The Low Side Of High Tech
If you see something that looks like a star,And it's shooting up out of the ground,And your head is spinning from a loud guitar,And you just can't escape from the sound,Don't worry too much, it'll happen to you,We were children once, playing with toys.
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys - Traffic
By Randall Grantham Community Columnist
My dad taught me to hunt when I was nine. He made sure we grew up with a sense of gun safety and awareness and we plinked at cans around the house when we were younger, but I didn’t get to go hunting with the men until I was 9.
Actually, it was the end of age 8, as I turned 9 in November, during the first week of hunting season. My brother didn’t get to go until he was actually 9, since his birthday didn’t happen until September, so he felt picked upon, but that is the plight of the younger siblings. But that’s not the point of this article.
This is about the other skills Dad taught that were concomitant with, and necessary to hunting. Patience. Stealth. Respect for nature and the creatures whose lives you were taking. And finding your way in, and more importantly, out of the woods.
Funny thing about woods, they all look the same. I’m not saying the mountain aspens look like the Everglades swamps. I’m saying when you are deep in woods with no path or blazes or cairns, it all looks the same. Trying to say “I came in by that oak tree, around the edge of the cypress head” does not work. All the cypress heads and oak trees look the same in the dim lighting and shadows of the woods.
Even trying to retrace your steps to where you were standing when you took the shot 2 minutes before can be impossible in the bramble of Florida scrub.
So Dad made sure we never went into the woods without a compass. And that before we went into the woods we checked the direction of the logging road we parked on with reference to the direction we went off into the woods. That way, if you left a north/south road by going east into the area, you would come out by going west after consulting the compass.
And by making sure to keep checking the compass. Because, just as we tend to swim in circles, or at least a huge, long arc, underwater because one leg strokes the flipper just a little harder than the other, we also seem to walk off-course without constant bearings checks.
But when you think you know where you are, you sometimes start questioning the compass. It’s like you say, man I know I came over that little rise but my compass says that I need to go the other way. What do you do?
I started carrying two compasses. That way, when I thought I should go one way and my primary compass said it’s the other way, I would consult the back-up compass to break the tie. And the compasses never disagreed with each other. I always deferred to the majority and they were never wrong.
Nowadays, we have much more precise and informative navigational devices: GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, controlled by signals from satellites, are the norm. Hell, even most phones have built-in GPS service to tell you where you are and what restaurants are nearby and which of your friends are having coffee at the corner café.
On boats, we have GPS devices that are specifically designed for marine applications. They have channel markers, depth ranges, and hazards marked on their charts. They not only tell you where you are and how to get back to where you came from, but they can also tell you where your secret fishing hole is, how to get there and how long it will take until you are there.
Usually they are dead-on. And usually, just like their compass cousins, they never disagree with each other. But this weekend was different. This weekend, they disagreed. And, at least one of them was wrong.
My brother and I were in Homosassa. We were heading out to one of my favorite spots, 6 miles out, a nice little ledge with an overhang that holds black sea bass, mango snapper and grouper, some of which approach keeper size.
I broke out of the marked channel at about the same place as usual, selected “Rock II” from the waypoint list on my GPS and headed off in the direction it suggested, which seemed right to me.
After a few minutes of travel, though, it seemed like it wasn’t pointing me in the right direction. True, it was a cloudy, overcast day when it’s easy to get disoriented, but it was telling me directions that directly contradicted my knowledge of the area. I knew the islands to my starboard were east of me and it was telling me they were west. And it was pointing me inland to my fishing hole when I knew that it was further off shore.
So, true to habit, I broke out my secondary GPS. Expecting to be silently put in my place by these two wonders of modern technology, I was surprised to see they had different opinions. The first was still telling me up was down, but the second was closer to my instinct, so, naturally I followed it.
It seemed to take us in the right direction, but, whether it was the windy day and shifting tide, a technological anomaly or something more sinister, it never did find my honey hole.
Now I’m not one to buy into conspiracy theories and I don’t think there’s a Bermuda Triangle-like area off the shores of Citrus County but, whether it was the Russians, the Martians or the alcohol, something was not right.
Next time, I’m going high tech. I’m investing in an old time compass.
(Randall C. Grantham is a fifth generation Floridian and lifelong resident who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz . He can be reached at LutzLaw@aol.com. Copyright 2012 RCG)