Fall Back: Today is erev yom kippur, which is definitely a time to reflect. Yet I find myself reflecting on time. In the Gregorian calendar, it is a new month, and it just happens to coincide with our change-over off of summer time. Nadine storms into the bedroom at 5:00 to remind us to set our clocks back one hour. She screams so frantically that we both start laughing, forcing her to retire under the bed to nurse her wounded dignity.
The time change here is not in sync with the rest of the world, so twice a year I go through a short period of transatlantic anxiety when placing calls to the States. Is it 7:00 9:00? My family also struggles. It has become an unspoken tradition that we each place at least one phone call at a ridiculously inappropriate hour. But within a few weeks, the rest of the world has changed their clocks, and we are back to a normal time difference.
Here, time is also fraught with political significance; do we keep hours that benefit industry, or do we make it easier for children to walk to school? Do we keep hours for the convenience of the religious minority during slichot, or do we try to stay in sync with the rest of the world?
We are not alone in our struggle to with time. If you look at a map of Canada, for example, you will discover that Fort St. John and Dawson Creek resolutely refuse to observe Daylight Savings Time, which means that for half the year, they reside in small bubbles, an hour out of sync with their immediate neighbors. And what about Newfoundland, which insists on a time zone half hour after Atlantic time. Someone stop me—I feel some Newfie jokes coming on…
There are other internation time curiosities. For example, the vast geographical area that makes up China is all the same time zone (GMT + 8). This means that some poor shmuck of a pig farmer gets sunrise at 11:30, while his cousin on the other side of the country may have to rise when the clock says 03:00. Go figure.
Looking at time zones always makes me think of travel. And as we look back on the old year, it is normal to reflect on where we have been. This handy little app lets you paint a picture of all the places you have been in the world. At a modest 20 countries, I hardly qualify as a globetrotter, but the resulting map is interesting.
May this new year bring all of you quality time in whatever time zone you find yourself.