The Disaster of Daylight Savings Time

square846I was in the middle of an interesting if not entirely pleasant dream when the the alarm went off. I struggled into consciousness like one struggles to get to the surface when one has plunged too deep into a lake or the ocean, found the alarm, and turned it off. Sleepiness wrapped my head.

I was in this sorry state because the clocks had been set ahead. Eleven o’clock was actually ten o’clock. During the night, a thief mandated by Congress had stolen that hour. I felt terrible and cursed Benjamin Franklin because he was the one who invented Daylight Savings Time.

“It’s a good thing because we gain an hour of sunlight,” someone said to me. No, I pointed out, you have just as much sunlight in each day as you would have had if the clocks hadn’t been set ahead. The same number of hours and minutes were given to us regardless of where the sun was when it was noon. The only thing that had changed was when it would be noon.

The time change has been linked to an increase in road accidents and stock market slumps. The good news is that we consume less oil and crime rates drop — for a few days.

DST is the bane of people living with bipolar disorder. Just when we have adjusted our internal clocks to the real time of day, we are forced to jump ahead. Finding your sleep interrupted in its true cycle does not help the mood. Many complain about how it disrupts their or their loved ones’ “circadian rhythm just enough to trigger a chain reaction toward mania.

Waking up at the earlier hour profoundly afflicts me. My body clock has a certain cycle which DST cleaves into. Circadian rhythms say that it is not yet time to wake up, but I am forced to anyways or I lapse into a different waking schedule that has me arising at a later hour. Everyone thinks of DST as an extra hour in the evening, but it also means one less hour in the morning. 7 a.m., for example, is really 6 a.m. Your body says it is 6 a.m. and you feel like it.

Strong sleep medications are recommended for adjusting to DST and for crossing time zones, but I find they don’t solve the core problem. My inner clock is affixed to the real hours of the day for a long time. Only when the hour falls back do I feel well again.

Three percent of Americans — at least — feel like I do but our health means nothing to the majority who only think of the barbecues and time playing tennis in the park. I think many more do nothing at all with the shift of the clock. They remain strong advocates nonetheless because they have bought into the “extra hour” and cannot see its harm. Or they are unaware of its real effects. I would like to be rid of this Demon, but I have no hope for that — in this state at least. So I deal with the feeling of my eyes turning to the left as they seek the true rhythm that they know is theirs and strive to find in the darkness behind my face.

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Whines of 2012 — Updated 12/17/2012

  • UPDATED: 9 September 2012
  • square780Let me count the ways the events of the past few months have screwed me. Note that there may will be additions as the weeks pass…so keep checking this article. It will be a mega-whine!

    • First, my mother dies of a glioblastoma — brain cancer — the same disease that killed her father. The oncologist told me that he doubted it was hereditary. I am waiting for the announcement of a new hereditary variety any day.
    • Drake gets into a fight with a larger dog.
    • Lynn begins to bleed beyond her period. I talk her into seeing a doctor. She gets referred and referred until she is scheduled for a hysterectomy which is then handed over to an oncologist who tells us that only 2% of the patients her age presenting with her symptoms have cancer. He repeats this just before he performs the operation. It is only supposed to take half an hour. An hour and fifteen minutes later, I notice the time. He comes out with a grim look on his face and tells me that he found a malignant mass on her left ovary. Two days later, we learn to our relief that it is not ovarian cancer, but uterine cancer that has metasticized up the left fallopian tube. She spends nearly a week in the hospital. I tell people, with a sigh, that someone has to be the 2%.
    • We skip my mother’s memorial service. This was supposed to be our vacation.
    • We now need to make the condo readily cleanable. So we have to rip out the carpet and put in new flooring. Everything small in the condo needs to be brought into the garage.
    • My favorite cat — Fiona — dies.
    • The bathroom sink backs up.
    • I hurt my back.
    • I cut my hands and my knees.
    • I gain weight and fall out of the great shape I was in in the fall.
    • My other cat — Little Bo — goes crazy when I send her to board at the vet, so we take her out. I take her to a motel because the people Lynn is staying with don’t want a cat in their house.
    • The floorers discover that our floor is not level. Either because of settling or because the builders screwed up 22 years ago or both, there are large humps all over the condo. We need to spend an additional $1000 to fix these.
    • Lynn’s hair starts to fall out from the chemo. She is given a 75-80% chance to live.
    • Drake runs away three times in one day from the house where we send him to stay during the remodeling. Turns out he is slipping under a gate, so we block the way. I resolve to visit him every day.
    • My dentist informs me that three of my crowns need to be replaced.
    • Weather report promises rain for two days, pushing back the time before we can move back into the condo.
    • Painter discovers the reason why the previous owners covered the bathroom in wallpaper — there was damage to the walls that they were too lazy to plaster over. Plus they used white glue to hold it in place. (What kind of idiot puts wallpaper in a bathroom?) Add more money to the cost of the job.
    • Our new maid asks for a cabinet. She puts it outside on the deck because the weather report says that it will only be cloudy and the weather report is never wrong. It drizzles heavily all night. I do manage to cover it and wipe down the wet parts before putting it in the garage the next morning.
    • We put felt feet on everything except for one file cabinet which has a sharp lip that we can’t find a way of covering.
    • We witness an accident when we come out of a local restaurant. One man hurt. I’m glad it wasn’t one more thing to add to this list, but I would rather it didn’t happen to these people, either.
    • The dentist informed me that I needed to have a tooth pulled.
    • The garbage disposal dies necessitating its replacement. (Yes, we pushed the red button, cranked the main rotor, etc. The repairman did the same things.)
    • The tooth extraction will entail some painful digging around because the tooth has broken into three pieces. Plus I will have to undergo a sinus tap and bone graft three months after the first surgery. Plus insurance will only cover about $78 of the total. How about some dental insurance reform?
    • Drake found a new way to get out by forcing his way through one of the front window screens.
    • Just before we are to get the good news that Lynn’s treatment is going so well, they may end it before they had planned, the phone rings and someone tells me that my dog is out. “No, he can’t be out. We locked him up.” “No, your dog jumped out of the second story window….” Drake is fine, but I am angry with God about heaping so much crap and denying us the joy of the moment when we learned that things were going better than hoped for Lynn. Now we have to put out a thousand dollars for custom interior louver shutters.
    • An old obsession with the number 13 has returned. If I check the time, it is 13 after. I haven’t gotten to the point of counting things to see if they add up to 13 as I do when the obsession is truly out of control, but it is getting there. I wish I knew how to break the cycle. This is not a good sign for my mental health.
    • My country is going to hell.
    • Last Friday afternoon, I am chewing on some licorice when I feel something hard between my teeth. It is a crown. Given the day, I can’t get in to have it looked at, so I wait until Monday. My dentist looks at it, frowns, and refers me to an endodontist. He looks at it, frowns, and refers me to a periodontist to have the tooth pulled. The bicuspid has broken down to where the nerve is. Do I feel any pain? Dare I say that I don’t?
    • So now I have to have two teeth pulled, on opposite sides of the mouth! This will mean liquid diets, I dread.
    • Chest pains. This led to a three day hospital stay. My roommate was a whining biker. My mother who was a nurse had warned me about these and she was right! He bossed the staff and cried when the needles hurt. (Like, duh!) I was going so crazy by day three that I threatened to check out AMA if they didn’t release me.
    • Triglycerides are through the roof. No explanation yet for the chest pains.
    • Doctor cancelled her appointment with me due to illness. Does this really belong here? Maybe not.
    • Lynn had a blowout on the road that took out at least a third of her sidewall. She is all right. Rims were not damaged.
    • I keep getting #1141 errors every time I open up Rosetta Stone. Restarting doesn’t do a bloody thing.
    • We discover that the right front of Lynn’s car has been crushed. Week in the body shop.
    • Night of the malfunctioning software. Can’t move Rosetta Stone to a new computer and can’t get a game program to work on a new computer.
    • Friends don’t like my politics. Plus I temporarily pick up a roach who is against privatization, but sure Obama is going to push us that way. Where do these people get these ideas?
    • I put on 15 pounds.
    • Learn that my cousin killed himself. Attend the funeral.
    • Third tooth slated to be pulled in January.
    • Repairman drops an electric drill onto our wood laminate floor, leaving a dime-sized hole where it can’t be covered by a rug.
    • Massive struggle to install Windows 8. Headphones decide not to work. I buy a new pair, only to discover that the problem is still there. Then I discover a simple fix.
    • Extraction of second tooth has complications — one root takes an hour to pull. Fortunately, I am well sedated.


    Everyone is telling me that “things will get better”. I sigh and reread Job.

    At least Lynn’s chemo is over and the scans are looking good. And Obama won.

    Cancer Threat

    square779Lynn is seeing an oncologist tomorrow because of an abnormal number in a blood test that might indicate ovarian cancer. It could also indicate anemia (which she has had) or fibroids (the problem which brought her to see a doctor in the first place, two months ago.)

    Everyone is rallying around her even though she is the least concerned of any of us. I am sick with worry and irritable. The main reason for this are my fears that this will prove to be a malignant tumor. Society is well possessed when a woman’s is faced with the prospect that her husband is going to die, but I have to say that few seem to understand or care about the reverse.

    The Universe appears to have taken on the role of the Mafia in my life. Instead of striking me directly, it has gone after the one I love.

    I am faced with the prospect of losing my best friend. You don’t come across these easily. I have to say that few measure up to Lynn’s level of compassion and confidence. Others might be my friend, but they do not possess the virtues I have come to crave in her. Then there is the matter of my life support. If something happens to her, I will gain a small amount of insurance and see the mortgage paid off. But I will not be well off, given that I will have to pay my own medical bills. This is the price I have paid for being a deadbeat.

    Maybe that is why few have offered to talk to me about my fears.

    Two Plagues

    square320Somewhere there’s got to be a science fiction story about a black planet just radiating heat. The natives paint white, yellow and blue stripes over the surface, then move their black-tired transport vehicles into alignments prefigured by these arrangements. The sentient life forms of this planet run from their transports into refrigerated warehouses and back again.

    You can experience a virtual version of this at the corner of El Toro and Rockfield in Lake Forest. The temperatures approach those of Corona.

    A fly problem took us to Home Depot today. Swarms of them waited outside our front door. A few of them darted past our door when we opened it and made way for the litter box far in back of the condo. I wanted a cure that meant death to the parents, abortion to the maggots.

    When we got to the Foothill Ranch store, they were all out of non-nuclear indoor cures. They had those plastic bags and jugs that stank of carrion for sale, but we didn’t want these in our office. Half a dozen people stood around waiting for one of the customer service reps to supply them with anti-fly products — there seems to be a Moses somewhere wishing them down on Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills.

    What we wanted was a No-Pest Strip, a poison-saturated rectangle that would put every [[Diptera|dipterid]] in our office to eternal rest. The customer service desk sent us to the El Toro store and — yes! — they had the killing slab. I hung it in the office and watched as the [[Calyptratae|caluptrataens]] succumbed, spiralling in drowsy dreams until they fell.

    Now I wonder: when will the toads show, when will we be covered with boils?

    The Kingdom of the Blurry

    square035.gifI can think of little more frustrating that my regular routine of losing my glasses. I’m having a hard day of it today because I have retraced my steps, studied the mass of wires at my feet, and had no luck in putting them to my eyes and nose. They seem to walk off, crab-like, and relocate themselves in the darndest places: beneath a magazine, in the cushions of a chair that I haven’t sat in for weeks, or under the blankets of the bed.

    Today they seem to have outdone themselves in cunning. All my ranting and all my throwing aside of cover have failed, so far, to scare them out.

    Lynn suggests to me that I should relax and focus on something else for a while before looking again. I’ve been doing this all afternoon and my anxiety mounts each time I resume and fail to find. These are my eyes, dammit, my means for reading the freeway signs and enjoying the fine detail in movies. Though my sight is better than most who must wear them, I find myself frustrated. I spent nearly 40 years enjoying better than normal vision. Now I am suddenly cast into the Kingdom of the Blurry and I yearn for the perfection that I had before.

    Continue reading →

    Twenty Cents Don’t Make A Paradigm

    square033.gifHere’s one to have you whistling Loonie Tunes: Therapists tell us that we have no control over other people. So just let go. But then, they preach the gospel of the “self-fullfilling prophecy”: My life is fucked up because of the way I have acted and alienated others. So they are implying that I do have control over others.

    I think this paradigm is in sore need of replacement. It’s Heisenberg and Einstein clashing in my brain and the result is always uncertainty.

    Notes towards an obituary

    square068.gifI’m not dead yet. I’m not planning to kill myself. A meteor falling through the ceiling would not be unwelcome by me, but I am not going to buy a gun or sharpen a kitchen knife. Instead, I spent a few hours this morning making notes towards an obituary, what might be said about me should I die suddenly.

    Read on at the risk of nausea, contempt, or pity.

    Continue reading →

    Why my mother doesn’t blog or chat online

    What part of “no” doesn’t my mother understand? I don’t want to deal directly with the family at a funeral. It’s just too aggravating for me. But no excuse will suffice. And nothing I have done already is enough.

    My mother wants me to drive her to a funeral. I don’t want to go. I have sent an e-greeting, a snail mail sympathy card, and a bouquet of flowers to the family.

    Mom: You were stupid to send flowers.

    Joel: Why?

    Mom: They will never thank you for them.

    Tomorrow or at some future point when she suggests that I should send flowers to someone, I will say “But you said that sending flowers is stupid.”

    Mom: I never said that.

    This is why my mother will never blog or chat with me online. She knows that I can cut and paste.

    Addendum: Saturday, March 15, 2003 7:31:49 AM. Forecast for Southern California. Weather report is heavy rains and wind. Flood alerts throughout Southern California. Hills have started sliding into creeks in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. It hasn’t hit us yet. I call my mother. I tell her the forecast. “Well, I’m still coming down.” “Fine. You’re not taking me with you.” and turn the cel phone off.

    I sit down with Lynn in the living room. “Good lord, Lynn,” I sigh. “I feel like Ishmael aboard the Pequod. And there’s Captain Ahab saying over and over again ‘the White Whale. We’re after the White Whale.’ Except it’s my mother!”

    Continue reading →

    Bore or Boor?

    Natalie wrote about feeling “intimidated” by the more than 30 responses to a post she made the other day.

    Thirty? My record is what — 8 or 9?

    I must be the only blogger the number of whose posts exceeds the number of his comments. As of this moment, the figures are:

    Entries: 600 Comments: 552 Authors: 1

    How do they do it? Or should the question be, am I such a prick and a pedantic middle-aged parasitic aarkvark that no one wants to talk to me? I often see long exchanges on other blogs (and I sometimes take part), but it’s a rare day when words pass between me and a visitor more than once.

    I have theories:

    • I’m dull as all hell
    • I’m unfriendly
    • I have a beard (not cutting it off)

    • I have a penis (not cutting that off, either)
    • I’m below the level of conversation
    • I love my wife and that just disappoints all the would be suitors
    • I talk religion and politics too much
    • I’m just too much of a kook
    • I talk about depressing things
    • I don’t make any sense to anyone but myself
    • I’m a whiner
    • I’m unoriginal

    Ah sigh.

    Is this a fishing expedition for comments? You betcha. Will the number exceed zero? Um, possibly not.

    blu, you are my only peer it seems at times.


    My mother has imposed herself as volunteer labor to help Lynn clean the kitchen and the living room today. And guess what? I ran out of xanax and Blue Cross won’t refill for another five days!

    They don’t seem to have flexibility enough built in to their system to allow for ultra-tragic holiday seasons.

    A workaround is being developed….

    Someone Said It….

    It was only a matter of time. You, my blog friends, have understood and held back. But the naive concept and shallow comfort appeared in a New Year’s email:

    I know you’ve never liked me saying “things happen for a reason”, but I am a firm believer of this. You are both very strong people and I know you will get through this.

    On this last day of what the financial pages are calling “Grim 2002″, I turn my back on an interval of time. I try to put such words out of my mind as well as the negative ones. I am most at ease, I find, if I just accept that bad things have happened and that the future remains uncertain. I will not tell anyone, in any shape or form, that their hurt doesn’t exist and I will make no promises for the future.

    Still, I hope that everyone who reads this will be around to check what I say at the end of 2003, that whatever happens, you survive it well enough to be with me. I know that the hope will probably not be realized, though we can, perhaps, measure things if you just leave a comment to register that you, too, were alive in the latter part of 2002. A year from now we can check the list and ask if all is well. We will see and cherish what has survived.

    To quote Ezra Pound: “What thou lovest best still remains/the rest is dross”. I’m confident that’s not a fact (Ambrose wasn’t dross), but perhaps there’s an attitude worth adopting.