The Joys of GPS and Freeway Culture Shock.

Ok so I may be a bit behind the times but in my defense, a lot has happened in the past 3 years.  When I left I knew a handful of people who had GSP systems and they were pretty much only handheld, most people with a BlackBerry phone needed them for work and smartphones were just gaining mass popularity.  It was exciting enough during college just to use mapquest to get directions.  But now things are different.  It is common to have built in GPS in cars, BlackBerrys now have touch screens too and smartphones are everywhere.  You can still use mapquest or ask for directions but now it is much easier to use GPS for directions or your smartphone to see how to get around traffic.

Yesterday I drove down to southern California to visit my cousin and her new baby (pictures of the G-man later).  Instead of asking for directions I simply punched in their address to a GPS and let the voice guide me.  This was great on the freeways of Los Angeles because I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at a map or worry that I missed a freeway turnoff.  Maybe this isn’t amazing to any of you but for me it made all the difference.  Since LA is just a mass of freeways, driving could have proved very difficult but two miles before a turn or merge, the GPS would warn me.  This gave me plenty of time to navigate thought the LA traffic and I made it to and from my destination with no problems.

I had to laugh at myself as I was driving.  For the first part of the trip the roads had relatively light traffic and we were traveling at pretty normal LA freeway speeds but I was a bit nervous.  I turned my music down and concentrated fully on the road.  Traffic and driving are still ‘new’ to me.  However, just before LA the traffic slowed down to a crawl with red taillights as far as I could see.  Instead of getting frustrated (the normal drivers reaction to traffic), I felt my pulse slow down a bit and relaxed.  Inching down the freeway, I turned the music back up and could enjoy the drive.  By the time the traffic thinned, I had calmed a bit and was ready to resume the freeway speeds that I will hopefully get use to once again.

So I guess the moral of this story is that LA freeways are a good place to test out GPS systems and how they work.  And that culture shock can manifest itself in many funny ways.  I should remember this a few months from now when traffic no longer seems like a nice calming break.


One thought on “The Joys of GPS and Freeway Culture Shock.

  1. Dear Joy:

    GPS is here to stay…it is all over the world; accurate; and free to utilize. Your brother (a civil engineer) uses it. An Fair Oaks Presbyterian deacon who is also an engineering geoloigst uses GPS which is embedded into the software on his camera. And several of us who are from the California Army National Guard are trained in GPS, long before it was released by the Pentagon for everyone to use. Our combat troops in the Middle East use GPS daily.

    But paper maps are also here to stay, although many persons in their twenties (such as my beloved son, Christopher) feel that all they need to do is use their Apple 4g iPhone. The huge benefit of a paper map (highway map, topo map, trail map), is that the human brain can more easily comprehend the spatial distribution of geographic places in relation to each other. This helps the brain to avoid myopia….or tunnel vision…..seeing only the freeway and not the community which is bisected by the freeway.

    The United States Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has funded and established a National Center for GIS at your alma-mater, the University of California at Santa Barbara. So this means that PhD level professional training is going on at UCSB, and it out-ranks Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech, and the Ivy-League schools for advanced training in geography and GIS (including GPS). So a lot has happened while you were away in Papua New Guinea….and we are so grateful for your dedicated work in fulfiling the Great Commission.

    With support and encouragement from Christopher and Bob
    at FOPC

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