South Dakota

Hello from South Dakota! We ventured up north for a few days to spend time with family, see some sights and relax up north a bit. We’re up here near Custer, about 4.5 hours from our home in Windsor. I was really surprised just how short the drive felt, especially with a 5 and 3-year-old in the car. The girls were champs, Clara was particularly excited about a camera that is new to her (our last point & shoot camera we had before our smartphones overtook it) and proceeded to take pictures out the window for most of the trip, as well as a dozen pictures of her tray table.

We’re staying at a beautiful house that is next a pond and a pasture, nestled between two hills.

The weather has been cool, a bit rainy, but also beautiful as well. This has been a nice escape of the summer weather that reached Colorado last week.

After spending Saturday getting settled-in, we ventured out to Hot Springs to see the Mammoth Site. I’ll admit that I didn’t really do much research beforehand and had assumed that they uncovered the remains of a single mammoth, but found out that the Mammoth Site actually houses the remains of at least 61 mammoths, as they fell into a hot springs trap long ago.

The girls got to take part in a Junior Paleontoligists dig, where they got to dig up replicas. They really enjoyed playing in the dirt and making their discoveries.

We picked up lunch at the Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe and had an awesome buffalo chicken sandwich, then spent the afternoon swimming at Evan’s Plunge. We actually didn’t realize that the hot springs aren’t all that hot (at least those have been to Glenwood or Steamboat). The water is definitely warm and clear, and we had a lot of fun swimming.

On the way there and back, we drove through a Buffalo pasture, where we got to witness the beautiful animals up close. Bethany took this photo from the passenger window.

On Monday we ventured north to Mt. Rushmore. The day turned out to be rainy, but the rain let up just long enough to get some beautiful shots of the mountain sculpture.

We managed to get a little closer through the scenic path, snagging a better shot.

Between the time we viewed it on the scenic trail and when we got back to the observation point, the clouds and rained rolled in, preventing it from being viewed.

The rain squashed our plans for the rest of the day but gave us the opportunity to stop back in Custer and eat at The Burger and Bun Co. It was highly recommended from friends and definitely lived up to the hype!

The rest of our day was spent relaxing back at the house and resting up. We’re gearing up for full day on Tuesday before we head back to Colorado on Wednesday. More to come!

5 Podcast Episodes That Blew My Mind

Happy start to your summer! If you’re like us, you’re likely venturing out on the road these next few months, you may be looking for ways to pass the time in the car. If you’re a podcast listener (and if you’re not, you really need to be!), I wanted to some standalone episodes that absolutely blew my mind and made me reconsider that subject, spawning some great conversations afterward.

99% Invisible – #346 – Palaces for the People

Those who know me (or read some of my previous posts) know that I feel strongly about libraries, so much so that I sometimes wonder whether I’m on an island of obscurity. Imagine my joy when one of my favorite podcasts did an entire episode on the importance of libraries, in the broader context of communities now needing to invest in social infrastructure, the same way we invest in municipal infrastructure. “Palaces for the People” does a great job articulating the evolving needs and services of our libraries, giving people access to resources they otherwise may not have.

Episode Link

Bonus 99% Invisible Episode: #318 Fire and Rain. Now that we’re unfortunately entering into fire season, this episode does a great job explaining the lessons many haven’t learned when designing and rebuilding their communities.

Switched on Pop – #112 – Country at the Crossroads


Switched On Pop is a relatively new discovery for me, and you don’t have to be a musician to appreciate the way they deep-dive into the facets of the music and the song-writing process. This episode dives into the controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and its removal from the Billboard Country Chart. They breakdown the basic aspects of modern country music and whether the song fits into those traits. It’s a really fascinating listen, especially if you’re a modern country music fan. If anything, it’ll give you a deeper appreciation for this more recent hit.

Episode Link

Twenty Thousand Herts – #62 – The Booj

Warning: Listening to this episode will forever ruin movie trailers for you. The “Booj” refers to the sub-woofer bass pitch change that you hear during modern movie trailers. This podcast covers the evolution of the movie trailer, especially into this decade, and the way they all use the same formula (especially in the sound design) to entice you to see the movie.They walk through the construction of a mock movie trailer using that formula. After listening to this podcast, I challenge you not to actively listen for the “booj” in the next trailer you see.

Episode Link

Disect – S2E6 – Power by Kanye West

2019-06-02 21_15_05-S2E6 – Power by Kanye West by Dissect • A podcast on Anchor

Whether or not you dig rap music, listening to this podcast will further your appreciation of rap. You don’t have to like Kanye to appreciate the intricacies of his music, and the decisions he made in the composition of the song. “Power” was already one of my favorite Kanye songs, as it’s perfect for running. This hour-long podcast examines everything from the sampling and the production elements to the backstory of all of the references made, line by line within the song. It should be noted that the song itself uses explicit language, and the podcast includes explicit references as well (so don’t listen to this one while you have kids in the car).

Episode Link

Revisionist History – S1E5 – Food Fight

This episode is a few years old, but has only become more relevant in the wake of the recent College Admissions scandal. “Food Fight” references the contrast between dining halls in Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York, illustrating how colleges are building extravagant amenities to entice students to attend, but decreasing the affordability of college to many. This really launched me into a lot of contemplation about college affordability and the place of higher education in our society.

Bonus: Check out the sequel, My Little Hundred Million.

Episode Link

These are but five standalone episodes, but I would be happy to provide more suggestions of a few ongoing series or seasons – just drop me a line! I’m also on the lookout for any other mind-blowing podcasts, please drop a comment if you have one!

Avengers Endgame (Spoilers)

After seeing Avengers Endgame on Sunday, I’ve been dwelling on my feelings about this movie. While I initially enjoyed it (and still do), I have to admit that my feelings about it have diminished the more time passes and the more I think about the picture. There are two ways this movie should be considered: as a monumental bookend to a cultural phenomenon that spans 22 pictures in 11 years, but also with the coherence of the plot.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

One can’t overstate the level of difficulty in matching the hype in tying this story together, as well as concluding everything that was done in Infinity War. The fact that they were able to cohesively tie together a story that complex, with that many characters – and stick to a landing that didn’t feel like a train-wreck – should be marveled (yes, sorry). Just look at the Justice League movie to see how things could go wrong. Back when I started my blog 14 years ago, I wouldn’t have fathomed that comic book movies would not only dominate the movie industry but that there’d be a coherent plot thread through a cinematic universe – yet here’s exactly where we are. This should be a celebrated, and not just those like me, who consider superheroes an integral part of my childhood and mythology.

The Russo Brothers and all the writers and directors involved with the MCU managed to create high emotional stakes with these characters, often paying off when those character arcs came to a resolution. I have to admit I laughed and cried a few times throughout these movies. One cannot deny the emotional resonance that doesn’t feel manipulative or contrived.

All of that said: when I started to move past my emotional reactions and started to apply some logic to the plot, things started to fall apart quickly, to the point where I have some real problems with parts of this movie.

To be clear, I’m not trying to nitpick the plot in the movie. I know that most scripts have blemishes that may need to be over-looked, especially when time travel is involved as a central plot device. I also realize that this is a comic book movie, asking us to accept Infinity Stones, reality-warping power and super-powered gamma rays, all requiring a suspension of belief to a certain degree. As I revisit comic crossovers from my youth, I’m careful not to be over-critical about the seams in the story. However I do take issue when decisions are made that are not in keeping with the character, or that a serious consequence is ignored, simply because it conflicts with an overarching goal of the story.

This brings me to the major problems with Endgame:

Having the 5 year cake and eating it too

At the end of the movie, when they started to montage everything returning to normalcy, there was a scene where Peter Parker saw his buddy Ned back at school, which triggered the thought, “It’s a good thing they both got snapped out of existence, or else Peter’s buddy would have been out of high school by now.”

So to get this straight – everyone that was snapped back into existence didn’t feel any passage of time, while everyone else who was left behind had five years of aging pass between them. All of a sudden you have a world – or universe – where people who have been coping with grief and loss (and if they heeded Cap’s advice, they moved on) are suddenly reunited with everyone. Hopefully that guy in Cap’s grief group didn’t go on any more dates, or their husband is going to be coming back to an ugly situation.

Maybe there’s some master plan where this five-year gap is going to give way to a slew of new movies and TV shows to address this, but I’m guessing that it’s going to be conveniently forgotten.

At this point, I really wish that they would have just changed the past and either prevented the finger-snap or restored everyone not long after. As a father, I can understand Iron Man not wanting to lose the relationship with his daughter, but that would have presented a pretty big moral challenge to the movie. Let’s say that they confirmed Pepper was pregnant, as it was insinuated at the beginning of Infinity War, there would still be assurances that his daughter would have been born, and the moral quandary would be whether she’d develop into a different person if they altered the events.

The paradox of fighting 2014 Thanos

If 2014 Thanos did in fact die, does that negate everything that happened in Infinity War? Did the 2014 Gamora return back to her original time? You start to think too much about the different paradoxes that occur and start to see the story unravel a bit. Typical comic lore tells us that messing with the timeline results in alternative realities being created (which is why the current one feels largely unchanged), yet it was important for Captain America to go back and return all of the Infinity Stones to prevent this. The writers seemed to pick and choose what paradoxes they wanted to thwart, and which ones should be ignored to arrive at the desired plot point. Frankly, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure approached time-travel more coherently than this movie.

Captain America’s fate

I realize that not all heroes (or actors) can last forever, and that both Iron Man and Captain America’s deaths were speculated leading up to the end of the movie – however the choice Captain America made to remain in the past, seemed completely out of character with what we knew about the hero. If we’re to assume all of his actions (like returning the stones) impacted the Prime timeline, then shouldn’t going back to be with Peggy have greatly impacted everything else that happened after that, including Peggy having children and grandchildren with her original husband? I want Captain America to have a happy ending after all of these movies, but came with consequences that are problematic to say the least.

This brings me to the succession of Captain America. We spent over 4 movies exploring the complex relationship between Cap and Bucky with this whole Winter Soldier arc, which was a story of redemption and trust for the character, a fitting end would have been for Bucky to complete the redemption story by taking the shield from his best friend that stuck with him through thick and thin. I get both Falcon and Winter Soldier have been Captain America in the comics, but the movie spent more time telling us about the close relationship between Steve and Sam rather than showing us. The presumption is that MCU’s Falcon didn’t really have any powers, to begin with. This seemed completely unearned.

There were other issues with the movie, and again I don’t expect the script to be perfect, but the above gaping holes in the plot are really preventing me from loving this story. It’s not to say there weren’t things to appreciate. Iron Man’s death felt appropriate and earned, and the battle at the was an appropriate epic conclusion to the Infinity War and all the other events that led up to this. The movie definitely was “good enough”, but not great.

What did you think?

Photographing FoCoMX – Night 2

On the heels of my Night 1 post, here is the second night of bands that I saw and photos that I took. This night featured such talented bands such as: Attack on Venus, King Cardinal, Sick Trick, Shark Dreams, Graham Good & the Painters, AJ Fullerton, The Silent Disco, The Bardots, and Wolfer.

I have some more pictures available on my FlickR album, which can be downloaded from there (especially if you’re in one of those talented bands).

Photographing FoCoMX – Night 1

Here in Fort Collins, we just wrapped up FoCoMX, which is basically Christmas for the local music scene. Over the course of two nights, there were nearly 400 bands that played across 2 dozen venues in Fort Collins. Amy and the Peace Pipes were lucky enough to be selected, but in addition to playing I also had the chance to go out and do some shooting for the FoCoMA.

I ended up covering a lot of ground over the course of the night but still didn’t get to see many of the bands as I hoped. Rather than park myself at a single venue, I roamed throughout downtown and captured bands in venues of all sizes and lighting. Some made for some interesting challenges, but I’m overall pretty happy with how the images turned out.

Below are but some of the images of Night 1, which included great bands such as The Trujillo Company, Mojomama, CITRA, Def Knock, Johnny & the Mongrels, The Sickly Hecks, I Am The Owl and The Kity Project.

I have some more pictures available on my FlickR album, which can be downloaded from there (especially if you’re in one of those talented bands).