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The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: The Pollantir:
do you know where you are?
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Poll: do you know where you are?
I almost always know where I am and which way is north/south/east/west
If I have a reference point I'm good
I get lost easily but usually find my way
I'm hopeless and rely on others to get me where I'm going
View Results (39 votes)


Nov 10 2016, 4:03pm

Post #1 of 29 (1046 views)
do you know where you are? Can't Post

I have a very strong sense of direction. I pretty much always know which direction is which. More than that, I have this kind of inner sense of where I am on the map, which I see/feel as a terrain map rolling away from me in all directions. The better I know a place, the more filled in the map is. When I go to a new place I have to look at a map to orient myself, but still, I have almost never felt "lost."

One of my friends says "where you have a bump of direction, I have an indent." She completely lacks any sense of orientation. We went to the Southwest together and she never knew where we were, but was okay with it because she trusted me to know. When we go hiking we can never let her take the lead because she will wander off the obvious main trail onto the slightest animal track even if it is going downhill when we are going UP to a high lake.

How about you?

Side note: I once took part in a workshop about personality types at work (which turned out to be really useful). One question they asked was "what do you do when you get lost?" Pretty much everyone answered in one of three ways:
1. I'm never lost. I have my maps and my GPS with me always.
2. I retrace my steps until I know where I am and start again.
3. Being lost is an adventure! I love it!

how would you answer?

(This post was edited by Annael on Nov 10 2016, 4:04pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 10 2016, 4:49pm

Post #2 of 29 (956 views)
You should make a poll of that: [In reply to] Can't Post

"What do you do when you get lost?"

With an "Other", of course!

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 10 2016, 7:27pm

Post #3 of 29 (937 views)
I think I always know where I am [In reply to] Can't Post

but if I'm in a completely new place, how would know that what I think is north isn't the actual north?

It's easy in my home region as we have a mountain in the centre and I orientate myself by it, even if I can't see it from where I am.

As to your question, whenever I get lost (I'm looking at you, higgledy-piggledy central North Island roads) I stop and reorientate myself against the nearest road and figure out how to get to where I need to be.


Nov 10 2016, 7:34pm

Post #4 of 29 (933 views)
i'm with you [In reply to] Can't Post

in fact i often look forward to the day i can find a forest big enough that i could hope to get lost in!

The only time I've ever not really known where I was was when we had the TORnmoot in NYC for the FOTR orchestral showing at Radio City. Something about all the skyscrapers blocking out all direction. but once i looked at a map, i didn't get turned around again.

as to your potential future poll question:
i'd (per usual) say: "it depends"

i'm usually never lost, because of already mentioned innate sense of direction, and if i had a map; i would rarely ever be so.
if i did get lost, the current situation would matter if i responded with 2 or 3. if i'm in a hurry or have a need to BE somewhere, i'd go with 2. but usually i'd be in the 3 condition.

the tl;dr answer: if i had to pick one that wasn't #1, then it'd be #3


Nov 10 2016, 9:24pm

Post #5 of 29 (920 views)
Unfortunately, [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a really good sense of direction. I wish I could get lost - properly lost - sometimes, but in this day and age it's very hard to lose oneself.

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 10 2016, 9:47pm

Post #6 of 29 (920 views)
In a macro sense, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a good sense of direction and almost always know N,S,E,W. However, I can get thrown off by not being familiar with smaller areas (assuming I don't have the GPS with me, of course).

Once, after sightseeing in Philadelphia, I could see the raised highway I wanted to get to, but had no idea which street to take to get to an on-ramp. As I kept getting further into a pretty rough part of town, I felt pretty darned lost at the time even though I knew exactly where I was and in which direction I was going. To make matters worse, I was in an older, borrowed car and the horn went off and got stuck for about 15-20 seconds - which seemed like about three lifetimes! Finally, a nice man took pity on me, walked up to the car and let me know how to get out of there and get to the highway.

Now, even though I know where I am in a macro sense, and have no problem with open areas, mountains, small towns, etc., I rely on GPS to navigate unfamiliar streets in bigger cities.

Grey Havens

Nov 11 2016, 12:45am

Post #7 of 29 (902 views)
Up a creek without a paddle? [In reply to] Can't Post

In the Land of Denial?

Adrift on a Sea of Uncertainty?

Maps.... real maps.... are my friend.

Tol Eressea

Nov 11 2016, 4:38am

Post #8 of 29 (891 views)
How to impress a crusty ol' police disaster team commander: [In reply to] Can't Post

As the much younger and new-to-town Red Cross disaster rep in the community, I was driving around the spaghetti of hill country roads in New Jersey with our local police constable, getting familiar with the area and each other. As we turned yet another corner and headed down a slope, he suddenly said,"Quick! Which direction are we headed?"
"South", I shot back.
The look of surprise on his face was priceless.
"I do that to all my new officers, and most of 'em get it wrong the first time. How'd you do that?!"
"Don't know. I just do."
My reputation was made. We got along great ever after. Smile


Nov 11 2016, 5:16am

Post #9 of 29 (885 views)
Wherever you go... [In reply to] Can't Post

...there you are.


Nov 11 2016, 2:27pm

Post #10 of 29 (870 views)
I'm not bad at finding my way..... [In reply to] Can't Post

If I go somewhere completely new I'll look up maps beforehand and work out a route, and once I have a rough picture of the map and where I'm going in my head, with some place names and things to look out for, I can usually manage to find where I'm going. I like maps. Haven't managed to find my way round a mobile phone yet, though... Blush


Nov 11 2016, 5:20pm

Post #11 of 29 (865 views)
Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Once when I went to Europe my friends were amazed at how even dropped in the middle of a strange foreign city I could wander around for hours and still find my way back to the bus or hostel.

Same while driving, though sometimes I find myself with no idea how to find a road that goes in the direction I want to go. Texas is BIG.

Aunt Dora Baggins

Nov 14 2016, 3:27am

Post #12 of 29 (821 views)
As long as I can see the local mountains I'm good. [In reply to] Can't Post

They're west of here, and run almost perfectly north and south.

I get disoriented at night when I can't see them, unless I can see the stars. I'm pretty familiar with the constellations. Or of course if I can see the moon that's helpful.

My husband has a good sense of direction, which means he's terrible at *giving* directions. Whenever he tells me "You can't miss it" I know I'm going to get lost.

Aunt Dora Baggins

Nov 14 2016, 3:28am

Post #13 of 29 (818 views)
Uncle Baggins says that all the time :-) // [In reply to] Can't Post


Ethel Duath

Nov 14 2016, 4:22am

Post #14 of 29 (815 views)
My brother wrote this during a visit and put it on my fridge: [In reply to] Can't Post

"I feel more like I did when I first got here than I do now."

Probably why I voted "other." Runs in the family.Laugh


Nov 14 2016, 4:50am

Post #15 of 29 (814 views)
No idea [In reply to] Can't Post

But I do know where I'm going to. Cool


Nov 16 2016, 8:33pm

Post #16 of 29 (773 views)
As long as I'm not in the Southern Hemisphere! [In reply to] Can't Post

A big part of being oriented is knowing where the sun is. If all your life the sun has been in the southern part of the sky moving from left to right, and you suddenly find yourself in a place where the sun is in the northern part of the sky moving right to left, all bets are off. I'm sure our Southern Hemisphere sibs have the same problem coming north!

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 16 2016, 8:47pm

Post #17 of 29 (773 views)
I've just realised [In reply to] Can't Post

that every time I've been in the northern hemisphere, I've been turned around without thinking about it - I had automatically spotted the sun and orientated myself north without realising it was south!

Yes, I know the sun seemingly travels in the opposite direction when facing the equator from each hemisphere. I just didn't factor that in while subconsciously finding north. CrazyLaugh

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 16 2016, 9:13pm

Post #18 of 29 (763 views)
Absolutely! [In reply to] Can't Post

I find it literally disorienting to be in the unfamiliar hemisphere.


Nov 16 2016, 9:53pm

Post #19 of 29 (764 views)
I've never been south of the equator [In reply to] Can't Post

but yes, I imagine I'd be completely disoriented. It's bad enough when I'm on the east coast here and the OCEAN IS ON THE WRONG SIDE. The ocean should be to the left when you face north!

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 17 2016, 12:33am

Post #20 of 29 (754 views)
The advantage of living in narrow lands [In reply to] Can't Post

is that the sea is never far in either direction. :) But even so, my default setting is that the ocean is to the east, as that's where it was all through my childhood.

We border the same ocean, just on opposite edges!


Nov 17 2016, 5:16am

Post #21 of 29 (748 views)
You are so right. [In reply to] Can't Post

I grew up on the East coast of the US, and moved to California in my 20's. It took years before I got over expecting the ocean to be in the other direction, even though I knew perfectly well...

Tol Eressea

Nov 18 2016, 6:25pm

Post #22 of 29 (697 views)
this is hilarious [In reply to] Can't Post

Because the song I've been obsessing over is "We Know the Way" by Polynesian group Te Vaka, for the Disney film Moana. The core of the film is wayfinding, sailing and navigating by the old techniques.

I just read a book called Hawaiki Rising, about the early years of Hokule'a, a wa''a (waka, vaka) kaulua, or double hulled sailing canoe. The Hawaiians who built her had to find a guy on a flyspeck island in Micronesia called Satawal to teach them the old ways of navigating. Mau Piailug has become legendary as the "Yoda of the Seas" as he was the last of his kind, and taught many people over the years (including some Maori navigators), saving from extinction the techniques of reading star compasses, wind swells, colors in the sky, the flights of birds, and other natural signs that allowed the Polynesians to travel across the vast Pacific for millennia.

I am in awe.

A friend called me "topographically impaired".

I travel with a bag of maps, slates to write directions on, a GPS (at which I converse like a mariner), and I google earth stuff first so I have an aerial view of where I'm going.

I still get lost. Even if I've been there a gazillion times before. I swear it is a slight dyslexic tendency in the brain wiring.

If I'm out in nature, I have less trouble. It is the human constructs of highways where everyone drives way too fast and the lanes are not marked until IT IS TOO FRIGGIN LATE TO GET IN THE OTHER LANE, and it all looks like concrete spaghetti to me.

On trails I am usually OK. A compass is still good, but it's fairly easy to use the sun, hills, and other nature signs.

Or let the dogs lead you back to the parking lot. Or horses. I've let my horse and dogs make that decision a few times.

I did learn to use a compass in scuba class. We learned to navigate underwater by walking around in a field with a towel over our heads staring at a compass. You walk x number of steps in a certain compass course, change direction, x number of steps, turn, x number of steps... you have just done a triangle and are back where you started. You do it underwater by setting a course, swimming x number of fin strokes, turn, x, turn, x and you're back at the beginning. You also have to maintain the same depth by looking at your dive gauge.

I do not leave shore in my kayak without a compass. This was driven home by two incidents;

One was a dive trip where we put putted offshore about thirty miles in a little floatin boat to jump off of to look at the sunken boat in about 80 feet of water. It was one of those days where the Polynesian navigators would have been navigating by the feel of wind and swell, because the entire world was a circle of silver sea and silver sky with no sun visible. In the middle of the day, a little boat puttputted up out of the silver and shouted over to us..."WHICH WAY'S LAAAAND????"

Ah... ack... they had come out of Ocean City that morning, following the coast... then it had fogged up. They could no longer see which way to go. They apparently had no compass or radio.

Now in The Finest Hours, Chris Pine's true life character loses his compass right at the beginning of the story, in a gale, at night. He navigates by the feel of the wind and swells and his local knowledge of the ocean. He finds the big boat in trouble, and rescues it, and finds his way back in the dark to port.

My second "always have a compass!!!!" was paddling about a mile across the Susquehanna River on a nice summer day, only to hear "rrrrrrrrrummmmmmmmbbbbblllllllllleeeee" when I hit the shallows on the other side. I raced Thor back across the river, hauled the boat up, tied it down and dived into my van just in time to see all hell break loose. I had left my compass in my gear box. If I had been a tad slower, or Thor had been faster, I would have been in the midst of a gale with no visibility and no idea if I was going toward shore or downriver. And there was a dam down there somewhere.

So yeah. the compass is your friend. Unless you're a traditional Polynesian wayfinder.


Tol Eressea

Nov 18 2016, 6:26pm

Post #23 of 29 (694 views)
wayway wait... [In reply to] Can't Post

do compasses work in the southern hemisphere...

Tol Eressea

Nov 18 2016, 6:42pm

Post #24 of 29 (694 views)
eh [In reply to] Can't Post

I've paddled around Assateague and Chincoteague islands, barrier islands off the coats of Maryland and Virginia.

The sea is always east. Bays, and marsh, west.

In the Chesapeake Bay, you have land all around, so you pay attention to the sky... and your compass. Cause everything looks alike. Navigating around a small island like Eastern Neck is easy: land to the right going out, land to the left coming back. Crossing a big river like the Sassafras I tend to use landmarks, current and waves, light in the sky (all of which changes, so you have to know when the tide is turning and the arc of the sun).

A compass rose makes sense. I can't think in terms of left and right. Just enough dyslexia that that makes me nutz. Friends driving with me used to shout "sword side!, shield side!" to make turns. We had done a lot of living history. A turn was connected to a physical movement and that made sense.

When I was doing shotokan karate, I knew left and right better in Japanese than in English; commands were in Japanese, and always associated with a physical move.

I can also do "rein hand" (left hand) and cannot ride or drive with my right hand at all. (just.....too.....weird....).

I can also mostly do starboard and port, again, you are physically on a boat.

Now on a Viking Longship (longshipco.com) the steerboard is on the starboard side, so you only have to glance at where the steerboard and its attendant tiller are. The fun thing about this is, when someone is shouting to so something on the starboard side, you are facing backwards because you are rowing, so starboard is on the ....uh..... eh.... left. (looks frantically for steerboard).

On the 1768 reproduction schooner Sultana, you have a big butt kicking seven foot tiller attached to lines and pulleys. When the ship needs to go left the rudder goes left, the tiller goes right, you pull on the lines to the right, or is it the left, it depends, cause it all runs through pulleys...

Ships with wheels (drove one of those once too) are weirder, you're standing beside the wheel and looking down a hundred foot deck at a big black unicorn horn that is always going in the wrong direction... spin left, no right, no wait...

Horses are much easier. I can steer them by rein and leg without thinking. Kayaks are kind of like sea-going horses.

Sled dogs are... kind of point 'em down the trail and keep an eye on the brakes. Gee and haw tell them to go left and right respectively... and uh... ooops... I have mittens with gee and haw printed on them...

Tol Eressea

Nov 18 2016, 6:56pm

Post #25 of 29 (687 views)
well [In reply to] Can't Post

I found an answer to the compass/hemisphere question...


apparently they make special compasses for the southern hemisphere...

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