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Frame Of Reference

I caught myself making a stupid assumption about Australia regarding geography. It is in the Southern Hemisphere and the directional norms for North and South are reversed, i.e. the climate is colder the further South you go, and warmer the further North.

Melbourne on the South coast would be like Richmond, Virginia, while Darwin on the North coast is like Managua, Nicaragua. The Tropic of Capricorn runs through the center of the continent, while it’s northern counterpart, the Tropic of Cancer, runs through the center of Mexico, and divides Cuba from Florida.

To get an appreciation for the recent heat wave, think about 115° in central Virginia.


1 Kryten42 { 02.10.09 at 7:27 pm }

Ehhh… Don’t be too hard on yourself. 🙂 Frames of reference are always difficult. I have to constantly adjust my thinking when commenting about things in the Southern hemisphere. But I guess I have the advantage of having lived there for awhile. Used to confuse me actually, for awhile. 🙂

That’s why I added to my comment a couple days ago to try to explain why this is a particularly severe summer for us *down South*. 🙂 We are supposed to have a *mild* climate! Someone forgot to explain that to Mother Nature, obviously. 🙂

2 Kryten42 { 02.10.09 at 7:34 pm }

Oh! One other point I intended to make… People often misunderstand the size of the Australian mainland. It’s roughly the same size as the USA mainland, and is the World’s 6th largest country, and the largest country that inhabits it’s own continent.

Here are some images that help understand the relative sizes:
Australia’s Size Compared

3 Bryan { 02.10.09 at 9:28 pm }

The size wasn’ t my problem, it was the North-South thing, and I am aware of it when I think about it because of friends from Chile and Argentina who would borrow cold weather gear to go camping on trips home. They got rid of their stuff when they moved to the US. There is a reason a company named Patagonia sells cold weather gear, and people wear knitted hats with ear-flaps.

You learn it in school and forget it in real life.

4 Jim Bales { 02.11.09 at 8:32 pm }


That is an easy reversal to make. In the mid-70’s my family lived in Geelong, some 100-200 miles from where the worst of the fires are. over 3 winters we would see frost on the ground a few mornings each year, but I don’t recall it ever snowing where we were.

Summers had rather hot stretches, but nothing then remotely like they have been the last several years.


5 Bryan { 02.11.09 at 10:53 pm }

I get annoyed because I once flew around the world on a regular basis and took these changes in stride without thinking about them. Flying out of Alaska you regularly flew into tomorrow and landed yesterday, and I kept up with it.

6 hipparchia { 02.12.09 at 1:22 am }

…regularly flew into tomorrow and landed yesterday, and I kept up with it.

yes, but did you do so standing on your head? i never had any trouble with the flipping of north and south, but the time warp of the international dateline always throws me. always. i suppose this is as good a place as any to confess that i never would have learned to tell time if they hadn’t invented digital clocks.

7 Bryan { 02.12.09 at 10:06 am }

Shemya was just to the East of the Dateline, so I had an advantage of a lot of practice, especially when certain events were tagged by the local date and time. I also wore two watches – one set to the GMT/UTC and the other tracked my local and target local times with a movable bezel back in analog days.

8 hipparchia { 02.12.09 at 10:38 pm }

argh!movable bezels!that’s even worse. i’m just going to go throw myself off a cliff now. there are a lot of things in this world that are circular, but time isn’t one of them.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

9 Bryan { 02.12.09 at 11:22 pm }

Blame the Babylonians, they’re the ones that thought base 60 was a convenient system.

My current LCD supports two time zones, so it is set for Central and UTC.