As I am writing this, it is May 20, 2011. According to some people who have been getting a lot of press lately, the end of the world is supposed to occur tomorrow, May 21. If that is the case, it won't matter that I didn't get my column in before deadline today.
That's what I was thinking, and then I thought, wait. Do they mean May 21 American time, or May 21 Sydney, Australia, time?
We have friends who live on the east coast of Australia north of Sydney, and when ever I try to figure out what time it is there, I use the simple rule that they are eighteen hours ahead of us, or, as I sometimes like to think of it, six hours behind us, tomorrow. So if it's seven twenty-five in the evening on Vashon Island (and it is right now), then it's – um – wait – one twenty-five Saturday afternoon in Sydney. So it's already more than halfway through May 21 there. Maybe I should give them a call and see how they're doing. What if they don't answer?
That simple rule is simple because it's not accurate, by the way. Sometimes we're on Daylight Savings Time, sometimes we're off, and the same is true for Sydney, Australia. So sometimes we're seventeen hours behind them and sometimes we're nineteen hours behind them. Occasionally eighteen hours is correct, but I get confused trying to figure it out.
I made a chart after our friends moved to Australia. I listed all the hours of the day in the first column to show what time it was on Vashon Island. Then I did comparative columns of what time it was in Sydney on Daylight Savings Time (nineteen hours ahead), what time it was there off Daylight Savings Time (seventeen hours ahead), and what time it was there if Daylight Savings Time didn't matter, when we're both on it or off it, during overlapping weeks that sometimes occur (eighteen hours ahead). This chart was meant to keep me from making a friendly telephone call that woke them up at four in the morning, which I did once, and I could tell it was not appreciated. Friendship is all well and good, and a great thing, but there are boundaries.
I can tell you as a general rule that it is not a good idea to call Australia from the West Coast of the United States between our three in the morning and let's say our one or two in the afternoon. Observing these guidelines respects the sleep schedule of people living on Sydney time. If you live in some other time zone but the West Coast of the United States, you're on your own. It was hard enough to figure out this much.
Oops – just looked on Facebook, and our god daughter who lives in Cairo, Egypt, has observed that if the end of the world was occurring on Greenwich Mean Time, it's late. Maybe not May 21, after all.
I tend to think that when Jesus said, “no one shall know the hour or the day,” he knew what he was talking about. No one will see it coming. So straighten up and fly right, pal. You never know.
And don't call Australia in the morning.