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Getting Our Clocks Cleaned By Daylight Saving Time

Despite the best efforts of myself and my far more diligent wife, two no, three at least four timepieces in our house are set to what we still call "Standard Time," even though it now constitutes only a minority of the year. Were that chore up to me alone, only one clock might be up to speed today, my alarm... and only if I hadn't been too distracted on Sunday.

I've opined before that we should get rid of this phony ritual of moving our clocks forward and back twice a year. Just think of the billions of man-minutes of effort we'd avoid! I suspect many of you agree as well -- note the clear majority of votes in favor of either year-round standard time or year-round daylight saving time in Marc Fisher's blog post yesterday.

I retain hope, against all experience, that we can liberate ourselves from this chronological tyranny. But as long as The Man wants to keep us down like this, we can at least try to minimize DST's damage by minimizing the number of clocks in our lives.

Count all the devices you own that tell the time (but, unlike computers and cell phones, can't update themselves automatically), then ponder how many actually need that function. The worst offender I can name would have been the charging stand for my old electric shaver, which included a little analog clock -- as if I'd somehow make it that far in the morning without noting the time. That device has since been retired, so the title for "most useless clock" now falls to the microwave oven, which displays the time but has never seemed to employ that information in any way related to nuking my food.

Fortunately, the same manual that confirmed my suspicions of the microwave clock's uselessness also revealed that I could shut off that feature. A few button presses and beeps later, and I have one fewer timepiece to fuss with after the next change in time or power outage. Which only leaves about 20 others to spring forward and fall back every year.

I'm sure you can name a few other entries in this category -- maybe a digital picture frame that adds a clock to make itself look more useful, maybe a stereo with the same oh-so-helpful option. What gadget in your own home would you most like to see cleaned of its clock?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  March 9, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , Gripes  
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The microwave clock is useless enough, but mine is an over-the-range model that hangs over a stove that also has a clock. I'll look for the manuals -- I didn't know you could shut those off. The only kitchen appliance that justifiably has a clock is the coffee-maker (so that I could set it to come on automatically, though I never do).

What I find puzzling is that the time on my Comcast DVR did not change this weekend. But it's still recording OK, because all the times on the program guide are also wrong (so that a 10 pm show is listed as being at 9, and it records then). Very odd.

Posted by: Janine1 | March 9, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I just wish that devices with "automatic" time setting were consistent. Our bedside clock radio does an update every hour around :55, but the change that was supposed to happen at 2am did not occur until around 11am yesterday. Our FiOS box was correct a bit sooner, but still well after 2am. The only devices which seem to work well are mobile phones.

Posted by: skipper7 | March 9, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I have three non-networked clocks that I set. My wristwatch (analog, so I can read it without glasses), clock on the car radio, and the alarm.

Microwave, and other clocks, I don't bother to set.

Posted by: wiredog | March 9, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Microwave clocks and car clocks are fairly simple to set, most aren't even setup for DST, so it's just a matter of resetting the time. But it's the DVD/VCR clocks that's really annoying, they're self-updating except that the DST change dates are hard-wired, so they're wrong for the next few weeks until April 5.

Posted by: koalatek | March 9, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Solve the problem by moving to Arizona. No one from Washington DC is going to tell *us* what time it is! Plus, we need the tax revenue from new residents. So come on down!

If you're a little wealthier and a little less committed to the mainland, I believe Hawaii also skips on DST.

However, if I did need to change clocks, I think I'd have 14 to do.

Posted by: pjgeraghty | March 9, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'd like to get rid of the alarm clock.

Posted by: pjball01 | March 9, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

In Dec I had to buy a little inexpensive alarm clock. 5 bucks at Walmart. It was soooooo cool, I plugged it in and it set itself for the correct time! I have never seen this before, maybe I'm too provincial? I felt so smug....good thing I saved the directions because I did have to set it Sun am. I guess it doesn't self change to DST. Darn

Posted by: tbva | March 9, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Having a microwave clock and an oven clock in the same room is certainly redundant, and it drives me crazy if they aren't reading the same time, although I do find it helpful to have a clock in the kitchen so I would want at least one of them to display the time.

I find the coffee pot clock to be the most useless since I don't prep it to automatically make coffee in the morning, and it's too small to read without really trying - so I don't bother with that clock at all - I think it's off by hours at this point.

Posted by: ShawnDC | March 9, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

In the TV room: two clocks, one on the wall, and one on the mantle. also, a clock on our cable box, and one on the stereo.

In the kitchen: a microwave oven, an actual oven, and an AM/FM radio.

Why? Who knows?

Posted by: docmcconl | March 9, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Add an extra hour to the snooze button and I'll be happy.

Posted by: Ricardo3 | March 10, 2009 3:05 AM | Report abuse

Of all the burdens I face, changing the clocks is an incredibly minor one. I will say though that I like DST b/c I hate it when I get off work and it's already night time.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | March 10, 2009 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Much ado about nada.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | March 10, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

My old Casio watch is hard to reset, the buttons are difficult to press. Can the bailouts buy me a new plastic watch?

Posted by: 2by2 | March 10, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Of course, the radio/receptacle for my iPod has a simple little switch in the back to switch from standard to DST. Now on the the 4 other clocks in the kitchen.....

Posted by: DrBones721 | March 10, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Now with the digital change coming, those VCRs and DVRs that used to be able to get the time automatically from the analog PBS signal can't do it anymore. I noticed this some months ago when we lost power and none of my devices which used to be able to find the time could do so. PBS isn't supplying the clock info any more. It might be elsewhere in the digital realm now, but most of those devices can't adjust any more.

I also had to turn off their automatically changing with the date when DST's date changed.

Posted by: nottenst | March 10, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Could our Sun have intelligence and the ability to perceive what we are thinking? That would explain the phenomena of Daylight Saving Time. Here is how it works: the day after we all set our clocks back, the Sun "notices" that we have all looking at the hour of day differently. To compensate, the Sun simply shines one extra hour, and continues to do so. It continues to do this until the fall, when the opposite happens when the Sun notices the we have all set our clocks back. This explains why we actually "save" an hour of daylight, and are not simply "shifting" time (in that case we would be calling it "Daylight Shifting Time"). It leaves me in awe and wonder that the Sun is actually a sentient being, but it makes sense when you think of all the electrical activity that must be happening in the Sun's core. Our Sun is intelligent, but fortunately not as intelligent as us (it is probably more intelligent than a horse but less intelligent than a dog).

The other benefit of this observation is that we are actually causing "global warming" by worrying about it so much. Once the majority of people "believe" in global warming, the Sun will be fooled into shining warmer rays in our direction; a self-fulfilling prophesy. What is needed instead of costly "cap and trade" measures is to simply hire a good advertising agency to convince people that global warming is not true. But we must be careful, because if we go to far with it, we could end up in an ice age.

Posted by: aridShrub | March 10, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

My microwave oven clock forgets the time if there any minuscule power outage, so I think I set it a couple of times when I first got it, and haven't bothered since then. My DVR loses all guide information if there is a minuscule power outage (though it remembers that it's supposed to record channel 4 at 8:00 on Monday, without knowing the name of the show), so I have the DVR plugged into a battery backup. I'm not getting a battery backup for my microwave oven clock.

Posted by: Ghak | March 10, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I used to be a clockmaker (repairer of clocks) so I've always had many to reset twice a year. Reminder; just what you want to hear, there are other small but important timekeepers you need to keep track of such as the programmable thermostat on your HVAC system and your digital cameras if you want your photos to be correctly time stamped as you take them. You go into the set-up menu and check (or uncheck) 'daylight' time.

I agree with those who say we all should agree on a permanent compromise time and set it to stay. You may have seen the stats that say heart attacks in the US increase 5% after we lose the hour and decrease 5% after we re-gain the hour in the Fall. Some people obviously have serious trouble from the lost hour which now happens in March.

I also recommend that we either have a national holiday the Monday after time change in March, or at least a law that forces employers to begin the workday that Monday an hour later. Schooldays too, of course. This way folks would actually look forward to the time-change weekend, instead of dreading it.

Posted by: photodon | March 11, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

YES! YES! I SO wish we could do away with this DST thing. I used to live in Alaska where it's dark almost all the time in Winter and it's light all the time in Summer. What difference does it make to change our clocks with a sun schedule like that? Not that it makes more sense anywhere else. It's just that it makes LESS sense there. In the end, I'm afraid that we do it because it's the way it's always been done (at least from our perspective) and it ain't broke enough to have to fix.

Posted by: skr77 | March 11, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Lets just move one more hr. ahead (EST + 2 or DST + 1) and leave it that way. Simple and direct plus we now have 1 extra hr. of daylight in the winter and an additional hr. in the Summer. How glorious!!!

Posted by: VaGent1 | March 11, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I live in ARIZONA now where we don't play this "change the clocks" game and I LOVE IT.

However, the media server at my California datacenter for some reason did not handle the change well at all, failing all backup jobs after 2AM Sunday; as the jobs came up in the schedule they queued and failed right away. This ia a fully-patched Backup Exec 11d 7170 bld media server! This also happened several years back, I think it was B.E. 10.1, and Symantec patched that. I haven't had time to get on the B.E. forums to find out what the heck happened, nor have I received an email about a patch, which is what I was expecting.

ROB - any info??

Posted by: lquarton | March 12, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

One further item you might want to investigate is the impact of systems that utilize time have on people when they're not updated. This past Tuesday (two days after the change to daylight savings time) the Dulles Airport machine inside the terminal (where you are encouraged to pre-pay your parking lot fees) was still on standard time. Impact: When you went to leave the airport parking lot you got charged for exceeding the grace time allowed to find you car and leave. If you chose to fight the $10 fee you had to go to a LONG cash-only line (where the attendant could work some magic and not charge you but tried to not understand). Gotcha.

Posted by: cbaygull | March 12, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget the clocks you don't see but that mess you up! Water softener and programmable thermostat, I'm talking to you.

Posted by: dnfree | March 12, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

i have been Living in Arizona for 49 years. Too much daylight/sunlight out here. if you need some warm weather come on over and get some.


we dont do Daylight savings Time, which messes up some webcasts That DONT Take This into account when They schedule Their delivery Times

pls (just Take some of The 'extra' dust with you when you go back home)

Posted by: bizwhiz | March 13, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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