8 April 2013

Imaginary Lines

It is no wonder that my head is in a spin much of the time. I cross many time zones in my travels. I cross them all the time. Sometimes I gain a couple of hours and sometimes I lose a few. It generally all balances out in the end but it can take a few days for my mind and body to adjust and it plays havoc with my sleep as well.

Daylight savings finished in Australia last Sunday. This is also referred to as "Summer time". Australians in a few States put their clocks forward an hour at the beginning of Summer and then they turn them back at the beginning of Autumn. Daylight savings was introduced to make the days longer and so that people can enjoy the sun. 

The English do this as well but we Australians invented it.

So the time difference between Singapore and Melbourne and Sydney is now only two hours instead of three. There is no time difference at all between Singapore and Perth. Western Australia has always refused to participate in daylight savings and so too has Queensland. I have no idea why. Time is a State regulated matter in Australia – it is not a Federal issue.

In the past couple of weeks I have travelled to Australia where I had to put my clock forward three hours. Then I went to India where I had to put it back five and a half hours. In Cambodia there is a one hour time difference with Singapore.

It is no wonder that my head is in a spin.

There are three time zones across the continent of Australia. Time zones are formed by what is known as the International Date Line. The International Date Line is an imaginary line that runs from the North to the South pole and it demarcates one calendar day from the next. This line is on the opposite side of the earth from something known as the Prime Meridian which is also an imaginary line. The Prime Meridian is used to define the concept of 'universal time'. This is the basis for all time zones. I have no idea who invented it and it confuses me to even think about it. 

It spins my head and it frazzles my brain.

I know that a whole bunch of rich people were able to see in the New Years in Sydney last year and then they jumped into a fast jet and flew to New York to see in the New Year there as well.

Crazy fuckers.

It is possible to fly to some places in the world and actually arrive before you left. 

That's weird isn't it?

The world is actually crisscrossed with a whole heap of imaginary lines. There is also the equator which divides the world into two hemispheres. God only knows why because I certainly don't. There are also the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and why these are called 'Tropics' and not lines is also a mystery to me - as is their purpose.

Cancer and Capricorn are two of the Zodiac star signs. Cancer is also a nasty type of disease that eats cells and causes people to die. Zodiac is an ancient Greek word that I like very much. It feels good to say it and it is also a very useful and valuable word to use in the game of scrabble. 

Particularly if you can place the 'z' on a triple letter score.

Zodiac means a circle of twelve thirty degree segments that make up a celestial sphere. This is otherwise known as a circle. These segments equate to twelve distinct time periods that we call 'months' and these months make up a calendar year. The segments are represented by 'signs' that correspond somehow to stars.

My star sign is Aries. I was born in March and my star sign is represented by a Ram. This is a male sheep. If I was born a couple of weeks earlier I would have been a Taurus which is represented by a Bull – which is a male cow.

India actually has four time zones that cross their enormous continent but they have decided to ignore all of them. No matter where you go in India it is always the same time. The Indian government decided that time zones would confuse too many people in a country that is already very confused and this is fair enough I think.

The timing of the "New Year' is also a funny one. We Westerners celebrate it on January the first as we follow a calendar that was invented by the ancient Romans. The Western Calendar is also known as the Gregorian or Christian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and it defines a year as being made up of 365 days - except for every fourth year - which has 366 days. The year that has an extra day is know as a ‘leap year’. The extra day is added to the month of February and again I have no idea why this month was chosen. If you happened to be born on the 29th February you celebrate your birthday once very fourth year. Why some months have thirty days and others have thirty one and February has only twenty eight days (except for every fourth year when it has twenty nine days) is also a little peculiar – to me at least.

It is also interesting to me that the once mighty ancient Greek and Roman empires who defined such wonders as calendars and astrology and units of time are now just a couple of bankrupt European countries. Greece and Italy are economic basket cases and I suspect that there will be a similar demise of the American Empire. It too is an economic basket case and they are already on a steady decline. They are dragging the rest of the world down with them with their policies of greed and corruption.

We Westerners typically see in the New Year by drinking ourselves into a frenzy and kissing a lot of people and setting off fireworks. The Chinese New Year is celebrated according to a lunar calendar. This year it was on the tenth of February. The Chinese celebrate their New Year by drinking themselves into a frenzy and kissing a few people and setting off fireworks. The Marathi New Year in India is next Thursday - it is on April the eleventh. April the eleventh marks the beginning of the Hindu calendar year and in India they celebrate the New year by slaughtering a few goats and kissing each other and burning things to the ground.

Here is a picture of a goat. It appears to be quite a happy one. I don't think that it is aware that it is about to be sacrificed as part of the Marathi New Year celebrations:

Here is a picture of the New Year Fireworks in Singapore. The view is from my office:

According to the Nepalese calendar this year is actually 2069 and it becomes 2070 on April the fourteenth. I think that the Nepalese also celebrate their New Year by some sort of animal sacrifice and kissing. I don't think that they burn things down or set off fireworks but I will have to check that with my Nepalese friends.

There is breaking news that Margaret Thatcher has just died. She died of a stroke this afternoon and she was eighty seven years old. I remember her era as the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I am that old. When I think of Margaret Thatcher I think of her battle with the trade unions and the coal miners and I think of Great Britain invading the Falkland Islands. Margaret Thatcher was known as the Iron Lady. She was as tough as old boots.

Here is a picture of the Iron Lady:

The term "Thatcherism" is now recognized as an ideology in British politics and it refers to a system of tight monetary control and low inflation and the privatization of state assets. To many staunch trade unionists in Great Britain Margaret Thatcher is still much hated. Such people believe that she crossed the line when she sold off the assets of their country to Private Enterprises. The line that she supposedly crossed was like the Equator and the Prime Meridian and the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. 

It was an imaginary one.

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