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The International Date Line

December 23, 2009

It’s 6:23am in Salt Lake City, and I’ve been here for about 11 hours, which includes a jaunt to my final destination where we were unable to land due to fog.  When we landed again in Salt Lake at 1am, and I sorted out a new flight for today, it was 2am so I decided to kip in the airport terminal.  My better half was very sad for me, but I like to think of it as kind of an adventure.  I found a semi-lit terminal, a nice spot between two rows of benches, then made a sweater pillow and used my coat as a blanket.  Lovely.

Salt Lake City airport


Alas, that big screen television that blasts CNN all day long?  Yup, it does it all night too.  CNN playing at a very hard-to-ignore decibel to a mostly empty terminal, bliss.  I did, however, learn a few things:

1) Pundits at 4am are as annoyingly myopic as they are at 7pm.  Example:  health care passing right down party lines, FDR had bipartisan support for Social Security and Medicare, LBJ had it for the Civil Rights Act, blah, blah, blah.  The natural follow up point, made by bloggers and thinkers much smarter than I is this: Would any of today’s republicans vote for Medicare, Social Security, or the Civil Rights Act?  There may be a few for the Civil Rights Act but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that it’d be a straight party line vote on Medicare and Social Security, no matter how small and imperfect the bills were in their initial iteration.  So don’t compare 2009 tea bagging republicans with the moderate ones of the 30s, 60s, and even the 90s (Newt aside).  I miss Lincoln Chaffee.

2) Madonna is building a boarding school for girls in Malawi.  And she will match every dollar donated.  Good for her.

3) Roland Burris is funny, and not always unintentionally.

In honor of my night of adventure in the Salt Lake City airport, I bring you a nugget of knowledge about the International Date Line, a lovely example of, “well, it’s got to start somewhere.”

Roughly lying along 180º longitude in the Pacific Oceans, with specific adjustments for island groups and Russia, the International Date Line delineates one day from another.  Heading east, you subtract 24 hours, allowing you to have the same day all over again.  It’s like Groundhog Day but without quite the head thumping experience as that movie is.  If you’re going west, you add hours, so you lose a day.  This is an appropriate option for real date-phobics, I’m thinking Julius Ceasar wish he could have gone the day-skipping route.  There is a whole lot of date line lore to be found in the Wikipedia article, and it’s delightfully nerdy, but since I’ve been awake for what feels like 30 hours (I woke up at 6:30 am eastern standard time yesterday, and I “slept” on the floor of an airport with CNN on, you do the math) I hope you will forgive my not getting into the nitty gritty.  I will only add that I have crossed the International Date Line heading to LA from New Zealand, so I got the same day back again.  The second time I had that day, it was a lot more fun, namely because I didn’t spend it on a plane.  And no Andie MacDowell.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Furrey permalink
    December 25, 2009 5:46 am

    Love the blog!! Sorry you were stuck (and had to sleep) at the airport. I hope you made it to your final destination safely and you and the better half have a super happy holiday 🙂

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