As this story reminds us, there are now less than two weeks left before we have to take part in daylight-saving time, and I can feel you panicking out there. After all, we've never had to do this before. No disrespect intended to the folks at WISH-TV, but their account does not include ALL you need to know about DST. So, as a public service, here is my Imbecile's Guide (don't want to infringe on anybody's trademark) to changing your watch or clock.
I have provided a graphic to guide you through these instructions. For something this complicated, you have to know exactly what you are dealing with. If you feel yourself struggling, don't be embarrassed if you have to take a moment or two to study the picture some more.
1. Note the 12 numbers. These represent "hours," a unit of time equal to 60 minutes. You probably know there are 24 hours in a "day," so you might be wondering why there are only 12 numbers. Believe it or not, each number does double duty, given that our day is divided into 12 "a.m." hours, during which people are usually at work and the TV shows are boring, and 12 "p.m." hours, during which people catch up on all their chores and teenagers are out doing unspeakable things. This is done because, as a culture, we believe in second chances -- you have probably heard the expression, "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day."
2. You will observe that there are two "hands," the long, skinny things that point at the numbers. The big hand DOES NOT represent the hour -- that one points to the "minutes." The "short" hand points to the number that is the current hour; I know this is counter-intuitive, but, trust me, that's the way it is. Your goal will be to "spring forward" an hour by moving that short hand one number higher -- e.g., to the 8 if it is on 7, to the 3 if it is on 2, to the 10 if it is on 9, to . . . well, you get the idea. Interestingly enough, however, the big hand will move in tandem with the little hand -- at the same time -- but will end up back where it started. If the little hand is on the 9, for example, and the big hand is on the 5, which those of us who follow such things call "5 after 9" or "9-oh-5," except for the showoffs who say it's "55 till 10," moving the little hand to 10 will cause the big hand to move, too, but it will land back on 5 all over again. Because the big hand is more visible, in fact, it is recommended that you "spring forward" by watching it as it goes all the way around to the same number again. Look at the little hand -- it will have gone up a number. Don't ask me how they do all this at the same time-- it is magic.
3. You accomplish this with the "stem ," a protuberance that is found on different places on various watches and clocks. Using the stem is a two-step process. First, the stem must be pulled out. This is an EXTREMELY DELICATE operation, so you might want to have a cup of coffee or a vodka martini, whatever it takes to steady your nerves. Some stems come out in two stages -- one stop represents the time, the other the day. If you pull it out to the wrong place, you will spring forward a whole 24 hours instead of just one, and then you'll have to start all over again. Once you're at the proper stage, you're ready for the second step: Turn the stem, slowly and carefully, clockwise -- that is, to the right -- until you have made the little hand rest on one number higher than it was.
4. Push the stem back in -- all the way in! -- and put the watch back on your wrist or return the clock to wherever it was resting. You will now be in sync with everybody else in your time zone, instead of always getting to things an hour late when all the good seats are gone and the second pot of coffee in the break room is already turning to sludge.
5. This will make you good to go for months and months, until the time when you must "fall back," for which you will basically have to do the same thing all over again, only backward. I don't want to confuse you, so I will save those instructions for later; the difference between "clockwise" and "counterclockwise" (or "to the right" and "to the left") alone is enough to drive you crazy.
6. Certainly you will have noticed that there are three hands on your watch or clock. The third one is the "second" hand. Pay it no mind. Unless you have a 100-yard-dash club at work or are an obsessive-compulsive who must check your pules rate constantly, it is of no consequence. On second thought, you might want to check your pusle rate just before and just after you have accomplished your spring-ahead mission, just in case it has been so traumatic that you might need medical care.
7. Even if you get through this ordeal successfully, you will undoubtedly experience several weeks of disorientation. You will look outside and think it is darker than it should be or lighter than it should be given the "time" of "day." That is God's work, and nothing you need pay attention to.
I know a few of you out there are screaming at me right now that this is all analog. What about some help for the people who must "spring forward" with their digital time-keepers? Sorry, that's just too gosh-darned modern for me. What do you think I am, a bleeping genius?