March 12th, 2007

numbers hex, numbers

DST and the four-switch solution

At the beginning and end of every Daylight Saving* Time period, I would get annoyed at my bedside clock. Why, I wondered, wasn't it built with a handy switch to toggle it between Standard Time and DST? That would be so convenient! But instead, I had to manually set it ahead an hour in the spring and back again in the fall, which required winding it through 60 minutes because it didn't have an hour button. (At least it could go in two directions, so I could back up in case I overshot.)

A year or so ago, I bought a new clock, with a feature called Insta-Set. When you first plug it in, it automatically sets itself. (Apparently it gets the current time info from a radio signal from somewhere.) All you have to do is set a switch to tell it what time zone you're in (only 4 options available: Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern. Sorry, Alaska, Hawaii, and rest of the world.) and tell it whether your area observes DST (good news for Arizona and Indiana!) and it resets itself automatically! I never need touch it again!

But then Congress voted to change the start and end dates of DST. As far as I can tell, there's no way to reprogram the clock with the new dates. So last Saturday night, my snazzy self-setting clock failed to reset itself. (Cue the crazy reporter from The Daily Show: "NOOOOOO!") So what do I do now? Throw it away and hope I can find a new one programmed with the new dates?

The immediate solution was simple enough: I've temporarily set the time zone switch to Eastern time, and then I'll have to set it back to Central time in three weeks. Oh yeah, and when DST ends, I'll have to set it to Mountain time for one week. A bit annoying, but flipping a switch four times a year definitely beats having to set the clock by hand twice a year. So, not enough reason to get rid of the clock. (Besides, there's the possibility Congress may go back to the previous dates later on, and if so my clock will be perfect again. :} )

*Usage tip: It's "Daylight Saving Time". Not 'Savings', because the phrase is not the name of a bank.
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