The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103645   Message #2116090
Posted By: Big Mick
31-Jul-07 - 09:11 PM
Thread Name: GPS systems for cars
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
A little back story first. Union Organizers are called upon to go to cities, bergs, villages, urban, rural, etc. locations on short notice, and have to hit the ground running. One skill that is developed quickly is the familiarization with the layout of the area in which one is working. It is quite a skill, when one considers that they might be working in the Boston area (where the fact that one can see a place does not mean that they can get there....chuckle) and the next month they are in Phoenix, AZ in which the streets are all laid out in grids and finding an address is simply a matter of counting blocks. The first thing we would do is stop at the local map shop, and buy a map book of the area. Then we would figure out the major North-South roads, the major East-West routes, and the cross cut routes. Usually, within a week or so due to the homecalls we are making, we are pretty damn familiar with the area, and by the end of the program we are driving like natives. It is one of the things I love about my work. When I visit an area, I get to know it like the locals.

When I moved to South Jersey/Philly area, I had a mapping GPS program on my computer. This is software that works with a GPS transponder which just plugs into a USB port on my laptop and it is a fully functioning GPS unit. I started using it instead of maps when I got there. Must have been 2 months later when I realized that I didn't know the area much better than when I got there. The GPS had taken away my need to think and the by product was that I really didn't "get" the lay of the area. I quit using it for day to day navigation, and inside of a month I pretty well understood the area, the shortcuts, which roads got me where, etc.

I guess I come down pretty close to where Bill D is on this. I think they are a fine tool, but many folks use them to suspend thought, or are entertained by them. Fair enough, they are fun and interesting technology. But mine only gets hauled out now when it is necessary, or on the odd occasion that I am lost. Most of the time I just take a quick look at a map. Or I will do a Streets and Trips lookup to figure out what exit to take and what turns to take, and then drive there.