Friday, November 03, 2006

Daylight Slavings

"So, what time is it?" my mother asked.

"10 a.m.," I replied. "No, wait. It's 9 a.m."

"Yes, but what time is it really?"


This past weekend, my sister and her s.o. hosted a Halloween party. Washington and I had costumes to wear, but nowhere to wear them, so we made the three hour drive to my sister's just to have an excuse. We departed late Saturday and, by the time we returned late Sunday, our internal clocks were hopelessly out of whack.

You see, my sister is in another time zone, and we happened to be traveling during the "fall back" of Daylight Savings. So when we got to her place around 10:45 p.m."her time," it was 9:45 p.m. "our time." So we had to make a mental note to add an hour whenever we were asked for the time.

But then around 2 a.m. (her time), the clocks were set back for Daylight Savings. So technically, for an hour (before "our" clocks were likewise set back), we were on the same time.

But then "our" clocks also added a little sand to the stockpile, and we were once again faced with an hour differential (or do we all change at the same moment, regardless of what "time" it is? I don't even know).

The next morning (we were at my folks' by this point), my father had forgotten to set back one clock. There were two clocks positioned next to each other, and I wasn't sure which one was correct. The one that said 8 a.m.? The one that said 7?

And was it not, in actuality, 6 o'clock "my time"? Or 7?

I checked my cell phone. It said 8. I turned it off, and then on again. And it said 7.

"So it's 7 here," I thought. "That means it's 6 a.m. there."

And then for a brief moment between periods of restless sleep, I fumed about Daylight Savings.

"What a ridiculous concept," I considered (this was not my first time pontificating the matter). "How conceited is man! To play with time like this..."


If you're not following me here (and I wouldn't blame you if not), here's a recap:

I traveled from one time zone and into another. I had to add an hour to whatever my watch said.

Daylight savings happened while in this "other" time zone. I had to subtract an hour.

I returned from this time zone to my original starting point. So I subtracted yet another hour.

In all: four different time zones in 16 hours (or was it 15?), with a potential overlap between the two. I imagine a transatlantic flight is less of a "trip" than that.


For most of you, this switch is rather elementary. I mean, most of the U.S. has been on the Daylight Savings bandwagon for decades. Arizona and Indiana had long refused to comply, however, and I — for one — wish they'd stood their ground in this debate.

But not for business, agricultural or even diplomatic reasons. For me, it's entirely a matter of physics.

There is such a thing are "real" time. And now Indiana has joined much of the U.S. in defying "real" time for half of the year.

As an aspiring philosopher with an interest in Big Bang, Planck time, and all that jazz... playing with time, as we do, smacks of the sort of egotism that has long distinguished man from other members of the animal kingdom.


"What time is it?" the chicken asked the coyote.

"It's time for lunch."


OK, OK. So there are wormholes, black holes, and all sorts of other cosmic unknowns that call into question our very notions of time. But the fact remains, the time of the day and the day of the year depends on two things:

The rotation of the earth on its axis, and the revolution of the earth around the sun.

So unless it's slowed down all of a sudden — or unless it sped up when I wasn't looking — it makes sense to LEAVE THE CLOCK ALONE.


But what do I know? I bunk on the sofa when I'm at my parents', and this past weekend — early Sunday morning, just as the clocks were "technically" resetting — I went around the living room and took the batteries out of two of them.

I couldn't sleep with all that ticking.


But all is not lost! On my fourth journey through the man-made time vortex that is Daylight Savings, I was — at long last — back in my timezone. And, because "Daylight Savings" was officially over, we were back on "real time" again.

So that sound you heard last Sunday — that breeze sweeping over your shoes and rattling those fallen leaves —

That was my sigh of relief.


disgruntled world citizen said...

you crazy mid-westeners. its not all that hard. spring ahead an hour fall back an hour. its not something you necessarily need to wrap your brain around...

oh, wait, I'm talking the 'muse...

never mind, in your case... let the philosophical dilemna rage on!


michele said...

I LOVED this post!

XOXO said...

I feel your pain. I also would like to advise against traveling on the spring/fall weekends any time in your future, as it obviously is a bit overwhelming. I would like to know how many times your mom will ask you what time it is there, when talking to you on the phone.

Winter said...

My head would have exploded, I honestly would not have been able to keep up..

Anonymous said...

"Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so." THGTG

Try flying two time zones east on the day of daylight savings. Blecho.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - I will never understand.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

XOXO - All the time. Whether Daylight Savings is on... or off.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - As much as I enjoy traveling, I don't envy your work/travel schedule at all.

Just a few more days!

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - As much as I enjoy traveling, I don't envy your work/travel schedule at all.

Just a few more days!

Anonymous said...

I had one of the kids at school convinced that because we went on a field trip (to Wabash) we had entered mountain time and that it was two hours later than what all the clocks said. wrong in so many ways. impressionable young minds.