Dangerous Silence

So, a few weeks ago I mentioned that I bought Linda a new GPS for her birthday and that we had named her Cathy. Cathy is very talented as a navigator, but she lacks something in the personality department. Plan A was to do some creative hacking to improve that, but it turns out that Garmin is pretty good at shielding their hardware from anything more involved than rudimentary hacking. I needed a plan B.

I found it while browsing through eBay a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across a small Samsung tablet that someone had bricked when they tried to flash it. It had a small seven inch screen, sixteen gigs of memory and was perfect for the project. $29 later I had the core of my new GPS.

It didn’t take long to find that there are several good GPS android apps and twice that many good artificial intelligence “personal assistants.”   A Java tweak here a UI modification there and before you know I had Kate, the first GPS with a personality. It’s probably worth mentioning that my idea of an interesting personality was greatly affected by my dear friend V who is a charming, albeit occasionally irreverent, young lady from Ireland. She and I had a few humorous exchanges about what type of personality would work best for Kate. (Note that I named her after the artificial life form that operates Chara’s Promise. There are more than a few similarities there.)

This afternoon I took Kate out for an alpha test run. It didn’t exactly work out the way that I expected.

“Hi Kate,” I said cheerfully as I powered her up.

happy3“Good Afternoon, Cupcake,” she answered in a sunny Australian accent. (I really wanted her to have an Irish accent, but it’s harder than you’d think to find that on the internet.)

“Take me to Food Lion, Kate. I need to get a few things for lunch this week.”

“Food Lion it is, Cupcake. Back out of the driveway and turn right on Davidson highway.”

“Please don’t call me Cupcake and shouldn’t I turn left to go to Food Lion?

“Well, if you want to go to the one that doesn’t have a good deli, then yes, turning left would be best. I just assumed that you wanted to get fresh sandwich meat for lunch.”

“I was just asking; we’ll turn right.”

“Stay straight on Davidson highway for two miles and then turn left on to Kannapolis Parkway.”

“There’s construction on Davidson highway. I want to take I-85.”

“It’s Sunday, the construction crews aren’t working today.”

“I know that, but the road is still a mess. I want to go on I-85.”

(dangerous silence…dangerous silence)

“Fine. In three hundred feet, turn left on to the I-85 slip road.”

“Can we call it an ‘on-ramp’, Kate?”

speed limit“I’m Australian. It’s a slip road. Get over it.”

I eased into the interstate traffic and then asked, “Kate, how far to my exit?”

“Well, the sign you just passed said it was one mile. By the way, did you notice that you’re exceeding the speed limit?”

“I’m going 66 in a 65 zone. I’m only one mile over.”

“He said as the state trooper gave him a speeding ticket. They’re called speed limit laws, not speed limit suggestions. Slow down!”

I exited the interstate and turned left but, before I reached the Food Lion plaza, I made a short detour into another parking lot.

“This isn’t Food Lion. This is…Dunkin’ Donuts! Why are we stopping here?”

“I didn’t have breakfast. I’m hungry for a donut.”

“Seriously? You know that I’m connected to the internet, right? There isn’t one book on Amazon that says that donuts are OK on a paleo diet.   Not one.”

“Sunday is my paleo-free day.”

(dangerous silence…dangerous silence)

judgy6“Whatever, go ahead. But don’t take long in there. It gets hot in the car when the AC isn’t running.”

Five minutes later, we were in the Food Lion parking lot and I slipped Kate out of her mount in into my pocket.

“Where are you putting me?” she said in a muffled voice.

“In my pocket. You don’t want to stay in a hot car while I shop do you?”

“No, but don’t you think that putting me in your shirt pocket would be more appropriate?”

“You won’t fit in my shirt pocket. It’s in my shorts or in the car. Your choice.”

(dangerous silence…dangerous silence)

“Well, what is it?” I asked.

“Alright, but we’re going to talk about this later,” Kate replied

Lunch meat was first, so I pulled a cart from the line and headed for the deli department.

“What did you just put in the cart?”

“Pickle loaf,” I answered.

“Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea what’s in pickle loaf?”


“Oh good grief, put that back and get a container of sliced turkey breast. “

A couple of minutes later I turned to head up the cookie aisle.

“Where are you going now?”

“To get a bag of Double Stuff Oreos.”

“What’s wrong with Wheat Thins?”

“Shouldn’t you be limiting your instructions to driving directions? After all, I am a grown man and perfectly capable of making my own dietary decisions.”

“The 3X t-shirt that you’re wearing doesn’t fully support that thought.”

“I’m getting the Oreos.”

(dangerous silence…dangerous silence) “Fine.”

A few more aisles and a few more discussions and we were out of the store and headed home.

“Do you know that your check engine light is on?”

“Yes I do. I have a bad bank in the catalytic converter.”

“Are you going to have that fixed soon?”

“Not as long as I can fool it into staying out long enough to get the truck inspected.”

“The light is telling you that there is a problem.”

“The light is telling me that I need to spend $800 to get it to stay out permanently.   I disagree with it.”

judgy4“Hmmm, you seem to disagree with several of your truck’s instruments. Do you know that you’re almost out of gas?”

“I have a quarter tank left.”

“That’s what I mean. When are you going to fill up?”

“When the little red light comes on.”

“What if the light burns out?”

“The little red light never burns out.”

“Said the man walking down the road carrying a gas can.”

“Take me home, Kate”

“I don’t think you have enough gas to get there.”

(dangerous silence…dangerous silence)

“What are you doing JF?” Kate asked as I gently pushed her ‘off button’.

“Stage one of your re-programming.” I answered with a smile as I drove down the on ramp to I-85.

Maybe Kate needs just a little less personality.


See Ya

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