Friday, April 27, 2012

Carmen Sandiego’s Secret Hideout Was In Clarksburg

I just love our computer age and how people trust the Internet to provide infallible information.  I especially love how drivers trust the directions that float down from the map gods of cyberspace. 

Having been a reconnaissance platoon leader in the U. S. Army, I trust old-fashioned, paper maps.  If I want to travel from point A to point B, I look for a paper map to guide me.  I do not trust Internet maps.

Take my residence for example.  You cannot locate it by using MapQuest, Google or Yahoo.  Ever since MapQuest went online, the service has located my domicile about two miles south and west from its actual site to a spot on Old Davisson Run Road, a secondary road. 

I live on Davisson Run Road, the fast lane, state Route 98, also known as Clarksburg's South Bypass. So MapQuest performed bypass surgery and grafted me onto another neighborhood where, presumably, people live in the slow lane. Yahoo must rely on MapQuest, or the same source data, because it displays the same (wrong) map location.

Google, on the other hand, is the mother lode of all information. Google is infallible. Google has mapped the Earth and scanned every book published since Gutenberg's Bible. Google does not use the map god's directions.  Google is The God.

And so it is that Google, The God, points to my domicile as being located at 300 Davisson Run Road. Google even provides a street-level view of the entrance driveway.

Google goes the extra mile in its map search.  Google tells us that 500 Davisson Run Road is also located at the same spot as 300 Davisson Run Road. When I say that Google goes the extra mile, I mean this: 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and even 1000 Davisson Run Road all show up at 300 Davisson Run Road.

But wait!  Reboot your computer, go back to Google, and search these addresses again.  On this go around, Google might point you to the same spot on Old Davisson Run that MapQuest and Yahoo point to.

You cannot get here from anywhere if you rely on the cyberspace map gods.

The best computer map story I have heard came from a nurse.  Her agency supplied her with a laptop and map software. One day, she had to drive from Shinnston to Smithburg.  Her laptop selected the shortest route which took her across Five Points hill, a place so-named because five county roads meet at the top of the hill.

Five Points is a place accessible usually by Jeep or Land Rover.  Fortunately for our nurse, her trusty sedan made it through, but at the cost of an extra hour driving time to save a few miles.

As smart as computers purport to be, they are illogical linear thinkers when it comes to routing a trip.  Why?  Because computer programmers are illogical linear thinkers. 

A friend of mine who trusts his OnStar recently took a scenic, backroads trip from Ithaca, N.Y., to Rochester.  I would have looked at a road map and opted to drive to Elmira and then follow Interstate 86 and Interstate 390 to Rochester. 

Just for kicks, I asked Google for directions from Elmira to Rochester.  Google, The God, ignored the Interstate 86 routing because it was several miles longer than backcountry New York Route 14 to Watkins Glen and along Seneca Lake.

When I travel, I know that Interstates are the fastest way regardless of mileage.  If I have time to sightsee, then I will do a map recon. In this regard, I am like John Travolta as "Michael" when he detoured to see the world's biggest ball of twine. 

Now that's a real map quest!

If you are looking for Carmen Sandiego, she has gone.  I will miss her as she has been a good tenant.  But she had insisted on a lease clause that allowed her to terminate should I ever divulge the secret nature of 640 Davisson Run Road, and by extension, Carmen's sublet.

"Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" went off the air a year or so before 640 Davisson Run Road was built, and the U.S. Postal Service provided it with a street address instead of a rural route and box number.  That's when Carmen showed up and why you haven't found her since.

Carmen, best wishes in finding your new safe house.  Let me know when you are settled in, and I will forward your security deposit.