By Larry Peterson
Yessiree, I always love the Christmas season. It is my favorite time of the year for sure. I always, "tongue in cheek", brag that I still believe in Santa. The truth is, down deep inside of me there is a place that only I can go. I call it Stillness. When I travel to Stillness, Santa is always there. So is the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen and a lifesize manger with moving people (guess who). I could go on about my favorite place but I have already revealed too much personal info and, if I am being monitored by the NSA or CIA or Starbucks, I could be profiled. Anyway, I have been momentarily kicked out of Stillness. My reality check started with the Sunday newspaper ads.
Trying to acquire some knowledge about today's toy market (in case I need something to discuss with my grandkids at Christmas dinner) I flip open the Sunday flyer from Target. Immediately stunned, I know I must be looking at the ad of the year; it reads... "ready for takeoff" ---"Drones are the season's hottest gift". I can feel the instant pulsing coming from my temples.
The advertisement is for the Parrot Airborne Nightime mini-drone that flies in the dark with two headlights and an embedded camera. The price is $129.99. Next to the drone ad is a picture of a Darth Vader talking boom box. This page is for kids. Drones for kids??? What??? Oh, before I forget, all that is required to operate the drone is a smart phone or a tablet. Probably every kid in America over five has one of those. And some of those little tykes are pretty tech-savvy (temple pounding begins amping up).
They expect that more than 800,000 drones will be sold this Christmas. Drone owners "are aviators (I had this ridiculous notion that you needed a bit of training to be classified as an aviator) and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility." U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Fox, said in a statement. "Ya think, Mr. Secretary?" And the FAA estimates that 1.6 million drones will be sold in 2015, more than half in the fourth quarter (in this case 'fourth quarter' may be a synonym for Christmas time). In less than two weeks we will have almost 2 million "responsible" drone owners of all ages filling the nation's skies with their personal flying machines. Ah, progress.
There is a neat little caveat at the end of the advertisement for the Parrot Airborne Nightime mini-drone. It reads, "Prior to piloting your Parrot Drone please make sure you have authorization to pilot in the area you intend to fly. In some areas flying a drone is not permitted ie; such places as military bases, parks, cities and airports. Before starting, check local regulations prior to flying."
For more information, visit www.knowbeforeyoufly.org (I did not make this up).
With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, Barack Obama and his supporters are talking about gun-control and climate change. Islamic terrorists are killing people all over the world including Americans right here at home and all of that has taken a back seat to politics. But now--we have approval for personal drones that kids will be flying near highways, cities, schools and airports, etc. All they need is a five dollar registration fee. I can leave my house right now and go to Walmart or Target and buy a drone for less than a hundred bucks, register online for five dollars more and I am now an 'aviator' capable of flying my own drone.. Imagine the possibilities.
I will have to pray and work very hard if I ever want to get back to Stillness. As long as I don't get hit by a drone coming from the park two blocks away, I know I will make it. I am asking Santa for a football helmet.