Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Guardian Angel is a NavStar® Satellite

Sorry about the big quiet spot! I'd like to thank my readers (I love you both!) for not deleting your bookmark out of frustration or for the sake of browser cleanliness.

I bet now you expect me to say something like "But a lot has been going on in my life!" and proceed to tell you all about it. I won't do that. Because not a lot has.

I'm going to tell you about it anyway, though.

After years of having to rely on those more directionally astute than I, and having to answer questions like "how long have you lived in this town again?" and "but we just went yesterday! How can you not remember how to get there?" I finally broke down and accepted a GPS navigation unit.

The Garmin™ people were nice enough to provide me with one of their lovely units. Because I am an Internet celebrity, all I had to do was get in touch with them through a third party, give this third party some money, and wait for a fourth party (UPS) to ship it to me. Badda boom, badda bing! When the unit arrived, I pounced on the box, sending up a mushroom cloud of packing peanuts.

"Hee hee hee!" I squealed, tearing into the packaging with giddy abandon. "No more stupid questions! Soon I will be free to daydream all I want while driving, and my little touchscreen friend here won't sass me for it!"

There it was. Nestled in a colorful box amongst the peanuts; a device that looked like an iPhone designed by Fisher Price®. I wonder if the batteries have a charge? I wondered out loud to myself, because there was nobody around to make fun of me for that either.

Turns out there was. The speaker made a little electronic honking noise, and the screen lit up. "Making initial contact with The Satellites. This could take forever if you try it inside your house. Run outside RIGHT NOW and wave the device at the sky like some kind of epileptic moron. Be sure to forget your jacket," it said. Of course, being the type of person who follows any instruction displayed on an LCD screen, I did just that.

Five minutes after the shattering crash my ass made when it froze off startled some nearby owls, I was greeted with the message that the satellites had been found. "All of them?" I wondered aloud to the remaining owl, but I didn't stay outside to find out. Most of them. Good enough. I scampered inside and stood in the middle of the living room.

After the obligatory poke through the settings menus, I loaded up the map. There I was! A little graphic of a blue sedan, sitting over the Western edge of Michigan. "This thing is so cool," I mumbled into my chest. I zoomed in. And in. Aaaaannnnd in. Hey, look! A little picture of a house. A green bar at the top of the screen spelled out my location in white text.

"Your living room, four feet from the couch," it said. These things get more and more accurate every day, I thought. I turned 30 degrees clockwise. "You look like you're headed to the bathroom," the green bar said. "There is extra toilet paper under the sink if you need it." And helpful!

Satisfied that the Garmin worked as advertised (and then some), I powered it off and went to bed. I'd drive to work with it tomorrow, to see how it handled out on the road.

When morning came, I yawned, stretched and...smelled coffee. Hmm. Dad must have come over and, um, made coffee in the wee hours of the morning. Not entirely out of the question. I stumbled out into the kitchen.

It was empty, save for the cats, who are always waiting for me in the kitchen in case I drop some bacon. But there it was! A cup of coffee, still steaming, sitting right next to my GPS on the counter.

On the...

I distinctly remember putting the Garmin back in its box and leaving it in front of the door, so I'd be sure to bring it with me. Did Dad move it? He must have. He'd have tripped over it if he didn't. I picked it up. Hmm. Would have been nice if he'd turned it off when he was done inspecting it, though.

"Good morning!" the screen said. "I made you coffee. The mug is located at..." and it gave coordinates. "Work is in an hour and a half, and exactly 13.46 miles from your coffee. Enjoy!"

Not bad for a hundred bucks! I sipped my coffee and brought up the Garmin's navigation screen. "Where would you like to go?" it said above the on-screen keyboard. I keyed in my employer's address. "It's guaranteed to be boring there. Where do you really want to go?"

I typed in "Nashville".

"Ha ha," said the Garmin. "No, seriously."

I exited the navigation screen and went back to the map. "Standing next to the dishwasher, contemplating a shower," the green bar said. Proving it wrong, I went out to the garage and got in the car. "Eeew. A Buick?" the green bar said.

It turns out that the NavStar® satellite system the Garmin uses is pretty accurate. It showed me my speed in miles per hour, what road I was on, what compass direction I was headed in, and where the nearby Chevy Cavaliers were, offering alternate routes to avoid them. Neat.

"Stop checking the screen to make sure the Garmin still knows what road you're on," the green bar said. "The Garmin can take care of itself. Fruitridge Ave, next exit."

After a journey of exactly 13.46 miles, I pulled into my parking spot at work. "There. Work. I hope you're happy," the green bar said. "We could have gone somewhere fun, like one of many local Steak'n'Shake restaurants. But noooo! You had to--"

I powered it off. Perhaps I would search the Garmin website for firmware updates. I didn't play my Internet Celebrity card just to end up in the same position I was in before. If I wanted my navigation prowess sassed, I have friends for that.

1 comment:

  1. The owls were great! and a big hand for your clanging ass in a supporting role.


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