No free rides

decal_removal_36349I know you’ve seen them: those vinyl letters pasted on the back windows of almost any vehicle sold in Bismarck-Mandan, proclaiming the URL (website address) of the dealership which sold the vehicle.  Often they’re very large, almost always they use a rather unattractive font, and they’ve been a pet peeve of mine since they started popping up.

I’d figured that when I found myself in the position of buying a new vehicle, I’d propose that the dealership either remove said decals before I take the vehicle or give me a $300 payment or credit on the vehicle in exchange for leaving the decals on the car for one year.  After all, advertising has value.  Dealerships pay radio and TV stations to advertise for them.  But as a long time advocate of “if you want something done right, do it yourself” I decided not to do so when buying my wife a vehicle recently.  Also, the sales person is a friend and I didn’t want to dump that kind of conflict in his lap.

This reminds me of the occasional “offer” I receive – and others in the creative and technical fields receive as well – of doing something either for free or for a ridiculously low fee.  Invariably it comes with the promise that “you’ll get your name out there” (without actually saying where “out there” is) as a result of donating my time and work to said offer.

Right.  My name is “out there” plenty, and I have more than enough side work (mostly video, sometimes photo) to keep me busy – especially when juggling kids, a new house, and (from 2013-2015) serious health issues.  I think I’ll pass on such a promise.

In our photo club people who engage in photography and other pursuits for a living urge up-and-coming photographers to charge what they’re worth.  I like to hammer four little words into every such conversation: Your work has value.

So does someone driving around with your website emblazoned across their car window.  In fact, there are places that will pay you to put decals on your car and drive around with them. The car dealerships are well aware of what the product on their lots and in their showrooms is worth.  They’re not afraid to tell you and charge you accordingly.  Therefore they should not be offended if, no hard feelings, you take that new purchase home and promptly scrape off the uncompensated advertising as soon as is convenient.  That’s exactly what I did.  No hard feelings, but nobody rides for free.

Horribly overdue: Driven by Faith car show

car_show_35024A few weeks ago my little guys and I dropped by the Driven by Faith car show in the north lot of BHS, an annual event held for the 11th time by First Lutheran Church.  While cars aren’t really my thing (performance motorcycles are), there were a couple of beauties that caught my eye.


car_show_35027Naturally, one of them is a Corvette.  What’s really cool about this emblem is that it’s actually domed glass with a “bowl” behind it.  Very cool.


car_show_35040Then there’s this Studebaker.  Looks like something out of a Pixar movie, eh?  And purple…VERY purple.

So I’ve sat on these photos long enough.  Now…if I can only get around to my Independence Day parade photos…

Oh, yeah…I forgot. There’s a car down there

dd_car_ip_4620Over a month ago I was poking around with my camera at Double Ditch and forgot to mention that there’s a car at the bottom of the hill.  You don’t see that everyday.


dd_car_ip_4622Chevy Cavaliers normally don’t sit like this.  Looks pretty serene, covered in newly fallen snow, doesn’t it?


dd_car_ip_4621What do you do if you’re an idiot and you find something on the sandbar by the river?  Well, you light it on fire, of course…which is apparently what happened to this vehicle either when it met its untimely demise or when someone with a lighter found it.


dd_car_ip_4628Naturally there’s nothing left of the interior.  What wasn’t stolen before the fire is gone now.


dd_car_ip_4636Naturally I called to report this as soon as I found it.  I’m sure someone had already done so, but I wanted to make sure.  As if a flaming Cavalier (well, more flaming than usual) wouldn’t have attracted attention long, long ago…


double_ditch_car_18465I’m accustomed to finding decades-old cars, or remnants thereof, at the bottom of these cliffs, but I never expected to find a modern day econobox car.  I haven’t been back since that November day, so I don’t know if anything’s been done about it.  I just wish people would treat the area with more respect.

Fighting Falcon

f-16_44794While looking for a photo of a B-2 Stealth Bomber in my collection last night, I came across this really cool F-16 Fighting Falcon photo that I’d totally forgotten. I couldn’t help but process it and share it right away.  One of my little guys loves F-16s; he has a toy one and thinks they’re really fast and cool.  He’s right.  I have a surprise for him.

mafb_nnd_44370That B-2 photo I was looking for?  Here it is.  Still one of my favorite photos ever, because I’m so fortunate to have seen one up close.  By the way, most of the time when it’s approaching or departing it’s almost invisible to the naked eye.  When banking, it looks like a goofy, jagged sliver.  Stealth, indeed.

Hot rods and memories at the BK

hotrod_iphone_2996I drove past the Burger King in Mandan with my family tonight, and my youngest little guy (a big car fan, even at his age) spotted the classic cars and wanted to take a look.

Since my surgeries and my wife’s surgery, along with all the other stuff we’ve gone through, the little boys have been great.  They’ve been cooped up a lot when Mommy and Daddy can’t take ’em places, although we have friends that have stepped in.  But to have actual family time on a summer night like tonight…well, that’s long overdue.  It’s also taught me a sense of perspective.  We were on our way to a specific destination, but I’ve learned to make time for whatever little thing is important to my children.  So we stopped.

The best part about my evening was one of the first: my little guy grabbed my hand, led me around the parking lot, and talked up a storm about all the shiny hot rods on display.  He had a blast, I was on cloud nine, and before long we were all back in the truck and continuing on with our evening.

I often quote one of my favorite songs by Grasshopper Takeover: You can never get it back; you can only let it go.  Well, tonight I didn’t have to let anything go.

A couple of milestones reached

3000_iphone_2462In case you don’t know the story: I’ve been trying to get to the 3,000 mile mark on my mountain bike for the longest time.  Technically speaking, I’m several hundred miles past it…but due to various speedometer failures over the years I’ve never seen it indicated, and therefore I’ve never considered it “official”.  That is, until today.

With my various medical things going on lately, I really didn’t expect to be out on a bike this weekend.  I did ride, though, without anything unusual, and spent part of the trip pulling over at a park to play catch with my oldest little boy (I had mitts, a baseball, and water bottles in my backpack).   I didn’t do anything aggro, no wheelies or endos, and chose to take it easy. The last time I threw caution to the wind on a mountain bike while still recovering from surgery, I tore my kneecap in half and nicked an artery with one of the pieces.  Serious stuff I’d rather not repeat.


3000_iphone_2495I managed to get out on two of my motorcycles tonight, too, and while giving my youngest little boy a ride I noticed that I was about to reach the same milestone on that particular machine.  A few blocks from home the odometer ticked over to 3000.0, and we pulled over for a quick snapshot of photographic proof.  Awesome.

This “new normal” we’re going through right now seems a lot more normal now that I’ve been able to spend some time on two wheels.  Maybe there will be some camera time ahead, too!

One good crane deserves another

st_alexius_crane_29075Two days in a row I was treated to views of people lifting very, very heavy things with machines that look right out of my boyhood Matchbox collection.  This time around was actually a crane lifting a crane, as the sections of a big tower crane were assembled for some ongoing work at St. Alexius.


st_alexius_crane_29089By the time I’d taken the first picture in this post, they had already attached the main part of the crane to the tower.  That just left this 200-foot boom to attach.  It was assembled in pieces on a set of stands, which had to be detached, and then carefully lifted without getting snagged on the tree (right), hitting the stoplight (left), or getting hooked on the streetlight (center).


st_alexius_crane_29135That’s not distortion in my lens, apparently.  I could see the boom of the yellow crane bow visibly under the weight of its payload at that extension.  I pointed it out to one of the crew and he saw it too, so either we’re both nuts or it actually bowed a bit.


st_alexius_crane_29150This is an enormous undertaking, but I’m told that this tower crane will have plenty of work to keep it busy this summer.  In order to even erect this crane, footings had to be prepared for it to be mounted.  It’s self-supporting with no guy wires or anything, so its stability has to come from deep underground.

I actually have some more really neat crane footage that I shot years ago that I may have to re-share here.  I’ve got a lot of respect for these operators, mostly because I could never be patient enough to do their job.  It obviously takes a cool head and a lot of focus to be in control of these cranes, because one mistake could be very expensive and possibly fatal.

So there ya have it…after a long dry spell, I got the camera out of the bag two days in a row!  Not a bad way to round out the week.

An uplifting night, for me and the boat


As part of another First Day of the Rest of My Life, it was a blessing to have a date night with my sweetie as our boys went out with their grandma.  After a satisfying Italian dinner we went for a little cruise and saw that the riverboat was about to be hoisted into the Big Muddy.


riverboat_crane_28950The gigantic crane from CJ (I like those initials, obviously) was already in place, and the conditions appeared to be perfect.  It suddenly occurred to me that, even though I’ve been unable to wield it in a while, I had my camera in the truck.  Since my wife is among the most gracious of women, she agreed that it’d be fun if we stopped to watch and take a few photos.


riverboat_crane_29063Nothing happens quickly with a crane; when heavy things start moving quickly, damage occurs.  After all, mass x velocity = FORCE.  That’s the last thing one needs when balancing a load high above the ground.  Slowly but surely the crew eased the big ol’ boat into the river and held it in place until the pilot could get all systems up and running and power it out into the channel.

You may notice a gap in the sequence of my photos.  That’s because, as a video guy, I felt the urge to actually shoot some video clips of the event.  A time lapse would have been nice, but the dock’s undulating movement from passing watercraft made that more hassle than I’d prefer.  So here are a few video clips I slapped together this morning:

You can view it in high definition on YouTube.  I also saw something else from the dock that was pretty cool, but I’ll be posting that later.

It’s even the perfect color!

lambo_iphone_2124Anyone who knows me knows that I love that Kawasaki Green.  I’ve been a diehard Kawasaki fan for decades and have owned many green bikes over the years, including two of my bikes now.   I have lots of lime green possessions as well, many of which have little or nothing to do with motorcycles.

That’s one reason why I spotted this car from a LONG distance yesterday.  I’m sure many of you saw it making the rounds, or parked at Hu Hot, or wherever else it was cruising around.  Awesome. Lamborghinis have been among my favorite cars since junior high school (I’m sure most boys agree), but they’re a rarity around here.  Maybe the Bakken boom has something to do with their appearance.  Out of respect for the privacy of the owner, I obscured the license plate – but I will say that it was a North Dakota plate.

I heard an unconfirmed report of an orange one in town too, but I’m not sure if that one is very credible.  In any case, they sure do add to the scenery here in Bismarck-Mandan!