I Might Be Right, I Might Be Wrong

Let us talk about time and date formats. It is a subject that comes up every so often, and I have been told I am wrong about the way I write time and date. I think I use the format that makes the most sense to me, but that is just the way I think. There are many other ways I have dates and times written, but I am writing specifically about the United States today.

I spent 20 years in the US Air Force. That is 20 years of writing time in 24-hour format. In the United States, common usage for time is to use a 12-hour format, with AM and PM. However, even many of the clocks I used for 20 years had 24-hour format. 24-hour format is designed to be easy to learn and use. It means you simply add 12 to any time after 12:59 pm. There is never a mistake as to whether someone means morning or night, since time starts at 0:01 every day and ends at 23:59 every night. Since I find this method more accurate for myself than writing am and pm, I use 24-hour time format on all my devices that allow it. I never have to squint to see an am or a pm, it is not needed. I find this format very easy to read and understand.

I also write my dates weird, for the United States. In the military, we always wrote dates as 12/02/08, which is year, month, day. Doing that for 20 years leads to confusion when trying to follow both civilian dates written as 02/08/12 and military dates. See, when looking at the two dates, it is not intuitive to determine what is meant in either one. Of course, for civilians, there is no confusion. They know if they are citizens of the United States, the format is always month, day, year. Unfortunately, it is not so easy when they are not US citizens. I tend to use the one I spent 20 years learning to use, with a four digit year. It is just easier for me to stick with a single format, so while still in the military, I learned to use the military format all the time.

I sometimes resort to spelling out the month instead of using a couple of numbers for it. It also makes it easier to know for certain what the date is in the future. If I see the date as numbers only, it can be difficult to determine what it should be. If I see the date with the month spelled out, it doesn’t matter where the four digit year is, it is obvious what the date should be. Of course, the month written out only works for those that read english.

I have records going back to 1953. Yes, that is a very long time. When I read old papers and records, I look at the dates. When they are written in numbers only, they can be difficult to determine. Dates before the year 2000 were normally written as two digit year, because we all knew it was the 1900’s in front. It did not matter if it was 1901 or 1999, you only needed the last two digits. All that changed in the future, when we realized that 01, or even ’01 could mean 2001. Oops. Now we are 14 years into that future, and the years are almost always written in 4 digits instead of two.

As for myself, I will continue to keep my devices set to a 24 hour clock. I will also continue to upset the majority in the United States, by writing my dates as yyyy-mm-dd. For myself, there is no confusion left. For others, sometimes it might be confusing, and sometimes it will be obvious. However, I have to look at those numbers daily. I will use what is easiest for me, now.

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What Is A Language?

We all speak, read, and write in languages we know. We have all been taught from birth a language or two that we find easy to use. Many people I know can speak, read, and write more than one language. However, I want to write about how we define a language.

What is a language? Is it that which we speak today? Is it those words and sounds we utter, that we learned since birth? My computer speaks a language also. To be clear, it can speak many more languages than I can. But when I want it to do a specific task, I find myself speaking to it in a language that I seldom say anything in when speaking to another person.

Most programmers I know use many languages, Those languages are called by names that are universal in the world today. It might be “Python”, “C”, C++”, “Ruby”, “Perl”, or something else. For non-programmers, this might seem strange, like speaking in a foreign language they don’t understand. For programmers, the languages flow relatively easy.

How many of us really know more than one language? I spent 20 years in the United States Air Force. We also had our own language, to fit what we did on a daily basis. While it was understandable by all of us in the Air Force, most civilians could not understand it. Many jobs have their own languages, and when speaking or writing outside the job, it is difficult to explain it. What is perfectly clear to those in that field, seems like any other foreign language outside of it.

Next time someone suggests a world-wide universal language, I would like to see “computer” nominated. Computer language is universal. Think about it for a minute. Every person in the world can learn “computer”. Huh?, you say? That is not a language, you say? Why? Computers today can translate from language to language, as shown by google translate. Not only can they be used to translate speech, but written language. They never tire, they do sometimes get things wrong, but who doesn’t make mistakes?

Yes, I think in strange ways sometimes. That is part of being me. Not everyone will agree with my definitions and thoughts. You know, that is okay! After all, it needs to make sense in your language, as well as in mine, to understand my thinking.

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Charlie, October 2013

Charlie, October 2013

Two Homes, Two Cities

I am a snowbird. That means I do not stay in one place for both summer and winter. I have a daughter in Idaho and a daughter in Las Vegas. Since multiple sclerosis makes it difficult to live alone, I live with my daughters. I live in Idaho when it is too hot in Las Vegas, and I live in Las Vegas when it is too cold in Idaho.

Some people have summer homes and winter homes. Some people have several homes, and vacation homes. Some of us belong to the poorer level of citizens, and can not afford two or more homes. We want to do what we see others doing, but can not really afford it. For us, friends or relatives exist and are willing to have house guests.

Now, houseguests in this sense does mean long term house guests. That means I do not barge into their homes and take over. Instead, ask them if you could stay with them for a few weeks. Perhaps the first year, you would stay a week or two, that is normally long enough to decide if you and them are compatible enough to stay longer next time. I have never been good at being in one place too long. By staying with others for a week or two at a time, I travelled without it becoming too expensive.

I have two very wonderful daughters who allow me to live with them. If you don’t have children you can live with, perhaps you own an RV, and live in it instead. I also did that for a few years. Due to ms taking my legs away a couple of times, it got too scary to drive. I gave up my motorhome and became a bricks and sticks dweller again.

When I stay with others, I try to be helpful to them. I make minor repairs as I can, I help with the cooking and cleaning when I can. Note the “when I can”. Just because I stay with someone, that never gives me the right to decide I must clean their house for them, or rearrange furniture, or help them throw out what I consider useless. It also means I do not own a house any more. Since I do not own the dwellings I stay in, I am careful not to damage those dwellings. I also may be able to help out with the groceries, utility bills and other expenses part of the time.

To be truthful, when living with others, you or I do depend on their generosity. We are guests in their houses, even if they treat us as family members. Sometimes that is a difficult distinction. We are not there full time, which means we should be guests, doesn’t it? Yet, we are there long enough that we can not be guests any more.

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