Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Joyeux Anniversaire, a la recherche du temps perdu.


Today is my birthday.  At least I think it is.  That is, I think today is today.  It all depends.

Yesterday morning I received a heartfelt "Happy Birthday!" on Facebook from a friend in New Zealand.  I thought she had the day wrong, but sure enough, it was already January 6 in Auckland.  I double-checked here, of course, because I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the International Date Line shenanigans.  Likewise, this morning I received a "belated happy birthday" wish from a friend in Tokyo.   But... but... it's still my birthday where I am.  So is it really my birthday? 

See what I mean?

Straddling just the simple 6-hour time difference between the U.S. East Coast and Paris is challenge enough for for some folks.  It can cause Parisian phones to ring in the wee hours with calls from otherwise considerate American friends who counted backwards instead of forwards. Or did they count forwards instead of backwards?  Never mind.  But that is why I installed the nifty clock on my blog that tells the current time in Paris. And for an added twist, there is the fact that the US and France spring forward and fall back at different times, so that for a few weeks each year there is only a 5-hour time spread.  Love that Daylight Saving; keeps me on my toes.

But it's nothing compared with mentally crossing the International Date Line.   I once asked an Australian reader of this blog what the time difference was between Sydney and Paris.  His response:  "I think it's, like, 27 hours."  Whoaaaaa.  Take that plan into orbit.  But he is not alone.  Take this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the International Date Line.
The International Date Line can cause confusion among airline travelers. The most troublesome situation usually occurs with short journeys from west to east. To travel from Tonga to Samoa by air, for example, takes approximately two hours but involves crossing the International Date Line, causing passengers to arrive the day before they left.
Whenever I try to keep the east-to-west, west-to-east notion straight, in my mind's eye I picture the globe slowly spinning at the opening of "As the World Turns." 

I'm not sure this is a help.  The show just got cancelled.

image via wikipedia

14 comments:

GoingLikeSixty.com said...

Happy Birthday! And many, many more.

JP said...

Happy Birthday ... I have been a lurker of yours for years and decided today to show myself to you and let you know how much I have enjoyed your writings over the years.

JPTnDC

Alison said...

Happy Birthday, Polly!

And I have to say, I have trouble wrapping my brain around the International Date Line. The time difference between here and France is a piece of cake, compared to that!

Amanda said...

Happy Birthday Polly!

Anne said...

Happy birthday, Polly, no matter what time it is!!

maria said...

a very happy day to you. how many years do you "have". "j'ai______" of missing pais of course :-)

Deja Pseu said...

Happy Birthday, Polly!

As far as ATWT goes, I think they had no choice but to cancel it...they were running out of ways to bring James Stembeck back from the dead other than time travel.

Joan said...

Yet another chance for me to trot out the old "ficelles de caleçon"! Hope you spend your birthday the way you WANT to.

Ahem. I called my sister once, and was astonished when her husband answered. "But it's three in the morning", he said...

Harriet said...

Happy belated birthday, Polly! Hope this will be your best year yet!

Cécile Qd9 said...

eh bien joyeux maybeversaire !
et bonne année !

Starman said...

Daylight Saving Time is the most stupid idea man has ever adopted.

Anonymous said...

A belated Happy Birthday to you! I was born in Auckland NZ and I've lived in Canada and now London England - I always believed it was your real birthday on the date that you were born in the country/time line you were born so where I was born on June 4th in NZ over here in London I believe its my birthday on June 3rd - that's how I look at it so you can celebrate it twice if you like ;-)

Marjorie said...

Happy belated birthday! I totally get the time zone confusion. When I lived in Dallas several years ago, family and friends from Chicago would call me and ask me what time it was there. "Uh.... It's the same time." Ugh.

another said...

Starman said:
"Daylight Saving Time is the most stupid idea man has ever adopted."

The germ of this idea was delivered to us by Benjamin Franklin in a letter to the editors of the Journal of Paris in 1784, while he was resident there.

And to Polly I wish either a very belated or an extraordinarily early Happy Birthday as you prefer.

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