April 05, 2004
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For Americans living in Japan, please note that DST took effect yesterday in the U.S., so the times have shifted. Remember to add that extra hour when you translate times--or to subtract the hour if you count backwards when you translate.
I don't like using the "count backwards" 16- or 17-hour (west coast, PST) subtraction method of figuring out the time difference between here and there; 16 and 17 hours is a bigger number to subtract, and more often you cross day lines and it gets confusing, making errors that can wake your relatives up at unfortunate hours.
I prefer to add 7 or 8 hours (again, PST), then subtract a day. Two steps, separate, a lot easier to do. So right now, it's 11:40 am on Monday in Japan. Add 8 hours (now that DST has kicked in; last week, it was 7 hours), making the time there 7:40 pm--and that by itself is often enough, the day of the week is not important, in my family at least. But if necessary, just subtract a day, and you get 7:40 pm Sunday in San Francisco.
I suppose it is less of an issue if the people you're calling are on the east coast, and the difference is to add 11 hours or subtract 13 (10 and 14 when DST is not in action). But I still prefer the addition method.
Speaking of which, when is Japan going to get DST? The sun comes up at 4:30 am in the summer, way earlier than most people need. Great for the farmers, who had a controlling block of votes many years back (I wonder if they still do?), but lousy for the rest of us as it means early darkness and wasted sunlight. And I'm a late owl, and on my late-late nights I go to sleep as the sun rises, which feels strange. I remember on my visit to Spain last April, they not only had DST ("summer time" in Europe), but Spain was on the west edge of a wide time zone--the sun set at about 9 pm. Maybe not great for early risers, but I thought it was terrific.
Posted by: Renee Van Druff at April 6, 2004 06:09 PM