austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Which way do I turn, now that I've learned to be strong

One of the silly little things I've wanted for my car is a dashboard compass. I don't have any need for them, but then neither does anyone else who doesn't drive their car into unexplored terrain, which is possible to do if you're in a Pathfinder commercial from the 1980s but not if you're in a Mercury Sable in suburban New Jersey. But I like compasses, partly because I like having a rough idea of the ordinal directions and partly because I remember watching with fascination the dashboard compass my grandparents had. There were other things nice about riding with them, even if it was a drive hours in the making to find an outlet mall or a flea market in Pennsylvania, but watching the compass was a little thing.

I'm not sure where I thought dashboard compasses came from, but my guess was the miscellaneous car trinkets aisle of a store like Target or Capital K Mart. Target didn't have them, so I got a peanut butter cup and a Diet Dr Pepper. K Mart didn't either. I might have tried an auto supply store, but the one nearest home I had already gone to for new battery leads, only to be told by my mechanics that they were the wrong size. I went back to exchange them and learned that as far as the auto parts folks could tell there was no such thing as wrong size battery leads, so I took a replacement set back, where they were not used by my mechanic. After a fiasco like that I don't dare show my face again.

Finally a couple small compasses appeared and I got one with a suction cup dome because I'm psychologically unable to make reasonably permanent alterations on things I own. It turns out my dashboard has this fine detailing which makes sure suction cups won't stick to it. It could fit quite well on the windshield, at the cost of obstructing my view of the road. It doesn't fit too bad in the cup holder tray, though. With that in place I could make all sorts of exciting discoveries about just how close to magnetic north runs the north-south highways, for example, or just how west I was driving when I was driving into the sun on the Interstate. It turned out things wouldn't be quite that simple.

Trivia: Australia and New Zealand did not accept the 1931 Statute of Westminster, granting autonomy to the British dominions, until the 1940s. Source: Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, Niall Ferguson.

Currently Reading: The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity, Andro Linklater.

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