The Problem With Model Releases

People add interest to otherwise dull photos. See below. These shots are from the Trinity Site on the grounds of the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. It was the location of the first atomic bomb explosion and it is only open two days a year to visitors. I’m writing about my trip in my book. But back to people.

My publisher requires a model release from any recognizable person. That release demands a person’s name, full address and a date of birth. Not the kind of thing you ask from a random stranger. While I do have a professional business card describing my book, that’s just what a stalker would have. As it stands, the publisher may not want the photograph in any case. From my point of view, this woman is unrecognizable with her hat and sunglasses.


The plaque reads, “Trinity Site: Where The World’s First Nuclear device Was Exploded on July 16, 1945”

Picture Sandstone: Common and Extraordinary

Rockhounds should look for anything special, not necessarily what they first start out searching for. An intense gold interest may blind a person to something common yet wonderful, right under their feet. Sedimentary rocks and their related formations are a good example.

Erik Christiansen and Kenneth Hamblin say that a rock formation is,  “A distinctive body of rock that serves as a convenient unit for study and mapping.” The USGS goes a bit further, writing that, “A rock formation is a body of rock of considerable extent with distinctive characteristics that allow geologists to map, describe, and name it.”  Sedimentary rocks are usually named for the formation they were found in. There are hundreds of sedimentary based formations.

To serve as an example of a sedimentary rock and its related formation for my book, I bought the treated sandstone you see pictured below. It’s about three inches by five. It shows what can be done with a common rock, transforming it into something that rivals fine wood grain in its beauty. Being sandstone, it was assuredly easy to slab it with a rock saw into a square.

The seller’s description reads as follows:

“This is natural sandstone that formed 180 to 220 million years ago by wind and water as part of the geological formation ‘Shinarump.’ The colors and design were induced by a mineral spring containing iron oxides. If you like the unusual and beautiful works of nature, you will enjoy this picture sandstone product. Truly ‘Nature’s most beautiful painting.’ This piece comes from northern Arizona. The design and patterns are natural, its color is achieved by heat treating the stone. This caused the iron oxides found naturally in the stone to react, the richer the iron the deeper the color.”

Wikipedia has this good introduction to the Shinarump conglomerate, which is found throughout the Colorado plateau. You can read it by clicking here.

SpotX Satellite Messaging Device Update

I’ve had my SpotX for over a month now and I am getting happier with it. The SpotX is a satellite messaging device designed for use where no cellular coverage exists. Which for much of the Southwest  is a mile or two off the main road, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain. While I haven’t had to use it in an emergency, its real purpose, my tests are going well.

The SpotX is not easy to set up but I am sure their engineers are working on this. I had to wait over two weeks to get a unit, so I am hoping this strong demand inspires them to great things. You need a Mac or Windows desktop operating system to configure the device; a mobile OS is not yet available. Once all your information is entered into your desktop or laptop, like account settings and predefined messages and such, you need to run a separate program to sync that data over a cable to the SpotX. It’s easy to lose track of all the steps. But on to the good stuff.

Today I sent a test e-mail and a text message and both were received by my cell phone in minutes. I then replied by cell phone and that message was received by the SpotX in under five minutes. The device operates best when stationary. Prop it up or lean it on something with a clear view of the sky and let it work its magic. Moving or walking with it while trying to send a message seems to delay messaging quite a bit, the connection to a satellite is not as robust as a cellular signal and this should not be expected. The closest satellite is, of course, hundreds of miles away and it’s probably a wonder that this technology works at all.

While sat phones can be rented or bought, air time is incredibly expensive and probably worth it only if going into the most high-risk places, where real-time conversation with rescue services or doctors may be needed. As for me, this service is a good compromise between cost and convenience. I signed up for the personal recovery option and the vehicle recovery option as well. If an emergency does come, in the worst case, a helicopter will be heading my way or a 4WD tow truck will be ambling down the road I got stuck on. All messages to first responders are automatically stamped with GPS coordinates, you can elect to include them when sending non-emergency traffic.

After I posted this entry, I found out about a major firmware update for the SpotX. I downloaded the update and everything is working. The fix alleviates at least two major problems that I had with the previous iteration.  I think the company is on its way in working toward a better product.

Where In The World is Thomas Farley?

Rain has dogged me throughout my trip. Few brilliant blue skies. I am getting good information but the publisher’s stock photography site will have to be used for many images. The Petrified National Forest in Arizona, for example, was clothed in deep gray. I am reassured, though, that there are professionally done shots of every National Park and Monument.

A Dike is Not Always a Levee

See the photo below to help understand these terms.

A dike is:

“A discordant tabular body of igneous rock that was injected into a fissure when molten, that cuts across the structure of the adjacent country rocks, and which usually has a high angle of dip. It should not be confused with a vein.” United States Bureau of Mines

Tabular means:

“Said of a feature having two dimensions that are much larger or longer than the third, sub as an igneous dike, or a geomorphic feature such as a plateau.” Bates and Jackson, A Dictionary of Geological Terms


“A dike is a tabular body of igneous rock cutting across bedding and hence, discordant.”

Contrast with a vein:

“In geology, a vein is a distinct sheetlike body of crystallized minerals within a rock. Veins form when mineral constituents carried by an aqueous solution within the rock mass are deposited through precipitation. The hydraulic flow involved is usually due to hydrothermal circulation.”


To me, what the authors suggest is that a dike is merely rock whereas a vein contain minerals. Can anyone help me here?

Photo: On Interstate 11 near Hoover Dam