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Where in the World is Waldo Santiago? - The S.E. Farris Law Firm
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Where in the World is Waldo Santiago?

It is another cold February day here in the Midwest. The most productive use of my time that didn’t require a trip into the frost was an online continuing legal education course. The focus of the course was more about getting new clients than representing them. If I could offer a free coat with every visit, I would be flooded with new cases but that is not permitted by the state Bar association. Staring at a computer for an hour (54 minutes in CLE time) did little to make the cold and gray weather more palatable, either.

 I am convinced that February only has 28 days to keep us from jumping out the window. I have considered it, but my office is too close to the ground and cold and miserable with a broken ankle would not be better than just cold and miserable.

My fellow Under Analysis writers are smart to go to warm places when they can. As I read their columns, it often strikes me how geographically illiterate I am. That I get lost regularly is well known. I prefer to call my wrong turns “alternative routes of discovery,” loosely translated from the journals of Christopher Columbus. Those in my passenger seat are not always as adventurous or optimistic and their ire is palpable.

While it is true that I get to park by the door at Geography Bees and the like, I am not completely directionless. For example, even I can find Ireland on the map from its iconic boot shape. Finding courthouses early in the morning is challenging but made possible by cell phone and car navigation systems.

Even this is not fool proof of course. The Google-gods are not particularly tolerant of a missed turn and have sent me on more than one wild goose chase which can only be categorized as malicious. My wife and I missed an exit in Pennsylvania once and spent two hours “enjoying” sightseeing in the country. She was not amused, and even less so as our check in time at the airport got closer.

Passengers in my vehicles comment that the navigation voice sounds exasperated. If a computer guidance system can roll its eyes, mine does. And it looks like it will get worse. Soon.

Those old enough to remember 1999 recall the predicted doom that was to befall us on January 1, 2000 when the Y2K bug bit, wiping out our computers, destroying data bases, mismatching our socks and obscuring the expiration dates of milk in the refrigerator. I was the computer guy at a law firm in 2000. We made floppy disk backups of all our data, unplugged all of the 9600 baud modems on December 31, 1999 and waited. Many AOL free disks were copied over in those days, I can tell you. Fortunately, the fearmongers were mostly wrong. (Myspace would have failed anyway, Y2K is innocent and should be acquitted.)

On April 6, 2019, global positioning devices, aka my only chance of getting anywhere, are set to grind to a halt. The timestamp from GPS signals resets every 20 years and April 6 is the reset date. In other words, some GPS units will stop working. Those with GPS units made since 2010 should be fine. Those relying on older devices or devices with defunct makers will wander. While it is said that all who wander are not lost, the number of truly lost will expand on April 6. Business as usual for me.

No one is looking forward to this reset more than compass makers, who may be called out of retirement. If you were looking to get into a bridge league with hotcake sellers and buggy whip makers, now is a good time to apply as the compass makers’ seats should be open.

Those researching the compass trace its invention to Willard Comp who lost his donkey so often that he invented a device to help him find it. The device caught on and sold like hotcakes. Until they didn’t, of course.

As with any disaster, savvy law firms are embracing the opportunity for new business. Lawyers for the Comp estate and mapmakers are looking to revive patents and reopen manufacturing lines. Lawyers for IT firms are bracing for the onslaught of litigation sure to follow when thousands of folks get lost.

Perhaps the most excited lawyers preparing for the coming disaster are those who represent the National Enquirer, as they can take a break from looking at pictures of Jeff Bezos in various states of undress and focus on other issues. Moral compasses likely won’t be affected.

For me, it will be just another day at the office. After all, I can get here in my sleep and sleep after I arrive.

©2019 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. His lack of homing ability cannot be underestimated.  Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at farris@farrislaw.net.

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