05-Oct-2003 -- A new GPS unit from my friend and fellow confluence enthusiast Rainer Mautz inspired a quick trip to the nearest confluence to our home in Columbus, Ohio. The confluence had already been visited, so we were simply enjoying an excuse to play with the new Garmin GPS unit. Joining the fun was my wife Lucia.
The confluence lies in a residential area adjoining the nearby Ohio State University. The houses in the region are mainly old rental properties, each divided into multiple apartments for students.
Walking towards the confluence from an alley just north of it, we discovered that it was not possible to achieve the exact point of the confluence to within the indicated degree of precision on the GPS unit, as it was blocked by a very large house with a large add-on apartment building in back and an old Victorian style front. On the north side of the house, we could get no closer than 0.006 minutes. On the south side the errors in precision seemed to circulate around 0.009 minutes away. The precision of the GPS unit varied, depending on how close to the building we got. 20 feet from the house, with little of the sky blocked, the GPS reported an accuracy of 9 feet (about 3 meters).
By taking GPS readings at the front and back of the house and pacing out the distance between them, we found out how far inside the house we would have to step to achieve the confluence itself.
Figuring out an explantation that wouldn't seem too strange to the potential residents of such a house, we knocked on the door - decorated by a large poster of the character Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo cartoon. The door was answered by two college-age women, who were very cheerful and thought our project sounded "kinda' cool." They invited us in.
Inside, we encountered the sparsely furnished and hastily decorated rooms of the typical American college student's dwelling. The house was, for the most part, very empty by American home standards, as the school year had begun only about one month earlier and most of the university students had only recently moved into their new dwellings for the year. The front living room was almost completely empty except for a large, presumably stolen, "BUMP" roadsign and a makeshift display of about 50 empty hard-liqour bottles - evidence of the typical American college student's favorite form of amusement. In the next, much larger room, there was a simple stereo, a pair of sofas, a "papasan" chair, and a TV showing a film starring Ashton Kutchner.
Pacing out the proper distance we had computed outside (the GPS did not work indoors, of course), we discovered that the confluence, to an estimated precision of about 5 meters, lay within a part of the house which contained a small bathroom, a doorway and a bit of the kitchen in which the home's refrigerator and oven sat. Our hosts were busy cooking lunch on that oven. We took four cardinal direction photos about 2 meters from that refrigerator.
We said "thank you" to our hosts and left. I wonder if there are any other confluences that have been documented from indoor locations?