Double or Nothing

March 8th, 2015, 6pm

Shady accountants keep two sets of books. It enables more ‘flexible’ finances - for a while. I suspect many retired folks like me keep double clocks. Way back in early iPhone days I bought this fancy clock radio for my bedside. I just needed to have the iPhone dock incorporated into the design. Each Spring and Autumn it automatically adjusted for daylight-saving time.

After a couple years Congress redefined the dates when daylight-saving time began and ended. I don’t remember exactly why. To save electric power and energy? To give children more time after school to play out side in the spring mud?

Why an institution that can barely agree and accomplish even the smallest things would want to redefine time boggles my comprehension. But, whatever.

Unfortunately, the clock designers hard-wired the algorithm defining the start and end of daylight-saving time into the clock. Now the clock shifts about 5 weeks late in the spring and a month early again in the Fall. Changing the clock manually is a hassle if I can remember how. For 8 weeks out of the year this clock keeps its own time. I cherish this crippled device because I like the radio. I can control dozens of functions by remote without leaving my easy chair.

Since retirement I have banished the clock from my bedroom. If I wake in the night so alert that I must know the time I walk to the sitting room. I will probably prepare a cup of Jasmine Green Tea then read , write, or sit quietly. If I lie horizontal in bed I find I worry; sitting upright in a chair I find I review my blessings in life. I’ll certainly take thankfulness over fretfulness at 3 a.m.

If I rise late enough I’ll watch the sky make room for the sunrise. This takes about an hour: somewhat more in the summer and less in the dead of winter. If you love light you’ll love morning twilight.

Scientists note this split sleep pattern is more ancient and natural than a solid eight hours. The academics call it variously: bifurcated, biphasic or divided sleep; simple folks called it: sleep 1 and sleep 2. The ancient Greek poet Homer distinguishes sleep number one and sleep number two. We lost the distinction a century or two ago.

Now retired, in some places I keep two clocks; other places none. It allows more flexible time in my life.

The story is told about a certain railroad station in Ireland which had two fine clocks that differed by more than six minutes. An irate, harried passenger asked the porter, “Why the hell do you people have two clocks if their times differ?”

After a pause the porter replied, “And what would we be wanting with two clocks if they told the same time?”

Shu and David Wade said thanks.

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Ken Jackson

An avid outdoors man. Retired and retiring, living on the shore of Lake Superior

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