Ever seen the bumper sticker that proclaims, “God is my copilot” or maybe the one that says, “Dog is my copilot“? I don’t think you see as many bumper stickers as you used to, but these days I think if a car has one, it’s as likely to have ten. And I definitely see a lot more evidence that dogs are peoples copilots – if not their actual primary drivers – than that their deities are. On the other hand, it might be pretty cool to have Kali as your copilot, with her head out the passenger window, tongue flapping in the breeze as your car blazes a path of destruction across nine lanes of commuter hell.
OK, enough of my road-rage-fueled commuting fantasies. And my apologies to anyone who feels offended on behalf of Kali. In the interest of full disclosure, my car is protected by a traffic safety talisman I purchased at the Golden Temple in Kyoto. At least that’s what they told me it was.
My point, such as it is, is that I had several appointments in different places today, and in most cases enough time in between that I needed to find a place to kill some time, or if possible, get some work done. GPS and web applications both played big roles. In the morning, a trip to the dentist, just a block away, then hot cider (I was scolded – and scaled – for my coffee intake by the hygienist) with C at 1369, just another block along. Then it got tricky with lunch in Framingham, meeting in West Concord, and dinner in Watertown. As it turned out, two Starbucks with wifi were waypoints and workpoints in between.
I no longer bother to ask anybody for directions when setting up a meeting as long as I get an address. I then depend on my car-mounted GPS or Google Maps on a nearby computer or on my Windows Mobile “smart”phone. Maybe my toys or my skills are a bit out of date, but I find that no single one of these devices or methods quite does the trick on its own, and I use a weird combination of all of them to get around.
The GPS can’t be beat for actually getting there. Suction cup mount, voice directions and live location information. But the maps in your average GPS are never as up to date as the ones online, and their POIs (that’s GPS lingo for “Points Of Interest”) are even less so. My smart phone’s google maps implementaiton is fantastic, but it can’t actually tell me where I am. And none of these devices seems to have a more complicated itinerary in mind than simple “I need to get from here to there.”
What I need is something that can solve this problem: I need to get from point A to point B in N hours, but it takes much less time to get there, so I also need to find a location near point B where I can goof off or work productively (usually defined as a cafe or bookstore with free wifi) until closer to when I need to be there. And I sometimes need to do this several times in a single trip. And don’t forget to account for parking time and all. There’s nothing worse than being late when you’ve had lots of extra time to get there.
Oh, and while I’m at it, I want to get there making the fewest left turns possible.