My goodness gracious, here it is only the first week of August and I’m already thinking of blessed winter and who-knows-what that will bring.

One thing. We’re getting well into that back-to-school period; the annual ritual of shopping for new clothes and all the other things the kiddoes are needing, that is, if you’re not one of those parents that get mileage out of hand-me-downs.

So far on the trending list on the web for back to school – “trending”, another one of those buzzwords on the internet – you’ll find (taking a deep breath) backpacks, Wrangler jeans, blank CDs, Fruit of the Loom t-shirts, kids’ desks, all-in-one printers, 2-in-one laptop computers, USB flash drives, calculators and, oh yeah, things called pencils and three-ring binders.

But here’s something, you can get all that stuff this weekend tax-free in New Mexico. Sorry, earbuds didn’t cut.

If nothing else, while you’re there you can stock up on the Halloween candy they’ve already started putting on the shelves, but I don’t think the tax-free thing applies to those.

As far as I can tell this also goes for places like – dare I say – Amazon or wherever on the internet, if “the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the tax holiday.” If I were you, I’d shop locally just to make sure.

Andy Rooney once said computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do are things that don’t need to be done. I guess that can go for cell phones as well.

The big news at my son’s house was my granddaughter Anna’s 13th birthday last week and the new iPad she got. She, of course, already has a cell phone. No, I’m sorry, it’s not a cell phone, it’s a smartphone. No, I’m sorry again, it’s not a smartphone, it’s an iPhone, with a lower case i. As you know, in this modern world of ours we have i-this, i-that, and i-the other all over the place.

And if it’s not lower case “i,” it’s an upper case “X,” as in X-treme. In case you haven’t noticed, everything has to be extreme now. Looking around the store you can find X-treme sodas, X-treme music, X-treme vacations, X-treme candy bars, X-treme blazing hot Cheetos, X-treme Takis Fuego and yes, even X-treme underarm deodorant.

It’s everywhere, and sure as I’m sitting here some political candidate will start bragging, “vote for me, I’m X-treme.”

But, back to the phone.

Anna’s iPhone can do lots of things and I won’t get into that labyrinth, but it has one capability that really does come in handy, a GPS tracker. Although I’m die-hard adherent to having an actual road atlas in the car, I have to admit it’s difficult to read one when you’re in the process of driving in city traffic on unfamiliar streets in the dark.

Gone are the days when your wife suggests for the umpteenth time that you should “just pull over at the next gas station and ask someone for directions.” Instead, there’s this voice telling you how many miles you are from where you want to go, and then to make a right or left. It’s like the figurative guy at the gas station.

I remember a few winters ago a TV crew from Channel 7 got stuck in the snow while trying to get to the town of Dusty, down in southwestern Socorro County. The GPS took them, not by the smartest way – going down Highway 52 past the VLA – but the most direct route which happened to be over a mountain in the San Mateos. During a snowstorm.

Instead of going south from the VLA, or going down to T or C and coming up through Winston, they went down 107 and turned off toward Rosedale, and they got stuck near Grassy Lookout.

It took Magdalena’s then-Marshal Larry Cearley and the county sheriff, along with deputies Shorty Vaiza and Joe Tafoya well after midnight to dig them out and back down to Magdalena.

I remember Larry telling me, “No one who lives here goes up in that country in the winter. They just don’t go there. That road is treacherous even in the summertime. There’s no way to turn around. Or even pull over. If you’re meeting someone you’d have to back up a long way.”

City folks for you.

You’d think GPS gizmos have been around long enough that by this time they wouldn’t lead you wrong, but you still can’t put too much trust in one. And you don’t have to do what it tells you to do.

Just keep in mind the old Irish blessing: “…may you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, a GPS to know where you are going, and common sense to know when you have gone too far.”

Or something like that.