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Averyt: Follow the Microchip

02/03/11 5:55PM By Anne Averyt
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(HOST) Recently, commentator Anne Averyt - who suffers from directional dyslexia - had to put faith, hope and trust in a dashboard microchip to find her way home through Vermont to Burlington.

(AVERYT) What an incredible pleasure to drive through Vermont in the winter, in the snow, in the sunlight glowing over the mountains.  Driving deep through valleys, then driving high, breaking through clouds to touch the sky.  No traffic; just the hum of snow tires on dry road.

I’m on a trip through Vermont, returning home from Connecticut.   A trip following a 21st century star, my new friend and guide, my GPS navigation device.  On the road again and headed home, my wagon hitched to a microchip.

I love the stand of stately birches, now bare, that hug the guard rail as you enter I-89 near White River Junction, and the miles and miles of roadside conifers standing at attention.  Trees majestic in a winter wonderland... mesmerizing.  It’s a good thing there’s no traffic.

It’s been a long time since I drove the interstate through Vermont.  I’ve always thought it’s one of the state’s most scenic drives.  There’s so much of Vermont that is characterized by less.  Less traffic, fewer people, no billboards.  I was just over the state line near Brattleboro when I saw the first Holstein-patterned bumper sticker asking, "Got milk?"  And I knew I was home again.

This trip would never have gotten past dream stage if it hadn’t been for my trusty GPS companion.  My personal genome profile has no directional genes.  The floating compass arrow in my head points north when I’m really headed west, and my internal MapQuest screams for a left turn when anyone else would know to take a right.  I’m not very good at following instructions either, so this expedition with a 3 by 5 inch bossy flat screen is a test of wills as well as of faith.

One of the characters in Harry Potter's Chamber of Secrets warns: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain."  Well, I think my little GPS lady has all the potential for running amok like Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  And, like Hal, her simulated voice is smooth and seductive, telling me where to go if only I listen, if only I obey.

I am forced to take a deep breath and put my trust, my car and myself in the care of a tiny chip.  North of Randolph the traffic begins to pick up and, as always, I feel I’m close to my Burlington home when I round that s-curve above Montpelier and see the capital city nestled below.

My trip has been a success, and I grudgingly nod thanks to my GPS guide.  But, like the henpecked Rumpole of the Bailey in the PBS series, under my breath I mutter, "She who must be obeyed."
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