Learning to Drone Part IV

Here’s a few seconds of recent drone footage that I made near Goldfield, Nevada. The first video came out well but is too short. The second video shows how I need practice as a new drone pilot. I needed to get higher to show the surrounding countryside but I missed my chance. The winds, though, were pretty strong. All that beautiful drone footage on the TV comes with a lot of hard work. Here’s what I am learning with my DJI Phantom 3 Standard Drone.

  1. Footage is kept on the drone itself, using a micro SD card. That means you can’t review it on your smart phone. Which means you have to land the drone, take out the card, and then put the card into a laptop to review. On my recent trip I did not take my SD card reader or laptop. On arriving home I found the long video I took was unacceptable. Next time, when I go into the field, I will have all my electronics.
  2. Winds are tough. Although I didn’t lose my drone, I could definitely hear the blades working hard to fly the drone back against the wind.
  3. It takes a long time to charge the drone controller. It’s fed by a tiny cable so perhaps that limits input.
  4. I am having great success with the portable battery I bought. The long name for it is the Suaoki 400Wh/120,000mAh Portable Solar Generator Lithium ion Power Source Power Supply. It can be charged from a variety of sources, not just solar, in fact, the fastest way to charge it is from an AC electrical outlet at home. Plenty of power to charge the drone and the laptop in the field.


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Back From Esmeralda County, Nevada and Elsewhere

The Last Supper. By Poland-born Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski, in the ghost town of Rhyolite, on the road to Death Valley.

Ghost Rider by Szukalski.

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Turning Down Work

For the first time I am turning down work. To get my book proposal done I can not accept any new assignments. Has this problem happened to you? It is a very uncomfortable position to be in.

The group I am turning down has been good to me and I have enjoyed working for them. But I have two sample book chapters to complete by January 2d and I will not get them done unless I apply myself. Already I am thinking I may need another week to finish.

I don’t know if this will permanently wound me with this employer. I hope not but I will understand if it does. This is all  unsatisfying in that the book proposal is purely speculative, perhaps some money in the distant future, while the company I am turning down pays promptly at the end of every month.

Have any of you had to deal with this problem and how did you manage?

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Book Publishing Point of View From a Small Press

Interesting article from RealPants.com (external link) regarding book publishing at a small press. Most interesting is the idea of paying authors in copies, so that they can go about selling the titles themselves. Here’s a quote:

Instead, the royalty model that I’ve been playing with for the last few years is to pay authors in copies so that they can sell their book themselves. This way, they actually earn more than if I paid the traditional seven-ish percent of list. Here’s an example: I gave one author 250 copies of her book—a quarter of the print run—in advance, as payment in full. If she sells them for $10, she stands to make significantly more than what goes into the PGP coffers. (Averaging about $5 per book, selling 700 books after promo copies and the 250 for the writer, subtracting $2000 in printing costs.)

This kind of detail runs through the article and I encourage you read it if you are in talks with a small press. Or if you hope to be.

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Battling Through a Cold – Working on A TOC

After I got back from Atlanta a week ago I developed a bad cold. It lingers still. I want to get a book proposal (internal link) done by January 2d and I fear I may not make it.

Aside from my infirmity, I am struggling with writing a table of contents. This book’s word count can’t exceed 70,000. Let’s call it 60,000. That permits 12 chapters of 5,000 words apiece to 20 chapters of 3,000 words apiece. But is there any reason, aside from aesthetics, to make the chapters uniform in length?

I know I want some sidebars, short pieces from 750 to 1,500 words. Already I have disconformity. I’m leaning toward having the first chapter quite long as it is an introduction to the book. And then have the remaining chapters hew closely to 2,500 words.

The path I am now on is identifying the topic for each chapter, as well as a list of sidebars. I  have in mind 15 main topics and three sidebars. Have any of you done a Table of Contents? And if so, what did you find? Please e-mail or comment.

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Let’s Get Them In The Right Order

The Monty Python’s Matching Tie and Handkerchief has long been a favorite record of mine. Side two was unusual in that it had two record tracks or grooves paralleling each other. Depending on where you first placed the phonograph needle, you got a different set of tracks. This writing preceded by many years the pompous and fawning Inside The Actors Studio, which I understand is still running on the American TV channel called bravo.

Great Actors from The Monty Python’s Matching Tie and Handkerchief

Voice Over: (Graham Chapman) Just starting on BBC1 now, ‘Victoria Regina’, the inspiring tale of the simple crofters daughter who worked her way up to become Queen of England and Empress of the greatest empire television has ever seen. But right now it’s time for ‘Great Actors’, introduced as usual by Alan Semen.

Alan: (Eric Idle) Sir Edwin, which has been for you the most demanding of the great Shakesperean tragic heroes that you’ve played?

Sir Edwin: (John Cleese) Well, of course this is always a difficult one, but I think the answer must be Hamlet.

Alan: Which you played at Stratford in 1963.

Sir Edwin: That’s right, yes, I found the role a very taxing one. I mean, er, Hamlet has eight thousand two hundred and sixty-two words, you see.

Alan: Really?

Sir Edwin: Oh yes. Othello’s a bugger too, mind you, especially the cleaning up afterwards, but he has nine hundred and forty-one words less than Hamlet. On the other hand, the coon’s got more pauses, sixty-two quite long ones, as I recall. But then they’re not so tricky, you see. You don’t have to do so much during them.

Alan: You don’t.

Sir Edwin: No. No, not really. And they give you time to think what sort of face you’re going to pull during the next speech so that it fits the words you’re saying as far as possible.

Alan: How many words did you have to say as King Lear at the Aldwitch in ’52?

Sir Edwin: Ah, well, I don’t want you to get the impression it’s just a question of the number of words… um… I mean, getting them in the right order is just as important. Old Peter Hall used to say to me, ‘They’re all there Eddie, now we’ve got to get them in the right order.’ And, er, for example, you can also say one word louder than another–er, ‘To be or not to be,’ or ‘To be or not to be,’ or ‘To be or not to be‘ you see? And so on.

Alan: Inflection.

Sir Edwin: And of course inflection. In fact, Lear has only seven thousand and fifty-four words, but the real difficulty with Lear is that you’ve got to play him all, you know, shaky legs and pratfalls and the dentures coming out, ’cause he’s ancient as hell, and then there’s that heartrending scene when he goes right off his nut, you know, ‘bliddle dee dee diddle deebibble dee dee dibble beep beep beep,’ and all that, which takes it out of you, what with having the crown to keep on. So Lear is tiring, although not difficult to act, because you’ve only got to do despair and a bit of anger, and they’re the easiest.

Alan: Are they? What are the hardest?

Sir Edwin: Oh… um, fear.

Alan: Fear?

Sir Edwin: Mmm, yes, never been able to get that, can’t do the mouth. I look all cross. It’s a very fine line.

Alan: What else?

Sir Edwin: Apart from fear? Er, jealousy can be tricky, but for me, the most difficult is being in love, you know, that openmouthed, vacant look that Vanessa Redgrave’s got off to a tee. Can’t do that at all. And also I’m frightfully awkward when I try that happy prancing, you know. Which is a shame, really, because otherwise Romeo’s very good for me. Only three thousand and eight and quite a lote of climbing and kissing.

Alan: Sir Edwin, get stuffed.

Sir Edwin: I’ve enjoyed it.

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Typewriter Art?

AIGA is the professional association for design. It first stood for the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and is now known simply as AIGA. At this link is a fascinating article (external link) on people who have rendered graphic art with typewriters.

Meg Miller’s short article highlights four artists who are more fully introduced in the exhibition From the truer world of the other: Typewriter Art from PAMM’s Collection, to be held at The Pérez Art Museum in Miami (external link). It is running until April 15th, 2018. If only I could go.

Willem Hendrik Boshoff, Untitled from the series Kykafrikaans, 1980.
Typewriting on paper, 14 3/16 x 11 inches.
Collection of Pérez Art Museum Miami, acquired from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Gift of Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner, and the Sackner Family Partnership. Photo: Sid Hoeltzell
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