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GPS Authoritarians & Chihuahua

This is about the linking of two very different stories found in the Odd News that I like to check on a daily basis, after the World News and Politics. Both stories relate to Authoritarian personalities (and anti-authoritarian personalities) and ultimately are related to politics. Both stories require the use of Imagination and the ability to find a common thread in two very different species.

The first story has to do with a couple using their GPS to navigate and putting their full trust in “The Talking Lady” to get them from point A to point Z.

The story:

The couple had been in Portland and followed their GPS as it directed them south on U.S. Highway 97 to Oregon Highway 31, which goes through Silver Lake and Lakeview before connecting with U.S. Highway 395 to Reno, Evinger said.

In the town of Silver Lake, the unit told them to turn right on Forest Service Road 28, and they followed that and some spur roads nearly 35 miles before getting stuck in about 1 1/2 feet of snow near Thompson Reservoir, the sheriff said.

Now I happen to be an “expert” at traveling with the Talking Lady a.k.a GPS. But I have driven for most of my life on rural roads and I often take the back roads and I know that in the winter you FIRST check the road conditions of the back roads like Forest Service Roads before ever turning down a road that the talking Lady tells you in her most authoritative voice “in 300 feet turn RIGHT”.

GPS is really changing the way many people (mostly men) find their way in unknown territory. We women know that men do not like to ask for directions. So the GPS had to be invented FOR men by men. I don’t use a GPS I like to plot out my route, print out maps, write down directions and use Road Atlases. But my husband is devoted to the talking Lady.

The authoritarian personality will follow directions of an authority figure — my theory is that for some people the authoritative voice coming from the GPS speaker is authoritarian enough to make people do really dumb things. I tend to be anti-authoritarian and don’t trust any authority figure until She or HE has earned my trust. On the other hand my husband has slight leanings toward believing Authority — especially when it means he doesn’t need to ask directions.

Seattle has got to be one of the most illogical places to drive. There are roads that appear out of nowhere and roads that seem to go nowhere. My father who never got lost and had a perfect sense of direction, got lost in Seattle. So, my husband and I were trying to find a business and he was using the Talking Lady — and I was doing the driving. (I believe that this may be a trend because a whole lot of women have told me that they have the same arrangement — husband navigates with the Talking Lady and wife drives).

This little trip to Seattle was my first experience with the Talking Lady (TL). My husband had been using TL for about two years and was in love, he could find stuff and he didn’t need to ask any stranger for directions. I suspected that I wouldn’t trust TL when she ordered us to turn right in 200 feet and all I could see was a huge stone wall where I was supposed to turn. At that point TL earned some new names. My husband told me I was being “sexist”. Another favorite phrase of TL is: “Lost satellite reception”. That generally happens in Urban areas with lots of very tall buildings, or when driving in a forest of very tall trees.

Last Winter we took a very long road trip and of course the other women, TL came along. At first we were going to split up the driving, but when TL refused to let my husband take a bridge to cross over into Oregon, I knew that I would be doing most of the driving while he could look at the map and see that TL was batshit crazy. We wanted to take the Oregon coastal route South along the Pacific Ocean. To get to Oregon from Northwestern Washington requires crossing a bridge. I was in the passenger seat and I could SEE that we had to go up and over the river, there was no lower bridge — just that one bridge. But my husband was listening to the TL and as we started to go up and over the river, TL ordered the husband to take a right. I was shreeking — NO STAY IN THIS LANE AND GO STRAIGHT. But the TL was calming telling husband to turn right in 200 feet, 50 feet. So he listened to TL. And we ended up on the WA side, under the bridge. This was the U-turn route, apparently, for people who didn’t want to go to Oregon. The TL didn’t repeat her next favorite phrase, “Off-route-recalculating”.

To avoid getting yelled at again, husband ignored TL and drove OVER the bridge, after finding his way back on the approach to that bridge. That’s when I started doing most of the driving and he was happy to study the maps on the TL’s screen. I don’t do any sort of reading while the car is moving — that way I never get motion sickness. So I don’t do map navigation or reading while under way.

Nearly all the La Quinta motels we stayed at had excellent high-speed Internet connection, so I would check out our route and there were several times that the TL routed us on roads that were listed as closed due seasonal snow storms.

One problem with these GPS Talking Ladies is that their databases need to be updated, businesses close or relocate and road work can make the TL go batshit crazy. It’s not her fault, the poor thing, the world is changing and her database is out of date.

Since I like the food from Trader Joes I will have to give TL lots of points for finding Trader Joes in several states and in obscure locations. Our TL has two ways to give directions — Fastest and most direct. The most direct route option is the one that will find all the back roads, side roads and non roads. The fastest route choice usually means all freeways. This is where the human brain is superior. If the freeways are crowded, then it is often best to find an alternative route. I learned this trick without the help of a GPS. Kansas City, Missouri — avoid this city, especially during the “rush” hour.

The problem with using the TL is that when she works I start to let down my guard, and supposedly husband is looking at the maps to verify her directions. But she managed to get us really lost on a BIA road (Bureau of Indian Affairs). The TL uses symbols to indicate the condition of the road — freeways are show with strong wide lines and as the road conditions turn to rural the lines get smaller and the shading changes. We learned that there is a lot of sand in New Mexico and over loaded cars do not glide over the sand — even if the TL shows that this is a “real” road. This is another case where I should have listened to my anti-authoritarian instincts and stopped and turned around. We had road side assistance, but if the cell phone doesn’t work, forget getting any help. Lots of digging, lots of rocks and 12 hours later we were back on the “main” road through the Navajo Reservation. If anyone needs to know where there is zero traffic — I have the GPS location.

Next Story is about Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas can be very tough dogs. Our first Chi was tiny and she was a lover, she love everyone, especially cats. The Chihuahua we have now is tough, not mean just very sure that he has a job and that is to protect the car. He is a St. Bernard in a Chihuahua suit. We call him the Admiral, because he is a take charge sort of guy.

There are three tiny Chihuahuas in California who are very lucky that they worked together and that each of them has a bad ass attitude about protecting their territory. Sort summary:  Homeowner hears dogs barking, investigates and is horrified to see that the three Chihuahuas have a Cougar cornered in the garage.

It would seem that these Chihuahuas have an authoritarian attitude, just like my little guy. They may have guessed that they were supposed to be a snack for the Cougar, who knows? After being owned by Chihuahuas for many years — there is a whole lot more going on in their brains than most people realize. They have a human word recognition ability that is scary accurate. They listen to what their people say and pick up words without being trained. Admiral knows every food word. We are now spelling food words — but he will soon figure out the spelled words as well as assorted words relating to food.

The Cougar was probably a juvenile who hadn’t learned that some authoritarian voice can be ignored. But he was faced with three of these fur balls, and they have sharp teeth.

Summary and Linkages

GPS for navigation is probably a great invention, especially for men who won’t ask for directions. Certainly for marine navigation the GPS is an essential piece of equipment. However, the human brain is superior and common sense is something that can be learned, through experience. The TL is often correct, but when she tells you to take a Forest Service road in territory that is unknown — realize that humans programmed her and some humans are batshit crazy. Chihuahuas come pre-programmed with some primitive instincts like flight or fight – or the authoritarian bluff manoeuver. Sometimes these ancient instincts can save their lives.


3 Responses

  1. Yikes, the story of the couple depending on the GPS and getting stranded was scary! I worry about technology replacing common sense. Fortunately that couple was well prepared for being stranded in the woods in winter, so that helped.

    There’s a ferry across the Columbia river or rather more like Tom Sawyer’s raft. We had great fun riding it last year. I had even more fun proving to my husband that he doesn’t know everything. See, I know all the good secret places because I sometimes get lost. Since he never, ever gets lost, he’s stuck driving across boring old bridges and main roads.

    I suspect little dogs think they’re wolves. Dogs don’t seem to have any size awareness, like people do. People seem to think that bigger is badder, they “size” each other up, but I don’t think dogs share that. They seem to be much more about attitude.

  2. That stretch along the Columbia River — I’ve seen the sign for the ferry. That would be a different experience from the ferries in the Puget Sound and elsewhere.

    Husbands and and travel — always interesting and challenging. I’ve been across county several time — and the last few by myself with a cat & dog. So he knows that I can manage — that was all freeway driving.

    Now that he’s retired — we can take the back roads — and that’s where the GPS is both a help and a hazard.

    Our little Chi — is so tough. He has no idea about size — he almost decided that a Golden Retriever was worthy of a challenge. It could be the male territorial instinct? There sure seem to be gender behavioral links.

  3. Wow! GPS systems and chihuahua, what an odd combination lol.

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