Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Fall Back Plan

So, this past Saturday night it was fall back, not in the sense of retreat, although I could use a nice retreat right about now, but in setting clocks back one hour.  This marked the end of Daylight Saving Time, and our return to our regularly scheduled standard time, which for those of us on the east coast of the US is known as Eastern Standard Time.

As you may have have noticed, the Daylight Saving Time period has been expanded over the years, week by week by week, so that now it stretches from the second week in March to the first week in November.  That covers about 8 months, or 3/4 of the year, so in what sense is Standard Time still standard?

The reason given for extending Daylight Saving Time is that it saves on energy. This may be true, but the main reason we have it is to serve the interests of commerce, to keep stores open later, as well as other forms of daytime recreation and entertainment. Farmers have traditionally been opposed to Daylight Saving Time, and neither does it serve the interests of businesses based on nighttime activities.  So this actually is a political issue.

And overall, the shifting back and forth can be disruptive and confusing, domestically and even more so internationally, because the whole world does not make the shift at the same time, and some nations don't make the shift at all.  Nowadays, there's often a period of a week or two between the time when North America makes the shift, and European nations do. I once participated in an international conference call where one caller from France phoned in an hour late for this very reason.

The funny thing is, however, that the shift has become less and less of a production for us in recent years. I'm sure most of us remember the days when you had to go around the house, resetting one clock after another, and many watches as well. Today, well, I don't know about you, but we get our time mostly from cable boxes, cell phones, and computers, all of which make the adjustment automatically. I still have to change a clock or two at home, but it's hardly a priority, we almost never look at it for time, it's more of a decoration than anything else now. I did have to fix the time on my car yesterday, and turn my watch back today, but these are more like afterthoughts now, rather than the big deal it once was.

But this year, it was even more of a non-event, simply because it was so much overshadowed by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. At my house, we lost electricity on Monday evening, and didn't get it back until Friday afternoon (my Twitter quip about this on Thursday was Another day without electricity. It just leaves me feeling... powerless). All in all, it wasn't too terrible, but it did serve as a reminder of what the nights were like before electricity⎯cold, dark, and highly claustrophobic. I don't want to make it sound like this was some kind of horrible ordeal, there were people who had it so very much worse than we did. But without electricity, especially without the electric light to turn night into day, the relationship to time changes dramatically, and even more so with everything shut down, no school or work, nowhere to go, and no desire to waste gasoline.  The result was that time just didn't have the same meaning as it otherwise would.  

So, having gone through that, and even with power restored having no where to go, and again, with devices making the transition automatically, the time shift went by with more of a whimper than a bang.

But even more so, having lost a week due to all the power outages, gaining an hour seemed so very insignificant by comparison. So my modest proposal is, quite simply this: Let's set the calendar back by one week.  After all, New Jersey Governor Christie declared Monday, November 5 to be Halloween, so why not retroactively make it Monday, October 29.  Now, I know some folks will protest about changing the day that Christmas takes place, but come on, we all know that date was never written in stone, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the holiday later anyway, so for once all of Christianity could be more or less in sync.  As for Wicans celebrating the winter solstice, they don't need to follow the calendar, and the Jewish calendar doesn't have to change, so Hanukkah would fall a week earlier on the Gregorian calendar than it does right now.

Of course, having gained a week, we'd need to give it back later, and I know exactly when that should be.  In March.  Everyone hates the month of March, there are no holidays to break it up, it just seems to go on forever, so let's spring forward a week at that time, and get to April that much quicker.

So, that's my fall back plan, how about it? Are you with me?

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