Sono Perduta

I’m lost

Yesterday an Italian girl got on the bus and asked if it was going to Trastevere, and I said ‘Yes’ – because I knew the answer. Later she told me she’s from Rome. And I wondered how it was that she was from Rome, and didn’t know which direction Trastevere was … and she said that she’s always lost in the center of the city. She said that she has lived in Rome for 23 years, and she is still always lost in the center of the city. I felt so much better about myself after she said that.

Rome is such a mess, and you really can’t navigate by landmark (everything looks the same! Yesterday I was driving the car home from work by myself, following both the GPS and the bus route that I ride home on … and I *still* went the wrong way –  I knew I had to turn left, but I didn’t know if i wanted the left at 120 degrees, or the one at 75 degrees. I chose poorly). So I’ve decided that the only way to navigate in Rome is by cardinal directions. If you know you basically need to go northwest – all you need to do is weave your way northish and westish, taking whichever turns cause you to make forward progress. All well and good, as long as you have an innate sense of direction. Which I do not. I’m thinking I should maybe buy myself a good old fashioned compass. Maybe one that I can put on my keychain or something.

I stumbled across this blog entry tonight about the difference between those of you with that elusive sense of direction … and the rest of us. The author describes a conversation with her husband that felt very familiar. I laughed out loud.

Aiming Low – Which One Are You?

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4 Comments

Filed under Rome

4 responses to “Sono Perduta

  1. dave, dad

    I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.
    — Daniel Boone

  2. dave, dad

    you need to order the following book:

    The Compass In Your Nose: And Other Astonishing Facts About Humans
    by Marc McCutcheon

    Do humans have a compass in their nose?

    Asked by Lee Staniforth of Manchester, UK

    Some years ago scientists at CALTECH (California Institute of Technology in Pasadena) discovered that humans possess a tiny, shiny crystal of magnetite in the ethmoid bone, located between your eyes, just behind the nose.

    Magnetite is a magnetic mineral also possessed by homing pigeons, migratory salmon, dolphins, honeybees, and bats. Indeed, some bacteria even contain strands of magnetite that function, according to Dr Charles Walcott of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, “as tiny compass needles, allowing them [the bacteria] to orient themselves in the earth’s magnetic field and swim down to their happy home in the mud”.

    It seems that magnetite helps direction finding in animals and helps migratory species migrate successfully by allowing them to draw upon the earth’s magnetic fields. But scientists are not sure how they do this.

    In any case, when it comes to humans, according to some experts, magnetite makes the ethmoid bone sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field and helps your sense of direction.

    Some, such as Dr Dennis J Walmsley and W Epps from the Department of Human Geography of the Australian National University in Canberra writing in Perceptual and Motor Skills as far back as in 1987, have even suggested that this “compass” was helpful in human evolution as it made migration and hunting easier.

    Following this fascinating factoid, science journalist Marc McCutcheon entitled a book The Compass in Your Nose and Other Astonishing Facts.

    Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

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