It’s one of those leap thingummies again this year – no, not a February with an extra day, which it turns out happens on 24th February, and not the 29th as I’ve mistakenly believed for my entire life… and I can’t help but wonder what other lies I’ve accepted in blissful ignorance all these years. No indeed, we’re not talking extra days: think smaller, a lot smaller – this year we have a whole extra second on June 30th and although it might not seem a big deal it’s actually a bit of a pain in the rear end in our modern technological world where the precise measurement of time is more important than ever before.
We should have had the extra second last year but, fears of impending doom – mainly as a result of the havoc wreaked by the rogue second, back in 2012 – persuaded those who have a say in such things to postpone the unhappy event to this year, when presumably we’ll all be older, wiser and more able to deal with the end of the Web as we know it. Yes, there really are people who control time, and you thought Time Lords were strictly fictional! There’s a bit of a hoohah about it, with some of these fabled guardians of time suggesting we could do away with leap seconds altogether – causing consternation amongst the Brits who argue that Greenwich would go out of sync with the rest of the world, (personally, I don’t see why they can’t just move Greenwich a couple of feet to the left every few years).
Time is a pretty variable thing anyway, although mostly we don’t even realise it. As Einstein pointed out, it’s relative, although he was thinking about the peculiar manglements it goes through when getting squished in a black hole, or when travelling at a zillion miles an hour. In less complex, but equally weird ways, time is very much relative to where exactly you choose to observe it from: it may be 2015 to me today, but to the devout Jew, it’s 5775 whilst in the Islamic world, it’s 1436; as for the Thai’s, they’re living it up in 2558!
Walk East across the International Date Line, and you’ll lose a day; walk West and you’ll gain one, (I have no idea what happens if you walk backwards), but cross it between 10:00 and 11:59 and you could find yourself on any one of three different days! Whilst you’re getting your head around that, I’d just like to give a cheery wave to my Australian readers, for whom today is tomorrow or alternatively, yesterday, depending whose point of view you’re taking.
And just when you think it couldn’t get any more complicated, time apparently travels at different speeds at different altitudes! All I can say, is if you happen to find yourself on June 30th walking backwards in a plane, flying across the International Date Line sometime after 10:00, and bump into a Christian Jew on their way back from Australia to Thailand… please don’t ask them what day it is! You have been warned.
All of which I find terribly reassuring because, if there’s one thing I’ve never got to grips with in SL, it’s telling the time. It’s not for want of trying either – way back in 2011 I wrote about my chronological woes, and some four years later I’m still hopelessly inept when it comes to mastery of this pretty basic SLife skill. We are however talking about someone who is quite content to leave the clocks as they are when Daylight Saving comes along, and then manages to adjust them the wrong way six months later when they’re supposed to fall forward, or spring back, whatever the convention is. The result is that I never quite know what the correct time is in RL – what hope do I have inworld? Thank goodness my PC automatically compensates for my inadequacies, keeping me sort of up-to-date by helpfully telling me the – hopefully – correct time in three different time zones: GMT, Madrid and SLT. Even so, I still get it wrong.
To be absolutely honest, there are only really four times I need to know for SL, namely: Time to log in; Time to go clubbing; Time to log out, and; Far too late. The latter usually takes precedence over Time to log out.
It’s just far too easy to lose track of time whilst inworld – blink and a whole hour has passed, get dragged into a laghole and you can easily waste a whole evening, spend ‘a few minutes’ tidying up your inventory, and before you know it, it’s the middle of next Wednesday! Time is indeed very illusory, whether or not it’s lunchtime, and particularly when you throw in the virtual element – and to that end, I’ve resolved not to waste any more time worrying about it… although I can’t help wondering what would happen if you happened to cross the International Date Line at the speed of light, whilst logged in to SL!
Confusion never stops
Closing walls and ticking clocks
Gonna come back and take you home
I could not stop that you now know
Coldplay – Clocks