Category Archives: Jesse

Roundball Oracles – Year 15

It is time once again for the greatest sporting event of year. It is that time known as March Madness. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Once again, I will be sponsoring a pool. There is not cost to enter the pool, except for pride.

The winner gets a trophy. The dead last place person gets a trophy known as The Sara.

By winning, you get your name etched on the list of immortals:

PAST ROUNDBALL ORACLE CHAMPIONS

Past Roundball Oracle Champions:

2018 – Paul Golden
2017 – Paul Golden
2016 – Michelle Haupt
2015 – Derek Dohrman
2014 – Brandon Kahler
2013 – William McAlpine
2012 – Lowell Davis
2011 – Carrie Baier
2010 – Mark Wolfram
2009 – Mark Wolfram
2008 – Mark Wolfram
2007 – Tim Peterson
2006 – William McAlpine
2005 – William McAlpine

Paul’s repeat championship definitely puts a target square on his back.

But I said that there are 2 trophies. The 2nd trophy, The Sara, goes to the adult that finishes dead last, while trying. A person can not tank on purpose and win The Sara. The reason The Sara winner has to be an adult is that I don’t want to mock children, to their face. Probably a better rule would be that to “win” The Sara, you have to be at least a teenager. I have no problem mocking teenagers to their face. I do it pretty much every Wednesday night at Youth Group.

Past “The Sara” Winners:

The Sara

2018 – Robert Henning
2017 – Shannon Bardole – now Bardole-Foley
2016 – Laura Priest – now Miller
2015 – Derrick Gorshe
2014 – Sara Lockner

The Sara doesn’t have the long storied history of the championship trophy, but it will get there. I have no doubts.

Last year, 35 combatants threw their hats into the ring. Here are the standings from last year:

2018 STANDINGS
RANK TEAM NAME SCORE CORRECT BEST SCORE BEST CORRECT CHAMPION
1 Paul Golden 248 40 248 40 Duke (175)
2 Dawn Krause 243 38 243 38 Villanova (132)
3 Christopher Bennett 243 37 243 37 Villanova (153)
4 tim peterson 232 41 232 41 Michigan St. (165)
5 Michelle Haupt 232 35 232 35 Villanova (182)
6 Nate Miller 230 37 230 37 Villanova (159)
7 Jordan Toot 224 33 224 33 Villanova (108)
8 Corey Faust 223 34 223 34 Villanova (153)
9 Angie DeWaard 221 34 221 34 Villanova (201)
10 Rachel Johnson 219 39 219 39 Kansas (178)
11 Lowell Davis 215 38 215 38 Virginia (152)
12 Benjamin Baier 213 33 213 33 Virginia (112)
13 Derek Dohrman 205 36 205 36 Virginia (155)
14 Cathie Raley 204 35 204 35 Virginia (138)
15 Bill Wentworth 200 34 200 34 N. Carolina (97)
16 Sean Gildersleeve 198 35 198 35 Michigan St. (145)
17 Linda Bennett 195 36 195 36 Kansas (145)
18 Jesse Howard 195 35 195 35 Duke (146)
19 Olivia Baier 188 33 188 33 Virginia (133)
20 Toby Sebring 185 32 185 32 Arizona (148)
21 Russell Kennerly 184 33 184 33 Virginia (161)
22 Jackson Faust 182 32 182 32 Auburn (124)
23 Sean Clubine 173 33 173 33 N. Carolina (151)
24 Jason Baier 173 30 173 30 Virginia (159)
25 Michael Augustin 167 31 167 31 Virginia (186)
26 Brandon Kahler 166 33 166 33 Kansas (133)
27 Nader Parsaei 166 33 166 33 St. Bona. (170)
28 Andree Jauhari 165 32 165 32 Virginia (145)
29 Elizabeth Nordeen 165 32 165 32 N. Carolina (173)
30 Carrie Baier 162 31 162 31 Gonzaga (144)
31 Laura Priest 158 32 158 32 Duke (125)
32 FHMeiners 156 31 156 31 Kansas (167)
33 Becky Perky 152 32 152 32 Kansas (168)
34 Will Baier 148 25 148 25 Marshall (113)
35 Robert Henning 141 28 141 28 Kansas (156)
The rules are as follows:
Round 1 = 1 point + seed
Round 2 = 2 points + seed
Round 3 = 4 points + seed
Round 4 = 8 points + seed
Round 5 = 16 points + seed
Rounds 6 = 32 points + seed
I can tell that you are already sold and just want to know how to get into this competition, so that you can battle it out and possibly get your name on “The List of Immortals”. It is easy enough, just click on the link below:

Roundball Oracles – Year 15

Good luck! I know you will fare well!

11-01-08

The images from the folder 11-1-08 are all over the place. They include pictures of Jesse and I exploring the disc golf course in McHose Park to pictures of Shannon before she made a donation to Locks of Love to pictures of my Hoosier before it got fixed up to pictures Halloween in 2008.

I’m not a frolfer, but I do think that McHose Park has a badass disc golf course. The first 9 holes are nothing special, but the back 9 is a man’s golf course. When I say man’s golf course, what I really mean is that it isn’t for the faint of heart. It is for people that aren’t afraid to get lost in the woods and never heard from again.

The Hoosier pictures were taken from before Shannon’s dad came to pick it up. It was in storage and he did a wonderful job making it presentable again and he did it in plenty of time before I found a house to call home. Which was quite the feat, even though I did take my own sweet time with my house hunt.

The pictures of Shannon before she cut off her hair were taken in Brookside Park. This was Shannon’s 3rd donation to Locks of Love. In that collection of pictures is one of my favorite pictures of Shannon and I believe it is safe to say that I have taken lots of pictures of Shannon.

Finally, the 2008 Halloween pictures includes a picture of Willy in what was definitely the best Halloween costume he has ever had.

Have a look:


Halloween - 2008

Halloween - 2008

Halloween - 2008

Halloween - 2008

Halloween - 2008

Halloween - 2008

The Hoosier

The Hoosier

The Hoosier

The Hoosier

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Shannon Before Locks of Love

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Disc Golf

The stick figure pumpkin is the best pumpkin I have ever carved. Jay hated it. I’m not bitter about that, otherwise I wouldn’t be bringing it up over 10 years later.

By adding these pictures to the Photography 139 Gallery, I was able to restore the following historic “An Artist’s Notebook” entries to their original glory:

McHose Park Mystery

All Hallow’s Eve

Before

Another Before

Next Saturday’s walk down memory lane will involve another trip to Ottumwa and what Shannon looked like after she cut off her 12 or so inches of hair.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Triplets

After doing our “horns down” gesture, we loaded back into the car and headed north. Hoping to get deep into the heart of Oklahoma before bedding down for the night.

Leaving Austin we made a stop at Buc-ee’s. If you ever make it to Texas, I can’t strongly recommend stopping at a Buc-ee’s enough. Without mincing words, it is the best gas station in the world. I’m not just saying that because they have a beaver for a mascot.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Buc-ee’s is almost as big as Wal-Mart, but you can shop there without feeling that you are supporting an evil organization. They have just about everything you want, from a fudge shop to a barbecue shop. Do you need more than barbecue and fudge? You really have to experience it. Words don’t do it justice.

While I was Buc-ee’s I had an interesting encounter in the bathroom. Most men live by a rule that when you are at the urinal, you don’t speak to anybody around you. I don’t necessarily live by this rule, but I’m guessing 95% of men do.

While I was about my business a Washington State fan got my attention. I was thinking, “Great, I want to hear some dirty Cougar gloat about their victory while I’m in the most magical place on earth. (Buc-ee’s, for the record, not the men’s room.)

But he didn’t gloat though. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “The refs screwed you guys.”

I wasn’t looking to make a beautiful connection with another human being over gas station urinals, but here we were. I looked him back dead in the eyes and said:

“I know.”

Leaving Buc-ee’s I figured that we could unright a wrong that I didn’t even know I had committed. On the way through Waco we could stop at Magnolia and pick up the cupcake that I had apparently agreed to buy my Mom but had forgotten.

Because we knew the trick of the bakery food truck, I dropped Jesse off and scooped the loop of the silos district of Waco. I stopped and took a few pictures of an interesting looking burger joint and a church:


Waco

Waco

Waco

Waco

Waco

Waco

Waco

While scooping the loop I discovered something about Magnolia that we didn’t realize the first time we were there. They have a parking lot. If you ever find yourself visiting Magnolia, don’t fall for all the parking lots charging you $10 to park there. They have a free parking lot. Go there first.

I parked our trusty steed and headed into Magnolia. Right next to the bakery truck was the infamous Alabama Sweet Tea truck. This time it was open. Hallelujah!! I was going to be able to have even more sweet tea!

I got in line, but I was greeted by an extremely prejudiced menu:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Once again, the bigotry of southerners was thrown in my face. I almost decided to skip the sweet tea, but I persisted:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

After securing the sweet tea and the cupcakes, Jesse and I got back on Interstate 35 and efforted to make good time. We wanted to get as far north as we could to make the last day of our road trip as short as possible.

We did stop at the Texas-Oklahoma border to take our picture with the iconic Texas sign:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

I also saw this in the rest stop bathroom and I documented it because I didn’t know what to make of it. I still don’t know what to make of it:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

We stopped for supper at a Taco Casa in Ardmore, Oklahoma.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

I’m not going to say it was delicious, but it was cheap and there was lots of it and sometimes when you are on the open road, that is enough.

We left Taco Casa and gassed up at a Valero. At the pump next to us were a boyfriend-girlfriend or brother-sister combo, being in the south, possibly both, gassing up their truck. They were clearly loaded. I’m not an expert on Ardmore, Oklahoma, but if I had to take a guess at their controlled substance of choice, that guess would be meth.

Regardless of what they were on, they were clearly staring at me. It made me a little nervous because our car being a rental, I wasn’t packing the car knife that always resides in the Sir Pixalotmobile. If trouble was going to go down, all I had to rely on was my dashing good looks. Fortunately, that was all I needed.

Finally, the guy spoke to me.

“Sir, how tall are you?”

At least he got my name right.

“Six foot three or six foot four.”

His girlfriend/sister said, “You’re sure a tall $&#@er. What do they feed you?”

While I should have said “Meth heads.” What I really said was, “Taco Casa most recently.”

I finished gassing up the rental and we hit the road north looking to put distance between us and this unfortunate part of Oklahoma.

We drove for a couple more hours and bedded for the night at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Perry, Oklahoma. After spending about 15 minutes watching the Oklahoma-Alabama game with an Oklahoma State fan that turned out to be a hotel employee eating what looked like tapioca pudding out of about a one gallon bucket (my man) we were in our rooms and snoring the night away.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

We got up in the morning and enjoyed the continental breakfast that the Holiday Inn Express & Suites had to offer. They didn’t have a fancy pants omelette guy. But they did have conveyor belt pancakes and I can’t ever say a bad word about conveyor belt pancakes.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

But the real show stopper was this mango juice that they had on tap. It wasn’t straight mango juice, but it was still delicious. I knocked down something like 5 cups of it and then filled up my empty Alabama Sweet Tea mason jar with more of it for the road:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

It really hit the spot and I was melancholy when I finally knocked down the last few drops as we approached Manhattan, Kansas to visit Nate and Laura and the triplets.

There isn’t much to say about this visit other than TRIPLETS!!!


Triplets

Triplets

Triplets

Triplets

Triplets

Triplets

Triplets

The triplets were doing great. Nate and Laura were doing great for being so tired. The triplets slept the whole time we were there, so maybe triplets is easy? Either way, it was a great visit.

We said goodbye to the Millers and hit the road. There was a stop for lunch in Topeka and another stop for gas. However, it wasn’t long before we were back home in Boone, Iowa. The #1 Affordable Small Town Where You’d Actually Want to Live as ranked by realtor.com.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Alamo Bowl

We gave her a hug. Loaded back up in the rental and left Waco profoundly changed in a way that is hard to figure. My best guess is that it would be the way you would change if you saw the Vietnam War Memorial with a veteran of the Vietnam War or if you talked to a holocaust survivor or met somebody that was in the towers on 9/11. Something that was merely academic, was suddenly real.

We were a couple hours from San Antonio and several hours from the kickoff, but the game seemed decidedly less important than it did just an hour or so earlier.

We only made one stop between Waco and San Antonio. Some gas station that won’t be remembered for the cleanliness of their bathroom. Bathroom not pictured.

We reached our hotel near the San Antonio airport about 4 hours before kickoff. We dropped off our stuff and took an Uber to downtown San Antonio to meet Andree and his brother. The Uber driver really hated Lonestar Beer. He made a point of that in our conversation.

We met Andree and his brother at their hotel and walked to Fudrucker’s for supper. This violates the #1 rule of Christopher D. Bennett road tripping, but I was hungry and wasn’t in the mood to make a big deal out of it.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

The River Walk, which we walked by.

On our way to Fudrucker’s we ran into a guy with a beard that was almost as impressive as mine. We exchanged pleasantries and then we hugged it out for a bit. I think Andree and his brother were a bit mesmerized by this exchange. Apparently they have never hugged a complete stranger. Which is sad and means that they clearly need to grow beards.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip
My burger and onion rings hit the spot!

After the meal we walked to the Alamodome for the Alamo Bowl. We walked a good portion of the way with a Washington State graduate that was from San Antonio originally, but now lived in Japan. He was fortunate to be able to attend the bowl game of his alma mater because he had come home to visit his mom for the holidays. Washington State happened to be playing in San Antonio. Really worked out for him. He was a pretty cool guy.

We got to the game and I had an usher take our picture:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

The usher walked back like 20 rows to take our picture to make it horribly backlit. I did what I could to salvage the photo in post.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Unfortunately, the Cyclones couldn’t pull off the victory. The refereeing was dreadful. The kind of refereeing you get one Big Ten refs referee a Big 12 game. They just don’t see the caliber of athlete and they aren’t prepared for the speed of the game.

This resulted in one of Iowa State players being ejected from the game for targeting, but replays showed the Cyclone more like softly landed on top of the Cougar quarterback.

Another terrible call was a play where Matt Eaton caught a pass and took 4 steps before being tackled. The ball came loose as he hit the ground. It should have been a 20 or so yard completion for the Cyclones. Somehow the refs called it an incompletion.

Regardless of how terrible the refs were, Iowa State has to look in the mirror and face the fact that they gave that game away. 3 turnovers. 7 false start penalties. That isn’t a recipe for beating anybody, let alone a top ten team.

It was with that bitterness we filtered out of the Alamadome, knowing the better team didn’t win that night, but excited to see what these young Cyclones do in 2019. Even though we were facing the reality that Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery were probably leaving for the NFL with a year of eligibility left.

Jesse and I bid Andree and his brother a fond adieu and took a Lyft back to our hotel. I think our Lyft driver was somewhere on the autism spectrum. At the very least he was extremely socially awkward. Not the type of guy that hugs a stranger on the streets of San Antonio.

After having the same conversation with the Lyft driver at least 5 times on the way back to the hotel, I was relieved as we hit the hotel room. I crashed almost immediately.

Jesse had booked us kind of a fancy pants hotel with all his Marriott points. They had a spread for breakfast that made me almost (ALMOST) forgive them for not having a make your own waffle maker that makes waffles in the shape of Texas.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip
They had 2 guys making cook-to-order omelettes.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Jesse had something of a dreadful pain in the gulliver, so I took over the driving duties. The trip back to the Cyclone State was mostly business, but we did stop in Austin.


Austin
Austin artwork.

Austin

Austin

We also stopped to see the Stadium where the Texas Longhorns play football. I’m pretty sure it is the biggest stadium I’ve ever seen. It holds almost twice the number of people as Jack Trice Stadium. It feels twice the size of any other stadium I’ve seen. Such as where Kansas plays, where Kansas State plays, where Iowa plays, where Missouri plays, where the Vikings play, and where the Chiefs play. The only stadium I’ve been to that is comparable in size is where the Nebraska Bugeaters play.


Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Horns Down!

The guy we met outside of Texas’s stadium was interesting. He immediately wanted to engage us in a political discussion when he found out we weren’t from Texas.

He had two main planks to his political beliefs.

#1. Texas not having state income tax was the greatest thing ever.

I was happy for him to be so happy about it, but I tried to explain to him that having no income tax just means that he pays higher taxes in other areas. Furthermore, not having state income tax moves the tax burden from the wealthy and makes poor people pay more taxes.

He insisted this wasn’t the case, but it is in fact true.

The effective tax rate on the bottom 20% in states without income taxes is 10.7%. The effective tax rate on the bottom 20% in states with income taxes is 9.9%. 9.9% is less than 10.7% if you were trying to do the math.

The effective tax rate on the top 20% in states without income taxes is 4.7%. The effective tax rate on the top 20% in states with income taxes is 7.6%. 4.7% is less than 7.6% in case you were doing the math.

The sad truth is that whether or not you have an income tax or don’t have an income tax, the wealthy in this county don’t pay their fair share of the tax burden and the poor pay too much of a tax burden.

To his other point that he wasn’t get taxed more in other ways to make up for the lack of income tax, the numbers don’t back him up there either.

Just putting Iowa against Texas, Iowans pay a little more than 1% more in state taxes than Texans. But 1% is not the great number that he purported.

Iowans pay:

Total Tax Burden – 9.32%
Property Tax Burden – 3.45%
Income Tax Burden – 2.5%
Sales & Excise Tax Burden – 3.35%

Texans pay:

Total Tax Burden – 8.15%
Property Tax Burden – 3.70%
Income Tax Burden – 0.0%
Excise and Sales Tax Burden – 4.45%

Excise and sales tax burden is inordinately paid by the poor and middle class.

States that don’t have an income tax get that money from some place else. That some place else is usually the poor.

While the jury’s still out on the benefits of living in a state with no income tax, experts agree that there is one clear result for those states that do levy an income tax.

It helps the poor.

An income tax is a classic tool for redistributing wealth. It’s usually “progressive” in nature, meaning that it taxes higher earners at a greater rate than lower earners. Other taxes typically don’t have that Robin Hood-like characteristic.

Sales taxes, for example, are considered “regressive.” They don’t change depending on the income level of the consumer. They treat everyone the same. So do levies on food, gasoline and other key consumable items.

These taxes place an unfair burden on the poor, according to research from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The reason is the lowest earners in the state devote the lion’s share of their take-home pay to buying things that are subject to sales taxes. The wealthy, who can save a chunk of their income in their 401(k)s and other investments, have a much smaller exposure to the sales tax.

If you think I’m delving into class warfare, I will only say this:

There can’t be class warfare in this country until the poor start fighting back.

Here is my favorite example of how class warfare currently works in our country:

A billionaire, a worker, and an immigrant are sitting at a table with 1000 cookies. The billionaire takes 999 cookies and says to the worker, “watch out, that immigrant is going to take your cookie.”

#2. Ann Richards is the worst thing that ever happened to Texas.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Ann Richards. I’m not. I’m not going to defend her. However, after listening to this guy espouse about his libertarian belief for 15 minutes. Then listening to him call Ann Richards a bitch at least 5 times and tell us about how he celebrated her death, the only policy that he pointed out that was so terrible was that she repealed a law that made it legal to build a building that is taller than the state capitol building in Austin. That would be a libertarian policy. I’m not sure he actually knows what he is.

But I digress.

After doing our “horns down” gesture, we loaded back into the car and headed north. Hoping to get deep into the heart of Oklahoma before bedding down for the night.

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is TRANSPORTATION:



TRANSPORTATION

A TRANSPORTATION photo is a photo of anything that is TRANSPORTATION related. From trains to planes to automobiles. To bridges to tunnels to tracks.

Happy photo harvesting!

10-19-08

The pictures in the folder 10-19-08 are from the Iowa State-Nebraska football game in 2008.

One of the head coaches in the game would go on to win a national championship. The other coach… looks like he got exiled to someplace called Youngstown, Ohio.

Looking through these pictures, it does remind that when conference realignment hit the Big 12 and we lost Nebraska to the Big Ten, they are an opponent that I really miss playing. At least in football. No interest in playing them in basketball. It isn’t just because Nebraska slit their own throat by joining the Big Ten by severing recruiting ties with the state of Texas and now are amongst the worst teams in college football and would make an easy yearly W for Matt Campbell and the boys. I legitimately missing playing them and as much as it pains me to say it, I actually miss their fans coming to Jack Trice every other year. Their is nothing sweeter than rubbing a sweet victory in the face of a pompous Nebraska fan. Not even beating Iowa is that sweet and we all know how obnoxious a faction of that fanbase.

I also miss playing Missouri. Particularly in basketball. Their fans don’t travel like Nebraska fans and they aren’t that obnoxious, but it was a regional school with which Iowa State had a decent rivalry. I really enjoyed the 2 year basketball series Iowa State just had with Missouri. Even though both games ended up being blowouts.

Colorado was a traditional Iowa State opponent. They were the last school to join the Big 8 in 1947. Oklahoma State technically was the school to make it the Big 8 after they rejoined the conference in 1958, but let’s not pick nits here.

The point is, I also miss playing Colorado, but not anywhere near as much as I miss playing Nebraska and Missouri.

The other traitors to leave the conference was Texas A&M. I don’t miss playing them at all. Texas A&M is more like a cult than a school. While it is well-documented that I am fascinated by cults, I don’t want them coming into holy ground like Jack Trice Stadium or into the cathedral that i Hilton Coliseum. Ever. Good riddance to the Aggies.

I do like the Big 12’s current lineup of 10 teams. While the name is stupid when there are 10 schools, the Big 12 can’t become the Big 10 because there already is a Big 10, that has 13 schools. 14 if you count Rutgers. Which I do. Because I am a very charitable person.

I think the Big 12 is the only conference that gets it right. I know the other conferences added schools that don’t really belong because they were chasing television markets for television markets. It was a short-sighted pursuit because Americans are cord cutting like crazy. When all the major conference television contracts are up in 5 years, the way that people consume television will be entirely different. The majority of people won’t be watching content on traditional television channels. They will be consuming through streaming services. ESPN, Fox, and CBS won’t be willing to pay the outrageous fees for broadcast rights that they did 4 years ago. They won’t have the subscriber base that they did back then. Instead, services like Twitter, Hulu, and Amazon Prime and services that probably don’t even exist yet will be entering the fray for broadcast rights. They won’t care about size of television markets. They will be interested in content. It will be at this time that the Big Ten will really regret adding a Rutgers and a Maryland.

2 years ago when the Big 12 looked into adding 2 more schools was a glimpse at the future. The television networks actually paid the Big 12 more money to NOT expand.

This doesn’t mean that the Big 12 couldn’t implode in 5 years. It easily could, but I think it won’t. My best guess is that in 5 years the Big 12 expands and adds Arizona and Arizona State.

My second best theory is that conferences are broken up and the Power 5 schools and maybe a couple others are put into geographical districts. Kind of like high school football. At least in football.

But none of that isn’t why I think the Big 12 gets it right. I think they get it right because as a fan of a Big 12 school, I get to watch Iowa State play every single other school in their conference in football. In basketball, Iowa State gets to play a home and road game against every other team in the conference. It is the only conference where the regular season title actually means something. I love that, but I mostly love getting to play everybody in the conference. Instead of, and for example, Iowa only plays Ohio State in football about once every 8 years. That isn’t an exaggeration. Look it up.

That being said, in my dream world, the current lineup of the Big 12 isn’t what I would go with. In my dream world, I would get rid of West Virginia because geographically they just don’t belong. I would be a little bit sad to see them go because I legitimately hate their basketball team and can’t stand their ex-football coach. Their are seeds of a rivalry there. However, they belong in an east coast conference. They belong in the ACC. They certainly belong in the Big Ten more than Rutgers. I’d give them an edge over Maryland as well.

I would also kick out Baylor. Their football programs rape culture is an absolute disgrace. Not only should they have been kicked out of the Big 12, their football program should have been closed down.

Then I would bring back Nebraska and Missouri. This would make a pretty sweet conference:

1. Iowa State
2 Nebraska
3. Missouri
4. Kansas State
5. Kansas
6. Oklahoma
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas
9. Texas Tech
10. Texas Christian

It actually wouldn’t take too much pressing for me to want to kick out TCU and put Colorado back in. Nothing against TCU, but I don’t like competing against private colleges because they aren’t subject to the same open records policies that public universities are.

All the being said, here are some pictures from the Iowa State-Nebraska game:


Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Iowa State vs. Nebraska

I don’t know what the final score of this game was, but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. The Gene Chizik era at Iowa State ended with 10 straight losses. Most of them were beatings.

By adding these pictures to the Photography 139 Gallery I was able to restore the following historic “An Artist’s Notebook” entry to its original glory:

Nebraska Debacle

Next week’s walk down memory lane will involve women fighting for the right to vote. No, really.

Iowa State Cyclones Football – 2006

You might think this post really belongs on Saturday as it is a bit of a walk down memory lane, but these images were never really posted to “An Artist’s Notebook” until today.

I came across this collection of photos when I was looking for different photos as I’m trying to go back in time and get a better organizational system going for some of my first digital images.

Perhaps not terribly exciting, but I’m nothing if not boringly transparent.

Below are some of my favorite images I took of the Iowa State Cyclones football season during the 2006 season. Also known as Dan McCarney’s last season.


Iowa State Spring Game - 2006

Iowa State Spring Game - 2006

Iowa State vs. UNLV 2006

Iowa State vs. UNLV 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. UNI 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Kansas 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

Iowa State vs. Missouri 2006

There are about 650 more images for you to peruse if you click on the link below:

Iowa State Cyclones Football – 2006

I still think it was a mistake to fire McCarney. He still is my favorite coach in Cyclone history, however, if Matt Campbell continues to stick around and gets us into a Big 12 Championship Game, Campbell will be my new main man!

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Branch Davidians

We loaded up the car and I punched the address of the Branch Davidians Compound into the GPS. I had absolutely no clue what we would find what we would find when we got to the place where 76 people died in the Waco Siege.

You see, we had stayed the night in possibly one of the worst places in the United States. If it wasn’t for Chip and Joanna Gains, Waco, Texas would have zero positive press.

When you say Waco, Texas people only think of a handful of things in no particular order:

1. Branch Davidians and their fiery end.
2. The Baylor football program and the scores of sexual assaults and rapes that they committed that were then duly covered up by the school, athletic department, and most disturbingly… the police department.
3. The 1916 lynching, torturing, burning, and mutilating of Jesse Washington. A lynching that was attended by in excess of 10,000 people.*
4. Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy being murdered by fellow Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson.
5. FIXER UPPER

I wish I would’ve thought to go see the memorial to Jesse Washington, but it was forgotten. Sorry Jesse.

But being someone with an interest in history and more than a bit of a fascination with cults, there was no way we were going through Waco, Texas and not visiting the Branch Davidians and the site of the Waco Siege.

It is not a stretch to think that it was one of the most important historical events of the 1990s. It was an event that contributed to the dangerous rise of the alt-right and was directly responsible for the Oklahoma City Bombing. The deadliest domestic terrorist attack in American history. Killing 171 people. Including 19 children.

It is not overstated it to say that we would be living in a different America if the Waco Siege never happened. If you don’t know or don’t remember the Waco Siege, here is a brief synopsis from the Wiki:

The Waco siege was the siege of a compound belonging to the Branch Davidians, carried out by American federal and Texas state law enforcement, as well as the U.S. military, between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians were led by David Koresh and were headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Axtell, Texas, 13 miles (21 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. Suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Koresh and a select few of the group’s members.

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. In total, 76 people died, including David Koresh.

There is too much controversy and too much backstory to really do the Waco Siege justice. If you have questions about it, I suggest you leave them in the comments and I’ll answer with what knowledge I have and what opinions I possess.

What I will state definitively is that the Waco Siege was a terrible waste of life that could have been easily avoided. It is what happens when law enforcement tries to do things for public relations, rather than for… well law enforcement. They took their mistakes at Ruby Ridge and made them exponentially worse.

I’m sure these were some of my thoughts as we pulled up to the gate of Mount Carmel. One gate was open. There was a sign that said that you could get a look around the ranch for $10.

Shortly after we pulled into the ranch a truck came speeding up towards us. Considering where we were, was a little disconcerting. The driver rolled down their window and told us that we should hurry up to the chapel. They were giving a tour up there and we could make it if we hurried.

So we bypassed the building we thought we were supposed to pay at and headed up to the chapel.

Once we got there, there was a guy there telling the story of the Waco Siege. He wasn’t a member of the Branch Davidians in 1993, but now he researched the event with David Thibodeau** (one of the few to survive the fire).

He showed us pictures of the people that perished in the fire. He showed us “trophy photos” that the FBI took after the church (they are offended by the term “compound” because of its militaristic connotation) burned completely down. If you know any hunters, you know what a trophy photo is. You can imagine what you would feel like if people took trophy photos with the remains of your friends and loved ones.

He argued that David Koresh wasn’t even doing anything illegal. It isn’t illegal to stockpile and sell firearms. While it might (you can take out the might for me) be morally reprehensible to most of us to have sex with 14 year old girls, in Texas 14 year olds can be married with parental consent. Which David Koresh did have. Yeah. Gross. Texas, Do better.

Eventually the man (I can’t remember his name) left and we were introduced to Heather***. Heather really made this a special stop.

Heather was 9 years old during the Waco Siege. She was in Mount Carmel when the siege began. She was the last person to leave, days before the final assault that ended in the deaths of almost every Branch Davidian in the building. Including her father.

If you know the timeline of the Waco Siege, Heather’s dad was the mailman that was inadvertently tipped off to the ATF’s attack by a lost member of the media. This is why the ATF didn’t have the element of surprise. This is why the raid should have been called off.

Before he died, he gave her a teddy bear and told her that the bear would watch over her until he saw her again. Then he sent her out into the “Babylonian” world.

As she told us the story she paused and then said, “I didn’t know at the time that he meant, when we see each other in heaven.”

As she walked down the driveway, she expected to be shot in the head every step she took. Finally, she reached the end of the drive and was grabbed by the police. They took the teddy bear away from her and ripped it up.

This wasn’t done (completely) out of malice though. They were checking the bear for a bomb. There wasn’t one.

Tears rolled down her face as she told us this part of the story.

Then she said, “I never got the bear back.”

You could tell with the way she said it that it still hurts that the last thing her dad gave her. The thing that was supposed to “watch over her” was taken from her, destroyed, and never returned.

She wiped the tears off her face and apologized for crying.

We told her not to apologize and thanked her for sharing such a memory to people who were basically tourists in her pain.

Then she offered to give show us the rest of the grounds.


Branch Davidians
The current chapel was built in the same place as the chapel that was burnt down.

Branch Davidians
The fire.

Branch Davidians
Trophy photos.

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Stage.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Telling the story.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Pointing out the “Trophy Photos”.

Branch Davidians
David Koresh

Branch Davidians
Heather is seated in the lower right hand corner.

Branch Davidians
David Koresh thought he was the second coming of Jesus, but this time he wasn’t sinless.

Branch Davidians
Bill Clinton was president during the Waco Siege.

Branch Davidians
Tanks crushed this bus.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
People were trapped in this storage room.

Branch Davidians
Heather’s ducks.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
They built this pool the year before the Siege. They got to use if for 1 year.

Branch Davidians
Heather was really cold. It wasn’t cold for Iowans with plenty of built in insulation.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Oklahoma City Memorial

Branch Davidians
ATF Officer Memorial

Branch Davidians
Current Chapel

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidian Memorial

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidians are an offshoot of Seventh Day Adventists.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Gate.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
The road outside of Mount Carmel.

Branch Davidians
The Branch

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Selfie with Heather.

During the tour Heather didn’t say anything positive about David Koresh. She talked about how he separated her from her dad and took over her discipline.

As a child Heather was pigeon-toed. He used to make her walk back and forth the length of Mount Carmel. He would hit her with a stick when he felt she was walking pigeon-toed.

If David Koresh would have stayed alive and remained in power, she would have become one of his wives when she turned 14.

Mount Carmel burned down when I was in high school. We watched it in class. I have seen at least 5 documentaries on it. I have seen a movie on it. Willy and I watched the WACO television show last year. The tragedy of what happened there didn’t really hit home until I was standing on the same ground where it all happened. It is something I will never forget.

We thanked Heather again for sharing and giving us a tour. I felt like a doucher, but I asked for a picture with her. She obliged willingly. She asked us to friend her on The Facebook. This made me feel like less of a doucher.

I broke my 2 month absence from Facebook long enough to become her friend on The Facebook, but I haven’t been back since. If I ever get the stomach to return, I’ll hit her up and see if she remembers us and see how she is doing.

We gave her a hug. Loaded back up in the rental and left Waco profoundly changed in a way that is hard to figure. My best guess is that it would be the way you would change if you saw the Vietnam War Memorial with a veteran of the Vietnam War or if you talked to a holocaust survivor or met somebody that was in the towers on 9/11. Something that was merely academic, was suddenly real.

We were a couple hours from San Antonio and several hours from the kickoff, but the game seemed decidedly less important than it did just an hour or so earlier.

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is RUINS.


WEEK 177 - RUINS
RUINS

A RUINS photo is a picture of something that is in decay.

Happy photo harvesting!

*If we ever have Youth Group again, we will briefly discuss the lynching of Jesse Washington
**David Thibodeau is the survivor that wrote the book that part of the television show WACO is based on. He was played by Rory Caulkin in the show. I can’t recommend that show highly enough.
***Heather is featured in a documentary about the Branch Davidians that aired on A&E in 2018. I have procured a digital copy of it. If you ever want to watch it, I can arrange it. But you have to ask nicely.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Magnolia

I slept like a baby. Like an angel. Like a baby angel. I woke up in the morning ready to take on the world.

After I got out of the shower I decided to walk the Motel 6 grounds to check out the lay of the land. I carried the trusty Alpha 77ii with me as I was deleting images because I didn’t want to run out of images on the memory card because we were going 2 places I planned to photograph.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Motel 6

While I was deleting pictures a paranoid Motel 6 employee approached me and wanted to know what I was photographing. I explained nothing, I was just deleting images. He seemed to be satisfied with this answer. But he also seemed to shadow me for several minutes. Not very trusting these Waco types.

I don’t watch a ton of home improvement shows, but my two favorites are REHAB ADDICT and FIXER UPPER. While Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t making the show now, they have created a tourist trap where people can fork over their hard earned coin for overpriced mugs, shirts, and bags.

Jesse and I left the hotel and headed to this oasis in Waco known as Magnolia.

Here are a few images:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

The fact that the Alabama Sweet Tea food trailer wasn’t open was a minor tragedy. True, I still had a couple bottles of Gold Peak Extra Sweet Tea in the cooler in the car, but I strongly wanted to evaluate this Alabama Sweet Tea to see how it stacked up against my own brew, Thick Soul Sweet Tea.

The lack of Alabama Sweet Tea wasn’t going to ruin the trip, but it certainly left a hole in the trip that didn’t seem could be filled.

My recommendation if you go to Magnolia is to skip the bakery. There is a trailer that sells the same food as the bakery, with a considerably shorter line.

Magnolia was cool and all, but it is still mostly just a store. As a minimalist, there is only so much unabashed commerce I can stand.

That being said, if you are in Waco I would recommend stopping.

As for the bakery, I had the Silo Cookie and the Chocolate Chip Cookie. They were both tasty, but the Chocolate Chip Cookie has it all over the Silo Cookie. They also sold cupcakes, but I didn’t purchase any, as I am not a big fan of cupcakes.

We loaded up the car and I punched the address of the Branch Davidians Compound into the GPS. I had absolutely no clue what we would find what we would find when we got to the place where 76 people died in the Waco Siege.

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is SURPRISE!


WEEK 176- SURPRISE
SURPRISE

A SURPRISE photo is a photo of anything that deals with a SURPRISE. From reactions to results to planning.

Happy photo harvesting!

President Quest 2020 – Kirsten Gillibrand

I have a personal quest to meet, photograph, or see in person the politician that will take office as the next President of the United States in 2021.

In my quest I will try to see every (major-ish) candidate seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party. This quest could take some time as there will probably be at least 20 candidates.

The good news is that I have until February 3, 2020 to complete my quest. That is the day that Iowa file into schools, courthouses, churches and wherever else to cast their vote to help decide their party’s presidential nominee.

It gives Iowa an importance in our democracy that it quite frankly doesn’t deserve. Iowa’s populace isn’t a reflection of the demographics of the nation at large. Iowans are substantially older and substantially whiter than the rest of the country.

Iowans certainly aren’t the smartest in the country as we have consistently sent white supremacist Steve King and doddering old dementia case Chuck Grassley to represent us in Congress for the last several years.

In our defense, US NEWS & WORLD REPORT did rank Iowa the best state in the country. Ranking us #1 Overall, #3 in Health Care, #5 in Education, #17 in Economy, #4 in Opportunity, #1 in Infrastructure, #15 in Crime & Corrections, #21 in Fiscal Stability, and #9 in Quality of Life.

Whether it is fair or not, it is simply the way that it is for now. While Iowa doesn’t deserve its place in the pecking order, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take advantage of it.

The first candidate I saw, photographed, and asked a question to was Kirsten Gillibrand. I don’t think I met her. I don’t think I shook hands with her. I didn’t get a chance to get my picture with her because I did 4 interviews while she was leaving.

I’m not an expert on Kirsten Gillibrand. I do have a leaning on whom I will vote for next February and it isn’t her, but going into this process, nearly everybody has a chance to earn my vote.

What I knew about her before yesterday is that many Democrats blame her for Al Franken resigning from the Senate because she pushed for his resignation. I don’t blame her for this because if Al Franken didn’t want to have to resign from the Senate, he shouldn’t have been grabbing boobs without being asked to grab them boobs.

Gillibrand is a Senator from New York. She has been since 2010. Here is a little on her early life from the Wikipedia:

Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik was born on December 9, 1966 in Albany, New York, the daughter of Polly Edwina (Noonan) and Douglas Paul Rutnik. Both her parents are attorneys, and her father has also worked as a lobbyist. Her parents divorced in the late 1980s. Gillibrand has an older brother, Douglas Rutnik, and a younger sister, Erin Rutnik Tschantret. Her maternal grandmother is Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, a founder of the Albany Democratic Women’s Club, as well as a leader in Albany Mayor Erastus Corning’s powerful political machine, which lasted for more than 40 years. She has English, Austrian, Scottish, German, and Irish ancestry.

During her childhood and college years, Gillibrand used the nickname “Tina.” She began using her birth name of Kirsten a few years after law school. In 1984, she graduated from Emma Willard School, an all women’s private school located in Troy, New York, and then enrolled at Dartmouth College. Gillibrand majored in Asian Studies, studying in both Beijing and Taiwan. While in Beijing, she studied and lived with actress Connie Britton at Beijing Normal University. Gillibrand graduated magna cum laude in 1988. While at Dartmouth, she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. During college, Gillibrand interned at Republican U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato’s Albany office. Gillibrand received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law and passed the bar exam in 1991.

She currently serves on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Committee on Armed Services; and Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Here are some pictures from the event:


Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

I got to ask her the last question. I asked her:

“Before we vote, there will be 20 or so candidates vying for the nomination. What separates you from the rest of the field?”

Because I asked this question I got interviewed 4 times. I was interviewed once by ABC before Gillibrand arrived. Then afterwards, I was interviewed by THE NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, the newspaper from Buffalo, and a television station from New York.

While I was flattered by the media attention and tried my best not to sound like a moron, it did prevent me from getting a picture with Senator Gillibrand.

Maybe next time I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

Here are some pictures Jesse took of my media attention:


Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Stephanie (a NEW YORK TIMES employee) sent me the following screen capture of me being referenced in THE NEW YORK TIMES:


Kirsten Gillibrand

She is going to send me a copy of the newspaper for my scrapbook!

The following people have declared their candidacy:

-Julian Castro
-John Delaney
-Tulsi Gabbard
-Richard Ojeda

Of those, I only really consider Castro a serious contender. Most of the heavy hitters haven’t declared yet. I’m pretty sure the next President hasn’t declared yet, but I could be wrong.

I’ll try to see all the candidates that I can!

I’ll close this posting by hoping that many of you make it outside into the cold tonight to witness the lunar eclipse. It is one of the true wonders of nature!

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: USS Batfish

After paying our respects to “The Tall Chief”, we hit the open road. We headed south in Oklahoma and weren’t really sure what we would find.

Several miles down the road we saw a sign for Muskogee. While I am personally devoid of musical talent, I do love music. I wanted to visit the town from the Merle Haggard classic.

Unfortunately, the signs indicated that we needed to make about a 60 mile detour to visit Muskogee. Nothing against Merle Haggard, but we aren’t talking about Johnny Cash here.

However, the signs seemed to be wrong. Not seemed to be wrong. The sign was wrong. We headed straight when it told us to turn. Yet, we drove right into Muskogee, Oklahoma. Where we were able to observe many an Okie. From Muskogee. Many of them seemed to be livin’ right. We didn’t see any that had let their hair grow long and shaggy. Unfortunately I can’t say I saw any Okies holding hands and pitchin’ woo. That being said, it definitely seemed like the kind of place where even squares can have a ball.

Since we had hit the mythical Haggard town, I was hoping to find a statue of Merle Haggard or at least a plaque that bragged up the only reason anybody has ever heard of Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA. But my mad googling didn’t come up with any information on a Merle Haggard statue or even a plaque indicating where kids still respect the college dean or even a store that sells white lightning.

The biggest tourist attraction in Muskogee… Oklahoma… USA.. according to the googles was a park that had a submarine in it.

A park with a submarine in it?

Muskogee is a good 10 hour drive from the nearest ocean, gulf, or sea. So a submarine… in the middle of a park? This is something we had to see.

We put in the GPS coordinates into the phone and before you knew it, we had paid $7 and were staring at a submarine.

This is what we saw:


U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

U.S.S. Batfish

The submarine is the USS Batfish. It was launched in 1943 and decommissioned in 1969. It is known primarily for sinking three Japanese submarines in a 76 hour period in 1945.

It was definitely one of the surprise bonuses of the road trip. It also confirmed my belief that I would never make it in a submarine. In addition to never wanting to me submerged underwater at a depth of any more than a few feet, submarines are definitely not made for the talls.

Average height for people serving on the USS Batfish was 5 foot 8 inches. I believe anything below 5 foot 10 inches is considered a midget. Some of them preferred to be called dwarves. None of them enjoy being tossed.

We bid a fond adieu to the USS Batfish and got back on the open road. Let the tones of Merle Haggard take us from Muskogee.

“We still wave Old Glory down at the court house…”

As we meandered down to Texas we enjoyed a beautiful Oklahoma sunset on an unknown lake:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

When we hit Atoka, Oklahoma we stopped for gas, snacks, and a restroom break at a Pilot Travel Center. It was here that I made the most wonderful discovery! You could call it an Alamo Bowl miracle!


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

As an aficionado of sweet tea of some note, Gold Peak Extra Sweet Tea is kind of like my holy grail. While southerners cling to their racist past and try to denigrate us yankees incorrectly for not knowing sweet tea, there is one thing they do have. Gold Peak Extra Sweet Tea. I have never been able to find it up north. This makes me melancholy. It is a fact that I have even tried to order it online, with nothing but failure greeting my every step.

I was beginning to think Gold Peak Extra Sweet Tea was something that I had imagined. But it isn’t.

I picked up a few bottles and we hit the open road, more than a little bit happier than before we had met the magical place known as Pilot Travel Center in Atoka, Oklahoma.

Our next stop was for supper. We got a little ways past Dallas and pulled in to the first Whataburger we could find.

Who has two thumbs and LOVES Whataburger?

This guy!

I realize now, that would work better with a picture.

Enjoy these pictures instead:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Whataburger is the #1 franchise we don’t have in Iowa that I wish we had in Iowa. There isn’t even a close second. And not just because as a general rule I can’t stand corporate eateries.

We made the rest of the journey and found a cheap hotel in Waco and bedded down for the night.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

It was a Motel 6. They don’t have breakfast, but it is still relatively nice compared to some of the other places that Jesse and I have stayed.

I slept like a baby. Like an angel. Like a baby angel. I woke up in the morning ready to take on the world.

To be continued…

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is MACRO!



MACRO

But what is a MACRO photo? There is a technical definition that involves the ration of the real life object being a 1:1 ratio for reproduction blah, blah, blah.

All you need to know is that it is close-up photography. Get close to your subject. Very close. Very, very, very close.

Happy photo harvesting!