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Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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Spring Forward With New Thinking

March 27th, 2022 by dk

Did you know the United States Senate earlier this month accidentally passed a bill that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent? It was passed in the blink of an eye when Marco Rubio (R-Fla) proposed some arcane amendment, which was then immediately accepted by unanimous consent, with Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) presiding.

Don’t worry about the Senate losing its reputation as the place where nothing ever gets done. Their bill, which two sunshine-rich states conspired to pass with no debate, probably won’t pass in the House, if it’s even given a vote. No one wants to see bills smuggled though to avoid inspection — or introspection — during the proverbial dark of night.

Changing clocks annoy people. Twice a year we have to pull out our car manual out to learn — again — how to reset the dashboard clock. Tesla has always refused to buy any advertising, but they’d be wise to make an exception just for those two days each year. Consumers become buyers when product features meet immediate needs.

Most of my devices now reset themselves when the time changes. My stove and microwave are my other laggards. Apparently, the heaviest objects are the last to receive the tiniest upgrades. I don’t mind making the change. It helps those who don’t garden or watch the Super Bowl to notice when another year has passed.

Losing or gaining an hour of sleep merits no sympathy. I’m sorry. These are the same people who inquire if there will be snacks offered midway through a 60-minute meeting. Toughen up, people! If you’ve never lost an hour of sleep in your life, did your children raise themselves? Some complaints are not concerns.

If you are among those who can barely manage a 60-minute change in your daily schedule, pack yourself a snack. That’s known to make things better. Or consider Mr. Swanson’s solution. Mr. Swanson taught Earth Science at Conant High School in 1972. He thought we should change our clocks 12 times a year — ten minutes forward for six months and then ten minutes back for the next six months.

He was of course correct, as teachers always are. While students are taking tests, teachers can’t be caught reading People Magazine. They must daydream as they scan the room about how to make a more perfect world. At least that’s what Mr. Swanson did. Did he dream about a day when clocks would just change themselves? We never asked him, but that day is now here — at least if you drive a Tesla.

Imagine how we could design our world when all clocks change themselves. We might someday revert to the style of clock common in Japan until 1873. I saw one in a Tokyo clock museum. It was an intricate contraption that looked like a Rube Goldberg machine for telling time. Elon Musk  would love it. Complex operations produce a simple result. What looked like washers on two antennae on top sped or slowed the pendulum’s swing. Each day the operator had to wind the clock and remove or add washers.

This clock divided daylight into 12 equal segments. The darkness was divided the same way. Thanks to this intricate design and daily maintenance, there were always 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness for every day. It was the length of an hour that changed daily.

Maybe that’s where we’re headed. Maybe that’s what Mr. Swanson thought about while we were finishing our midterms. It might be what Musk is thinking about now. If Rubio and Sinema don’t like sitting through extra-long summer meetings scheduled to last an hour, they can pack a snack for themselves. I’ve heard that helps.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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