Spring Forward, Fall Back, Winter in Boca Raton

The title’s a Florida joke, by the way. If you’re an American, you probably know that Daylight Savings Time started last night, 3 weeks earlier than it did in the past. That means I’m going to have to drive in the dark again on weekday mornings, just when the days were getting long enough to shine some light on my commute. Somebody said on the radio that Benjamin Franklin once wrote a list of energy-saving ideas, and moving the clocks ahead one hour was one of the more sensible ones. Still, I always felt D.S.T. was a crime against nature, because it messes up the star charts astronomers use, but how can you fight it?

Speaking of Benjamin Franklin, the most amusing idea I heard from him had to do with the way he promoted Madeira (Portuguese wine), his favorite drink. One day Myers Fisher, a Quaker lawyer in Philadelphia, wrote a letter because somebody was stealing drinks from his beer keg: “Friend Franklin, thee knows almost everything; can thee tell me how I am to preserve my small-beer in the back-yard? my neighbours are often tapping it of nights.”

Franklin’s response: “Put a barrel of old Madeira by the side of it. Let them but get a taste of the Madeira, and I’ll engage they will never trouble thy small-beer any more.”

The only clock in the house that adjusted itself automatically was the one on my computer. Last July I bought a “smart clock” that sets the time when you plug it in. Somehow it gets the correct time from the electricity coming in. It moved itself back without any action from me when D.S.T. ended last October, but today it was still on Eastern Standard Time when I woke up. We were warned that computers would be messed up by the time change, especially those outside the United States; it’s annoying, but fortunately not cause for alarm, the way we thought Y2K would be.

In previous entries I reported an occasional sparrow or cardinal coming to the bird feeder I put near the basement door last Christmas Eve. The birdseed wasn’t going down very fast, and most of what I filled the feeder with originally was still there, until yesterday. Then several blackbirds came–and stayed for most of the day. Since this computer is in the basement, I knew the blackbirds were there, being able to hear and see them. I also saw a red (male) cardinal, but I don’t think he’s responsible for what happened–the feeder is empty now! I know there are feeders with various baffles and tripping devices to keep the squirrels out; what about something to discourage pigs with wings?


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