Category Archives: Ungs


The images below come from the folder 05-07-08. The images range from a post supper photo shoot with an Ungs to pictures of painting Monica’s one-time Roland home to me showing off a fat stack of cash to some flowers from my Mom’s flowerbeds to one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.






































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





That sick wad of cash that I was flashing in the Fazoli’s parking lot was my winnings from my bowling league. Helping Monica paint the Roland house was Suzie and Cassie.

Next Saturday’s walk down memory lane will be all about the Big Jesus Road Trip.

Housewarming Invites

I had a housewarming/birthday shindig on May 23. I made individual invitations for those that were invited. I’d like to share some of them.


The Kahlers




The Roberts Family

The Hiatts

The Howards


Jeff and Yin

The Gorshes

The Baiers

Bethany and Rebecca


The Degeneffes


Geri requested a new picture of us be taken because she wanted a picture where she wasn’t looking at me as if I was the smartest person in the world. I guess I never noticed her having an expression different than what I’m used to seeing by the majority of people in my life…

Bad Photos

I got all of the old pictures off of my phone. There aren’t a terribly large amount of pictures on there because the old phone is about 4 years old and didn’t have much memory on it.

It turns out almost every picture on that phone ranges from bad to horrible. Although some are amusing.

One major plus of the new phone is the memory card. I can use pictures taken by a real camera for the Caller ID Photo. As you can tell by these images, that will make a big difference.

Supper with the Ungs

So I went for dinner with Ungs last night. It was interesting because right before he stopped by to pick me up, he was just finishing up his job.

I don’t know all of the details of his job, but part of it involves taking children home. On this night the last child that he dropped off pulled a knife on him. Well, this put a bit of a damper on our evening because the police kept calling in the middle of our dinner to find out if he wanted to press charges on this kid.

He didn’t press charges, but I think it was because he thought it would have made him look weak to press charges on an 11 year old girl for pulling a knife on him.

At the end of our dinner he helped me out with a picture project that will be made public to anybody that e-mails me on Friday or Saturday. I can’t post those pictures now, but I can post some of the test images that I took.






He is soldiering on bravely after his knife episode. For the record, showing some leg didn’t get him picked up. I guess that only works for women.

Chapter 2 Addendum

I have received several request for more information on the “I towed the store manager at Duff’s car” story. I am posting a copy of an e-mail that I sent to Jay about it. Jay already knows all about Dasher Mismanagement, but in case you don’t I’ll fill you in with some information to make it easier for you to understand.

Nancy was the store manager at Duff. She was all show and no substance. She had no clue how to run food cost, so she used to figure out all of the food she was missing at the end of every month and transfer it to my store. I never knew this and I never understood why my food cost numbers were always different than what I had calculated.

The F.O.R. stands for Full Operations Review. This is when corporate comes down from Minnesota and reviews your store on quality, cleanliness and service.

We were not a corporate store. We were a franchise store. Therefore we had an owner. The owner was setting up the company to be taken over by his son-in-law Ty. Ty was the Director of Operations and my boss. What you need to know about Ty is that he was a nice guy, but completely incompetent. How incompetent? Think about the most incompetent person you’ve ever had to work with. Add 10% more incompetence.

That should do you, here is my letter to Jay:

Yes it was Nancy. I didn’t know she was screwing with my reports at that time. In fact, I didn’t even know we had towed her car until the next day. At Campus the parking lot used to fill up on bar nights, but we wouldn’t have a single customer in the store. Even if a customer wanted to come into the store they couldn’t. All the lots were full. When this would happen I would call our towing service. I can’t remember their name at this time and they were very excited. This was a gold rush to them. I would have them tow every single car in the parking lot.

The great thing about this for them was, while they were towing cars, more cars would come in. Then they would get to tow that car. Here is a life lesson for you. If you drive an SUV or a van, don’t push your luck parking illegally. They always towed these cars first because they could charge them double.

One Sunday morning Nancy called the store. Cory Ungs answered the phone. She wanted to know where her car had been towed. So he told her. Then he told me, I thought it was hilarious. She had parked in our lot on the previous night to go to the bar. When she came back, her van was gone. It would not have been towed if she had merely came inside and told us that she was going to park there. If people asked to park there or were employees or friends of employees we let them park there. If we didn’t know who you were, you got towed.

Campus was more or less a warehouse for other stores. We weren’t very busy and we knew how to order truck. Whenever other stores ran out (unless they were in the Janelle – BooneWest Dyad) of anything, they always called us first. Not many store managers work on Sundays. So frequently half my Monday morning consisted of answering the phone and looking to see if we had enough product to spare for other stores.

It was very important that you actually entered all of these transfers in to the computer. Another trick some stores employed at that time to reduce food cost was to hope that you never did a “transfer out”. They would then not do a “transfer in” on their end. Then if you forgot to do the “transfer out”, they just got all that food for free. I did know that some stores did this, so I was very anal about nothing leaving the store without a signed transfer slip.

Duff, despite being the “super” store with the “super store manager” was our biggest customer. If it was a game weekend, I frequently had my truck ordering people order even more than we would need, because I knew that Duff would be calling us on Sunday or Monday looking for product. Duff was getting so much hot air blown up their bums about how “super” they were that they were completely out of touch with what their strengths and their weaknesses were.

One time when we had a couple of bad truck orders in a row because we were training a new person on truck order they displayed their ignorance and their arrogance. I had Cory call over there and see if we could borrow some product. Nancy had the gall to say, “You guys need to learn how to order truck. I can come over there and teach you if you want.”

The Monday after Nancy’s van had been towed, she came into the store to borrow some product. I saw her and said, “Sorry we towed your car this weekend.”

“It is no problem. I shouldn’t have parked here.”

“If you want to park here, that is no problem. You just need to tell the manager and you won’t get towed.”

To me I figured this was the end of the situation. I had forgotten that Nancy was extremely two-faced.

I forgot about the situation until our F.O.R. that was later that month. While Ty and I were outside taking D-T times, we were looking at a car on the lot.

He said, “I hear you towed Nancy’s car.”

This was before they completely hated me. All I really knew was that they weren’t interested in new ideas and they really, really wanted to close my store. I thought he was remarking on how funny it was. I had forgotten that even though I technically was the exact same rank as Nancy in the organization, even that ranking had tiers and I was clearly a tier below Nancy. Not because of skill. She was just his pet. Possibly because she was the best brown nose I have ever seen, ever. I have never seen anybody that could smooch butt like her. She was an artist.

I began to laugh.

I said, “Well, she shouldn’t have parked here and went to the bar.”

“Why did you tow her car?” He said soberly.

“I didn’t tow her car. I towed every car in the parking lot. Hers happened to be one of the ones that were parked here in clear contradiction of our signs.”

“Why are you towing cars?”

This was a strange question, because it was only a couple months ago that we switched towing companies and he made a big effort to make sure I had that information.

“Because, when the lot is completely full and you have no customers in the store, the people in your lot aren’t your customers.”


“The problem is that these people that are parking in your lot are preventing actual customers from coming into the store because they have no place to park.”


“If you are losing customers because they can’t park in your lot, soon enough they won’t even come back because they know that parking is a problem at that store.”


“It is not the type of reputation I want the store to have. I would rather get the word out that our parking lot is for our customers and not for the bars around here. So I tow cars to send that message. Soon enough, I expect I won’t need to tow cars any longer.”

“I don’t want you towing cars.”


“I don’t care if people park in the lot.”

“Even if they prevent customers from coming to our store?”


The big freeze started to get a little bit colder.

Reflections on the Last Few Days (Part I)

I may have alluded to having a pretty great weekend in an earlier blog. Although it might have been a bit of bragging on my part, I have always been a big fan of the moral philosopher Jay Hanna Dean (AKA Jerome Herman Dean) who argued that “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” So I shall try to back it up with the parts that were great. 

I might as well start out with the major failure from my weekend. Friday was the last day of employment for James at DM. I had all intentions of going in to congratulate him and pop some bubbly. I did not make my goal. As you can see by the image below though, it was the only goal that I failed to fulfill this past weekend. However, I do apologize James and I do congratulate you James. If you are the interested, James has accepted a position in Nevada as a CNA.

Although that was the major failure of my weekend, it would not be the first. I was given the proverbial “shaft” on two separate occasions. The first was the deepest and most savage cut.

I left the friendly confines of my place of employment on Friday night looking forward to the good natured camaraderie that is Friday Night Supper Club. I was slightly concerned because as I hit US30 I had yet to hear from the founder and president of Friday Night Supper Club. I usually get this call from Willy’s pseudonym Lone Wolf Dinner Reservations by 5 pm. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for the call and I gave a little ring-a-ding-ding to Jay to inquire about this evening’s dining situation. Jay’s response hit me like a bucket of cold water in the face. 

“Willy isn’t coming! He went to go see some steroid jockeys talk about God. You want to go get a salad?” 

Two things instantly occurred to me. First, I’m going to name my upcoming spoken word album “Steroid Jockeys”. Second, Willy is in the process of abdicating his throne. This is something that will need to be addressed at the forthcoming Friday Night Supper Club. 

So Jay and I went to The Colorado Grill. I was so disturbed by the absence of Willy that I knew I would have to take my dining experience up a notch. I normally get the Black Diamond Pita sandwich because the sauce that comes with it is absolutely extraordinary. There are times that I also take down a breaded pork tenderloin. The pork tenderloin is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches and will hopefully be the impetus for a forthcoming roadtrip to Hamlin, Iowa to a restaurant that serves what legend claims is “The State’s Best Pork Tenderloin”. I was going to need beef. So I ordered a sirloin sandwich, medium rare. Just how the gods like their steak cooked.  

Somewhere in the middle of the meal my phone rang. I looked at Jay and said “I’m about to do something extremely hypocritical.” Then I answered the phone. 

The reason that this is hypocritical is because I have with the help of Scott taught the rules of basic phone etiquette to a certain Mr. Ungs recently. He had a nasty habit of answering his phone when he was out to eat with other people. A habit that is insanely rude. A rule that I will no doubt have to teach Jesse in the near future as well. 

Stephanie was on the phone. She was offering to donate her tips from Friday and Saturday night to the American Cancer Society Fundraiser that I was intending on attending on Sunday.  I accepted the offer and thanked her.  What a nice person! 

The rest of the night went by without incident.  I went to bed early to ready myself for what was supposed to be a busy Saturday.   

I had made the following plans:  I needed to go to Hobby Lobby to purchase a can of matte sealer and some mat board.  I was scheduled to go to visit Shannon and learn how to make lye soap.  Then I was going to go to Des Moines with my eldest sister Teresa to conclude my Oscar Party pre-work by seeing “Notes on a Scandal” at the Fleur Cinema and dine on the tasty goodness that is Hu Hot. Then I was to head to The Colorado Grill to celebrate Shorty’s 70th Birthday. 

Most of these plans fell through. For starters, Teresa had been hinting all week that if the weather was bad she wouldn’t want to drive down to Des Moines. I told her that she was a coward and I was ashamed of being related to somebody that would let weather dictate their life. She relented and “agreed” to go. Then on Saturday she calls me in the morning to tell me that she can’t go because she has been to the doctor’s and she has “Strep Throat”. Strep Throat. That is a made up ailment if I have ever heard of one. On par with Countchoculitis. 

I hadn’t gotten off the phone with her for more than an hour when my phone rang again. This time it was Doris (Shorty’s wife) telling me that she was and I quote “uninviting me” to Shorty’s birthday shindig. The roads were just too bad.  

I still needed my stuff from Hobby Lobby. So I did what any “real” man does when the weather is bad. He gets in his car and goes to Hobby Lobby. After all I was out of matte sealer and I need to come up with a new picture for Salon 908. “Last, Loveliest Smile” is nearing the end of its 6 week engagement. I’m thinking about using a B&W flower picture from my sister’s bathroom redecoration project as the next one to go on display. I don’t know if I will be able to get this past the sole proprietor of Salon 908. Kelly possesses a longstanding disdain for B&W photography. This one could take a little bit of the Mayor Goldie’s magic touch. If he sides with me. He might side with his wife. 

I also heard from my Ogden Agent, Monica, this week. With her shrewd negotiating skills she has found a home for some of my pictures in “Everlasting’s”. So I need to make some product for this exciting new outlet. Since this is a flower shop, I’ll probably stick with flower pictures. I don’t anticipate selling much there, but you never know. Allegedly people have inquired about buying “Last, Loveliest Smile” and it isn’t even for sell. 

So I hopped in the car and headed to Ames. I’m telling you people, the roads weren’t that bad. You could easily do 35-40. The only danger was swerving around the person going in the ditch in front of you, but after a couple of times of that it almost becomes second nature. 

Hobby Lobby. I don’t know why, but it seems like every time I go there I forget about there incredibly slow service. It always seems a surprise to me that I wait in line for 10 minutes when there is only two people ahead of me in line. I always stand in line asking myself the same question: “Do I really need this thing that bad?” Although I almost always tough it out, it never ceases to amaze me that as I am walking out the door, the “other” Hobby Lobby employee resurfaces and opens up another cash register.  

Despite yet another painful experience at Hobby Lobby, I swore to not let it ruin my day. If my sister faking an illness and being uninvited from a birthday party weren’t going to ruin my day, neither would waiting in line for 15 minutes to by 1 can and 2 matboards. 

I headed to the nearest Salvation Army to look for cheap used frames. I don’t usually find much at these places, but on this day I left with a 16 x 20 frame that I can paint and use to house the next Salon 908 image.  

I made my way across an ice skating rink that I swore was a parking lot last week and called Shannon. 

“Still making soap?” 

For the first time all day, somebody wasn’t letting the weather dictate to them what it was they were supposed to be doing. The Little White Lye Soap Company. I believe it was this company that Herodotus was thinking about when he penned this line: “these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed”. 

So I learned how to and got to take a small part in the making of the latest batch of Little White Lye Soap. So next time you pick up a 6 pack, I might have played a small bit in the making of that soap.  

Shannon said that it “wouldn’t be very exciting.”  

She lied. It was exhilarating. It was indescribable.  I wish I could tell you all about it. I can’t because I signed a “confidentiality agreement”. I can’t tell you anything that might compromise any of her trade secrets. Sorry. 

The rest of Saturday was a wash. The best part of it being that I fell asleep on the couch during the ISU-Kansas game so I didn’t have to watch much of it. The worst part of it being that I’m trying to build this computer for Willy for his birthday present, but the thing keeps crashing every time you load Service Pack 2 on to it. It is trying my patience. 

This is to be continued at a later time. So I can write extensively and exhaustively about the Oscar results.

Blue Steel Plans Halted

I failed in my quest to get “Building 429” properly framed for display last night. I also learned that my attempts to get “Blue Steel” placed prominently in Salon 908 will not result in anything tangible. However, “Earth’s Laughter Series – #04” might get a spot on their walls. Jesse will attempt to negotiate this deal with Kelly in the near future.

The “10 Second Movie” feature will not be added to this Notebook quite yet. This week was fairly hectic at work and Jesse and I could never quite get aligned for our tribute to “On the Waterfront”. Perhaps that will occur in the near future. It might even happen next Tuesday if everything breaks just right. Of course, there is a small chance that a tribute to something else could surface this weekend if everything breaks just right during Friday Night Supper Club.

Outburst of the Soul” has been the Picture of the Week this week. The name comes from a quote by English composer Frederick Delius who said: “Music is an outburst of the soul”. When I took this picture I had no larger ambitions than having a birthday present for the subject of the picture Derrick. I don’t want to get too far into the meaning of the image because I think that explaining the purpose of a piece of artwork begins to take away the meaning of that artwork. I believe that artwork should stand on its own. I also agree with Oscar Wilde when he said: “The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.”

I don’t think there are many mysteries about the meaning of “Outburst of the Soul”. My worry is that it is too blunt. I’ll just give you a little bit of the back story of this image. I contacted Derrick about meeting him during my lunch break to take a couple of pictures of him and his guitar. He agreed.

The first time we had a little bit of trouble hooking up. So a second time was arranged. On the second trip I ran into Nader in downtown Ames, where Derrick worked. When I got to Derrick’s place of employment he wasn’t back from his lunch break. So I waited in the back alley with Nader for Derrick to show up.

I was also supposed to meet Jesse for lunch. After about 5 minutes in the alley, Jesse showed up. We all talked for about 15 minutes before the man of the hour showed up. He went inside and came back out with his guitar.

I took about 40 pictures with about 4 different poses. I settled on this one finally because Derrick effectively blocks out the Bud Light truck that had parked in the other end of the alley during the middle of this shoot. When I downloaded the images to my computer I was worried that the image’s harsh contrast between the shadow and the bright light of the alley would ruin the image, but Monica argues that it adds to the picture. I can’t remember her exact words, but it was something about music leading Derrick from darkness into the light. I won’t lie, that wasn’t the intent. If that was the intent I would have had Derrick meet me at a tunnel. It does serve as a reminder to me that to some degree, art is only worth what the viewer brings to it. Every piece of art has a different value to every viewer.

Regardless of that little treatise, the image was put through Photoshop and I took all of the color out of the image except for the color of Derrick’s guitar. After a little tweaking here and a little tweaking there, Derrick’s birthday present was ready for him and ready for the world.

I should also point out that in my current capacity with the company that employs me; I do not have an office. What I do have are lots and lots and lots of walls. I have taken to covering these walls with 8.5 x 11 copies of some of my assorted works. There aren’t many people that walk by my walls. The people who do walk by pretty much never stop to look at anything I have posted on my walls. That is perfectly fine. I post the pictures for me. I need some color on my walls or the dreariness of the gray wallpaper would surely drive me to madness. Yet, when I first put up “Outburst of the Soul”, several people did stop to admire that picture. A few even came back to see it a second time.

I state earlier that I failed to get a copy of “Building 429” framed last night. I should make more of a concerted effort tonight. I painted the frame black and then added craquelure over the top of the black paint. The first coat of craquelure failed to give me the desired result. In fact, I got hardly any cracking at all. So I gave the frame a very liberal amount of craquelure via a second coating. The result was not what I was striving to create, but I can’t say that I’m not pleased with the result. I think the frame looks awesome. I am ready to boldly proclaim it as one of my best frames to date. I just need to get everything put together. It will be something for me to do while I’m waiting for “The Office” to bless my television screen this evening.

The reason for my failure to finish this project last night was I attending dinner with Monica and Cory Ungs last night. Cory has been in poor health over the last few months and it has caused more than a few moments of consternation for me. There was a time when it was thought that he might have to have heart surgery. Finally, they have diagnosed Cory with Type II Diabetes. Not the best diagnosis, but at least he can now begin to manage his health and he seems to be doing a very good job at it. He is exercising and managing his eating schedule very well.

After dinner we went to see “Hollywoodland”. Cory wouldn’t go to the movie. He would not respond to my constant barbs such as: “Come on nerd, it’s a Superman movie.” Or the classic, “Nerd, nerd, nerd, nerd.” The short version of the story is that “Hollywoodland” is a good but not a great movie. Adrien Brody and Diane Lane gave their usual great performances. The shocker of the movie is that Ben Affleck did not stink the joint up as he has consistently done since “Good Will Hunting”. He was actually very good as George Reeves. A man whose aspirations for greatness were constantly out of his reach and was pigeonholed after playing a role he despised. One of the saddest sequences in the movie was when his part in “From Here to Eternity” was cut from the movie because the first audiences couldn’t see him as anything other than Superman. What was going to be one of his greatest professional triumphs was taken from him by the thing he hated the most. Although the acting was great, the movie itself started to wander near the end of the 2nd act. It also didn’t end very strongly. I didn’t completely dislike the ending, but it wasn’t real strong.

Other than working and eating and watching the Padres blow a lead in the 8th inning to the Cardinals (thank you very much Scott Linebrink) I have been reading Thomas Merton lately. I came across something he wrote in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. He wrote something about businesses that struck me as poignant. Particularly as I can related his point to a company that previously employed me because the people in that company really drank the Kool-Aid that they were making. They were in denial about everything dealing with their company to such a degree that I never understood it. They certainly had no place for dissension or even intelligent thought in their business plan. Then I read these words by Thomas Merton and I suddenly understood these people. I still feel sadness for them, but at least I understand why they are incapable of understanding why all of their ideas are bad and were surprised when they failed. Where they worked had become a religion to them. They are incapable of question the dogma when it comes down from the CEO? They view it as “Gospel Truth”.

Businesses are, in reality, quasi-religious sects. When you go to work in one you embrace a new faith. And if they are really big businesses, you progress from faith to a kind of mystique. Belief in the product, preaching the product, in the end the product becomes the focus of a transcendental experience. Through ‘the product’ one communes with the vast forces of life, nature, and history that are expressed in business. Why not face it? Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.

It helps me understand why so much corporatespeak feels like attempted brainwashing. It helps me understand why when I went to corporate meetings it felt like I was going to a revival meeting for a religion that I didn’t believe in. I was going to a revival meeting for a religion I didn’t believe in.