Sunday, March 8, 2009

Looking Through The Hour Glass Darkly

As I was setting my clocks forward an hour this morning, I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only sane person in this world asylum. What an absurd practice. What difference in anyone's lives does it make by adjusting our clocks by one hour to when the sun rises and sets?

Apparently I am not alone.

Marc Pascal, certainly a brighter light bulb than myself in this area, explains the archaic and convoluted historical logic of this practice in a guest column for The Moderate Voice where I am a regular co-blogger.

Pascal dashed one urban legend in my mind culled from my childhood education that Daylight Savings Time was a throwback to our agrarian economy to accommodate our farmers.

Well, my dad was a farmer and I can swear on a stack of Bibles animals cannot tell time by our watch. They have their own inner-clock mechanisms. Nor does a pepper plant or cabbage blossom faster by our clocks adjusted one hour one way or another.

In his historical analysis, Pascal committed one tiny error of omission. He said one-hour time changes tried and failed until World War II and became the law of the land after that except for the states of Hawaii and Arizona who told Congress to take their hour and shove it. Actually, during WWII the time change was TWO hours.

But I digress.

I have six clocks. The bedroom and microwave clocks are easy. You hit reset and punch the hour key. My computer and cable TV clocks change automatically. You need a Phillips screwdriver to wind my battery-propelled wall clock.

And, then there's my wristwatch. For years, I bought those cheap battery watches in which time and day changes were so high tech for my Neanderthal mind and fat clumsy fingers that I required my son or some teenager to make the hour adjustments.

In an effort to bypass high tech, I began buying watches with dials where you simply pull the stem, twist and adjust the time.

Alas, this morning I pulled the stem completely out of the clock casing. I shoved it back in but could not do anything to move the dials. I suspect the gears are stripped.

From now until October, my wristwatch is running an hour behind the rest of the world. Unless, of course, the battery goes dead or the wristband breaks and I'll buy a new cheap model.

I've always considered this hour switcharoo kind of Orwellian. The media faithfully adheres to it as it dutifully reminds its audience twice a year to adjust their clocks.

One would think that's a simple thing. Naught!

The San Diego Union years ago instructed its readers to tie a string around their finger to remind themselves to set their clocks back one hour that morning. Unfortunately, clocks were to be set forward one hour that day.

The paper overnight became a national joke. The poor reporter forgot to remember the crucial axiom about time changes.

Spring ahead. Fall back.

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