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Poll results: Which best describes you?

Voters
45. You may not vote on this poll
  • Male and I can point to West with my eyes closed, upside-down, drunk, in the middle of a tundra

    26 57.78%
  • Female and I can point to West with my eyes closed, upside-down, drunk, in the middle of a tundra

    6 13.33%
  • Male and I consider my directional sense merely average

    6 13.33%
  • Female and I consider my directional sense merely average

    3 6.67%
  • Male and I could probably point to north in a familiar location if I really think about it

    0 0%
  • Female and I could probably point to north in a familiar location if I really think about it

    1 2.22%
  • Male and I admit I'm directionally challenged

    0 0%
  • Female and I admit I'm directionally challenged

    3 6.67%
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Thread: Directional Sense

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Directional Sense

    An anecdotal observation:

    I take in hundreds of citizen complaints every year and I am convinced that 80% of the females that call in complaints are clueless when it comes to determining cardinal directions, whereas those number are reversed for males and about 20% are clueless when it comes to having a sense of direction. I wonder why that is - is it a matter of nature or nurture?

    e.g. "City complaint office, what's your lame beef?" "There is a property in our neighborhood that is running a house of ill repute out of their basement." "I see, and what's the address of the alleged activity?" "I have no idea, but it's right down the street from my house." "And which direction down the street is that?" (uncomfortable pause) "It's in a white ranch style home." "Yes, that describes about a quarter of the houses on the street. Where in relationship to your house is that alleged cat house. North or south?" (shorter pause) "It's to the left of us." (audible sigh) and then I often end up having to play a little game - "okay-if-I'm-standing-in-the-street-facing-the-front-of-your-house-is-it-to-your-right-or-to-your left?"

    I should start documenting these instances and see if the data confirms my impressions, but I am quite confident it would.

    So how good are you at establishing your directional bearings? Planners in general are probably in the 90th percentile (women included) when it comes to this ability/skill, but even so I'm sure some of us have gotten lost in unfamiliar surroundings from time to time.

    Can you establish your cardinal directions outside at work or home? How about indoors? How about indoors in a building you've never been in before? What if you had to make four turns down various corridors in that same building?

    You'd probably demand your money back if there wasn't a poll. So naturally one is included.
    Last edited by Maister; 20 May 2009 at 2:12 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    A good friend of mine used to ask me, how can you make such beautiful maps and not know where the heck you are going most of the time!?!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I used to always think that I was great with directions. And then when I was in combat training in the Marine Corps and had to go through a land nav course with a map and compass, I kept getting horribly lost. Once I put the compass away and found where I was on the map, I didn't have any problems again. For me the compass just seemed to distract me... give me the sun or the stars at night, and I'll get you there!

    Growing up, I used to (and still do) love to read maps and atlases. It didn't matter if it was just a AAA Trip-tik, a Rand McNally street atlas for Olympia, Washington, a pre-Cold War era globe or some random map out of National Geographic, I loved them all and I even now, when I go somewhere new, I have generally studied a local map so long and hard, that directions and getting my bearings straight are never problems for me.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Once I experience a place I can usually get where I need to go without much difficulty.

    This is one of my favorite examples:
    My wife (then fiance) had me get her and her friend from New Haven, CT to Milford, CT using the local waterfront streets between the two. Bear in mind though that this was over the phone, I was in Ann Arbor, MI and I had only spent 4 weeks the previous summer there riding my bike around.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I have a photographic memory when it comes to places but none when it comes to people (it's a huge downfall, I know.) You could plop me in the middle of Charleston SC where I went one time in 9th grade and I could navigate anywhere we visited with no problem. My wife is the exact opposite. She can have met someone 15 years ago and would remember them but has no idea how to get to a restaurant in the town she's lived in for 24 years. It is nice but annoying at the same time because we can go somewhere we've been going for 5 years but she can't tell someone directions on how to get there.

    Oh well, opposites attract :o)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    You could plop me in the middle of Charleston SC where I went one time in 9th grade and I could navigate anywhere we visited with no problem.
    I can take it a step further. I can study a map of a city a couple of times before visiting then navigate my way around the city by memory, never getting lost. Faces and names, now that's another story.

    If I ever get a GPS unit, please shoot me.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    e.g. "City complaint office, what's your lame beef?" "There is a property in our neighborhood that is running a house of ill repute out of their basement." "I see, and what's the address of the alleged activity?" "I have no idea, but it's right down the street from my house." "And which direction down the street is that?" (uncomfortable pause) "It's in a white ranch style home." "Yes, that describes about a quarter of the houses on the street. Where in relationship to your house is that alleged cat house. North or south?" (shorter pause) "It's to the left of us." (audible sigh) and then I often end up having to play a little game - "okay-if-I'm-standing-in-the-street-facing-the-front-of-your-house-is-it-to-your-right-or-to-your left?"
    I thought I shut that down before I left… anyway it is the house south of the petting zoo and north of the chop shop.

    I would say that I am reasonably good, but better if the sun is out as I always know what time it is.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Maister, I think that you might be missing the whole thing. Idiots gripe more. It is just a matter of fact...(No offense to the idiots)
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I'm an Army brat - I guess moving around a lot and having to rapidly orient myself to a new surrounding helped in my almost-foolproof good sense of direction. When I get lost, I really get lost. And I'm happy to say I'm a woman with a good sense of direction and a GPS in my head.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    I can take it a step further. I can study a map of a city a couple of times before visiting then navigate my way around the city by memory, never getting lost. Faces and names, now that's another story.

    If I ever get a GPS unit, please shoot me.
    I'm the same way with Yahoo! maps. I don't understand the appeal of GPS units either - why not just look on a map instead of playing with a gadget which is probably more likely to make you crash.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Living here, it is easy. Mountains are West.

    However, in other towns I have an internal "hunch" as the direction at which I am facing. Except for Phoenix... where the damn mountains are all around.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    I actually can get quite anxious when my sense of direction fails me because it is so reliable. Indeed, in Chicago a couple years ago someone stopped and asked me for directions and I was able to get them to their destination with pretty clear instructions -- and I'm not from Chicago.

    I'm with others: GPS is for lemmings.
    Je suis Charlie

  13. #13
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    "I'm so nice I gave that man directions and I didn't even know the way".
    -Homer Simpson

  14. #14
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Living here, it is easy. Mountains are West.

    However, in other towns I have an internal "hunch" as the direction at which I am facing. Except for Phoenix... where the damn mountains are all around.
    Off-topic:
    Not a directional sense issue per se. But I will never forget the time I just got stationed in 29 Palms, CA and a friend from Iowa and I who had never before travelled west of Des Moines (well, except for boot camp) thought it would be a cool idea one day if we 'walked across that stretch of desert area to those mountains over there' - not sure how far they are, but guess maybe five or six miles........we walked....and we walked....and walked....and maybe three hours of trudging through the desert passed before my buddy finally said "Does it look to you like those mountains are getting any closer?". I guess the scale of just how big mountains really are was an alien concept to both of us at the time."
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  15. #15
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I can visit a place once and know how to get back to said location. I can even remember exit numbers for many locations (i.e. Exit 13 on I-35 in Minnesota is the exit for I-90).

    I am pretty good with cardinal directions in the midwest where everything is on a grid system. My sense of where west is when I am back at my parents in SC is a bit fuzzy, sense most things are laid out in a more organic fashion.

    The g/f is terrible with directions, even if we have been to a place several times. She has a wonderful memory when it comes to names, I am terrible when it comes to names.

    I wonder if the male/female divide has to do with instinct. Eg. males were typically the hunters and gathers throughout history. They had to have some sense of direction to make sure they could get back home. Women were more of the social being, hence the ability to remember names.

  16. #16
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    I wonder if the male/female divide has to do with instinct. Eg. males were typically the hunters and gathers throughout history. They had to have some sense of direction to make sure they could get back home. Women were more of the social being, hence the ability to remember names.
    There may be merit to this argument. Humans have been hunter-gatherers for 99.9% of our history and that seems the sort of adaptations one might expect. Males tend to perform better on visual-spatial tests than females and it seems like visual-spatial perception is pretty important in the business of direction finding.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  17. #17
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I don't even know my left from my right.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I not only do not know my left from my right (except I cheat and check for scars), but I seem to have decided that east is towards the ocean since I grew up in Georgia. I had a very hard time adjusting to living on the west coast where the ocean was on the wrong side of the land. Having spent 10 years there and finally adjusted, then returned to my hometown....I'm completely befuddled now.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Before I started working with maps on a regular basis,in my thoughts, I always had to go back to my home town where I first learned direction and then go from there.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    My other half and I should be held up as the couple that breaks the stereotypes as he is the engineer who would get lost in our own home but I am the woman who happily TRIES to get herself lost to find my way out again. I love land nav (over or under the water) got my first sextant when I was 12 etc.

    I fear I don't get to practice my skills outside of keeping the other half from driving us off a cliff with his damn GPS. I despise that damn box with a passion and insist he not put one in my car or turn the thing on when I am around.

    The only time I get truly turned around is in subways and when I first pop out of them, takes me a few moments to reset as it were then I am off and going.

    It's not called getting lost it's called finding a new way
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    At least I remember starboard and port.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I'm pretty good if I have the chance to look at a map first. Many years ago, my sister and I visited San Francisco. She and her friend wanted to go to one place, and I wanted to go to another, so we agreed to split up and meet at the Ghiradelli factory in a few hours. I didn't want to look like a tourist, so I checked a city map just once and had no problem getting around.

    On the other hand, I did manage to get lost the first time I went to a local nature preserve... in part because the map I had showed a cut-through route that didn't exist!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I don't even know my left from my right.
    I haven't decided if I am left or right handed yet (Its a commitment I am afraid of).

    But I always know my directions. If I could just get Boston to rename the streets that are called east and west to reflect the reality that they run north south....

  24. #24
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    What I want to know is what the hell all these guys are doing hanging around the tundra, drunk, hung upside down with their eyes shut! How did that happen?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    What I want to know is what the hell all these guys are doing hanging around the tundra, drunk, hung upside down with their eyes shut! How did that happen?
    I notice they are all pointing west
    Je suis Charlie

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