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I have this new woman in my life.

Donnelle's OK with it, too; she actually brought her home for me.

Before I get into too much trouble here (I'm not sure if my wife will roll her eyes or fall over laughing - at me, not with me - when she reads my attempt at wittiness), I need to explain my hyperbole.

It starts with our plans to drive to Spokane soon to visit our daughter, Rachel, and son-in-law, Danny, and of course our new granddaughter, Madeline. It's not a complicated drive - I've done it a couple times - but we thought about taking a different route this trip. With our son, Kevin, accompanying us, we thought we would make the drive in one straight shot, taking advantage of having three drivers.

Well, I've been pining for a global positioning system, or GPS unit, for a few years now. Those are the neat, handheld gadgets that tell you exactly where you are by receiving satellite signals, and allow you to obtain turn-by-turn driving directions by simply programming in an address.

They have been pretty expensive in the past to be considered as a necessity - a map works just fine - but like most men, I do like my cool electronics.

And I hate to stop to ask for directions.

I haven't been paying much attention, but GPS units have recently been dropping in price. A lot.

So last week, when we were preparing to drive Rachel and Madeline to the Sacramento Airport after a visit, my wife surprised me with an early Christmas gift.

"I thought we could use it for the trip to Spokane," Donnelle said as I eagerly took my new TomTom GPS unit out of the box.

We decided to play around with it on the way to the airport, and with Donnelle sitting in the back seat - squeezing in as much Maddie time as she could - it fell to Rachel to set it up as I drove.

Rach quickly programmed the unit, and arrived at the voice options.

"Ok, this is 'Lori,' " she said, playing the voice.

I began to listen, and suddenly shuddered.

Lori seemed to sound a lot like Hillary Clinton.

"Turn left," Lori commanded.

"I don't want to turn left," I replied.

"Turn left," Lori/Hillary repeated.

I asked Rachel for the next voice option.

Bonnie? I don't know what it was about her, but Bonnie even annoyed Donnelle a little.

Richard? He sounded like my high school vice principal in a bad mood. And that gentleman was always in a bad mood. Even after all these years, I still remember that guy.

"Those are the only American English voices left without downloading others," Rachel said. "Unless you want to hear the United Kingdom English voices."

I was willing to try English with an accent (or is it us with the accent?)

Tim sounded a lot like James Bond, which would be kind of neat. But hey, when I drive, I get to be James Bond.

"Anything else?" I asked my daughter.

And this is when I heard Jane.

"After 300 meters, you have reached your destination," she said in a clear, calm, yet friendly, voice.

The accent was a nice touch, too.

Jane it is. She goes everywhere with me now.

The only thing lacking in my GPS, I found during our drive to Sacramento, was a lack of voice confirmation if you missed a turn or took the correct route.

I mentioned this as we pulled onto State Route 4 from Highway 99.

"Hey, it should tell you when you get it right," I said.

Donnelle noted she declined the Male Ego Enhancement option.

Now THAT would make it perfect ...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.