[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #66                7-21-89
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1989

     Some of you already know the name of this issue's contri-
butor (Pete Manly). Although he's best recognized for his 
incredible expertise in astronomy, he's also a fine (and much 
published) writer in other fields. 
     Well, you'll find out for yourselves with this entertaining 
bit about how to NOT get lost.

     One last comment before we begin. 
     So often when we have a guest contributor I get mail from 
readers telling me how good MY piece was. 
     Keep in mind, *I* didn't write this. If you care to praise 
the writer, it's Pete Manly.

                        Giving Directions


                         Peter L. Manly

     Having taken the fool's tour of many of America's triple 
expressway interchanges and assorted back roads, I have been 
forced to ponder the ways in which we give and take directions. 
To the lost traveller, the finding of one's way can often be a 
traumatic experience. I believe that most natives in any locale 
do not actually know where they are. They merely gave up trying 
to find their destinations and settled down where they were.
     There are some regional differences in giving directions. 
What an Easterner may call a mountain, we Arizonans would call a 
small hill but then again, our rivers are the size of their 
streams and creeks. There are also regional flavors in the 
approaches to giving directions. One West Texas native told me to 
go two looks and take a left. A look, it turns out, is the 
distance to the farthest thing you can see on the horizon. You 
drive to it, get out of your car, make your second look, drive to 
that and take a left. It is surprisingly accurate.
     Californians do not know distances but they will give you 
driving times to cited places. If you get caught in a traffic jam 
along the way, however, your timing is thrown off and you have to 
go back to the start again. People in New England do not know 
route numbers. Ask a native of New Hampshire where Route 3A is 
and he will ask, "Is that the Peterborough Road or the Milford 
Road?" I subsequently visited both towns and neither lies on 
Route 3A. Residents of the South will give family directions; 
"Take a left at the old Wallingford Place". By the way, the old 
Wallingford Place burned down on New Year's eve of 1972 and was 
never rebuilt. The charred foundations are not visible from the 
road. It's my own fault that I don't know this fact - nearly 
everybody in the county witnessed it and it's common knowledge in 
the area. One Colorado native's directions from Durango to 
Silverton seemed a bit simple but I followed them, arriving 
shortly at the Durango railroad station. Seems the road through 
the pass was closed for the winter and the only way to get to 
Silverton was by rail.
     In the midwest the directions might not be accurate but the 
trip is worth it. While on vacation, I stopped at a farm house to 
ask where I was. Oh, I knew that I was somewhere in Illinois but 
beyond that fact, the exact location was rather fuzzy. The lady 
of the house directed me past her sister's farm and asked that I 
deliver a cake there since I was going that way already. I never 
did get to the motel I was looking for but I met some delightful 
people, was offered a slice of cake, attended a square dancing 
contest and spent the night for free.
     Asking directions in one of our ethnic neighborhoods can 
also be quite an adventure. When encountering some non-English 
speaking native, I carefully pronounce the name of my destination 
and look lost (an easy task). The native will jabber away for a 
minute or more. The important thing here is not to listen but to 
watch his hands. Determine the direction he gestures to most 
often, go a few blocks that way and ask somebody else. Repeat the 
process. Theoretically you can reach your goal without ever 
having to understand his language. In practice you will finally 
reach somebody who speaks your language. Unfortunately, about 
half the time you find that he, too, is lost.
     There are some universal rules for asking directions. Never 
ask a jogger how to drive some place. He will courteously direct 
you down one way streets the wrong way and across foot bridges. 
Never ask two people standing together how to get somewhere. They 
will argue between themselves about the route. Never ask my 
mother-in-law how to go anywhere. Her only reference marks on the 
local countryside are flower shops, bric-a-brac and antique 
dealers and cute little cottages. If a turn is required and there 
are none of the those landmarks available at the turn point, she 
will re-route you so that you will turn at a flower shop. Never 
ask an engineer for directions. He will tell you distances to 
three decimal places in kilometers. He will also give you two 
backup routes, an optional scenic route and references to 
restaurants, fuel stops and a technical museum along the way. One 
engineer I know who works for a large computer company (I won't 
tell you which one but its initials are IBM) will whip out his 
pocket computer and convert the kilometers to miles but he has an 
even stranger way of giving directions. Ask him where Santa Cruz 
is and he will say it is 67.5 Kilometers (41.85 miles) south 
southwest of Jan Jose. He does not tell you about the mountains 
between the two points. The actual distance is closer to a 
hundred miles by car.
     Believe only those people who tell you they don't know the 
way to your destination. Most important, if somebody ends his 
directions with the phrase, "You can't miss it" then disregard 
all of his instructions. Psychologists tell us that his 
subconscious forces him to say this as a clue that he hasn't the 
foggiest idea of where you want to go. He sounds authoritative in 
directions only to satisfy a deep seated need to overcome his 
well founded inferiority complex which is based on a truly 
profound lack of general knowledge. He is also an habitual liar 
with a malicious streak and he doesn't even know where he is now. 
Thank him politely (he may be violence prone) and ask somebody 
else. If there is nobody else available you'd probably be better 
off going in the opposite direction from what he has indicated.
     Like any seasoned traveller, I approach my car armed with 
maps. Unfortunately, the maps do not show the new expressway 
which blocks the road which I intend taking. Then there is the 
sign which says "Bridge Closed. Use Mill Avenue". Fine. Which way 
is Mill Avenue? Ultimately, we must all rely on the native's 
sometimes sketchy knowledge of local geography. It's not all bad, 
though. You do get to see much more of the countryside than you 
bargained for in the first place.


     Okay, okay. I know I promised a different issue - one on 
equality - and some of you are no doubt anxious to get at my 
throat. Sorry to disappoint you. 
     It's an important topic, and I want to be sure it's done 
just right. Equally. (That's the whole purpose.)
     Hopefully, I'll have enough time between other assignments 
(this *is* how I make my living, and the bills have to come 
first) to get it finished by next time. If not - no problem. We 
have another guest issue, from Michael Setzer, on how to convert 
hex to decimal. 

     *--* Qmodem Screen Dump  07/22/89  0:28:42 *--*

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.