I am an author and filmmaker and have written a thriller novel called, Death Comes At Night, published by BlackRose Writing. I am putting together a book trailer for the book. The book trailer script is: dcan-trailer_v-2 The storyboard for the trailer is: dcan-storyboard For more information about the book or the author, contact: DeathComesAtNightNovel@gmail.com. […]
I purchased a DJI Phantom 4 drone about two months ago. I’ve been having a great time flying and shooting aerials. I have a lot to learn. The drone has some great features and I’ve only scratched the surface on how to use them.
Here are some shots from a recent trip to Crescent Cove, California.
When we went to Crescent Cove, I was nervous to fly over water. My drone took off and zipped out over the ocean and there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that nearly compelled me to bring it home before it dropped into the depths and was lost forever. Fortunately, I didn’t bring it right back.
In order to legally fly a drone in the United States, you must register your drone with the FAA and take the FAA part 107 sUAS certification test. The test will not be available until August 29, 2016, but a link to a study guide is available:
When I purchased my drone, I registered it with the FAA, online, for a cost of $5. It was easy. I plan to take the FAA Part 107 certification test as soon as it is available.
Even though I’m following all the required regulations, I still get nervous when I fly. I’m not worried about the regs, I’m worried about crashing. I don’t want to loose my drone. I’m hoping that the more I fly the less worried I will be about crashing, but, I know some good pilots who have crashed drones.
The more I fly the more confidence I develop and the better I get. It definitely takes practice and time in the air to gain that confidence. The phantom 4 represents a real investment and I don’t want to loose it, and, I will keep flying in an effort to gain more confidence and skill.
In the meantime, I’m having a great time and capturing some cool images and video. Let me know what you think.
I enjoy watching the Olympics. I’m especially pleased to see the Olympics in Brazil. I was able to visit Brazil just prior to World Cup. It was a crazy, cultural and colorful experience. I witnessed strikes, mobs, gunfire and incredibly beautiful and colorful scenery. The food was amazing. I ate things I had never heard of. I met friendly people and heard styles of music that were filled with life and celebration. My experience in Brazil was amazing.
My friends in Brazil would not take me to the Favelas. They said it was too dangerous. They didn’t want me to get hurt, or robbed. They didn’t want me to see the poverty, overcrowding, pollution and social problems associated with the Favelas.
Nevertheless, the problems were there. I could feel it in the city. I could feel it in the tension among people. It was present in the bus strikes, the police strikes, the metro strikes. It was seeping out of the Favelas.
We were eating lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. Suddenly the lights in the restaurant went out. The restaurant owner told us we had to leave. They were closing. The mobs were coming. The police were on strike and the mobs were looting and robbing.
We had to go.
Now, the Olympics are in Rio and the world celebrates the games. However, many Brazilians, proud of their country and culture, are excluded from the celebration. They can’t afford it.
Hopefully, these games will be a celebration of the the Olympic spirit which inspires all of us, regardless of country and culture. And, hopefully, that same spirit will help to elevate the quality of life in Brazil and shed light on problems which afflict us all, not just those in Brazil. Perhaps these games will move an immensely complicated people to search for answers to the growing social ills that color the lives of a very colorful country.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Recife, Brazil Temple
The sun sets on a broadcast radio tower in Recife, Brazil.
A bright red leaf in Recife, Brazil.
Bright colors are a part of the Brazilian landscape, ever for graffiti taggers.
A Brazilian Voegol Airlines 737 sits in the rain while we wait for the storm to clear.
At 35,000 feet, the rising sun strikes our aircraft wing before lighting the Amazon rainforest.
Don’t miss seeing the beautiful gardens and arboretum in Curitiba, Brazil.
Even bus stops offer a bit of high-tech refuge from the elements in Curitiba, Brazil.
In downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, classic architecture mixes with modern contemporary, even with streetlights.
Is it a warning or a reminder?
Sao Paulo high rises illustrate the modernity of contemporary Brazil.
The the phone booths in Brazil are colorful.
Surrounded by the wealth and design of Sao Paulo, Favelas represent the contrast of incredible poverty in the modern world.
Over crowded and polluted, this Sao Paulo Favela is one of the most dangerous places in Brazil.
This 19th century light house welcomes sailors to the Recife, Brazil harbor.
While beautiful, and colorful, Brazilian bays, beaches and rivers are dangerously polluted.
The setting Brazilian sun glistens on the waters of recife, harbor.
A father and son fish the waters of Recife, Brazil.
The setting sun illuminates the clouds over Atlantic Ocean near Recife, Brazil.
Colorful riverfront shops and apartments grace the shores of Recife, Brazil.
Net fisherman ply their trade in the bay of Recife, Brazil.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Sao Paulo Brazil has a colorful mix of ethnicities.
This indigenous street vendor is happy to make a sale in Olinda, Brazil.
Product placement? Or just an ad for Adidas?
Brazilian boys wait for the right moment to jump in to the Beberibe River, in Recife, Brazil.
Watch out for sharks and don’t go in the water in Brazil.
Even though the beaches in Brazil are beautiful, they are extremely dangerous.
The quaint and colorful main street of Olinda, Brazil.
The marketplace of Olinda, Brazil is a quaint and colorful experience.
I watched the ripple spread out, a circle moving away from the moment in every direction.
I can not change what happened.
Another drop struck the surface and the impact was breathtaking. The whole bowed beneath the one as an elastic crator absorbed the energy.
In a fluid moment heat was exchanged. Light.
A replica of the original, a perfect sphere, hung, momentarily, above the body, then joined the whole in perfect union as the whole rose and consumed the one. Ripples rushed out to herald the moment, which, now, was indistinguishable from other moments.
What ever sense of identity the one possessed, it was drowned in the act of coming together. The one was now whole.
Another drop. Another rush. Another ripple. Concentric circles colliding amidst moments of climax.
I can not see the end, the ripples. Their size grows and the moment of conception is lost among the waves.
As I drift beneath the surface I wonder if my moment of impact made a difference.
Airboats are really loud. If the alligators we were searching for couldn’t hear us coming, they couldn’t hear.
As I put on my sound dampening ear protection, I was pretty sure any, or all, wildlife on Boggy Creek would be gone, scared away by the sounds of a giant airplane prop spinning at a million rpms. When our boat pilot punched it, the airboat jumped, skipping across the water.
We skimmed across sawgrass marsh and into Boggy Creek where the vegetation was thick. The airboat glided over lily pads, grasses and anything else as if it were sliding on ice. Occasionally the undergrowth would part and reveal that we were, actually, on water.
Certain parts of the vegetation were thicker. It looked like dense growths of mangroves, vines, lily pads, grasses, cat tails and other greenish, brownish, orangish stuff had coalesced to form floating islands. As we glided deeper and deeper into the swamp, the vegetation and the floating islands grew thicker.
When our boat pilot cut the engine and the props spun out, the stillness was deafening.
“Look there,” someone on the boat whispered.
A small alligator, maybe 2-and-a-half feet long, scurried over and under branches, and brushes and bushes, then froze. He seemed to know we were watching. Perhaps by not moving he thought we would get bored and go away.
We did–go away. The pilot fired up the engine and we roared off in search of other dragons.
Flying through boggy creek on an airboat is great fun, but the real excitement comes when you stop. In the stillness of the bog and the quiet of a stilled motor, a marvelous world unfolds. The bog is teeming with wildlife. Rare birds, exquisite bugs, unique vegetation, and alligators all share a wetlands eco-system of tremendous diversity.
Boggy Creek flows into Lake Tohopekaliga, at the very north end of the Kissimmee River, with its system of interconnecting lakes. Not actually within Everglades National Park, Lake Toho and the marshes of Boggy Creek share many commonalities with the Florida wetlands park, including alligators and crocodiles.
Within Everglades National Park numerous rare and endangered species share a protected habitat relatively free from urban encroachment and environmental neglect. Outside the park, just miles from the entrance, no such protections exist. The iconic wetlands outside the park are threatened by over-development and pollution. The eco-system, both inside and outside the Glades, is intimately connected. Unfortunately for wetlands wildlife, there are no doors at the park entrance.
As we returned to the dock, storm clouds gathered above the lake. Lightning flashed, thunder cracked, the skies broke and the rains poured out. The downpour lasted for only a few minutes, but was powerfully cleansing.
When the rains stopped, the air cooled, the sun broke through clouds, calm returned and blue skies once again reflected on the mirror-like waters of Lake Toho. And, for a moment, the airboats were quiet.
This alligator is about a year old. Where there are small gators, the big ones are out there too.
Reeds, marsh and wetlands line Boggy Creek and Lake Toho.
Many exotic and rare birds find refuge in the wetlands of Lake Tohopekaliga and Boggy Creek.
The sawgrass marshes of Lake Toho are filled with beautiful colors.
Colorful vegetation of Boggy Creek.
This baby alligator hides among the lily pads of Lake Toho.
The lily pads surrounding Lake Toho act like floating islands for vegetation and wildlife.
Lilies in bloom in the marshes of Boggy Creek.
Raindrops and flowers on Boggy Creek.
Raindrops beed on fluorescent green leaves.
Raindrops on lily pads.
Boggy Creek Airboats–they’re fast, and fun.
Boggy Creek flows into Lake Tohopekaliga, near Kissimmee, Florida.
I was 8 years old and my Dad was screaming, “Get Down. Get Down.” I dropped to the floor in our kitchen, frightened by the desperate fear in his shouting.
He jumped out of his easy chair and crashed into our black and white TV. The TV smashed into the wall putting a huge dent in the plaster and my Dad collapsed to the floor.
My Mom came running, “Don, what’s the matter? Are you O.k?”
My Dad jumped up, shouting, “Lookout, in-coming.” He grabbed my Mom and pulled her to the floor. She started to cry. I started to cry. My little brother started to cry.
My Dad was shouting orders. I could hear the gunfire in his words and see the fear in his eyes. I cowered in a corner.
Moments before, my Dad had been sleeping restlessly in his easy chair. Sometimes, when he had one beer too many, his dreams would carry over into our world. I was afraid when he drank because he never looked like himself. His eyebrows raised and his eyes were hard.
In our kitchen, amidst the shouting, the war played out again. My Mom tried to calm him and eventually the battle would pass and he would sleep, in his chair.
I didn’t understand.
I hadn’t seen war.
My buddies and I watched Combat on TV and played army in the vacant lot down the street.
My Dad fought in World War II and never talked about it with me.
Once, when a friend of his came over and they were drinking, I heard him tell about driving a convoy truck over the mountains in Burma. They were attacked and the steering wheel of the truck came off. He saw me watching and made me leave the room.
Another time I remember hearing him say his transport ship was hit by a German torpedo in the Mediterranean.
I don’t know what happened, but I knew it was bad, because he would scream and shout and swear and give orders in his dreams. He drank too much and I was afraid when he did. My Mom said he was different after the war.
Today I understand more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I can see how the horrors of war continue to rage in the hearts and minds of returning soldiers. My Dad fought it the rest of his life. He died in 1986.
Sometimes, in my dreams I still see him. The last time, he was on the back of a train pulling out of a station. He waved to me. His smile was kind and loving. His face was soft and his eyebrows weren’t raised. I waved back.
I knew my Dad loved me. I knew he worked hard to build a life for his family, one where we would not have to experience the horrors he did. I didn’t know him before the war. But, I can see how the ghosts of war haunted him.
Today, I honor my Dad. I honor his sacrifice. I respect his service. I value his training and I treasure his love. So much of who and what I am, I owe to my Dad and so many others who made and make the mortal sacrifices required to bless their family’s lives.
Fatima scowled as she handed a steaming cup of mint tea to her sister. Jamila accepted the tea as Fatima settled her bones on the river bulkhead.
“I am not so old as you, sister,” Jamila said, sipping her tea. The tea fragrance carried them back to fall harvest in their mountain village. As young girls, Fatima and Jamila had worked long hours in their father’s fields.
Now, fall was gone and the damp winters of Rabat pained Fatima’s arthritis. They sat in silence, sipping their tea as the green black waters of Bou Regreg sludged past.
“I do not know why we still come here,” Jamila said.
“Because our husbands do not like it,” Fatima replied and they laughed. There are few satisfying rebellions for a Muslim woman and Fatima and Jamila practiced them often.
“What did the doctor say?” Jamila ventured.
“Youssef is too stubborn to tell me,” Fatima said. She savored a sip of tea. “But I know.”
“How do you know this?” Jamila realized when she asked the question that she shouldn’t have asked the question. Her cheeks colored and Fatima laughed.
“You are too modest, little sister.”
A gusty breeze fluttered the silks of Jamila’s hijab and she drew the scarf tight under her chin. “Mamma had a remedy for such things,” Jamila said, not looking at her sister.
“I know,” Fatima said. “I have been mixing the herbs with his breakfast meal for weeks.
“You have?” Jamila looked up at her sister, eyes wide.
“What our men don’t know…,” and the sisters giggled as girls.
“Has it helped?” Jamila asked and the women laughed again.
“Shush,” Fatima said. “The Imam will see us laughing.”
“As will the All-Seeing-Eye.”
Fatima shivered in the moist river air as the culture of silence settled on the women. She sipped her tea as a lone seagull squawked above.
“How does Saïd at University?”
“Good. Good. He’ll be home in another month.” Jamila watched a fisherman rowing a worn wooden boat against the current. “And how is Asmae and the babies?”
“The babies are noisy, and hungry,” Fatima smiled. “I love having them here. Asmae says that Hakim wants her to come home.”
“It is too soon.”
“That is what I tell her.”
“She must rest, and feed her little ones.”
“So says the Prophet.”
Jamila took a sip of her mint tea and frowned. “My tea grows cold.”
“As do my old bones.”
Fatima and Jamila both twisted their bodies and stood up as old women. When the Adhan call to prayer echoed across the river they looked up to the minaret.
“The Muezzin is in good voice today.”
“He always sounds good on those days when we aren’t required to be there.” The sisters exchanged guilty smirks.
“You bring the tea.”
They smiled and embraced.
The mournful Muezzin’s call echoed across the cobblestones as the sisters plodded toward home.
On assignment, I flew in to Rabat, Morocco, on a private jet. As our team proceeded through customs, the agents held us up.
What were we planning to do?
What were we planning to film?
Where would we be going?
Moroccan media is tightly controlled and monitored by the Government. King Mohammed VI takes a personal interest in the message of his country. Foreigners can’t be trusted to portray an accurate or truthful picture of life in Morocco.
Rabat is the capitol city of The Kingdom of Morocco. Casablanca, made famous by the movie, is the country’s largest city. For more than a thousand years, the Western Kingdom of Morocco, or Marrakesh, was a powerful African dynasty.
Morocco is one of only three countries which have both a Mediterranean and Atlantic coast. From the 16th through 19th centuries, Barbary Pirates attacked ships and traded slaves along the Berber Coasts of Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia and Libya. In 1805, the United States executed a marginally successful military action against members of the Ottoman Empire in an effort to destroy the pirates and free American slaves. With European colonialism seeking to dominate much of Africa, political and economic tensions grew during the latter part of the 19th century. Moroccan independence essentially ended when France signed a treaty designating Morocco as a French protectorate in 1912. The French governed Morocco until 1956 when Sultan Mohammed V successfully negotiated Moroccan independence.
With Mohammed V’s succession to the throne, the spirit of independence and the power of the Monarchy re-emerged in Morocco. Mohammed V ruled for just 5 years. His son, Hassan II, became king upon his father’s death. Hassan II died in 1999 and his son, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne.
As King, Mohammed VI has implemented progressive changes in Morocco, adopting a new constitution reducing the overall powers of the Monarchy while implementing a Parliamentary government with an appointed Prime Minister. Yet, Mohammed VI still wields tremendous power and controls much of the country’s resources. He personally owns the country’s phosphate mines, which account for 75% of the world’s reserves and he has a net worth greater than the Queen of England.
According to the World Health Organization, poverty remains high in Morocco. While Mohammed VI has placed modest emphasis on reducing the widening gap between rich and poor, civil rights abuses, government corruption and economic distress account for an increasingly disaffected populous. On the world stage, The United Nations has criticized Morocco for military action and occupation of a Western Saharan region populated by the indigenous Sahwari people who claim Western Sahara belongs to them.
As we stood in the customs office, the agents explained that we could not bring our equipment into their country. We must return our equipment to the airplane or we would not be allowed to enter. So, we shlepped our heavy black pelican cases back out on to the tarmac and stowed them on the plane.
I keep a camera in my backpack.
Politics and customs agents aside, a highlight of my visit to Morocco was eating lunch at a traditional restaurant which required ritual hand washing before eating. I held my hands over a beautiful ceramic basin as the Maitre d’ poured warm water from a hand painted glazed pitcher. Another waiter provided a warm towel to dry with. I don’t remember much about the food, but, as we were leaving the restaurant, the Maitre d’ repeated the washing experience by pouring warm rose water over our hands. The scent was strong and pleasing and stayed with me throughout the day.
Now, when I catch the scent of roses, I am transported back to that tiny restaurant in Rabat. I hear the call to prayer echoing across the ancient city and I want to reach in my backpack and check to see if my camera is still there.
Two women pause for a moment of reflection on the banks of the Bou Regreg River in Rabat, Morocco.
In the 10th century, guards of the Almohads could look out over the mouth of the River Bou Regreg from the parapets of the Kasbah of the Udayas and watch for invading armies.
In Rabat, Morocco, beautiful gardens have been restored to their former ancient beauty inside the Kasbah of the Udayas.
There are several ways out of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco.
The Moroccan flag flies over the palace grounds of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
Back alley shops are common in Rabat, Morocco, where Mom and Pop wait for customers.
Built in the 10th Century A.D.,cannons of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco would fire on Barbary pirates as they sailed up the Bou Regreg River.
An alley market in Rabat, Morocco boasts a wide variety of merchandise.
A lone man watches the waters of Bou Regreg river for signs of fish, while empty boats rest on the opposite shore.
The town of Salé rises across the river Bou Regreg from the capitol of Rabat, Morocco.
Military police guard the palace of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
Birds carve out ideal homes in the ancient Hassan Tower of Rabat, Morocco.
Imperial symbols adorn the marble floors of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco.
Friends? Brothers? Men of Morocco.
Moslem women rest on stone benches outside the Palace of Mohammed VI in Rabat, Morocco.
A Moroccan woman rests on the painted iron grate overlooking the tower of Hassan in Rabat, Morocco.
Two Moroccan men discuss the matters of state, outside the palace of Mohammed VI in Rabat, Morocco.
10th century Moslem influences inform the architecture and staff of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V and the Palace of Mohammed VI.
The official flag of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Built of red sandstone in the 10th century, Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco, was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world.
Signs and flags everywhere indicate that the official name of the country is The Kingdom of Morocco.
The official flag of Morocco flies over stone pillars, remnants of the walls of Hassan Tower, in the palace court of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
The 10th century minaret of Hassan Tower rises above stone pillar remnants in Rabat, Morocco.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is the resting place of the late King of Morocco, along with his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.
An official Palace Guard on horseback in traditional costume guards the official residence of King Mohammed VI.
An aged Moroccan woman conducts business by cell phone in Rabat, Morocco.
Ceremonial Palace Guards in traditional costume, stand watch on horseback over the official residence of King Mohammed VI.
The air was dry–bone-dust drifting on a desert draft. A storm was coming, you just couldn’t see it yet.
I could hear an engine–distant but closing. The angry sound broke a stillness the desert was reluctant to give up.
A Border Patrol agent looked like he was cruising main on Saturday night, one hand on the wheel and one arm out the window–low and slow, The mud caked SUV stopped rolling and a red dust cloud wafted across the sun.
“What you boys doin’ out here?”
Grit ground in my teeth and I spat. “Taking pictures.” I held up my camera.
“Nice night for it,” he said. The sun was setting, but it wasn’t night yet. “Best be careful.”
The way he said it, I wondered if I should call my attorney. I nodded, not agreeing, just nodding.
“Ghosts,” he said, shaking his head like I knew what he was talking about, “don’t leave no tracks.” He looked down at the dirt and I couldn’t see his eyes. “They like to cross the border after dark.”
He continued to study the sandy ground for a long moment. Then he looked up. Our eyes met.
“Watch yourselves,” he said.
A coyote howled in the distance.
“Ghosts,” he said again. He tipped his hat and the SUV lurched forward. Tire tracks appeared where tires used to be and a new dust cloud buried their trail.
As the SUV disappeared into the desert, the sun touched a mountain and set the sky on fire. Quiet fell on falling dust.
My friend came out of the brush with his camera and tripod.
“What was that about?”
I thought I knew, but I wasn’t sure. I could hear movement in the brush. Footsteps, maybe.
“Ghosts.” I Pressed the cable release on my camera. The mirror popped up and the shutter opened. The sound was louder than I remembered. “They like to cross the border after dark.”
Lightning flashed on the horizon. The sound of a distant jet called from above. The coyote howled again.
We stayed there taking pictures until long after the light was gone.
Desert grasses and rock monuments catch the late afternoon in the Arizona desert not far from the Salt River.
The painted Arizona desert.
Arizona sunset near Marana, Arizona.
A crescent moon rises after sunset over the Arizona desert.
The sun sets over a cilantro farm on the Pima-Maricopa reservation.
Evening breezes waft the aromatic scents of cilantro across the valley as the sunsets on the Pima-Maricopa reservation.
Arizona highway? Jost a dirt road in the desert.
Painted mountain sunset in the Arizona desert near Marana.
Saguaro lake on the Salt River, Arizona.
Saguaro lake on the Salt River, Arizona.
A saguaro cactus stands tall in the Arizona desert.
Saguaro cactus populate the painted Arizona desert.
A saguaro cactus stands tall in the Arizona desert.
I lived in New England for two years. My first winter was spent in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, my second winter in Maine. Both winters were brutal. I was cold all the time. Nor’easters or down’easters were common. I survived the blizzard of ’78. One storm was so bad we couldn’t open our apartment door because the snow drifts were too high. We had to climb out the window and dig out the snow so we could open the door. Another time, we lost power for days because the ice storms had stripped the power lines and trees. The damage was horrific. But the world was sparklingly beautiful. It was during this time that I fell in love with the poetry of Robert Frost. His words evoke imagery and meaning with powerful poetic device which transcends place.
I no longer live in the east. Yet the seemingly simple home spun lessons of the New England poet stay with me. The words resonate in my western surroundings in spite of their New England sensibilities. Frost’s poetic imagery transcends time and place. The inspiration I found in the New England woods is also to be found in the Wasatch Mountains.
STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
by Robert Frost (an extract)
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow…
…The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
by Robert Frost (an extract)
…He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours”…