If this week’s column seems to ramble, I say blame it on Daylight Savings. It all started at 2 a.m. on Sunday. I was at the computer when the clock suddenly jumped to 3 a.m. I thought, “There went an hour I’ll never get back.” (Exactly how I used to feel after a George W. Bush State of the Union.) Fortunately we get this hour back in November. It’ll be football season and another year Los Angeles won’t have an NFL team. You can almost set your clock by it.
Speaking of setting clocks, Sunday I skipped one. Because it’s high on the wall and required a stepladder I didn’t bother changing it last fall. Eight months later, voila, the errant clock is as accurate as Big Ben. For once, my laziness paid off.
Personally, I don’t know why we don’t have Daylight Savings all year round. But then, I never understood why we didn’t have universal health care. (How’s that for a segue?) We’re the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have it. We’re also the only one with capital punishment and weak gun control. As comedian Yakov Smirnoff used to say, “America, what a country!”
Poor Yakov. Following the end of the Cold War he’s hardly worked in TV or movies. It’s reminiscent of Vaughan Meader in 1963. A JFK impressionist, his comedy album, “The First Family,” made him an overnight sensation. But then came Nov. 22.
As the story goes, it was a New York cab driver who informed Meader that JFK had been assassinated. Meader immediately requested a stop at a liquor store where he bought a case of Scotch, went back to his hotel and got thoroughly blitzed for the next few decades. In time, Meader apparently added cocaine and heroin to his bingeing which ended with his death in 2004. How’s that for an uplifting story?
But back to Daylight Savings. It’s been a week and yet whenever I check the time, I still ask myself what is it in “real” time? I confessed this odd behavior to my doctor friend, Andy, who gave me one of those “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” looks. In my defense, for years researchers have been cataloguing the effects of switching to Daylight Savings.
A 1996 study in the New England Journal of Medicine documented an 8 percent increase in traffic accidents on the Monday after the switch. In 2009, Michigan State University psychologists reported that there are more workplace injuries on the Mondays following the time change. (Perhaps this column is an unusual form of workplace injury?)
Till Roenneberg, a German chronobiologist (not a typo, that’s his real name and real job) at the University of Munich, reports that people can “lag” for a month following the change. He postulates that the impact of the time switch may be greater than we ever thought. Paraphrasing from an old Mike Nichols and Elaine May routine, “And that man is a chrnobiologist!”
Following the time change, summer is not far behind. Given this week’s balmy weather it feels like it’s already here. And with summer come the crowds. At our beaches, Promenade and streets, get ready for the hordes of visitors to our fair city. At worst, it’s like a bad horror movie. At best, it’s still like a horror movie. This past weekend I got a reminder of what’s to come.
At midnight on Saturday, the beach parking lot sounded like the Indianapolis 500, filled with people racing battery operated miniature cars. To my ears there’s few sounds more hideous than the high pitched whine these cars emit. It makes fingernails on a blackboard seem soothing.
I was going to call the police but, given the possible rapes, robberies or even murders that could be going on (hopefully, none of the above), reporting noisy battery-operated cars seemed slightly trivial. And yet, while I’m vehemently against the death penalty, for these model car racers I might make an exception.
Daylight Savings also means baseball. (Yawn.) This year our carpetbagger Dodger owners are embroiled in an ugly divorce. Jamie McCourt’s seeking a mere $1 million a month in temporary support. (Apparently private jets aren’t cheap.) It seems that instead of buying starting pitchers the McCourts bought houses. Alas, we fans are the kids in this divorce.
Also unsettling me is the NCAA basketball tournament. Normally at this time of year I’m stressing about UCLA’s next opponent. This year, UC Santa Barbara is in the Big Dance but UCLA isn’t. (The Gauchos play today while my Bruins can watch on TV.) In one season, March Madness became March Sadness.
Well, I better wrap this up as my deadline is 4 p.m. With Daylight Savings, I still can’t help but wonder what is that in “real” time?
When he isn’t busy checking his watch, Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.