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The Oregon Experience

Last Build Date: Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:29:13 +0000


Remembering Joel Brinkley

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 01:09:00 +0000

This is a column I wrote for the Nugget, my local weekly newspaper in Sisters, Oregon that published Joel's syndicated commentaries:Nugget readers will recognize Joel Brinkley’s name as a syndicated columnist on world political affairs whose insightful articles invariably went beyond predictable mainstream thinking. His column ceased when he recently began a new job in Washington, D.C. but there is another reason that is hard to comprehend.My friend and fellow journalist over 35 years died March 11th of an undiagnosed acute form of leukemia that raged through his body like a wildfire in five days. He was 61.My relationship with Joel began in 1979 when we worked at the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, KY. I was a photojournalist and he was a reporter. We were offered the assignment of a lifetime to go to the border region between Thailand and Cambodia to document Cambodian refugees fleeing the wrath of the Khmer Rouge regime. Caring for some of the refugees was a Louisville physician, Dr. Kenneth Rasmussen, who agreed to be a part of our coverage.We needed to leave within a week and without passports, visas or inoculations there was a lot to do. We went to a health clinic for the shots and were told that there wasn’t enough time to get all the necessary injections. From a list of potential diseases we were asked to choose three that we were most likely to encounter. The passport office in Los Angeles provided a two-day turnaround for our passports and visas. Our departure to Bangkok from San Francisco was November 4th, the day the American Embassy in Tehran was overtaken.We drove from Bangkok to the town of Aranyaprathet, Thailand and connected with Dr. Rasmussen. He directed us to several camps where we heard the accounts of the “killing fields” from survivors of the genocide of 1.8 million Cambodians by the Pol Pot led Khmer Rouge.One indelible memory is Joel and I sitting inside our car with the air conditioner on as we tried to cool off from the sweltering heat and humidity. Children pressed their curious faces against every window. We exited the car and went back to work.During the 19-hour flight home after three weeks of reporting Joel became ill and upon arrival in Louisville was diagnosed with typhoid. He was very ill for nearly two weeks but still managed to begin writing for the five-day series of stories with my photographs that won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. Joel began his 23-year career at the New York Times in 1983 and I relocated to Sacramento, CA in 1986 and Sisters in 2007. Joel left the Times and joined the faculty at Stanford in 2006 and also started researching material for his book, “Cambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land.” He asked me to accompany him on a three-week tour of the country in 2009, thirty years after our first trip. A poignant memory occurred when our driver/interpreter helped us locate, Soloth Nhep, Pol Pot’s brother. During Joel’s interview with the old man I saw a side of Joel that was counter to his take-no-prisoners persona he used with other people who were less than forthcoming. For two hours Joel gently probed for answers about the brothers’ relationship. Nhep answered with a serene demeanor saying he was initially shocked about his brother’s role with the Khmer Rouge but more simply bewildered and sad about Pol Pot abandoning his family.Joel’s career as a foreign correspondent, editor, author, columnist, and professor was his public life. I’ll also remember Joel as a gentle Renaissance man who enjoyed gourmet cooking and fine woodworking, and his beloved North Carolina Tarheels.His wife, two daughters, siblings and friends throughout the world know his true north was his unwavering love and respect for all of us. [...]

Christmas In Prison, 1977

Tue, 24 Dec 2013 00:49:00 +0000

I'm reposting this so hopefully it can link to my new website address.

I don't pass though a holiday season without thinking of this improbable story I witnessed in 1977.

Donald Bordenkircher, the Warden of the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, had a problem. The prison needed some major improvements and the inmates were unwilling to let the projects proceed. He formed a negotiation team to find a compromise. An agreement between the warden and the inmate representatives was eventually reached: the work project could begin and in return the inmates would be allowed to organize and hold the first-ever "open house" on Christmas Eve, 1977. Families and friends would be allowed to come in to any area of the prison, except for the maximum security wing.

The western Kentucky correspondent for the Louisville Courier-Journal got a tip about the event and was invited along with me to come in and do a story. The CJ photo department at that time had its own single engine plane. Billy Davis was the pilot. We flew from Louisville early that morning to Eddyville. I had a couple of Nikons and my Leica. Once inside I was told I could go unescorted anywhere I wanted to go. I was the only photojournalist to cover the event. Security screening for all entering the facility was conducted and it was nothing like modern security measures of today. There were guards around in street clothes. The open house was a party atmosphere in the most unlikely scenario.

For the next four hours I watched many touching moments between wives, children, parents, and the inmates. A motorcycle gang came with several "girlfriends." We flew back to Louisville in the late afternoon to make deadline for the December 25th issue of the paper.

The open house was considered a success and was held for a few more years in a much more contained environment, but never again as free-wheeling as the first one.

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Musical Artists at the Sisters Folk Festival

Sun, 22 Dec 2013 05:39:00 +0000

The Sisters Folk Festival is a three-day event held every September in Sisters, Oregon. The musicians fill the venues with the sounds of blues to bluegrass. For me, the challenge of photographing the festival is to make images to show how I see the personality of the musical artist through the renditions of them in a black and white format. I've tried to explain to many of the musicians how I'm working while they are performing and some understand. For most of the artists their music and how they connect with an audience is all that matters. That's how it always will be and I'll still be there working "in concert."

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Winter light

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 04:55:00 +0000

The Gentle Residents of Casey County

Mon, 16 Jul 2012 04:02:00 +0000

Rather than have the readers of this blog trying to access the gallery of images, I've put up this short slide show. Enjoy and Peace.

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The Gentle Residents of Casey County circa 1980

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 04:27:00 +0000

I'm learning why an archive of one's photographs is important. Earlier this week I was contacted by a fellow, Elam Oberholtzer, inquiring about the images he saw of the Mennonite community in Casey County, KY. He was thrilled to find the gallery because many of the pictures were of his family. He says the family left the order in 2006 and he is now teaching English in Indonesia. The photos were made in May and June of 1980 for the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal's 4th of July edition. Dennis Dimick was the picture editor, Byron Crawford was the writer. Byron and I spent several days there after we were allowed to write and photograph with the only restrictions being no posed photos or photos inside the small house used as a church during a worship service. A little perspective: 1980 was a rather crazy time. Joel Brinkley and I had won the Pulitzer in April and my youngest son Josh survived a near-fatal bout with bacterial meningitis. So, diving headfirst into the Mennonite project was cathartic.Back to the story. I replied to Elam who is currently teaching English in Aceh, Indonesia asking him if he could help identify the people in the pictures (I can hear you editor types asking where my notes are). He responded with a two page detailed description of every image. He was born in 1989 and lived along South Fork until his family left the community in 2006. I'm waiting to hear the rest of that story! His grandfather, Jacob Oberholtzer, was the minister, farmer, log mill owner, and leader of the group. The young girls are his aunts. He asked if he could get the digital files to make prints as his family doesn't haveinternet. I told him I'd get prints made and mailed to his family (still in Casey County) and that I'd try to find a copy of the original CJ article to send him. I called Luster to get Byron Crawford's phone number and rang up Byron. Mind you, we haven't connected in decades. Byron has caller-id and when he answered he says, "Hey, I know why you're calling." "You do?" I asked.""You're calling about the Oberholtzers. I was just there today, been home aboutthree hours." He told me he'd been there touring with a friend, stopped to talk with one of the Oberholtzers, bought a jar of sorghum molasses, recounted the story we'd done 32 years ago.Next day, I get a second inquiry from another fellow, Alvin Shirk, wondering if I have any photos of his grandfather. The list of id's Elam gave me included the possibility that has grandfather was included; Alvin now says the man I photographed is someone else.Today, another inquiry from a woman, Katrina Martin, saying she's from the community. Yep. Two of Jacob Oberholtzer's daughters married her father's brothers. She also says the community is breaking apart. Change is inevitable and it's especially hard on communities like the Mennonites. I can't begin to understand the complexities of what the families have endured in the changes that have overcome them. I'm so grateful I had a chance to document the community as it was in 1980. Those photos now stand as a lasting testament of devotion to a lifestyle that few Americans will ever understand. I've spent most of this week going back through every frame on the film and scanning everything that might be of interest to the extended Mennonite community now spread out over the state Kentucky and halfway around the world. [...]

Camp Menzies Girl Scout Camp, Arnold, CA

Sun, 11 Mar 2012 03:14:00 +0000

The Girl Scouts USA organization, founded by Juliette Gordon Low, celebrates in 100th anniversary March 12, 2012. She imagined the girls could be united by a "magic thread." Pete Seeger wrote about that too.

Oh, had I a golden Thread
And needle so fine
I've weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design.

In it I'd weave the bravery
Of women giving birth,
In it I would weave the innocence
Of children over all the earth,
Children of all earth.

A century later 50 million women have been a part of the experience. My daughter went to Camp Menzies when she was ten. I wanted to know what that experience looked like so I arranged to spend several days at the camp. A female observer was with me constantly, totally understandable given the circumstances. Imagine a place where fun reigns, friendships are made, growth occurs. That was, and hopefully still is, Camp Menzies.

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Photographs from 2011 that mattered (mostly to me)

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 19:13:00 +0000

I'm rather certain that photojournalists, i.e. those who use their minds, hearts and tools in harmony, enjoy looking at their work during the past year. I do. We are basically hunters/gatherers at heart and reviewing what we saw and photographed gives us reassurance that our efforts were productive. The downside is that acknowledgement from other sources, friends, editors, contests is ephemeral. So, the best one can really hang on to is the feeling of accomplishment without conditions.

2011 was a fine year for photojournalists, visually, but probably not financially. The Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy (various) movement, the economic downturn, the 1%ers and the rest of us and the regular diet of sports, politics and daily life made for many great photo situations. Sadly a few died or were badly injured doing their work. Others were imprisoned and beaten or arrested in spite of their First Amendment rights.

I, like many other photographers, never got close to any of those marquee events; that's just the way it is. My biggest opportunity was spending a week in the University of Louisville Hospital documenting the staff and patients in the Burn and Stroke units and the Trauma One Care Center (the ER).

My grandkids celebrated their first birthday and my youngest son married the woman he met during the Obama inauguration. There was the beauty of central Oregon in fall, Butchart Gardens in Vancouver, B.C. and the spirited Cascade Cycling Classic criterium.

The Sisters Folk Festival provided some great moments. Sunday, September 11th. The performance that morning is always free to the public and this years' theme was a "community celebration" centered around the 10th anniversary of the 911 tragedy. Three musicians, Anais Mitchell, Tony Furtado and Willy Porter decided spontaneously to perform "Time After Time." They rehearsed it for ten minutes just before the venue was opened. It put a lump in my throat while they practiced (guess you had to be there). Martyn Joseph rocked the house and Johnsmith found inner peace during the final group song of festival.

And it was a great year for moons.

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Day 1646

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 03:42:00 +0000

The admonitions are constant: "Live every day to the fullest." "Make every day count." "You'll always remember the special things you did." On and on. However, they're all true. Problem is though, how to make all the days of your life meaningful. The other truth: not all days will be special.

I've had many good days in the nearly five years since departing California for Oregon. This particular day that I determined was 1646-post Sacramento Bee was unique. I don't know the probability of all the factors coming together on a single day that made the total lunar eclipse possible: clear skies in the west and east, the moon setting over the Cascades as the sunrise began, finding the right location to photograph the scene, windless conditions that helped even though the temperature was 13 degrees.

This scene may never happen again in my lifetime. If it does, great, but I'll always be happy I was out there at 5 a.m. on 1646.

Nutcracker Memories

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:54:00 +0000

A former dancer with the Sacramento Ballet, Jenny Gilmore, remarked recently about how many dancers she had known had moved on to other creative endeavors or retired from the stage to pursue other important parts of their lives.  She was also reflecting on the memories they all shared from performing in the annual Nutcracker.  I was fortunate to photograph ten years of those productions from 1997 to 2006.  My work with the company began when my daughter was given a small role as a "cherub" in 1997.  Wanting to photograph her I offered to shoot the whole performance for the Sacramento Bee.  I got the assignment.  During the next few years my daughter had other roles as a "Mother Ginger child" and a "soldier" battling the Mouse King.  I continued in my volunteer role photographing the Nutcracker for the Sacramento Ballet and virtually every other ballet the company performed including their first international tour to Shanghai and Beijing, China in 2007.  I too have memories of those Nutcrackers, the incredible athletes/artists that the dancers were, the incomparable artistic directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, and Lt. Col. (Ret) Fred Shadle, the true heart and soul of the company.   I dug into my film archives and digital files and put this show together.  Video celebrates the dance, still photography celebrates the dancer.  The Nutcracker will always be part of my holiday season and I hope yours as well.

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Sun, 09 Oct 2011 22:59:00 +0000


"The moon is an object illuminated by the sun. Expose accordingly." - Ansel Adams

Well, that's a good starting point. The reality is that the human eye and mind is far more discerning in terms of contrast range than any camera/film/CF card will ever be. When photographing the moon under conditions like the scene I saw a few nights ago the paradox was clear. While I saw a beautiful crescent moon setting over the Three Sisters peaks near where I live I realized that the only way to capture the scene was to make several exposures of the scene and then combine them into a single image. One shot exposed for the highlighted crescent, a second for the overall scene then matched in Photoshop. I made a variety of moon and scene exposures and actually chose two frames shot only a few seconds apart. I don't recall ever using this technique before as I really prefer to not alter images however in the situation of photographing this scene, I didn't have much of a choice. There is another technique, HDR or High Dynamic Range imaging that likewise combines two or more exposures into a single image. I tried that in Photoshop but the result was still a moon with blown out highlights.

I eventually took the double exposure route, copying the small section of one image with the moon and pasting it into the overall scene, moving the crescent to align perfectly with the darker part of the moon. After a bit of smoothing out the tones around the combo moon, noise reduction and contrast improvement, I had an image of exactly what I saw in the sky.

If the rules are meant to be broken, then I confess. I broke a couple.

Mon, 02 May 2011 05:40:00 +0000

I had a unique opportunity recently to return to Louisville, Kentucky to work with the nurses and physicians in the University of Louisville Hospital, formerly Louisville General Hospital. Twenty-five years ago I did a documentary photo project on the only Burn Intensive Care Unit in the region at that time. A woman in the Marketing department saw the old photos on my website and contacted me. Our discussion led to a plan for me to come back and revisit the Burn Unit and also the Stroke I.C.U. and the region's only Trauma 1 emergency room.

After completing the edit I thought about comparing the old photos with the new. I found several that pair together and realized that although the treatment protocols are much different now than before, the level of caring hasn't changed at all.

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University of Louisville Burn Unit: 25 Years - Images by Jay Mather

The last Kodachrome day

Sat, 08 Jan 2011 23:09:00 +0000

Kodachrome, the iconic color slide film, is history.  The last rolls were processed December 30, 2010 at Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, the only remaining processing facility in the world.  The news of its demise is not new or unexpected.  The IBM Selectric typewriter, dial phones, lace-up ski boots went before.  Life changes, stuff changes, people adapt, probably all for the better. Anyone who made photographs with the film that has been around since 1935 knows of its color characteristics that were like no other film. Bright, vibrant, saturated images.  My use of the film over the years was not as extensive as those in the magazine business, National Geographic, Geo, and the like.  During my newspaper career the dominant film was Kodak Tri-X, a black and white film that could be tweaked during the development process using various developing concoctions.  Edwal, Rodinal, Kodak, often with an added 9% sodium sulfite solution that helped control the contrast range.  Printing a black and white negative with both shadow and highlight detail was a rewarding process.  The drawback, of course, was trying to replicate a perfect print.  Kodachrome was the film of choice for me during my Peace Corps tour in Malaysia in 1969-1971 and learning to use it correctly helped my enthusiasm for photojournalism in the first years of my career.  The most important factor was to control highlight exposure.  In the digital world of today that is still the case.Kodak Tri-X, was just about opposite.  Expose for the shadows without overexposing the highlights and a lot of that could be controlled during film development.  Kodachrome was unforgiving.  Get it right in the camera.Throughout the remainder of the last century, I always took Kodachrome along on vacations, pictures of my children.  Those images still look great, stored away in archival sleeves.  There are two memories now:  the subjects and the medium.I found five rolls of Kodachrome 64, 24 exposures on eBay from a seller who promised the film had been refrigerated and that the 2007 date on the box was not an issue.  The film came in the mail and I put it in the back of my fridge while I thought about how I was going to use it.  The weather around central Oregon in November was spotty, and mostly one gray day after another.  I needed sparkling, crisp days.  Time was becoming an issue. I didn’t want to use the film for a set of pictures of scenics.  I needed more of a challenge.  Could I still make credible photographs with a 35mm camera, no motor drive and manual settings in an active setting?The USA Cyclocross Championships in Bend provided that opportunity.  Sunday, December 12th was the day.  I began the day with stops at two of my favorite locations, the Metolius Wild and Scenic River, and a viewpoint of the Three Sisters peaks.  One roll gone.On to Bend for the cyclocross races in Bend.  I chose to shoot the Elite women’s final using three of the remaining rolls, saving one roll for another scene at dusk.  The race is on a loop course so I could move around to several locations to get a sense of what the event is about.  I also tried to concentrate on the best rider, Katie Compton, who was defending her championship title.  During the race that lasted about an hour I thought I was doing o.k. with exposure.   Timing, light and composition were on my mind as well.  One frame after another.   I had about 12 frames left on the third roll and wedged my way into a spot along the barricade near the finish line with the hope of getting a decent fra[...]

Personal pictures from 2010

Fri, 31 Dec 2010 22:31:00 +0000

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Oregon Ballet Theatre at Caldera Arts Cener

Tue, 22 Jun 2010 16:39:00 +0000

Last week was a very special opportunity for me. With the cooperation and assistance of the Caldera Arts center folks and the Oregon Ballet Theatre I was provided the access to document the seven dancers who came to central Oregon to produce a new work and perform it and three other pieces for the local community. The new work, choreographed by one of the principal dancers, Anne Mueller, took the majority of the time since the dance was literally being constructed from scratch. The dancers along with Anne are Alison Roper, Steven Houser, Lucas Threefoot, Christian Squires, Brian Simcoe and Artur Sultanov and of course, Christopher Stowell, the artistic director. Irina Golberg, the principal accompanist, played the piano pieces and are now melodies I can't get out of my head.

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Hawaiian Interlude

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 22:21:00 +0000

Central Oregon has had a fairly mild winter compared to other regions of the country. Nevertheless, the continuous gray and dreary days piled up in January and February creating the urge in many around here to pack up and leave for warmer climates, if just for a week or two. Spring is slow in arriving here, two or three nice days then back to the clouds, rain, 40º temps. Our escape was to Maui for a week and that just isn't enough time. Next winter, two weeks.

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Going To The Other Side

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 04:55:00 +0000

Great intentions don't always produce the desired result. After changing the title of this blog I had several places I wanted to explore. The weather has been uncooperative, nearly a month of drab, endless, gray days. I also contracted a deep chest cough that evolved into the worst cold in my adult life. Photography, blogging? Forget it. Finally now there is sun and renewed will that is stronger as the coughing subsides. We drove to Eugene today to see Allison and drop off her bike, have a good lunch and a visit. From Sisters to Eugene is about 2 hours through the Cascades, over Santiam Pass and descending along the McKenzie River 68 miles from its headwaters out into the fertile valleys and small villages of Rainbow, Blue River, Vida, Nimrod, Walterville and Springfield.Although there is no demarcation line separating the lush forests of the west side of the Cascades and the stark, dramatic, and dry terrain of the rain shadowed eastern side, the change happens in only a few miles and a slight decrease in elevation. The McKenzie River's source is just over the crest of the range at Clear Lake. The flow through the narrow channels of the first few miles is a thundering wild child river. Three waterfalls, Sahalie, Koosah and Tamolitch punctuate the fury of the river and are assessable on a well-traveled foot path through the dense forest. We've stopped here before yet today's visit seemed all new. The fragrance of the forest, the deafening sound of the river put us each in our own space as we hiked the short trail between the falls. The long angular light faded as the sun dropped behind the trees. In a 45 minute walk the drabness of the past month seemed to be cast off into the river and carried away. And this all happened thirty minutes from our front door.[...]

Moving on from Moving On

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 04:14:00 +0000

After three years of writing about my personal journey of moving on from my prior life in Sacramento, it's time to move on again.
The masthead for the blog reflects what is currently interesting in my life, to me AND hopefully to you. The Oregon experience.
I have a lot going on that I'll describe in upcoming posts. Thanks for your interest.

2010 Moon Over Tollgate

Sat, 02 Jan 2010 16:30:00 +0000

I had high hopes for clear skies around here to photograph the blue moon (the second full moon in December). No such luck. Nothing but gray skies and rain. Last night, January 1st was totally clear. Out with the camera, tripod and some long extension cords to control the house lights during the 25 second exposure.


Happy Holidays from Sisters, Oregon

Thu, 24 Dec 2009 22:53:00 +0000

To all the viewers of my blog, faithful and occasional, my best wishes to you all for a pleasant holiday and a peaceful and fulfilling 2010.


USA Cyclocross Championships

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 19:15:00 +0000

I spent a day at the USA Cyclocross Championships in Bend, Oregon. The sport is wildly popular in the Northwest and the competitions are usually held in autumn through spring when the conditions on the loop courses are often wet, muddy, ice and snow and cold. For the four-day event here all of the above have been factors in the racing and everyone seems happy about that. Aerobic capacity and bike handling skills separate the riders quickly in the timed races. Spectators line the course and ring cowbells in support of the competitors. After the races everyone heads into town for parties. No wonder cyclocross is so popular.

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Veterans Day 2009

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 16:25:00 +0000

If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. - Thomas Paine


A daughter gets her birthday wish, her daddy comes home. Darren Stewart, a TSGT with the 6th Air Refueling Sqaudron, 60th Air Mobility Wing gives his daughter Sydney Stewart a kiss after arriving home from a 2003 tour of duty in the Persian Gulf region.

Cambodia 1979-2009

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 21:26:00 +0000

November 4, 1979. What do you remember about that day? The major event that day was the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran being overrun by student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's fundamentalist revolutionaries. Ninety hostages were captured and fifty-two of them would remain in captivity for the next 444 days. It was the turning point in U.S. and Iran diplomatic relations.For me, it was the day I and fellow journalist, Joel Brinkley, left for the Thailand/Cambodia border where thousands of Cambodian refugees were crossing into Thailand to escape the war between the North Vietnamese and the crumbling Khmer Rouge regime. Our efforts there were centered around a Louisville, Kentucky physician, Dr. Kenneth Rasmussen, who was on the front line of treatment for the sick and starving who survived weeks, if not months, of perilous overland travel to the safety of the camps. This past summer Joel and I made a return trip to Cambodia, thirty years after the "Living the Cambodian Nightmare" project. We wanted to see firsthand how life for the rural population, 80% of the 13.7 million citizens of Cambodia are faring. Frankly, all is not well. In many respects Cambodia is much as it was prior to the Khmer Rouge era, 1975-1979. Old methods of rice production are still used, the infrastructure is minimal, education is not mandatory, corruption exits at every level of life and hope is a rare commodity. While the world centers it's attention on the Middle East, Africa and other regions of conflict, Cambodia barely registers on anyone's radar. It has become the forgotten country. I offer the two audiovisual shows below. The first is from our 1979 journey and has been expanded from the original version to include additional photographs of Cambodians in transit to the United States and several of a family that had been sponsored by Dr. Rasmussen and his wife. The last photograph is of Sot Oung, the father, in an English language class. He is looking over his shoulder out a window to see snow falling for the first time in his life. Ironically, a sentence on the blackboard being used as an example of tenses, says "How often do you go back home?" There are several responses to use. The first is "I never go back home." I have reconnected with Dr. Rasmussen, now retired and living in Tennessee. He remained in contact with the family for a few years. They moved to Indianapolis where Sot worked for Lear Jet and Saot, his wife, became a dental technician. The couple divorced and Dr. Rasmussen hasn't heard from anyone in the family in over ten years.The world has witnessed additional human tragedy, genocide and despair in the past thirty years. The legacy of Khmer Rouge debacle, Cambodians killing 1.7 million fellow Cambodians, has had little effect on the country's ability to redefine itself in the 21st. century.[...]