Timed Out

“C’mon, dude, wake up! It’s mornin’ already!”

Not, dude. It’s still, like, mostly dark out.”

“So I can’t help it if the sun don’t get up ’til after we hafta, this time of year, dude. It’s already after seven, and if we don’t …”



“Check yer cell phone, willya?”

“What good’s that gonna do … six AM? What the …”

“Forgot about daylight saving time, eh, dude? Like, that it ended last night?”

“Y’mean I coulda slept a whole ‘nother hour? Damn!

Tell me about it, dude.”

“Why don’t you tell me why they’ve gotta mess with the clocks anyways, dude? All this springin’ forward an’ fallin’ back makes me dizzy.”

“You’re dizzy, all right, dude, but I don’t think y’can blame it on the clocks. Nice try, though.”

“Dude, with friends like you, who needs time zones? You gonna answer my question or what?”

“How the hell should I know? Gives the tourists an extra hour of daylight during the season, to buy stuff in the shops without havin’ to blunder about in the dark, maybe.”

“But, dude, this shouldn’t work. Daylight saving time doesn’t actually make the day longer. If folk want extra time to do stuff at night, they should just get up earlier in the mornin’!

There’s a reason why getting up early doesn’t work, and daylight saving time does, dude. You who wanted to sleep in this morning.

“OK, OC, what do you know about it?”

More than two dudes who can’t figure out the time of day. You know each one of you is toting around a clock, don’t you?

“Look, give me a break, willya? Dude’s already made me haul out the cell phone once in the last five minutes.”

Not in your pocket, dude. In your body.

“What? Where?!?

Don’t tempt me. It’s called, among other things, a circadian rhythm. It helps to tell you when to get up and when to go to bed, even if you have to be in, like, a room where the lights are on all day and night. There’s only one problem.”

“You mean besides tryin’ to find this thing before it drives you nuts?

Too late, dude. The problem is, the day that most people’s circadian rhythm recognizes is actually a bit longer than 24 hours. Things like dawn and nightfall reset the clock. Give the body a little extra time before dawn and nightfall, and it more or less happily goes along. Try to take that extra time away, and the body says ‘hey, waitaminute!’. So it actually makes some sense that we feel that we have ‘extra time’ when we take an hour of daytime away from the morning and tack it onto the evening.

“So put the clocks on daylight saving time and leave them there.”

People have tried that, dude. Doesn’t work everyplace, because you’ve got to get up sometime during the morning, and rigging the clocks so that a whole lot of people have to run around in the dark trying to get to work is a recipe for disaster. Y’know, people walking into walls, or driving into school buses, that sort of thing. Especially in places where the time zone time is really out of whack with solar time.

Solar time?”

Yeah. You do know that there was no such thing as a time zone before people invented railroads? Everyplace calculated its own time, based on when the sun was highest in the sky at that particular place. But that made it hell to try and figure out when the 8:40 to Chicago would pull into the station. Whose 8:40? So they made time zones. And people have been monkeying with them ever since. Including all this daylight saving time stuff.

Of course, we could stop monkeying with them if we wished to, with all these 4G networks and smart phones we got now. The phone already knows where you are, wouldn’t take much for it to calculate solar time for that location. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about whether you live in a time zone where solar noon is actually at 3 PM Timbuktu Daylight Saving Time. You could literally follow the sun, and, all things considered, your circadian rhythms would be much happier.

“But, OC! How would we know what time CSI comes on?”

I think they’ll be able to work that out, dude.


Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba has had circadian rhythms (more specifically, air-travel-induced disruptions to same) on the brain lately, along with a bunch of other, mostly work-related things. As those of you who read Quilly’s blog likely know, I’ve been to Hawaii and back once in the past three weeks, and am heading out again tomorrow for another week. When not in the lab out there, I’ve been in the lab here, and that’s pretty much put paid to posting on this site or visiting other blogs (for which I apologize). This state of affairs looks like continuing into the foreseeable future. But you all know what the Seven Dwarfs sang as they marched off to the mine each morning: I owe, I owe …

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3 Responses to Timed Out

  1. Nessa says:

    My clock changed by 12 hours over the last 25 years. I now wake up when I used to go to sleep.

  2. quilly says:

    This post very neatly explains why you disappeared off the grid (cell phone/text/email) for 12 hours after reaching Hawaii. But I do think you should have called before you completely lost consciousness!

  3. Bill says:

    It should stay on Standard Time all year. I prefer having the Daylight in the Morning. But that’s just me.

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