At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006



A while back I vented about advertisements I had received, which told of a wonderful magic compass that would change my life.

And indeed, the way the compass was advertised seemed too good to be true.

See here for a representative advert:

What the ads say is that it seems miraculous, defies nature, and is incredible.
Quote: "this non-electric device spins and stops in the direction of Jerusalem from any place you are in the world."

[And you'll be able to flabbergast and impress friends and relatives - which is quite a tempting proposition. ]

Well, there were several subsequent comments by readers of my blog, and I also looked at what other's had said about it (the compass) pro and con. It became clear that what was missing from the discourse was an actual explanation of how this sainted thing works. A description of the guts of the device, if you will.


So I bought one. And am looking at it right now.

The ad exaggerated. But the beast is valid.

What put-near everybody left out (though I think I saw it actually described on Steg's blog , or on the blog of someone who left a comment there or here) was that the darn thing needs to be recalibrated.


It works by means of a regular compass inside the base and a second (adjustable) arrow on the same axle between the base and the glass. The second arrow has to be adjusted according to your location.

There are numbers surrounding the perimeter of the face-plate above which the second arrow is positioned, like the degrees of a circle. On the inside of the cover, cities with a major Jewish population are given a number, corresponding to the degree marking.

Having aligned the "black colored flower petal" "directly with, and opposite the number "0" on the compass face", one locks it in place. Now refer to either the inside of the cover, or to a log book (MPR system™ log book) which will display the number of your city zone in alphabetic order, and rotate the compass glass clockwise until the Kosher Compass™ needle is directly opposite the correct number. You will hear a clicking sound while doing this. And note that each line on the compass face equals five degrees.

Okay, I understand how it works. The compass actually always points north, but the position of the visible arrow is adjustable, and can be made to point in the direction of Jerusalem.
And then you lock it into place on the axle, so that whenever the magnetized arrow in the base points north, your arrow points at Bint Al Jebusi.

If I don't go too far outside of San Francisco, the visible needle will stay pointing in the direction of Jerusalem. If I visit Amsterdam, I shall have to adjust it.

It is not miraculous.
[Unless geography and magnetism are a mystery to you.]
It doesn't defy nature.
[It actually does quite the opposite.]
It isn't incredible.
[Unless you don't go out much, and are easily entertained.]

All in all, it works in a very logical fashion, and relies on the user for its accuracy.


I can actually see a use for this item, and it seems well-made. And because it still points north (remember the black colored flower petal mentioned earlier?), and because it is a handsome product, I'm keeping it.

You'll have to decide for yourself whether you need one, though. Unless you're hopeless when it comes to directions, and live in the middle of Los Angeles and cannot see any landmarks because of the haze, you might just be better off occassionally consulting a regular compass, and figguring out which way to Yerushalayim by yourself.

It has the added advantage that you can also show your Muslim friends which way to turn. From this distance its the same direction to Mecca. Hotdog.

--- --- --- --- ---


Minor kvetch: San Francisco is NOT marked on the inside cover, despite there being nearly half a million Jews in the greater Bay area. But Antwerp is, with only thirty thousand. Antwerp is more important than we are? Hmmph!

Amsterdam, known for so long in the yiddishe olam as mokum alef or mokum gedol isn't marked either. But Antwerp? Antwerp!?!!? I ask you!

Amsterdam was the Jerusalem of the north. Antwerp, while undoubtedly a fine city in its own right, is not nearly as important. Trust me on this. Antwerp!!!! I mean really!


  • At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also bought one, and I also agree that it is attractive and well-made. It really is a nice gift.
    I personally never really believed that it "defied the laws of nature", but, it truly does appear to "defy the laws of nature"
    In every sense, it looks like a high quality decorative brass compass, that is pointing in the direction of Jeruslaem.
    Since I live in the U.S. I don't really need to do any adjustments.
    I too am keeping mine.

  • At 4:51 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said…

    Wow, that's pretty cool.

  • At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would buy it. Great gift.

  • At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The numbers given for different locations ar based on rhumb line directions. What about great circle directions?
    Also no correction is added for magnetic deviation. So does the pointer needle really point to yerushelayim when set as instructed? The answer is most likely not!!!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older