04 April 2006

For the record

I write dates either in ISO format, as 2006-04-05, or in what I call "engineering format," as 05 APR 2006 (most often the latter, but I've been known to use the former). These formats make the most sense because they're in order of significance. It's just stupid to write 4/5/06 and have the significances all out of order. I mean, would you write a time as MM:SS:HH? Of course not, because it doesn't make any damn sense.

So, as far as I'm concerned, tomorrow is not 04/05/06. 04/05/06 is either the fourth of May in 2006 or the sixth of May in '04.


Anonymous Michael said...

Did you write that sober?

11:17 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

I've never had a drink in my life. Except for the various sips of wine that my sister and brother-in-law periodically insist I try. They're like, "Oh, you'll like this one! It tastes like berries!" Bullshit. Know what it tastes like? Alcohol.

Anyway, as you can see from the post and this comment, I'm in a rant-y mood tonight.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Dave in Texas said...

engineer format was invented by the US Army.

about 238 years ago

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Enas Yorl said...

Sorry Mrs. Peel but I'm gonna have to disagree with you here. I like the MM/DD/YY format. In human terms the current year is the default so typically you don't even need the year (MM/DD) in day-to-day usage that's why it's at the end. Month is first because we generally organize ourselves our lives around the monthly cycle. It works in terms of the perspective of the human time scale. You wrote "I mean, would you write a time as MM:SS:HH?" You might if your life time existed on the scale of adult Mayflies.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous someone said...

You sound like... like... a Eurosnob.

We're Americans. We like month first. Deal with it.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

Good points, Enas. I was thinking about that earlier today, because when I write just the month and day, I do tend to write "April 5" (although I have a friend who writes "5 April," and given the volume of our correspondence, I won't be surprised if I pick up this habit), and in conversation, I do say "April fifth." (My watch is set to display DD.MM, though.) So in terms of day-to-day usage, you are correct.

But I maintain that occasions on which you are writing the entire date are also occasions on which it just doesn't make sense to not give the numbers in order of significance. For example, say you're naming a file, like a weekly progress report or something, and you append the date. If you put MMDDYY, then when you sort all your weekly progress reports by name, they won't be in chronological order. Or say you're taking notes at a meeting, and you write the date at the top. Using ISO format (YYYY-MM-DD) makes sorting your meeting notes by date very easy.

And someone, you can call me a eurosnob when I start writing decimals with a friggin comma.

Glad to see you back, by the way. I was a bit concerned by your long absence.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous mark flacy said...


Date/time groups with a 24 hour clock and time zone designator is the way to go. Why be ambiguous?

10:40 PM  
Blogger JFH said...

As long as we're venting, I HATE when people call the 24 hour format of telling time as "military time"...

12:40 AM  

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