What Time Is It, Really?

One World, One TimeMost of my clocks are running on Standard Time again, and those I forgot will be set by and by, as their discrepant behavior becomes apparent. It's easier than it used to be anyhow; self-adjusting clocks and watches are a big help, cell-phones generally align themselves with the time signals sent by their service providers, and of course computers have been keeping track of the change for years. Even some of the inexpensive timepieces now make the switch a painless one- or two-button operation.

The physiological effects, on the other hand, are more challenging. This jump isn't nearly as bad as the one in Spring, although the premature darkness in the evening is a bit jarring. But at least the alarm isn't going off an hour earlier than it ought to be, the way it does after the Daylight Saving Time switch. Still, it takes a while for the circadian rhythms to adjust. It's a hassle.

And now, as if this twice-yearly obstacle didn't create enough headaches already, our lawmakers have evidently decided to fool around with the timing of it. According to an article at NPR.org titled There's a New Day Ahead for Daylight Saving Time, not only are the dates changing, but they're going to be different every year. This means reprogramming not only ourselves, but all the software that's been given particular dates on which to make the change.

    This year, Daylight Saving Time began on April 2 and ends at 2 a.m. Oct. 29

    In 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 11 and ends Nov. 4

    In 2008, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 9 and ends on Nov. 2

    In 2009, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 8 and ends on Nov. 1

It's crazy, but I know it could be worse. They could make us guess when the time changes are going to happen, and everyone who guesses wrong gets a $50 fine for every day they exist in someone else's time zone. And a spanking. And no supper.

I say it’s time to stop the madness. The thing is, we’ve had a perfectly good time zone all along, one where everyone can exist in perfect happiness and synchronicity no matter where we happen to live. I'm referring, of course, to The Time Zone Formerly Known As Greenwich Mean Time, and now commonly referred to as Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, or ZULU, and occasionally That Invisible Prime Meridian Time Thing.

The obvious solution is to (1) set all our clocks and watches and whatever else keeps track of time to UTC, and (2) get happy. Sure, it might be a little weird having breakfast at 3:00 in the morning or going to bed at noon, depending on where you live. But it would be a temporary thing; you'd get used to it, and after a while it would become normal. The benefits would far outweigh the weirdness: no more actual-arrival-time calculations at the airport, or "I'll call you at 7:00 . . . your time" nonsense. If it's 7:00 in the evening here, it's 7:00 in the evening everywhere. What could be more straightforward?

While we're at it, maybe we should just go ahead and get used to the 24-hour time format as well. Military time, as some call it. No more confusion about morning and night; it's either 6:00 or 18:00—no ambiguity there. On the other hand, maybe that's too much at once; maybe one step at a time is the better way. Baby steps.

A good first step would be to set your blog to UTC, as I did. Feel the new euphoria as the chains of aberrant timekeeping slip away. Ask yourself what time it is, and feel the warmth that comes from knowing for sure. Then, when you think you're ready, move on to your wristwatch. Set it to UTC, and you're well on your way to the sanity of One World, One Time.

So who's with me? Who's ready to join the ranks of all the pilots, radio operators, scientific and technical people, and others who've been happily living in the One True Time Zone for eons, while we common folk have been left to figure out what time it is, and where, and when? I know you feel good because of that extra hour of sleep and Daylight Time is a million years away, but don't be fooled. You will set and reset and set again, and that's if you never travel. The time is now. Stop the madness.


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