General Question

wundayatta's avatar

How do you locate yourself geographically?

Asked by wundayatta (58727points) February 3rd, 2009

Are you a map person, or do you not care? Do you use car navigations systems, or do you always know where you are? When inside a building, do you always know how you are oriented, or do you point in a random direction when telling people which way to go? Do you know the subway geography? The bus geography? The bike geography? The car geography? The arial geography? The aqueous geography (do you know how to use a sextant, or even what that is)? The astrogator’s geography (if that makes sense)?

I mean, how do you relate to the geography you pass through regularly or irregularly?

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19 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

I am fitted with a lojack. j/k

I have lived in L.A. pretty much my whole life, so I almost always know where I am or how to get to where I need to be. If I am anywhere in So. Cal. I can get to a familar place just by hopping on a freeway. But if I an anywhere new I am totally helpless. Not even a map can help me. I am so happy for my iPhone’s mapquest list directions. Now that I can follow.

AstroChuck's avatar

I don’t need to. I know that I’m at the center of the universe and everything revolves around me.

Grisson's avatar

I know where I am. I know what direction is North. For new places, I pictures regions (triangles, polygons) of places I’ve been to determine where I am within that region.

When I’m in a building for the first time, occasionally I will get 90 degrees off. That will throw me when I leave the building. And it will stick with me forever for that building. The Belk Department Store building in Charlotte, NC was that way for me until it was torn down.

I was off 180 degrees with my Grandparents place in the mountains as a child, I couldn’t figure out why the sun was coming up in the west. I still get turned around when I go there.

I think this happens to me if I’m first at a place at night.
I spent three years in Athens, Georgia wondering why I had to go East to get to North Campus. That place still throws me.

I use a GPS, but I always know how to get where I’m going. I just like maps. And sometimes it’s fun to let the GPS guide me just to see if we agree.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’ll imagine myself as a vector point based on where I am and go outwards, in my mind’s eye, to above the Earth and sense the direction and location of other places from it. Of course, that works best when I know where I am already.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@AstroChuck, are you really AstroChuck Norris?

wundayatta's avatar

@AstroChuck: you never move? How big are you, anyway?

AstroChuck's avatar

No, I never move. Everything just moves around me. Don’t believe me? Just ask Mr. Einstein.

Of course, you’re going to need a shovel.

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, I do have a shovel…. and much experience using it. You would send me on a job like that!

Oh, and I am not your relative. Hmph!

Grisson's avatar

@AstroChuck gets a lot of exercise, even though he never moves. He has to move an entire universe with his feet.

wundayatta's avatar

What? Like the stack of turtles?

“AstroTurtle?” Hmmm. Definitely has a ring to it!

EmpressPixie's avatar

@tinyfaery If you have an iPhone, you are lojacked in a way. I mean, there’s that app Loopt that spies on your GPS and your friends’ GPSs to tell you where they are…

galileogirl's avatar

I am spatially challenged. Whenever I visit a new place or travel new roads my instincts always take me the wrong way. After 25 years in the same neighborhood I am finally confident about travelling in a 25 square mile area. Beyond that and I am lost. Even when I travel across town with a yahoo map, I can count on at least 2 wrong turns and add 10 min to travel time. I have worked in my current building for 17 years but without visual references from outside, I can’t point out different directions. If I were out of sight of land I would just have to lay down in the boat until rescued.

Nimis's avatar

I always orient myself to the ocean.
So I’m a bit disoriented when land-locked.

My friend was recounting this one time he got really drunk.
Divorce and lost his job in the same week.

He drank so much that he got kicked out of the bar.
Then he had this bright idea to get back in
—through the second story window.

He did manage to scale the building somehow. No fire escape!
But, of course, he was much too drunk to get very far.
The cops were there before he fumbled his way to the door.

He doesn’t remember any of this. But according to his case file,
the first thing he said after he was arrested was:
Am I facing North, East, South, or West?

Spoken like a true Eagle Scout.

Jack79's avatar

I am extremely good at that. Of course I can get lost, especially at night, but overall I will always find my way again. You could give me any address anywhere in the world and I’d find it (using a map of course). I can navigate most cities I’ve been to for a few months as well as any local taxi-driver. And I can remember the exact way to any place I’ve ever visited even once 20 years ago.

Such a waste to be born at a time when all this is useless and people have GPS in their mobiles.

ah btw none of this applies in Coventry. Due to the ring road, there are some 7 directions as opposed to the usual 4, and 3 of them are parallel. At least 5 are at right angles with each other, and the sun never rises, or when it does, it’s somewhere in the southwest. You have to go west to get north and south to get east and the centre is several miles from the centre. There are several wormholes and extra dimensions to complicate all this. I lived in the damn city 3 years and still couldn’t figure it out. I assume that, since it was built after WWII, all this was planned. People would just visit the city, get lost, give up and decide to stay. This is why it has a population of 500,000, all of whom hate it and would have liked to live elsewhere.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I do know how to use a sextant. I don’t normally worry too much about my own spatial location, though. If I head the wrong way, I can always turn around. But I can use a sextant. My company makes nautical d├ęcor and I tell people how to use our big bronze one all the time.

DrBill's avatar

Befor I left Thea, I had a compass inplanted. I always know which way north is.

Grisson's avatar

I had one of those ‘team building’ courses once. The instructor told us to close our eyes and turn around randomly and when she said ‘Stop’ to point North. That was easy, because I knew where North was, and I knew where she had been in the room, and I could tell from the noise of the other people that she hadn’t moved. I pointed North and then opened my eyes as instructed….

I was right…

The lady next to me was point straight up!
She wins.

Mtl_zack's avatar

I know the streets of my city very well, and I memorized the metro system almost completely. I always know which way is north and east, by looking at the sun, so by default, I know where south and west are. I got really screwed up in South Africa because north and south are reversed, in the sense that when you look up here in Canada and you see the sun, you’re facing south and over there when you see the sun you’re facing north.

I always remember certain situations, so let’s say I’m entering a building that I’ve never been in before, I can remember which way I was going when I arrived and if I imagine myself parallel facing in the same direction, then I just “drag” that location to where I am.

When I go hiking, I always remember landmarks and also certain situations, like I stopped to take a breath near that big rock, or I saw a beaver over there. I could navigate myself in a forest anytime, using many “tricks”, like wherever there’s bugs, there’s water or the presence of certain animals and their shit.

Just another tip yes, I know, I’m a showoff, to tell time in the wilderness, stretch your arm out all the way to that it’s blocking the sun from your eyes, with your fingers touching each other, like when you’re swimming. Count how many “hands” there are between the horizon and the sun. Each finger is around 12 minutes. There should be 24 hands from one end of the horizon to the other.

KimJSCP's avatar

Great question and one that I have given some thought to. I have a really good sense of direction. I don’t know if it is like an internal compass or if I start with a known direction and then am constantly calculating from there.

I’ve realized that when I am moving in unknown places, I am always building a little map in my head. Luckily I have fairly good spatial reasoning and the maps are pretty accurate. In this internal mapping process I reference direction, but my internal compass does not seem at all based on the mapping.

But, here is the strange thing. The most basic of all of my observations is direction. In other words I subconsciously relate everything to direction.

For example, if my husband says “Do you know where I left my iPod?” and I have seen it but can’t remember where, I will remember the direction I was facing when I saw it. Even if I didn’t consciously register seeing the iPod at the time, when I do remember seeing it, I remember what direction I was aiming.

So, my answer might be “No, but I remember seeing it and at the time I was facing North.” I then go to the South end of our house (theoretically, as our house meanders), head north and I am bound to spot it again. This really saves time when looking for something and helps with my memory, but really has no practical use in my life.

In a nutshell, every memory I have is linked to a direction. I have never found anyone else aware that they do this.

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