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    Flabbergasted by gps
    From: Patrick Goold
    Date: 2011 Feb 22, 13:45 -0500

    I put down my calculator and my almanac on Sunday and went sailing.  I had spent spent several hours that morning reducing and plotting a series of sunsights taken the day before,  preparing to ease myself into the arcana of running fixes.

    Just past the coal dock in Norfolk harbor, I was tinkering with the sail trim. I asked my wife to watch the handheld gps to see if my adjustments made any difference in our speed.  We were loping along at 4 knots.  She was at the stern, I was in the front of the cockpit.  I asked her to hand me the unit.   When she did, just for a second, it registered our speed over the ground as 6 knots.  I could not believe that satellite info was refreshed so frequently that the unit would detect the increased velocity northward as it was passed from hand to hand.  I stepped onto the side deck and walked to the bow, carrying the gps.  Sure enough the speed reading increased to 6.4 knots while I walked and returned to 4 the moment I stopped.  Oddly, while my first reaction was to laugh with delight, my second was to throw the thing overboard.  Damned creepy, these machines! 

    If nothing else, they sap a man's motivation to learn about running fixes.


    Dr. Patrick Goold
    Department of Philosophy
    Virginia Wesleyan College
    Norfolk, VA 23502
    757 455 3357

    Charles Olson: "Love the World -- and stay inside it."

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