Monday, December 26, 2005

The Holidays in Connecticut

Imagine giving an 8-year-old a Gameboy for Christmas, and imagine how many hours s/he'll spend over the next 48 hours playing with the Gameboy. If you substitute Kathy for 8-year-old and GPS for Gameboy, you'll have the picture of things around here recently. Yes, Kathy's folks got her a cool GPS that works with her PDA (the early Christmas present I gave her), and between set-up, reading the directions, testing it out, and taking it wherever she goes, I'd be surprised if it's spent more than four waking hours since she opened it out of her possession.

Now you have to understand that Kathy comes by her passion for such geektoys honestly, as her father is at least as passionate about such things. He's been into GPS pretty much the entire time I've known him. Last year in Costa Rica, for example, he felt right at home holding the GPS antenna over his head in his left hand as our little 10-person troupe was walking a suburb of San Jose (however, with that pose, and at 6-feet, 10-inches, Dad didn't look particularly at home).

So tonight Kathy, her folks, and I drove about 40 minutes away for dinner (at a brewpub, naturally). Mom drove, I was in the front passenger seat (I occasionally get car-sick, so why risk it), and Dad and Kathy were seated side-by-side in the back with their different GPS set-ups, comparing and competing. Kathy's had a bit of trouble initially, selecting a route that wasn't the fastest (though it probably was the shortest distance). It would tell us to turn at a certain spot ("turn right in 600 feet"), and Mom would ignore it. I kept expecting the GPS to bleat, "Turn around you idiot -- you missed the turn," but instead it would take into account the current position and reconstruct directions. Eventually it neared perfection at anticipating turns and distances. Kathy's bragging about the 12 satellites her GPS is picking up, while Dad's getting all indignant -- his GPS is older, though it was relying on his new software, Treats and Strips Streets and Trips 2006 -- because his GPS was slow to identify when to turn (e.g., 100 feet after the turn). And this is how the 80 minutes of driving proceeds.

They're having fun with their toys, and I'm having fun making fun of them, and Mom's getting a good laugh at the whole absurd scene -- everyone's happy, just like Holidays with family should be.