While I occasionally misplace my keys (let’s not even talk about the power sticks — the remote controls), sometimes with help from the peanut gallery, it is amazing to me the number of highly educated functioning adults, including close family members, friends, and millions of others, that lose a 3,000 pound vehicle on a regular basis. Has no one learned my secret? Park outside the SAME store EVERY time you go to the mall. Park on the same side of the stadium – and hike the extra 2 miles back and forth to get to your seat so you can find your car on the way out.

Long ago, in the days before ubiquitous cell phones when phones were attached to walls and were either lime green, black or bright yellow, while hiking as a child in state parks and mountains I was always taught, pick a reference point, a high tower, mountain, a highway and you will always be able to get back, eventually. And if all else failed, find running water and follow it down stream and it will eventually cross a road, a bridge, or some form of civilization. That works for people finding people.

Finding objects is another story. The Boy Scouts, the military, outdoor sports fans, tourists and survivalists have a proven, time- tested and ancient Chinese tool kit readily available, a simple magnetic compass, or if you’re a pro, a survivalist’s compass which features small additional pins or dials to set references between objects. Align the compass to true North, move the dial to your target destination and a reference is kept of relative position. You can get back!

Almost 100 years after there were a million cars on the road, we’re still losing cars. It is not unusual to see people wandering around shopping complexes, theme parks and other locations for hours, yes, hours – dragging kids, shopping bags, coolers, and disgruntled spouses in random patterns in search formation looking for large 3,000-pound painted objects.

More than three millenniums later, that’s 3,000-plus years, innovation still occurs and patents are still being granted for simple devices and variations of pure science. To obtain a patent a device needs to pass a test: it must be non-obvious. Three thousand years and a pending patent later, two Ph.D. physicists have finally taken that simple magnetic compass and pictures (hmm, I guess we’ll use a car on this one – and maybe add a round ring to hold keys for the car – no one else in the last 100 years has thought of this) to create a handy pocket-size key chain to help find cars – a Gadget (often referred to as a tool when I’m justifying my purchases to myself and others).

Using basic technology, no cord, no batteries, no Global Positioning System (GPS), high impact plastic, a metal ring and a few pictures, these scientists have developed the C-Car car-finding keychain — it’s embarrassingly simple. You can find your car where you parked it, you can set it to your tent location when camping, you can use it for hiking and jogging, and any number of uses. From the photos you can see the simple dial, images of a car, and the arrow on the face of the key chains. To use you simply:

Holding the unit horizontally, point the arrow to your destination — say you’re at your car and you’re going to walk to the north entrance of the big mall
turn the dial until the picture of the car is aligned
put the keychain in your pocket

When returning;

Holding the unit horizontally, rotate the keychain until the picture of the car aligns
walk in the direction of the arrow

Simple. But where is the catch? There are a few minor limitations: it only works in a half of a circle radius (think of this as West to East and North, or West to East and South), you have to avoid magnetic fields, large electricity sources, and large objects, you have to remember to set the image before you leave your car. That’s why it’s on the key chain you lock the car with – and it cannot tell which level of a parking garage you’re on. These are pretty minor and obvious limitations considering you’re getting help to find your 3,000 pound vehicle.

Available now for a suggested price of $4.95 (US) at www.Mytithe.com, the keychain makes a great gift for shoppers, seniors, spouses, kids, campers, hunters, and just about anyone that has ever misplaced their brightly painted pile of metal and plastic.

Freedom! No more family complaining about you circling the mall outside the same store until a parking space frees up, no more hikes requiring a rest break and a soda to go to a baseball game at the local stadium because I always park at H3, no more questions from the security force at the theme parks that noticed us wandering the acres of asphalt like the lost tribe of Egypt.