After years of driving Divide Avenue, I couldn’t take it any more

The life of a freelancer does not jive well with sleeping normal hours (or at all, some days).  The past month and a half has been insane and, while I’ve been buying a lot of gear and software with the proceeds, I haven’t actually gotten to use any of it for my own enjoyment.  Yet.

You know how I say, “The best camera is the one you have with you!” ad nauseum?  Well, in this case I took my iPod Touch out to snap a quick pic with some Photoshop in mind.

winger_aptsEvery time I drive down East Divide Avenue and pass the Winger Apartments, I can’t help but start singing “Seventeen” or “Down Incognito”.  I’m not a Winger fan, but I’m aware of the body of work.  So in this case I dug up a photo of Kip Winger, threw it in the foreground, and while it is not my finest work it at least got this out of my system.

If I was a renter here I’d get a cardboard standup of Winger and put it in the window.  How many folks do you think would get it?

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.

TEN YEARS and 3,500 photos later, still playing all the angles

capitol_2006This is the photo that started it all on January 1st, 2006.  Ten years ago.  Wow.  A lot has changed since then. Not only am I much more occupied with work, freelance work, and being a husband and Daddy, but I’ve also had to ride out some major health issues and lots of moving: moving my family into a new house, moving my studio/office at work, and moving my church.  So I don’t post daily anymore, but I do share what I can.  I keep thinking that soon enough I will be able to get out with my cameras more.  Meanwhile, I took some time to chase down even more photos like the one above:


2016_capitol_36268-70_hdrThis angle looks so straightforward, doesn’t it?  The fact is, I only recently discovered it.  This is actually taken from down Sixth Street a little ways.  That’s the best way to get the NORTH DAKOTA CAPITOL sign in the shot without having it dominate the photo.  Getting farther away gets a perspective that matches it in size with the pioneer statue, and allows both of them to grow in relation to the capitol tower.  It’s a fun shot to get, but not when there’s a lot of traffic whizzing across the frame on Boulevard Avenue.


_MG_36217Here’s what I’m talking about.  If you just go to the bottom of the mall and take a photo from the road, this what you get.  The capitol sign is large, the tower is small, and the pioneer statue is all but indistinguishable.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to venture farther away and set up my shot down 6th Street before this, but I’m thankful for this year’s epiphany.


2016_capitol_36191-3_hdrThe parking lots on the north side of the capitol were redone a year or two ago, and that opened up this shot from the backside of the legislative wing.  Previously this angle was obscured by trees, and I’m sure it will be once again someday as newly planted ones grow to adult heights, but for now I have a brand new perspective on the capitol that was not possible when I first started doing this bloggin’ thang.


2016_capitol_36308-10_hdrThis year I had a clear sky at sunset and decided to try something a little different.  I’ve had a blast taking shots of the entire capitol complex from the northeast hill and posting it as my blog’s Facebook cover photo.  That’s fine, since it’s such a wide angle shot that it crops very nicely into the 851×315 dimensions required by Facebook.  But what about a traditionally framed shot?  Well, rather than worry about the DOT / Heritage Center buildings I opted this time to pan west toward the sunset and include only the judicial and legislative wings of the capitol along with the tower.  It worked great with the peachy sunset colors, too.

Well, here’s to another ten years!  It looks like I’ve posted in the neighborhood of 3,500 photos so far.  I sure hope I have plenty more photos and musings to share!

A brilliant new feature at the state capitol

capitol_new_star_36168If you’re like me and enjoy taking in the sight of the decorated capitol building each Christmas, then I’m sure you noticed something brilliantly new this year about the decorations.  In fact, it is visible from a long distance away: the new lighting on the stars atop the tower.


capitol_new_star_36181An interesting anecdote about these stars: my best friend’s dad built them and, in an old-school display of awesomeness, airlifted them to the top of the tower with a National Guard helicopter.  This was about 45 years ago.  They have since been touched up with welding to repair corrosion on the tips, had their mounts modified, been updated with different lighting sometime in the 80s, and they now sport some awesome LED light bars.


capitol_new_star_36190Like a nice, white, star-shaped cherry on top.  At a friend’s house on the big hill directly east of the tower, you can still see the stars from a 90 degree angle.  They originally caught my eye from east Century Avenue!  In other words, these stars are extremely visible and make a fantastic accent to the Christmas decoration of the tower windows.

I don’t care if today is the 29th.  Merry Christmas!

My Christmas music playlist for 2015

Charlie-Brown-ChristmasI know, Christmas is so yesterday.  Literally.  But I don’t care, I’m going to continue the Christmas spirit for a while. One of the things I do is to pump Christmas music out on  102.5 FM using an extremely low-power FCC-legal transmitter, allowing me to turn on a radio anywhere on my property and listen to the music playing on my garage computer.  I love Christmas music, and it’s great to be able to have it on in the background wherever I may be when I’m at home.

If you’re into Christmas music, I invite you to peruse this meticulously prepared Christmas playlist.  Clocking in at nine hours and fifty minutes in duration, it’s enough to play throughout the day with nary a repeat.  There are some real gems here, and I have no problem admitting that I’m a little proud of the collection I’ve curated this year.   They appear in no particular order; in fact, I went out of my way to randomize them.

Next year I will have to select a new frequency, as Dakota Media Access will be broadcasting on that frequency.  Now worries, a flip of a few DIP switches and I’ll be happy as a clam on another vacant frequency.  My sincere hope is that some of you take the time to check out some of these songs on iTunes and enjoy them for yourselves in future Christmases.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Bing Crosby
The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year – Burl Ives
Gabriel’s Message – Sting
Jingle Bells – Count Basie Orchestra
Yabba-Dabba Yuletide (extended) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
Deck the Halls – Mannheim Steamroller
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – The Andrews Sisters
He Shall Reign Forevermore (Live) – Chris Tomlin
Christmas Candles – The Andrews Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby
The Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
Winter Wonderland – The Andrews Sisters
I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby
Sleigh Bells – Gene Autry
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Mistletoe & Holly – Robert Davi
Song of the Sleighbells – June Hutton
Silent Night – Jingle Cats
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy (With Dialogue) – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Silent Night (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Frankie Carle and His Orchestra
A Merry Christmas At Grandmother’s (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix) – Andy Williams
Christmas in Killarney – Bing Crosby
Here Comes Santa Claus [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Alphabet – The McGuire Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Dreaming – Seth MacFarlane
Look Out the Window – Gene Autry & Rosemary Clooney
Christmas Dinner Country Style – Bing Crosby
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer – Dr. Elmo
Here We Come A-Caroling – The New Christy Minstrels
The Reindeer Boogie – Hank Snow
That’s What Christmas Means to Me – Eddie Fisher
The Things We Did Last Summer – Dean Martin
What Child Is This – Vince Guaraldi Trio
We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith
Peppermint Winter – Owl City
Twelve Days of Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The First Snowfall (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller
Happy Holidays – Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus
O Holy Night – Ray Conniff Singers
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
What God Wants For Christmas – Darius Rucker
It Snowed – Meaghan Smith
When It’s Christmas on the Range – Bob Wills
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Christmas on the Plains – Roy Rogers
A Marshmallow World – Dean Martin
Suzy Snowflake – Dale Evans
Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
Jingle Bells – Dean Martin
The Christmas Song – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Nuttin’ for Christmas – Barry Gordon
The Walk – Dickon Hinchliffe
Silent Night – Dean Martin
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures
Away in a Manger – Jeannie C. Riley
I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Single) – Bing Crosby
Star of Wonder – Sufjan Stevens
O Come, O Come – MercyMe
Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby
It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
Silver Bells – Dean Martin
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
O Fir Tree Dark (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The Littlest Angel – Bing Crosby
Thirty Two Feet, Eight Little Tails – Dale Evans
Christmas the Whole Year Round – Sabrina Carpenter
We Are Santa’s Elves – Burl Ives
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers – The Andrews Sisters
Sleigh Ride – The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song – Mel Tormé
Joy to the World – Percy Faith
O Tannenbaum – Naturally 7
Mele Kalikimaka (the Hawaiian Christmas Song) [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells – Barry Manilow
Christmas Island – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
O Holy Night – Sufjan Stevens
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
Christmas Carols by the Old Corral – Tex Ritter
If Santa Could Bring You Back to Me – Jimmy Wakely
Great Pumpkin Waltz – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Old Tex Kringle – Tex Ritter
Here Comes Santa Claus – Gene Autry
Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
The Winter Solstice – Sufjan Stevens
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Bing Crosby
White Christmas (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song (Chestnut Song) – Love Tractor
Humbug – Greg Lake
Peace On Earth / Silent Night – Dean Martin
Winter Wonderland (Bonus Track) – Jason Mraz
Auld Lange Syne – The Lonesome Travelers
Silver And Gold – Burl Ives
Silver Bells – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
Christmastime Again – MercyMe
Where Did My Snowman Go? – Gene Autry
Christmas Medley (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
Frosty the Snowman – Bing Crosby
What a Glorious Night – Sidewalk Prophets
Angels We Have Heard On High – Aretha Franklin
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Pat-A-Pan / While Shepherds Watched Their Flock – Bing Crosby
I Saw Three Ships – Sting
Für Elise – Vince Guaraldi Trio
White Christmas – Dean Martin
I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus – The Andrews Sisters
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – David Seville & The Chipmunks
Jingle Bells – The Singing Dogs
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Mitch Miller & The Gang
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Dean Martin
Poppa Santa Claus (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
O Holy Night – John Williams & Chorus
Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling – The Andrews Sisters
Silent Night – Eddy Raven
December Prayer – Idina Menzel
Blue Christmas – Dean Martin
Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Faith of Our Fathers (Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Jingle Jingle – Burl Ives
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Bing Crosby
Only at Christmas Time – Sufjan Stevens
Blue Snowflakes – Ernest Tubb
The Closing Of The Year (Reprise) – Happy Workers (“Toys” Soundtrack)
Up On the Housetop – Gene Autry
Jangle Bells – Love Tractor
My Little Drum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You (feat. Bing Crosby & Nat “King” Cole) – The Andrews Sisters
Joy to the World – Jeannie C. Riley
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (Beef Wellington Remix) – Bing Crosby
What Child Is This? / The Holly and the Ivy – Bing Crosby
O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
What Child Is This (Greensleeves) – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bing Crosby
Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Little Donkey – Beverly Sisters
Winter Wonderland (feat. Perry Como) – The Andrews Sisters
All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
Snow Snow Snow – Band of Merrymakers
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
You’re All I Want for Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas in Killarney (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Silver Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & Carole Richards
Jingle Bells (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Thanksgiving Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Snoopy’s Christmas – Royal Guardsmen
Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Jingle Bell Rock – Brenda Lee
Somewhere in My Memory (Chorus & Orchestra Version) – John Williams
White Christmas – The Drifters
O Holy Night – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Is Christmas Only a Tree (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Is Coming – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Merry Christmas Polka – Tex Ritter
Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
Overture and A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
Track Meet – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas Candles (feat. Curt Massey) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s Christmas (Medley) [Live] – Chris Tomlin
Joy to the World – Mannheim Steamroller
Hallelujah (Remix) [Bonus Track] – Mannheim Steamroller
I Pray On Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.
Jingle Bells – Band of Merrymakers
Winter Wonderland (Christian Prommer Remix) – Shirley Horn
Blue Christmas – Ernest Tubb
Snow (From White Christmas) – Seth MacFarlane
Adeste Fideles (1942 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
Greensleeves – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Wonderful Christmas Night – Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Single) – Bing Crosby
Christmas Candy – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
O Holy Night – Bing Crosby
My Everything – Owl City
Angels We Have Heard on High – Sufjan Stevens
The Merry Christmas Polka – The Andrews Sisters
The Star Carol – Simon & Garfunkel
The Christmas Tree Angel – The Andrews Sisters
Be a Child at Christmas Time – Doris Day
Last Christmas (Studio Version) – Jimmy Eat World
Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters

2015: the first “non-organic” Christmas tree at the Capitol

capitol_fake_tree_36123-5_hdrHere she is: the 2015 Christmas tree in the Capitol’s Memorial Hall. I wrote earlier about its assembly as the first artificial tree in Memorial Hall.  You may have heard about it a day or two later from one of the mainstream media stations/publications that follow my Twitter feed.


capitol_fake_tree_36131It’s a biggun, too.  Whereas previous trees were in the 24 foot range, this looks considerably taller.  In fact, as you can tell from the photo above, I couldn’t even take its photo from my usual location:


capitol_tree_32410This is how I would photograph previous trees, but this new one is so tall that the hanging light fixture completely obscures several feet of the tree top.


_MG_36149See what I mean?  That’s why I had to take the photo from an angle this year to get a pleasing perspective of the tree.  That’s okay, I get more windows (and the candle-shaped light in the windows) that way.


capitol_fake_tree_36135-7_hdrNo room for presents underneath, although that’s probably never been an issue.  While I’m extremely disappointed that we won’t have real trees again, this “tree” does have two redeeming features.  The first is that since it isn’t a fire hazard they can hang electrical lights on it.  In fact, the post I referenced earlier shows that the branches come with LED lights already affixed.  The other is that it has a LOT of real estate for the donated ornaments that come in from North Dakotans via the ND Council On the Arts.

So, this is what change looks like.  Again, as a matter of general principle I prefer a real tree.  But this artificial one is not without its merits.  Since it doesn’t change from year to year, I probably won’t be back next Christmas to photograph it.  I might see if there are any individual ornaments that catch my eye, and share photos of those, but other than that the Christmas tree will be on repeat in future Christmases.

Merry Christmas!

The four most important words you’ll hear this Christmas

Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

One ubiquitous Christmas holiday phrase is “Peace on Earth.” As the hymn above shows, that is entirely appropriate; however, we tend to assign an earthly context to it by mistake. It’s not about peace between men at all; rather, it means peace between men and God. Those four most important words I alluded to in the title are the last four in the verse above: “God and sinners reconciled.” That is the source of peace on earth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14)

That peace and good will didn’t transmit from man to man; it came from God to all men. Since the fall of Adam, that peace between God and men did not exist. By giving the gift of His son, however, God was offering that peace and good will to men once again:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s your peace…

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible reminds us that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 points out that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We need as Savior, one whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As the angel told Joseph:

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20)

This was the Savior foretold by the prophets. For example:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s desire is to restore that fellowship and peace, reconciling (see those four important words once again) us to Him through his Son:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe what Jesus says in the Bible: “you must be born again.” He means that in order to be forgiven and assured a place in heaven, you must put your faith and trust in Him. We can not do anything to assuage the sin that we carry in our lives; only He can.

By placing your belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, acknowledging that He made the only sufficient sacrifice for them on the cross, you can be saved. Only then will you be able to truly partake in that “peace on earth” that the angel of the Lord spoke of when declaring good news to those shepherds.

I love the spirit of Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next guy… but the joy, the spirit, the family time, the celebrations, the lights, the gifts… those are all simply a by-product and a shadow of the joy that God extends to each and every person through His son, the one through whom we enjoy unspeakable joy and peace each Christmas and throughout the year.

Against some things I just can’t compete

sanford_heli_24746I’ve always been a fan of the Bell 222/230 helicopter models, because I was a fan of the TV show “Airwolf” as a kid.  So when I got to shoot photos and video of the launch of the then-upcoming Sanford AirMed aircraft as a second shooter for a colleague, I was all over it.  Too bad they couldn’t round up the rocket pods and chain guns from the TV model!

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had taken our little boys for a McDonald’s treat to watch Daddy on the roof of the hospital as the helicopter came in on approach, hovered, took off, landed, and that sort of thing.  I found out about that later.  A few nights prior they’d seen me at the Bismarck Civic Center, running a camera for the monster truck show.

As I tucked them in that night and recalled some of the things they’d seen Daddy do, the conversation with my littlest boy went something like this:

Me: “Working around monster trucks one day, then a helicopter a few days later, your Dad sure has a neat job, huh?”

Boy: “Yeah…but did you know that Uncle Kaasiim is a MAILMAN?”

Not to insult mailmen, but I thought monster trucks and helicopters would have ranked a little higher!  Oh well, I guess maybe I needed a dose of humility.  What better to deliver it than the unguarded utterance of a child?

I always knew that this would happen, but I was hoping not today

capitol_tree_32410Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with sadness that I announce this unfortunate news: the 2014 Christmas tree (pictured above) adorning the capitol’s Memorial Hall is the last live tree I will ever be able to photograph for you.  Starting today, the tree will be an artificial tree purchased for Christmas 2015.  Fire code dictates that they can no longer do a live tree, and let’s face it – North Dakota has already had one capitol burn down, and they’d like to avoid another.

I eagerly await the tree each year, and I took great pleasure in this post which shows how they brought the monstrous live tree into the building each year.  But the magic is gone, sorta.  After catching word that this year’s tree would be an artificial one, I decided to juice up on cold medicine, climb off the couch, and go visit the capitol.  I went at 5:00 before the doors were locked, hoping to get a glimpse of the new tree.  When I arrived, the assembly was just beginning.  Here’s how it happens now:


2015_capitol_tree_36003The tree is assembled in sections.  The wide bottom parts are large curved metal pieces with electrical wiring attached for lights.  One good part about this tree is that it will contain lights, something that was an absolutely no-no with the live trees.


2015_capitol_tree_36019A ladder is used to help in assembly, but the tree is intentionally designed to support the weight of people climbing it to complete the task and attach all the various accoutrements.  That’s good, because it is MUCH taller than the ladder.


2015_capitol_tree_36039Once they get to the narrower parts of the tree, it is no longer quite as sectional.  These hoops and point represent the top four sections.


2015_capitol_tree_36008These make up the foliage, which is designed to look like some specific kind of fir tree I forgot to mention.  And yes, they go in very specific locations just like your tree at home.


2015_capitol_tree_36009All lined up and ready to attach.  I was sick today, so I didn’t hang out to watch the foliage be attached.  I’ll probably check it out in the morning if I’m feeling better.


2015_capitol_tree_36023These are already pre-wired with pretty warm-white LED bulbs, something I already mentioned that was verboten on the old trees.  They look really nice and are going to be very bright once the pieces are all combined.


2015_capitol_tree_36012One of the things that makes the tree so special each year isn’t changing one bit: the decorations made by North Dakotans through the ND Council On the Arts.  They await in these bins, ready to adorn the new tree.


2015_capitol_tree_36072Here the guys get the top of the tree ready to mount.  It’s so high that they need to do this before they take it to the top of the tree. This tree is significantly taller than trees in the past.

The crew was working into the night to finish the tree when I bolted back home to my couch and some Theraflu to continue my recovery from the crud that’s going around.  I’m not going to try to get a photo of it until after all the decorations are attached, which is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, December first).

It’s sad that we can’t have a real tree, but the Facilities Management folks did a lot of research before choosing just the right artificial tree for the Memorial Hall (subject to the procurement process, of course).  They understand the personal connection that North Dakotans have to the capitol Christmas display.  It isn’t their fault that there won’t be any more real trees, as it’s fire code that has finally ruled out.

One could be cranky about this, but I choose instead to appreciate the work that is put into decorating the capitol each year so North Dakotans can enjoy the season at our favorite local landmark.  I humbly suggest you do the same.

A different perspective

double_ditch_sunset_2735This is how I like to remember the post at the north end of Double Ditch.  Sadly, these days are long gone as erosion has torn the bank right out from under it.  If not for some really sturdy barbed wire looped around it, this post would have tumbled down the steep cliff long, long ago.


doubleditch_dji_0028Sadly, this is how the post looks now.  I took some quadcopter shots today in order to get a look at the predicament I’d been unable to achieve before.  The bank is rapidly eroding.



That looks like a LONG fall!  Hopefully the barbed wire holds strong and this post is able to remain for a while longer.  Of course, if the bank erodes further, it’ll just be dangling beside the cliff anyway.


doubleditch_dji_0039 As you can see here, another big chunk of the cliff has let go.  This area is NOT safe for people.  This used to be a fantastic photo spot, but sadly it is no longer.


I presume at some point I’ll be typing to relay the news that the post has gone over the edge. It’s only a matter of time now.  I suppose I need to move northward to my other favorite photo spot!  But I’m not quite ready to disclose exactly where that is just yet.