Thursday, January 31, 2013

Questions, Questions, Questions

I thought I would take some of the common questions I have gotten over the years so I can link people to this rather than me say the same thing over and over. Some of these aren’t really questions, but things that have been stated to me that I usually respond to. A few are just my own for the sake of clarification.

1)”How long have you been doing this?”

The blog has been around since 2006. I had an earlier Youtube account around the same time that I ran various tests with earlier videos on, but is no longer around.

However, I have been doing something like this for most of my life. I have always been into hiking, so a lot of what you see here goes way back in time for me. In the past 20 years I have gone a lot further into the backcountry than I did as a kid. So, a lot of what you see is just years of experience in areas that I have known in some ways going back over 30 years.

The movie locations tend to be a lot more recent. In the past 10 years I started getting more specific on certain spots. Now I had been to places like the Alabama Hills or Iverson Ranch going back to the 1980’s, but it was a case of just passing through to see the area with family. I knew about movies being filmed there, but it was not something I cared too much about.

I believe it was the early 1990’s that I saw Comanche Station and The Tall T on vhs or tv that sort of began the interest. “Hey, that’s Mt. Whitney in the background. You know it might be fun to try to find where that is sometime,” but even then I was not as hardcore about this as I have become.

It was sometime in the late 1990’s that I posted about the site of High Plains Drifter the first time online on a primitive website I had created. That site died a long time ago, but even then I did not turn into the person you know on this blog. It was only with creating this blog and youtube that I decided to start emphasizing this area of my experiences.

2)”What’s the main purpose of the blog?”

Originally, it was designed to be something I could link to my friends and family. I got kind of tired of sending the same e-mail with variations over the months and years. So, I thought it would be easier just to link whatever I did and send a shorter e-mail. Of course, being a public blog others see this as well which is fine.

The only thing there is you have to remember is some things I talk about or refer to might only make sense to people that know me in the real world. There have been a few things I have posted on here or via video that was designed for certain family or friends. One time I did this and I had one person get really bent out of shape telling me how much a waste of time it was for him. I have no clue who that person was, and I didn’t have the heart to tell the guy what I did wasn’t for him.

As I have reached more people I have sort of modified the purpose of the blog some. So the following is getting more to what I have in mind these days:

I cover places that I like and are a little out of the ordinary. I give you some of what is out there to stimulate your interest so you can go off and do you own thing at wherever you may live. Wherever you live there has to be something of interest that you can find. Be it history, nature, animals, etc.

The idea is not that you need to go to the places I talk about on here. Some people have the opportunity to do this, but I would feel let down if that is what people felt they needed to do in order to appreciate the blog or these places. The world is a big place and there are lots of things that you can find that I have no idea about. On any topic, I try to give enough to stimulate your interest, but I don’t reveal everything I possibly know. I have a lot of background research that tends not to show up on here. What I give is enough and if you care more about a subject then, depending on what it is, you can follow the links or sources I provide.

3)“How do you find these locations?”

Most of the blog has been dedicated to answering this question. I usually try give the various techniques and principles I use when discussing them. Generally, I start with the background, then mid-ground, and then whatever is right in front of me. Taking lots of pictures so that I can come back home and study. It is always nice to know I can go back at another time.

Google Earth is making things a lot easier than in the old days. I don’t use it for everything since it has its limits, but it is good to get the general feel of the area. Although, in some cases like hiking, I try not to use it too much just to enjoy the surprise of not knowing what I will find.

I tend not to use the internet before going anywhere. It is usually after I come home, or right before I post something on here, that I will do a few searches to see what people have come up with. There are good sites out there for things, but I tend to look for specifics so a lot of what is out there wouldn’t really help me for what I do.

As an aside, there are some locations I will never reveal. Some of you out there have told me about them and wanted them kept private for various reasons. I’m fine with that and as a matter of honor will keep it that way. I would say 90% of the time it deals with issues regarding private property which I am pretty sensitive to anyways.

4)“You must have read this book (magazine) by this author”.

Actually, I don’t read many books about this sort of thing. When it comes to movie locations I have a total of three books:

Holland, Dave. On location in Lone Pine: a pictorial guide to movies shot in and around California's Alabama Hills. Granada Hills: Holland House, 1990.

Medved, Harry., and Bruce Akiyama. Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer's Guide to Exploring Southern California's Great Outdoors. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2006.

Schmidt, Richard. A Field Guide to Motion Picture Locations at Red Rock Canyon. Montrose: Canyon Two Publications, 2002.

Those are helpful, and I will get them out once in a while if I need some inspiration or have forgotten something. The issue though is, to get really specific on things I really need to be there out in the field to figure these things out.

Now on the other hand, if we are talking more about history or some backcountry hike, then I do spend a lot of time doing background research. I have been known to go into the darkest and dirtiest parts of university libraries. These types of sources are the ones you will not find online.

Since this blog is meant to be family friendly for just about all ages I tend not to talk about every resource I use. If I were doing a more graduate level university thesis style then I would probably list just about everything. I tend to list a few popular sources if you want to go a little further. I should give a standard disclaimer that these types of sources I don’t always agree with, could have bad information, not up on the latest history and just tell common stories or legends, etc. Those are the ones you usually start with then you can go on from there.

5)”You could almost write a book”.

I could, but I won’t. This blog is enough for what I am trying to do. I have a lot more background research and other experiences that don’t always show up on this blog. Refer to the purpose of the blog in the second question above.

6)“Can you give me directions to…(and can you give me a personal tour)?”

I list GPS coordinates in most of my blog entries. These days I have somewhat regretted doing that based on going back to some places and seeing trash or hearing reports of vandalism. Which doesn't mean people are seeing something on the blog and doing that, but still it is annoying. In the news over the past few months some thieves basically destroyed some Indian artifacts outside of Bishop I had intended to go to at some point for the blog. I won’t be doing that because of this.

While I will continue giving some coordinates in the blogs, I would ask if you don’t know how to use google maps or a gps device to not ask me for directions to wherever you want to go. Part of the point of this blog is to show the adventure one can have without knowing everything about where you are going. While I don’t want anyone to go into the backcountry unprepared it is another thing to have every detail spelled out for someone so he doesn't have to do any work.

While I am at it. Only take from these locations what you have brought in. Yes, I have encountered people that think going to places like this means it’s artifact hunting time. Great, ruin it for everyone else. Take pictures or videos and leave any artifact be.

Another thing, every once in while I get people that want to meet me somewhere for a personal tour. While it might seem like I can just take off everywhere at anytime it is not like that for me at all. I can't just do these sorts of things for free. You get enough information on here if you want to find some place. Refer to question #2 again, and have an adventurous spirit!

7) “You know you can get more views by…”

Don’t care. While view totals do tell me something, I really don’t care how many people see a blog entry or watch a video. Kind of like the way I do location hunts, I like the idea that people that are trying to find something have to do a little more work to find my stuff.

From experience I know there are certain things I could do to bring a lot more people in, but for me it is not really worth it. Since this is just a hobby and not for profit I tend not to worry about this. If only a handful of people see or like something I do so be it.

I will say the odd thing is, there are some things I do that get more attention than I thought they would and other things I thought tons of people would want to see and it ends up being a “flop“. There was a series of videos I did once that I put a lot of time into and one video that I hardly put anything into that was pretty much a throw away video that I didn‘t care about. The video I put the least amount of effort into ended up blowing the rest of the other videos away in regards to views.

8)“I like this, but not that…”

You probably won’t like everything I do and there are tons of other websites you can go to satisfy whatever need you have, or you can create your own site. The only thing I think I would say is do not expect me to be too one dimensional on here. I have certain things I like to cover, but I like to go into other topics at times. I like to integrate various things and show the connections with other things. If you expect me to just cover one thing all the time then you are probably wasting your time here.

9)“This is misspelled…grammar…could be better stated, etc.”

Actually very few mention anything like this to me, but I wanted to say something. In the past few years I started to use a laptop I would post from before I would go to bed. This laptop is very easy to make these types of mistakes because of how the hands go over the keyboard and mouse. So, even after proof reading, I still usually have mistakes I would miss. It would end up taking me a few days after re-reading what I posted to make further edits to change wording, etc. I am sure there are still mistakes on here I have not caught, but usually do my best to change things over the next few days after a blog is written up. Look at it as more of a rough draft when it first goes up that eventually gets edited. This is really a style over substance issue to me and very few have called me out over it. So, my apologies and thanks.

10)”How often will you be posting to the blog?”

At the end of 2011 I had ended my days of posting every week or two. I have covered most of my favorite areas and had burned out. Now, I still have tons of pictures, footage, and places I can go. It just got to the point that it wasn’t as fun to me as it once was. It is much better in the long run for me to not post as much. I still have various projects I intend to do, but without feeling I am on a schedule which was what killing my enthusiasm.

11)”Can I use your pictures or video on my site?”

Anything I post you can use for your own personal non-profit interests. You really don’t even have to reference me as the source if you do not want to (unless I have watermarked the picture with my name, but in that case it is already stated so nothing would need to be done). It is up to you. Yeah, if you claim to have taken the pictures I did then I might be bothered by that from a moral perspective and wonder what is wrong with you, but I probably won't do anything other than think your an idiot. ;)

If you do use the pictures I have taken for something that is for profit or has advertisements, then it would be nice if you mention me as the source.

The only thing about videos is you can download anyone you want with the various programs that are out there so you don’t have to watch them online, but I ask you not to re-upload them on youtube (or any other video site). Some people have others do that for multiple exposures, but for me I think it is best to just link the video.

12)”Will you link to my site?”

I have had lots and lots of people over the years want me to advertise their sites. As a general rule don’t expect me to do it. It’s a little complicated as to why I’m this way about this, and I don’t really want to go into it here. If I have plugged your site before or talked about some location on this blog in the past you are connected with then that is enough.

Likewise, I don’t expect anyone to link my site. If you want to that is great, and I thank you. If you don’t want to then that is great too!  

13)“Anything else you want to say?”

I don’t see myself as “broadcasting” in using this media to do what I have been doing. It’s more like someone coming into my house or around the campfire telling a few stories. Sometimes I think people see blogs, websites, videos online to be something much more than they should be. These are nice diversions, good for a some information, but are not the real world. I’m definitely bothered by the idea that people think that gaining “friends” on social networking sites equals the real thing.

The internet is becoming a little too much of “state the obvious” about 50,000 times. It didn’t feel this way to me during the 1990’s. I blame the social media for this, but commercials, television, news are becoming more like this too. So, I hope that I have offered some originality in what I have done on here to counter this type of way the world is becoming.

Just to end this with a funny anecdote, something that happens to me once in a while is I will get a person that doesn’t know me very well or has just seen just a few blog entries I have done. Then they will proceed to tell me about some area that I must have missed or do not know anything about. Then a phone number or e-mail is given if I want more info or them to give me a tour of the location. What normally happens is it is an area that I have already covered a long time ago. It is kind of like, “Well, who do you think originally visited there and revealed the spot?” This is not always the case, but in some of them it’s a strange situation where somehow I am actually the source of their knowledge, but they don’t realize it. Lol!

14)What is your e-mail address?

I have had to add this one on as of Feb. 2014. Long story short, an older computer has been hit with a few viruses/malware. This in turn caused some mass spamming to any e-mails connected with it even though they did not originate from me. I have had this happen a few times in the past year, so enough is enough. You can go to my profile link on the right for the link. Otherwise, it is the following email:

thegreatsilence(you know the sign that goes here)mail.com

Enough. I am going to let some time go by and then start preparing my long delayed projects regarding Catalina Island. See you then!