As you know, if you’ve been following us, we are currently on a trans-Pacific repositioning cruise that left Los Angeles on April 3rd and will drop us off in Japan on April 29. When we were providing information online for the cruise line, Deena tried to enter my birthday (April 12th) for a special event just to see what the cruise line was going to give me for my birthday. Every time she entered it, though, the web page kept saying “invalid date” and refused to accept it.
She told me and I, the “computer expert”, tried it with the same result. Naturally, I wrote an email to web development department at Princess to explain they had a little problem. April twelfth is so obviously a valid date, right?
On board the Sapphire Princess, we noticed several cabins here and there that had a birthday sign on the door and a couple of pretty balloons taped to the wall. Deena went to the Guest Services desk to explain that she couldn’t enter my birthday but thought I ought to be entitled to whatever perks were available to me on April 12th.
The International Date Line is the imaginary line on the other side of the world from Greenwich in the United Kingdom, or the place of the Universal Time Coordinate (or UTC for short). It used to be called Greenwich Mean Time because the world standard clock was kept by the Greenwich Observatory. Now, though, the world’s time is kept by averaging a few atomic clocks around the world. I guess Greenwich got tired of winding the clock.
If one travels West from the UTC, the clocks become earlier one hour at a time by time zone. Traveling the other direction from Greenwich, the clocks are later and later. On the other side of the world, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it’s 12 hours earlier from one direction and 12 hours later from the other direction. That’s a 24 hour day. What’s a time keeper to do? When you cross the International Date Line, it’s a different day. Depending on the direction, you either gain a calendar day or lose a calendar day.
Taking a west-bound cruise, like Deena and I are on, we lose a day. On this cruise, it happens to be my birthday, and the cruise director is calling the day we cross the dateline April 11th. The next day is April 13th. My birthday doesn’t exist. Eureka!! I won’t be a year older this year!
Here’s the secret then: Just cross the International Date Line going west on your birthday every year. If you birthday doesn’t exist, you can’t grow a year older, right?
In the end, they put a happy birthday sign on my door. Yeee-haaaw.