following essay was produced as part of my 2013 effort for the
November National Novel Writing Month effort. As such, please
understand that while I did give it a quick review, it has not
gone through the same proofreading and editing I normally try
to give all of the material posted on this site.
always make some mistakes. There are errors to be found throughout
this web site, and many exist despite dozens of attempts to correct
problems. That said, ask that you approach this material in the
spirit intended – a basic thought, slightly worked out and very
informally researched, delivered in the hopes of writing more
than 50,000 words by the end of November.
~ ~ ~
is my GPS”
~ Recently seen on a bumper sticker
should consider a Garmin”
let’s get this straight, right from the start… joke people. It’s
a joke. So before anyone goes crazy reading those quotes, read
the full essay first. Ok?)
the years I’ve watch as people used their phones more and more.
no longer a convenience to have a camera option on your phone…
those cameras on your phone are now better and more powerful than
many point-and-shoot models.
games… internet… and yes, even GPS options are all available on
phones. And those apps and options are actually… in many cases…
not only convenient and easy to use, they are also stronger and
more up-to-date than the item you purchased a few months ago.
got my first GPS unit several years ago, following an experience
with a rental car. We had journeyed to San Francisco on a trip…
had a unit in the rental… and it was true love at first use. Eventually,
when I couldn’t find that particular make and model, I ended up
doing a bit of research and investigation, and purchased a Garmin.
That developed something quite startling for me.
found that Garmin makes… no question about it in my mind… the
best GPS units. It’s convinced me of this theory and corollary…
– People that have used a GPS unit will tell you that you absolutely
have to get a GPS.
– People that have used a Garmin brand GPS unit will tell you
that you absolutely have to get a Garmin brand GPS unit.
I do believe this works as a theory. I think it’s true.
person that has used a GPS unit will recommend one to someone
that hasn’t. But, many of them will talk about how amazing it
is to use one without specifically recommending the brand or model
the person making the recommendation has used a Garmin, they will
not only recommend using a GPS unit… they will at the same time
strongly urge that the GPS should be a Garmin.
fly in the ointment of this theory is, of course, the steady march
and advancement of technology.
you have a smartphone, you can get a GPS app with no problem.
And that app will almost certainly be as up to date as you could
ever hope when it comes to maps.
pause here for a moment while some people chuckle. Yes, yes… I
know the stories and understand the punch lines involved in smartphones,
GPS apps, and being up to date. Ha ha. Let’s assume you’ve done
your homework in selecting your app though. And now back to the
GPS on your phone might even offer things your standalone GPS
doesn’t have… immediate evaluations of traffic conditions… adjustments
for construction or other route alterations… and so on. Things
that come as additional charges for a purchased GPS unit are built-in
freebies on quality smartphone apps.
of us that purchase an actual GPS unit also often reach a point
where the reminders begin. Because our needs can be basic… where
not needing a new unit continuously means you can use one you
are comfortable with for years… notes appear on the screen telling
us that we haven’t updated our maps in two or more years and that
it might be a wise idea. My guess is your app will be updated
with far more regularity. (Or… and likely again for free… you
just get the latest and greatest new app to replace it. Heck,
some people trade in their phones for new ones much more frequently
than many change a GPS unit.)
thing is… these are tools.
that in mind.
while a saw… a hammer… a variety of screwdrivers… are all wonderful
things, quite often tools come with limitations.
limitations might be in application. A rubber mallet, as wonderful
as it can be to have on your workbench, is not that helpful in
the backyard when you need something to strike the ax or maul
while splitting wood. The theory is right… a hammer-like thing
to smash away with. The tool is wrong.
limitations might be in function. A flashlight is wonderful when
taking a walk in the dark, for use when the power goes out, and
for telling ghost stories around a campfire. That same beam of
light isn’t as helpful for tightening the loose hinge on the door
of the kitchen cabinet.
do not need to have one function. Tools can provide solutions
for multiple tasks. But again… they are tools.
so we turn our gaze back at the GPS concept and the smartphone.
your GPS contain international maps? Maybe not. Same concept though…
your phone may not allow for international usage without massive
charges and fees. Suddenly both of them can let you down.
when not traveling internationally, the simple concept of signal
strength and reception comes in to play. “Lost satellite signal”
may be announced by the lovely voice of your GPS… it is a potential
problem for your phone as well, though usually without a sweet
voice announcing the difficulty.
Tigg and I traveled to the state of Washington. We ventured out
for a few days to the San Juan Islands. And while on San Juan
Island in the San Juan Islands, from the moment we were driving
off of the ferry, I had the fun of watching my GPS not recognize
the island as part of the continental United States. I also had
the pleasure of watching my phone… as we drove to different portions
of the island… tell me we were supposedly inching awfully close
to Canadian soil.
point is… you will not catch me predicting the end of the standalone
GPS unit. Both an app and a unit have their times and places.
trick is… as with anything… operator error.
episode of The Office was called “Dunder Mifflin Infinity”…
and yes, Michael drove a car into a lake.
Make a right turn.
Wa wa wa – wait – wait – wait! No – no – no! It means bear right,
No, it said right. It said take a right.
No – no – no. Look, it means go up… to the right, bear right
over the bridge and hook up with 307.
Maybe it's a shortcut Dwight. It said go to the right.
It can't mean that! There's a lake there!
The machine knows where it’s going!
article that delivers some of the best…
the stairs and into Riverside Park.
out of Brussels and into Germany.
are A LOT more stories out there. People allegedly stranded for
days in parks… driving into oceans… and just turning into fields
with the intent to drive down roads that don’t exist.
the thing is… no.
thing isn’t anything.
what are these people thinking? Seriously -- How do you make a
short trip to the train station for a friend, which apparently
thanks to a driver’s faith in the GPS became two stops for gas
and a nap, and honestly believe you can blame the GPS unit?
are people that have brought their rubber mallet into the house
to try and hammer in some nails, and can’t believe that the mallet
it cracking, breaking and falling apart. After all -- It’s
a hammer! Darn poor production quality. It’s not
their fault for using the wrong tool for something it
is totally incapable of doing.
is something to be said for blind faith folks. If you put your
trust into a GPS and don’t bring along a road atlas… do some advance
checks so you at least have a general idea of where you should
be headed… or, just generally respond to its commands in such
a fashion that you reveal yourself to be a complete loon… then
you have no right to blame the GPS unit for placing your car into
the center of a corn field.
an error in my Garmin’s programming.
you approach my house, there is a stoplight where you will turn
left. Apparently the mapping information is such that my GPS doesn’t
think a left hand turn is allowed. As such, it guides you straight
through the light along the road for roughly a half-mile, where
it explains that you need to take a u-turn. It then brings you
back to that same intersection… that same stoplight where you
should have turned left… and now, facing the other way, it explains
you should turn right.
funny thing about this is that the additional travel adds about
two minutes onto the estimated drive time. And because of that,
when you are even further from my house, the GPS tries to take
you by the “shortest route” and often suggests using an earlier
exit from the highway.
it’s close. But, making the left at the light that the GPS doesn’t
tell you to make is the fastest way overall. It’s certainly faster
than driving up the road, making a u-turn, and coming back. And,
turns out, it is faster than getting off the highway and approaching
the house from a slightly different direction.
I know I can take a left, I do, and the GPS goes cheerfully along
“recalculating” into the new (and correct) finish of the trip.
the course of time, I am 100% certain I have probably added a
few minutes onto some drives because I didn’t know about taking
the left at the stoplight… so to speak. At times we’re lost, we
need help, and even a slight off path guide can get us safely
to our destination.
thing is… I’ve never driven off of a boat launch into a lake.
is a difference between the GPS being wrong… and even the GPS
being to blame… and blaming the GPS when the reality is more likely
that you are an inattentive idiot.