Waiting for Better Accuracy

Greta knows how long I’m going to be stuck here.

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.

Speed Limit
Maddie and I are walking, so no danger of a ticket.

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.

Delta Jet
This is the size plane that flies out of BDL

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.

48 thoughts on “Waiting for Better Accuracy

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  1. Bravo, sir! My own airline example involves a trip in which I had three choices of flights that all were scheduled to leave at 8:00am. That’s three flights for one runway at the same time. So much for accuracy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Steve. I learned a long time ago that “departure” accuracy is measured by when the push the plane back from the gate. The pilot on a flight came on to say “we’re going to be held up here because of a delay in Philadelphia. So, we’re going to push back and taxi away from the gate so we can show an on-time departure.” I wasn’t sure if maybe he had just left the mic on and we weren’t supposed to hear that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably shouldn’t mention this given how frequently you fly (my husband is flying to DC this morning), but did you see the story about the pilot that died on the flight from Phoenix to Boston? OMG! What a horrible thing. Kudos to the co-pilot for the emergency landing in NH. Wonder what kind of survey results they’ll get for that leg. Sorry. bad humor. Haven’t had breakfast yet, and it makes me a bit insensitive.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. My wife told me about that this morning. I fly as little as I have to. That is certainly sad for the pilot and the crew to have to deal with. It’s always tough to fly on these days. I hope your husband has safe flights. Thanks for your support over here Elizabeth,


  3. I once had a client who was a retired NYS trooper. Having never personally been pulled over on the Thruway but knowing so many people who do, I asked him, “How far over the posted speed limit can I go before you guys notice and pull me over?” The response? 12 miles. So, if the speed limit is 65 mph, I can safely go 77 mph (supposedly).

    This public service announcement is presented by Cordelia’s Mom. Just don’t call me if you get a speeding ticket on the NYS Thruway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having been on the Thruway many times, I can believe that. Still, I think I’d stay well below 77. I tend to go with the “normal” traffic, but that’s hard to figure out in NY and MA. Thanks for the comment :)


      1. I usually go 78 mph on the Thruway – I like to push the limits sometimes. A number of times I’ve seen a trooper on the side as I passed, but never been pulled over. All I can think is that the trooper looks at the gray-haired old lady in the American economy car and thinks, “No, that can’t be – I must have been dreaming.”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. How is it possible to state an EXACT time for a flight? I don’t get it. And Greta has inspired me to name my GPS that is believe it or not, on my Samsung camera. *scratching head* I must come up with a suitable name. Really enjoyed this post, Dan! And a very good morning to you!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning Amy. You should name your GPS. Greta is voice activated and I was able to set the message I use to get her attention to be “Yo Greta” I might have gone with something a bit more affectionate, but that might make the Mrs. jealous. Good to see you in the comment stream – thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When we booked a rental car for our recent trip to Europe, we told the agent we wanted one with a navigation system. They fine, that would be an additional 12 euros a day. We thought that was outrageous but what could we do? When we arrived at the rental car desk in Frankfurt, the agent handed us a bag with Garmin in it. We could have bought one for half the price….. The real shocker came when we found the GPS to be consistently a hundred yards off. It was utterly useless for finding our way around the tangled street of inner-cities and locating our hotels. When we complained we got the typical German rudeness. Despite all that, we had a great trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When it comes to traffic, Dan, what we need isn’t GPS or any other modern device. It’s the Great Gazoo from the Flintstones.

    Remember how Fred and Barney would be stuck in traffic, and he’d blink them away? Or put a helicopter blade on their car, and bang — up, up and away. How often I’ve been doing the drift-and-brake routine and wished that little green alien would show up and snap me out of there. It would even be worth being called a “dum-dum” or whatever other jabs he’d toss at F&B. And then you wouldn’t even NEED to worry about plane delays …

    Liked by 4 people

  7. For the most part, I am annoyed by GPS. It’s not like she knows where to park, or understands we’re stopping for gas.
    I’ve known a few pilots, so nothing airlines-related ever surprises me. Quite frankly, it’s nice the planes are as high-tech as they are.
    I drive with the flow of traffic, and speeds do seem to hover just under the reckless driving ticket speed. The Mister does not speed to the degree of keeping up with traffic. He is Grandpa. And like Grandpa, if you call him out on it, he will tell you stories about driving during the war. It’s best just to look out the window and sing.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha ha. We do joke about them needing to add the “I have to pee” option on the GPS do it stops recalculating while I look for a gas station. My wife doesn’t drive on the highway and I tend to go a little slower when she’s in the car with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “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…” I laughed at this, Dan. 50 mph is equivalent to 80 kmph… which is exactly what the speed limit is where I live. Major highways up here are 90 kmph. 65 mph would be like 105 kmph. You’d have to travel nearly 300 miles south of me to see the limit change from 90 to 100. You want to talk about Mayberry….. :P Though I’m NOT a speeder. If the limit is 80, I’m not going to travel a kmph more. And that is why I don’t live down south in the city!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could drive my wife anywhere and not get a complaint. Have you ever had a ticket? My wife has not. I’ve had my share :)

      When I moved from Seattle, WA to Hartford, I drove across Canada because the U.S. Speed limit had been lowered to 55 on all Interstate highways. I guess it’s good I stayed south of your place.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Now, I’m jealous. Greta is voice activated, and my Sally needs to be programmed. LOL Our old one use to keep saying ‘recalculating’ over and over as you looked for the gas or the restroom. This one doesn’t say a word but then starts giving new directions. What we laugh at is she tells you three times and it reminds us of a priest who did that in his sermon delivery. We didn’t care for his homilies and by the third time she tells us to turn right we want to unplug her as well. :-) Speed? I stay within 5 and hubby stay around 10. Airport arrival? I always err on the side of caution and more time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are my kind of traveler Judy. Thanks for the comment. I like the voice feature. I can say: Yo Greta – Saved places – (place name or any part of it) – Navigate. I really want the ability to say “Engage” instead of “navigate” but it’s a start,

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My first GPS unit (Randy) was pretty accurate, but there was the time I drove from San Jose, CA to Salt Lake City for a photography week-end and had the Hotel address plugged into Randy as my destination point. It was dark, and sprinkling when I arrived in downtown SLC. I had no idea where I was as I’m totally unfamiliar with the cities layout so, I trusted Randy to get me to the hotel. Nearing the hotel he said, “Turn right at the next traffic light; saying the street name”. I turned right and OMG! I was on a one way street going the wrong direction!!!

    The really funny thing about it was the car right in front of me did exactly the same thing!! We both turned around in first driveway we saw and looked at each other shaking our heads as we passed each other.
    I thought we both had TOM-TOM’s. :) She too was going to the same hotel as I was!

    Randy would “beep” at me if I went 5 miles over the posted speed limit which was okay since that’s all I ever go over the posted limit. I usually drive 70mph on our local freeways, but on I5 I drive 77-78mph and get passed all the time.

    Now I have a Garmin- I call her Stephanie- she’s a snob, but hasn’t led me up any one way streets going the wrong direction…yet! :)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s funny, but it’s a good thing you guys didn’t get hit. I’ve had Greta for about a year, but I just noticed that the speed I’m going turns various shades of red as I exceed the speed limit. The default Garmin female voice is a bit harsh. I bought a Star Wars X-Wing fighter as a vehicle and Yoda as the voice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No joke! There were headlights coming s straight for me and the car in front of me. They were honking, flashing their headlights, and I’m sure calling us idiots and other worse names. :) Fortunately that driveway to safety was quite soon after making the turn. My heart was pounding, my stomach was in my throat, and I said to GPS Randy, ” If you ever, ever do that again you’ll be replaced by Simon!” Who I had uploaded as an alternate voice and waiting in the wings. :)

        Randy only let me down once more and that was day my Tom-Tom died.

        Do you name your cars too? I always have.


  11. Not sure what to say. Never saw a GPS tracker in action because I rarely sit in a private car. Never ever stepped on a plane or airport. However, I use Google maps. I have a strange way to use it. I study the map before I leave, so I usually see the image of it in my mind while I reach my destination. I tried the same thing in Kathmandu, Nepal and we were roaming the streets without any help for directions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Greta is currently speaking to me with the voice of Yoda. I named my original GPS Greta because “Garmin” Greta Garmin, kinda close to Greta Garbo – I think it works because Greta Garbo started out in silent films but transitioned to “talkies”

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Here in FL, the speed limit on the Interstate is 70. If you are not doing 80, you are being passed. My foot is heavy on the pedal; my husband freaks out. But we all slow down in MS, where the state troopers salivate at out-of-state tags.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great post. Loved it. Every word!

    My PhD nurse sister-in-law says hospital surveys are THE WORST because patients rate the nurses as if they are maids – if they hated the food, the nurses get rated a 1, never mind that the patient left the hospital alive and fixed!!

    Surveys don’t work well for anyone whether you’re the rater or the ratee!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Sammy. I ran out of room talking about the surveys, but that is a big thing about them that drives me crazy, they ask you to rate the wrong people. My flight may have been terrible, but it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault. How about letting me rate the hospital administration that makes the nurse take care of twice as many people as nurses in the past. If they let me rate them, they’d have to add a zero to the scale.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Technology, aint it grand? BTW down here our traffic police are a lot tougher than your lot. We have a 5 kilometre per hour tolerance! Your 12mph tolerance is utterly amazing. That much over the speed limit and we’d be collecting demerit points as fast, if not faster, than you could say “Jack Robinson!” In fact, my better half, who’s sitting at his desk, in his office, across our landing, has corrected me. Apparently, the tolerance is 4kph! How’s that for accuracy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 4kph? Wow. That would take some getting used to. Sometimes, I look down and I’m 8-10 mph over. Cars these days don’t have the same sense of motion as they used to. I don’t really feel a big difference between 65 and something less than 75.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. LOL those gps things… Mine wouldn’t work at all once near the office — I was trying to find the facility where I needed to get my drivers license, just after I moved here and it took me to the wrong place (a parking lot behind a secure building). I thought maybe I could trick the thing into cooperating if I moved to different locations. It kept taking me back to the same parking lot. When the police started paying attention to me repeatedly ending up in that parkinglot, I decided to leave well enough alone, and gave up. :D Have a wonderful Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ended up lost in a small town near Boston where the streets come together at angles other than 90 degrees. The GPS wasn’t helping, because nothing really seemed like a “left.” Once I figured that I had driven too far, I entered a parking lot to turn around. The arrows on the pavement, told me I was going the wrong way…into the police department parking lot. Fortunately, the guy saw my CT plates, took pity on me and actually gave me the directions I needed. Technology doesn’t always help. Thanks Teagan, have a great day.


  16. I’m not patient like you, Dan. I want the flight that goes straight to my destination, forget stretching my legs on solid ground. Isn’t there a place on those surveys for ‘other comments’? I used them with to thought to being sparse.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have never believed in surveys and polls, either. I think they involve a great deal psychological manipulation. I have observed that most of the times we answer questions according to the tone of the speaker.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “I think polls and surveys are basically worthless. Most Surveys are rigged, so they are accurate but they don’t tell the real story.” Absolutely. I am a firm believer that all stats are rigged.

    Also, In California (native here) we all know that the real speed is at least five miles over the speed limit because NO cop will pull you over for that unless your trunk is on fire. Ten is still safe. I once had a state trooper speed by me and wag his finger at me as I was 15 miles over the speed limit because he had a higher paying ticket ahead . . .

    Liked by 2 people

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