For some time, as a tribute of sorts to my service in the military, my kitchen clock has been set on "Zulu Time," which is the standard time used by forces overseas when communicating back to the United States. Zulu Time is also known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) — formerly Greenwich Mean Time — which is the basis of the world’s time zone system.
It’s used by armed forces, pilots and others so that everyone is on the same clock and misunderstandings are avoided.
Today, the kitchen clock just lets me know what time kickoff is when Liverpool goes up against Manchester United or other lesser competitors in England’s professional football league.
The problem is, my kitchen clock is one of those cheap songbird-on-the-hour models that doesn’t sound off any more and keeps time poorly. So, in addition to having to mentally subtract four hours every time I look at it, I’ve got to check my phone to see how far it has strayed from "real time." Plus, my wife keeps switching it back to Ohio time.
The situation is exacerbated every March and November, when our clocks either "spring forward" to Daylight Saving Time, or "fall back" to Standard Time. (Note, the proper term is not Daylight Savings Time.)
Unlike my modern, bedside clock radio that automatically resets the time twice per year and after the occasional power outage, my kitchen clock runs on batteries, so I have to get on the step stool to reset it by hand twice a year.
I’ve also got problems with the clock in my car. By the time November rolls around and it’s time to fall back, I’ve forgotten how to set the thing, and a year’s worth of cumulative error means it generally runs 10 minutes slow, plus an hour fast, from November to March.
Did I mention I have a phone?
In my younger, less-responsible years, my only concern with Daylight Saving Time was that it meant "last call" came early, as the bars would close one hour earlier than normal when the clocks jumped ahead.
Strangely, I don’t ever remember the bars closing one hour later when the clocks fell back.
While getting an extra hour in November is kind of nice, losing an hour every March is quite irritating.
The switch to Daylight Saving Time isn’t simply a matter of having to get to work an hour earlier – that only lasts one day and I’ve always adjusted by Tuesday. More depressing is the fact that after waiting all winter for it to finally start getting bright again in the early morning, the clock gets kicked back an hour and so does sunrise.
I’m sure parents and their children would rather have the long-awaited, extra morning daylight while waiting for the school bus.
Why are we forced to suffer through this annual, springtime taking of our mornings?
To get more sunshine at the end of the day, apparently.
About 100 years ago, when most nations that use it initially adopted Daylight Saving Time, the reasons for doing so included saving energy during World War I, as well as providing shift workers more evening leisure time.
Today, it’s just a pain – literally, as some studies show an increase in heart attacks, car accidents and other problems associated with forcing people to adapt to a new schedule.
Dozens of states are considering ways to get out of this annual irritation, but Hawaii, Arizona and Puerto Rico have already decided to opt out of Daylight Saving Time, which states are allowed to do under the Uniform Time Act of 1966. No springing forward or falling back for them.
But not all states would like to go to standard time, as some people in northern latitudes would prefer to be permanently an hour ahead in Daylight Saving Time — except the 1966 law doesn’t allow them to do that without congressional approval.
In response, some New Englanders are pushing for a permanent change in their time zone from Eastern to Atlantic. For that, they only need permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation, with governs time zone boundaries.
By changing time zones, they could opt out of Daylight Saving Time, as the law allows, but still be an hour ahead, just as though they were in Daylight Saving Time all year round in the Eastern Time Zone.
Many countries have eliminated the anachronistic habit, such as Russia, which switched clocks back to Winter Time for the last time in 2014.
Why call it Winter Time? Because it doesn’t make sense to call it "Standard Time" if it only lasts four months of the year.
Maybe we should all just switch to Zulu Time.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org.