For quite a while, there’s been this thing in the back of my brain. I like looking at complicated road interchanges. The most obvious examples of which (mostly because there are photos on Wikipedia) are the Gravelly Hill Interchange in Brimingham, England and the Tom Moreland Interchange near Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s photos of those interchanges, taken from Wikipedia:
The thing I have in my head is trying to imagine such an interchange with four roads where one could drive and change direction to each of the cardinal and ordinal directions of the other roads; that is, if you are on a road travelling north, you could change directing and go northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.
Why is this interesting? I dunno, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about. But it’s a fine example of why I feel the need to do infographics and organise information. What goes on inside my brain is a big fucking mess. It’s a rubbish dump. And this specific thought, about creating an image of these interchanges demonstrates that brain junk quite well.
Last night, I was messing about with the Paper app on my iPad, drawing each of the off-ramps that would be needed to change to every direction. This is what that looks like:
When I finished drawing that, I was kinda happy, but knew that it’d make more sense if I tidied it up in Photoshop. So that’s what I did this morning. But in the process of drawing it neatly (making sure each road was straight, the same width, had a different shade to denote the height off the ground, and had a border that would aid seeing where the roads overlap or meet), I noticed that I’d been thinking about it in a way too complicated way. The solution for the cardinal and ordinal junction was ridiculously simple: a big roundabout:
Normally, when I do an infographic, it’s the topic that interests me, and I want that information to be clear so I can understand it better. But doing this interchange, it’s shown me that taking something out of my brain is cathartic; it untangles the cables behind the back of the TV. And understanding things—sometimes things that don’t actually matter—is very pleasant for my brain.