World Wide Photowalk, Part 3 (help me rate ‘em)

federal_building_31945I have a couple of stragglers from the photo walk, such as this photo of the crown of the federal building on 3rd and Broadway.  I hope by now you’ve made a selection, but I’ dbe interested in how you like these.


fall_foliage_31973These trees are on the east end of the parking lot at the Peacock Alley.  It’s a parking lot now, but is apparently going to be an ice skating rink next year – because downtown Bismarck has way too much parking space right now.

That’s it!  I was happy with the shots I brought back.  I could have roamed more, but I had a nice morning walk and maximized the amount of time I had available.  My new lens performed admirably, and I had good company.

Thanks for looking through my photos!

World Wide Photowalk, Part 2 (help me rate ‘em)

Here’s another set of photos from our local group’s participation in the Worldwide Photo Walk.  I’m trying to decide which photo to submit.

counterweight_31935This is the counterweight for a fire escape in downtown Bismarck.  I love the sky in the background combined with my vignette.


lion_chain_31953Remember Gary Miller?  If I remember the walk correctly, and I don’t know why I shouldn’t, this is one of the chains holding up the overhang at the entrance of Gary’s Gallery.  I believe this gallery will be closing in the near future, as his wife had announced something about it a while back.


no_smoking_31971I love this sign.  It’s attached to the freight elevator in the Anderson Building, which I hope to own some day.  This elevator is no longer available to the public.  I remember hearing a news report in the late 80s or early 90s about a young girl getting her arm pinned and amputated by this elevator.  That’d do it.

I’ll shoot myself in the foot by saying that these three are my favorite of the bunch.  I do have a couple more, but they don’t mean as much to me as these.  I’ll post the other ones soon and hopefully receive your feedback in time to upload my selection to the Photowalk website.

World Wide Photowalk, Part 1 (help me rate ‘em)

Our photo club took part in the Worldwide Photo Walk this past weekend, and it was a blast.  I didn’t stay for the entire window of time because of other errands, but I did walk around downtown Bismarck for two hours with a couple of photo pals.  Each member of each local photo walk submits one photo to the group.  The group them forwards one photo on to the worldwide walk, and so on.  I got a few shots that I like with my brand new lens, and I need some feedback as to which I should submit before the deadline.


belle_bricks_31933This was right at our starting point in front of the historic Belle Mehus Civic Auditorium.  I tried to go for sort of an optical illusion effect.


hebron_brick_31957On the other end of downtown, I found this little nook in the back of the Anderson Building…a building I one day hope to own.  The frame gave it a nice splash of color.


hebron_brick_31959Made in North Dakota.  These are the bricks which sealed shut the window in the last photo.  Good ol’ bricks and mortar, compliments of Hebron.

I did take photos of more than bricks, but I thought I’d share these first three together due to the similar subject matter.  The ones I really like will be posted next.  Shoot me an email or post a comment when you find your favorite!


iss_31923I’ve had some great shots of the ISS over the years…passing over a Fort Lincoln blockhouse, streaking across the sunrise above the Double Ditch post, and above the Pioneers statue at the capitol mall.  Tonight I opted to grab a shot of it passing over the tower from the north, and it didn’t disappoint.

I like those direct overhead passes because they take longer.  There’s more to see.  But sometimes that poses a photographic challenge, even with a 10mm lens.  When it’s lower on the horizon it’s easier to get a nice arc over your foreground subject.  In any case, I’m relishing every photo opportunity I can get these days!

The path ahead

lc_trail_31892I got this shot while being swarmed and attacked by squadrons of aggressive mosquitoes, the likes of which I’d never seen.  My family and I decided to take a celebratory walk on the Lewis and Clark path, and man did we find skeeters!

The path was nice, although we were a few days too late to find the leaves in the photogenic state we’d prefer.  The aforementioned mosquitoes cancelled our plans to find all the geocaches along our route.  I was extremely glad that we didn’t bring bikes, as much of the western part of the path is overrun with tons of river sand washed up from the 2011 Missouri River flood.

As to the title of this post, I’m pleased to report that my recent “do over” surgery at Mayo Clinic was a success.  So too was my wife’s surgery a week later.  After giving up our house in March after receiving the bad news of my condition, we’re now in the process of building a brand new one.  Even my kids’ health has markedly improved.  I have a brand new camera lens on the way, one which I’ve wanted for a year or more.  The path ahead looks sunny indeed.

Dark Side of the Capitol

capitol_darkside_60d_0655One consequence of the capitol grounds construction is that the lights illuminating the north face of the tower are no longer in place.  I’m sure there will be new ones once the construction is completed, but for now it’s just dirt where the parking lot used to be.


capitol_dirtwork_ip_4088I took this photo a while back (click for larger size) and it shows how things are starting to take shape.  The north side of the capitol will have more pedestrian area, much like the south side.


capitol_projectDon’t take my word for it – this information is posted and updated on the capitol’s Facility Management website.  You can get a PDF copy of the plan by clicking here.

By the way, there were other notable song title candidates for the title of this blog post, such as “On the Dark Side” by Eddie and the Cruisers, “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens, “Standing in the Shadows” by Dokken, “Ribbon of Darkness” by Marty Robbins…need I go on?

BOHICA* – more “Local Control” coming Thursday night at 6pm

burleigh_co_anncThis terse notice to Burleigh County suckers taxpayers was posted on the Burleigh County website but flew mostly under the radar.  If you read it, you’re about to get socked by another expensive sucker-punch by commissioners Jim Peluso, Doug Schonert, Brian Bitner, and Jerry Woodcox.  I left Mark Armstrong off that list because he’s the one through whom I actually learned of this nonsense.


burleigh_co_noticeHere’s the obscure listing of the notice, which doesn’t even appear as plain text (just a PDF file).  What in the world does that even mean?  Well, apparently that’s all the explanation we’re going to get about this tax hike.


By the way, what do other Public Notices look like on their website?

burleigh_co_noticesThey’re posted nearly in their entirety.  Remember that Sesame Street jingle, “One of these things is not like the other”?  Start singing it now.  And then grab your ankles, because it’s clear that the Burleigh County Commission does NOT want you to know about this until it’s too late.  Well, you’ve been warned.  Show up at 6pm tomorrow and make your voice heard.
*BOHICA = Bend Over, Here It Comes Again


“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” I Thessalonians 4:13

(Originally posted in 2009)

Today marks the anniversary of the loss of my friend, Kirk Eckelberry. Anyone who knew him is well aware of the lives he touched as a Christian husband, local attorney, soccer coach at Shiloh, or just as a friend or neighbor. Kirk and I hadn’t seen each other much since we were kids, but in 1999 we had reconnected and loved blazing around on our big Kawasaki Ninjas and camping out at the races. Sadly, I only had the one summer with my friend.

I’ve always skilfully put up walls in my heart regarding loss, especially in this situation. It wasn’t the first time; my friend Norm Kukert died on his motorcycle right in front of me; my friend Brad Doll died on his motorcycle right before I arrived on the scene (I still have my collectible Scott Russell t-shirt with the tear from lifting Brad’s bike into the truck). One race weekend, when I had a really bad feeling about things and packed up my gear without ever getting on the track and headed home, one of our racers was killed in a high speed turn two accident. A young motorcycle racer tells himself things like “It’ll never happen to me.” For many reasons, which I still don’t understand, Kirk’s death really pierced my heart.

I found out about his crash while getting my scripts ready for the ten o’clock news at KFYR-TV one night. I was stunned…that’s not the way to find out your friend has been killed. We were looking forward to going racing together the next spring and had experienced a really fun summer of riding. Also, I wasn’t a Christian at that time and was really fond of having a friend who was saved. I could see the peace and joy he had, and it was starting to sink in exactly why and how he could have those things. And suddenly he was gone.

Many of us, including Kirk’s brother and myself, rode in a group of motorcycles at Kirk’s funeral. I’m sure he would have enjoyed that. I have no doubt that he’s in unspeakable joy up in heaven with his savior; the sadness I’ve felt has always been for those of us who miss him, most of all his family. That kind of pain and sorrow is the thing that I’ve shut out, bottled up, whatever sort of cliche’ you want to apply. This time around, however, despite my best efforts to skirt around the anniversary of the day, I was able to come away with a sense of joy and love I never expected.

Kirk’s family poured a lot of time and effort into me when I was a kid. When they had youth group events at their house or church, I was always welcome. It seemed as though I could smell pizza at the Eckelberry home from my house several blocks away! Many times i would come over and not even hang out much with the Eckelberry boys, but talk with Ma about my need to be “born again” or my need for a savior. Those things didn’t sink in at the time, but they laid the groundwork for me to realize the truth down the road.

It was actually Jesus himself who said that we need to be “born again” in John 3:7 (“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”). Here I thought the term was just clever branding on the part of some Christian movement. Nope…the entire reason I’d been going to church all my life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who said it. That’s pretty high authority…after all, if we don’t believe in what Jesus himself said, why go to church in the first place?

The constant witness and the visible joy of my friends spoke to my heart, and there was a point down the road where I accepted Jesus as my savior, I became “born again”, I got “saved”…whatever term you wish to ascribe to it. I am now a Christian in every sense of the word. I wish I could have told Kirk in person, but I know that some day in heaven I’ll get the opportunity to do just that.

The reason I can now write this with such joy and with an unburdened heart is that I was able to find and call Kirk’s mom, “Mrs. Eckelberry” to me, and finally tell her how I miss Kirk. More importantly, I was able to thank her for caring enough for me to spend the time witnessing to me, inviting me in for pizza or to church, and always making me feel welcome. I was able to tell her that her kindness and the influence of her son Kirk were the pivotal influence in my life, that now I’m a Christian husband and daddy. That kid who had no regard for his eternal destination or relationship with the God that created him is a Christian man, active in a great church and trying to serve God every day. That’s fruit to their account, and the blessings they gave me were hopefully returned by letting her know what a wonderful difference she made in the salvation of that boy.

Sure, it’s still painful to miss Kirk and all the fun we had planned. I especially think of his wife and two little kids, especially when I go out riding these days. Rather than focusing on the loss of my friend, however, I can now think of the joy that his brief re-entry into my life has brought. Someday in heaven we’ll all share in unspeakable joy, and the pain of this life will be a distant memory.

I was listening to a sermon by Charles Stanley the other day, talking about the legacy we’ll leave behind. My salvation is part of the legacy of Kirk and his family. I’m not alone; there were many people who got up at Kirk’s funeral to describe their memories of him. One in particular that stood up was a woman who only met him once. She was in a very bad place, financially and otherwise, but Kirk helped her. He did so in a kind and loving way, and his influence on her was great enough that she came to stand in front of all those people and relate her experience with Kirk Eckelberry. Many people remember Kirk like that.

From now on I’m going to remember the joy of being friends with Kirk and his family, to be grateful for my soul’s salvation through their investment in me, and the knowledge that someday I’ll see him again in the presence of our Lord.

I hate to say “I told you so”, but…


Two years ago I posted an April Fool’s post in which I claimed that United Airlines would be discontinuing service to Bismarck-Mandan because a new competitor, Frontier Airlines, was going to be receiving subsidies to come and compete with them.  Apparently it was an entirely plausible idea, because a lot of people bought it.  Gotcha.  Well, it turns out that my satirical post was prescient in at least one way.

In the last paragraph of the post, I pointed out that the same thing happened in Fargo, where Frontier operated for the same two years, then left despite the incentives that city had provided:

Ironically, Frontier Airlines pulled out of Fargo in 2010 after only two years of being “touted as a low-cost carrier that would bring down fares at Fargo’s Hector International Airport” (Associated Press, 2/5/10). Flaweigh surmised, “Once that happens in Bismarck, maybe the City of Bismarck will consider offering United a ‘break-even guarantee’ and some other concessions as they are currently offering our competitors.

Here we are, two years later, and Frontier is doing the two-year two-step. I guess any consternation at throwing $250,000 and other incentives at them doesn’t seem so unreasonable after all. But if a simple photo blogger like me could have seen this coming, why couldn’t any of the local geniuses have done the same?

Always pack a backup piece

dead_battery_57896Little boy loaded in the truck: check.  Camera bag and tripod: check. Sandbar with grit getting everywhere: check.  Battery…battery?  Oh, seriously.  I even have a dual battery grip on my 7D, so how in the world did I get Munsoned out in the middle of nowhere?  Well, as you can see I still had something capable of taking photos with me: another Canon DSLR in its bag, which I’d forgotten to remove from my truck yesterday.


sunset_57878Fortunately, I realized this just in the nick of time, and was able to catch the sun just as it was about to disappear over the horizon.  I was in the best spot I could think of on short notice, and I think it paid off nicely.  Then we came home to watch Courageous with the rest of our little family while I stuck batteries into the charger.