Riding in a car during a long trip is a lot like sitting in front of a computer for a day. You know, staring aimlessly at whatever is in front of you thinking of a million different places you'd rather be and yelling to no one in particular because you've just encountered the Leave-on-Your-Left-Turn-Signal entourage.
Last week, it was time for my brother and sister to head to college. So I went with my dad and brother to Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y., and my mom and sister to University of Delaware, in Newark, Del. There's nothing more exciting than sitting in a car for 742 straight hours.
I can tell you've gotten to the third paragraph and are still trying to figure out how this relates to computers or the Internet or indoor plumbing.
I'm still wondering the same thing as I try to keep my lunch down in the hills of West Virginia. But I have been amazed at the amount of URLs advertised on the road nowadays. From bumper stickers to license plates to billboards, Web site addresses are everywhere. I even saw graffiti that said "www.fredlovesjane.com." Of course, I immediately registered the domain name.
The most interesting thing I saw was the new Pennsylvania license plate, which has its URL, www.state.pa.us, on the plate. Cool, but why would anyone from outside Pennsylvania knowingly visit this Web site? Unless you are going to brush up on your Pennsylvanian politics, just in case you finally get the call to go on "Jeopardy," I'd advise using your time for other things, such as clipping your fingernails.
Cincinnati and Cleveland have billboards with their respective city sites. Both have plenty of information for even those people who are just traveling through the almost-interesting state of Ohio. Cleveland's site has a nice message board, which is something that's going to be seen a whole lot more on these types of sites.
I could list some of the other URLs I saw along the way, but most weren't very exciting, and because I can barely read my own handwriting, I can't even find a lot of them. Do that many people copy Web site addresses down while they are driving? And if they do, do they pause their Russian language tapes? It could never hurt to get in a few more practice tapes before the meeting with Alex Trebek.
Reading this column is probably making you want to take a vacation. Well how would you like to take a vacation -- from the comforts of your prison cell??? There are plenty of ways to take virtual trips on the Internet -- just search for "virtual vacations" on Google. I found one that played music, another that sent postcards and still another in which some lunatic put his vacation pictures online. There's nothing like watching someone else go to Disney World, although I will admit one of my favorite episodes of "The Brady Bunch" was when they went to Kings Island. Pay attention, I think that could be a future Audio Visual Daily Double.
There is one enormous difference between sightseeing in real life and sightseeing on the Internet -- you probably cannot buy live bait in the vending machines at work, whereas you can buy night crawlers and the like at a gas station on a New York Indian reservation.
Another difference is the games on the computer are a lot better than any car game -- the alphabet game (finding words on signs), the singing game (see who can sing the right words to each song) or the game Try Not to Fall Asleep (first to hibernate loses). But who needs games when you are having so much fun in a car? At least I didn't have to play the game, Stick the Hot Cigarette Lighter in Your Nose. I always seem to lose that one.
It was nice to be on vacation, but it can never last forever. Unless you are still following that family around Disney World. But luckily, with today's technology, there are many avenues we can utilize instead of piling into the car and trying to make it to our destination before having to go to the bathroom 14 times. Wait a minute ... you can just take your laptop WITH YOU to the bathroom and take your virtual vacation there. What are you waiting for? Bring your phone, just in case "Jeopardy" calls. Make sure you answer the phone with the interrogative salutation, "What is 'hello'?"