19 Jan. 2007
SETI League
PriUPS Project

A Surprise Bluetooth Benefit

My Prius waved to me today.  No, it did not extrude a manipulative appendage to get my attention, but rather it sent me this wave over the airwaves.  Every 5,000 miles the car starts whining for service.  I heed its call and make an appointment at the dealer.  The dealer, exhibiting the usual venality of, well, car dealers, is totally out of sync with me because they recommend 3,500 mile intervals, and so we have a little difficulty agreeing on exactly what is to be serviced.  There is enough agreement, however, to concur on oil changes and tire rotation, which was on the schedule today. 

I was actually looking forward to the tire rotation as it would give me an opportunity to remove and reinstall the tire pressure sensors, which had been transmitting spurious low-pressure warnings to my aftermarket pressure sensor.  (This is not a fault or a flaw, but simply the result of the operation of the ideal gas law as the East Coast transitions to winter temperatures a blessed month or so late.)  I drove to the dealer on the way to work, gave them the key, and sat in the waiting room while they performed their ministrations.

And I grooved.  Unlike previous visits when I had neglected to bring my MP3 player, this time I had it with me in the form* of the Motorola Q that I carry, and the Bluetooth headphones that I leave in the car.  The car service process typically takes an hour, a sufficient time to desweeten* a free donut or so that they kindly provide.  I turned down the teevee that was blaring some idiotic show, donned my headphones, unlimbered the Wall Street Journal**, and made myself at home.

Although one might think I would be entirely content, reading and grooving while my Prius was being prepared for its next two cross-country-equivalent jaunts, I had a nagging concern.  In my own little world of sound and cerebration, I feared I might be unable to hear the Callthe alert that my car was ready.  Although I hoped that the dealer personnel would realize my mental state and eject me from my reverie long enough to extract their payment and send me on my way, this was not guaranteed.  I was at a car dealer, after all, and the Prius is in short supply.  What if they decided that my incommunicado state was tacit authorization to re-sell my car or use it as a demo vehicle?  I decided that, as the typical hour-wait time drew to an end, I would remove my headphones and pay close attention.

I didn't have to.

As I was contemplating this putative necessity, the problem solved itself, as problems all too frequently don't.  I was assisting The Amboy Dukes perform "Journey to the Center of your Mind" with some inspired lip-synching when the music suddenly stopped.  It was just for a fraction of a second, a typical Bluetooth dropout.  However it had been working flawlessly for the past half hour, so I reflexively looked up to see if there was a cause.  There was!  My car was going past the waiting room window, about 15 feet from me.  The Prius was trying to contact my Motorola Q!  As the car was driven past, I realized that my problem was solved.  As they drove it back out of the service bay, I need not listen for my name, just for a Bluetooth dropout.  I could keep grooving (and reading) without concern for dealer mopery.

And so it came to pass.  My car was driven out, I noticed the dropout, gathered my stuff, and went to the counter.  I announced that I knew my car was ready because it had just called to me.  I received four instances of The Look.  (I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it.)  Moments later, I had signed and paid, and left with renewed appreciation for the ability of driver and Prius to commune.

I went outside, re-installed the tire pressure sensors, and continued on to work, a contented tron.  

*I need two words and am having trouble inventing them.  When a device, e.g., cell phone, emulates another device, e.g., an MP3 player, you can't use the term "persona" which refers to humans.  PhonesonaMechmocker?  I don't like either... 

And:  If I were forced to nominate a favorite actor, of whom I've heard of many and could probably recognize at least five, it might be Walter Matthau.  In one movie he walks into a room with a donut-cum-pincushion full of straws, declaiming "Your jelly donuts without jelly are ready now."  In deference to those who come after, when I de-jellify a donut (or decapitate one with icing, or remove the peripheral excrescence of buttercream from a filled donut) I usually discard the carcass.  But I don't have a better generic term than "desweetening" for removing and consuming the good part.  Anyone? 

**Today's sightings:  Manganese and germanium, but I was able to access my blog with the Q and determine that they weren't new.  However I was able to add palladium yesterday.

NP:  "Like Flames" - Berlin

Richard Factor

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