Cellphone time cures time zone troubles

The government monkeyed with your clocks again this morning.

In essence, the Indiana General Assembly sneaked into your bedroom at 2 a.m. and stole one of your hours. You probably didn’t even notice.

The early morning heist was legalized 14 years ago when a bill that appeared to be dead by a 51-49 vote against it in the Indiana House of Representatives was placed on life support by the Speaker of the House and then resuscitated. Both Gov. Mitch Daniels and the speaker wanted Daylight Saving Time for Indiana, so when the vote initially failed, the speaker refused to drop the gavel and kept the tally open until two of the lawmakers could be convinced to change their minds.

The political chicanery caused quite a stir back in 2005. I was so upset by the thought of my state representative stomping into my bedroom in the wee hours to change my clock that I considered adding a politician detector to my home security system. After a few years, however, the seasonal thefts and reimbursements went almost unnoticed.

I am sure a major factor in my acceptance has been the evolution of technology. Back in those olden days, in order to have my clocks accurate at all times, I had to arise at 2 a.m. and reset my wrist watch, bedside alarm clock, microwave clock, coffee maker clock, computer clock, video cassette recorder clock, water softener clock and that timer on the lamp in the living room that comes on when I am out of town in order to fool burglars into thinking I am home and armed.

Today, technology takes care of nearly all those changes automatically while I am asleep. My cell phone is the kingpin of all time and my poor wrist watch (when I occasionally wear it) is no more than an ornament — a familiar old pal announcing to the world that I am out of touch with the 21st century.

I assume either God or Santa Claus is in charge of cellphone time. I can go anywhere and the time on my cell is the same as everyone else’s around me. I can cross into another time zone and that master time keeper in the sky (or maybe the North Pole) is watching me, ready to make the adjustment.

At 2 a.m. today, the magic of this technology also changed the time on my computer, TV, alarm clock, television, microwave and water softener. (The clock in my 8-year-old car refused to budge, however, and you burglars will have to get used to the change in my light usage.)

The point is, I am no longer angry at the Indiana Legislature for its twice-a-year home invasions. My life is so automatically manipulated by the technology gods and their various infiltrations into my home and my life that a guy in a blue suit standing next to my bed at 2 a.m. adjusting my alarm clock would be a relief.

When you get right down to it, our state’s battles over times zones and seasonal plans to temporarily move the clocks within the time zones is a never-ending process that can always irritate but can never be resolved completely.

Meanwhile, time is what my cellphone says it is.

When the “Big Four” railroad companies established the first time zones across the nation in 1883 to better clarify and standardize their arrival and departure schedules, an Indianapolis newspaper editor declared that the sun is “God’s time” and “that should be enough.”

Depending on what time the sun reaches its highest point in the sky over Indianapolis each day, solar time (“God’s time”) and “time zone” time could vary as much as 45 minutes one way or the other. Heck, on any day, noon in Columbus is actually about 11:59 a.m. in Gnawbone.

I think I will just stick with cellphone time and let God and the Indiana General Assembly sort out the rest.

Bud Herron is a retired editor and newspaper publisher who lives in Columbus. He served as publisher of The Republic from 1998 to 2007. His weekly column appears on the Opinion page each Sunday. Contact him at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].