The title isn’t my work. I copied that from Greta, my Garmin GPS. You may remember Greta from such previous posts as “Yo Greta” and “Directions.” The other day, as I was leaving my office for a short but somewhat unfamiliar trip, I asked Greta for her help. Guidance. Directions and the like (she also knows about traffic conditions).
As usual, the first message was: “Acquiring Satellites.” By the time she finds those guys, I’m usually on the highway, but I’m heading in the right direction. This time, as I approached the highway on-ramp, I got the message displayed in the title.
I wanted to say “Yo Greta, who isn’t?” Greta responds to verbal commands, but probably wouldn’t have an answer for that one.
As I got on the highway, I was quickly reminded of one of the most common events where I find myself waiting for better accuracy. The speed limit. The highway signs say 65. Here in CT, we don’t have any of those wide-open road conditions where they bump that up to 70 or 75. Our highways are mostly 65, sometimes 55. There’s even a stretch of I-84 through Hartford where the limit drops to 50 mph. Nobody travels at those speeds, hence the waiting…
My editor would tell me that I should treat the speed limit as if it were, you know, a limit. It’s good advice in theory, but I would be “that guy” in the slow lane, holding up traffic. The de facto speed limit is about two or three mph below the point where they pull you over and give you a ticket. In CT, that seems to be about 72. In nearby Massachusetts, on the Mass Pike, that seems to be 80 or 85. I tend to stay at 70-72. I get passed a lot on the Mass Pike.
Another source of frequent head-shaking comes to me via my email inbox. I subscribe to newsletters, ePapers and other alleged sources of information, but I find them to be mostly sources of rumor and confusion. “Studies show lower than expected adoption of mobile payment solutions.” What does that mean? Is the adoption rate low? Were the expectations too high? Were the wrong people contacted in the study?
I think polls and surveys are basically worthless. Most Surveys are rigged, so they are accurate but they don’t tell the real story. Think of the surveys you get from the airlines or your car dealer for example. They are designed to generate five-out-of-five answers. I flew twice last month, for a total of eight flights. Some of those individual legs were awful. I flew from Hartford (BDL) to Seattle (SEA) via Minneapolis (MSP) on the way out and Detroit (DTW) on the way back. Delta sent me a survey: “How was your flight from DTW to BDL? – Tell us how we’re doing.”
I would have liked to have had the opportunity to say “that flight, the shortest of the four flights, was OK. The big problem was with the two flights going west…” but no such opportunity was given.
My car dealer will ask about the way I was handled by the billing clerk. Was my car was clean when I picked it up. Was the service was completed by the time promised, and was the price I paid was consistent with what I had been told.” All rated on a scale of one to five. No part of the survey lets me tell them that, after the previous service (and after completing the previous survey) the car developed an oil leak and that this repair was to fix a problem created by the original service.
By the way, that flight to Seattle, that was a whole different kind of problem with accuracy.
I am a conservative flyer. I booked my trip with a nice comfy layover in Minneapolis. 88 minutes. Almost an hour and a half. Plenty of time for the kind of plane changes you have to make when starting out from
Mayberry Hartford and flying to a real airport. Three hours before my flight, I got a text message:
“Flight 797 from BDL to MSP has been delayed 53 minutes. New departure time is…”
53 Minutes? That leaves me with 35 minutes to sprint across Minneapolis, from the cornfield where flights from BDL land to the terminal where they keep the big planes. I was afraid that wouldn’t be enough time, so I called:
“blah blah blah, flight delayed, worried about layover.”
“35 minutes should be enough time. You’re landing at C-4 and your flight to Seattle is scheduled to leave from F-14.”
“Is the new departure time accurate? I’ve been to Minneapolis, C-4 to F-14 is a hike. If it’s delayed any longer…”
“I wouldn’t worry. The departure time should be accurate. The problem is that the crew wasn’t going to have enough rest, so the flight had to be delayed 53 minutes.”
Fifty – three – minutes. What if they hit the snooze button?
Even more disconcerting was the fact that the crew was going to get the exact amount of rest the FAA requires. Not – one – minute – more. That was actually more accuracy than I needed.