Watching, timing

Friday, November 4, 2011

Can you tell me what time it is? This is not an idle question. It is a plea for accurate information.

If you go into our kitchen and face the wall with the range, microwave and refrigerator, you will see three digital clocks not more than a couple of feet apart. Some of the time they display the same time. Some of the time they do not. Some of the time they display "PF," which means at some point the electricity went off.

These kitchen clocks are not reliable timekeepers.

If you go into our family room and face the cabinet -- with doors open -- that hides the TV, you will see a crazy clock. I mean bonkers. This clock is supposed to be super smart. It is called an atomic clock. I do not know what that means, except it hasn't exploded. Yet. The box the clock came in said the clock would be automatically set by radio signals and would be accurate to one one-millionth of a second, based on the nation's official atomic-powered clock somewhere in these United States.

Wow! What a clock. Except it goes nuts every few months.

See, this clock was manufactured -- in China, of course -- back in the days when daylight saving time started when was it? End of April? And in those days DST ended -- or, to put it another way, God's time started -- the first weekend in October. Right? Something like that. It was all so confusing that I was never sure when to start and stop DST. And I still don't. But I think DST ends Sunday morning at 2 a.m. which is Nov. 6.

Tell that to my atomic clock made in China.

In spite of radio frequencies and atomic power and goodness knows what else, my clock thinks DST ended LAST Sunday. That afternoon, my wife said, "It sure feels later than 4:30." And, sure enough, it was later. An hour later. The clock was an hour early.

Or something like that.

So I reset the atomic clock, fearing I might be pushing buttons that could make everything -- and I do mean everything -- go haywire, when all I wanted to know is what time it was.

After I reset the atomic clock, Denver did not implode. That's the good news. The bad news is that my smart Chinese clock reset itself. AGAIN. So if "60 Minutes" had been on time instead of delayed, as usual, by a football game, we would have missed it. Or maybe we did and I just used that as another excuse to rail about the CBS nincompoops who dreamed up a schedule for televising football at a time guaranteed to screw up the entire Sunday night prime-time lineup for the whole season.

There, that's off my chest. I feel so much better.

My wife's Aunt Della and Uncle Alf were dear, simple people. They lived a life of regular daily routine that started with an early breakfast and ended with going to bed early, unless Lawrence Welk was on.

You know what? Aunt Della and Uncle Alf never, ever reset their clocks for daylight saving time. Never. Not once.

To their way of thinking, if God had wanted us to spring forward and fall back every year, he would have made smarter Chinese clockmakers. For one thing.

I am so tempted to follow their example.

So. Would I be an hour late or an hour early for everything? What time is it?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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