829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Driveways, menus and GPS

Why is it that people find it hard to back out of my driveway?
For some reason back 50 or so years ago when my house was
built, they cut the driveway on an angle to the street.  Obviously
they weren't thinking of the landscaping nightmare that would soon
ensue.  Now, my lawn is far from being in a Scott's commercial,
especially after last summer's drought which it may never recover
from, but I still do take some pride in it.  Whenever I can remember,
I remind people to make sure they use their driver's side mirror
when backing out.  They don't always remember until they go over
the curb and clunk down into the street.  Sometimes they catch
themselves half-way down and apply the brakes, taking a tire-width
swath of sod along with them. I've replaced many divots. 
Apparently my driveway is hard to navigate.

Reading a menu is often a daunting task.  When there are way
too many items to pick from, my job in choosing what to eat
instantly becomes harder.  So many combinations of flavors,
textures, accompaniments, cooking techniques. Just a few more
minutes please, then we'll be ready to order.  When the server
re-appears, everyone looks at me.  I'll go last, that way I 
have more time to whittle down my options, and ultimately
order something that is a completely new choice.
 Diner and Chinese menus are especially troublesome for me. 
Will it be the pastrami reuben or the calve's liver platter? 
 Chow Har Kew or Moo Goo Gai Pan?  I'm so undecided. 
And if the multitude of choices weren't enough to confuse you,
the instructions and rules will. There are menus that suggest a wine
pairing with each menu item. Then there are menus that suggest the
order in which each component of the plate should be eaten to
 experience the desired sensation. There are reminders that a
sharing charge will be applied.  A 20% gratuity will be added to
parties of six or more.  Cell phones are not appreciated in the
dining room. Jackets and ties are desired.  Substitutions are
frowned upon. Vegetarian selections are notated by an image
of a Birkenstock. We compost all of our kitchen trimmings.  
All of our menus are printed with soy-based inks on FSC
certified mixed 100% post-consumer waste paper. 
And I never even mentioned the word "organic"!  Get my drift?  
Menus are often a real pain to navigate.    

 I sail by the seat of my pants.  I learned that trait and phrase
from my Dad.  Basically what that means, according to me,
is that I use experience and intuition to make my way from
here to there.  So far it has not let me down.  Not to say that
I don't look at a chart every once in a while. 
Barnegat Bay is a fairly narrow body of water, and unless
it's a severely foggy day, on which Buff suggests making it a
bar day instead, I can normally make my way back to the dock
without hailing the Coast Guard. The shoals and bars are
what could cause me problems with my 4'6" draft.  I do have
 a depthfinder but by the time it tells me it's too shallow, it's
often too late. I consider myself very comfortable with my
sailing capability. Especially when it's within the boundaries with
which I have become so familiar. GPS is a very popular form of
navigation these days.  I actually have it!  And it's the most
convenient ship's clock I've ever had.  Yeah, sure it provides 
co-ordinates, waypoints, tracking, speed, shipping channels,
currents, tides, restaurant suggestions, Dow Jones Industrial
Average, and the current price of a gallon of Diesel. We often
hang the camera on it.  I will navigate by the seat of my pants.


  1. at least you don't have a goose guarding the driveway!

  2. Maybe then they'd stay off the flippin dead grass!

  3. I think you missed the boat here.

    You could have easily gotten three separate navigation posts out of this and would have then been way ahead of me, Bonnie, Carol Anne, and my2fish - but not JP.

    JP is ahead of all of us by a country mile.

    But you might catch him by doing a post on just what the heck a country mile is.

  4. The problem with the driveway at Five O'Clock Somewhere is that Google Maps thinks it's a road. At least I don't have to worry about drivers veering off the driveway and taking divots out of the lawn, because there is no lawn, just lots of rocks, lovely 500-pound chunks of sandstone, some with lichens on them, of the sort that landscapers in the city pay a couple hundred bucks apiece for.

    O Docker, a country mile is a more honest measurement than a city mile. In the country, a statute mile is a mile. In the city, a mile is at least theoretically a statute mile, but it's not so exact. The rule of thumb in most cities is that 10 blocks equals a mile.

    In the western U.S., developers often bought sections from the descendants of homesteaders, who got land grants in nice, tidy squares, and the result was that development took on a Cartesian plan, with perpendicular east-west and north-south boundaries that became major roads. Every mile, there would be a major road, and at the half-miles, there would be feeder roads. So in the western U.S., city miles are generally close to statute miles.

    On the other hand, older cities that developed before the homesteading system often have more organic, random patterns of roads and streets. There are no set perpendicular divisions to measure distances. So miles in the city are far less precise. In truth, there is no such thing as a "city mile," but measuring the distance along a road that twists and turns, or that is at a weird angle, is hard.

    And of course, there's also the concept that a country mile is wide-open, while a city mile is cluttered up with buildings. If somebody says a baseball player can hit a ball a "country mile," it means the ball can go on for a long way without hitting anything. If the same player hit the ball in the city, it would hit something, such as a building or a bust of Lenin.

  5. Thanks for that enlightening explanation, Carol Anne. I think that would have definitely made a fine entry in Tillerman's navigation writing project.

    In Philadelphia, we had a much more precise means of measuring distance - a marker that was placed every 100 feet along most major thorofares - the pothole.

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  7. I always find it hard to navigate a drive where I have to go backwards downhill. It is almost impossible to see the drive properly in most cars. In spite of this, the only two houses I have owned in the US have had steep drives that I usually backed down. One of them had a hairpin bend halfway down. The other has a fire hydrant on one side at the bottom and a rock wall on the other side to catch anyone who does not stay on the drive. Not good.

    Baydog's advice is sound. Don't look out of the rear window of the car. Look in the driver's side door mirror and just follow the edge of the drive. (Check first that there aren't any random toys, animals or children on the drive.)

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