Where in time do we live?

November 8, 2010

A map of the time zones of the United States; ...
Image via Wikipedia

For those of you in North America, time may have been on your mind a bit more this weekend as you gained a clock hour. For a week the European continent (and much of the rest of the world) was one hour closer to the US time zones than usual since we changed our clocks at the end of October. The Star-Telegram and I had a chat about time zones a while back, which is published here.

USA Today recently came out with a snapshot graph of how the population is spread out amongst the United States’ six time zones. It’s no surprise that the East Coast wins out with 47.5% of the US population nestled between the Atlantic and somewhere before the Mississippi. In the Central time zone 28.9% hang out amongst the cornfields (and Chicago) while only 6.6% reside in Mountain time. A paltry 16.4% live in Pacific Time while Alaska has 0.2% of the population. Although much smaller geographically, Hawaii enjoys 0.4%.

Wherever you are in the world, remember that time is merely a construct. What’s most important is what you do with the time that you have!

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What is time abundance?

November 9, 2009

Have you ever noticed how we talk about time? We often address it like a fierce competitor we have to beat to the finish line. We crunch it, beat it, and race against it. But I wonder what would happen if we were to treat time as a partner, as a friend, as the Siamese twin it was meant to be? In my book, time equals existence, not money as Benjamin Franklin was apt to say.

Let me back up. Time, in truth, is a construct. It is an organizing principle that helps us meet expectations, such as getting to the same restaurant at the same moment as your friend so you can have lunch. It is a useful tool in commerce, too. You wouldn’t want to miss that shipment coming in from abroad, now would you? In fact, global time wasn’t properly introduced until October 13, 1884 when a few folks from 26 nations gathered in Washington, DC to agree upon the prime meridian that sliced through the Greenwich Observatory’s telescope in England. In that agreement, the Earth was placed into a girdle with 24 strands. We call them time zones. For anyone who’s suffered jet lag, as I just have after a two-week trip to the US, you’ll know the effect time change can have on you.

So if time is something we’ve made up, why do we engage in clock combat, that insidious striving to beat that which we cannot control? We often attempt to cram so much into our day that we are left breathless even trying to ‘keep up.’ But, what exactly are we keeping up with? My guess it is an imaginary standard as made-up as time itself.

I would claim multitasking is symptomatic of a much broader issue. We attempt to do two or more comparably difficult things at once (texting while driving comes to mind) because we think we don’t have enough time. Truth be told, we are living longer than we ever have in human history. With an current average life expectancy of 78.11 years in the United States, we have a lot more time than we used to.

Time as friend? Now there’s a thought. What would your life look like if you embraced a time abundant mentality?

Here’s a fun task to try. The next time you are going somewhere and you think you might be late, turn off all distractions (radio, cell phone, iPod, etc) and simply concentrate on where you are going while observing the speed limit. Breathe deeply as you do and tell yourself “I will get there at the exact moment I need to.” Chances are you will arrive in a state of bliss. Even if you are a few moments late according to the clock, you will have lived one of the basic priniciples of the power of slow ~ mindful living while being fully engaged in the here and now.

So go for it. Then tell me how you did!

Original post from Psychology Today.

Once upon a Null Meridian

October 11, 2009

Ask any transmeridian worker such as an airline pilot, and you’ll hear how important meridians are for coordinating air travel and the like.

time zone globeOctober 13th marks the 125th anniversary of the Greenwich Meridian that runs smack dab through the lens of London’s Observatory telescope in its Greenwich quarter. The world was then divided into 24 time zones in 60 minute increments. At the time, twenty-six countries reached a mutual agreement on the world’s y-axis. The equator, having always been the x-axis of the planet, now had a perpendicular companion. Nations such as Afghanistan still tend to use their own personalized understanding of time accounting. But nonetheless, the world’s commerce relies greatly on this agreement the folks in DC at the International Meridian Conference agreed upon that autumnal day in 1884. Oh sure, there were minor adjustments with a redefintion of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) called Universal Time, then again in 1972 with UTC  (Universal Time Coordinated) based on atomic clocks that reset in case you goof up the settings. You can get them at any store these days. Much to our chagrin, our children tend to set them at odd hours. The other day the alarm went off at 5 am…

The history of time, along with our collective agreement about what time is, is an interesting one. Happy Birthday, GMT. We transmeridian travelers promise not to hold jetlag against you.

Time Zone Dance

September 2, 2009

Nothing makes you more acutely aware of the relativity of time than jetlag.

We returned from our three-week trip to the States in great spirits. Iberia Airlines had vastly overbooked our flight to Munich (via Madrid) so the airline clerk suggested we hop a direct flight to Munich on Lufthansa instead. The children thrust themselves heavenward in a collective expression of jubilation. I hadn’t heard the end of it since we flew over on Iberia.

“No personalized monitor screens? No happy-faced flight attendants’ Icky bathrooms and an ancient aircraft?”

Before the clerk could blink, I grabbed his arm and screamed replied, Heck Yeah!

In a matter of words, we agreed unconditionally.

My husband, fresh off a sustained state of relaxation (he spent most of his time either in the kitchen cooking or in the hammock reading), praised me for my foresight of coming to the airport a little earlier than necessary.

“We’re flying our preferred airline now, all thanks to Mama! She’s the one that insisted suggested we leave early. Isn’t that great?” So the half-hour we invested saved us five hours of travel time.

Now, back at home, we’re engaging in the time zone dance. Meeting halfway to the bathroom at 1 am, my daughter and I blinked at each other in the darkness.

“Why are you up?” I asked her. She wasn’t coherent (and I was distinctly unfair in demanding anything more than a mumble). We met again at 3 am, but then all was quiet.

That is, until my eyes popped awake at 10 am, wondering where the time went…

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