Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Radio Tells Me to Do Things

I swear I'm not schizophrenic, but voices from my radio tell me to do things. They tell me where to go and give me commands that I must obey or risk getting hopelessly lost. No, it's not a sign of developing mental illness. It's simply the turn-by-turn service provided by OnStar in our new Saturn Vue.

The first time I tried it, it was rather disconcerting. You call OnStar with the console in your vehicle and tell them your destination. They locate your current position via GPS, then download it into the car where it plays on your radio speakers as you navigate the route. I like it much better than screen-based systems; I've had too many near collisions with tourists whose eyes were glue to the screen instead of the road. With OnStar, you simply listen while you keep your eyes safely on the road.

The other day we had lunch at Chevy's, and I told hubby, "Let's call up Onstar to get directions to Walgreens." Obviously we know our way there backwards and forwards, but I just wanted to show him how the system worked. He rolled his eyes and chided me for being in love with my new toys, but he humored me as I phoned up some poor, long-suffering OnStar operator who duly downloaded the instructions. Since I didn't actually know the address, I just told him that we needed to get to 192 and International Drive.

The disembodied voice coming out of the radio is rather disconcerting at first. It guided us onto I4 but was planning to have us exit at 192 instead of Osceola Parkway. Technically that would be more straightforward for a lost person, but it would also overshoot us a bit from our destination. Thus we totally confused the system by hopping off at Osceola.

The system chided us for going off-route and asked if we wanted directions to get back on the pre-planned route. You tell it yes or no, and it understands your voice commands. Freaky! Since we knew where we were going, hubby simply cancelled the trip.

All the bells and whistles have caused me to rename the new Vue. Originally I named it B2, since it's almost the same color as my husband's old Neon, long since given to my brother, driven into the ground, and mouldering in some junk yard. The Neon was named Bruiser, so B2 stood for Bruiser 2.

We don't usually give duplicate names, or if we do, the derivative is actually something different. For example, I once had a Hyundai named Magnum (after a roller coaster at Cedar Point) which had vanity plates matching its name. I bought a Neon and transferred the plates, so it also made sense to transfer the moniker. But I wanted it to be different, so Magnum 2 became Twoey, after the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors" (it was named Audrey 2 but Twoey was its nickname). Canyonero was my next car after Twoey, with its own set of plates and its own identity, christened in honor of the Simpsons ode to SUV excess.

B2 seemed like a rather dull name, but nothing else came to mind...until I realized that I had a car that talked to me and understood my voice commends. Duh! Anyone who came of age in the 1980s should known the perfect name for a sentient vehicle: Kitt!

Now B2 has a much more appropriate handle. Kitt seems to fit in terms of its intelligence and also somewhat its color. Although it isn't black, the dark blue can easily be mistaken for black in the right lighting. When it was nagging at me for getting off I-4 at the wrong exit, I briefly toyed with calling it Hal ("I can't let you do that, Barb. I'm going to have to disable to life support systems."), but it doesn't seem quite as malevolent as the 2001: A Space Odyssey computer.

Canyonero was a heck of a vehicle, but one thing it never did was talk to me. I still miss my rugged, loyal old Tek but I think that Kitt just might be a worth successor.

1 comment:

babsbunny said...

Hello there! :)

Hey, I've been reading your blog for awhile now. Initially I stumbled across it because I was doing research on Celebration in an attempt to satisfy my own curiosity, but stuck around for a smile now and again, as some of your entries are amusing. :) This is one such entry!

I'm glad to see another person who names their cars! I'm also a fan of Knight Rider, so kudos on the name Kitt! I personally have a 1985 Firebird, which I lovingly named Matilda! Currently she's in the shop though being painted purple. How I miss her!

But enough of my rambling. I look forward to your next post! :)