GPS, Who Needs It?
by Bob Ciminel
Photo by Bob Ciminel
My wife, Alice, came along on the trip because we have good friends who live about 45 minutes from where I was working. Because we turned the trip into a mini-vacation, we arrived a day earlier than necessary and spent it with our friends.
We checked into our hotel and decided to drive around the area for a few hours to help us stay awake while we adjusted to the jet lag. Germany is in the GMT +5 time zone, six hours ahead of Atlanta. We arrived on Delta's Flight 116, the daily non-stop BMW/VW/Chrysler-Benz "red eye" shuttle that operates between Stuttgart and Atlanta, so we were a little discombobulated by the time difference.
My work location was the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant, which is nestled in an old quarry on the east bank of the Neckar River, approximately halfway between Stuttgart and Hielbron. The vineyards surrounding the plant produce grapes that go into some of Germany's favorite wines, such as Riesling, Lemberger, and Trollinger. We drank a lot of Lemberger for dinner. I highly recommend it, if you lean toward red wine.
The power plant is a good neighbor, sacrificing almost 15 megawatts of marketable electricity to run large fans in its low-profile cooling tower. The cooling tower design ensures that it will not cast a shadow on the vineyards. The fans push the hot, moist air from the tower about 100 meters into the air before the moisture condenses and forms a plume. It is an amazing sight to see a cloud materializing out of what appears to be thin air.
I digress. Getting back to the GPS navigation system, we turned it on and selected the town we wanted to visit. As we started down the road, the sexy female voice in the navigation system began talking - in German!
Photo by Bob Ciminel
After a few more missed directions,
I finally got the hang of asking Alice what the GPS said before
we arrived at intersections and life became much simpler. We
used the GPS to great advantage and managed to find all of the
spots we were interested in seeing. On the way back to the hotel,
Alice commented on what a great feature the navigation system
was and how convenient it would be to have one in our next car.
A prudent man would have just said, "Yeah, that's a great
idea. We'll have to check it out when we get back to the States,"
but not me. No, old Bob had to make that game-saving three-point
shot just before the buzzer went off. I looked at Alice and said,
"Honey, you don't need a GPS navigation system in your car.
All I have to do is go online and look at the debit card transactions
in our checking account and I can follow you all around Atlanta.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.