Friday, June 5, 2015

Newsletter -- Drone Guy


Being up to date on the latest in everything, I've been out front of everyone else in using drones. They're a lot of fun, in such activities as dropping into people's backyards and taking personal videos of nude people on trampolines, as well as more traditional scientific exploration. I was recently involved in proving once and for all that bears don't spawn, but mate in the normal way on dry land. Flowers, chocolates, the whole bit.

Recently I tackled a scientific question that's vexed me since childhood. I would always ask questions as a child, and sometimes adults were up front with an answer and sometimes they weren't. They filled my head with strange answers about tooth fairies, Christmas elves, and delivery storks. Little did I know everything could be proven one day, simply by having a drone. One of the answers they had for me -- speaking of my grandparents here -- was that thunder was simply potatoes rolling down the cellar stairs. I accepted that, as absurd as it sounds.

Now that I have a drone, I've been thinking, one of these days, when it storms, I ought to get the little guy revved up and put this question to rest, once and for all. It's definitely noisy up there in the sky; obviously something is clunking around up there and with some real force, if I can hear it all the way inside my house. Why should we allow such things to perplex us?

Up to now, I believe I know why no one's given it a go, the high price of drones; no one wants to lose a drone that can be somewhere around $300. And it would almost certainly be threatened. How would you guide the thing up there as it's being battered about, and manage to return it to earth without smashing it to smithereens. On the bright side, when exploring thunder we do have the advantage of being able to see our drone, as it seems that lightning's usually around about the same time.

Well, the day came and I was in the field, a modern day Ben Franklin. Yes, lightning was everywhere, and thunder, not to be outdone, roared all around me just seconds after each bolt. I circled my drone above, for the longest time unable to narrow down my target, the core of the noise. As the lightning came closer, then came so close it was singeing the grass just scant inches from my feet, I discerned that thunder's core was just overhead.

I looked straight up and guided the drone closer, ever closer, to thunder's nucleus. The lightning threatened me, as if to register a complaint, "Who's the star of this show anyway?" But I put off all such questions, being stolid in my determination not to be sidetracked. I shook my fist, as if to proclaim, "I'm the boss here!"

Incredibly, my drone was responsive to my every wish, miraculously dodging lightning's fury, with a single-minded mission that it would find the heart of thunder or be damned. You see that kind of resolution -- the sheer grit and guts -- it takes your breath away. I thought, "What a flight! Lightning bolts everywhere, flashing brightness in a fierce display, but gaining nothing to its own advantage! All the flashes could do was encourage me: O say, I can see that my drone is still there!

Looking back on it now, I know I escaped with my life only by the skin of my teeth. And my drone as well, being worth a little over $300 and deserving every penny. From now on I'll be doing everything by drone, whether it's ordering my Thanksgiving turkey or checking the shingles on the house for wear. The damned thing proved itself, and how!

Working it, I furiously clicked pictures and changed its programming on the fly to get a few videos, all at a lightning pace, so to speak, with my hands aching like hell from manipulating the joystick, buttons, gears, and levers.

Back later at base camp, with the storm passed, I checked the results and studied the various pictures I got of thunder, and, indeed -- God bless my grandparents -- thunder truly is, but on an unimaginably massive scale, huge potatoes rolling down the cellar stairs, the enormous stairs of the heavenly realms above. Eternal life comes with a side of fries.

SUBSCRIPTIONS -- Subscriptions for the newsletter have been temporarily suspended before they could even begin, as I need to resolve various complaints I got yesterday. There's some controversy about my system of unsubscribing with the displayed coupon. I said you could unsubscribe by sending in the coupon, but only if you sent in the original as duplicates won't be accepted. The question came up, "Does printing the coupon constitute a duplicate? In terms of the coupon being on my monitor, is that considered the original? How would I fill it out and get it to you?" I see the point but I haven't yet worked through the dilemma. Yes, it does seem that printing the coupon would be the only way to do it, but I said duplicates won't be accepted. So at this point I'm as stymied as anyone. Here's where I'm stuck: I refuse to change my mind, but I'm not sure what the rule means in practical terms.

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