Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Grumpy With Time

New Grumpy column. I hadn't realised Amelia Earhart was so cute. Quite a woman.


Just when you think you have a grip on stuff and know how things work, it all goes to shit.

I wrote to a friend recently to wish her a happy birthday. Simple enough, except that the internet makes everything so instant, and given that she lives in another part of the world I wasn't sure if we were on the same day or not. So I looked it up and sure enough, I was in her future. I should have left it at that, but a favourite hobby of mine is to get distracted by stuff and things instead of, say, getting this column in before deadline.

So I wondered how this time thing works. Big mistake. How is it, I pondered, that I am in my friend's future? How is it that I lost a day when I flew back from another part of the world. How did the International Date Line come into being? Who put it there? And where, exactly, did they put it? Was it a straight line or a wiggly one? Apologies, my patient Ed, but my Grumpy column would have to wait because this required further investigation...

From Wikipedia: “Until 1867, Alaska began Russia's day, with the date line following the partially defined border between Russian Alaska and British North America, including the colony of British Columbia. The day before the purchase by the United States took effect, it was Friday, 6 October 1867, in the Julian calendar (used by Russia at the time), which would have been 18 October in the Gregorian calendar. The time in New Archangel would have been 12:00 when it was 12:02, Thursday, 17 October, at the future site of Whitehorse, Yukon, and 12:49, 17 October, at the future site of Vancouver, British Columbia. With the transfer of governance, the date line was shifted (moving Alaska back a day), and the calendar was changed (moving Alaska ahead 12 days), and being effective at midnight the calendar moved ahead one day as well, for a net change of 11 days. Friday, 6 October, was followed by Friday, 18 October (not Saturday, 7 October).”

Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Wikipedia. If my brain wasn't hurting from thinkiness before, it certainly was now. Who could have imagined that something as basic as time could be so complicated?

Also, if you've ever wondered what happened to Amelia Earhart (aviator who disappeared while flying around the world), she got gobbled up by time. No GPS nav bitch with a British accent to tell you where to go back then, so Amelia had to rely on her male navigator who apparently got confused about the day of the week (dude, I can sooo relate). He didn't take into account that they were crossing the International Date Line (which is very wiggly, fyi) and this put the plane way off target. Adding to the weirdness of their disappearance is the fact that they are recorded as still alive and flying for several hours on July 3 1937 after disappearing in July 2 1937.

There is more stuff and things I could hurt my brain with involving Magellan, The Pope, Zulu time, Umberto Ecco and Jules Verne, but I have a column to write before time runs out.

Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, freelance writer and Man From The Future. Contact him at leebemrose@hotmail.com

1 comment:

Guyana-Gyal said...

When you fly from Oz in the afternoon, to go to Merica, you fly today in Oz, back into yesterday in America, leaving tomorrow in Oz. I know, it's happened to me.

I wish they could find out what happened to Amelia. It made me sad when I first read about her.