Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Daylight Savings

Could someone please just invent a time machine? No, not for jumping back and forwards through time - I have no interest in that - I just want something that will tell me what time it is. I know they've already invented clocks and watches - but they don't do me a jot of good come daylight savings.
I realise this isn't an issue for many people. They have no trouble with the concept of time. Not me. Ask my partner. She hates daylight savings more than I do. And it’s not just because I no longer know what time it is. I suffer lethagy akin to jetlag for the first two weeks and I get grouchy because my sleep patterns are thrown out. I resent the time spent changing the timer on the vcrs, televisions, 4 watches, microwave, stove clock, alarm clocks, camera, computer, PDA, the car, mobile phone etc - and knowing I'm going to have to change them all back again in a minute. I hate having to carry the newspaper with me from room to room to check the little picture of the clock showing which way the hands go.
And I hate that I don’t just "get it"? We go through the same thing every year. I cannot remember appliance to appliance which way time has moved, let alone from year to year. And it's been explained to me again and again, millions of times - and just when I think I have it, it’s gone. And I’m running out of people to ask. (You can only get someone to explain it to you so many times before they look at you oddly.)
And all for what? So we can go swimming after work? So it's still light when I try to go to sleep before 9pm? So I can spend the next month getting up in the dark? So I can send my partner mad by continually asking: if it's 7 o'clock here (when my mobile phone free time starts) what time is it in Queensland? And don’t even get me started on daylight savings in other countries and which goes which way. I’ve scheduled half a day on Monday to rework my time zone spreadsheet so I’ve got a fighting chance of not waking our South African colleagues at some more unthinkable hour!
It's not just daylight savings time that throws me. I never know whether a meeting is sooner or later if it's moved back or forward. Why can't people just say what they mean? It's earlier or it's later. Simple.
I know it's all a matter of interpretation. But that part of my brain is missing or just unable to deal with clocks with hands. I should have paid more attention to the rocket clock on Play School instead of worrying about what was through the window. If you wind back the hands of the clock, that makes it sooner. But if you put back a meeting, you're not doing that. Or are you?
And if I can’t get a time machine, I’ll settle for a digital revolution. Let’s do away with analog clocks. No more big hands and little hands. No more second hands. No more worrying about turning hands back or forwards on Sunday. Then maybe I could change over to daylight savings without being reminded, yet again, that I don’t “get” it and at this rate I never will. And it’s not as though people couldn’t still use their analogs. We’re nearly 40 years into decimal and people still talk inches and feet, pounds and ounces.
Or perhaps we could just abolish daylight savings. Flexitime anyone?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Bits and pieces (two weeks of ...)

A mystery punter made front page news (The Daily Telegraph 5/3/04) today by betting $1 million on a horse race. I can't imagine betting that much - I'm too cautious about losing my money - could just be that I don't have a spare million to use like that. I don't think I could even brrow that much but it would be fun telling the bank that you needed the loan to pony up for a race. As a friend of ours says "no bank will give you that" but she was referring to the return on investment if your horse comes in - which would definitely beat the approx 5% we're currently getting!
Update - Lonhro won. The punter, based in Hong Kong, collected $1,550,000 when the biggest bet on an Australian horse race in years paid off (The Daily Telegraph, 9/3/04, pg 1).

What's a billion
It appears that a billion is different, depending on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you are on. In the US it's a 1 followed by 9 zeros; in the UK it's a 1 followed by 12 zeros. I'm not sure what it is in Australia. And if I'm thinking of it in terms of my own assets, it's going to be a couple of millenia before I actually have to worry about it.

Star gazing
And Zedna has been discovered ... the coldest most distant body to have been found orbiting the Sun ... a planetoid because it's not big enough to be a planet. And who knew that Pluto is a "questionable planet" - based on its size. But it was still big enough to be in the way of the astronomical society being able to see Zedna.

Soylent Green
Dubbo is today suffering from a plague of locusts - similar to several other communities along the Australian East Coast (according to the news report I have just finished watching). It's been a while since we had a locust plague - although I remember that we've had plagues of mice, and also of bogong moths. But, as some people would say, at least you can eat bogong moths. They are something of a delicacy. I'm not sure that I could bring myself to eat one - for pleasure. If it was a matter of life and death - maybe ... probably. And what would you eat if it was a matter of life and death? Would you eat people? (Soylent Green is people.) Could you eat people? And how would you quell the demons within (assuming some ethical dilemmas might surface after the event - or perhaps that would just be me)?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Daze of confusion

I feel very happy for those people born on 29 February who got a "real" birthday again this year. We have two friends who finally turned 13 on Sunday - it's been a long time coming. But in rejoicing with them and on their behalf, I hadn't realised that the leap year would confusion.
We have a friend with a birthday on 3 March. I had done an SMS to send to her today but then, in a moment of self-doubt, I checked the calendar on Palm. The next mention of her birthday was 2005. Oh no! I had missed it! I checked the date on my watch - sure enough - it was the 4th of March. I checked the newspaper I had downloaded that morning (via the Avantgo website) ... it said 3rd March. But I was sure it was "new" news when I looked at it this morning. My partner, sitting on the bus next to me, assured me it was the 3rd. But how? Then it struck me ... leap year was not recognised by my digitial watch. When it should have moved to the 29th of February, it moved to 1 March. The only thing I can't work out now is why it took me four days to notice.