The Madness of it All – Clocks: Why Do We Confuse Them So?

why why WHY ?

Why do we do it?

Why do we keep changing our clocks?

William Willet

William Willet

Meet Mr. Willet. According to a recent Daily Telegraph article this is the man chiefly responsible for the twice yearly chaos brought about by our obsessive tinkering with the clocks; for the needlessness of it all… for a world periodically strewn with  uniformly misinformed clocks, missed appointments, and confusing often conflicting information.

Apparently in 1907 “he wanted to prevent people from wasting valuable hours of light during summer mornings. He published a pamphlet called ‘The Waste of Daylight’ in a bid to get people out of bed earlier by changing the nation’s clocks. Willett proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September.”

‘A bid to get people out of bed earlier’. Refreshing honesty perhaps but, phew! 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September.”  Close call, eh? The man (as I suspected all along) was clearly deranged. Sadly for us, and quite unbelievably, the key elements of his maniacal plan has now taken hold across the world. Proclaimed by the authorities well ahead of time, and with torturer’s panache, the switching of the clocks now ensures that nighttime now pounces upon the poor outdoor worker well before our working day is done..

I do realize and respect the fact that many traditional outdoor people are indeed very early risers, early starters and early everything, but I’m not, and I suspect I am not completely alone in wishing for an hour or two in the morning with which to come to terms with the day over hot drinks and comfort food without having to rush out the door in order to subject myself to the near arctic conditions that linger well into mid-morning around these parts. “Let the ice-cold morning air warm up a degree or two”, I say. All that good light is simply going to waste. A nine to five workday would work just fine for me, as perhaps it does for you too.

Given the sweetest of sweet weather ladled upon the Rocky Mountains these past weeks one could easily be mistaken for thinking summer had yet still months to run. Our usual autumn festival of color this time around appeared to mock the season as the heat of one sublime afternoon after another lingered its way into the unusually warm evening air. These late late summer/autumn months have combined to provide the Roaring Fork Valley with quite the warmest, most blissful spell of outdoor-friendly weather of the entire year. Boboli Garden Gargoyle, Men's Leather Strap Watch

As someone who works outside practically all summer long, all this switching about with time does me no favors what-so-ever. Simply shifting an hour this way and that achieves nothing. After all, the inherent dangers associated with darkness still lurk whichever way the blanket of time is tugged – this way or that. Accidents waiting to happen in the morning will simply take up their assumed position each evening. Surely it just makes common sense to leave our clocks alone, allowing for even the most dim witted of clock faces a relative degree of confidence that they are indeed displaying roughly the correct time of day, year round.

But no. At precisely 2:00 AM, twice each year on some mysteriously random Sunday morning we all traipse out of bed half-a-sleep, in order to dutifully switch our clocks one hour back or forth. We do it promptly and unquestioningly. What’s that? You change your clocks later the following morning? Wait – you’re allowed to do that? No one told me. OK then, twice each year we get up at our leisure and dutifully change our clocks at whatever time proves most convenient, but I have to ask (again), why? Why do we put up with it?

Spigot Face, Men's Rugged Outdoor WatchThen there’s the dodgy issue of global financial markets, equities, hedge funds, slush funds and the like. These days millions, billions and trillions of dollars are routinely shifted around the world in seconds flat. I’m no accountant but even I know that given a whole whopping flexible hour to play silly bugger with, together with huge sums of money shifting here there and everywhere… I’m just saying that in my opinion these sorts of contrived conditions can make for some dubiously sly bookkeeping opportunities. And just think: a complete missing hour, once a year, every year, leap years included. Where in Hell’s name does it go? And what happens to all those transactions, all those receipts, all that messy evidence? It’s all just too, too opportune.

Then, just as we are all acclimatized to our new temporary time zone once springtime arrive we find ourselves summarily bequeathed with an extra hour. Hear that? A whole extra hour? Sixty extra minutes for criminals around the world to duplicate, forge, erase, fiddle, diddle and/or do whatever the heck they like. Meanwhile the rest of us sail on, (shhhhhhhhhh) fast asleep, once again.

Lenny the Lion of Massa, Child's Glitter Wrist WatchIf it were up to me both of our clock changing days would be declared international public holidays, that or the practice abandoned completely. To endure them in silence the way we do serves to simply cloud the whole thing in murk and confusion – perhaps deliberately so. But two extra days off work each year would seem to be what the whole world could really use right now.

 Despite all I have to say on the subject of clock changing however I must profess a long-standing admiration for the character now finally revealed to me as William Willet. I have often admired the tenacity of someone (I did not know who) brazen enough to even contemplate such a madcap notion. For let’s face it we are by now all well acquainted to the twice annual ritual of shifting time, we’ve had a lifetime in which to be groomed to the idea, but what if you were hearing about it for the very first time? What if no one had even thought about changing time. What if it was you and you had to pitch the idea to a stern, pragmatic, skeptical, unsympathetic world, just where would you start?

You have to admit, it’s sure a gutsy idea, I can just imagine the pitch: ‘OK everyone this is what I propose, at two in the morning….’ But what if it wasn’t clocks, what if, twice yearly, we moved Sunday to Monday? Grabbed a day from one calendar month and handed it to another? What however if it were our work hours that were adjusted and we all agreed to leave the poor innocent clocks alone, haven’t they suffered enough? Wouldn’t it be a tad easier, not to mention a great deal more transparent? But there you go, we do change the clocks and although we have occasionally snapped to our collective senses and put a stop to the nonsense from time to time, here and there, in various places around the globe, it inevitably always seems to rise from the dead and claw its way back into law, and so, sadly, I see nothing in the immediate future to suggest a halt to the practice is likely to take place any time soon.

Moving the clock backwards Big Eyed Boat Gangplank, La Spezia, Leather Watchone hour and curtailing my working day does however denote a distinct point in time whereby my outdoor world inexorably shifts indoors. Already snow now lays where just last week flowers bloomed and birds chirped. Thankfully the Colorado Rocky Mountain Sculpture Garden, or ‘Birdhaven’ as it is now known, is all tucked-in and awaiting its full, thick snowy winter blanket. The workshop, well, that’s another story (I have an announcement to make, soon), but without a doubt winter is for me a time for comfy cozy cabin time, and that means amongst other things… the internet – and this blog. Consequently, in an internet/communication sense of the word, I’m now officially back… until, that is, we shift the clocks forward, of course.

So please look for more posts, and/or click the one of the follow buttons scattered around the page. Topic ideas include; sculpture reviews, photographic galleries, future plans, and the unveiling of a brand new business. I will of course continue to catalog our Colorado Rocky Mountain winter as it turns its attentions upon Woody Creek. This will be my 13th such winter and by now even a true summer boy such as myself begins to anticipate with some eagerness the startling, majestic winter snowscape that is about to grip the land in layers of snowy white ice.

Thank you for visiting martincooney.com.

Cheers!

The Curious Lion of Massa, Women, Square Watch

see you soon

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