Category Archives: Night

Christmas Beanies

I hope you had a great and wonderful Christmas. My sister Teresa unloaded a new batch of beanies on me. I now have 7 new beanies. As it happens, while I was wandering around town last night, Fashion Photographer Jay Janson happened upon me several times and kept insisting on taking my picture with all my new beanies. Below is the result of his handiwork.








Kentucky Fried Methodist

I’m not sure how the subject came about, but one day I was talking to Shannon and she revealed to me her extreme disdain for the cross on top of her church. I didn’t really know how somebody could dislike a lit up cross on top of a church. I had visions of the cross that adorns the Marion Methodist Church in Boone. A cross that both symbolizes the faith of the followers of the Son of Man and could make a pretty mean bug zapper if Boone was ever to fall prey to a plague of locusts.

Upon further questioning, she revealed that this cross not only lit up, but revolved. On this revelation my mind was flooded with visions of a revolving lit up cross. I was immediately reminded of one thing from my childhood.

There are several things I miss from my childhood. The velvet bull painting in Jack’s Tacos. The train booths at the Hardee’s in North Grand Mall. The airplane booths at the Hardee’s on Duff. The animal tables at Arctic Circle. Not knowing that Ronald McDonald actually lives in Ogden. Getting the special Country Kitchen coins that you could use in their vending machines. Putting down the economic status of another person by referring to their possessions as “Pamida specials”. Among those memories is the old KFC road signs. To the best of my knowledge, the old KFC next to Goeppinger Field never had the sign that I remember. However, somewhere in my youthful travels I remember driving by a KFC that on top of their road sign was a bucket of chicken. This bucket of chicken lit up. This bucket of chicken also revolved. I haven’t seen a functioning, revolving bucket of chicken in years. While I might be permanently denied access to that revolving bucket of chicken, I did have access to a cross that was more than a suitable surrogate.

I tried to convince of the greatness of this cross. How it represented more than most crosses, it represented eternal truth and the beauty of God’s grace and the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices.

She was dismissive of my arguments and stood fast that the revolving cross was “cheesy”. I argued against her elitism, but failed to make a convert.

I told her regardless of her snobbery, I wanted to photograph this rotating cross. Shortly after our discussion fate took a hand. The beautiful cross broke. It didn’t light up. It no longer rotated.

I’m not saying that I believe in telekinesis or auras or crystals or Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or that inherited wealth hasn’t created a caste system in our country. I’m just saying that when somebody puts off that much negative energy towards something it will tend to break. I offer up my experience with just about every automobile that I have owned. Particularly that 91 Grand Prix. I still hate you!!! So I’m saying that Shannon’s visceral disdain for the rotating cross was a factor in its ceasing to function.

When she delivered the bad news to me about the fallen symbol of the Good News I was not alarmed. I figured that such a thing was considered a local treasure. Certainly the congregation of the “Big House”* would rally around their pride and joy and it would be only a matter of time before it was proudly beaming out its hopeful message in 360 degrees.

Then nothing happened. A week went by. Then a month. Then another month. Then the season changed. Then the season changed again. I was beginning to think that the FUMC of downtown Des Moines didn’t realize what they were missing. What they were failing to protect and nurture.

I was beginning to doubt. I was beginning to lose faith. Not in God, but in the FUMC of Des Moines. What was their deal? Was the whole congregation as dismissive of the now lifeless cross on top of their building as Shannon.

I might not believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Yetti or Ghosts or that some people can afford to have health care choose not to have health care. I do believe in miracles. I don’t believe that God stores up miracles and then just cracks them out around Christmas. I do believe that during Christmas people are more likely to be open to seeing miracles. Due to the fact that people are a little nicer, a little more generous and quite frankly just better people during the holiday season there is something known as the Christmas Miracle.

At 10:41 PM on November 29th, I got my Christmas Miracle. That is when an e-mail from Shannon fluttered across cyberspace and landed in my computer mine e-mail account inbox.

The revolving lit up cross on top of First UMC in downtown Des Moines is working again. I hope that it leads to a good photo opportunity. Otherwise I see it as pointless and cheesy. I mentioned to my pastor that you had a photo opportunity in mind, and he said he’d be interested in seeing the result. So, the ball’s in your court now. Have fun with that!

I joined the Ames Jaycees back in October. I have yet to contribute to the organization in any way, shape or form until last Tuesday. It was on that night that I attended an Ames on the Halfshell committee meeting and apparently became a member of the Band Selection Committee. Before the meeting began, Shannon showed me a copy of her church newsletter that had an article that could have been entitled The Return of Greatness, but the actual title escapes me. The meat of the articles was about how a couple had donated some scratch so that the church could return their cross to all of its glory. The article noted that this return to downtown Des Moines skyline was newsworthy enough to have been covered by at least a couple local stations.

As it turns out, I was planning to be in Beaverdale on Friday night to attend at least the third graduation party for Sara. She has one expensive brain. Beaverdale is just a quick hop, skip and jump a way from downtown Des Moines. I negotiated an abbreviated FNSC with Jay and Willy on Sunday. This worked out well for Jay because he was heading back to Cedar Rapids on Saturday for a family Christmas and a date with destiny on Sunday morning. That tale of destiny is for another time, but it does involved a naked old man and not closing the door when you are using the bathroom.

After a tasty meal and some in-vain-attempts to find a facsimile of Spin Art, I headed down to Sara’s party. The party was a good time. I made visual confirmation of the existence of Todd and Kristal. I had a lengthy conversation with Derrick about man vegetables.

I got to talk about music and Jaycees stuff with Shannon. I got to watch Sara go down to her basement to smoke so her parents didn’t see it. I got to take a ride in Derrick’s new ride. It was a good time.

At about 1:30 or so I left Sara’s and headed towards downtown Des Moines. I found the church at the corner of 10th & Pleasant. Unfortunately, it was snowing and freezing cold. Both of these things are unpleasant for humans, but they are dreadful for cameras. Condensation and just general wetness created all sorts of light flare issues. That is the bad news. The good news is that I was able to scout out the area and make some shots. Once again, nothing is quite what I’m looking for, but the first image is pretty close.

While I was downtown I also checked out some of the river walk. I now just wait for better weather, because I have some new inspiration.





*”Big House”. The Downtown FUMC houses two separate congregations. There is the one that has always been there. Then there is Shannon’s congregation that originally met in South Ridge Mall. I forget the name of that church, but I think it is The Colony. I do remember that the name is based on Philippians 3:20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” She refers to the other congregation as the “Big House”. It never fails to amuse me.

Does Size Matter?

This week’s full Moon will be the largest full Moon of the year. The two days to get outside and enjoy the largest full Moon of 2007 are Thursday and Friday. I lifted this article below from for your perusal if you are interested in more information.

This week’s full Moon is the biggest full Moon of 2007. It’s no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and Thursday night’s will be a whopper. Why? Read the answer below.

The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with one side 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other. The full Moon of Oct. 25-26 is located on the near side, making it appear as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we’ve seen earlier in 2007.In the language of astronomy, the two ends of the Moon’s orbit are called “apogee” and “perigee.” Apogee is the farthest point, perigee the nearest: diagram. This week’s full Moon is a “perigee Moon” with extra-high “perigean tides.”

The Moon is 14% bigger, but can you actually tell the difference? It’s not so easy. There are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. A fun experiment: Take a friend outside Thursday night and ask if they notice anything unusual about the Moon. Explain perigee after they answer.


You know how newspapers can print absolutely anything despite the facts and then when somebody actually calls them on it they run a retraction buried on page 12F in the smallest font imaginable? Well I’m not a newspaper. I’m not anybody even pretending to be a news outlet. So I’ll print my retraction right here.

This weekend wasn’t the weekend when fall colors are going to peak in Central Iowa. It is next weekend. I made this mistake because I still haven’t gotten any quality sleep and I labored under the thought since Friday that this weekend was the weekend of the 20th.

So I will celebrate next weekends fall color explosion (although predictions are for a moderate explosion at best) with going on a train ride.

I did go out with my new toy on Friday night, but realized that I forgot to grab a battery. So I had to drive back to Boone after FNSC. By the time I got back out to a relatively low light pollution zone, the clouds that had parted while I was at McFarland Park had come back. In the end, it was a fairly barren source of amusement.




FNSC Auxiliary Member

FNSC added a new auxiliary member this past Friday. Jason Baier joined us on the patio at La Carreta on a brisk summer night. His name will now go down in the annals of history with other Auxiliary Members of FNSC:

Jesse Howard
Teresa Kahler
Dustin Jackson
That Kristy girl Willy works with
Derrick Gorshe
Jen Ensley
Sara Junck
Nate Miller

I’m sure there have been others. I just don’t have the official FNSC Ledger with me at this time where all of our exploits have been documented. Even if I did have it with me, it takes all 3 of our keys to open the book any way.

If you would like to be at least as cool as Jesse Howard, you may one day join us for a Supper Club. All you have to do is give me a call and if you don’t have my phone number, I probably don’t like you that much any way.

After FNSC Jason and I cruised the town in a Rideshare van. You would think this was against “Rideshare” rules, but apparently as a backup driver he is entitled to dip into this 200 mile personal use monthly pool that the drivers get to split up. Only he is the only person that uses the miles because he is running some kind of scam on this elderly lady that is the other driver. I didn’t want to get too much information on the situation in case I was going to have to testify against him at a later date.

We cruised the Rideshare van around, looking awful cool, then stopped and took the picture below:


I would consider it a fairly successful evening.

New Toy

In the ancient history of the family Bennett there has been one family that has stood by its side as friends. That other family is the Herricks. What I’m getting at is that Amy Herrick an old family friend (her dad and my dad were friends) is getting married very shortly. For reasons unknown to me, she has asked me to do the photography for her wedding. Now I am a lot of things (brilliant, funny, dashing) but skilled portrait photographer is not on the business card. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t mean to give a game effort.

However, when I was taking stock of the situation I realized that I was missing one ingredient that I would need to even give this thing a shot. A decent flash. That is correct, I do not own even a passable flash. So I went out and purchased one. Then I went out to Ledges to run some tests, also known as playing. What unfolds before your eyes below is what I captured.






The color saturation in some of those pictures is off the charts and I dig it!

Yes I know there is an obvious flaw in my test, my “top” photo assistant has already made me aware of the situation.