Thoughts From the Road

Among total Strangers
All of them hurried
Harder to lead, than to follow
Road food, road fools
What was with red cars?
Slowed down, sped up
Hungry, didn’t want to stop
False GPS road closure alarms
My five senses, ultimate skeptics
Back at home base, tired, thankful
My little girl dog became ill
Having trouble swallowing
Examined by our vet today
Maggie stayed there overnight
For further workup tomorrow
Hoping for the best outcome

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All Good Things…

My wife’s birthday and pool party are just a pleasant memory.

The long road trip back home looms ahead.

Much ground covered and friendships cemented. It will be good to be home after two-and-a-half weeks.

I’m pictured hanging out with the guys in the shade–to the extreme left in the yellow shirt.

Across Thy Prairies Verdant Growing…

Clear-channel 50,000 watts of all-night radio, broadcasted across the vast Midwestern prairie and beyond.

John McCormick, “the man who walked and talked at midnight,” was there for our listening pleasure; with the best music and conversation to keep us company.

McCormick had a deep-timbered voice, that either soothed, or lulled listeners to sleep.  That was his job, I supposed.  I would have preferred raspy-voiced Wolfman Jack.

“We’re gonna’ play more music for you–all night long!  Can you dig It?”  Interspersed with a few Wolfman howls and I’d stay wide-awake.  Dad wouldn’t dig any of it.

My job was to assist with loading and deliveries.  More importantly, to keep my father awake on his all-night delivery route through four Illinois counties.

It seemed odd to me then, dad being such a firm disciplinarian, to see him kibitzing with  guys at the full-service, Standard Oil station, on a busy corner in Springfield, Illinois.  He was obviously a regular visitor.  It was around eleven, the station brightly wrapped in neon–topped with trademarked red torch.

An experience, not unlike seeing one of your teachers, away from school.  Refueled, candy bars and coffees in hand, off to the second, and most important stop.

The blue and white Chevrolet, faithful beast of burden, loaded past midnight; after the State-Journal Register’s press run.  There’d been a delay–probably a late-breaking story that couldn’t be left out.

Worried my father would fall asleep at the wheel, thus killing us both in a tragic accident, I kept talking.  Awkward talking–so awkward, it was more like an interview than normal father-son conversation.

“How many miles does this truck have on it?”  I asked.  “It’s got 127,000 miles right now,” Dad answered.

“That’s an awful lot of miles.”  I surmised.  “It’s all highway miles,” Dad answered.  “That makes a difference.  This route covers 200 miles per night–give or take.”

“What were the worst weather conditions you’ve encountered?”  I asked–not in exactly those words.

“Ice and snow–I’ve had to drop off on the shoulder to gain adequate traction.  There was more traction on the grass and gravel, than on the road; but, I made it home safely.  It was almost noon–barely time for a nap before starting out again.”

The next question was risky, but I went for it, anyway.  “What were some of your biggest boneheaded mistakes?”

“I missed some stops and had to go back.  Then, one night I accidently threw a delivery right through an unopened screen door.”

Route 66, blue highways, towns that railroads, interstates forgot, passed by all night long.

That night may have been the source of dad’s war story about a ride to Chicago, cruising at 80 mph on Rt. 66, in a Chrysler Airflow–after hitching a ride.  That struck me as daring–even though it happened before I was born.

Winter sun rose as we arrived home, just in time for a bite of breakfast, light conversation with mom, then straight to bed.  It had been a good night, we’d arrived well before noon.

 

Image, Standard Oil Indiana, from blogsite: PleasantFamilyShopping–

 

 

 

HORSES, HORSE SENSE & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

fv2 2

“Toyota FV2 changes color with driver’s mood”
Futuristic concept to debut at Tokyo show develops visceral relationship with driver
–Douglas Newcomb, “Exhaust Notes,” msn.com–

Toyota’s prototype FV2will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. The automaker sees the FV2 as bridging the gap between the soulless self-driving cars of the future and vehicles of tomorrow that can connect “physically and emotionally with the driver,” the company said in a statement.

The physical connection comes from the FV2 being a single-occupant, podlike ride that drivers move by shifting their bodies forward and back, left and right, Segway style.  And should you… pull into freeway traffic, the FV2 can connect with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure to “including advance warnings about vehicles in blind spots at intersections,” Toyota said.

To establish an emotional connection, Toyota “envisions an ever-developing driver-vehicle relationship similar to the relationship of trust and understanding that a rider might have with his or her horse,” but in this case, this horse can be of a different color depending on the driver’s mood.  

Mobile mood detector:  According to Toyota, the body color of the FV2 can be changed at will by the operator.  Or if drivers can’t decide what mood they’re in, this motorized mount can help them decide using technology from the Toyota Heart Project that’s designed to “achieve a rapport between humans and machines.”

For the FV2, this means incorporating voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s disposition.  It can also keep tabs on owner’s driving history to automatically recommend destinations as well as assess their driving skills to better, ahem, assist them.

If you want to get a glimpse of the future and can’t make it to the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota has created a smart phone app that allows users to experience the Toyota FV2 that’s available for Apple and Android devices. 

hal 9000HAL 9000 Interface

Dubious technology?  Don’t fear the future?  Arthur C. Clarke’s sci-fi thriller, “2001 A Space Odyssey,” directed by Stanley Kubrick, featured HAL 9000, a computer with artificial intelligence.  HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain, sent chills down my spine during the final moments.

Safety features of the FV2 are laudable, but “keeping tabs on the owner’s driving history,” gives me pause.  Of course, It’s only to “assess…driving skills…to better assist.”  Horses never asked or cared what riders were  thinking–except for “Mr. Ed and Wilbur.”  In some Westerns, horses were smarter than their drunken riders.  Unlike the FV2, horses didn’t tattle-tale on their riders.

Chameleon-like, color changing vehicles could be used by the military.  Or, could be used by criminals in getaway cars.  Are you ready for an emotional relationship with your vehicle?  There are endless possibilities–depending on your mood.

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DAILY PROMPT: ARE YOU BEING SERVED?

are you being served

What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SERVICE.

“A MISERABLE NIGHT IN WAIKIKI”

Our rooms were booked through a web-based travel site.  No, it wasn’t the one that featured “Capt. Kirk” (William Shatner).  In hindsight, I wish it had been.  Reservations made for the first and last nights for friends and relatives of the wedding party.  Our first trip to the Hawaiian islands, we hoped to rest comfortably before flying to Maui the next day.

We paid for a room accommodating three guests.  Our room was considerably smaller than expected.  There was one full bed pushed against what appeared to be base kitchen cabinets.  Had this room been used to store odds-and-ends of surplus furniture?  Complaints to the front desk were answered with an additional roll away bed.  Our friend slept on the roll away bed with one end in the closet.  Unwisely, I remarked, “At least the bathroom is normal sized.”  To which my spouse responded, with daggers in her eyes, “You like it so much, you can sleep there.”  I knew it was time to shut up.

As if the miserable first night weren’t bad enough, next day at checkout, we were charged for a roll away bed.  We disputed the charge with the desk clerk.  Was it unreasonable to expect beds for three people if fees were paid for said number of people?  I didn’t think so.  The discussion went tit-for-tat until the desk clerk reluctantly took off the charge.  My wife was livid at this point, “I will never stay in your lousy hotel again!”  “I’m cancelling the second night’s reservation.”  “Good! Answered the clerk, Because your expectations were too high!”

Reservations cancelled–a scathing negative review given to the booking agency.  Apparently four-star ratings were meaningless–like suggested retail prices.  Our last night was spent in a well-known chain hotel near the airport .  The rest of the trip went without any major incidents.  The wedding ceremony was beautiful–in a beautiful setting.