Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Forward? Fall Back? (Or: Why I Hate Daylight Savings)

I woke up Sunday morning and had no idea what time it was. My watch said it was 7:01. My alarm clock said it was 8:01. The Wife's alarm clock said it was 7:01. The clock on the living room wall said it was 6:01. It was like I had three different time zones inside my house!

Welcome to the stupidity known as Daylight Savings Time.

My problem, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, is trying to figure out which clocks change automatically and which ones don't. Before I went to bed I sprang forward sprung forward spring forwarded set my watch one hour ahead so that it would be the right time when I woke up. I also set my alarm clock one hour ahead. What I didn't remember was that my alarm clock adjusts itself for Daylight Savings. So, instead of being an hour behind like most of the clocks in the house, or right on time, like I thought it was going to be, it was a full hour ahead of where it should be.

What really threw me off, though, was The Wife's alarm clock. From past experience I knew her clock would not adjust itself. At least, not on the correct day---thanks to government meddling. You see, back in 2007 Congress decided to move Daylight Savings from April to March. (They also moved it in the fall from October to November.) Why? I don't know. My best guess is because we are paying them so much money that they decided they should probably actually do something (even if that something makes no sense whatsoever.)

Anyway, The Wife's alarm clock was made before this switch in 2007, so it now adjusts itself for Daylight Savings on the wrong day. (We had the problem a few years ago of waking up on a morning in April with the clock inexplicably an hour off. But then we figured out the reason and the inexplicable became explicabled.)

This is why I was confounded when The Wife's clock read 7:01, because I knew it didn't self-adjust. (Yet.) But, unbeknownst to me, she had sprangled it forward sprong it forward forwardly sprang it set it forward manually herself before going to bed.

It's all very confusing.

Everyone loves a blinky 12:00!!!

It didn't used to be that way. It used to be fairly simple: If it was Daylight Savings, you had to change every clock. It wasn't so bad, especially in the springtime. Moving clocks one hour forward was not much hassle. But, moving the clocks back one hour in the fall was sometimes a bit of a chore. Especially if you had an old clock radio with the "flippy" numbers.

Back in the day, before LED and LCD displays, clock radios used to have number displays that would flip to show a new number every time the minute changed. (Complete with a little "flit" sound.) To change the time display you would flip the numbers using a dial on the side of the clock radio. Unfortunately, you couldn't flip the numbers backwards, so when it came time to set the clock back one hour in the fall you had to manually flip through all 23 other hours to get to the spot you wanted. (And heaven forbid if your flipping momentum took you three or four minutes past where you wanted to be. You'd have to start over and flip through another 23-plus hours.)

Of course, the wave of the future is to have all the clocks change themselves. That's what happens now with most cell phones, iPads, iPods, and computers. When I was complaining about Daylight Savings my sister said, "That's why I like atomic clocks. They change automatically." That's all good and well, but the term "atomic clock" makes me a little nervous. I feel like I should duck and cover and crawl under my desk, just in case one of those clocks decides to go "atomic."

One of the best ways I've seen to handle the Daylight Savings time-change dilemna is on my iHome. (The iHome is an iPad charger/iPad speakers/clock radio.) On the back of the iHome is a little toggle switch that simply says "+1" or "-1" for changing the clock. All I have to do is reach behind and toggle the toggle switch and it's done! It's all very simple. (And I get to use the word "toggle" a bit more often. It's a fun word. We should all toggle more often.)

[By the way, I received no promotional considerations for the preceding paragraph from the makers of the iHome unit. At least, not yet. I am not above receiving remuneration renumeration renoomeration getting paid for plugging products.]

Most people especially dislike Daylight Savings in the spring, because that's when they "lose" an hour. But, there is a group of folks who like losing that hour in the spring. The poor saps who are working at 2:00 AM on Sunday morning when the clocks change have no problem with it, because it means they get a free hour. They only have to be there for seven actual hours to get paid for an eight hour shift. (Of course, these people especially despise Daylight Savings in the fall.)

It's happened to me before that I've gotten off of work right at 2:00 AM and have arrived home from work a half hour before I got off of work. (It's all so confusing!)

And then, there is the difference between The Wife and I at changing the clocks in the cars. The way I do it: Dig the car's manual out of the glove box; find the page about "setting the clock;" read that page; figure out what that page says to do; and then, finally, push a few buttons to change the clock. (Total elapsed time: four minutes and fifty-two seconds.) The way The Wife does it: Push a few buttons on the stereo; if it doesn't work the first time, push a few different buttons. (Total elapsed time: between five and fifteen seconds.) (Oh, and I have to do it with the car at a complete stop; she does it her way while driving down the road.)

Obviously, there is one simple solution to all of these problems of knowing when to change the clocks, knowing how to change the clocks, and knowing which clocks need changing and which clocks change themselves. That simple solution: Do away with Daylight Savings Time!

What good does it do, anyway? A lot of people think the reason we have Daylight Savings Time is so that farmers can have an extra hour of daylight to work in the evening. And that is one of the dumbestest things I've ever heard. (Even dumber than me trying, just now,  to create the word "dumbestest.") True farmers don't pay much attention to what the clock says. They pay attention to when the sun is out. If the sun is up early in the morning, farmers will just get up a little earlier. (Farmers are not afraid of 6:00 AM.)

That's the stupid thing about Daylight Savings. It's supposed to give us an "extra hour" of daylight. There's no such thing as an "extra hour." The amount of daylight is the same no matter what the clock says. It reminds me of that meme* that's been going around on Facebook and e-mails for a while that says something like "Only the government would think they could cut a foot off one end of a blanket, sew it to the other end of the blanket, and think they have a longer blanket." [*I think that's the first time I've ever used the word "meme." I've been trying to avoid it. Along with "trending," "going viral," and "haberdashery."]

Arizona is the last stronghold against Daylight Savings Time. I guess they figure that when it's 115 degrees outside, the earlier the sun goes down, the better. (It's okay, though, because it's a dry heat.)

I'm not really sure what we can do to stop Daylight Savings Time. I'd say, "write your congressman (or woman,)" but they've got their hands full doing such a bang-up job of getting the budget passed and cutting the deficit. They don't need the distraction of mail from the actual people they represent.

I guess I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that there are going to be a couple of days every year where I'm going to wake up very confused and grumpy. (As opposed to the other 363 days a year, when I wake up only slightly confused. And grumpy.)

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