Category Archives: Religion

11-09-08 & 11-10-08

The folders 11-09-08 and 11-10-08 contain a wide variety of pictures. They range from a trip to Ottumwa to trips of a book downsizing to pictures of Shannon after she had her hair cut for Locks of Love.

I had forgot that I poorly decided that the best place to takes pictures for her after picture was on an abandoned train bridge that goes over Squaw Creek. This unfortunately lead to a tragic incident where some of the hair was lost. It was a stupid idea and this tragedy might be why the bridge was ultimately torn down a few years later. Which is kind of sad, because I like things that have been abandoned.

Here are some pictures to look at:


Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

11-09-08

Rainbow

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

Shannon After

The books photo is when I was preparing to buy a house and I decided to downsize my book collection. I should probably do that again.

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

The Future of Boone

The Shannon After

Lunchtography

Words, Words, Words

Next Saturday’s walk down memory lane will involve Iowa State football.

Boone FUMC Church Directory: Chapter 5

I think this is the final collection of pictures I took for the Boone First United Methodist Church Directory.

I think these pictures were taken on Graduation Sunday. However, that isn’t the reason for the red balloons. I just can’t remember the reason for the red balloons. Might have been the church’s birthday. That seems vaguely familiar.

I know at least a couple of these ended up in the Directory:


Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

This process gave me some ideas for the next Directory. I might have to take a more active role in crafting it.

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.

I Know What I Did Last Mother’s Day…

Reminder that tomorrow night the Boone First United Methodist Church Youth Group will be holding a fundraiser for their mission trip to Rapid City, South Dakota in June:


Ash Wednesday Spaghetti Supper

Cost is a free will donation. Come eat some delicious spaghetti. Throw a few ducats into the till. Heck, even stick around and enjoy a wonderful worship service. Support a good cause and borderline great kids!

Hope to see many of you there!
+++++++

While I work on the 2018 backlog, the most recent folder I cleared out was from pictures I took on Mother’s Day.

They range from pictures of my nephews grilling to pictures of me working on a self-portrait project (that heavily involves updating classic Photography 139 image “Blue Steel”) and pictures of Naima.

Enjoy:


Mother's Day - 2018

Mother's Day - 2018

Mother's Day - 2018

Naima at Dickcissel

Naima at Dickcissel

Naima at Dickcissel

Naima at Dickcissel

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT

The original “Blue Steel” was considered too sexy to hang on the wall of Salon 908. I’m not going to bother trying to get Blue Steel Redux on any public walls. However, one of them could be part of the Canvas Wall Project.

Get Your Ash!

Today’s post is somewhat more of an advertisement than informational or even photographical. This is me telling you what you should do for supper next Wednesday.

The Youth Group will be making and serving spaghetti next Wednesday night before our Ash Wednesday Service. The cost of eating delicious spaghetti is an at-will donation. All the money raised will go to support the youth group and youth group activities.

All the details you need are on this picture of this wonderful poster the Sr. High Youth Group made on Wednesday night:


Ash Wednesday Spaghetti Supper

If you want it spelled out more, this is what you need to know:

What: Ash Wednesday Spaghetti Dinner
Where: Boone First United Methodist Church
Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Time: 5:30-7 PM
Cost: Free Will Donation
Why: To support the Youth Group on their Mission Trip to Rapid City, South Dakota in June!

I can personally vouch for these kids. Look at some of the good works they did in Vidor, Texas last year:


Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Houston Mission Trip - 2018

Some of the pictured kids have moved on. Some of the pictured kids will be going. Many new faces will be getting their first taste of service Christianity through the mission trip lifestyle.

So come down on Wednesday and support a good cause and great kids! Then stay for our Ash Wednesday Worship Service!

+++++++

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


WEEK 181 - FACELESS PORTRAIT
FACELESS PORTRAIT

A FACELESS PORTRAIT is a portrait that does not include a person’s face. It could be a picture of just part of their body. Or with their face covered. They don’t even necessarily have to be in the picture.

Happy photo harvesting!

Boone FUMC Church Directory: Chapter 4

This collection of pictures I took for Boone First United Methodist Church’s Church Directory were taken because the Committee (I feel like I’m in an Orwell novel when I write ‘the Committee’, but if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that Orwell was a bloody optimist) wanted pictures of the choir, the praise band, Doug sermonizing, and of Children’s Time. These were taken on Mother’s Day, so the Children’s Time pictures are actually of a pageant of some kind the kids put on for their mothers.

I don’t actually think that any of these pictures are actually in the directory, but I haven’t studied it to within an inch of its life, like some people.

Have a peek:


Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

If our church looks like a happening place filled with all sorts of hip cats and the kind of place that you would like to check out, then you are correct. You don’t have to stand on ceremony though. Just invite yourself in. As the saying goes, “Walk-ins Welcome!”.

There is a “traditional” service at 9 AM on Sundays. A “contemporary” service at 11:15 AM on Sundays. There are a plethora of other activities sprinkled though out the work that you can pick from once you get plugged in.

Boone FUMC Church Directory: Chapter 3

Seems like another good time to release a collection of photos that I tooke for the Boone First United Methodist Church’s Church Directory.

In this collection are pictures I took of a particular stained glass window that the committee wanted, a communion set that the committee wanted, some Youth Group pictures the committee wanted and a choir picture the committee wanted.

You will see no pictures of Kio, which I believe is what the committee wanted. Too soon? Love you Kio!


Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

Boone FUMC Directory

There is still at least one, possibly two more sets of pictures from the Boone FUMC Church Directory Photo Shoots still out there to publish!

Selfie Project – January

Loyal leaders may recall that I started up the Selfie Project again in 2019. At the end of every month I will check-in with it to share some of my favorites from the month.

If you don’t want to wait until the end of the month, you can follow me on the Instagram to see what I have done and where I have been.

To follow me on the Instagram, scan my Nametag below:


Instagram Nametag

Spoiler: For January I’m not sure I did anything all that exciting. Although I did leave Iowa once to visit the Miller Triplets in Kansas.

Here are my favorites:


December 31, 2018
December 31, 2018

January 4, 2019
January 4

January 8, 2019
January 8

January 10, 2019
January 10

January 12, 2019
January 12

January 14, 2019
January 14

January 16, 2019
January 16

January 17, 2019
January 17

January 18, 2019
January 18

January 20, 2019
January 20

January 21, 2019
January 21

January 22, 2019
January 22

January 23, 2019
January 23

January 25, 2019
January 25

January 26, 2019
January 26

January 27, 2019
January 27

January 29, 2019
January 29

January 30, 2019
January 30

January 31, 2019
January 31

Hopefully I will be interesting in February. There is a baby I need to visit up in Minnesota. A baby I need to visit down in Des Moines. If the weather gets nicer, I could spend some time pursuing THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT or I could spend the entire month hanging around the house with Naima.

The struggle is real!

+++++++

Here is a big update on my pursuit of a drone:

  1. Car paid off. – I got the pink slip daddy!
  2. Training Budget Reimbursement – Bought about 10 books and signed up for an online portrait photography class that I will discuss someday.
  3. Purchase Popcorn Maker – The Union Street theater has procured its very own popcorn maker from Flat Earth Joe. The one that was borrowed from Andy’s friend of a friend has been returned.
  4. Computer Upgrade – I have completed upgrades on my home computer. I’ve put in a solid state drive to run the OS and the applications, I upped the RAM to 16 GB and I replaced the video card with a video card with twice the ram and that is capable of running 3 monitors.
  5. Figure out the effect of the Iowa GOP Tax Scam – The Iowa GOP Tax Scam will indeed result in me paying more taxes. There is about a $7 effect on my paycheck, meaning I am getting a tax cut of roughly $200. (Assuming the withholding from my paycheck is being done right.) However, since the Iowa GOP Tax Scam made it so a 6% sales tax is levied on all online purchases, I will be taxed well more than the $200 benefit. For example, I’ll pay over $100 in taxes on purchasing the drone that I wouldn’t have had to pay before the Iowa GOP Tax Scam became law. 
  6. Rear Brakes – I had the rear brakes replaced on my car last night. It costs me about 40% of what I was expecting Win!
  7. Computer Mine Bonus – I did indeed get a Computer Mine Bonus. I can’t complain about it one bit. 
  8. Bank Fraud Resolution – I am going to consider the bank fraud situation resolved. I haven’t received a letter saying that it is a done deal, but the bank did place the $350 that I requested in my bank account as a provisional credit. The investigation is still to be closed by January 31. I have a naive faith that the investigation will end in my favor. Otherwise, Credit Union Time?
  9. Federal GOP Tax Scam – The Tax Scam didn’t effect my tax refund at all. It was almost like it wasn’t meant to be a tax cut for lower class and middle class people. It is almost like it was a cash grab for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations under the ludicrous precept that some of the benefits would trickle down to us poor folks. I can say this with 100% certainty. I respect a person that believes the earth is flat way more than I respect somebody that believes in the Laffer Curve. 
  10. Change Jar -I have added some change to the change jar, including the change I won in a football pool at the Computer Mine. However, I am still probably 2 inches short of being almost full. I should effort to go through the cushions of my couches. If I can get within one inch, of the top of the jar, I will call this quest complete and proceed to order my drone.

That looks identical to last week’s drone update. This is because it is identical to last week’s drone update.

Here is what is different. I’ve decided not to wait until the coin jar is full to pull the trigger on the drone. I pulled the trigger last Friday and it should arrive to be safely caressed in my arms tomorrow.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to actually use it due to the weather, but I will monitor the weather closely. It is possible that the first day of decent weather I’ll take off of work and go play in the skies above us. No higher than 400 feet and not within 5 miles of an airport.

I know what you’re thinking, you snagged your reward before achieving your goals. That shows a lack of discipline. This is very disheartening, considering you have been yammering on and on to anybody that would listen that you are going to be more financially responsible this year.

This is true. My main goal of 2019 is to be lest wasteful with money in certain ways. However, the benefit of that is that I get to be more wasteful in other veins.

My way of being more financially responsible is to have set some goals.

Goal #1: Decrease my actual debt load my a certain amount of money. I’m not heavily in debt. I have a house payment and some credit card debt. However, while I don’t have a car payment, I want to hammer on my debt and get it below #X by the end of the year. I’ll report on my progress here, because congratulations, you just became my accountability buddies.

Goal #2: Figure out why my website is costing me so much more money than I ever intended. I have partially concluded this goal. I actually (I know people should do these things) sat down and reviewed what my webhost was charging me. I discovered that I was paying $10 a month for something called Website Builder, that I don’t use. I built my website with my own two hands and Vest’s two hands and WordPress. They are also charging me like 8 bucks a month for PHP 5.2+. I’m still trying to figure out whether or not I need that, but at the very least, I’m saving $120 bucks a year on this website.

Goal #3: To stop wasting so much money going out to lunch at work. It is not an exaggeration to say that in 2018 and the years before I went out to lunch, on average 4.5 out of 5 work days a week. If I conservatively estimate the average lunch to be $10, I probably spent $200 a month on lunch. That is $2400 a year. My goal is to only eat out for lunch 20% of the year. I estimate that just by bringing lunch from home, I can save $1800 a year. The good news is that I’m on track this year. In January there were 22 work days. I went out to lunch one time. I’m currently at a 4.5% eating out for lunch percentage. My worry is that I will get burned out on eating in. So I’m going to try to mix it up as much as possible. If you have any cheap, healthy lunches that are easy to prepare either at work or on the Sunday before the work week starts, throw them my way. This week I’m eating overnight oats. This space is a place where I might also share some of the recipes I come across. I have to thank American Ninja Steve for introducing me to overnight oats. I’m not making his recipe yet because it involves lots of exotic ingredients I need to be able to track down like flax milk and hemp heads. But when I make that for a week, I’ll share that recipe here.

Goal #4: Save money by buying used lenses. I’m still torn on whether or not I’m going to buy a new camera this year. It has been almost 3 years since I bought a new camera and I’m getting the itch. However, I am vexed on what camera to buy. I’ve thought about crossing over into the Sony mirrorless realm, but that means a whole new camera mount. The other option is to buy the camera that is above my camera in my current platform. That camera sells for about $3200. That price tag is going to take me a lot of meals of overnight oats to justify in my head. Especially with my debt lowering goals. While I don’t know about buying a new camera, I have compiled a list of lenses I want to buy this year. I’ve decided to hit the used lens market this year as I can save sometimes as much as 30% by going used. Some of the lens I want are pretty cheap, but some are not. The exciting news for you is that every time I get some used glass, you’ll get to read an exciting equipment review! Yay you!

Goal #5: Up % of the paycheck that goes into savings and 401K.

But none of this explains why I felt it was okay to pull the trigger on the drone with the change jar still 2 inches from the top.

There are two reasons for that:

#1. Through my works and luck at the computer mine, I had $325 in Amazon gift cards burning a hole in my virtual wallet. In my wildest dream, there isn’t $325 in the coin jar.

#2. I recently ordered a new photo toy called arsenal for $185. It is a camera attachment that allows you to control your camera with your smartphone. Now I can already control my camera with a smartphone, but there is limited control. It basically throws the camera into automatic and you get what you get. Arsenal allows you to control pretty much all the main settings on the camera. Plus it is supposed to do its own focus stacking and HDR. Plus it has some pretty sweet time-lapse settings. However, I got an email that they can’t make it Arsenal work with my camera and don’t think they ever will be able to. They refunded me that money. Although to be honest, that $185 isn’t going toward the drone. When the refund hits my account it is going towards some glass. Not sure which one I’ll pull the trigger on first. But don’t worry I’ll let you know.

So where is that change jar money going to go. Well, one camera purchase I am dedicated to this year is the Sony RX0. Therefore, when the change jar is full I will take it to the bank and then order up the Sony RX0.

This concludes your Tuesday camera equipment purchase updates.

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.

The Proverbial Swan Song

While I was preparing to write this entry I went down a rabbit hole on the origins of the term “swan song”.

I have heard the term many times, but never really understood what it meant. Apparently there is a belief dating back to ancient Greece that swans stay mostly mute for their life and then right before they die, they sing a beautiful song.

There is still a fair amount of debate on whether or not swans do in fact sing a beautiful song before they die. I would like to think it is true since swans are among the most beautiful of birds. They certainly are the most beautiful bird that you can see in Iowa, in the wild.

The term isn’t always morbid. Is has come to be synonymous with doing something great right before you retire.

I don’t know if this post 100% qualifies, but it is about a form of retirement for me.

For the last couple of years I have done some pro bono photography (although I once was paid in homemade treats for Naima) for the Boone Area Humane Society. The last time I did photography for them was when I covered their annual Pet Memorial Day Celebration.

Due to the shifting sands of the power structure of the Boone Area Humane Society, I have a feeling that I won’t be asked to do any photography for them in the coming years. But that is a story for a different time.

Here are some pictures from that event:


Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Pet Memorial Day - 2018

Kio ran the event. Pastor Doug gave a speech and lead us in prayer. It was a cool event. I hope it continues to happen in the future, but the way things stand currently, I have my doubts.

Another loss that people in one of my communities are experiencing is that we learned that we will be losing Pastor Doug and his amazing wife Jodie near the end of June. It is a good deal for Doug because he is getting a big fatty promotion. He will be the District Superintendent of the Southeast District. He will be posting up in Mount Pleasant.

For our church, it kinda sucks. Doug is a great Pastor and Jodie is possibly an even better Pastor’s wife. Losing both of them will leave a hole in our church that the next person or persons will have quite a time filling.

The new Pastor will also be like the 80th Pastor we have had in the last 5 years. Now that is probably hyperbole, but search your feelings, you know it to be true.

There is a common misconception that somewhere in The Bible it says “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” It is a common phrase that is trotted out as a reassurance when people are going through difficult times or grief.

The truth is that this isn’t in The Bible. Sorry, but sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

That being said, I would like to give the common response to the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

I wish God didn’t know we were so strong*.

The good news is that while God doesn’t say anything about giving us more than we can handle, God does say that we won’t be tempted beyond our limits:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Therefore, I hope my church will not be tempted to feel sorry for itself. I hope my church won’t feel tempted to cling to the past. I hope my church won’t be tempted to resist the future.

A new Pastor is coming. While they will be the 80th Pastor in the last 5 years, I have faith that we will get a good one. We are in a good position and while we aren’t exactly a “destination” denomination, we are in a relatively good place and we have some powerful people looking out for our interests.

Playing the numbers game, we’ve really only had one bad Pastor in the last 15 years. While they were a really, really, really, really, really bad Pastor (I mean the guy sermonized at least once a month about past congregants he had smited and that is just the tip of the iceberg), we aren’t due for another like him for at least 30 years. Those are my calculations at least.

While I’m sad to be losing such great people, I am optimistic about the future and what a new Pastor will bring to our church and what our church will bring to a new Pastor!

There is light at the end of the tunnel and at this time, I don’t hear a train.

*On a personal note, this phrase has always bothered me.