UND wants it both ways on the “Hostile an Abusive™” Fighting Sioux logo

new_siouxI saw in this Bismarck Tribune article that the University of North Dakota wants to send a “cease and desist” message to designer Karl Larson for his parody t-shirts depicting a Fighting Sioux logo sticking out its tongue.  Brilliant, by the way.  That’s essentially what the NCAA did to us, after all. I may have to place my order.

Apparently UND spokesman Peter Johnson said, “there are legal protections that come into play, so we’re looking to protect our image. That’s why we want to have this conversation.”

Now, hold on just a second there.  I’m no lawyer, but I’ve been threatened by one…so take this with a grain of salt.  Unless one actually uses a trademark they wish to protect, they cannot enforce it.

UND has been firm in their insistence that they must not use the logo or nickname anymore, because the NCAA has selectively declared them “hostile and abusive”™ and forbidden their use.  Never mind the Alcorn State University Braves, Catawba College Indians, Central Michigan Chippewas, Florida State Seminoles, Mississippi College Choctaws, University of Illinois Fighting Illini, or University of Utah Utes, as brilliantly pointed out in this Letter to the Editor by Alan O’Neil of Grand Forks.

While UND claims that former Bismarck Mayor Haakenson cannot block them from using any of the atrocious proposed replacement nicknames, saying “A nickname is not a trade name, unless the nickname serves as the identity of the individual or organization…This will not be the case for us. We do business under the ‘University of North Dakota.”


Well, then, why try to get someone to “cease and desist” in parodying a trademark that UND is unwilling to use, doesn’t serve as the identity of the University, and at this point has nothing officially to do with the University of North Dakota?

You’d think a school that churns out so many lawyers would get this right…but then again, this whole Fighting Sioux nonsense has defied logic from the beginning.  It’s just another case of pointy-headed liberals deciding what everyone else must do or say.

Ruthless killer apprehended in northwest Bismarck

mantis_35617I have never seen one of these in the wild before, and certainly not in North Dakota, yet my littlest boy brought one home from a nature walk today!  I shouldn’t be surprised, since he caught a four-inch “walking stick” bug at the sandbar a couple of weekends ago.  He catches toads and frogs, flies, and any manner of bug.  I don’t think he got that talent from me, although I did “catch” him a fuzzy caterpillar on the way home from work today.  This mantis is one majestic insect, let me tell you.  But it’s got a mean streak.


mantis_35622“If I could do this, I’d never leave the house…” 

In addition to being a talented climber, this bug is a diligent preener as well.  It spent plenty of time tending to its legs and feet while I snapped away in an impromptu dining room photo shoot.


mantis_35599“Say it isn’t so!”

I don’t have any photos to post, but once we put this critter back into its habitat with a grasshopper from the yard it showed its true colors.  I looked over to see how it was doing, and it had gnawed the head off the grasshopper and going to town on its body like it was an ice cream cone.  Before long, nothing was left except a few bits of wing and forelegs.  Yikes.

After I’d tucked the little ones to bed and was sitting in my recliner, I heard a spooky scratching.  The mantis was trying to escape its bug hut (good luck, pal).  I went to the next room and peered at it through the plastic wall.  Its antennae constantly swayed back and forth in a nearly hypnotic motion, and it stared at me with an unwavering “I’ll chew your face off, wise guy” glare.

We’re going to go the extra mile to prepare a happy habitat for this predator.  Grasshoppers and crickets abound right now, and are available year round.  I think I may lock my bedroom door at night, though…



City Magazine uses Hostile & Abusive™ language on its September cover

citymag_sept2015I like to pick up City Magazine, usually for my friend Tom Regan’s feature articles.  The rest is thinly veiled advertising that doesn’t really interest me, but the cover story is usually pretty interesting and features a noteworthy local figure.  The new issue is no different, but it sure is insensitive (if you’re inclined toward political correctness, that is).

For years we’ve been told that the term “Sioux” is “Hostile and Abusive™” and that anyone who wants to see it continue as the nickname / mascot for the University of North Dakota’s athletic programs is deemed a Racist™ by activists tied to the race industry.  Then why is it being used to describe the Standing Rock Sioux (oops, I said it) Tribe?

Let’s not forget, that Standing Rock is the tribe that did not allow its members to vote on whether the nickname and logo should be kept or abandoned.  By doing so, deadlines passed which allowed the opponents of it to win an administrative victory toward the demise of the logo.

You’d think that the tribe responsible (to the dismay of many of its members) for putting a fork in the Fighting Sioux logo would be among the last to smear themselves with such a vile slur.  Nope.  I suppose it’s the same standard that hip hop artists hide behind with their Grammy-winning vernacular.  Lame.

Hijinks at the capitol?

capitol_lawn_ipt6_0106I mentioned on my blog’s Facebook and Twitter feeds the other day that I’d hiked up to the 18th floor of the state capitol. It was an urge that struck me as I was about to head to the elevator on a visit to one of my favorite local buildings.  I had my helmet and my work backpack, which weighs in at a spry 21 pounds, and I have to say I was dragging by the time I got to the top.  I kept motivating myself by saying “You’re 1/6th of the way there…you’re one third of the way there…halfway there…” and so on.  After looking around for a few, I also walked back down.  Much easier.  But while looking down at the mall, I noticed something peculiar.


capitol_lawn_ipt6_0107From the look of things, someone drove out onto the lawn over by the State Library somewhere, then headed south before doing some sort of J-turn or other aggro maneuver.  Groundskeepers didn’t do this…the marks in the grass look pretty deep.


capitol_lawn_ipt6_0114I’ve watched guys meticulously mow that crosshatch pattern into the grass on the capitol lawn, and I doubt the equipment they drive would even make marks like these.  Go figure.  I don’t know who you are, but whoever ripped up the lawn at the capitol: STOP.  This is the only capitol we’ve got here in North Dakota, and I’m rather fond of it!

South Unit overlook

wind_canyon_35576_hdrI got to cross one more location off my photography wish list, sort of, as I took my family to the Medora Musical a couple of weekends ago.  One place I wanted to scout for a future “dark-to-dark” photography day was the Wind Canyon Overlook at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It was everything I expected, but even more challenging to photograph.


wind_canyon_ip_7025Click for larger image

I took a quick panorma with my mobile device and scouted out some other potential locations for the future.  I’d like to catch this location at pre-dawn, sunrise, sunset, and at night.  A friend and I are scheming to make that happen yet this fall…we’ll see how that actually works out.

I’ll never run out of things to photograph in Bismarck-Mandan, or North Dakota in general.  Time, however, is another issue.  But I had little boys who loved to grab one of my spare cameras and photograph prairie dogs and bison with a 300mm lens, so I intend to make more trips as soon as we get more settled into our new house.


heritage_center_35462My friend Zach and I decided to head out the other night after a church function and chase a particular photo that he’d had in mind for some time: the atrium of the newly remodeled Heritage Center / State Museum with the capitol behind it.  He took the near approach, and I took the far, actually hiking across State Street to the hillside adjacent to the former Baptist home.

I wanted to get the geometry just right, where the size of the Atrium lined up closely with the apparent size of the capitol.  This choice allowed a shot where the capitol appears to sprout from the glass of the foreground building.  I only wanted them close enough to provide the needed effect – I didn’t want them exactly the same, otherwise that effect would be blown.

Zach’s idea of waiting for blue light in the sky behind was brilliant.  Particularly cool was the variety of light we had on the horizon due to the waning sunset and various things in the atmosphere.  I juiced the color a little bit, but not much.  Then, with dozens of fresh mosquito bites, it was time to head home for more “new homeowner” stuff.

Satisfying sunset

riverboat_35390My precious, sweet wife and I recently celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. The timing wasn’t right for an elaborate vacation, but we did one better: we took our little guys on the Fort Lincoln Trolley and the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, with a picnic in between.  One thing that made it more special is that, aside from the riverboat cruise, I left my camera out of the picture (pun intended).

Getting the shot so often detracts from enjoying an event, something I know all too well due to the nature of my work.  For instance, I can’t count how many time I came home from running Instant Replay or directing a live sporting event show, unable to tell my wife who won.  It’s the nature of making things look good for others.

I’ve got plenty of photos and video from on board the Trolley anyway.  We did take a photo of our picnic, because it was at the location where I initially proposed to my then-girlfriend.  I was free to enjoy the afternoon and the evening.  I even brought a little Bluetooth speaker so I could dance with my wife on the Riverboat while Captain Jeff Bathiany, the coolest riverboat captain around, allowed my boys to join him and his dog in the cabin and pilot the boat.

There was one shot, however, that I really wanted to have.  Thankfully the two-up seat at the front of the boat was available, and as the boat chugged its way home I was able to quickly set up my tripod, frame up my shot, and let the light and the bridge come to me.  I also took a nice photo of my sweetie, too, but I don’t post photos of my family online.  The shot above, though, I’m eager to share.

Heavy duty floppy

I had the opportunity to take my little fellas to the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Historic Site recently, a site which I’ve visited multiple times.  I wrote a magazine article about this site when it first opened, and for that article I was able to spend the entire day below ground in the capsules taking photos.  I’ve been back since from time to time, but this was the first opportunity I had to bring my kids with me.  This time I spotted a couple of things I hadn’t looked at closely before.

lcm_floppy_35157Yes, it’s a heavy duty floppy drive.  There are actually two in this rack, mounted side by side.  I must admit I’m actually impressed that it looks like a 5 1/4″ drive, not the old 8″ drives that I would have expected.


lcm_modem_35156And how about this?  A modem!  Another term that most people don’t hear often, unless they’re cable internet subscribers.  Even then, we’re talking about baud versus megabit these days.  I remember 300baud or bps in my freshman year of college…that was painful.  Compare that with the 70+ megabit service that I enjoy in my home office now, and it makes it seem like I was computing via telegraph!

It just goes to show that there’s always an opportunity to encounter, and be fascinated by, something you’ve previously missed.  If you’d like to look at many more photos from this intriguing historic site, click here for the photos from my first trip to the newly-opened site.

Even more horribly overdue: Independence Day Parade 2015

Okay, they’re a month overdue.  So let me unload.

parade2015_34846Here’s what it’s all about:  the American soldier.  After all, we’re talking about fighting for liberty.


parade2015_34844I think this must be Plasma man or something?   Or is it Prostate Cancer Awareness Week? Hepatitis Bob?


parade2015_34842Pony tow.


parade2015_34859Before and after.  I love Kawasaki Green or anything approximating it.


parade2015_34862Of course, in North Dakota even July 4th has a Zamboni.  Duh.


parade2015_34868OSHA approved?  Maybe just for parade duty.  This is the company that was listing cntree.com in their TV commercials on KFYR…the only problem is that it was an Indonesian site selling counterfeit shoes.  Oops.


parade2015_34869Love a progression of matching tractors!


parade2015_34898Becks promoting their Fort Lincoln Trolley.  Shoot, I haven’t ridden it yet this summer!  Okay, it’s on the list.  One noteworthy thing about this fire truck:


parade2015_34900It’s apparently a Bismarck original!


parade2015_34905Well, some are more festive than others.  ‘MERICA.


parade2015_34850Kawasaki Green and Suzuki Blue?  Bartlet & West knows how to get themselves featured on this website.


parade2015_34906Butcher Block always does cool floats.  But the animated Mater wasn’t the thing that I liked the most about this year’s iteration:


parade2015_34910This is why I liked it so much.


parade2015_34917Again…a stark reminder of what freedom costs.


parade2015_34918Infuriating that any of our own would be left behind.


parade2015_34923Over $20 million PLUS staffing and operating costs?  A “thank you” is the least that Mandan voters should receive.


parade2015_34929Color guard.




parade2015_34958Lawrence Welk made North Dakota the home of the bubble machine.  This spa keeps the tradition alive.


parade2015_34961Seriously, folks.  This is what it’s all about.


parade2015_34972It’s pink, but it can lift more than you can.


parade2015_34968Unless you’re this guy.


parade2015_34856A whole range of John Deere tractors in procession, in order by model number.


parade2015_34976I’d say the kid knows how to race.


parade2015_34979A reminder to MOVE OVER when you see a law enforcement officer with someone pulled over.  It’s for everyone’s safety.


parade2015_34980As you can see from this side, they’re serious.


parade2015_34984Now that is colorful.


parade2015_34992And of course, there’s an opportunity to shoot a couple of free throws.

I’m glad the parade didn’t get rained out this year.  I miss the days, however, when everyone actually made floats.  Yeah, trucks and tractors and military vehicles are cool…but what about the creativity?  The most memorable participants in this year’s parade were the ones who made their own floats.   Of those, the ones who showed respect for the death and/or imprisonment of those fighting for our freedom were the ones which left lasting impressions on me.  Hopefully in future parades we’ll see that creativity return.