Thursday, March 11, 2010

Good days do come too . . .

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I like to follow, when I can, the maxim: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open you mouth and convince everyone."

That and sometimes I just don't have anything all that amazing to share. While I don't think what I'm about to share is all that amazing, it makes a nice counter point to my recent post on "A Mile in her shoes" talking about getting out more.

Despite that Friday being abysmal for me, Saturday the sixth came and I was a woman with a mission. Was was bound and determined I was going to drive 220 miles round trip to pick up a game piece in a game that has, at least on the surface, no intrinsic value. Thankfully Jumper one is really amazing when it comes to gas, and most of the 220 miles was highway driving. So I figured at an average of 36 miles to the gallon for the trip at 1.50 a gallon, it was worth the nine dollars in gas for me. Yes, really, a buck and a half a gallon. I have shopfu! The grocery store I was at has prices very close to the other big chains in the area, but I get fuel savings with every purchase that add up. So I never pay retail when I fill up the jumper.

Now, for a bit of background. My late husband and his whole family were golf fanatics. Apparently I wasn't taking it all that seriously because I thought the idea of chasing a little ball around in nature and not keeping score was just about perfect. Clean(ish) air, sunshine, the great out doors, take a long a picnic and it would be perfect. Why keep score, it just adds stress? Do it for the fun, the outdoors, the sunshine, the pure enjoyment and let someone else get all worked up over scores. Plus I never could see the point in winning a game by intentionally losing. You know the whole he who ends the round/game/match/whatever you call it with the lowest score wins thing. Earl and his family took a dim view of my view and claimed this was a serious game for adults and I wasn't giving it enough respect. Making matters worse my "short" game, even when I wasn't being serious, was a killer. The one time Earl and I played I creamed him even by getting stuck on one of the holes. I in effect pulled a "Tin Cup" and still beat him soundly. That didn't go over very well at all.

So anyway, in principle golf sounded nice. Explore new places I'd never been to and otherwise would have never gone to, and go out of the house and relax. Woot! Sounded ideal even if I was doing it wrong. So we didn't become a great golfing couple like his parents. Oh the horror. Quite by accident one day I came across the idea of geocaching and fell in love with the idea right then and there. Everything good about golf and more, without competing per say or even keeping score. Plus it isn't limited to just golf courses. All you need are either pretty good mapping and navigation skills, or a GPS. Having both is just a bonus.

Geocaching has taken me to places I'd never have otherwise gone to, met people I'd otherwise never had any reason to know, and given me hundreds of hours of relaxation walking around in nature looking for things that other people have hidden for me to find. Woot! I've even managed to get other unsuspecting folks into geocaching simply by enjoying it myself and having them along with me a time or two.

So, that said, because I've been caching now for a goodly number of years I have some history in the game. Tools of the game include being able to watch movements of special game pieces called travel bugs. These travel bugs move from cache to cache, leaving a record of where they have been and the people involved in the game. They can be watched, so that you can see where the bug has been and get notifications of it's movements.

Five years ago my sister and I found one such bug while she was out visiting. She was also very new to the game since I'd only just exposed her to it. Bugs appealed to her as well, and she decided she'd take a few back with her when she went home, giving the bugs some movement, and getting her to keep caching when she got home. The game also appealed to her because like me, she doesn't get out much, and the thought of staying in the game as a way to get out more made sense. Because I added the bugs she took out west to my watch list, I got to see how they made their way around after she released them. On of the bugs in particular we had history with recently showed up as being fairly close to me. At least close enough that it could be a one day trip.

So that was my plan. I'd get up, drive nearly 100 miles one way to find this "bug" hidden in a park by a river, and then head back. Wound up getting up much later than I'd planned, but that was due to getting to bed problems. Along with everything else I'm dealing with, sleep is problematic to say the least. So I'm chasing daylight as I'm heading north and west of here to go looking for the cache that has the bug I wanted. But I am out of the house, I am out, and going, somewhere.

Eventually I make it to my destination, Selma taking me effortlessly from the highway to within a few meters of the cache. Who is Selma you ask? Well Selma is the name I've given to my phone, which these days is so much more than a phone it defies simple objectification through a descriptive name. Yes, it is an excellent communications tool, allowing me to simply and easily converse via voice with anyone I choose. Or via email, or SMS, or Facebook, Twitter, Chat, Voice Chat, Video Chat or any number of nearly unlimited means of communications through this one device. It's also a nearly unlimited connection to everything on the internet too. It allows me to do nearly everything and anything my home computer does and some more. It will effortlessly guide me, in clear, crisp and very audible Queens English to places I wish to go simply by asking. Not through the flashing of indicators on the display, but actual spoken directions. If I'm in a mood, it will speak to me in other voices. Including (ack!) American English. It is more than a thing, more than a tool. At least for me it's more than that. It is the countless decades of millions of people working hard toward building a better hammer so to speak. It is generations of work, millions of live world over coming together in a spark of insight and function that is the realization of the claim that computers will one day make our lives easier and more productive. It is about the size of a credit card.

But it was that gentle, polished, Queens English that sparked in my head and heart a thought when I looked at it and said "Take me too 3500 Eastview Rd, Franklin, Ohio." Being my mother's daughter I couldn't help but add please to my request. And it all came together right there. Selma from "Time Trax." Back a number of years ago I enjoyed watching the TV show, and dramed of a day when I too could have a credit card sized computer and communications system like Captain Darien Lambert. The heck with Star Trek stuff, I wanted the whole thing. I wanted SELMA. Well given current technology this is much closer than I'd have ever dreamed of having readily available to me so soon. So, SELMA it is.

Anyway, Selma takes me from the highway to the nearest parking area to the cache, and I get to simply enjoy the drive and not have to look for road signs, or really get overly involved in where I'm going. I get to enjoy the scenery more. When and where it's time to turn, Selma lets me know. If I make a mistake she instantly recomputes the course and brings me back on track in no time flat. Once at my destination I switch to cache tracking and much like a Star Trek Tricorder gives me distance and bearing to my target with a satellite map view of my current location and the target overlaid on the screen. It's a simple matter then of walking the few meters from the Jumper to the cache site, unearthing the hidden cache, and collecting the travel bug I came here for.

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