Thursday, November 28, 2002

Taking the scenic route
For a person like me, getting lost (assuming there's no one else there to be annoyed, and assuming you don't particularly have to be anywhere) can actually be a fun activity. It's essentially a puzzle, and solving it requires intuition (which is often wrong), knowledge (which is obviously imperfect), and sometimes the ability to follow signs (which are nowhere near commonplace enough to be useful).

Today, after dropping Joon off at Stanford, I realized I needed to get gas, but figured I would be much better off doing so in Fremont instead of in Palo Alto. So after crossing the Dumbarton, I continued past 880 in search of a gas station, and wandered a bit before reaching one (which was in fact much cheaper than it would have been in Palo Alto). After leaving, I decided to head in the direction which I thought I had come from, figuring that although it wasn't the same road, I would get to the freeway soon enough. Well, as it turned out (as I later learned by playing with Yahoo! Maps), in my wanderings, one of the streets I was on had curved 90 degrees, so that the direction I thought was west and back to the freeway was actually south (actually, closer to southwest and southeast, really). So, after driving for a while, and thinking "Hey, this seems like longer than it took to get here, maybe I'm going the wrong way", I was elated to find a freeway, except for the slight detail that it was 680. So, this time the puzzle beat me, although not critically so (although I did lament my lost time limping back to 880, which I also did the long way, via 238), but it was still an interesting challenge.

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