Category Archives: Road Trip

Rodan 139 – Small Church

When Jesse and I went on my pre-birthday road trip to Decorah I packed Rodan139 with me at the thought that I’d be able to crack it out someplace along the road trip.

While Decorah and two waterfalls were the ultimate purpose of the road trip, I also thought that if we were super efficient, we might even be able to hit Pike’s Peak before coming home.

No shocker, we weren’t super efficient. We spent a long time at a Civil War reenactment that we stumbled upon. To further complicate things, it rained almost the entire day and Rodan139 doesn’t leave the nest in rain.

On the way home, we stopped at The Small Church near Festina and Rodan139 got to spread its wings for a few minutes.

Here are a few of the pictures I took:


Drone Photography - Small Church

Drone Photography - Small Church

Drone Photography - Small Church

Drone Photography - Small Church

Drone Photography - Small Church

Drone Photography - Small Church

A Photo Journal – Page 104

Last Friday I took a birthday road trip with Jesse. It wasn’t my birthday, but it was the day before my birthday and I knew my actual birthday was going to be filled with working on my Mom’s bedroom ceiling and graduation open houses. So I took Friday off from work and Jesse and I hit the open road.

The ultimate goal of the road trip was to visit and photograph two waterfalls in the Decorah area. I had visited one of them a couple years back and I was never really satisfied with the photographs I took. The other waterfall I had never seen and it sounded very intriguing as it was described as a 1 mile hike to even get to it.

I have tons of photos of these two waterfalls coming in upcoming blog posts. Also pictures of a Civil War re-enactment with some of the “friendliest” folks you ever met in your life, plus a few new entries into THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT, pictures of The Little Brown Church, and The Smallest Church.

Plus there is a bunch of video I’m going to edit into a vlog at some point. On this trip I fully intended to take a picture for Page 104 of The Photo Journal. I knew exactly how I wanted to take this picture. I wanted to take it with Rodan139. Unfortunately it rained pretty much all of the day and I wasn’t risking Rodan139 in rain. It isn’t supposed to fly in rain and at this time, I’m not going to push the boundaries.

Luckily, when we were at The Smallest Church, the sky was precipitation free and it fit my definition of the theme for Page 104:


Photo Journal - Page 104
Page 104 – Keep walking until you are lost. Take a photograph the moment you realize you are lost.

Now we weren’t lost, not in the traditional sense. I knew where we were, but I didn’t know the fastest way to get back on the path home without pulling up the GPS. That is as lost as I get. We didn’t walk to The Smallest Church, but seriously, there is zero chance I’m ever going to get lost walking. My sense of direction is just too good.

The Littlest Church is sometimes billed as The World’s Smallest Church, but it isn’t. It isn’t even close. However it is very small. The church seats 8 people and measures 14′ x 20′.

WPC – WEEK 192 – RURAL

It turns out that RURAL is a startlingly unpopular theme. Sad, since I can think of at least 5 people off-hand that regularly contribute that live RURAL. Even more if you consider that Iowa is almost completely RURAL.

The streak of double digit submissions sadly has come to an end. Hopefully a new streak starts up next week.

That being said, this week the Photography 139 Empire extended as far east as Italy and as far west as west of Boone. I’m guessing on the west part here.

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


WEEK 192 - RURAL - ANGIE DEWAARD
Angie DeWaard

WEEK 192 - RURAL - ANGIE DEWAARD
Angie DeWaard

WEEK 192 - RURAL - CARLA STENSLAND
Carla Stensland

WEEK 192 - RURAL - CARLA STENSLAND
Carla Stensland

WEEK 192 - RURAL - CHRISTOPHER BENNETT
Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 192 - RURAL - SHANNON BARDOLE-FOLEY
Shannon Bardole-Foley

WEEK 192 - RURAL - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 192 - RURAL - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 192 - RURAL - JESSE HOWARD
Jesse Howard

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 192 - BLUE
BLUE

BLUE! What a great theme! But what is a BLUE image? A BLUE image is any picture that involves the color BLUE. However, don’t forget that the term BLUE has multiple definitions.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations!

Don’t forget that next Monday is Memorial Day. While the government might take a holiday and your bank probably takes a holiday, Photography 139 doesn’t take holidays. The struggle is real! If you are going to be busy memorializing or barbecuing or taking your yacht to the lake, plan on getting your submission in early.

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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.

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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 blue Monday.

Birthday Road Trip

Last year on my birthday I took a short road trip. I cruised down to Winterset to have try an award winning tenderloin. Along the way I stopped at several towns to take pictures for THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT. However, I also took other pictures here and there. I reached into the backlog to publish those today:


Birthday Road Trip
I want to try this restaurant sometime soon.

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip
I always get a kick out of the weird civic pride that small towns in Iowa take from the accomplishments of high school students. It is the strangest sort of immortality.

Birthday Road Trip
I’ve never heard of this Nile Kinnick fellow, but Bob Feller was a baller.

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip
The more I learn about John Wayne, the more I think that he thought that he actually was the guy he played in the movies. Remember that while many leading men in Hollywood chose to serve in WWII, like Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable… John Wayne got a temporary 3-A deferrment since he was a father of four, that he somehow managed to turn into a permanent deferment, even though he started having an extramarital affair with Marlene Dietrich. John Ford, the director that made John Wayne a star by casting him in STAGECOACH berated Wayne by telling him that he was growing rich as other men died. John Wayne would go on to be a right wing tool for the House Un-American Activities Committee. One of the absolute blackest of black eyes in our history. Even though Wayne was a draft dodger, he was vicious on his attacks of Vietnam Protesters. John Wayne easily slid into that world of fake patriotism. Like notorious draft dodgers Dick Cheney and Cadet Bone Spurs. They could play a patriot on television (i.e. masturbating to the flag at political rallies), but ducked out when their number was called (i.e. raising taxes on Gold Star Families). It is a strange choice for a Freedom Rock. That being said, he made some great movies.

Birthday Road Trip
“Suck it towns that don’t love their children.” – Van Meter, Iowa

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip

Birthday Road Trip

My birthday this year is on a Saturday. I won’t take a birthday road trip on my birthday though. So far I have been invited to two Graduation Open Houses on that day. However, I took the Friday before my birthday off and believe I’ll probably hitting the open road that day. Not sure yet, but maybe heading up to the Decorah area.

I might be filming for my first ever (and probably last ever) vlog on that day. If you want to go, I can save you a seat in the Sir Pixalotmobile.

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.

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.

10-28-08 & 10-30-08

I’m going to publish the pictures from 2 old timey folder today because they are both pretty small.

The pictures in the folder 10-28-08 are from a trip I took to Ottumwa with Sara. Jen inherited a house when her Uncle John passed away in Ottumwa. It was nice house as far as houses in Ottumwa go, but it needed lots of attention before it could go on the market.

Sara and I went there, I think to help, but on this trip to Ottumwa I’m not sure we did much helping.

The pictures from folder 10-30-08 were from the beginnings of my house hunt. It took me 3 months of looking at over 60 houses to find the house that is the current home of the Photography 139 Studio. The way I found my current house is both extremely nerdy and a bit of a God Moment, but that is a story for another journal entry on another day.

These house were the 2nd set of houses I looked at. I looked at 2 other houses on a different night, but those aren’t part of what I would consider my official “House Hunt” because I was mostly just tagging along with Teresa’s friend Rob on his house hunt.

Here are some pictures to look at:


Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

The Great House Hunt

Fun Fact:

The tie that is in my hand in the mullet wig picture I wore in my Computer Mine Holiday Card photo because I felt it was very punk rock.

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

Ottumwa

House Search

The Ottumwa entry has a story about the time Derrick betrayed me… over a potato.

Next Saturday’s walk down memory lane will involve disc golf and long hair Shannon. But not at the same time.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Alamo Bowl

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

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

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

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

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


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

The River Walk, which we walked by.

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


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

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

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


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

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


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

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


Austin
Austin artwork.

Austin

Austin

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


Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Austin

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Horns Down!

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

He had two main planks to his political beliefs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iowans pay:

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

Texans pay:

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

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

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

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

It helps the poor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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



TRANSPORTATION

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

Happy photo harvesting!

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!

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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.

10-13-08

There is quite the collection of images in the folder called 10-13-08. I can’t possibly include all of them in this here entry, so I’ll just have to pick out a few that I like the most.

The pictures range from Gyro Day at the Computer Mine to the Ames Party Bus in action to a road trip to Kalona with Mom, Teresa, and Jay.

Have a looksie:


Gyro Day - 2008

Gyro Day - 2008

FNSC

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Ames Party Bus

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

Kalona Road Trip - 2008

While I’m not 100% sure, I believe that is the last of my Ames Party Bus pictures. Which means I should explain why you haven’t seen Becky driving around the Ames Party Bus in 10 years.

I might not be getting the details 100% correct, but the spirit of what I’m writing is dead on.

Shortly after Becky finished restored the Ames Party Bus and began putting out an APB on fun, Big Party Bus felt threatened. In fact they were scared. Petrified.

Big Party Bus checked their address book to look up which state representatives they had in their back pockets. Then they went to these bought politicians and pulled their chains.

The bought politicians reacted by passing a law that made party buses carry an exorbitant amount of insurance. Like an incredible amount of insurance. Insurance that was price-prohibitive.

This effectively shutdown the small-time party bus. Becky was out of business, shortly after the party had begun. Rich people win again.

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

Spoiled

Euphonious

Kalona (Part 1)

Kalona (Part 2)

Next week’s walk down memory lane will involve an Iowa State football match with the Bugeaters of Nebraska.