Well, there are many ways…but this is one. My wife was at a friend’s, painting a portrait of some sort, and on her way home she stopped to grab this photo for me! I didn’t even know they were doing this in the windows. I have to admit, when she first said there was a giant “6” in the front windows I didn’t connect it to the Bison. Duh. I’m glad she’s got an eye out for things like this! Now I don’t have to go out in the cold tonight.
Category Archives: Cool
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?
And the sound of air horns was heard by all
Last weekend Main Street in Mandan was home to Touch a Truck, put on by the Mandan Progress Association. If you were coming into Mandan from the east and didn’t know what the heck the DOT sign flashing “TOUCH TRUCKS AHEAD” meant, your confusion probably only lasted a moment until you saw all the crane booms up ahead.
There were all kinds of trucks and various other equipment, with the cranes being the most prominent. There were road striping trucks, sanitation trucks, bucket trucks, the works.
Of course, one doesn’t have to be a piece of heavy equipment or possess hydraulics with super powers to be an awesome truck. The Bookmobile was there, too. And it looked like it was getting a lot of attention from the kids.
See the giant crane? Well, each of the four hydraulic cylinders holding it in the air is fed by a trio of the tiny little metal elbows you can see me pointing at on the left. Crazy.
My favorite thing about the cranes, how they hoist Old Glory. The colors were on display and waving in the breeze.
Tractors and other big equipment was present as well. They may not have air horns like some of the other trucks, but they have plenty of stuff to climb on and buttons to push.
Then there were the mini excavators, which were a hit. I think there was a line to see them at one point.
This is only a drill. There, I did it. You can’t stop me. My kids don’t think I’m funny either.
Balloon animals were available, or in the case of my kids balloon swords. Guess how long those lasted before popping in battle. En garde!
Another attraction that amounts to playing in the box the toy came in: These sections of conduit were a hit with the kids, who climbed in and promptly insisted their parents roll them around on the grass. Yes, I did it too…rolling, not climbing inside.
These guys are heroes every time I place an order with B&H or Amazon.com. Note the flag in the background.
I never get tired of shots like this. The weather was perfect, the skies cleared enough to give me a sunburn by the end of the day, and the breeze kept everything comfortable and the flags waving.
One time my kids saw me running camera for a monster truck show, getting closeups of giant trucks doing wheelies and burnouts. The next day my wife took them to watch me on a rooftop, shooting video and stills of a helicopter doing touch-n-go’s on a helipad. When I was tucking them in, I asked if they thought their Daddy had a pretty cool job. “Yeah,” was the reply, “But did you know that Uncle [my brother-in-law] is a mailman?” He’d subbed in our neighborhood and let them walk his route with him for a bit, totally stealing my thunder.
It’s a small crane, but the kids got to operate it…lifting and moving a small load using the tethered controller.
This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Boom town”, doesn’t it? I just made that up right now as I’m typing. Seriously.
I bet I could set off these scales nowadays…I need to bike more and shovel less food into my head. But when I keep coming up with things like blueberry ice cream float recipes, that isn’t very easy. Actually, these scales did weigh my kids, so they don’t just work for heavy things.
This was a fantastic event, with lots of fun for kids and big kids. I sure hope they do this again next year! I may bring ear plugs next time, though, because they let the kids tug the air horns in the trucks. It was a wonderful cacophony, don’t get me wrong, but they get pretty loud!
It’s a first, so you bet I was there
It’s past my bedtime, so I’m just going to share the photos. I didn’t get out until after I got my kids put to bed, and I let them stay up late in the first place. One more benefit of homeschooling.
Thanks to the legislature, this will be an annual event commemorating the men and women of law enforcement in our state.
Show of support
We North Dakotans, residents of Bismarck-Mandan in particular, love our law enforcement personnel. The last eight months haven’t just been trying on them, but on the community as a whole, and as a result I think the bond between citizens and LEOs has been forged even stronger. You’ve probably noticed many cars sporting the above decals, which I believe are still available at Signs and Wonders along with other places.
Understanding that relationship, I put together this quick meme early on in the conflict. It may seem prescient now, but I really just understand the fact that our community respects those who put it all on the line to keep our community safe and uphold the law.
And we ain’t done yet. Back the Blue billboards have sprung up around town, events are in the works to celebrate the law enforcement community, and there’s even legislation in the works to honor them.
Yes, that’s right. Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 (PDF) will not only designate a special day as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor fallen law enforcement officers, but it also calls for a blue light display to adorn the capitol on an annual basis. I made this hasty mock-up as an example of what I can envision the capitol looking like each May. (Yeah, without the snow. I discovered that I haven’t actually taken any night time photos of the capitol unless the windows are all lit up with something, so I had to do some heavy-handed Photoshop on the easiest shot I had available. Cut me some slack.)
The resolution has been in the House awaiting a floor vote since March 20th. If you feel motivated, let your legislators know how important it is that SCR 4015 gets passed.
So yeah, we support our law enforcement. I sure hope that their tough jobs are made a little easier by knowing that they’ve got the appreciation of North Dakotans that respect them, pray for them, and acknowledge that (while nobody’s perfect) they protect our communities with dedication and professionalism.
Backing the Blue on the road less traveled
For the past few months, Highway 1806 has pulled different duty than usual. If you don’t live south of Mandan or have things to do at Huff Hills or Fort Lincoln, you probably haven’t been down this road in a long time. Oh, unless you’re in law enforcement, that is.
This pallet is a nice way for someone to Back the Blue on that road, as plenty of law enforcement would go by over the period of several months. I’ve seen a lot of things done with pallets, but this one has got to be my favorite! I’m all for showing our community’s appreciation for our law enforcement heroes.
Hornets visit Bismarck-Mandan in February (updated)
I got a tip that a group of F-18s were inbound for Bismarck yesterday, so I took a long lunch break to wait for them to arrive. I love few things as much as military aircraft, despite being afraid of flying myself.
Aren’t they breathtaking? There was a group of seven of them en route to Washington state, returning from a few weeks in Florida. A friend of mine who moved up here from Pensacola said he got to see F-18s in the air all the time. That’d be amazing, until you’re trying to take a nap with the Sound of Freedom roaring overhead.
Three of the planes stopped in Sioux Falls, but four of them were able to come to the Bizzo and tank up on fuel from Executive Air and pizza from A&B (of course). If you were only in North Dakota for an hour or two and wanted pizza, wouldn’t you pick the best too? I actually think it may have been complimentary for them. Awesome.
I watched as one truck was drained dry and another came up to finish the task. Perhaps it’s good that they weren’t trying to top off all seven!
Nice tail. Just sayin’. I’ve been told that these are F-18F Super Hornets, which are two seater models and used for electronic warfare. They’re part of VAQ-129, an Electronic Attack Squadron based out of Whidbey Island naval air station in Puget Sound, Washington.
These pods on the wings house antennae. Lots of ’em, apparently. So since it’s the navy, the wings gotta fold anyway (for carrier space limitations?) but I’m guessing they also want to protect these from damage. I forgot to ask if that’s a secondary reason why they folded ’em up when they parked.
If I was expected to fuel up visiting aircraft on a daily basis, I’d absolutely live for days when a pack of military jets roll in for some juice. I’d probably be humming the Top Gun theme, even though they flew F-14s in the movie.
Love the colors on that bubble. It takes a while to fuel four of these, which thankfully left plenty of time for conversation. A friend’s brother is one of the crew here, so we got to chat him up about the flight. They were all very nice and accommodating.
Joe gives an interview to…somebody. Since I don’t work in television anymore I have no idea who most of the reporters are. I haven’t seen any reports online, and the cameras these days are too small to slap a logo upon, so your guess is as good as mine.
Last one to get gas. Yes, they do actually have Navy credit cards they use to pay for their fuel, one per plane. How’d you like those bonus points?
Then it was time to fire ’em up. What’s cool about these is that they can start themselves; no need for an APU to power ’em up and get the engines turning. No remote starter, though, although we joked about that.
Then, with a wave it was time to roll out, one at a time. They didn’t leave close together, as you can probably tell from the open cockpit in the back. I suppose they bunched up later after everyone was in the air and headed westward.
I took a little ShakyCam™ (I haven’t trademarked that, but I should) video of the arrival and departure. Using a still photo lens not suited for video, I still got some passable results. I do enough video work with actual video cameras that I don’t care to do it with still cameras, but if I do more of this I’ll probably have to nab a stabilizer rig to have with me. Anyway, here’s the video. If you view it full screen it’ll be 1080p.
It has been a LONG time since I’ve been able to get out with my camera. This was incredibly therapeutic, even if it was dreadfully cold outside. Getting some photo time feels GREAT!
Uh oh … we could have a LOT more mouths to feed
My youngest boy catches the strangest things as if it’s second nature. That’s why I was elated but not altogether surprised when he brought home Mantie the praying mantis. She’s huge, ferocious, and entertaining. We even let her spend a few days at the boys’ dentist’s office, where I’m told she was a big hit. And now she’s about to have company.
As you can see in the photo above, she’s just laid an enormous egg sac. We suspected this was coming; she’d been blimping out like crazy since we got her. Male mantises are much smaller than Mantie, and often don’t survive the mating process, so I had no doubt that Mantie was a girl. Whether or not she was going to lay eggs was another matter. Finding a praying mantis in North Dakota is rare enough; what are the odds of that mantis getting a date?
I’m told that there could be upwards of 200 little Manties in there. While I’m okay with keeping a cricket farm for Mantie’s nutritional needs, I have no idea where I can get aphids – especially enough to feed a dinner part of 200 – so I’m planning on stashing the egg sac out by the water behind our house. It should ride out just fine until Spring, and then maybe I’ll have an army of mantises to take care of mosquitoes. Wouldn’t that be cool?
The trick now is to get the egg sac outside in the cold so it doesn’t hatch. Otherwise the warm indoor air will trigger something for which we’re entirely unprepared. Yikes!
A visit to my favorite local 2,063 footer
On the way home from Fargo last weekend I decided to show my boys the fourth tallest man-made object in the world: KVLY’s tower near Blanchard. It was weird stopping by there as a former employee of NBC in North Dakota, but I still take pride in this structure. It’s a biggun, as they say. The massive structure above is just one set of guy wires and anchor holding it in place.
This tower is enormous, and for quite some time was the tallest man-made object in the world. It has since been dethroned, but aside from the Burj Khalifa its competition edges it out by fewer than ten feet. There’s phone booth sized elevator that goes up the center of this tower…scary. Rumor has it that the former chief engineer would ride up on top of the elevator so that second person could ride inside to go up the tower. I never asked him.
I haven’t been inside this building for a while. Structures near towers like this have heavily reinforced roofs, as enormous chunks of ice come crashing down over the winter and spring months. In fact, I’m pretty sure one has to make a mad dash for the building if going out there in the winter! Facilities built early enough, like this one, have living quarters inside…a throwback to the days when an engineer actually remained on site during all hours of transmitter operation.
Silhouette. Can you imagine how long a shadow this tower casts on a winter day? Its counterpart, by the way, is nearby… a short little 2,060 footer. That tower, belonging to fellow Valley News Live station KXJB, fell twice: once after being struck by a helicopter, and a second time during the storms of 1997.
I’m so accustomed to dropping by this tower when in the neighborhood, hoping the engineers might be there servicing the transmitter, that I didn’t even stop to check if they’ve posted the access road. If you go out this way, check that out. I’m just used to the old days of being able to approach, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been “in the neighborhood”. But something this big has to be seen. If you want more information, Wikipedia is probably your best bet. I don’t think the Valley News Live page has the same tower information page that the old KVLY site did.
I had to see it for myself
After we got done with the video gig for the bull riding last night, I decided to get a photo of this giant spinning ice disk. A friend with Mandan PD told me where to find it, so I ventured out to get a nice nighttime shot of it. I’ve seen video of it on TV and Facebook as well as a few photos, but I wanted to see if I could add my own perspective to it. Pretty cool!
It’s supposed to be warm today…I wonder if this will survive the warmth?