Thursday, March 12, 2009

With the time change, spring's not far behind

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

It happens twice per year. Either the clocks go ahead one hour, or they go back one hour. People get used to it eventually, but the first few days bring turmoil in the way of missed appointments and internal clocks thrown for a loop, especially sleep patterns!

Personally, I adapt pretty well. An hour more of sleep or an hour less -- it doesn't make a ton of difference to me. I'll be a bit draggy during the mornings this week because my body says it's 4:55 a.m. when my alarm clock says it's 5:55 a.m., my usual wake-up time. But I'll adjust. I always do.

Some aren't so lucky. One friend was complaining on Facebook the other day that it takes her three months to adjust. Luckily, I don't have that problem, but to be out of sorts for three months is rough stuff! I'm glad that I'm one of the lucky ones who adapts reasonably quickly after a couple of difficult days.

On Sunday morning at church this past weekend, I waited for the inevitable: the people arriving during communion when they thought they were arriving early. In fact, one family arrived about 35 minutes into the service and sat in the pew behind me. If I had known them, I would have turned around and teasingly stated the obvious, "Forgot to turn your clocks ahead last night, huh?"

In fact, I heard the church doors open a few times that morning followed by the footsteps of parishioners who were likely mighty baffled as to why church started an hour earlier than usual, only to be reminded by someone that they'd probably just forgotten to change their clocks the night before.

I like the fact that it's light out later, now. I don't mind that at all. It should help with the power bill a bit since I'll be needing the lights on in the house for an hour less every night. The January and February power bills are usually killers. With those out of the way and the arrival of daylight savings time, the next one should bring relief.

I do admit, though, that it will be tough waking up this week as my body adjusts to daylight savings time. The cats will be happy getting fed an hour "early" . . . and surely wondering if they finally managed to train me after years of whining for an hour before feeding time. If the time change gives their furry little egos a boost, then so be it.

Luckily, the time change happens on the weekend so that the only major inconveniences are people arriving very late or very early for church, depending on whether you're talking about the spring or the fall. Of course, those who work on Sunday and who forgot to change their clocks can also be adversely affected -- well, embarrassed is more like it.

It seemed to sneak up on us this year, didn't it? With the new earlier switch in the spring and the later switch in the fall, it kind of messes things up a bit. I'm still getting used to it still being light out when the kids start trick or treating at Halloween. After all, for years it was normally dark because the time change had already happened.

Overall, I think it's been a good idea to alter when we change our clocks. We can certainly wait a few weeks in the fall for it to get dark earlier, and in the winter it's quite nice to have it light out for a bit later in the evening. Makes handling these last few weeks of winter that much easier, right? Now that it's March and people's patience with the snow is wearing mighty thin, at least the longer days offer some solace.

Personally, I always make sure I change my clocks early on the evening before we're supposed to change them. That way, I don't get any nasty surprises in the morning. Thankfully, the clock in my car is easy to change, but I know a few people who can't figure out how to change the clocks in their own vehicles, so they have to either add an hour or delete an hour for one part of the year, and the clock is accurate for the other part of the year.

The car company that makes the vehicle I currently drive makes it super easy to change the time on the clock. As for the car I owned before, I truly believe a person needed a Ph.D in physics to figure out how to change the time. I would dig through the instruction manual, find the right page and then agonize for a good hour over how to change the time on that blasted digital dashboard clock. It was incredibly complicated -- seriously. "Hold down button A while tapping the rhythm of a penguin's heartbeat with your thumb on button B. Then say a prayer in Japanese to Santa Claus, burp three times, close your eyes and hope for the best!"

The clock in the car I have now has two buttons. "H" for hour and "M" for minute. Very simple. I'll probably buy another one in a year from now just because it's easy to change the time on the clock. Very important, don't ya know! My criteria are as follows: air conditioning, keyless electronic entry, power windows and a clock that doesn't require me hiring an engineer to change the time.

With only a few more weeks of winter left, spring is in the air. Let's not kid ourselves: there will be a few more storms, but the seasons will eventually change. They always do. One day soon, the smell of melting dog droppings will permeate through the air and we'll take a deep breath and smile. "Ah, spring is on its way!"

In the meantime, at least during this first week of daylight savings time, try not to oversleep and be too cranky when your alarm clock goes off. And enjoy that extra hour of sunlight in the evening.

After a long winter, we deserve it!

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