Friday, October 26, 2007

*Falling Back* . . .Even as We Speak

It’s Saturday evening, 9:00 on the button and I’ve already fallen back as we do each autumn. What a gift, this extra hour. And so is the thought of waking up to a lighter, brighter morning. Here in the Moscow Time Zone we're changing clocks this weekend as are others across Europe.

But not everybody changes clocks this weekend. In the States, Daylight Saving Time has been extended through the first weekend in November. So this next week, folks involved in international business will be factoring that differnce into the equation.

During this semi-annual ritual of clock changing, I’ve found myself pitying clock merchants. I think about souvenir shops in Austria, for instance, surrounded by cuckoo clocks clamoring to be changed. That task, however, is a piece of apple strudel compared with that of the poor soul who handles the world clock website ( and has to post current time for 590-some cities around the globe.

Besides dealing with which countries are switching back to Standard Time, that webmaster must also consider the hour at which various countries change back. For instance, EU countries change all at once at 1:00 GMT. That takes care of three time zones right there: GMT, GMT+1 and GMT+2, at least for EU member. But in Russia, for instance, the big switch happens at 2:00 a.m. local time. With Russia spanning 11 time zones east to west, that makes for a lot of updating.

I'm personally affected to some degree by this week-long lag simply because it changes the time difference between me and beloved Significant Others in the States. And that factors in to my canned little formula for determining current time back home. It’s a primitive little system: I'll admit to counting on my fingers. But hey, it works for me and I can tell you in a flash what time it is in the States.

So, instead of counting back from local time the 8, 9 or 11 hours for Eastern Time (ET), Central (CT) and Pacific Times (PT), respectively, I add 4 for ET, 3 for CT and 1 for PT. So when it’s 9:00 p.m. here I add 4 and know that it’s 1:00 pm ET, which includes my family in Ohio and the Carolinas. I add 3 and know it’s 12:00 noon CT including Dallas, my beloved sponsoring congregation. And then of course just 1 hour to know that it’s 10:00 Saturday morning for dear family on the west coast.

And I’m kinda proud of myself in a silly way, that I’ve got the formula tweaked for this week. I’ll add 5 hours, 4 hours and 2 hours. In fact, that applies already because I’ve changed my clocks.

You're probably familiar with that catchy little phrase Fall back and Spring forward – that helps us remember which way to turn our clocks. That works only in English, of course, and makes sense mostly to native speakers. Leave it to our mother tongue that the names of two seasons -- fall and spring -- are also verbs. I've tried explaining that old saw to folks here and even to those fluent in English, it's more confusing that amusing. Granted, that might be a reflection on the quality of translation. =)

Still, I do enjoy feeling clever – even for one brief, shining moment – when folks say, *Oh and which way do we turn our clocks today?* I repeat the little saying to myself and can answer with absolute confidence, *na-ZAD.*

PS: Just happened upon another interesting site .gif with a great map of the world with the time zones color coded. China looks geographically to be spread across five time zones...but the country observes only one time zone from east to west. Anybody been there? Experienced that? Please share!


Jenny said...

Haven't been to China, but I love fall back. I'm looking forward to it this weekend :-)

Elizabeth said...

A piece of apple strudel!! Love it. :)

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