Compass? Which Way! – vvp28

Welcome back to Valerie’s Variety Podcast and our TmT segment for this week, we’re checking out the calgary street names…or numbers and our internal compass’ or lack their of.

If you’re new to Calgary or have been here for many years our number and named street system can be an like herding cats trying to figure this out. Hopefully you aren’t too bewildered by the numbered street system. Up until the year 1904, Calgary actually used a street naming system instead of numbers. Even today there are some who hope Calgary will revert to the old street naming system, and are even pressing for political action to make it happen. Today, there are some Calgary communities who use both systems. Crowchild Trail, or Highway 1A, Richmond Road or 37 Avenue SW, Glenmore Trail or High 8, 24 Street SE or Ogden Road – to name a few. Which do you prefer and Why? I think naming after significant people or to reflect on past transgressions of a government Reconciliation Bridge for example, speaks to great Truths our city is willing to promote to get recognition – which holds more strength and compassion then 9th street SE. Where do you live and what’s easier for you to navigate through the city? Landmarks, street names or numbers?

When I first moved to Calgary, having no sense of direction it didn’t help me if it was Glenmore Trail or 50 Avenue – since I have no internal compass this wasn’t what I needed – it was useless, I get lost in parking lots, get turnaround inside malls. I need to focus on landmarks, memorize and take pictures of parking stalls, get my bearings by this red door, or stairwell or specific store – not North. I literally think the path ahead is always north or up no matter what direction I’m facing. Crazy right?

Because this is such an issue for me and moving to Calgary when I was just 20 has been a long road lol to say the least. I recently went to a family reunion and my cousin and I were running errands, I was driving, we were sharing directions – she said to turn left, the sign said EAST and I said EAST? to her – she’s like I don’t know EAST just turn left here… and she too has this obstacle, and thanks to google for helping us out getting EAST, left turn where we needed it.

In my profession I have the requirement to be on job sites, I must know North…I typically will memorize a map of the area and orient myself to always know north and really map out my area, spatial surroundings so I know exactly what people are referring to. ‘North west wall, in the south corridor’ this would just make me cringe inside. I didn’t know this instinctively,  but I could review my map and know the top meant north, then be sure of where they were referring to. Overtime, I memorize and store this information to make my personal life and work life easier, but it doesn’t come naturally like a lot of people I know.

Within the last couple of weeks this has truly tested and frustrated me, picture this, I have a compass app on my phone, I have my iPad for documentation, I have the compass in the truck, as I move through the city to all of the these MAX BRT bus stops I need to document, westbound/eastbound/northbound and /southbound directions for the platforms, so I have all of these compass’ tools and help and I’m still like, well this is sort of north-west ish. Good god it’s so frustrating even with the tools I have, I still second guess exactly. Point me straight north or straight west or put me on a road that is exactly this and I’m good, any variance I’m totally mixed up. I’m not the only one, I realize but it effects me on a grand scale as it’s takes me more time to figure this out…

A funny story, while on a large job site, I was meet another sub-trade, in the north east end of the Airport’s international area – this i had memorized long before this meeting as I’d been on this job site for months by this point, once I walked closer to him, he was on the phone speaking to a delivery driver…he said “you need to go north” the driver asked which way is that? – the sub said I don’t know how to explain this, point your ass north and drive…I just laughed, thank god that wasn’t me on the phone but feeling sorry for the guy trying to figure out which way to point his ass…was very funny.

Did you know our brains map this by Magnetoreception meaning that the brain can map by magnetic force a certain path and distance to home or north for example. Whales, birds and even dogs poop according to a magnetic poles. Some insects have a rotating signal that can be used as a homing compass. The entorhinal region fires with neuron signals continuously when you ‘know’ instinctively you are on the right path.  Entorhinal cortex calculates these reactions, determining the best direction, quickly. If you get lost, it means your brain cannot keep up to the twists and turns and fails to adjust accordingly.

One way to successfully navigate from any point is to simply remember and store this solidly within your brain. So when you are in another area and want to get back to this area..this previous storing will come to be valuable. Some people can remember these reference points better than others. This makes them quick navigators.

What’s your sense of direction like, does my situation sound like yours? I hope my daughter gets my husbands jeans and just knows her way and doesn’t struggle with which way.

Thank you to these articles: Global News, Daily Mail, BBC, IFL Science, and Science Daily that enlightened me in finding my way to writing this post.

Calgary’s Reconciliation Bridge renamed: “We can’t change the past but we are not prisoners of it”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4530490/Brain-s-internal-compass-revealed-flies.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-30530674

https://www.iflscience.com/brain/found-missing-part-brain-s-internal-compass/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830084004.htm

The intro and outro for this episode is recorded by London Moss, the music I chose for this finding your way podcast are reflective of the content within

  • Darcy – Lost at Sea
  • Cats Meow 05 03 and 02
  • Lost Bits Beat 01
  • Northern Lite Synth
  • Northern Star Bass
  • Far East Drums 02
  • Whale Cry
  • North Star Bass
  • Bird Song Erhu FX 01
  • Dogs Barking
  • Dez – South Side
  • Southbound Beat 02

Thanks for listening.

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