Pimping A Favorite Video — Sci-Fi Caper

This is Sci-Fi Caper out of Mendota, California. I know it primarily as home to a wildlife refuge. Sci-Fi Caper is a power trio, reminding me of the simple punk bands of my youth. In this video everybody seems happy. Unscripted happy. Which makes me happy, too.


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Another Article on Spec

Once again I am writing an article for Rock&Gem magazine on spec. I’ve written about this approach many times. (internal link). With spec, you don’t have a writing assignment, you are on your own to create a piece that with luck will be accepted.

While writing without a signed contract may seem frightening — what if my 2,000 words are rejected? — there’s also freedom in that you have no deadline and no fixed rules to obey on style or substance. You try to model the magazine’s editorial approach and you send your MS in.

Although no deadline is involved, I usually set one myself. That’s to keep the project from being open-ended and stealing time from other things. One can’t endlessly edit forever. I’ll give myself four weeks for this article and then off it goes. That should be enough time given the other writing and editing I have to do.

Right now I am sending off e-mails for help and I am also ordering books and magazines where necessary. Coffee is in order, too. I may speed off to Madhouse Coffee (external link), my favorite 24-hour coffee house in Las Vegas. Or I’ll put some on the boil here. Who knows? That choice is up for speculation.

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Next Time I’ll Make Sure That The Girl Will be Much Poorer

Two of my favorite Rolling Stone’s songs are from their Aftermath album. Aftermath marked the first time that Mick and Keith wrote all original material. Brian Jones, now an often unrecognized band member, powered the group during these early years. Some may say these lyrics aren’t particularly strong. An always asked question is whether mediocre lyrics can be rescued by inspired instrumentation. I say absolutely!  And, “Of course I’ll have a drink.”

High and Dry

[Verse 1]
High and dry well, I’m up here with no warning
High and dry well, I couldn’t get a word in
High and dry oh, what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 2]
A minute I was up there standing by her side
The next I was down there, well, left out of the ride
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 3]
Anything I wished for I only had to ask her – yes
I think she found out it was money I was after
High and dry, oh what a weird letdown
She left me standing here just high and dry

All right

[Verse 4]
Well, it’s lucky that I didn’t have any love towards her
Next time I’ll make sure that the girl will be much poorer
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 5]
High and dry, well, I’m up here with no warning – yes
High and dry, well, I couldn’t get a word in
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

Well she left me standing here just high and dry
Well she left me standing here just high and dry

Flight 505

Well I was happy here at home, I’ve got everything I need
Happy being on my own, just living the life I lead
Well suddenly it dawned on me that this was not my life
So I just phoned the airline girl and said…

Get me on flight number 505
Get me on flight number 505

[Verse 2]
Well I confirmed my reservation, then I hopped a cab
No idea of my destination and feeling pretty bad
With my suitcase in my hand and in my head my new life
So then I told the airline girl, Well…

Get me on flight number 505
Get me on flight number 505

All right

[Verse 3]
Well I sat right there in my seat, well, feeling like a king
With the whole world right at my feet, Of course I’ll have a drink
Well suddenly I saw that we never ever would arrive
He put the plane down in the sea

The end of flight number 505
The end of flight number 505

All right

They put the plane down in the sea

The end of flight number 505
The end of flight number 505


Lyrics from Genius.com

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The Only Canines That Climb Trees

I’ve been on vacation recently, visiting Phoenix, Tucson, and Parker, Arizona. Perhaps the highlight was seeing my first fox in the wild. It was the Gray Fox of the Sonoran Desert, officially known as Urocyon cinereoargenteus. DesertMuseum.org (external link) says it is the only canine to climb trees although I did not see it doing so.

Instead, it was charging across the Pinal Pioneer Parkway as fast as it could go. This is a rural highway between Phoenix and Tucson. USA Today in 2011 said this stretch of road, Arizona Highway 79, boasted some of the highest speeds in the nation for any public thoroughfare. The top 5% of drivers on that road averaged 88 MPH. No wonder that fox was moving quickly.

“Gray foxes are the only canines able to climb trees (although a coyote sometimes manages to get part way up a tree with accommodating branches). They forage in trees, and can sometimes be seen sleeping up in cottonwoods or mesquites (safe from coyotes and other predators). Gray foxes breed in late winter; the pups are born in March or April. They often den in boulder piles, caves, and other natural cavities, or in mine shafts. Both parents feed the pups, but the father fox does not occupy the den with them. Instead he guards the den from a vantage point where he can watch for predators or other danger. The young foxes are able to hunt for themselves at around 4 months of age. Foxes often leave their scats in prominent places, such as on the tops of boulders, as territorial markers.” DesertMuseum.org

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From Rough to Refined

Gold prospectors should be open to collecting other things besides that shiny yellow metal. Are their gemstones at your feet?

My second Rock&Gem article was on chalcedony. (internal link). I focused on the Gemfield Gem claims outside of Goldfield, Nevada. To someone not acquainted with lapidary, it might seem that ground holds nothing but rocks with streaks and swirls of color. How could these be gemstones? It’s all in the process.

The upper left rock is what we call rough. It is exactly that, raw rock. That rough is first cut into 1/4 inch pieces which we call slabs. These flat pieces can be wetted down with a spray bottle or soaked in water, to give the cutter an idea how the rock may look when polished.

After slabbing, a metal template is run over the slab, moved around until the cutter finds a pattern he or she thinks best. An aluminum pencil is used to outline the chosen circle or shape.

The selected area is then cut out of the slab using a rock saw. Finally, a cabochon is fashioned using a grinding and polishing machine. This link shows what these machines  look like: http://www.diamondpacific.com/main%20machines.html (external link).

This rough to refined process is entirely similar for turquoise, moonstone, amber and countless other gemstones. So, next time you are out gold hunting, look  for any unusual rocks with colorful markings. Your local rock and gem club will have advice on how to work your stones. They may even have a workshop in which you can learn to saw rocks and make cabochons. Here’s a place to start: http://www.amfed.org/club.htm (external link).

Click on the image below for a full size picture.

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A Plea From Facebook for Editing Leads and My Response (You’ve Heard This Before)

I don’t have any leads, sorry. If you don’t have one, my best advice is to work on a website that shows off your writing and editing skills. You need an online portfolio that a potential employer can look at any time of day or night.

In years of pursuing freelance editing and writing work over the internet, I can say that online work is as difficult to find as employment in person. Perhaps more difficult because you are now competing with people across the country and perhaps the world, anyone with a net connection.

I’ve had success with guru.com and Craigslist. One area to look at in general are firms that employ overseas writers, people for whom English is a second language. Their copy always needs to be cleaned up, so that it appears to be written by a native speaker.

I wish that I could wave a magic wand for you and make those leads appear. But I am still searching for that wand myself. Persistence over time is what has produced leads.

Truthfully, I would make more money if I went back to retail sales, working at brick and mortar places that produce a regular paycheck. I’ve traded that certainty and income for the freedom of freelancing, however, and I am so far satisfied with my arrangement.

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First Attempt at Photographing a Fluorescent Specimen

I’ve taken an interest in fluorescent rocks. This is my first attempt at photographing such a specimen. It’s a piece of petrified wood I found at Blue Diamond Nursery in Las Vegas, better known as Cactus Joes. (external link). The mineral in the wood causing the color may be Autunite.

I was actually looking for radioactive rocks, another new and mad hobby of mine. This petrified wood tripped my Geiger counter so I brought it home, not thinking until later about putting it under my UV lamp. Which rewarded me with what you see here.

Any subject is rarely well defined or sharp when there is little light. In this case, the only light is the glow of the mineral infused in the wood. Using a tripod, I first focused on the rock, then turned out the lights. I am working on other techniques to sharpen. Practice, practice, practice.

For you geeks, here’s the EXIF. I did the color correction in post, using Adobe Photoshop CC 2018. The original image was green, but, using the UV lamp, I went back to the rock and Photoshop until I had the yellow in the image that I was seeing in real life. I had a handheld ultraviolet lamp which I moved around for the fifteen seconds of exposure, trying to “wash” all areas of the rock with UV light. I used a tripod. Of, course.

Aperture Value: 4.969
Camera Owner Name: Thomas Farley
Color Space: sRGB
Components Configuration: 1, 2, 3, 0
Compressed Bits Per Pixel: 3
Custom Rendered: Normal process
Date Time Digitized: Jan 29, 2018 at 9:22:23 AM
Date Time Original: Jan 29, 2018 at 9:22:23 AM
Digital Zoom Ratio: 1
Exif Version: 2.3
Exposure Bias Value: 0
Exposure Mode: Manual exposure
Exposure Program: Manual
Exposure Time: 15
File Source: DSC
Flash: Off, did not fire
FlashPix Version: 1.0
FNumber: 5.6
Focal Length: 55
Focal Plane Resolution Unit: inches
Focal Plane X Resolution: 6,825.939
Focal Plane Y Resolution: 6,825.939
Photographic Sensitivity (ISO): 100
Lens Model: EF-M18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Lens Specification: 18, 55, 0, 0
Max Aperture Value: 5.596
Metering Mode: Spot
Pixel X Dimension: 6,000
Pixel Y Dimension: 4,000
RecommendedExposureIndex: 100
Scene Capture Type: Standard
Sensing Method: One-chip color area sensor
SensitivityType: Recommended exposure index (REI)
Shutter Speed Value: 14.9933410728824
Sub-second Time: 42
Sub-second Time Digitized: 42
Sub-second Time Original: 42
White Balance: Manual white balance
AFInfo: 0.45, 0.4, 0.1, 0.2, n
Firmware: Firmware Version 1.10
Flash Compensation: 0
Focus Mode: One-shot AF
Image Stabilization: Panning (Tripod)
Lens Info: 18, 55, 0, 0
Lens Model: Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

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