6 Things You Need to Know About the New Drone Rule

If You Fly, You Should Comply

A major federal drone rule took effect yesterday.  But if you’re a visual creative who uses your drone for your work, what exactly does it mean?


More Remote, Less Control

When I was a kid, my older brother had a remote controlled car.  It was the black and gold Firebird from the movie Smokey and the Bandit.  I loved it, but I wasn’t allowed to play with it.

One day I couldn’t resist, and took it for a spin.  I was sure I could drive it around a pool.  On the return leg of the trip, I got confused when the car was coming towards me.  I jammed the controller to the left, and the car made a sharp turn.  Facing me, that meant it went right.

It launched itself over the lip of the pool and into the water.  The car never worked again, and I got in serious trouble.  But the jump was worth it.  I even imagined the roar of the engine as it sailed over and into the water.

Fast Forward

A lot has changed about remote control technology since then.  You’ve probably noticed drones have become wildly popular lately.  I included them on my list of best visual lifestyle gifts in 2015.

They are safer, more stable, and much easier to control.  Some shoot high definition photos and video.  And, people are coming up with all kinds of incredible uses for the technology.

The FAA has recognized this trend for several years, and is stepping in.  There have already been incidents related to drone use, from surly neighbors shooting them out of the skies to impacts with commercial air flights.  As drones and their amateur pilots increase, accidents will be more likely.

Although the ruling that took effect yesterday is just a start, it is a positive step in the direction of public safety.  And while there are bound to be snags and disagreements with any new rules, the changes are meant to keep the public safe.

So if you’re a visual creative and rely on a drone for your work, there are a few things you should know.  (Note: This isn’t an exhaustive list.  To be safe, see more here.)

Here’s a quick summary of the rule:

  • Pilots must fly during daylight hours.  Although night flight rules are in the works, the new rule restricts flights to daytime only.
  • Pilots must always have a direct view of their drone.  This is part of the reason for the rule above.  Rules are also being developed that may allow flights out of direct view of their pilots.
  • Drones must not be flown over the public.  People directly involved with the flight are exempt.  Otherwise, flying over a crowd is a bad idea.
  • To become certified drone operators, pilots must pass a test of aviation knowledge.  This is to protect public airspace and prevent drone-to-aircraft incidents.
  • Drones must be flown under 400 feet.  Although apparently rather low, this limit also is meant to protect anyone above that ceiling.
  • Drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, including cargo.  This rule appears to prevent heavy cargo from altering a drone’s flying capabilities.

If you’re a photographer or videographer, drone footage may be an exciting topic.  But with such fast growth in both technology and numbers of pilots, incidents are bound to happen.

One of the foundational concepts of living the visual lifestyle is body and eye safety.  You owe it to yourself and others to become familiar with safety regulations as you pursue your work.  Make sure you review the new rules, and stay alert for more down the road.

And, happy flying!

Question: Have you ever flown a drone?  If so, for what purpose?  Please answer in the comments below.


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The National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years Today

5 Ways to Join the Fun

Today the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th birthday.  The NPS is one of the U.S. Government’s best endeavors.  And, there are several ways you can join the centennial celebration too.

Grand Canyon 3

Road Trip

I have fond memories of growing up in a military family.  We moved every few years.  That meant I got to see a lot of the country from the back seat of a station wagon.

My parents brought my two brothers and I to Grand Canyon National Park twice.  It made such an impression, I took my own kids decades later.  And although there are plenty of photographs, none can compare to standing at the South Rim in person.  Gazing out over the Grand Canyon is still one of the highlights of my entire visual lifestyle.

The NPS at 100

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday today.  That’s a century of recreation, conservation, and preservation.  According to the NPS website, there are plenty of ways to join the celebration.  Here are just a few:

  • Centennial postage stamps.  Released in June, these Forever stamps feature 16 of the most recognized national parks.
  • Commemorative coins.  The U.S. Mint has released three commemorative coins celebrating the NPS.  Proceeds will go to the National Park Foundation.
  • An IMAX movie.  National Parks Adventure is a breathtaking visual delight, offering both incredible scenery and lessons about the importance of our national parks.
  • Free admission.  That’s right, you can access all 412 national parks through August 28th at no charge.  What a way to celebrate!  If you’re not sure where to go, find a location near you at FindYourPark.com.
  • Get involved.  Whether you’re an artist, student, or scientist, there are many volunteer opportunities with the NPS.  Find out about them here.

The National Park Service has a rich and successful history of services that benefit our culture, our communities, and our nation.  Why not celebrate 100 years with them, and even be a part of the next century of American history?

Question: Do you have a favorite national park?  Please tell me about it in the comments below.


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5 Contact Lens Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now

Stay Healthy and Safe by Avoiding Them Completely

A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights some of the worst contact lens mistakes.  Chances are you’re making at least one.

Tap water can be dangerous for contact lenses

Tap water can be dangerous for contact lenses

A Shocking Habit

When I was a teenager, I had a friend who wore contact lenses.  Back then, they were a novelty to me.  I thought it was fun to watch her place them in her eyes.

One day, she complained they were uncomfortable.  Assuming they were dry, she did something I will never forget.

She popped them out of her eyes and into her mouth.  After “wetting” them for a few seconds, she placed them back into her eyes.

I was horrified.  That was nearly three decades ago.  Still, it may be the worst case of contact lens abuse I have ever seen.

What Are You Doing Wrong?

If you’re living the visual lifestyle, you’re not rinsing your contacts in your mouth.  But according to the CDC, it is likely that if you wear contact lenses, you’re doing something wrong.

A report released last week states more than 99% of contact lens wearers do something that increases their risk of a painful or sight-threatening eye infection.  That means pretty much everyone who wears contacts could do better.

It’s worth the effort.  Eye infections can mean frequent trips to the eye doctor, using eye drops every hour, and possibly missing work or school while the eye heals.

Here are the bad habits most commonly reported:

  • Routinely sleeping in contact lenses.  If you sleep in contacts, you’re 6 to 8 times more likely to get an eye infection.  If you wear contacts designed for overnight use, discuss alternatives with your eye doctor.  If your contacts aren’t meant for overnight use but you sleep in them anyway, you need to stop now.  Healthy eyes and clear vision are worth the effort.
  • Occasionally sleeping in contact lenses.  Even napping with contacts in your eyes once can cause painful and sight threatening problems.  If you’re sleepy, take the extra time to remove your contacts.  I have many patients at LaFollette Eye Clinic who wish they had done just that.
  • Overwearing contact lenses.  Whether the reason is money or memory, many people don’t throw away contact lenses when they should.  This is also a big risk.  Your safest bet is to switch to daily disposable contact lenses.  Single-use lenses were the safest in the report, causing fewer than 4% of the problems.
  • Wearing expired contact lenses.  Skipping expired lenses isn’t wasteful, it’s smart.  To be safe, see if your eye doctor will exchange expired lenses for new ones.  They may get credit from the contact lens company and pass the benefit on to you.
  • Storing contacts in tap water.  Water is bad for contact lenses.  If you don’t have proper solution you must find some or throw your lenses out.  Tap water contains germs that can be dangerous to your eyes.  This also means you shouldn’t wear your contacts while showering or bathing, in pools or hot tubs, or playing in the surf or the lake.

Millions of people wear contacts successfully every year.  To be safest, make sure you’re not doing the things on the list above.  When worn and cared for properly, contact lenses can be a great addition to your visual lifestyle.

Question: Have you ever suffered an eye infection from contact lenses?  What happened?  Please comment below.


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