Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Oracle of Delphi. Delphi Auto Parts.

Yeah, I know. I didn't write anything this weekend, either.

I was traveling again, this time spending my three-hours-each-way drive not headed to Maryland, but home to my parents' house in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

I know, you're thinking... A Jew, going home for Easter? Just coincidence, I assure you. I didn't see a single rabbit or egg, though my dog chased a squirrel and I had duck for lunch on Sunday.



I told you to duck.

(I know, that only works in person, and not in type, but I couldn't resist. It's late, I'm tired.)

Trivia: How many days did the Feds and Rebs clash during the Seven Days' Battles? Answer at the end.

Back to the title track: While I'm on the subject of driving, I've had a revelation, a glimpse into the future, if you will.

And thus, a prediction: In my lifetime, assuming I actually live to a decent old age and don't die either A) on I-95 halfway to Maryland; B) at my desk at the office; or C) of chicken wings, we will see cars that drive themselves.

And I, for one, can't wait.

Three hours, each way, in the car, doing nothing but dodging speed traps and singing badly and after weekend upon weekend of this, I've realized that I'm really, really looking forward to the day when I can get into my car, tell it where I'm going, and sit back and relax.

I look forward to doing two things: 1. Sleeping - after all, who hasn't driven tired? It's dangerous, for you and others, and I'm as guilty as anybody. I've been going to Maryland on Friday nights after work - that's an 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. drive after nine hours in the office. You wonder why I listed I-95 as a potential Little Big Horn in my film career? Seriously, who hasn't gotten up too early or stayed up too late and been forced to take the wheel? Now imagine if your car would just get you there, and you could kick back and relax.

2. Read. I love to read, if it doesn't show, and I'd have gotten to Day Seven of the Battles and beyond, if I could put those six hours each weekend to better use. I love to drive, but I love to read more. And I love to ride in a car and be able to look at the scenery and enjoy the air, instead of white-knuckling the wheel like I did in the storm today when, with one jackass in an SUV tailgating me, another jackass in a giant pickup slammed on the brakes in front of me just as he entered a giant puddle on New Jersey's fine highway I-78 (your tax dollars at work!). To continue bitching, tonight, on my way home, I almost got run down by Jackass No. 3 of the day, who came zipping up on me at about 95 mph then didn't quite change lanes completely before trying to pass me. Nothing like swerving at 65 mph to wake you up. I shit you not, as he went past me - on the right, no less - his driver's side wheels WERE STILL IN MY LANE!

There's never a state trooper around when you need one. I get pulled over because a $3 light bulb is out, and this idiot zipped away, unscathed, into the night, probably to widow some poor lady by running down her freakin' husband.

But I digress.

The robot car. Look, let's face it, GPS is the first step toward my motorist's paradise. The other day, when we were filming at a new location, the only person who didn't get lost, except those who had been there before, was the one with the GPS in her car. One guy got lost three blocks from the site, that's how confusing the directions were. But that blessed GPS got its owner there without a hitch.

So you've got a car that knows where it's going and knows how to get there. All you need know is a way for it to drive itself.

Now, as anybody who's been to Carnegie Mellon since about 1992 knows, they've figured out how to make remote-control full-size vehicles. Nothing like walking down a Pittsburgh street only to see a camouflage Humvee zip by (this is pre-9/11 when I was there, so it wasn't exactly common) and then after it goes by, you realize: Hey, there was no one driving that Hummer!

(By the way, does anyone else find the idea of naming the ultimate Alpha Male Overcompensating vehicle a "Hummer" kind of funny?)

So the way I see it, between the GPS and the Robot Hummer (put punch line here), we're about a third of the way to a fully automated car, the kind you see in movies ranging in quality from "Timecop" to "Total Recall" to "Minority Report."

Or, if you're honest about your sci-fi, ranging in quality from "Minority Report" to "Timecop" to "Total Recall."

So if I make it to the average life expectancy, I've got about 50 years or so left, give or take. That assumes I spend more time eating Saladworks food than Barber's Chicken Cordon Bleu, but still.

So I'm throwing down the gauntlet, Detroit! (Or Tokyo...) Give me my automated car. I just ordered some more Civil War books, and I've got another trip to Maryland to go!

Easter on the Web
Bloomsburg, Pa.
Hummer (the truck)
(I'm tempted to put a "Hummer (not the truck)" link here, but my mother reads this blog. Go find your own porn, ya perverts.)
Delphi North America
And a little on the Oracle
(Not that Oracle!)

The answer to the trivia question, by the way, is six. But I'd guess calling it the Six Days' Battles With a Day Off in the Middle would just be too awkward for the history books.