, not all of the $10,000 spent went to the wordmark- the way I read this article, I infer that it was part of an overall campaign.  That seems kind of low, so maybe this was a $10,000 piece of the larger rebranding effort.

Again, I agree with Julie at the Lone Prairie Blog that North Dakota should be portrayed as “Legendary”, not its visitors. The experience of coming to our state should be the stuff of legend. This new brand is misguided, and the face of it (see above) is grotesque.

Not only is this logo controversial, but add to the mix that no North Dakota designer was chosen to help with the brand. That isn’t going to go over well.

It took “Legendary” audacity to choose this logo

The state of North Dakota released a new logo today.  Well, to be more accurate, they released a new wordmark today:

The wordmark is simply three versions of the font Futura. The lavender circle is the brush it takes to alter the k.

I’m not sure what about this wordmark says, “North Dakota” aside from the text.


Here’s the old wordmark.  That was a fine piece of work.  Doesn’t it have motion and energy to it?  Doesn’t it fit perfectly with the dynamic Josh Duhamel ad demonstrating the kind of “legendary” experience you can enjoy when you come to North Dakota?  Yup.


I struggle to figure out the new wordmark   Three different versions of the Futura font, arranged in a jumble…but what is it trying to convey?


Now make it smaller.  You know what the eyes lose first? North.  Remember, there are two Dakotas out there.


I noticed that the Tourism Division is still using the old wordmark on their website.

If you want a great comparison of old vs. new, check out my friend Jamie’s post on it.  He’s writing on it from the point of view of a designer, which I am not.

If you want a great exposition of why the “Be Legendary” slogan is misguided, check out my friend Julie’s post on that.  In other words, our state is Legendary, not its visitors.  But read the post.

Designer Ben Brick also makes the point that there needs to be some design function involved in this sort of process, and it doesn’t look like he can find any, either.

Branding is a huge deal, not the sort of thing you want to get wrong.  I don’t know what process resulted in the wordmark above, but I don’t think it’s going to accomplish what they want it to achieve.

Imposter website warning…but it’s been sitting like that for a year and a half

I spotted a Bismarck Tribune article tonight on their website (I don’t subscribe) that caught my eye.  Apparently the Bismarck-Mandan CVB would like you to know that the website is an imposter.  I looked it up on, and the registration information is private (i.e., there isn’t any information to be had).  So, being the curious type, I figured I’d check the ol’ Wayback machine at to see how long this has been going on.


There are a lot of snapshots of the website, going back to 1996.  You can imagine what that one looks like – or check it out yourself.  By looking through the various snapshots, it looks like things went off the rails in 2004 – fourteen years ago.  Between June 18th and September 7th, the website was swept up by some generic web search engine thing.  My guess would be that someone forgot to renew the domain or something, and didn’t know how to get it back.


Here’s how it looked up until the end.  I actually wrote a blog post about those fantastic winged buffalo.  I don’t have a way of pinpointing when exactly things went sour; just that mid-2004 window.  After that it apparently bounced around a bunch.


The current iteration of this site, however, seems to have popped up sometime between October 24th, 2016 and May 12th, 2017.  The theme seems to have been tweaked a little in the past sixteen months, but otherwise it looks the same.

The big question is…why did it take them approximately a year and a half to notice?

Shame on you, KFYR-TV. You should know better.

I was so dismayed to find my former employer handling today’s small plane crash with such amateurish incompetence, I wasn’t even sure how to address it.  Whenever there’s a fatality of any sort, media should take care to give the authorities time to handle notification of loved ones before plastering it all over their pages/airwaves/the net.

I’ve been extremely critical of “those ambulance chasers at KXMB” in the past, but it seems they’ve gotten much better after some personnel and ownership changes over there.  When KFYR-TV was first sold by Meyer Broadcasting, our new employers had an edict on the first page of the new employee handbook that we were not going to engage in sensationalism or irresponsible journalism.  Well, they’re a few owners down the road from those days, but still…

What has me so up in arms?  In the story referenced in the screen shot above, the text of the article on the website even states that authorities are not releasing any information pending notification of family.  Well then, why show the airplane with its N-number clearly visible?

The other local media, KXMB included, used this photo from MCSD.  The tail number is obscured out of respect for the people who are about to get some very awful news from law enforcement.

I have some background in this – I watched an uncle find out about his son’s suicide because the recovery of his body was shown on TV.  There’s no excuse for this sort of thing…a TV news story is gone in minutes, sometimes seconds, without anything to gain from sensationalizing or capitalizing on the grief of others.

Monica and Alan should have known better, especially with their combined experience in this business.  This sort of story requires discretion, and none was shown here.  If it didn’t occur to anyone that they should blurred out or otherwise obscured the tail number of this aircraft, then they can hardly call themselves The News Leader.

The public and family of the deceased pilot deserve an apology for this one.

(UPDATED) Might be time to hop off the sinking MoviePass ship

So, I went to the Grand to see a movie tonight.  I didn’t get to do so.  My plan was to use my MoviePass card; my buddy Dave Ramsey encouraged our family to get a budget on paper, and this month didn’t include any more movies.  Thanks to MoviePass, I went home while the other seven people in our party went in.

The cryptic message above leads me to believe that MoviePass has started to ration how many tickets it’ll allow at any given theater at any given time.  That isn’t the agreement I signed up for in Fall of 2017.  I’ve heard of them doing all kinds of funky stuff lately, from tracking a person’s movements before and after a movie to changing the number of movies a person can see with the subscription.  They’ve gone back and forth on some of these things, but they’re clearly messing with the terms of the service.


By the way, I decided to search by the movie (“Solo”, we’re nerds) instead of by theater to see if that would work.  Nope.  And, in fact, the app wouldn’t let me buy a ticket for that movie at the AMC theater across the way (as if I’d want to see a movie in a mall theater anyway, when we’ve got the awesome Grand Theaters).  So there’s clearly another game afoot.  I’d heard rumors that the service was going to selectively choose which movies it’d promote in some markets, presumably as a way to “encourage” the studios to buy-in to working with the service.  Now it’s affecting us here in Bismarck-Mandan.  It looks like I was mistaken on this part: the showings which were not supported were probably 3D, but I checked again the next morning to find that 2D showings were available.  I’d heard that MoviePass had blocked other movies in some markets, and jumped to conclusions.

I was an early adopter of MoviePass in its $9.99 iteration, and an evangelist to boot.  Now, I’m ready to cancel my subscription and advise against signing up for the service.  If you can arrive at a movie, MoviePass in hand, only to find out that it won’t allow you to purchase a ticket, you can end up like me with your evening plans dashed.  I can’t recommend a service like that.

Early on, company CEO Mitch Lowe said that they were targeting people like me, who only see a movie theater 1-3 times a year.  Even if we triple our movie consumption with a MoviePass card, seeing 3-9 movies a year, they come out ahead.  And let’s face it, 9 movies a year worth seeing is giving Hollywood way more credit than they deserve.   But hey, it looked like a decent way to see a movie even if I don’t have any cash in my pocket at the moment, and I could always make sure I see at least a movie a month so I can feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

Well, that was conditional on the card and app working when I show up at the ticket counter.  Since that’s now a gamble, and our family has a bona fide budget that even Dave Ramsey will be proud of, why don’t I just budget for a movie or two each month and call it good?  Then I won’t have the uncertainty of MoviePass to contend with.

I’ve put in a support request with MoviePass to see if I can get an explanation.  Even so, I think I’m just going to cut out the uncertainty and set aside money for tickets to the movies I anticipate wanting to see.  I’ve looked ahead at the list of upcoming movie releases for 2018, and I can find maybe six movies that I’d rather see on a big screen instead of waiting for Redbox.  Even a couple of those are questionable…why not see them for a lot less money on the 60″ 4K TV in my home, with much more comfort and cheaper concessions?  And I won’t get turned away at the last minute; reserving a Redbox movie doesn’t have to be done within a geofenced area near the machine, and it guarantees I’ll be able to get the movie instead of sulking home empty-handed as I did tonight.

If you’ve been considering a MoviePass subscription, you might want to hold off until they get some more stability.  If you’ve already got one, I hope your experience has been better than mine.  I told every friend I knew about how great the service was when it worked, and even explained that I hadn’t experienced any weird issues that the Internet was buzzing about.  But now, with local proof that the service may not be what it promised, I’m one step away from walking away from it forever.

The big question is, why do these kids hate Jews?

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The mainstream media is talking about this brave uprising of kids who are fed up with violence in their schools, but nobody’s asking who is really pulling the strings on this deal.  The same is true for the Bismarck Tribune, who failed to ask the question: who’s behind all the walkouts?


The short answer is:a leftist activist group tied to a number of such events, part of that “community organizing” thing that our previous president was so active in doing.  One of the local students is even listed on that organization’s website, proving that this is no organic, spontaneous, local reaction to a Florida tragedy.  The Women’s March organization is the puppet master.


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So what do those people think about America?  Oh, it’s a litany of leftist screeds:

  • America is unfair to people of color;
  • The whole “militarized police” thing we heard during the NODAPL mess;
  • The USA is imperialist.

Yawn.  Name the event, name the issue, it’s like a broken record with these people.  But they’re the ones sending Bismarck High School students out to the sidewalk.  Did you read any of that in the Bismarck Tribune?


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So we know what the group behind the BHS students believes, but it gets worse: they’re spotted praising Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, who recently told Chicago that Jews are “satanic”.  Yet he’s the GOAT (“greatest of all time”) according to the co-chair of the Women’s March.  Even the liberal WNYC has to point out that “Half of the board of the Women’s March organization is facing criticism for its alleged alliances with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who delivered a virulently anti-Semitic and bigoted speech in Chicago last month.”

Call me a cynic if you like, but if there was a bunch of pro-life kids that staged a walk-out to oppose the horrors of abortion killing way more children in the womb than guns ever will in the classroom, they’d be asked a lot of tough questions.  They’d be accused of being puppets of some right-wing organization.  If someone associated with someone associated with someone in a pro-life group made offensive or loony comments at a meeting somewhere, the entire group of kids and anyone near them would be associated with those comments.  If there was ANY way to call them Racist™ or connect them to anyone making Racist™ comments, there would be a blitzkrieg to do so. The last thing they’d be called is brave, and nobody would be clamoring for them to get the right to vote so they could overturn that sacred Roe v. Wade decision.

The fact of the matter is, these kids are voicing opinions with which the media agrees.  That makes everything OK, and pay no attention to the man (or in this case, women) behind the curtain. And whatever you do, don’t connect the dots to show the wicked ideologies at play here.

Which leads me back to my original question: why do these kids hate Jews?  If they don’t, maybe they should pick their allegiances more carefully.  If they didn’t know what kind of people they’re aligning with, perhaps they should get more informed before they march out into the streets.

(If you think it’s unfair to attach the anti-semitic comments of Farrakhan to these students, well…welcome to how conservatives are treated.  The media find some tinfoil-hat wacko out on the Internet somewhere, then call up prominent conservatives and demand that they respond to those comments as if they’re associated.  They try to always keep the people they oppose on the defensive.

But in this case, there’s a clear connection between the parties involved.  The kids organized with people who love a career bigot and hateful activist.  They need to be asked about this association.  If they don’t like it, they need to denounce it.  Publicly.)

Blast from North Dakota’s stereoscopic past

It all started when I started going through a box of old toys and things that my mom dropped off at the house.  Most of it was old stuff that was in disrepair or otherwise unusable (such as an old Commodore 64 that I can emulate on my PC), and ended up being discarded.  The two items above, however, caught my eye.  Both eyes, actually.

One of them had a disc in it (they were called “reels”), but I didn’t find any other reels.  One of my favorites as a little kid was one about dinosaurs, and I’d sure love to find that one again for old time’s sake.  But I started thinking about this vintage technology and couldn’t help but wonder…are there any North Dakota-related View-Master reels?

It didn’t take long on eBay before I discovered a set of reels from 1956, and of course I had to have them.


This arrived shortly after I fervently clicked Buy It Now – a new, unopened 1956 set of three View-Master slides portraying North Dakota tourist attractions!


The pack contained three reels, an insert describing the the photos portrayed, and a couple of order forms for other Sawyer products.  Sawyer invented the View-Master, and is no longer in business.  The company’s View-Master division has traded hands a few times.


These are the three reels in their protective sleeves.  Even though the paper package has never been opened, the film slides in the reels have a slight bubbling to them.  I’m guessing they’re some sort of acetate film medium that does this sort of thing after sixty years.


The reels are in pretty good shape, although they do have some dust and that sort of thing.  Parts of the reels are slightly bubbled as if they have pimples, and there was some powder in the sleeves, but otherwise they’re totally fine.

Naturally we threw them into a film scanner, although it took some rigging.  Want to see some of my favorites?


Here’s the capitol building, long before the Judicial Wing was constructed (or probably even conceived).  I like the water tower on the east side.  Who knew there were trees on the mall, my favorite frisbee spot?


Here’s an entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I may try to find this monument and take a current photo.  A friend of mine recently did that with the tree at the nearby entrance to the campground west of Medora, a tree which appeared in a family photo from his childhood.


Here’s a dam photo.  I was just up at the tail race with my kids a week or so ago, and the water was nowhere near this high.  I just looked at the photos from that day and I guess it was closer than I thought, but this is still a high level.  Remember, the dam was only officially completed in the early 1950s and didn’t begin its work as a hydroelectric power plant until 1956 or even 1960, depending on which source you consult.


Back to the capitol.  The Pioneer Family monument no longer has the fence around it, and the marble posts are long gone.  I have a postcard of this somewhere as well.  Again, I love the water tower.


It wouldn’t be North Dakota without a farming photo or two.  The harvesting equipment of today is significantly larger, and of course there’s the GPS and air conditioning.


Here’s another example of things being bigger now: lignite coal mining equipment.  The draglines I’ve done video and photo work on north of here weigh in at up to thirteen million pounds (13,000,000)!  The coal haulers have a 160 ton or greater capacity, too.


Here’s the front of the insert.   Click on the photo for a full size (ie, legible) version.


And, of course, the back.  Click for the readable size image.


And, because I can’t change who I am, I spotted a typo.  I think maybe someone had Fargo on the brain when they wrote the section about “Tiago”.  Hey, at least they didn’t call us South Dakota!


I may post some additional images from these reels down the road, we’ll see.  We only scanned one of each image, it might be interesting to take a crack at scanning both.  What am I talking about?  Well, the View-Master is stereoscopic, meaning that the creators of these reels took photos with two cameras spaced slightly apart.  For each image you see, there’s a left one and a right one.  So you get 3D depth perception as you do in real life.  It’s wonderful.  But I currently lack the ambition to scan both perspectives of each of these images and don’t really have a plan for how I’d combine them into a 3D-viewable digital image anyway.

Certainly some of you have enjoyed View-Master reels?  Feel nostalgic yet?

Don’t sic the NCAA on the Bismarck Tribune for its Hostile and Abusive™ content

bistrib_20160425While reading an article in the Bismarck Tribune today, titled “Power of old bones stops $10 million job”, I came upon the above paragraph and the inconvenient history therein.  Not only do they use a name that dare not be used in collegiate athletics these days, they also betray the myth that everything here in the Buffalo Commons was rainbows, butterflies, and loincloths until the wicked settlers came.

Quite honestly, I’m surprised that anyone is even allowed to speak like this anymore, in the era of “safe spaces” and “hate speech”.  Hopefully the NCAA doesn’t see this!

“Stay Classy, KX News” (ambulance chasing continues at KXMB)

kxmb_sensationalism_1I noticed some outrage on social media yesterday about the fact that KXMB was showing the feet of Bismarck-Mandan’s latest murder victim, pictured at the scene of the crime.  Upon reviewing the news story myself I also noticed a shot that looked like it was a little too Peeping-Tom for my tastes.


kxmb_sensationalism_2It looked as if the KX crew was trying to shoot between pallets and get video of the officers checking out the body.  As KXMB guest anchor Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay Classy, KX News”.


This is no departure from a long legacy of ambulance chasing at KXMB.  I’ve written about it extensively before as one instance of this behavior caused a great deal of pain for my extended family.  How’d you like to find out your son is dead because it was on Channel 12?  The fact of the matter is that to anyone who knew the victim, especially those close to her, those aren’t feet.  They are HER.  DEAD.  Is branding that image into the minds of people who are now grieving the loss of a loved one worth whatever feather KX News feels is placed in its journalistic cap?

The first time I pointed this out got me a call from a former KX news personality who was all lawyered up and demanding that I take any criticism off the Internet (as if anything can be removed from the world wide web).

The second time I pointed this out my blog was removed from the KX Net’s websites, who were syndicating it with my permission.  Apparently they couldn’t take any open scrutiny of their news practices.

When I worked at KFYR-TV the employee manual stated that any sensationalism in the news would not be tolerated.  Nobody had to tell us that; it was a matter of professionalism.  It was reinforced in writing and in detail when an out of state company bought the Meyer Broadcasting stations.  Maybe the out of state company that bought KXMB should put a lid on irresponsible behavior like this.

Why you’re swimming in both kinds of music: country AND western

kbmr_36383This little bugger is known as 1059580, which to the average person is KBMR 1130 AM.  It sits over on East Rosser Avenue, right in the backyards of some Bismarck residents.  And it’s putting out 10,000 watts of your favorite country classics.  Unfortunately it’s putting it in some rather troublesome places.

Anecdote: when I was working at a local TV station years ago, our on-air talent began complaining that they were hearing “country music” in their IFB earpieces.  At first we thought they were nuts (after all, they are broadcasters) but eventually had to switch to wireless earpieces.  One of the station engineers figured out that the offending signal was coming in through the power lines.

I recently came across this situation again with an audio mixer that proved susceptible to this phenomenon.  When I’d adjust the microphone preamps I would be treated to a twangy jam instead of the audio source on the other end of the wire.  I ended up switching to a different mixer to get rid of the result.

I’ve also had instances east of town where I couldn’t leave a microphone cable on the concrete floor without picking up KBMR and had to switch to wireless.  What a joy.

A friend of mine who used to work over by the Coca-Cola plant said he could hook up to his filing cabinet and get his dose of the classic country.  I don’t know if he could feel his teeth tingle, but maybe that’s just reserved for the people who live right next to this tower.

I’m just a layman and possess no engineering or electrical degrees, but I think I know the issue:


kbmr_towerThe image above shows KBMR’s tower, which these days is located behind the studio building, in relation to two big electrical junctions: the Western Area Power Administration and Montana-Dakota Utilities.  Remember how I said the engineer traced the interference to the power coming into the building?  By the way, those are people’s homes in the left edge of the photo.

What I’m wondering out loud is whether it’s a good idea to be throwing 10,000 watts of radio frequency energy into the local electrical grid.   In one of our trucks, if I drive alongside the power lines on the south side of Century Avenue, KBMR even bleeds into KFYR 550 AM.  Not an ideal situation.  It seems as though being adjacent to two substations turns the electrical wires into a giant antenna array.

My understanding is that KBMR’s daytime tower (they go low-power at night) used to be east of Menoken.  When Anderson Broadcasting began building 710 AM KXMR, they moved all operations of KBMR to the in-town stick and used the Menoken tower as part of a directional array for 710.  I can’t find an online paper trail of this using the FCC’s page, because their site and search aren’t very intuitive.  But that’s my foggy recollection.


kbmr_2My contention is that if KBMR’s full-power signal was beaming 10,000 watts on 1130 kHz from this site east of Menoken, people wouldn’t be picking up Merle Haggard in their dental work and houses on 35th Street wouldn’t require filters on their telephones.  But that’s just me… I’m just a simple caveman when it comes to this stuff.  As a video professional, though, I sure wish I didn’t have to chase this signal out of my microphones when recording within the Bismarck city limits.  I grew up listening to classic country & western music with my dad, but there are times I wish it would only come out of my radio and nothing else.