Written by a guy who flew his drone into a tree
So I crashed my drone into a tree and stranded it there in the rain, because #skills.
And just like a “frame” in medias res movie that starts at the end and then flashes back to the beginning and explains the lead-up to the tragedy, I shall now take you down memory lane on an exquisite journey of intrepid adventure, aerial stunts, and a colossally epic amount of face palming. Prepare to:
- Read it through, and
- Engage SMH mode
- Stay tuned, because there's a valuable lesson here at the end.
Back to The Beginning
Christmastime was great. I got some nice things. Though I much prefer to give, it is exceptionally awesome to receive the occasional freaking super awesome gift-o-rama. Not that I am overly specific or controlling as far as what I want, but that is what a vanity URL like www.buyjoshthisgiftnow.com leading directly to my Amazon Wish List is for, right? Admit it. You just clicked that link because you wish to purchase something for me. I respectfully accept.
This year, my wife spoiled me with a new, awesome drone.
When I opened up that package, I was immediately greeted by the glistening sight of a small Pelican case wanna-be. I knew instantly what it was! After all, I made the wish list. My hands trembled as I opened up the case protecting my mostest favoritest gift of all time.
A new, shiny Potensic drone.
I had never had a drone before. The closest thing I ever had to a drone was a hot dog I taped to another hot dog and then flung up into the air in a helicopter rotor fashion. I was successful at crashing that one too because I am told that synthetic tubes containing pork entrails are generally not suitable for aerial travel. Our Labrador Macy enjoyed these unsuccessful test-flights however, because, well, gravity.
But this was a drone, a real drone.
I flew it the day after Christmas, because I have two small children who are spoiled by grandparents that we firmly instruct not to spoil our children, and who acknowledge and respect our wishes by ignoring us and spoiling them. I do not think I am saying it correctly when I instruct them not to do this. Anyway, due to said spoiling it took me 24 hours to successfully wade through the mountains of Christmas wrap and already-broken presents just to get outside. (I forgot to tell you: our kids are small and reckless…bonus!)
The crisp winter pine air smelled fit for droning. So I took it up, and it was beautiful. Epic. Serene. I piloted it all around our 3.88 acres and took some great snapshots and photos.
But something wasn’t right. If you recall, I used to be a wedding videographer. Being such, I can tell good equipment from bad. And I already had a DJI Osmo camera that I used at weddings. In the back of my mind, a seed of envy for those DJI drones began to take root.
In less than 5 hours, I would manage to find my wife buried under that Christmas wrap, and after performing CPR, explain to her that, although she had purchased the correct item from my Wish List, I had in truth selected a substandard item, and was now setting my sights on an even greater prize: The DJI Mavic Air 2 bundle, complete with three 34-minute flight batteries, a carrying case, a micro-SD card, backup rotors, and a free manicure. I’m kidding. The manicure was extra.
But still – this was the drone that eats other drones for breakfast. Remind me to schedule my next facial though.
It was time to upgrade.
So here’s what happened
Fast forward to Monday the 4th. I received my new drone a few days later, registered it with the FAA, polished it and flew it over and over again, amazing the neighbors, and that was me on the news that caused that high-altitude fiery helicopter crash "by some unknown drone operator. " I am sorry.
Last Monday, after a bit of a tough and stressful day, I went out to "unwind" a bit with Shaniqua. Oh! I forgot to tell you I gave her a name. Anyway, my unwinding regimen typically involves flying Shaniqua six feet above Macy, who repeatedly jumps and barks until she becomes hoarse and sounds like a smoker’s voice box. I categorize Macy’s activity under the column labeled “uproariously hilarious.” Macy does not put this activity under any such column, as Shaniqua is not a hot dog, which is both confusing and upsetting to her. Also Macy does not categorize things. Also Macy is a dog.
I believe it was the tears in my eyes from such side-splitting laughter which prevented me from seeing clearly, as I proceeded to give my poor canine a break, fly Shaniqua off into our pasture, send her into an unintentional nosedive, veer left…
…and promptly crash her 40’ feet up in a pine tree.
Now, despite the promotional material that swore that Shaniqua comes with obstacle avoidance, she clearly decided to controvert all such marketing promises and lodge herself near some pinecones and birds’ nests.
As you can imagine, I was a bit miffed. Shaniqua was my favorite Christmas present ever. But that Monday, Macy's canine justice was served, because now she was stuck in an evergreen tree on the corner of our property much higher than my ability to hurl my child at her to bring her down.
You see, God blessed me with a healthy dose of acrophobia along with only a 16' ladder and no periscoping tools of any kind. Along with this, I was reminded that the only thing I am truly skilled at is making macaroni, which does not help in extracting drones from trees.
So, my only recourse was to hurl other things up at Shaniqua in the mad hope that I might bump a branch and send her down into my arms while “Reunited” by Peaches & Herb played slowly in the background. However, me being me, the baseball bat that I threw up to nudge the drone became stuck, the storage tub lid that I threw up to nudge the bat became stuck, and I do not believe my mailman appreciated my grabbing him and launching him from our trampoline to get my storage lid. Now we needed to send in someone to get the mailman who went in to get the lid who went in to get the bat who went in to get the drone. I am confident my tree was laughing at me.
So now? It was time to call the EXPERTS.
But everyone I called flatly declined. I think one laughed uproariously and hung up. Fire department said no. This arborist said no. That arborist said no. Contractor friend said no. In fact, when he asked me how high up my drone was stuck in the tree, the only thing I was able to say was that I would probably need a drone to figure that out. That did not help us get any nearer our objective of rescuing poor Shaniqua, for now it was starting to rain. I still offered him some macaroni however.
Enter Fire Station 35 in Lacey, who referred me to a cat rescue company. So I called, down to my last hope that at least someone would be willing to rescue something that:
- was beyond the reach of my tippy-toes, and
- did not have whiskers
Welp, Tom came to the rescue! I wasn't expecting anyone until the following day, and was pretty sure that I was going to lose Shaniqua to rain damage. But Tom came over in pitch black at 6pm! He immediately suited up with what to my mind was 400 pounds of gear, straps, buckles, chains and other things that I am fairly certain are also used by the US military to extract confessions from Middle-Eastern detainees. He then proceeded to shimmy up the tree like a squirrel. His bushy tail, staccato "chee-chee" noises and mouth loaded with acorns only served as further proof of his rodentia.
I’m also fairly certain that I heard strains of the Indiana Jones theme playing in the background during all of this.
In the end, Tom rescued Shaniqua, and made me a very happy camper...albeit an incredulous one, because I was blown away grateful that a cat rescuer would come out at oh-dark-thirty to rescue something of mine that definitely purred but was not going to rip up anyone’s couch. Tom is AMAZING. He is an expert in his craft, he was super safe, and now I can fly my beloved Shaniqua again. Thank you Tom! What a guy. He said he’d be back in a week or so for the mailman, but that he doesn’t do baseball bats or storage tub lids. I guess you can’t have everything…where would you put it all?
For me, I dusted off Shaniqua, cleaned her up and did a test flight later that night. I avoided the pasture.
Why It Matters
Why does all of this matter, you ask? Because it’s my aim to occupy your time reading my blogs while I sneak in and get those auditions you missed.
I jest. There’s a deeper meaning here, as usual.
Peripheral blindness is a thing. If you don’t believe me, try driving with two planks of wood nailed into each side of your head, and each plank sticking out at least a foot in front of you. I am joking. I just wanted to try out my new power of suggestion skills, and we all could use a good laugh after last year.
A career in voiceovers, like flying a drone, requires a sense of presence. A sense of really understanding where we are, and navigating with care. There’s a lot that can go wrong in a VO career:
- Auditioning for the wrong jobs
- Selling yourself short
- Underbidding a colleague
- Choosing the wrong branding or logo
- Not balancing your work with physical fitness
- Avoiding coaching
- Producing your own demos
- Never giving back to your peers
This is an industry that requires that we maintain an understanding of where we are in the pecking order, where we’re going, and avoiding obstacles that may hurt us and others.
It’s critical that we take time to give an honest assessment of where we’re heading, that we know the pitfalls and obstacles that will ensnare us, and that we take care to properly map our course beforehand. I think that’s one to grow on, and I was reminded of that this past week.
If you don’t believe me, just ask my mailman. Careful though, I think he has a bat.
NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational / entertainment purposes. I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.
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