Thursday Night Sunset returns!

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Remember way back when, in days of yore, when Thursdays meant that I’d be posting sunset photos like clockwork?  I’d sure like to get back to that for a while.  Here’s what the sky showed me last night, and I had the opportunity to be in a fantastic spot to capture it while sharing some quiet time with my sweetie.  I know the shot above isn’t a sunset, but it was so beautiful I just had to share.  But the real dazzle was yet to come…


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Last night had some amazing, brilliant colors.  The orange and pink hues reflected by the clouds were a sight I’d been craving for some time.  I’d either been tied up with Daddy stuff, reading to my boys at bedtime, or otherwise incapacitated when other sunsets presented…not this time.


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Like all amazing sunsets, they come and go quickly.  Already the sky began to darken in the east as the reflected colors blazed on.  Then, within a few short minutes, it was over.  Before departing, the sky gave my bride and me a few precious moments to admire God’s handiwork and each other’s company.  Oh, how I needed one of these.  And I also wanted to make sure to share!

“Fog Bow”? I guess so. I didn’t know.

capitol_fog_ip_3953I was surprised by yesterday’s heavy fog when I ventured out in the morning.  On my way northward I decided to grab a shot of the ever photogenic capitol tower, which always looks cool on foggy mornings.  By the time I got there, it was hardly obscured by fog when looking up from the bottom of the mall.


capitol_fog_ip_3958Once I had the sun at my back, however, I noticed something really bizarre: a white rainbow!  Of course, I had to look into this new-to-me phenomenon to find out that what I was witnessing was a fogbow. Click on the image for a larger version.


capitol_fog_ip_3963Over time the capitol began to emerge as the fog moved along, but the fogbow remained for quite some time.  Unlike a rainbow, which seems ever distant, the fogbow appeared to be close, only a couple hundred feet away…easily between me and the capitol building.  What a bizarre sensation!  Click on the image for a larger version.


capitol_fog_ip_3960I had to get going before the fogbow disappeared completely, but I had plenty of photos to remember this unique weather encounter.  I’ve never seen anything like this before,  and I didn’t know such a thing even existed.  I know now, I’m sure glad I was able to witness it yesterday, and even more excited that I had the ability to take some photos to share!

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.

Harbinger of autumn comes early? Well, not exactly

dq_ip_3663Few things can strike fear in the hearts of summer-loving Bismarck residents than the closure of the DQ on Broadway and Washington.  We can kid ourselves endlessly until the CLOSED sign shows up in the window, meaning that cold temps and seemingly endless winters and school years are right around the corner.  So you can understand why the sight of this sign can make hearts jump when passers-by spot it!  In this case, however, a little context is needed.


dq_ip_3661The job market is an interesting one in North Dakota, and has been for some time.  I remember even several years ago, before the oil boom, hearing from a friend how he’d receive such poor service when traveling to the northwestern part of the state.  It was explained to him that “people who can pass a drug test are working in the oil industry…what’s left is who’s taking your order, preparing your meal, or providing your customer service.”  Again, that was before the big “oil boom”.

Now there’s simply a shortage of employees, period.  HELP WANTED signs adorn shop windows all over the state.  We’re blessed in that regard.  With the onset of school as well, labor in certain types of positions will probably be even harder to obtain.  For example, I recently heard of Arby’s paying $20/hr for certain positions in Williston.  Well, how many $5 roast beef sandwiches do they have to sell to pay for that labor?  It gets to be quite a pickle, I’m sure.

Thankfully we still have other DQ options in Bismarck-Mandan.  Now, when the store on Highway 83 closes for the season, then it’ll be time to panic.

Happy Birthday!

capitol_125th_31825I was unable to attend the festivities today, but I’m told that as the rain subsided the crowds began to fill the capitol mall.  Good deal, today is a day worth celebrating!  I was satisfied to just swing by after everyone but the stage teardown crew had gone home and take a couple of quick photos of the occasion.

I must begrudgingly admit that the ND 125 in the windows totally escaped my radar this year.  I’m glad I saw a photo of it elsewhere Friday night, or I may have missed it entirely!  I’m pretty sure nobody’s on staff to change the lights on Sunday, so you may still have a chance if you haven’t grabbed a picture already.

‘Twas a good week to be a boy


skytypers_31000 Last week I got to treat my little guys to lots of fun boy-stuff, thanks to the generosity of some friends.  I thought I’d share a few highlights:


thunderbirds_31425We got to see the Thunderbirds perform at Airventure 2014, in Oshkosh.  Once those F-16s rolled on the throttle at the beginning of the runway, it was like slowly pushing the Smile Lever on those little faces!


wall_of_fire_31787As if that wasn’t enough, there were also simulated bomb runs and dogfights, along with the notorious and aptly named Wall of Fire.  My youngest boy’s favorite, naturally.


thunderbirds_31371I got a really cheap deal on renting a nice telephoto lens from, and it performed admirably.  I have so many cool shots like the one above that I’ve hardly had time to sort through them all.  To top it all off, later in the week we went to see Planes: Fire & Rescue at the Grand Theater back here in good ol’ Bismarck.  It’s still the nicest movie theater I’ve ever seen, and I appreciate the effort they put into providing a good experience.


natl_night_out_ip_3306Next, we attended National Night Out on August 5th.  This is where various agencies like Police, Fire, Sheriff, State Patrol, Red Cross, et al put on displays for the kids (and parents) to showcase how they protect and serve our community.


natl_night_out_ip_3275Kids love trucks as much as firefighters do, and they got to sit in this one until it was called away.  There was also a hose set up and the wooden “fire house” where kids could grab the hose and knock down the ‘fire” in the windows.  Always a big hit.


natl_night_out_ip_3333Robots are a staple in the life of any kid these days, and Bismarck PD’s got one.  Target was kind enough to not only host the event, but provide free hot dogs, hamburgers, pop, and chips too!


medora_musical_ip_3504The finale for the weekend, bookending a long stretch of fun times, was the Medora Musical last night.  I hadn’t attended since my friend and show host “Gentleman Wade” Westin passed away.  They did a nice tribute to past hosts of the show this year, as it’s an anniversary for the Musical, and that was nice to see.


medora_musical_ip_3465The kids got to take the stage for the singing of the national anthem, and each got a little flag to bring home with them.  Something I didn’t get a shot of was the colors of Old Glory splashed on the wall of the hill behind the stage at the end of the show.


medora_musical_ip_3496A tribute to the hosts of the Musical.  My boys had never seen this show before, and they really liked it.  Especially the acrobats who performed during intermission and the battle scene reenactment from the Spanish American War.

As you can see, we’ve been a little busy lately.  That’s a nice break from the things we’ve been dealt over the last year and through which we are still struggling.  If I can provide my little guys with some joy and excitement along the way, then I feel like I’m at least doing my job as Daddy.  This past week was full of little victories in that regard.

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.

Sunflowers, sunset

sunflower_sunset_30502I finally had not only the opportunity to catch the sunset tonight, I also had a decent set of foreground objects in mind.  A sky photo is usually unremarkable without an interesting foreground.  Today was my day to find both.

Sign up now: Bismarck Police Department’s “Citizens’ Police Academy”

A few years ago my friend Lee and I were accepted into the Bismarck Police Department’s “Citizens’ Police Academy” for several weeks of education into what the Bismarck PD is all about. A couple dozen of us spent each Tuesday night from September through December learning about the various aspects of police work, the structure of the department, the special duties of various officers, and the standards of accountability and professionalism to which they hold themselves. It was a real eye-opener.

Some of the people in the class were interested in pursuing careers in the criminal justice field. Others, like me, are simply average citizens who support our local law enforcement personnel and jumped at the opportunity to learn more. I’d spent plenty of time in the Mandan Police Department growing up through the Explorers program, working in the control room and doing traffic control, color guard, etc. but I didn’t know much about things here on the Bismarck side.

While most of the Academy consists of classroom time, it’s not boring. It’s an informal environment, the chief and/or deputy chief are usually on hand to help answer questions, and there are always some interesting tales to tell. While the class went until 9pm each night, it was not uncommon for that night’s officer to stay until 10pm chatting about what we discussed in class.

Of course, there was a mandatory ride-along in a police car on a Friday or Saturday night. I think everybody had an eventful time, especially myself. I go on ride-alongs from time to time other than in Bismarck, and my rule is “what happens in the car stays in the car.” I respect people’s privacy as much as a value my own, and that sort of confidentiality is very important when dealing with people in the sort of situations that require a visit from a police officer. That wasn’t the only thrilling part of the Academy, however:

I think everybody was looking forward to the shooting portion of the class. One night a week we went through an evening discussing firearms and then going to the indoor range to fire some Simunition. We each were given the opportunity to fire eleven rounds from the same firearm carried by Bismarck police officers. It was performed under very close supervision after great attention to safety details.

I had to chuckle at my target, which I got to keep: six shots to the heart, five to the chin. I didn’t want to look like an idiot, so I intentionally aimed low for the head shots to avoid hitting the clamp holding my target. I think the groups would have been tighter if I’d had my own Glock, but Lee and I had the tightest performance out of the group. Something about videographers having a steady hand, I suppose. I got to keep my shell casings as a souvenir of the evening as well.

It was bittersweet to reach the completion night for a “graduation” celebration. We had pizza and got our pictures taken with the chief & deputy chief and were presented with some additional memoirs. As you can see we each received a framed certificate, Bismarck PD patch, and Citizens Police Academy mug. My little boy PJ had come with to see Daddy’s graduation and insisted that he be in the photo with us. Later he talked ‘em out of a CPA mug of his own, and he’s still very proud of it.

It’s a great opportunity and speaks volumes that our police department wants to reach out to the public like this. It’s amazing how much misinformation is floating around out there about how police officers operate, and those of us who have received a little bit of education to dispel the rumors can act as ambassadors for the department. I gladly embrace such an opportunity, because I’m proud of our local law enforcement in Bismarck-Mandan. I’m fortunate to call several officers and deputies my friends and am grateful for their service to our community.

According to the City of Bismarck’s website, they’re still taking applications for the Citizens’ Police Academy. You can download the application PDF here and get it in immediately if you’d like to try for a slot…I don’t know how many they have filled.

There are some requirements for application, including a clear criminal record and passing a background check. If you are an adult resident of Bismarck and can meet these criteria, you’re able to apply. I highly recommend availing yourself of the opportunity to do so!

July Flame


July Flame
I’m seeing fireworks
They’re so beautiful
Tell me why it hurts

July Flame
Ashes of a secret heart
Falling in my lemonade
Unslakeable thirsting in the back yard

The red sunsets we’ve been enjoying are because other areas really are aflame. Today was a scorcher as well, so that made the song seem oddly appropriate. It is still July, although it’s scary how little of the month we have left. The lyrics are from my favorite July song EVER, “July Flame” by Laura Veirs. You can check it out on iTunes by clicking here.

Oh, by the way…here’s the video in case you want to peruse the song:

July marks my return to action with my cameras, on a limited basis and for the time being. This sunset, for example, actually came from my deck instead of from a photo trip. Hopefully my family will put all our various health issues behind us and will be back on our feet, better than ever by the time next July rolls around!