Friday 8 December 2017

Repatriation Brain - Confusing Dates and Times

I've now been back in the UK for FIVE months. How did that happen, as they say. On the one hand, it seems like I've only been here five minutes, and on the other, it seems like an age. 

Except when I have to write the date. For some reason, even though I know that ..... oh wait, which way round is it? See, that was genuine. Every time I fill out a form, I second guess myself. It's even more embarrassing when I'm in a shop or office, ask the date and then still hesitate over the form I'm signing. It doesn't help that people generally don't say the date in number format when asked "What's the date please?". "December the eighth" is the helpful (not helpful) response. If you think about it, that response should mean that the month is written first, but oh no, that would be far too easy.

Apparently, despite it being eminently sensible, the US is the only country to use the month-day format only  (If you look at this map, it looks like Canada does both. How bloody confusing is that? If there are any Canadians reading, I'd love to know more.)

According to this article, "This condition is diagnosed as middle-endianness. Seriously. It comes from computer science where bytes are arranged according to their size. If the order has larger ones at the front, it's known as big-endian and so too are dates formatted with the years first (see the likes of China and Mongolia in the map above)."

I urge you to read this article as it goes on to talk about Liliputians being small-endians. Really! 

Unbelievably, telling the time problems have also emerged. Not that I can't tell the time, but I'm having the odd lapse when it comes to communicating in 24-hour clock fashion. Americans, on the whole, don't use the 24-hour clock; you just have to make sure that you have your am's and your pm's in order. (Most important when catching flights.) 

I grew up knowing the 24-hour clock, so it shouldn't be too difficult to switch back, and on the whole it isn't. My secret (and it might not be a secret) is that when the numbers are over 12.00, you just deduct two. 14.00 = 2 o' clock, 17.00 = 5 o'clock and so on. When I get to 20.00 I just have to rely on ingrained knowledge, which is looking a bit dodgy at the moment. 

Unfortunately, when attempting to book a restaurant for next week, I sat back, basking in the glory of finally having snagged a 7pm slot, and sent the confirmation e-mail off to dinner companions - only to have it pointed out that 17.00 is 5pm and not 7pm. I knew that! Really, I did. 

When you're already worrying about the amount of times you walk into a room and forget why, or you're always losing your keys, it only adds to the whole "Is it me?" problem. 


  1. I've always wondered why in the world everyone else uses the day/month formula and the 24 hour clock since it just seems easier the other way.

    Now that we are part of global company, I keep running into issues - especially when trying to figure out what time it is somewhere else. I'm used to only factoring in the 1, 2 or 3 hour time difference - trying to figure out what time it is in Madrid requires a google search. Thank God for Google!

    1. I keep forgetting that most people I talk to on the phone now are on the same time zone as me! LOL

  2. After 16 years here, I still mistake 17:00 for 7:00 PM. And I still wonder over 6/9/2017 -- is it the 6th of September, or the 9th of June? I don't think I'll ever truly get to grips with it.

    Or Centigrade.

    1. Oh don't get me started on centigrade, and I learnt it at school! I have a vague idea how hot 32 degrees is but when it comes to cooking? Forget it.

  3. You saw that garishly green bit on the map? That would be us. yy-mm-dd. and it confuses the hell out of me. Also, half seven here means 6:30. Whereas in the UK it meant 7:30.!

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