Category Archives: Jesse

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.

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Trophy photos.

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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.

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Branch Davidians

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Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Gate.

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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.

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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

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Magnolia

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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.

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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

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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…

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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!

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: The Tall Chief

Jesse and I left for the Alamo Bowl at about 7 AM on Thursday, December 27.

Our first stop was at a Casey’s in Peculiar, Missouri. It was noteworthy mostly because gas there was $1.75 a gallon. A good 20 cents cheaper than in the Cyclone State:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Our second stop was at Red Hot & Blue a blues themed barbecue in Joplin, Missouri. Every time I get just a little bit south into the Civil War participant ribbon part of the country I try to drink almost exclusively sweet tea.

There is a thing about southerners where they don’t think us yankees know anything about sweet tea. A point that was hammered home by a Waffle House waitress in Mississippi during the Liberty Bowl Road Trip.


Liberty Bowl Road Trip

It is a myth that all yankees don’t know about sweet tea. I am somewhat of an expert on sweet tea. I design and make Thick Soul Sweet Tea for Baby Got Rack Barbecue, an award winning competitive barbecue team of some note.

When we posted up in Red Hot & Blue I ordered up a sweet tea. This became a story in 3 acts.

Sweet Tea: Act 1

The first glass of sweet tea hit the spot. It had almost the perfect amount of sweetness. Almost.

Sweet Tea: Act 2

The refill was decidedly less sweet. Maybe about 45% as sweet as the first glass of goodness.

Sweet Tea: Act 3

They gave us a glass of sweet tea for the road. This final insult to sweet tea was an insult to sweet tea. It was little more than brown water. Did you have an aunt growing up that put so little sugar in Kool-Aid that it was little more than colored water? That wasn’t just me? It was an abomination.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Our next stop was at the Conoco One Stop Food Mart in Big Cabin, Oklahoma. The thing that stands out about the Conoco One Stop Food Mart is that in the front of its parking lot is a 46 foot tall statue called The Tall Chief.

It might be the best art in Oklahoma, if this gas station clock of Taylor Swift is any indication:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

I pulled out the real camera and took some photos of “The Tall Chief”:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

After paying our respects to “The Tall Chief” we hit the open road heading towards San Antonio, but uncertain what we would see between there and there.

To be continued…

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Reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is ART:


WEEK 174 - ART
ART

An ART photo is any photo of a piece of ART or of somebody engaging in making a piece of ART. A truly confident person could argue that any photo they take is a piece of ART.

Happy photo harvesting!

Alamo Bowl Road Trip – Phonetos

Last week Jesse and I hopped in a rental car and headed to San Antonio to watch the Iowa State Cyclones play against the Washington State Cougars and the worst refereeing crew from the Big Ten in the Alamo Bowl.

While the game didn’t turn out the way that we had hoped, it was still an amazing trip full of precious moments. Even though, we willfully drove by the Precious Moments Museum and did not stop.

Here are some pictures from the trip I took with my trusty Pixel 2:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

I will have more commentary on these photos in upcoming posts.

Post #3252 – 2018 Year in Review

Happy New Year to people who celebrate such things.

I like to look at some meaningless statistics every 250 posts and I also look at fairly meaningless year end statistics.

Just so happens that I get to combine them today!!

Here is both a year in review and a celebration that I have made it to 3252 blog posts. I was on the Alamo Bowl Road Trip visiting submarines, cults, and reality television stars when post #3250 came around, so I hope you can excuse the tardiness.

The first thing I want to look at are the most popular CATEGORIES in the history of “An Artist’s Notebook”.

Top 10 Journal Entry Categories

1. Portrait – 527
2. Weekly Photo Challenge – 504
3. Flowers – 497
4. Animals – 405
5. Jesse – 361
6. Photography – 355
7. Shannon – 320
8. Teresa – 296
9. Black & White – 291
10. Carla – 280

Top 10 People Categories

1. Jesse – 361
2. Shannon – 320
3. Teresa – 296
4. Carla – 280
5. Jay – 279
6. Mom – 277
7. Derrick – 256
8. Willy – 227
9. Vest – 221
10. Jen – 209

Top 10 Not-People Categories

1. Portrait – 527
2. Weekly Photo Challenge – 504
3. Flowers – 497
4. Animals – 405
5. Photography – 355
6. Black & White – 291
7. Road Trip – 262
8. Personal Photo Project – 261
9. Life – 234
10. Nature – 215

“Photography” and “Life” are general categories that I have been working on eliminating as I go back and restore historical “An Artist’s Notebook” entries to their original glory. Hopefully they will have both dropped off the Top 10 Lists by journal entry #3500.

If you are wondering how to become a Top 10 person on this list. The easiest way is to submit to the Weekly Photo Challenge. After that, the best way is to volunteer to model and photo assist for photography projects. Then after that, I would suggest going on road trips with me or attending Iowa State athletic events with me or going on road trips to Iowa State athletic events with me.

The people that are right outside of the Top 10 are:: Sara, Kim, Dawn, Becky, and Nader.

If you are looking for a goal for 2019, you could do worse than trying to crack the Photography 139 Top Ten People Category List. You obviously could do way, way, way, way, way, way, way better too.

Now we will turn out eye towards 2018.

Top 10 Most Popular Photography 139 Galleries of 2018 by Views

1. 9 EMOTIONS PROJECT – 48,722
2. WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE YEAR 5 – 37,614
3. WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE YEAR 5 – ALTERNATES – 33,622
4. 2008 – JANUARY – JUNE – 26,032
5. SELFIE PROJECT – 2017 – 23,141
6. HOUSTON MISSION TRIP – 2018 – 22,046
7. SOUTH DAKOTA TRIP – 2017 – 21,868
8. BOONE COUNTY FAIR CONTEST NOMINEES – 2018 – 17,211
9. SAYDIE HOWARD – CLASS OF 2017 – 14,808
10. IOWA STATE CYCLONES FOOTBALL – 2018

The 10 Most Popular Photography 139 Images by Views


Selfie Project - January 27
1. 2524

01-01-08
2. 2386


3. 2327

Kentucky Vacation - 2008
4. 1958

No. 45
5. 1621

No. 43
6. 1456

No. 12
7. 1445

July 15, 2017
8. 1321

WEEK 110 - REFLECTION - CHRISTOPHER D. BENNETT
9. 1293

No. 38
10. 1241

On the Instagram, these were my 9 Most Popular Photos based on Likes:


My theme for my 2018 Instagram posts was Black & White. My theme for 2019 will be HDR Toning. Also, I will be bringing back THE SELFIE PROJECT to Instagram in 2019.

You can follow me on Instagram here:

@christopherdbennett

I entered 3 photo contests with the following results:


Boone County Fair - 2018
Red Ribbon – Boone County Fair

Boone County Fair - 2018
Purple Ribbon – Boone County Fair

Boone County Fair - 2018
Blue Ribbon – Boone County Fair

Boone County Fair - 2018
Blue Ribbon – Boone County Fair

Boone County Fair - 2018
Blue Ribbon – Boone County Fair

Iowa State Fair Entry - 2018
Selected for Display – Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair Entry - 2018
Not Selected for Display – Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair Entry - 2018
Selected for Display – Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair Entry - 2018
Not Selected for Display – Iowa State Fair

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
1st Place Photoshop – Pufferbilly Days

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
1st Place Photojournalism – Pufferbilly Days

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
Pufferbilly Days

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
3rd Place Hidden Treasures of Boone County – Pufferbilly Days

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
Pufferbilly Days

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2018
Pufferbilly Days

Last note:

My goal for 2019 is the same as it was in 2018:

I’m gonna step my game up and get what is coming to me.

Good luck in 2019 everybody!

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 172 – FRIENDS

I have to confess that this is one of the saddest blog posts I’ve ever had the solemn duty to post. It seems that next to nobody out there has any FRIENDS. At least not any FRIENDS that they would be willing photography.

Or perhaps the fault lies in me and I have very few FRIENDS. I do have many failings. Sorry Clarence.

Due to the extreme simplicity of this theme, I refuse to accept the “holidays” as an excuse. Perhaps I should throw a birthday party (for myself) in 2019 just to establish that I do in fact have FRIENDS and to help out the many people out there that apparently don’t have any FRIENDS.

Despite the general lack of camaraderie that is out in the world today, “An Artist’s Notebook” will break new ground today. Today marks the first ever joint submission, at least that I can recall.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk about the lack of participation rates. You came here to see the lack of submissions:


WEEK 172 - FRIENDS - KIM BARKER/MICHELLE HAUPT
Kim Barker/Michelle Haupt


Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 172 - FRIENDS - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

WEEK 172 - CARLA STENSLAND - FRIENDS
Carla Stensland

WEEK 172 - CARLA STENSLAND - FRIENDS
Carla Stensland

WEEK 172 - CARLA STENSLAND - FRIENDS
Carla Stensland

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:


WEEK 173 - ABSTRACT
ABSTRACT

ABSTRACT! What a great theme! This is one of the easiest things on the big board. Not as easy as FRIENDS, but pretty darn tooting easy! An ABSTRACT image is an image where there isn’t a clearly defined subject. Taking pictures of things like lights out of focus or that are moving are excellent ways to make an ABSTRACT image.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations!

HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

+++++++

That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very abstract Monday.

A Photo Journal – Henry Carroll – Page 13

Before we dig into the meat of this blog, I should point out that I’m (hopefully) in San Antonio right now. Getting ready to root for the Cyclones against the Washington State Cougars in the Alamo Bowl.

You should definitely sit down and root the Cyclones to victory.

The game starts at 8 PM Central Standard Time. The channel is ESPN. Root hard, because better believe that I will be!

+++++++

Last Thursday night Andy texted me and invited me to come to an event I’ve never been to in my life. Something I’ve never really wanted to attend. However, it involved his progeny Kyle and Kyle is a good egg, so I figured, “Why not?”

It was also a good chance to put Page 13 into the completed column of THE PHOTO JOURNAL PROJECT:


Photo Journal - Page 13
Page 13 – Take a picture that helps you come to terms with a personal hang-up.

How is a high school wrestling meet a personal hang-up? It isn’t really. It is more like Youth Sports is kind of a personal hang-up of mine. I helped coach Little League for 10 years and I saw very little good come from the experience.

I can say that wrestling also isn’t my thing. I don’t hold any ill-will towards the sport, but it just isn’t my thing.

I appreciate the discipline, hard work, and commitment it takes to be a wrestler, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t take those same things and direct them towards something fun… like basketball. You know, the best sport.

But I have agreed to go to 1 Kyle wrestling meet every year for the next 3. 2 if he makes it to State.

While I can only physically adhere one picture in the physical THE PHOTO JOURNAL, I did take several more wrestling pictures.


Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Page 13 - Alternate

Not sure what page we will cross off next time we check-in with THE PHOTO JOURNAL PROJECT. Perhaps that page will be crossed off in San Antonio!

+++++++

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



FRIENDS!

A FRIENDS image is a picture of FRIENDS or anything that comes along with having FRIENDS.

Happy photo harvesting!

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 171 – PHOTOJOURNALISM

The holiday season definitely hurt the amount of PHOTOJOURNALISM submissions for this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 171 - PHOTOJOURNALISM - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 171 - PHOTOJOURNALISM - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 171 - PHOTOJOURNALISM - MICHELLE HAUPT
Michelle Haupt

WEEK 171 - PHOTOJOURNALISM - MICHELLE HAUPT
Michelle Haupt


Christopher D. Bennett

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:



FRIENDS

FRIENDS! What a great theme! I hope everybody has at least a few FRIENDS. If you don’t, I’m willing to be your FRIEND(S). For a small sitting fee. I don’t think it will be necessary though, because I believe what Clarence the Angel said about FRIENDS. I don’t know any failures.

Now that has been established, what is a FRIENDS photo? A FRIENDS photo is a photo that is a picture of FRIENDS. They can be your FRIENDS or it can be people that are FRIENDS that aren’t necessarily your FRIENDS. It could be a photo of a product of having FRIENDS. For example, all the Christmas cards I get, I tape to my entrance window. Now I don’t get as many as I used to get, I could take a picture of that display and it would be a FRIENDS photo.

Remember that next Monday is New Year’s Eve. While many businesses and government offices will be closed (even if the Trump shutdown is still going on), Photography 139 doesn’t take holidays. Plan accordingly!

HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

+++++++

That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very friendly Monday.