The greatest invention of the 20th century was the television. Twenty-four hour sports news, "The Sopranos" and The History Channel, what more could a man ask?
The 21st century is still young, but for my money the best innovation could be the GPS navigational system. I don't have one, but I sure could use it, especially when I try to locate The Plaza in Kansas City. I've been to The Plaza at least a half dozen times in the past year and each time I've found my destination only after driving in circles, biting my lip as I crumple the MapQuest directions in one hand and steer with the other.
The two modern marvels - television and GPS - played starring roles last Saturday, when my 10-year-old son Thomas and I carpooled to Wichita with two of his Kansas City Stars Squirt A teammates, Colin and Nathan, and their dads, Mike and Greg.
On the way to our doubleheader, the boys watched the DVD "Over the Hedge" on the video screen in Greg's Ford Expedition, which also has a GPS on the dash.
I sat behind Mike, who was riding shotgun, keeping one eye on the movie and the other on Greg's GPS, which wasn't activated but still tracked our way. It was a pleasant trip, and Greg knew where he was going, even if he did make one wrong turn. Mike and I forgave him.
Before reaching the rink, we stopped for lunch at a sports bar and grill in Wichita. The place was a sports fan's dream. I gave up counting the number of TVs in the place when I reached 30. Even the restroom had TVs.
Each booth in the dining room had a flat screen TV that was hooked up with PlayStation. Unfortunately for the kids, our game system didn't work.
Thomas and Colin sat closest to the TV and battled over what to watch, flicking stations back and fourth. Mike, a trained hockey referee, told them in a stern voice to pick one station and stick with it.
"A TV in the car, a TV at the table, and still they aren't happy," Mike observed.
The boys settled on the KU-Toledo game, the same game that was on just about every other tube in the restaurant, including the 12-foot-wide screen I could see over Greg's right shoulder.
After lunch we headed for the rink. Five and a half hours, a win and a tie later, we were all tired and ready to head home. But we were also hungry and negotiating where to eat as we got closer to the interstate.
GPS should make restaurant recommendations.
Finally, we decided on a Chili's near the entrance of the dark highway. The restaurant had just three TVs, all playing the K-State-North Dakota State game.
After dinner, it was my turn to ride shotgun. We left the parking lot, headed toward the highway. But Greg made a wrong turn, the GPS acting only as an expensive night light for our weary young hockey players.
"I've never been in a car with a GPS that's made so many U-turns," Mike said. Greg was not amused.
Finally on the highway heading for home, the boys settled in to watch a "Mighty Ducks" DVD, the 20th century trumping the 21st.