[conspire] Moving starting Monday, May 8

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 26 12:27:34 PDT 2006

Just an afterthought:

> I _could_ direct such people up Gordon rather than Avy, and was tempted,
> but (1) Avy has a gentler slope, and (2) keeping turns at more-major
> intersections seems a little less likely to confuse people.

Writing _good_ directions turns out to be an art.

We've all seen sets of directions that were technically impeccable but 
difficult to use, or likely to mislead.  Directions ideally should be
written defensively (e.g., saying "If you see $FOO, you've gone too far",
when needed, and guide people away from likely pitfalls), should be
ultra-concise, should be simple, and should only depend on landmarks and
signs people are likely to actually see.

Making matters worse, people are... um... all over the map about what 
sort of directions work best for them.  Some people rely heavily on
odometers, others on landmarks, others on street names.  Some benefit 
from compass direction names ("north"...), others not at all.

I'm personally none of the above:  I'm a maps person, not a directions
person.  Just tell me the exact street address and nearest cross-street;
I really don't _want_ directions.

One issue I keep wrestling with:  South Bay compass directions are 
(1) often counter-intuitive, and (2) sometimes awkward.

When I was working in Sunnyvale, I saw references to going "north" on
Mathilda, and "west" on Central Expressway, which initially made me
boggle, because Mathilda runs towards the Bay, and Central runs parallel
to the San Francisco Bay shore.  

A bunch of you are probably thinking "So what?" -- but I lived in San
Mateo and San Francisco much longer than I've been in Menlo Park.
Intuitively, I assume the Bay is east; that streets running along it are
north-south.  Of course, this is _not_ true in most of the South Bay;
Mathilda _is_ a north-south road; Central _does_ go east-west.

Menlo Park, alas, occupies an awkward angle between those two regions.
As you'll see on a map, our street grid is at approximately a 60 degree
counter-clockwise tilt from the compass:  Alameda de las Pulgas (and
thus Altshul) actually runs WNW -- even though my intuition, mindful
of the Bay to the right and mountains to the left, says north. 

I attempt to finesse the issue by calling this "logical north", i.e., 
parallel to streets tending generally northwards towards San Francisco.
With luck, this won't (itself) confuse too many people, but one can't
make everyone happy.

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