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  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Always believe your compass?...

    After many years of mountaineering, bicycling, and adventuring, one of the most stead-fast rules I have found is "Believe Your Compass".

    Only twice did the compass fail me:

    Once when standing under an enormous power line.
    Once inside of a car which, for some reason caused the compass to line up with the drive train.

    Besides that, no matter how wrong you think your compass is, it is usually/always right.

    EXCEPT... A couple of weeks ago I was touring around Japan and bought a Japanese made compass in order to get around. It appeared to me that the dark colored part of the needle was pointing south rather than north. I was dumbfounded. I used to live in Tokyo for several years and could not imagine that I had been so disoriented for so long.

    Come to find out, in Japan, the dark colored needle points NORTH - completely opposite most of the rest of the world. Attached is a scan of that crazy compass for your entertainment.

    That is the funny thing about Japan. They do things different just to be different sometimes. Maybe they do it to confuse the foreigners - but I bet it confuses the natives as well. For example, even though, as a rule, maps are supposed to be printed with the top being north, many of the Japanese map books digress from this rule when printing suits it better with north in a different direction (oops, did we forget to print compass north on the map?...)

    Once, my Japanese friend and I looked curiously at a Japanese sign trying to figure out what in the heck it could possibly be saying. We then realized that it was a sign from the Taisho period (just the turn of the 1900's) and was written "sdrawkcab" (backwards). For some crazy reason, the Japanese decided to write horizontally from right to left for a short period of Japanese history, until they gave it up due to all the confusion it was causing.

    In Japan, a lot of things are "different" - even compasses, so be careful if you ever plan a trip to or buy equipment in bizarro world. ...and let's hope Santa doesn't use a Japanese compass to get home this year or we might not be seeing him next year.
    Last edited by mike; 12-25-01 at 12:03 AM.
    Mike

  2. #2
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Thanx for the tip. I generally rely on maps while touring anyway. I have a certain proficency for finding my way with them. I also have a natural sense of direction which has served me well everywhere I've ever been (except for Toowoomba).
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
    My blog.
    My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.

  3. #3
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    Compass?? We don't need no stinkin' compass!!!!
    Am I the only person in the world that always knows what direction I'm facing? Maybe I inherited that from my ancestor, Daniel Boone?
    Je vais à vélo, donc je suis!

  4. #4
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by D*Alex
    Compass?? We don't need no stinkin' compass!!!!
    Am I the only person in the world that always knows what direction I'm facing? Maybe I inherited that from my ancestor, Daniel Boone?
    D*Alex, you are sure to drive your wife nuts on family trips in the car.
    Mike

  5. #5
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    A compass is useless on the difficult and often foggy Cullins Ridge walk on the Isle of Skye, because the rocks contain a high proportion of iron.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    A compass is useless on the difficult and often foggy Cullins Ridge walk on the Isle of Skye, because the rocks contain a high proportion of iron.
    Ya, I have heard of that kind of phenomenon. It is that kind of knowledge which leads one to lose confidence in the compass. However, that kind of phenomenon is very very rare. I have been in old iron mining caves and the compass still worked. Unless you know for certain that you are in some weird location like MichaelW describes, always believe your compass (unless it is a deceitful Japanese compass).

    One thing I tried was using a compass in a jetliner at 30,000 feet. It was still accurate. I wonder how far from the earth's surface there is enough magnetic pull to align a typical hand compass?
    Mike

  7. #7
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    A compass is not much use in extreme polar regions either. Every where is North !!!!
    There are some pretty cool maps of the magnetosphere. Currently a satellite is halfway between Earth and the Sun, looking at magnetic phenomena. Probably more info from NASA or NOAA.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    A compass is not much use in extreme polar regions either. Every where is North !!!!
    There are some pretty cool maps of the magnetosphere. Currently a satellite is halfway between Earth and the Sun, looking at magnetic phenomena. Probably more info from NASA or NOAA.
    "Follow the light, or follow the compass? Follow the light, or follow the compass?..."

    O.K., follow the light. "Hey, Everybody, we are following the light!"

    AAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!! :angel:
    Mike

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