Saturday, 3 September 2011

let's get lost

With my monthly phone bill going up and up I decided to get a smart phone and a tariff I would find harder to go over. Oddly enough this has kept my bills down. Hidden within my telephonic box of delights is a sat-nav system so without going out of my way (ho ho) to do so I have now become a minor user of this wonder of the age.
 A good friend is reading a book on getting lost and how we are becoming increasingly immune to its value as an experience. Or so I conject. I think you can see where this is going but my sat-nav allowed me so re-aquaint myself with the forgotten pleasures of getting lost within a safe perimeter. Although I have always considered that sat-nav as an extension of man that reduces our ability to rely on instinct and further removes us from our sensory environment, I in fact found that my first use of the devise brought me closer to my instincts. Returning home from the brilliant Supernormalfestival I activated my navigation Ap which promptly launched me off across country in the opposite direction to the road I had taken the day before when dropping a friend at the nearest mainline station. My battery, sensing the fun to be had, swiftly died and I was left to guess which way I thought the motorway was. I was in effect lost and it was rather thrilling. Due in no small part to the fact that I had half a tank of petrol, unlike another time when I took the family into a seemingly parochial woods only for it to take on the backwaters of, ooh I dunno Transylvania? the further below zero the petrol gauge went.
 On the next family outing having extolled its values we fired up the sat nav. My wife soon refered to it as that American Bitch but we all caught on that "slide right" was infact "slight right". Due to its American preference for feet and not yards or even fractions of miles we found ourselves caught in a loop driving around a particularly nondescript retail area one-way system. It was then, turning my obvious mistake into a positive, I began to lecture my sons on the importance of listening carefully to precise distances even those suggested by a machine. The sat-nav, the extension of man most likely to erode our sense of a 360 degree environment had in fact given me the lea-way to trust my instincts and actually engage with the space I was passing through. How much of this was a result of malfunction and my own misuse of the technology is hard to say but if you have it free on your phone its definitely worth a whirl. 
     My phone wants me to install all my contacts on its google service and let me know this by deleting all the contacts I had on its internal memory. See that'll learn you not to back them up to my world-wide brain type memory devise it chirruped. Still since then I have had to reboot the whole system as the phone was behaving erratically in other tasks and upon doing so found that my sat-nav had become robotic/English as opposed to suprisingly realistic sitcom style American. It now talks in terms of yards and fractions of miles. This makes for a far better working relationship although recently she did have to defer to my greater knowledge of the West Crawley environs.

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