Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Elementary

My grandson invited me to come to his school and have lunch with him. It was something like 'grandparents day' but you didn't have to be a grandparent. Combined with a book fair, I think it may have had ulterior motives to get us to purchase books, which I did.

I felt like a giant going through the lunch line and then sitting at tables and chairs that were designed for their regular occupants.

Before long it was time to bid farewell and head back to the office. First, a quick stop at the Boy's Room. This room also designed for the shorter people. What I found interesting though is that the urinals were automatic flush. And even though the urinals were lower to the ground, the automatic eye would shoot out above the heads of most of its users. So....they would apparently go for long periods of time until an adult came by. And in this school, the adult males were few.

The automatic eye was good intentioned, but maybe not thought through before implementation. I guess the only response is that...It's elementary my dear Watson.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Are We There Yet?

I remember asking this as a kid and answering it as a parent. Although kids seem to ask it more often, even we as adults want to know how much longer it will be until we reach our destination.

Not that long ago, an atlas of the country (8 x 14 with 50+ pages) was needed for long trips. That or a number of individual state maps that could be obtained ahead of time from state tourism offices, on the road from state information kiosks on major routes or purchased from gas stations. If you were fortunate enough to belong to AAA (American Automobile Association) you could get an individualized travel booklet with the sections of the roads you would be taking highlighted. That was then.

These days the GPS (Global Positioning System) (approximately 3 x 5) has the entire United States road system in it and will personalize your road trip based upon your desire for fastest, shortest, avoid tolls etc requirements. In addition, it can tell you nearby points of interest like eating establishments, gas stations, shopping and a number of other helpful locations.

In the days of maps us good drivers could answer the question "Are we there yet?" by giving you an approximate distance we still had to go and approximately how long it might take to get there. With the GPS, the answer to "Are we there yet?" is a little more precise giving you an exact time in minutes and distance in 10ths of a mile of which you have left to go. It is constantly updating these values as you travel.

One must be careful though and use some human intellect rather than accepting the automated response all the time. I think that it's always good practice to first review where it's taking you before you head off following it's voice guided directions.

Recently I pulled off of a main highway on to a dirt side road, about a cars length, to program in my destination. It politely asked if I wished to avoid dirt roads. I responded yes, to which it replied that I couldn't get there from where I was at...I was on a dirt road and in order to go anywhere, I had to be willing to take a dirt road.

Are we there yet? Well, we've certainly come a long way, but I wager that we will be making further advancements in this area. Maybe by the time my grandchildren are answering the age old question their children pose, we will have autopilot for our vehicles which will verbally respond.