in the zones

October 4, 2006
For a while now... maybe since Dylan moved to San Diego... I haven't had any trouble keeping Timezones straight for the USA. But yesterday one of the guys at work gathered people for a teleconference 4 hours too early because he did the math wrong for the Mountain time zone. (subtracted 2 when he should have added)

My trick involves a certain physicality: in effect, it's as if I'm overlaying the United States on the top half of a clock:
Then, it's easy to grasp how a mental timezone journey's west sets the clock back one hour. Each hop to the west has a matching hop backwards on the clock. (Hopefully my super-crude diagram makes things more clear, not less.)

Prior to this, I also mixed up how many hours back to go for, say, California time... I have little problem recalling that the country has 4 timezones, but before this "3 hops back system" it was easy to make what computerists call a fencepost error and subtract 4 instead of 3.

PS Am I crazy in remembering that Windows used to have a much niftier "timezone" interface that would highlight the area of the timezone as you selected it, and maybe even let you select a timezone by clicking on your area? My install of XP has a select list and then a static map of the world beneath, with no obvious interaction between the two. It almost feels as if some retarded patent stopped Microsoft from having the niftier UI.

Quote of the Moment
I read the book of Job last night. I don't think God comes well out of it.
Virgina Woolf.
Synchronicity: David Plotz' Blogging the Bible makes it sounds like the book of Joshua can have a similar effect.