amateur radio art art deco books business posters BYU Introduction to Geology chess Closed captions and indexing: using YouTube to rank higher with Google comedy contest coronavirus COVID-19 design Drone editing writing Etsy fiction free speech Free Tibet Google authorship in WordPress Google Tips graphic arts job application tips Kessinger Publishing Learning to build an app Literary Magazine submissions Magazine article Making video with an iPad2 music Newspaper article newspapers non-fiction writing organizing writing snowflakes Stanton Delaplane Thoughts on writing UC Berkeley Extension Workshop Uncategorized video volunteer

And So it Goes

Speaker 1

Speaker 1
Hello, aloha and mahalo. It is Monday, September 11, day of remembrance for all of us.

Speaker 1
My name is Thomas Farley, F-A-R-L-E-Y-I have a friend who is is dying and he has been dying for many years, but it is certainly the end of the line.

Speaker 1
It will be the end of the line very soon for him, it seems, unless there’s some miraculous intervention from beyond science.

Speaker 1
I and he’s a good man. He doesn’t deserve to die, die poorly like this. I would not trade places with him. I envy him, though, in a way, with the enormous amount of resources that he’s been able to get to apply to his condition. He has a physical disease.

Speaker 1
He has a number of things wrong with them, but they are in the end, all physical.

Speaker 1
He’s had good insurance with Kaiser and I’m sure some of his own money. Similarly, I’ve had good insurance plans and money and I’m actually paid out of pocket for nearly all of my mental health treatment because compared with physical diseases, you cannot get seen by a doctor routinely enough to do any good in mental health. For a psychiatrist. Well, he has Kaiser. I think under Kaiser, probably you wouldn’t be able to see a doctor psychiatrist more than once every couple of months.

Speaker 1
Instead, you’re kicked down to therapists and technicians. So I’ve always paid out of pocket for regular psychiatric treatment.

Speaker 1
So that’s one big difference between mental health and physical health. Another is that routinely, for years now, most of the major insurance companies have provided a 24 hours nurse talk line so that you can talk to a nurse at any time of day except that. And I’ve talked to these nurses on these health lines before. They say they’ve never, ever had a psych nurse assigned to one of these 24 hours help lines. They could have a psych nurse, a telephone line in addition to the physical, the regular RNS.

Speaker 1
They could have that. These groups, Intermountain, Southwest, Kaiser, multibillion dollar corporations, they could pay for a 24 hours psych nurse telephone line so he wouldn’t wind up at the emergency room or some other place victim of suicide. But they don’t because mental health does not exist for these people. They talk about these institutions, talk about the rising rate of suicide, and isn’t that awful? But they won’t fund for it.

Speaker 1
They will not fund for it. They will instead give out some pity, some false pity and give some money to other groups, other agencies that are working on the problem, but they themselves don’t participate. And in the last few years, we’ve all seen how they want to really focus. They really want to throw everybody into two categories that of depression or anxiety. And if you’re not in that category, then good luck to you.

Speaker 1
I don’t want to dwell on my particular problem, although I’ll just say that it’s severe insomnia and nightmares and yeah, you hear about research, say, into PTSD and related, but it’s not really in my opinion. And I’ve been almost become a professional consultant on this subject since I so much want to get better. And I’ve tried everything. So I’ve become sort of an expert on what’s current, and I’ve done everything, including electroshock, or ECT as it’s politely called. Electroconvulsive therapy didn’t work for me, paid for all that out of pocket.

Speaker 1
Physical diseases, especially the physical diseases that happen to a lot of people, that Big Pharma has a market for. Those seem hopeful. As far as research getting spent, I know there’s some incurable, seemingly incurable problems like autism, and so there’s just major diseases, although autism goes to great deal of mental health fields, so it’s inherently not going to see the amount of research or funding to begin with. My friend has got all of these resources now available to him as far as end of life treatments and hospice, just like my parents had hospice and people willing to help stepping in. And there’s nothing for end of life, for mental health problems.

Speaker 1
My condition is not livable, and all I get in a response as far as end of life is that it can’t be that bad.

Speaker 1
And I sometimes say, yeah, you’re right, it’s not that bad. It’s a hell of a lot worse. You live with this, you live with this. But it’s a mental health problem that they can’t capture with a microscope or a thermometer going up or down, or blood pressure they can measure or blood they can sample. They just have to take the word of the patient, and our word doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Speaker 1
And I feel for people with mental health problems that are not as articulate or verbal as I am, that can’t express themselves or they express the hell they’re going through. They really have. That just I can’t imagine the misery funding needs to be addressed for my friend. There’s all sorts of patient advocates available for him. He’s actually had genetic engineering things done for him at Stanford Hospital.

Speaker 1
There’s been housing available for family and relatives nearby, just on and on and on. And I am glad that he’s had that care. It’s extended his life for many, many years. It’s just there is no equivalent in mental health for this. And it just devalue you.

Speaker 1
It devalues a person over and over and over again. You’re not worth it. And if you want something done, you got to pay for it yourself, because we can’t see it, so we don’t think it’s a problem. I’ll give you a simple example of how much I often have needed a patient advocate to deal with people just on the phone, for example. One of the things that really induces my nightmares is being a mean person and having to argue endlessly.

Speaker 1
And if anybody’s dealt with any customer support, any healthcare organization over the last many years, you’ll know that it is impossible sometimes to get across what you’re trying to say to a person that keeps falling back on a script will not transfer you to a supervisor about the websites and email addresses that they hand out that don’t work, telephone numbers they never call to make sure that they actually work. It just goes on and on. Well, that all forces me to get service, forces me to be a mean person with these people. And I don’t want to be a mean person. It’s toxic.

Speaker 1
It’s toxic to everybody, but especially in my condition. And I can’t tell them that that just engendering more and more nightmares. And it would be great if I had a patient advocate that would be able to speak for me and would be able to sit for hours and hours on a phone trying to get something arranged and it’s just not possible, not even with paying for it out of pocket. These people don’t exist. And it is very frustrating every step of the way you’re told that your condition doesn’t mean anything and it is indescribable as I try to make myself, as I try to make other people comfortable with me.

Speaker 1
You can’t mention, for example, that you have violent nightmares anymore. They’ll call the cops on you.

Speaker 1
People today are so scared by corporate media that they associate mental health with violence when in fact the mental health are far more likely to be victims of crimes than actually committing the crime. But corporate media doesn’t want to hear that. And it is the more and more I try to make other people comfortable around me, the less credibility I have, the more well spoken I am, the less people think there’s anything wrong. If I keep up appearances, then just what’s the problem? And I’ll try to say, well, how many times do you have to watch your mother or your best friend get chainsawed to death?

Speaker 1
Well, it’s not real. No, it actually feels real. And shock after shock and this has been going on since 1988 with me and it just breaks you down. I probably have less than 4 hours of sleep every night and tell you this is how these professionals, they just want a measurement. How many hours of sleep are you getting?

Speaker 1
And their limited thinking is insane. Well, four or 5 hours, it doesn’t matter. It’s the quality of sleep. It’s all broken up. I’m pacing around at 233 30 in the morning, waking up every other half hour.

Speaker 1
It’s the quality of sleep. But they can’t measure that. They have to rely on your word. And your word doesn’t count. Your word doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Speaker 1
Well, we’re sorry for you, but there’s no at this point I’ve tried literally everything, including, like I said, ECT. And that program when it first came out, using the Apple Watch, which is a dedicated Apple Watch and a dedicated iPhone that goes with it called nightwear. I’ve written a multi part review on YouTube about it that also failed.

Speaker 1
But in the end in the end, my friend has a ton of services he’s going to have measured, respectful, end of life experience, I guess you would call it. But no, I’m going to have to take care of things myself. And it’s tragic, but it’s consistent with the disregard that mental health gets in this country. I’m not sure it’s that much better anywhere else, and I don’t have any suggestions other than fund, but it’s all about money, and so I just don’t especially Intermountain. They’re an incredibly toxic group, incredibly damaging to mental health people.

Speaker 1
And you can read on my website,, what they did to me, how they treated me. I think a real fundamental problem in healthcare is how the line personnel, or the people responding to their Twitter and social accounts have no idea what duty of care means. We are patients first and then customers. This is not a typical industry where you have a customer. No, we’re patients first.

Speaker 1
When you extend the duty of care, if you have to explain what duty of care means to somebody picking up the phone, they need some real training or they need some days in the hospital tending to patients. Once you accept the duty of care, again, it’s just not my dad was a brilliant physician, brilliant doctor, and his colleagues were all well mannered, neat, professional, all of them caring. And they accepted the responsibility for a patient once they took them on. And once a system takes them on, like Inner Mountain or Kaiser or what have you, that duty of care is extended. That umbrella applies to everybody under their name.

Speaker 1
Well, that’s enough for now. I wish I could give you some hope, but there really isn’t any. Not at least for people with my condition. And I think that they would actually prefer a lot of us just to die off so they don’t have to deal with them. I think that’s what’s going on with a lot of the homeless, with mental health problems.

Speaker 1
It’s just get these people off the books and we can go back to treating people for just anxiety and depression and everybody else is on their own.

Speaker 1
But if you know more about the subject, let me know. But there’s no dignity in this, not for people with mental health.

amateur radio art art deco books business posters BYU Introduction to Geology chess Closed captions and indexing: using YouTube to rank higher with Google contest coronavirus COVID-19 design Drone

Repost of Nightmare Review Part Four

I continue to be sad over how little these posts have been viewed. Hence, the repost. I’m fairly confident that if I paid to advertise then their reach would be extended. I’m willing to think about that because this is a life or death matter but there is no certainty that it would help. And although these are fairly negative posts, any sponsored or promoted ad is generally met with skepticism. I wish you peace.

It’s not working for me. But you should try it in case it helps you. $7,000 but if it is life or death, well . . .

NightWare Review – Part One (internal link)

NightWare Review – Part Two (internal link)

NightWare Review – Part Three (internal link)

NightWare Review – Part Five – Final (internal link)

Unedited transcript:

Hi, this is Thomas Farley. I hope you are well, or at least getting better. My nightmares are definitely back fullblown. They never really went away. I continued to wake up scared, extremely stressful dreams just not with the imagery of the past.

But again, the nightmares have always come back no matter what medicine is applied. So it’s very hard to tell day to day, week to week. Sometimes. Are they away permanently or are they coming back? And obviously I would wake up very scared.

There has been some horrible imagery, but not violent. But I’d look at the device and my heart rate is normal. And so it’s obviously not activating on events that are incredibly murderously devastating to me, especially still not able to activate it doesn’t do one of these so called interventions within the first 30 minutes of going to sleep. And that continues to be a big problem. And the company, as I’ve said in times past, refused to modify anything without FDA approval.

Or at least they say that they can’t do anything about their program unless they get FDA approval. I did try to attempt suicide about ten days ago. You can read it on my blog. I don’t know what went wrong. I’m still trying to figure out my place in this world.

Of course, if you are suicidal, if you’ve been going through this for decades, you just have to try this NightWare program. You don’t have any choice. Get the money and try it. As for me, I don’t know my place in the world anymore, so I’m just wandering around again with my interest in hobbies and just miserable sleep. The suppression of the nightmares.

If anything did happen, I certainly didn’t do anything to improve my sleep. You would think that with the suppression or elimination for a while that my sleep would improve. It’s gotten worse and I doubt I’m getting more than 6 hours of sleep, but total doesn’t matter. It’s the quality of sleep. It’s horrible.

It’s fractured, it’s just beat up. It’s filled with these bad dreams. So again, I don’t know. The psychiatrist recommends. I’ve asked for a sleep physiologist to talk to.

Next step. She again talks about medicine, but I want to get off this medicine treadmill. They just put you on one after another, and whenever they fail, it’s increased dosage or decreased dosage or in combination with other medicines. It goes on and on and on, and we have to get somebody honest about saying maybe this is terminal, it’s chronic. It’s over.

That’s it. But nobody’s saying that I included that really on my own. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore other than just complaining, and that makes me sick. So I don’t know what to tell you. I really don’t.

If you’ve got something worth hanging in for, definitely do that.

No, I can’t manage your life. I don’t know you’ll. All I can do is feel sorry for you. And I’m really hopeful that things get better for you and I don’t know it’s definitely not working? That’s the bottom line.

amateur radio art deco books business posters BYU Introduction to Geology chess Closed captions and indexing: using YouTube to rank higher with Google comedy contest coronavirus COVID-19 design Drone editing writing Etsy fiction free speech Google authorship in WordPress Google Tips graphic arts job application tips Kessinger Publishing Learning to build an app Literary Magazine submissions Magazine article Making video with an iPad2 music Newspaper article newspapers non-fiction writing organizing writing Photography Photoshop podcast Poetry politically correct posters Research tips revising writing rocks and lapidary Uncategorized video volunteer watches WordPress tips Writing by others Writing tips

These Are the People I Deal With

I don’t expect anyone to read this except for search. And I don’t expect anyone to sympathize with my complaints, either, because this is the way the world is arranged. I’ve was raised to be a nice person but there are too many mean people to overcome. This is not something I can win. And, given my constant nightmares since 1988, not something I can cope with.


This weekend at a community picnic, I was introduced to an old cowboy who asked me what I did for work. I told him that I work part time online, at which point the conversation quickly drifted south because of him. He told me that the greatest computer was between our two ears, the human brain. And I said, I agree with that.

He then went on with a whole series of statements and questions that were aggressively going after. I think I think when I start talking about computers and what I do online, it’s so far out of reach of most people that they think that I’m trying to be smarter than them, or somehow they feel inferior. I think that’s a great deal of it. They have an inferiority complex to anybody that’s working with computers. They act as if I’m trying to prove that I’m smarter than them, when in fact, I usually don’t start the conversation at all because I’m so far out of reach with what I’m doing, with what most other people do that it’s not even worth bothering to talk about.

Like all of the work that I’m doing with AI and Chat right now. And it’s very discouraging because I had a friend say to me recently that it was possibly economic, because not everybody can afford a computer or the resources that I have, and that’s not really the case at all. I should probably stop at this point and refresh everyone’s memory that early on, before the Internet went commercial, back in about 94, 95, with the advent of Mosaic. Mosaic was the first graphical based Internet browser that you could see images with that became relatable to people. Images provided a boost to advertising, but librarians had been on computerizing, their catalog, card catalogs, for years before.

And so when personal computers came out, they started populating libraries with them. Especially, really around 84, when IBM came out with its own personal computer for the masses. There was this Charlie Chaplin advertising campaign that was hugely successful. But years before, Apple had been trying really, really hard to place computers in the school to get these lucrative contracts, and they did a good job. They started about 1980 with the Apple II.

So by the end of the 80s, computers were basically in every library and school. And so everyone’s had an opportunity since then to use computers in one way or another. Night school classes, adult education classes since really the late 80s, early ninety s. And I’ve actually been on computers since 1978. Over 40 years.

Everybody’s had a chance. But an idiot like this that I was talking to, he doesn’t want to go to the library. I’m sure he hasn’t been to the library in decades. He probably can’t remember when he checked out a library book last. I have many computers.

I think I have two desktops, two laptops, two tablets. I also have a library card from Pahrump. A library card from Goldfield and a library card from Tonopah. And I am in those libraries, actively. I’m checking out books.

All of those libraries have a computer. I think it’s just laziness on most people’s part and not having an interest. It’s easier to put down somebody for what they do than to ask about it or just say simply nothing at all. These are the people that drive me crazy. There’s so much amazing stuff going on and I don’t mind if they’re not interested, but it’s the librarians that I’m infuriated with.

They’re the gatekeepers in education and they don’t want to know about Chat or AI. So it’s not really economic. It is a deliberate decision on many people’s part not to engage, not to learn, to let the things go by. And people that are actually interested, that are burning to create, that are trying new things, that are experimenting with new things, those are people that are something to be put down on because I think it might remind them of how little they want to know, how content they are with their own little world. And that’s fine as long as you don’t go out and bully people or put people down.

This is the way I can make some money. I can make this money part time. I’m doing a good service and yet I have people people commenting who don’t even know the basics of writing and business writing.

Self-sustaining freelance writers are maybe four or 5% of the population. That’s it. Everybody else is doing a second 3rd, 4th job to enable their hobby or their passion the and as far as nonfiction writing goes, nobody understands that. As far as business SEO, there’s nobody that I know, haven’t known for a couple of decades that has any idea of what I’m doing. But if they ask, if I try to explain, it’s just an immediate putting down of what I do.

It’s just this prejudice against the unknown, which is really the root cause. If you don’t know something, if somebody knows something you don’t, you don’t want to hear it. Instead of asking questions about it or letting it go, they want to put it down because they’re bullies. That’s all they can do. They’re trolls.

And maybe it reminds them of the fact that they’re dead to the world, that they have no interest in inquiry.

Anyway, I just wanted to put down what I have to deal with almost every day in my effort to be creative. I really have to keep it hidden. Can’t discuss it because it’s like we’re going back to the Dark Ages. One idiot, in fact, who’s in charge of something historical, he was talking about computer literacy, computer literacy in such a way that I asked him this:

You’re not holding out computer illiteracy as a point of pride, are you? And this guy’s a former engineer and he thought about it and said, that’s a good question, actually. I am. This is a living, breathing, talking luddite. He doesn’t want to learn.

He wants to put down people for learning. We’re going to go back 300 years into the Dark Ages when people were prosecuted and killed for trying to learn things, for trying to advance science. We’re going to try to discredit them. Or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in which anybody with higher learning or higher ambition was killed. That’s what we’re going to get.

We’re going to go back to the Dark Ages and then we’re going to take 300 years to come back again. At the end of the Dark Ages, they had to reinvent all the math that the Greeks had done, what, 1500 or  2000 years before, because people were criticized and killed for trying to learn new things. And now we have people writing about chat and AI who don’t actually use it, haven’t experimented with it, but don’t want to learn. They just want to put it down. So it’s frustrating, but that’s the world we live in.


Drone editing writing Magazine article non-fiction writing organizing writing Photography Thoughts on writing Uncategorized video WordPress tips Writing tips

You Do Not Control The Weather

Gathering images should be top of mind for any writer working under deadline.

Most publications require you to submit your own images. If you can’t produce them yourself, you need to look at stock photography or public domain photos immediately and begin the process of securing permissions while you write your article. Some permissions take months to get, some impossible to get before deadline. The race to collect images begins immediately upon acceptance of an assignment.

It is crippling that most publications will not pay for your own photographs nor will they pay for the tremendous cost of stock photography. You need to understand this before accepting a low paying assignment. If you still want to write that article, realize that it won’t be making money for you and consider the article to be resume building instead. Now, weather.

Even in the middle of summer, conditions may not be right for photography. The San Francisco Bay area is often socked in fog throughout the summer, the best time for clear photography is in the fall. Clouds can happen anytime in any season and they, too, can wreck what you have in mind.

You must think about the weather, especially if you are traveling for an article and cannot return for better conditions. If you get rain, take the best rain shots you can. Take as many photos as you can, maybe some will be picturesque despite conditions. If you return to a site a few weeks later, realize your photos may not match up with each other as the weather may be very different from your last visit.

This video shows me setting up my drone in the dramatic location of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area close to Las Vegas. Many beautiful sandstone cliffs in layers of red. The idea here was to photograph dusk in the canyon. A fine idea, everyone loves a good sunset.

Here, though, clouds intruded on this late afternoon, gathering enough that all I had at dusk were grey clouds and dark mountains. Gloom. At the start of summer. Who knew? It was really too bad, as there was no wind at all which would have been perfect for flying. Yet, unusable footage. Another day. Don’t waste your time in post trying to improve really poor photographs. That’s a job for experts, if they can do it all. You probably don’t have those skills as a writer. I sure don’t.

You must think about forecasts and locations and get that all figured out as you work toward deadline. You do not control the weather.

As an experiment for you Word Press geeks, here’s my Instagram video taken at the time of setting up the drone. Portrait mode, of course. This unedited video resides in my media library at this website. The second video is the same but hosted at Vimeo. Can you tell any difference? Which do you prefer? Vimeo allows you to pick a thumbnail frame from your video. That becomes the image a viewer sees when deciding to watch a video. WP doesn’t let you do that.

Getting the Drone Ready at Red Rock from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Also, do not leave your soft sided drone case open while at home, lest you face this terrible vision.
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Drone non-fiction writing Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

Out Rockhounding in The Nopah Range

Went rockhounding Monday an hour’s drive west of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nopah Range is mostly in Inyo County, California. Extremely scenic, no trees. Bring your own shade. 

A geologist friend of mine remarked on the photo below, “That’s where sand comes from!”

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Drone Uncategorized video

Flying A Drone Part III

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch

I’ve written on flying a drone before. (internal link) This is a recap and an update.

I bought a drone about two years ago, with the idea of supplementing my magazine articles with photographs taken by it. Everyone likes aerial photos. Several photographs taken by it were used by Outdoor California (internal link) when they published an article of mine last year. They paid well for those photographs. Despite that success, I haven’t flown my drone for months. I keep it charged, but little else.

My drone is a DJI Phantom Standard. It stores pictures and video on an SD card in the drone itself, the part that flies around. I’d prefer that it stores images on my iPhone but it does not do that. Instead, the iPhone is used as a viewing screen. This means to review photographs in the field, I need to land the drone, take out the SD card, and then load the card into my laptop. This is inconvenient and exposes my computer to dust and dirt. I must also be mindful of keeping the laptop charged while I review and possibly edit. Keeping everything charged is a real consideration.

The items to keep charged are the iPhone, the drone controller, the thing with the paddles that moves the drone up and down, the drone battery, a spare battery, and my laptop. To deal with all this, I bought a lithium-ion smart battery that is about the size of a small car battery. It can supply AC or DC current to recharge any devices I take outside. Although it has been renamed, you can still find it at Walmart under the long name of “Suaoki PowerHouse, Compact 400Wh/120000mAh Portable Outlet.” I even bought a 100 watt solar panel to top it off when I go camping.

But, again, reviewing is difficult, since the drone has to be landed before photographs can be offloaded from the device. Photography, therefore, is inexact with my drone and I hope for the best while it is in the air. It cost too much to now replace it with something new or different, instead, I must do the best I can with what I have. Instead, I take lots and lots of photos while in the air, to have at least a few useable shots when I go to review. Video, by the way, is not 4K but good enough for web work. Still images are at a publishable resolution.

It’s a complicated setup. I have the drone controller, which makes the drone move, the iPhone, which sits on the controller to act as a viewing screen, and then the drone itself. As well as the DJI app for the phone. All of this works through a WiFi network generated by the iPhone and the drone. I’ve found I can do testing of the network indoors by taking off the drone propellers. In this way I don’t have it accidentally flying into the ceiling. Indoor testing shows that the wireless network connections are satisfactory to initiate flying.

I have not yet flown the drone out of what is called its safe zone. That’s a cone shaped area preset by the factory.  If I get away from this setting I fear my expensive investment will disappear. It is important to orient the drone every time it is flown, a pre-flight dance that involves spinning the drone by hand in different circle directions. I do not fly it over water as I am afraid it will fall in and be unrecoverable. Drone photography in commercials oversells the hobby. The only people flying their drone over water or over canyons are those who are sponsored by drone companies, people who will get a new machine at no cost if their old one is lost.

I am only comfortable flying it over ground where I can get it back in case something goes wrong. Winds are tricky. The wind may be much more powerful just a few dozen feet above ground level, possibly preventing the drone from getting back to its starting point. Glare is a big problem on the iPhone. I would prefer a larger screen or a glare guard. While I should learn to use my drone better, my anxiety over flying it and the many steps involved in flying keeps it grounded most of the time.

Drone shot. Camp Cady Wildlife Area, a property managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This shot would be better if the drone were higher up. Lesson learned.

Stock photo of the drone. Large, heavy battery contained within.











This battery is extremely useful in the field. Charge at home for best results. Can be charged also through a vehicle’s cigarette lighter, although more slowly. Also chargeable by solar panel, again, much more slowly compared to charging with line power.

Drone Photography Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Article

I shouldn’t do this but it’s in the cause of promoting interest in the next issue of Outdoor California. (external link). They’re a publication that rivals Audubon in presentation and anyone interested in California wildlife should subscribe. I took the photograph but I did not title the article, I rather like the title the editor came up with. Click on the image to enlarge the photo.

This photograph was kludged together by combining two images from two .pdf files. The magazine’s layout will be much nicer, even with a fold. This image constitutes what they call an inside double page. Outdoor California pays for photographs, by the way, something rare these days. My investment in photographic equipment and a drone may eventually pay off. Do you notice the clouds in this picture? They were wonderful on my first visit to the territory. But on my second visit, back with the drone, they were gone. Much magic lost.

I do not not have the patience of a professional photographer. For more photos, such a photographer would keep returning until they had the right conditions, possibly camping out at sunrise or waiting for sunset, the so called golden hours. If you want a little more on the original photograph, without the text, click here. (internal link)

Drone Photography Uncategorized

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 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 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.


Drone Magazine article Uncategorized

Back From The Mojave Desert — More Thoughts on Flying A Drone

I’m back from the Mojave Desert where I was researching an article. I flew my drone three times, all successfully. I’ve written about buying and flying a drone before (internal link). A few more thoughts.

Quite honestly, I am often scared of the drone. It’s like a chainsaw, very powerful with a tremendous amount at risk. Although I can’t cut off my leg with a drone, I could have it fly off, never to be seen again. The people who fly drones over water are very courageous.

The main difficulty I have is that my view screen is my iPhone. More expensive models use a tablet and I think that is the best way to go. You will, however, experience glare with any model and glare is always around. Why all this bother?

The site I visited wasn’t particularly photogenic. Not all wildlife areas can be. They are supposed to be beautiful to a bird, not necessarily to us. But failing a sylvan scene, aerial photographs are interesting by themselves, even taken over a drab landscape.

An elevated view is immediately interesting and we enjoy this rare perspective.  I think I have three photographs that will work and I am happy with that. And I am getting less fretting with my drone, as practice is making me more comfortable. I haven’t crashed it and it always returns to me. Now, back to the writing.

An outtake photo below:

Drone Uncategorized

Buying and Flying a Drone: Part 1

I bought a drone. Two upcoming writing projects could be better with drone-taken photographs so I’ve taken the plunge. I am disgusted and embarrassed by what I’ve paid but I want to be positive and so I am launching into this venture with a constructive and optimistic heart.

I bought a Dji Phantom 3 Standard (external link), “The Drone For Beginners.” It’s a drone with a camera already attached. No need to buy a drone and then a camera and then wonder how they are going to work together. While there are dozens of other drones to choose one, this model was rated highly and was in my budget of  $500 to $600.

The drone was available immediately from my local Best Buy store. I did not want to buy on-line, only to have to box up and mail back a bunch of dismembered parts in case things went wrong. Based on my experience with Best Buy, I knew I could go back to the store and return anything that was defective.

My budget was soon blown. All sorts of tempting accessories were available in a bundled package which I wound up buying. The most important components in that package were a spare battery, which costs over $100 by itself, and a semi-hardshell case to transport the drone and its accessories. Also included was a second battery charger, this one beefier than the one included with the drone, and plenty of spare propellers and propeller guards. A memory card was also included which I have not yet used. With sales tax the total bill came to $879. Sigh.


Putting it together was physically simple but a slow process to make the drone live to the world. I needed to register the drone with Best Buy, the manufacturer and the FAA. Along the way I bought accident insurance for another $110. It seemed I was entering my credit card information repeatedly over two or three hours. Getting FAA registration (external link) took only fifteen minutes and cost just five dollars. But I hesitated mightily at their site.

The FAA wants to know if you are flying your drone (or Unmanned Aircraft System) for work or for fun. Their words. Flying professionally involves more steps and I wanted to avoid this. Although my drone ambitions are to include photographs in articles or books I sell, it may be months or years before any money comes to me. So I avoided the entanglement of registering for work purposes and went with the fun category. I can always change my status later.

Four parts make the Phantom 3 Standard go:

  • The drone itself, which communicates with WiFi to a handheld controller;
  • The controller, which builds the WiFi network;
  • A smart phone, supplied by the user, which connects to the controller through WiFi;
  • The Dji app, which provides the intelligence to the system and enables the display on the smart phone

Do you get all this? There’s a lot of communicating going on so everything has to be in sync. The smart phone must connect to the controller which in turn connects to the drone. Any drop-out in any part of this chain defeats the system.

Take a look at the photograph below. A claw-like thingy holds your smart phone to the drone controller. The phone becomes your display or dashboard for the drone. Besides being the eyes of the drone, the Dji phone app (external link) shows battery levels and other vital information.


When I first powered up the drone I could not get the controller to communicate with it, even after I updated the drone’s firmware. After reinstalling the app many times I turned to Dji’s tech support. They instructed me on how to reset the drone. This is good advice for any drone model: learn how to reset your machine. In the case of the Phantom 3 Standard, the method is on page 24 of the instruction manual. Speaking of which, the manual prints out best if you scale it to 130%. The manual’s type is too small to read if you print it at a standard 100%.

Charging the batteries is somewhat mysterious. The batteries in the controller and in the drone must be close to full before flight. The battery in the drone comes out, the battery for the controller does not. The controller is charged by a USB port, the drone battery by the included charger. Flashing lights indicate the batteries are charging, I think, but I am still trying to understand this. The documentation is poor. The Dji app will tell you, however, the status of both batteries. How long will a charged battery keep? I’ve yet to find out but I will report.

Don’t be tempted to fly indoors once you have everything synced up. Dji says it’s doable but not recommended. I was so happy to finally get all of the elements working and talking to each other that I started my drone in the living room. It wanted to dash to the ceiling and I was lucky to catch it before it hit anything. Running at full power I struggled to turn it off, vainly hitting the power button on the drone while trying with my free hand to disengage it through the controller. Not good. Again, first fly outdoors in its safety mode.

Right now I am looking for a desolate and lonely and windless space to go flying. Sun up might be best. And somewhere away from water. If any water gets in the drone then the machine is probably killed and the warranty is voided. You might see people in advertisements flying over water but they didn’t pay for their drone. Nothing is like the commercials. Not only must it be a windless day on the ground, conditions must be right 50 to 100 feet above the ground. Yes, you can fly in windy conditions but you better be a very good pilot. Lots of practice is needed and something I must do next.

I’ll report on my first outdoor flying experience in Part 2.