All The Things I Can’t Tell You!

I’m having all sorts of fun and sometimes terrifying experiences connected to writing my book. But I can’t post what I discover here because that content needs to go into the book. It’s very frustrating since I am used to sharing my writing life. Until I can figure out a compromise, here’s a photo of the railroad bridge at Afton Canyon, near the end of the Mojave River in San Bernardino County in California. If you plan to drive to the BLM campsite near the bridge in the near future, bring a 4WD with lockers. You’ll need them.


Posted in books, rocks and lapidary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Cookies Here!

This site has no cookies, ads, or popup promotions.

Cookies enable tracking, supposedly to enhance a user’s experience. Actually, they only benefit the website owner. A website host provides plenty of stats without cookies, such as the number of visitors and the pages that they viewed. Does one need more?  My portfolio site shows off my work and allows people to contact me. None of that should involve setting cookies.

Ads. Terrible things. The minuscule revenue they generate, if they make anything at all, look completely unprofessional. A portfolio site should sell  yourself and not a credit card, diet pill, or software. A free site with ads is no bargain.

Popup promotions. I’d be happy if you read my blog. So, I won’t annoy you with a  solicitation in the middle of your reading. There’s no call for that with an online resume or portfolio. I think it best if your creativity is calmly, quietly displayed. There’s too much hustle on the internet to add to it.


Posted in Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wave That Would Drown The Whole World

A wave 200 feet high!? This photo was taken by Bob Wick of the Bureau of Land Management. It’s the image for the August page of BLM’s 2018 California calendar. Trinidad is in Redwood Country on California’s north coast. Sea level is beneath the bottom of the photograph. Although difficult to visualize, the cliff is 198 feet high. That’s twenty stories. The caption to the photo reads:

Trinidad Head, California Coastal National Monument

“Trinidad Lighthouse was first activated in December 1871. Perched 198 feet above the ocean on a dramatic clifftop, its most notorious event was a huge wave that struck the headland in the winter of 1914. Keeper Harrington, stationed on the head for 28 years, described an immense storm the likes of which he had never experienced. He watched an enormous wave approach until the sea itself fell over the top of the bluff and struck the tower on about a level with the balcony, making a terrible jar and disabling the light. Although no official measurement was made, this is still considered to be one of the largest reported waves in history.”

More on this amazing event here: Click on the photo for a larger image. Although the old lighthouse is not open to the public, the views are grand everywhere around Trinidad. Make sure to eat breakfast at the Seascape Restaurant. You’ll thank me.


Posted in Photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Stock Photography Tour of the Southwestern United States

I’m off to New Mexico and Arizona in the first week of October. I’ll be gone at least seven days, possibly ten, looking at rock shops, places to collect, museums, and natural wonders. Along the way I’ll be taking photographs for my book. What photos are eventually used is up to the publisher but it’s better to take more images rather than fewer. They advise me to take portrait oriented photos as well as those oriented in landscape view.

Adventure Publications uses Shutterstock (external link) for stock photography. The publisher told me to gather any photos I may need in a Shutterstock folder which they can review when they design the book. It costs nothing to do this assembling, and the publisher will eventually buy any photos they decide upon. Shutterstock has an immense, amazing library.

Looking up  items as diverse as Arizona’s Mogollon Rim, Utah’s Monument Valley, or New Mexico’s Mount Taylor, brings up serviceable images nearly every time. This assures me that I will have publishable photographs for everything important. If I don’t find an image then I will be sure to photograph that place in person. Using this stock photography site also allows me to see up ahead, to give me a better idea of what to look for when I get into the field.

Posted in Research tips, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing tips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A. E. Housman’s Minimalist Poetry

A.E. Housman was a minimalist poet, whose spartan lines are matched by only the best Haiku writers. He bitterly and wryly welcomed death, romanticizing its inevitability. He was extremely popular during the First World War and his poems reflected the emotion of the time, with soldiers shamelessly slaughtered in places like Gallipoli. These selections are from A Shropshire Lad, whose poems make up a slim volume. Some editions are beautifully illustrated.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Oh, when I was in love with you

Oh, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they’ll say that I
Am quite myself again.

Is my team ploughing

‘Is my team ploughing,
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?’

Ay, the horses trample,
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.

‘Is football playing
Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?’

Ay, the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal.

‘Is my girl happy,
That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?’

Ay, she lies down lightly,
She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.

‘Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?’

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

Far I hear the bugle blow

The Day of Battle

‘Far I hear the bugle blow
To call me where I would not go,
And the guns begin the song,
“Soldier, fly or stay for long.”

‘Comrade, if to turn and fly
Made a soldier never die,
Fly I would, for who would not?
’Tis sure no pleasure to be shot.

‘But since the man that runs away
Lives to die another day,
And cowards’ funerals, when they come,
Are not wept so well at home,

‘Therefore, though the best is bad,
Stand and do the best, my lad;
Stand and fight and see your slain,
And take the bullet in your brain.’

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Progress Report on My Book

With eleven months to go before my deadline of August 1, 2019, I’ve written approximately 28,000 words. My contract calls for a total of 50,000 to 60,000 words so I feel good about my progress. Ideally, I’d like to submit the work a month before my deadline, so that I do not procrastinate. Or, failing that, I can fill that last month with double checking telephone numbers and addresses, confirming permissions to use photographs and images, and making sure I’ve correctly spelled the names of all contributors. There is a tremendous amount of dreary detail work that accompanies non-fiction.

I’ve often thought that word processing software and the latest in computer gear does not make us any more productive. That’s because we can now endlessly edit. In the era of hand written drafts, manuscripts were so laborious to produce that an author would rewrite three or four times and then send the copy into the editor. Now, we can revise and edit a hundred times if a deadline is far enough away. Do we improve that much, though, with extra editing? And at what point do we say a work is finished?

Here’s a link to the site supporting the book:

Posted in books, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others, Writing tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Become a Dentist — A Way to Make Your Natural Tendencies Pay

I have a long history of major dental problems, made worse by the fact that conventional dentistry never gets me out of pain. General anesthesia is the only method that works for me. In yesterday’s operation, it was determined that an existing bridge could bot be redone and that because of that I needed two implants.

The implant base can be installed in a few hours but it takes four to eighteen months for the base to root into the jaw. The replacement teeth are screwed in much later, after the implant has successfully taken hold. For at least six months I will be eating on the left side of my mouth, praying constantly that the work will root in.

I will not be productive this weekend, indeed, exercise and driving should be limited for several days, as all the drugs and the medicines I received work their way through my system. I am now on antibiotics to guard against infection. And eight hours after the operation i am wobbly on my feet. Given my history, I expect to be back for another major surgery in ten years. The implants probably won’t fail, but all dentist work, like bridges, have only a limited life.

Thank you, Dave, for helping.

Caution: the video below is not for the squeamish:

Dentist Song

From the movie “Little Shop Of Horrors” (1982)
(Alan Menken / Howard Ashman)
Steve Martin

When I was young and just a bad little kid,
My momma noticed funny things I did.
Like shootin’ puppies with a BB-Gun.
I’d poison guppies, and when I was done,
I’d find a pussy-cat and bash in it’s head.
That’s when my momma said…
(What did she say?)
She said my boy I think someday
You’ll find a way
To make your natural tendencies pay…

You’ll be a dentist.
You have a talent for causing things pain!
Son, be a dentist.
People will pay you to be inhumane!

You’re temperment’s wrong for the priesthood,
And teaching would suit you still less.
Son, be a dentist.
You’ll be a success.

“Here he is folks, the leader of the plaque.”
“Watch him suck up that gas. Oh My God!”
“He’s a dentist and he’ll never ever be any good.”
“Who wants their teeth done by the Marqui DeSade?”

“Oh, that hurts! Wait! I’m not numb!”
“Eh, Shut Up! Open Wide! Here I Come!”

I am your dentist.
And I enjoy the career that I picked.
I’m your dentist.
And I get off on the pain I inflict!

When I start extracting those mollars
Girls, you’ll be screaming like holy rollers

And though it may cause my patients distress.
Somewhere…Somewhere in heaven above me…
I know…I know that my momma’s proud of me.
“Oh, Momma…”

‘Cause I’m a dentist…
And a success!

“Say ahh…”
“Say AHhhh…”
“Now Spit!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment