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Time Traveling

Web posted on March 09, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Twice a year many of us time travel. We don't have a fancy time machine like in the movies or a TARDIS, and we don't even have choice. Stephen Hawking beat me to the title I thought about using. Therefore this will be a very short history of time keeping, well sort of.

As we all know our planet revolves around it's axis once every twenty four hours and a bit. (That bit adds up and gives us leap years.) Thus giving us twenty four solar time zones. Simple and easy. Then us humans get into the act and we create twenty four arbitrary time zones, many of which make little or no sense. Then to even confuse the issue even more there are the half hour offsets to the time zones. Just to make things interesting, our day begins in the middle of the Pacific, and our time keeping is based in Greenwich, England. Look up Greenwich Mean Time if you are in need of a headache.

Looking at a time zone map will really make your head hurt. How they managed to get some of the time zones can only be explained by politics not by logic. For example, China spans four time zones, yet the entire country is on Beijing time. We span six time zones but use only five and a half. London and Paris are in different time zones. Chile on the west coast of South America is in the same time zone as Brazil and Greenland when it should be in the Eastern time zone. Then there are those countries like India, or parts of countries like Newfoundland (but not Labrador), that are half an hour out of sync.

It does make sense to have time zones aligned with state, province, or country boarders, thus creating some interesting time zones. This still does not explain how they came up with some of the time zone boundaries. Theoretically this is better than it used to be when every city set their own clocks.

It even gets more confusing when you consider that some countries stay on Daylight Saving Time all year around, some stay on Standard Time all year. Of course, the closer to the equator, the less need to change the clock at all. Not all countries change their clocks on the same weekend. It is truly amazing how badly we have screwed up time keeping. I wonder what they do on planets with intelligent life?

The amount of available daylight stays the same no matter what we do with our clocks. The only real difference is when we get the extra daylight, morning or evening. Some people function better in the morning, and others better in the evening, and as we all know teenagers live in their own time zone. Our body clocks run on the amount of daylight we get. Because the amount of daylight changes by a few minutes every day, our bodies are used to this and cope easily.

By changing the clock by one hour, it does mess with our body clock. For most people it takes a day or two to get used to the change. The general rule of thumb for travelers is about one day of recovery time for each time zone. The other thing to consider is that for the most part it is easier to travel forward in time than back in time. It seems easier to adjust in spring than it does in the autumn. Every time we change our clocks we create all sorts of problems from health issues to an increase in accidents.

When I retired I stopped wearing a watch. I never did understand the concept of giving clocks or watches as retirement gifts. I don't change my clocks until the battery dies or the power goes out, then I set the clock to the current time. Right now all my clocks are on Daylight Time except for the computers, that change automatically. Given a choice, I would probably stay on Standard Time all year around. I prefer my daylight in the morning. It may seem strange and confusing, but it works for me. I like to think of it as Curmudgeon Standard Time. Unless I have to be somewhere at a given time, I do things when I want to. No stress, no problem.

If you must, turn your clocks ahead by one hour this weekend.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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