austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Then your ears grew an inch

It has occurred to me that some sort of GPS device might be useful while driving. My basic problem is that while I like maps, I only loosely connect them to where I am, and I don't notice street names, and have an extraordinarily vague notion of town names. (In New Jersey this isn't too bad, because the town is most likely named Washington.) And I know where a number of things are, thanks mostly to an ant-trail-like attitude in which I find the way to someplace and then pretty much follow that same route to get there if I should need to again. The plus side is I can be freakishly good at this and have re-followed a path I haven't been on in years; the down side is, get me diverted in traffic and I may as well be lost. The highway signs may warn me about what highways I'm near, but since I don't remember which ones go anywhere near places I know, that doesn't help.

So the last couple times I've been by Target to ultimately not buy things (peanut butter cups have dropped by the wayside, victim of my diet and exercise program) I've been spending time at the displays of various GPS gadgets. Target has been pushing the sale of one particular model of Tomtom, based on it having the Temporary Sale Price that cuts something like forty percent off the listing. Also it's the only navigation device that's actually usable on the whoel row, as everything else will allow you to type in a destination and then go into a spinning wheel of wait as it searches for a satellite signal that never, ever, comes. On in-store performance alone it's hard to give a clear reason to favor an alternate choice.

Already I've been able to learn some interesting things, such as that I could by using county roads cut about ten miles off my daily commute, at the slender cost of it taking nearly twice as long. Also the route that I charted out in response to massive traffic jams, using only the small plastic map of the state which I had picked up, turns out to be pretty close to that shortest-distance, longest-time path. So I don't know if I'll actually buy anything after all, although it would be convenient in times of overwhelming traffic to set off wherever the lowest local traffic is and then find my way back home.

Trivia: Within six weeks of the Secretary of State receiving (in September 1676) Edmond Halley's request to go to St Helena to establish an observatory Halley was on his way. Source: Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation, Alan Gurney.

Currently Reading: Taking Flight: Inventing The Aerial Age From Antiquity Through The First World War, Richard P Hallion.


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