365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Lost without Map

It seems as though every time I drive someplace new – whether I have directions, GPS, or am just winging it – I get a bit lost. I’ve always wondered why that is. I have a fairly good sense of direction. At least I like to believe that I do (I am sure there are those out there who might disagree). I am generally very aware of my surroundings when driving, I have good eyesight, I pay attention to the signs and always know what the next ‘turn’ or ‘direction’ should be. Hey, I can even read a map (which seems to a bit of a lost art in this technological age in which we live). Yet despite all of these things, I almost always take at least one or two wrong turns every single time I attempt to go somewhere new. Even when I have the GPS shouting “Turn Now” at me.

Today was no different. As you all know by now, I typically spend Saturday afternoons with X (my little sister). I am always looking for something new and interesting to do. I’d like to be able to show her new things and introduce her to the many wonderful things outside of movies and tv that exist in our wonderful world. So today I had bought tickets to a matinee performance of “The Wedding Singer” at the Hylton Center for Performing Arts at George Mason University. It was a 2pm show and it should only have taken about 40 mins to get there from X’s house. I picked her up promptly at 1pm… and I started to enter the address for the Performing Arts Center (which was in Manassas) into my GPS. Turns out however that this is a relatively new building and the street didn’t exist in my GPS’ catalog of maps. As I’ve become quite dependent on Google Maps, having GPS in the car and being able to get directions easily on my phone I don’t have a map of the area in my car (sorry Dad! I know I should, but I don’t). In my attempt to figure out exactly where we were going I used my GPS’ “Point of Interest” feature to find “George Mason University” – we arrived at the campus about 1:15 – plenty of time to catch our show… However, we were on the FAIRFAX campus – which is not where they Hylton Center for the Performing Arts is…. if you recall from above we should have been in MANASSAS…. oops. Thanks to the assistance of some RAC staff at GMU we were given directions to the proper campus and sent back on our way. As we got closer I started to deviate from the pen and paper written down directions the guys had given me and started following the directions on my phone…. which of course THOUGHT “my location” was someplace other than where I was. In the end, we returned to the hand written directions and arrived at the Performing Arts center about 5 mins after the show started. All in all I guess that’s not TOO bad…. but the point is, seems no matter what I am bound to get lost any time I try to go somewhere new. And this is something that X has experienced with me many many times.

Here’s the thing though, I honestly think that a big part of why this happens is that I’ve gotten away from navigating using a map and relying on the passenger in the car being able to give me directions. I place way too much value and confidence in the technology that is in front of me and way more ‘convenient’ than using a map. So, since X has now experienced my keen ability to get us lost by relying on the technology, I think I am going to teach her how to read a map and turn her into my navigator when we go out on our adventures. Yes Dad, I said I am going to TEACH her how to read a map. Even though I haven’t used one in ages I do still know how to read it. I think it’s a very very valuable skill for a young woman to have. So this week’s project is to purchase a map of the DC/VA/MD area (or a few of them). Next week X and I will go on a little road trip. We’ll pick a destination and use a MAP to get us there.


February 12, 2011 Posted by | Random | , , , , | Leave a comment


Before I really get into this post I will offer the following disclaimer: I am Canadian. I have an illogical fondness for snow in the winter and at the same time reserve the right to express extreme hatred for it after months of shoveling and treacherous driving.

Now, that said, it amuses me to no end to witness the panic that sets in here in the DC Area with the mere mention of snow. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘snowpocolypse’ last year SUCKED. That really was a lot of snow. But when you grow up in a place where that amount of snow is the rule (not the exception) between November and April you get a bit accustomed to it – and you know what it takes to dig your car out, drive to work, get the groceries and still make the yoga class at the gym. What always manages to surprise me with the threat of snow here is the rush on toilet paper, milk and meat. I mean really…. do you think 6″ of powder is going to prevent you from getting to Target or the grocery store for more than a week?? Do you think being stranded for a couple of days means you will consume more meat and milk and use more toilet paper than in a regular week… really… you’ll be fine… I promise!! I honestly do understand that this area is just not properly equipped to deal with snowy conditions. To get and keep the roads clear and all that is no simple task. But seriously people… No need to panic… wait a few days… it’ll melt!! I’ve lived here for just over four years now, and last winter was the only time I would have really said we ‘experienced winter’ – i.e. we had significant snow that stayed around for more than 4 days, and even then I was driving around as soon as I could.

Every time the weather people start to talk about ‘snow’ it’s a BIG STORM COMING and we need to ‘be prepared’ and ‘careful out there’. Take today for instance… since yesterday they have been predicting a ‘storm’ (with a total fo 2-4″ of accumulation in the DC Metro area). Schools started late, traffic sucked, people stayed home… all BEFORE any white stuff started floating around. In reality, it snowed in DC for about 10 mins around 11:30. Then again for about 20 mins around 2 in the afternoon – and NOTHING stayed on the ground… nothing! But I can bet that if I needed groceries tonight it’d be slim picking at Safeway…. good thing I have milk, bread, meat and toilet paper at home already. Admittedly, I haven’t actually been outside today and it was rather cold when I came in this morning. There is a good possibility that it’s slippery out and that there is more ice on the roads than there appears to be.

Now, after all that, I will admit that winter conditions in DC are ‘dangerous’… but it’s not the snow…. The most dangerous thing about winter in DC is the driving. People think they can drive like the do on a normal day… speeding, passing and changing lanes aggressively, and sitting on the bumper of the car in front of you. But driving in snow or ice doesn’t need to stop traffic for hours… and you don’t need to drive 10mph. You just need to drive cautiously… drive at a comfortable pace and stay there. Driving too slow in the winter is just as dangerous and driving too fast. You need approximately twice the braking time in the snow and ice as you do on pavement and you should avoid slamming down hard on your brakes at all costs… which means you need to back off…don’t ride the back of the car in front and don’t jump into an ‘open’ spot between two cars just because you can. Be respectful of other drivers and we’ll all be safely home for dinner.

And for gosh sakes… if it does snow – go outside and play – it’s actually FUN!!

January 11, 2011 Posted by | Random | , , , | Leave a comment