Sunday, August 3, 2014

MayBelle Redeemed

04 June 2014, Wertach im Allgäu

 Many people of a certain age have a love-hate relationship with technology.  The very young embrace the newest gizmo without hesitation, and the very old mostly ignore them.  Then there are us who are neither young nor old, who really want to have the latest gadgets, but can’t quite figure out how to operate them effectively.

This is my lot in life.  I own a computer, a laptop, and a “smart” phone.  I have spent several decades building a tenuous relationship with my computers, but occasionally yearn to return to a simpler time and type in a few DOS commands (children ask your parents). 

 My telephone is a popular brand which has a partially eaten fruit as its logo, and currently, I am on my third one of the same brand.  The reason for my apparent brand loyalty is simple…each new version operates exactly the same as the previous.  No learning curve!  My Lovely Bride has her own “smart” phone from a competing brand, and she is quick to point out its superiority over my allegedly old-fashioned one.  Her bragging sessions usually end with some discussion of the inability of old dogs to learn new tricks.

At any rate, my fruit-flavored phone does what I ask of it, and it functions pretty reliably no matter where we travel.  One of the newer (for me) uses, is the phone’s map function which allows me to plan trips around Texas and other states, even telling me when and where to turn.  Please understand…I have wandered back and forth across Texas since I first got my driver’s license at age 14 with nothing more than a paper map from my uncle’s ENCO station.  Aside from locating a specific street address in one of the larger cities in Texas, the map was rarely dug out of the overstuffed glove box.  After all, it was lost could I get?

My wife doesn’t understand my new-found affection for my map/navigation program, which I’ve named MayBelle.  She is constantly asking why I persist in turning on the map feature to go places I already know how to find, especially since I invariably ignore Maybelle‘s directions and tend to get into arguments with her (MayBelle - not my wife.)  The explanation that I don’t want to go the way MayBelle wants to go somehow doesn’t satisfy her.

We are currently on vacation in Bavaria, with a rental car to explore some of the back roads and find things we weren’t looking for, and I knew ahead of time the car was equipped with a fancy satellite navigation system for our use.  However, on collecting the car we discovered the GPS was set up in German with no discernible way of switching it to English, so MayBelle was called upon.  For probably the first time, I faithfully followed MayBelle’s instructions.  Wonder of wonders, we actually found our apartment in the Bavarian Alps.  Then today, a trip to the lakeside town of Lindau, passing through some of the most beautiful countryside, and most confusing small villages and towns I’ve ever seen.  MayBelle managed with nary a misstep nor wrong turn.  Oh, I missed a turn or two, but she quickly got me back on track each time.  Her only real shortcoming was her pronunciation of German place names, anything ending in -strasse, came out as -stress, and the names of most of the little towns and villages were indecipherable.  Her pronunciation of “Sankt Ulrich Strasse” has to be heard to be believed.

If MayBelle is able to keep up this level of performance, I may have to rethink how I utilize her after we get home.  Maybe I should start trusting her to get me to San Antone or College Station without second guessing her. 

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