Friday, October 26, 2007

Befuddled Internal Compass

Living in L.A. means erasing 30 years of hardwiring in my brain that says "If I am moving away from the large body of water (Lake Michigan), I am heading West, and if I am going towards said body of water, I am going East." Even if you're four years shy of your Geography degree, you know that the big body of water in these parts (namely one Pacific Ocean) lies on the West coast of California. So, now when I head towards the water, I'm going West, which may seem trivial, but I find myself having to really think about it when I'm going somewhere. Lucky the sun still rises and sets the same way ;)

Furthering navigation complications is the fact that unlike Chicago (and most cities for that matter), there is no real grid system. In Chicago, if you tell someone you live at 4000 North and 2400 West, they can know exactly where you are, how long it would take them to get there, etc. However, while there might be some semblance of order at various points in the city, out near me it just gets insane.

You may be heading straight east at 2000 North and a mile later the sign lets you know that -- even though you went at a straight eastward heading -- you are somehow now at 2400 North, or as we'd say in Chicago, you are now 4 blocks north of where you began. Confused yet? Now, imagine driving that way all the time. Of course, the hills and canyons have a lot to do with the winding streets and such (which gives some streets N + S numbers some of the time and E + W numbers at other points). These unique bits of traveling in L.A. just make it difficult to know where you're going when just given a numbered street address. I've been told you just need to memorize where things (streets!) are and what their numbers are at those points. It may not seem like a big deal, but for someone who prides himself on his ability to get around, this gets a bit frustrating. Anyway, I'm glad I have my trusty compass in a bubble affixed to my dashboard. (and yes, all you technology savvy folk, I could jump into the 21st century and get a GPS device, but that would be too easy.)

Oh, and now I believe I've made it so anyone can post Comments and that you don't need to create an account and sign in? At least I tried to do that - still learning the mysterious ways of the blog...

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