I woke up this morning, looked at the clock, and then realized with a bright surge of delight that we had “fallen back” an hour overnight. So I rolled over and enjoyed a pleasant doze and some rambling dreams to commemorate the occasion.
After getting up, I made a fine cup of coffee and continued the celebration by walking around the house, changing the settings on all of the clocks that aren’t “smart” — which means pretty much every clock in our house except the ones on our cellphones and the computer — and relished rolling them back an hour. I punched the new time into the clock on the microwave, and rewound the old-fashioned art deco clocks at our bedsides. It’s all part of the ritual, as important to the proper observance of the time change as any aspect of any religious service. Some people recite the Rosary, some people sing the Doxology, I happily engage in the Liturgy of the Extra Hour.
Because getting an extra hour on a Sunday that dawns bright and crisp and clear and full of possibilities is truly a cause of rejoicing.
It’s Thanksgiving, the quintessential holiday for American families.
It’s a holiday where each family tends to develop its own rich trove of traditions. Maybe it’s a family football game before or after the feast. Maybe it’s a particular food, like Aunt Gertrude’s oyster stuffing or cranberry sauce still maintaining the shape of the can from which it came, sliced to produce red hockey pucks. Maybe it’s the rickety, riotous “kid’s table” where everyone under the age of 30 has to sit because the real dining room table can’t accommodate the whole clan.
But one of the biggest and most closely held traditions has to do with time — as in, when do you sit down for your meal? Newly married couples learn to their astonishment that not every family eats at the same time. Some people eat at noon, right after the parades end. Some people eat at four, squeezing the meal in between the football games on TV. So the newly married couple might eat two meals, one with each family, until they start to establish their own traditions.
I’ve never heard of anyone waiting until a more standard dinner time — say, 7 p.m. — to eat their turkey. By then, most of us are chowing a cold turkey sandwich, pounding down a second piece of pumpkin pie, and groaning at our gluttony.
Wherever you are, and whenever you eat, Happy Thanksgiving!
“Spring ahead, fall back.” The shifting of hours and the changing of clocks in connection with Daylight Savings Time has been going on for as long as I can remember.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to appreciate the “fall back” part of the process more and more. What the heck! It’s autumn, and it’s getting colder. Why not stay snug in your warm bed for an extra hour? And after staying out later than normal last night, getting home after midnight after enjoying the Buckeyes’ drubbing of Illinois at Ohio Stadium, the extra hour of shut-eye is even more welcome. The fact that it’s a shivery 28 degrees outside just confirms the wisdom of this timekeeping sleight-of-hand.
Ben Franklin was all of 78 years old when he came up with the idea for shifting clocks to save a candle or two. You think the idea might have been motivated by the notion of getting an extra hour of sleep on a cold autumn morning?
Recently I had an appointment at a designated time. I was there early. The designated time came and went. About ten minutes late, things finally got underway.
I tried not to let this bug me, but deep down it did.
Growing up, I was taught that it is rude to be late. If you say you will be somewhere at a particular time, you should be there. My grandparents were famous for never being late. They drilled their punctuality habits into UJ and me — and old habits die hard.
I recognize that a few minutes isn’t a big deal, but I’ll always believe that not being on time shows disrespect. The tardy person clearly doesn’t value the on-time person’s time. I think it also shows other things. If you can’t organize your schedule to make your appointments, what else are you failing to manage or account for properly?
Some examples of self-centered tardiness are worse than others. The most egregious example I experienced occurred when a guy I was meeting was 25 minutes late, then showed up with his gym bag and breezily said he’d been working out. Seriously? I readily concluded that the guy was a selfish jerk, and I’ve never changed my mind.
If you want to make a good impression on me, please be on time! If you want to start out with two strikes against you, be late. And if you want to be on my shit list forever, bring along your gym bag, too.
I long ago stopped wearing a wristwatch, and when I arrived in Paris my smartphone — which has been my primary time-telling device for some years now — was out of network and not working.
As a result, I’ve spent the last few days wandering this lovely city, happily oblivious to the time. Richard has a wristwatch, and there are clocks in the apartment we’re renting that we can check if we absolutely have to be somewhere by a specific time. There are even occasional clocks along the routes of our travels, like this beautiful clock found on one of the government buildings on the Ile de la Cite.
For the most part, however, we’ve been moving in response to our own internal rhythms, not the dictates of some infernal machine. We’re eating when we’re hungry, drinking when we’re thirsty, and resting when we’re tired. We know the sun goes down around 5 p.m. (We don’t really know what time the sun rises, because we’ve been sleeping late.) And we know when, after a long day of sightseeing, strolling, and eating some fine meals, it’s time to go to bed.
One of the real pleasures about this kind of trip is not being slave to a clock.
Lately my commute to and from work has become more and more difficult. It’s forcing me to make one of those tough choices that often confront modern Americans — between time and stress.
In days gone by I would leave the house a little before 7 a.m., encounter light traffic on 161, see a moderate increase in traffic as I moved onto I-270 and finally I-670, and then cruise down Third Street. Absent an accident, I made it downtown in about 25 minutes and almost never had to stop on the freeway.
Those days, sadly, are over. Even though I leave at the same time, traffic has gotten much worse. I often hit bumper-to-bumper congestion as soon as I merge onto 161 and routinely have to come to a dead stop on I-270 and I-670 as I inch my way downtown. It may be the increasing number of people who are living in the northeast part of town, or perhaps it’s a change in traffic patterns brought about by the highway construction that has occurred over the past few years. Whatever the reason, there are many more cars clogging up my formerly free-wheeling route.
The bad traffic means more stress. People who are frustrated by the gridlock change lanes abruptly. Some drivers — always the ones in front of you, of course — make no effort to close up gaps between them and the traffic ahead, so cars cut in constantly. You’re stuck behind a bus or a semi and can’t see what’s going on down the road. When traffic comes to a sudden stop, you worry about whether the driver of the car charging up to your rear is paying attention or will plow into you because he’s been checking his Facebook page on his cell phone.
Avoiding this kind of nerve-jangling commute is why I started leaving the house just before 7 a.m. in the first place. So now I’ve got a new choice — leave 15 minutes earlier and beat the increased traffic, or just endure the increased stress. Today I’ve decided to sacrifice the time to avoid the stress, but I’m not particularly happy about it.
It is November 1. Today many Americans will shake their heads sadly and say to a loved one, co-worker, or friend: “Wow, can you believe it’s November already? This year really has flown.”
If you find yourself making such a scintillating observation, you need to face facts — you’re obviously getting up there. There is no surer sign of aging than remarking ruefully on the rapid passage of time. AARP enrollment scouts that have infiltrated the general population listen for such comments and immediately arrange for membership mailings to be sent to the speaker. Salesmen of retirement planning products target such people for detailed sales presentations on the merit of annuities. You may as well make permanent reservations at the “early bird” sitting at the nearest inexpensive cafeteria that gives the Golden Buckeye card discount, lay in a lifetime supply of bluing rinse, and hitch your trousers up to nipple height.
In case you’ve forgotten, young people never say such things. If they even notice that another month has gone by, it’s probably because it means that Christmas is another month nearer and, perhaps, it’s time to start behaving so they have a reasonable chance of being rewarded by Santa Claus. Or, they are excited about Thanksgiving and seeing whether they can eat even more turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie than they did last year. Or, they’re in high school or college and are looking forward to that long winter break when they can sleep in even later, get together with their friends, and worry their parents when they don’t come home until 2 a.m.
So, if you’re tempted today to express sad surprise that November is here, do yourself a favor and refrain. You’re only demonstrating that, mentally at least, you’re far along on the road to geezerdom.
How do you determine “sexual satisfaction” on a city-wide basis when many, if not most, people consider their intimate relationships to be their own, deeply private business — particularly in a reserved Midwestern burg like Columbus? Men’s Health looked at condom sales, birth rates, and the sale of sex toys and other erotic paraphernalia from two retailers I’ve never heard of (Babeland and Pure Romance). I’m skeptical that looking at just these factors gives the Men’s Health survey the same scientific weight as, say, the Kinsey reports. The factors may have some relation to sex, but they don’t necessarily seem to correlate with “satisfaction.” Higher condom sales may just indicate that people are being more responsible in practicing safe sex, not that they are having more (or more rewarding) sex. And the sale of sex toys could mean just about anything, including that the maid of honor thought a few racy gifts given to the reserved bride might spice up the bachelorette party.
I don’t know if Columbus is more “sexually satisfied” than Lexington, Kentucky, which Men’s Health placed at number 100, and I’m not going to try to find out. We don’t talk about such things in polite company, thank you very much.
When we moved to New Albany in 1996, we planted a small pine tree in our back yard. At that time, our neighborhood was basically a bare expanse with some houses here and there, and the little conifer was part of an effort to add some texture and definition to our neck of North of Woods.
Every year since then, without fail, the little pine tree has grown a few feet. Now it is a little tree no longer. I’m not sure exactly how tall it has grown — 40 feet? 50 feet? — but it is the tallest tree in the ‘hood, and towers over our back yard. It’s hard to believe it once was little, but time has a way of having that kind of effect on things.
It works with birthdays, too — you remember the little sapling, and the next thing you know it is fully developed, mature, and holding its own in the forest of life.
I’m not surprised by Newsweek‘s demise, and I suspect I’m not alone. When was the last time you subscribed to Newsweek or bought one at a newsstand? We subscribed to Newsweek, as well as Time, Sports Illustrated, Sport, Life, Look, and other magazines when I was a kid, but Kish and I haven’t subscribed to any newsmagazine in years. (The only periodicals we get these days are the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and by Kish’s edict we’ll get them until the 12th of Never.) I can’t remember the last time I bought, or even read, Newsweek.
When I pass newsstands in airports and give a quick glance to the magazine rack, Newsweek always seems to feature some bold, intentionally controversial headline about some social or political issue. It’s as if the magazine is consciously designed to try to entice passersby into plunking down their money to see whether the article is really as provocative as the cover indicates. It’s somewhat pathetic, and it is a far cry from the sober, objective, we-cover-the-important-issues-of-the-world-in-depth approach that newsmagazines took during the ’60s and ’70s.
The print media is dying; the internet is killing it. Weekly magazines can’t compete with on-line content that is delivered immediately and without the costs of paper, delivery postage, and so forth. Even if you subscribe to on-line content providers — and I typically don’t — you are paying less and getting more, more quickly, than magazines or newspapers can provide. There’s no way print can compete unless it moves into a niche that the web doesn’t provide. General reporting on national and world affairs, such as Newsweek used to provide, isn’t such a niche.
Leap seconds exist because the Earth doesn’t rotate with absolute precision. It speeds up and slows down as it spins, making some days a few milliseconds faster or slower than others. The problem is that these little spurts and slowdowns put the Earth out of phase with the precise measurement of atomic clocks. Leap seconds were added in 1972 to try keep Earth and atomic clocks in sync. The leap seconds get added here and there, whenever the discrepancy reaches .9 second.
The randomness of the leap second poses problems for systems that require a continuous time reference, like navigation and telecommunications systems. So, some countries — like the United States, Japan, and France — want to get rid of it. Others, like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada, want to keep it because they don’t want the Earth and atomic clocks to get too far out of phase.
After vigorous debate, a typical modern resolution occurred: we’ll just defer a decision until 2015. Seems fitting to delay a decision about time, doesn’t it? In the meantime, enjoy well those magical leap seconds — whenever they occur.