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Something We Can All Agree On

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Isis Rodriguez needed some orientation. She was trying to make a Lokkal page for her upcoming open studio, and my website wasn't responding correctly on her new Mac. There was a bug. She came by my office and I found a work-around. Then, with her sitting at one desk and me at another, as she was creating an event listing on my calendar, she asked, "Is this military time?"

AM / PM is new to Mexico. Compiling events here in San Miguel, I've noticed a surprising number of events listed on Facebook that take place at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. They don't actually, but whoever listed them didn't get the AM / PM right. Military time eliminates that problem. It also happens to be the world standard. Only 18 countries use AM / PM:

Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Ireland, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, US

"Yes," I answered Isis, "it is military time."
"I never got military time," she confessed, "Were you in the military?"
I told her I was CIA.
"When is 4pm?" she continued.
"Well, noon is 12, so 12 plus 4 equals 16."
"Oh," she exclaimed appreciatively, "That's a good way to explain it."
"That's the only way to explain it," I concluded.

I have a similar cognitive lapse when it comes to Standard and Daylight Savings Time. I just don't see any difference between "Spring forward / Fall back" and "Spring back / Fall forward." Back and forward, in this usage, seem to me are like those "no parking" signs where the up arrow indicates forward of the sign, and the down arrow indicates behind the sign. That directionality seems entirely arbitrary to me. Why does up indicate forward? Up is up, no?

Call me dyslexic or too literal, but I never could wrap my head around Daylight Savings Time. Moving hours or, worse, time itself confuses and offends me. How can 4 o'clock become 5 o'clock? What are the implications for geopolitics or, worse, for the fabric of the universe?

One Sunday, I had invited a Mexican couple over for dinner. In this country, it is fashionable to be late. But as the quarter hours ticked by, and my blood sugar plummeted, I grew uneasy. Finally, an hour and a half after the appointed time, they knocked on my door. With a couple of good-humored remarks, I discovered, that I had forgotten to move my clock forward, it being that Sunday of the year. Luckily, the meal, spaghetti sauce, was only improved by the delay.

If I think about it, long and hard, I can intellectually understand that what was 5 o'clock is now 4 o'clock; that where the sun was at 17:00 it is now at 16:00. But that shift seems to me like an abomination of nature. So much so that, since I am both retired and reclusive, some years I have simply refused to change my clocks for weeks after the designated date.

A number of states have already followed my lead, refusing to change their clocks state-wide. Arizona stays on Standard Time for earlier sunsets and cooler evenings. (Making the sun set earlier, is to me, reminiscent of a biblical miracle) Wisconsin keeps fixed because the cows do not appreciate a change in their milking schedule. Hawaii, on the same latitude as us here in San Miguel, feels no need to "increase the hours of daylight" (another biblical miracle: "Sun, stand still upon Gibeon; and you, Moon, in the valley of Ayalon." - Joshua 10:12) At least 22 states have introduced legislation this year to switch to year-round Daylight Savings Time, year-round Standard Time or to allow voters to decide the issue.

With all due respect to the great State of Arizona, earlier sunsets, at least in the frigid northern winter, make for a lot more energy consumption. These artificial time changes also wreak havoc on people's rest, productivity and health... both north and south.

I'm sure that, like what my "12 plus 4 equals 16" did for Isis, there is some basic point of view that I am missing, some reorientation that would set me straight. But, so far, I haven't met anyone who can give it to me.

I am also sure that my confusion regarding these time changes contains a strong element of self-inflicted passive-aggressiveness. I resent the whole idea. How can you change time? What's next, changing space?

If you asked the kids whether they'd rather have an hour more of light in the morning to get them to school or an hour more of light to play after school, we all know what they'd say.

In any case, it may all be too late, or, as they say, moot. Last Tuesday, the US Senate voted unanimously to abolish the changing of clocks nationally, to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.

I promised myself after George Floyd that I wouldn't write about politics in this column, and, more or less, I've been true to my word. But, when I hear that the US House of Representatives may not even consider the Senate's far-sighted, humane, urgently-needed legislation, I cannot restrain myself.

As a country, the United States desperately needs to agree on something... anything. Please, write or call your congress-person today!


Dr David and his merry band believe that the new expanded Lokkal will change the world, city by city.

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