And I used to think I took too many of these

sunset_28907I used to chase sunsets on an almost daily basis, then post the results here.  Maybe that’ll resume someday, but for now I have plenty of irons in the fire.  I’ve gone through a number of major changes in various aspects of my life over the past several months, and my cameras have barely seen the light of day as a result.  It’s about time to change that as time allows.

Take, for instance, tonight.  I was actually able to witness a sunset.  It’s odd that I’ve had little opportunity to do that lately, but I’m glad things are starting to resemble normal in the middle of all this chaos.  I was able to grab a somewhat decent shot, and it felt GREAT.

Here’s looking forward to more normalcy…and sunsets.

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!

At this point, I guess they’re probably just doing it for my amusement

The City of Bismarck has put out a notice that load restrictions on the city’s roads started on March 15th.  It gives me the perfect opportunity for a little good-natured ribbing over the “Restrictions in Effect” signs traditionally seen around Bismarck this time of year. Restrictions of what nature, you ask? If your only source of information was these signs, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess.

I first saw these signs go up a few years ago (and every Spring since) and thought they were pretty funny. It’s because of the load restrictions I mentioned, but the signs omitted that detail. It’s only after someone figured out what was missing (maybe they read this blog) and wedged a little “Load” in there that the signs made sense:

This is how the corrected signs look. I am still occasionally surprised to find an unmodified one posted. As I drove down Centennial yesterday, I noticed that someone’s going to have to dig through a drawer for another “Load” sticker!

When life hands you Mayo, make photo

mayo_plummer_28842I don’t remember if I’ve alluded to it here, but I’ve been dealing with some medical stuff for a few months.  That explains why I haven’t had a lot of photography to share.  Well, in my most recent trip to Mayo Clinic, I dragged my camera bag along so I could photograph the rather unique Plummer Building on campus.

mayo_plummer_28901This building is home to some really unusual masonry work, and having a 300mm lens with me made it a lot easier to inspect more closely.  I still couldn’t find a building that gave me a nice, straight-on vantage point, but at least I got a decent angle.  One has to wonder what thought goes into these things.  I had to chuckle at the “big head, tiny body” motif going on here.

 

mayo_plummer_28851Then, of course, you have the gargoyles.  These beasties stand watch at each corner.  Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was my meds, but they reminded me of Sam the Eagle (you Muppets fans will get the reference) and made me chuckle.

 

mayo_plummer_28881Again, as a photographer I had to play with different angles and framing.  To be honest, this was the first time any of my cameras had seen the light of day in a LONG time, and I was determined to use every available minute between appointments.

 

mayo_plummer_28858From afar off, this looked like a bunch of Monty Python characters looking through binoculars.  It was nothing quite so strange once I zoomed in, however.  Just lots of scrolling and that sort of thing.

 

mayo_plummer_28883These were the spookiest of the bunch…not so much because of their shape or anything, but because of the weird symbols below them.  I stay clear of the occult as a matter of general principle, and so things like this had my Spidey sense tingling.  I don’t think it’s anyone’s way of preparing to summon Gozer or anything like that!

Thanks to the many people who have given us encouragement and support through this time.  I appreciate the help.  I appreciate the prayers.  I appreciate the love you all have shown me and my family.  I’m not in seriously bad shape, thankfully, although I’m not out of the woods just yet.  But I sure am encouraged!  Praise the Lord.

Eager for the color to return

tree_60D_0040I forgot to post this tree photo after I took it last fall.  It’s a favorite spot of mine, but one I rarely get to visit.  You see, it’s near Valley City, and I don’t find my out that far east as much as maybe I used to.  When Fargo had a Fuddrucker’s and I was single with a loaded sports car, I’d drive to Fargo for dinner.  Of course, that was before four dollar a gallon gas and a family.

This winter has been rough for me, with few opportunities to get out and take photos.  I’m hoping to get out a lot more now that spring is arriving, and I just have a few things to get out of the way before the photography commences.  Meanwhile, I have plenty of gems like this one which I planned to share but somehow overlooked.

Brrrrrrrr… but I still got windmills

windmill_winter_28812Yes, it’s been pretty darn cold.  Even many of my fellow North Dakotans are starting to whine instead of brag.  I did manage to get out for a brief photo trip the other day, and of course I had to go to an old standby: my favorite windmill.

 

windmill_28816I haven’t been able to do much in the way of photography, which means long stretches in between blog posts and nothing but regurgitated political stuff on Facebook.  Sorry ’bout that.  I am hoping to stretch my legs more photographically here in the near future.  In the mean time, however, here’s some cold metal.

 

winter_tree_28795And some cold wood, I suppose.  Although, in order to maintain my self-deprecating joke about always photographing windmilss, I did manage to sneak one into the background.

Think Spring!

A couple more Aurora photos to add some color to your day

auroras_28780When I returned from my recent Aurora Borealis photo trip, it was around 4am.  On a work day.  I hastily grabbed and processed a few shots to share, grabbed a combat nap, and went on with my day.  This weekend was busy, but I had the opportunity to peruse the shots from the day and found a couple more that I really like.  The above shot is one that I used for this blog’s Facebook page.

auroras_28792While the layout looks a little jumbled, this one by far had the best colors.  The Northern Lights are a fleeting target, and you don’t often get the same light twice.  In fact, I don’t have a whole lot of different angles from the night because the peak of the lights came and left so suddenly.

I’m going to take another look to see if I have anything else that I haven’t shown already.  Hopefully the next time they come along, I’ll be ready!

Back in the saddle a bit

auroras_28783After dozing off early in my recliner tonight I woke up to a text from a friend who was out on patrol tonight.  He noticed that the Northern Lights were in full swing.  I grabbed a good friend, hopped in the truck, and took off.  We were not disappointed.

 

auroras_28789As I mentioned recently, I’ve had some health issues and other things that have just plain sidelined me as far as photography and blogging.  This was a great way to get back in the saddle for a bit as much as my pain would allow, and happens to have been one of the better aurora borealis nights in a long time.  Just because I’ve been in my recliner doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching what the sun and skies are up to.

auroras_28793

We appear to have arrived along one of my favorite rural roads just in time to see some very spectacular lights.  We saw spikes, we saw ripples, and we saw a lot of them.  I worked the area the best I could within the time allowed, and we pointed the truck back toward the Bizzo once things began to taper off.

I can’t speculate on the frequency with which I ease back into my beloved photo hobby, but hopefully this is a harbinger of good things to come.  With the weather changing in our favor and another spring and summer on the way, things are looking pretty good.  I hope to be on the mend in time for mountain bike and volleyball season, too!

The Democrat letter-writing machine is in full gear. Here’s how to spot ‘em

quinn_lettersHere we are, well into 2014 and the Democrats barely even have any candidates named for office.  That’s no surprise, considering the destruction their party has wrought on a national level.  Anyone with a “D” next to their name is likely to get a well deserved, good old-fashioned hinder-spanking.  What they are doing, however, is getting their tinfoil-hat brigade into full swing in letter-writing mode, hitting the “Letter to the Editor” pages as frequently as they can.

I’ve written my share of letters to the editor of our local newspaper as well, and I think it’s a great means of citizen activism.  What I am pointing out in this article is the orchestrated wave of motivated foot soldiers, belching Democrat Party talking points to the printed page in increasing volume.

I’ve noticed it lately because I check the Tribune’s Letters to the Editor page regularly.  I’ve mentioned before that their Comments sections (when they had them) were where one could go to kill a few brain cells.  But these are actual letters submitted to the paper, verified by the editor, and signed with people’s real names.  But who are these people, and why should you pay attention what they’ve written?

In the case of the Bismarck Tribune, you only have to do one additional click to get some background on a letter writer before you lend credence to what they have to say:

lebak_letterTake this cookie-cutter screed from Henry Lebak (to whom I’ve retorted on the Tribune’s Letter to the Editor page) going after Margaret Sitte.  This is the only race I can think in which the Democrats actually want to compete, so here comes the attack.  Well, simply click on good ol’ Henry’s name in the blue byline text, and you’ll come up with this list of what he’s written in the past:

lebak_lettersMister Lebak’s been busy.  He’s got a litany of “Republicans bad, Democrats good” type stuff in his repertoire. Fine…that’s his right.  But my point is that this isn’t just some regular guy who finally got so fed up with Senator Sitte or the Republicans that he had to finally write a letter and air his grievances.  No, this is a semi-pro.

There are other leftists, such as the one shown in the top image, who have an even longer list of vitriol than Henry does.  I don’t have to accuse Mr. Lebak or others of being shills for the Democrat Party, and it doesn’t matter if they are.  They’re activists, as evidenced by the volume of their writing, and it all reads like Democrat Party fundraising letters and talking points memos.

I’ve got few letters to the editor on the Tribune’s site, too…but I’ve got a website on which I’ve boldly declared where I stand on matters of faith and politics.  You may agree with me, you may not.  But if you still don’t know who I am, clicking on my byline will also bring up my list of rants and give you a good picture of who this crazy right-winger extremist zealot is.  Do your research.

This is especially important right now because, as I have pointed out above, agents of the left are already busy pecking away at their keyboards (with the W’s still removed, no doubt) and flooding newspaper editors’ inboxes all over North Dakota.  Take the time for one extra click, see what else they’ve written, and if you get a list as long as the guys above you can be sure you’re dealing with an activist.

Five years ago and twelve degrees colder – and I was out with my cameras

January 26th, 2010 was a great day. The fact that it was even colder than today’s bitter winter Monday didn’t dampen my spirits, as I was on site for the move of the Falkirk Mine’s dragline “Chief Ironsides” from the west side of Highway 83 to the east side.  I was being paid to document the occasion, as it happens very infrequently.  I’m glad I dressed in layers; while Sunday’s low in the area was -7 with a mean temp of 12, the low that day was -4 with a mean temp of -2.  I’m using the mean temperature for the title of this post.

In order for Tuesday’s dragline walk, enormous preparations had to be made. For instance, a gap in the power lines running parallel to Highway 83 had to be made. The machines are simply too tall to go under. The railroad tracks had to be covered as well.

Next, a compacted dirt road several feet thick had to be constructed. This served the purpose of protecting the paved road as well as creating a level deck for the scoop and draglines to traverse.

Crews worked from each side of Highway 83, meeting in the middle. Enormous excavators filled dump trucks, which deposited their dirt at the end of the constructed road on their side. Big dozers pushed it into place, and the biggest grader I’ve ever seen did the grooming.

A bed of shredded straw was placed on the highway prior to the dirt work, presumably to aid in the cleanup. This way the dirt wasn’t plastered onto the roadway below. I got to stand really close to where these guys were doing their dirt work, but at a safe distance. Of course I brought my hard hat, vest, and safety glasses with, and I had an escort the whole time to make sure I wasn’t in danger.

With the road complete, it was time to get the “small” stuff across. The two machines in this shot are on tracks, simply driving across instead of the meticulous “walking” of the big dragline.

This equipment is electric, running with giant extension cords that lead back to the power plant. When they need to take a trek like this, the smaller ones are powered by a generator on a trailer. The truck follows dutifully behind or beside this scoop shovel as it tracks across.

For bigger equipment such as this tracked dragline or the big Chief Ironsides, they operate tethered to their usual power source. There’s a new power cable waiting for them on the other side.

This “little” tractor isn’t so little. Its sole purpose in life is to guide the electrical cable supplying power to the big dragline. It’s got a hoop-shaped guide on the back that is used to push the cable around to where it needs to be.

Weather delayed things a bit, but we finally got going just before sunset. That made for some challenges with shooting video. Stills are one thing in low light, but HD video is another. The main shot I was set up for was a time lapse of the roadway crossing, and the light was changing on me very quickly.

It was quite dark by the time the thirteen million pound behemoth, controlled by a woman named Melody, crossed the road. There was a thick dirt road constructed across Highway 83 just for this purpose, since the dragline needs a level deck for moving. It also protected the highway from the immense weight of the machine.

There was a dedicated crew for this task; the rest of the mine’s operations didn’t skip a beat. Talk about a daunting task: close the highway, build a new road capable of handing a thirteen million pound load, get the equipment across, then remove that road…all within 24 hours. Great job, gang! That’s an impressive day’s work.

I froze myself silly, but I got the shots. I had one HD camera, tucked in the Suburban parked sideways in the median due to wind, doing the 1080p time lapse while I ran around getting other angles and video footage with a second HD camera. Of course I kept my trusty still camera bag with me at all times.  Thankfully I dressed really warm, and had a real blast!