Friday, December 8, 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. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Choosing My Melt Downs Wisely

A few weeks ago my maiden column for the web site "Anglotopia" launched. Anglotopia is a US based web site and blog for Anglophiles and I was talking about my recent repatriation, which will shock you, I know. One sentence was picked up in a lovely Tweet by The Displaced Nation, and it made me think twice.

"When you do a Transatlantic move, you choose your meltdowns wisely", was what I'd said in the Anglotopia column. How wise. Not always adhered to, I have to admit, but worth having it semi-permanently tattooed somewhere prominent when you're doing something BIG.

The potential for meltdown in question involved a rather lovely slim armoire I'd had in my US house, that is now stationed in my entry hall here. I would have liked it in my new bedroom as it has special drawers for jewelry; it's also not what I was going for as the first thing you see on entering my house. Problem is, our new stairs are somewhat narrow, and of course have two turns in them. The armoire (really not that big) is too tall to make the turns and no matter how the fabulous moving team tried, it wasn't happening. Perhaps it's because this is a rented house, but I just thought "Oh well" and moved on. Or was it that I was too worn down to care?

Or perhaps it's that, in the scheme of things, it just isn't that stressful? Some of the things we have gone through this year stretched me to the limit. Juggling all the moving balls in the air, so to speak, had me staring at the ceiling at 2am and getting up with my stomach in knots. Packing 25 moving boxes myself to then be told by the moving company that they only insured stuff they'd packed themselves. And this, two days before the intended move? Or finding out about a new Customs requirement of obtaining a TOR (Transfer of Residence) number to get your stuff into the UK without getting slapped with Cutoms tax? (Thought I was being rather clever there since no one else seemed to know about it, and then was told by the people in the UK that they were running about a month behind schedule. Of course they were.) 

It's a bit like raising children with the adage "Choose Your Battles" front and foremost in your mind. Man Child Two's whole class got a "tardy" the other day because they'd been horsing around outside after lunch and had forgotten the time. Most of them were quite upset about it, but hey - they were late for class. My reaction was, first "How sweet that they were playing outside", and then "Don't worry about it but make sure you don't get any more". I'm just assuming they weren't all smoking behind the bike sheds!

Or it could be that in my dotage, there are other things to worry about. But that's probably another post altogether. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why I'm Furious With Anne Robinson

Don't usually do semi-political stuff but I've had it with women like Anne Robinson. As usual, I took pen to paper - 

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