“I’m a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been…”
– Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir”

Well, sort of a “time traveler”. My job is a straight 45-minute drive from my house in Alabama on a good day with no traffic issues and driving the speed limit. I leave at 6:30 am and usually arrive just before 8:30.

No, I’m not that slow poke you curse as you pass me on the Interstate. Like a lot of people living in North Alabama, I have to drive a bit to get to work, which means passing through the top Northwest corner of Georgia and into the city of Chattanooga, which is located in South Central Tennessee.

It sounds more impressive when I tell people my commute takes me through 3 states.

Strategies for Straddling Time Zones

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’… Into the future.”
– Steve Miller Band, “Fly Like an Eagle”

Fort Payne, Alabama is on the very edge of the Central Time Zone (CST UTC-6:00, CDT UTC-05:00), just 15 minutes west of the Eastern Time Zone. It can get confusing sometimes, especially when I make appointments to do photo shoots and have to specify which time zone we’re talking about. As someone who struggles with panic attacks, I certainly want to avoid freak-outs over realizing that I got my times wrong. It’s so easy to do if I am not careful.

The only thing that sucks worse than having to kill an hour is being an hour late. When entering things in iCal, I have to make damn sure I am specifying the time zone.

My iPhone switches back and forth as I make my commute. At least most of the time.

It failed to switch from Central to Eastern recently, and I went about my day, proud of myself for going into work 45 minutes early until I realized that I was actually 15 minutes late. Since then, I’ve found that it pays to restart my iPhone after I’ve crossed into Georgia in case it gets a case of forgetfulness.

Living in a different time zone means getting up an hour early and needing to get to sleep an hour earlier than I normally would. When my pals in Alabama say they want to meet up at 9 pm Central, I’m thinking, “But that’s SO late, dude…”

It’s all relative. It sounds good to sleep until 6:45 rather than waking at the usual 5:30 am, but then I realize I’m actually just getting an extra 15 minutes of snoozing.

I’ll take it, though!

Livin’ on Slow Time

“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five”

A lot of folks right on the line unofficially observe Eastern Time, referring to Central Time as “slow time.”

Making things even more complicated is the switch to Daylight Savings Time, when we advance clocks during summer months so that evening daylight lasts longer, then gain an extra hour of sleep in the fall. Mostly, it means the clock in my car is correct at least half of the year.

Using an iPhone as your alarm clock has its limitations if fails to ping the satellite while passing through a boundary town, but it is pretty wonderful being able to disregard those reminders to fall back or spring forward due to it automatically changing. However, to quote Reagan quoting the old Russian proverb, “trust but verify.”

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that our smartphones can keep track of time even when they are turned off or the battery dies.

Once of these days I’ll hopefully settle in one place, firmly rooted in one time zone, so I can put this confusing back and forth behind me. It’s kind of crazy that time zone boundaries follow political boundaries, but I suppose it is understandable that the boundaries are not straight vertical lines.

The International Date Line is a purely imaginary line of demarcation roughly following the 180-degree line of longitude, swerving around some territories and island groups in the Pacific Ocean (imagine how confused my friends in New Zealand must be). I used to work for a company based in Australia, and they’d send me New Year’s greetings at 8 in the morning on New Year’s Eve. We’d have staff meetings at 6 pm my time after they finished getting in to the Sydney office.

Before that, the office was in Tracy, California, which was still a bit of an adjustment. Not too bad, unless my then-wife would call or text me at 5 in the morning while driving our daughter to school at 7 am in Alabama.

I’ve toyed with the idea of using 24-hour military time, which I already use when creating JSON-LD snippets for businesses on their websites. It works as long as I have my reference chart to remember that 21:00 is the same as 9 pm. Seems like the ambiguities of the 12-hour notation could be dangerous when communicating with military forces in different parts of the world where coordination is critical for aviation, navigation, computing, logistics, emergency services, hospitals, etc.

Our planet has 24 time zones. Astronomers refer to Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, maintained by a large number of very precise “atomic clocks” at laboratories around the world, including the U.S. Naval Observatory. Midnight in Chattanooga is 4 in the morning Coordinated Universal Time. UTC provided by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Naval Observatory is available online at the Official U.S. Time page. The accuracy of the displayed time may vary depending on the type and speed your Internet connection. The World Clock feature on iPhone and iPad prove indispensable when straddling two time zones.

Thank God for technology or I’d be lost.

The Fourth Dimension

“Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.”
– Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Of course, time is measured in more than hours. That’s when it really can sneak up on you.

Researching a blog topic about the insurance companies, I learned they determine health risk factors based on things like whether you smoke or what age bracket you fall into. I read a paragraph that basically asserted that costs are pretty much reliably easy to calculate for policyholders who turn 50. That’s the point when the insurance companies know you’re unlikely to start working out and getting healthy if you’ve waited to that point to try. Turn 50 and realize, “Ah, screw it. Why bother at this point?”

I don’t think I am there. I’m on the other end of the spectrum realizing that I’d better start moving my ass more if I want to stay vertical a bit longer. Seeing people the same age as you in the obituaries is a stark reminder than you better watch your ass and keep your head down.

The 65 or 70 year old version of myself (assuming he survives past next week) will more than likely look back in reflection and curse me for squandering those lame lonesome Friday nights when I coulda been out there on the prowl.

I hope we have some amazing things by then like robots to do all of the chores we hate doing. As I toy with Siri and Google Assistant, I imagine the senior folks home of MY golden years.

Will they blast Ozzy Osborne from the hallways the same way today’s senior living communities host Elvis impersonators to delight the ladies who were young when the King of Rock make pivoting hips a provocation?

Will we be using the gaming systems of that age to play vintage role playing games?

Will I have a camera implanted in my head, allowing me to capture a moment with an eye blink or replay it using 360 virtual reality?

I met up with my daughter (the little baby in the photo) and her boyfriend at Subway after visiting the seamstress to get alterations for her Prom dress. Ran into a couple of high school classmates. Of course, we’ve all put on weight and our faces have way more lines than they used to and we all grumble about how we work so hard all the damn time. Still can’t believe what some of my old party pals have become.

We. Be. Old.

Mostly the process of getting old is enduring vast expanses of time spent punching timeclocks, vaguely realizing that moments have started to pile up in the rear view mirror, followed by a series of doctor’s visits across months or years where you learn you’ve gotten fatter and your body is no longer this fine-tuned machine without putting in the effort.

Body parts start to fail you. And you get a panic attack if a certain body part fails you in particular. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge Know What I Mean?

Getting older sucks, but I guess it beats the alternative. You watch the hair on the top of your head grow thinner and retreat to the rear flank. You miss the hair on your noggin and wish you could stop silver hairs from popping out of your ears.

My sister and I recently came out of a concert to hear 80s music blasting from a packed dance club across the street. “That’s OUR music!” we both thought.

Nope.

We entered into a nightmare of these butthead dudes in their 20s just trying so hard to look cool. To the point of mocking us as old farts to try and get a cruel chuckle of agreement from a girl they were trying to get in the sack with.

Of course, I didn’t give a crap. None of those 20something Barbie dolls were going to go home with me, which only made me more endearing and pissed the frat boys off to the point of nearly coming to blows. It’s remarkable that the world isn’t even more insane with all of that bottled up testosterone needing to violently spew itself out into the world.

It’s oddly wonderful when you accept that you’ve past the point at which chasing after those kind of women is worth the effort and you can simply exist without any expectation of running laps or jumping through hoops to impress them for a remote chance at winning the love lottery.

I may enjoy the fantasy of having anything other than money or wisdom to offer some young hottie, but the truth is that I need to wear a t-shirt that is like one of those signs in the convenience store warning youngsters that they may be carded if they look as if they were born after 1984.

Summary
Time Travel and Other Tricks I Can Do
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Time Travel and Other Tricks I Can Do
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My commute through the top Northeast corner of Alabama, the Northwest corner of Georgia and into the city of Chattanooga, which is located in Southeast Tennessee. It sounds more impressive when I tell people my commute takes me through 3 states.
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Stiefel Creative
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