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Talko Tuesday: Dead Reckoning, 16 August 2016

I have to start this post by saying I am NOT COMPLAINING. I am NOT WHINING. I am NOT BEGGING FOR INFORMATION.

Well, maybe that last one isn't entirely accurate. But I know there is quite possibly nothing to know, and so...

Publishing is full of long waits. To explain how this affects the writer, I need to use a navy analogy.

"Dead Reckoning" is where you determine your position on a chart (map) based on your course and speed, such as, "I was here, I'm heading east at 10 nautical miles per hour, so now I should be right here." In reality, you are never going 090 at 10 knots; you are pushed and pulled by currents and winds and other factors, and that doesn't mean you won't get where you want to go... as long as you take your fix at other points along the way. Getting a fix - through GPS, radar, celestial - gives you that snapshot of where you are, though, to be fair, by the time you've taken that data and plotted it on the chart, the fix is already old and you are somewhere else. The navigator asks the lookouts where they are in relationship to a certain landmark or celestial body, and it takes time to get that data, time to process, time to transmit, time to record, time to plot. When all that adds up, you really only know where you WERE a few minutes ago. Also, accuracy may be lacking in any of those steps.

So Dead Reckoning is not a totally horrible way of knowing where you are. Get and plot your fix and know you are headed east at some speed and you can actually know BETTER where you are in that moment. The weakness of DR is that the longer you go without the snapshot location, the less accurate it becomes.

And that's where I am. I haven't gotten a fix for a while, but I know where I'm going and when I expect to get there, so I can estimate. The longer I go, however, the less accurate my assumed position is from my actual.

And I'm okay with that, mostly. Partly because there's nothing I can do, and asking is likely to cause more trouble and confusion that it will alleviate. To update me, people have to stop what they're doing and bug other people, who in turn have to stop what they're doing and report. To give another navy analogy, the lookout could lose track of the rock or ship in their way while trying to get a line of sight on something that won't matter for another hour. So. Many. Things. Are happening.

So where am I?

Destination is set. Next fix is forthcoming. But I'm headed east at 10 knots, and that's good enough for now.

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