Spring forward or jet lag for non flyers

Today is a day when those of us in the USA can experience the phenomenon known as jet lag, without all the inconvenience of leaving home. For it is ordained that we must spring forward, like eager little bunnies and lambs and so enjoy the lighter evenings that the season affords.

For those of us who are early birds that get up at the crack of dawn this is a right royal pain in the derriere as we have to go back to darker mornings, but I guess that’s besides the point.

So, why do we think it’s a good thing to interfere with our biological clocks, interrupting our established circadian rhythm and generally upsetting the status quo?

Well, we have to look no further than one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, to take some of the blame for it was he who, back in 1784, penned the idea in an essay entitled, “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in The Journal of Paris, along with other more Draconian ideas such as taxing window shutters, rationing candles, enforcing a curfew to reduce noise at night and conversely ringing bells and firing cannons and daybreak to awaken Parisians!

His rationale for this? Purely to save money, or the cost of candle wax, to be more specific!

As far as I can tell, his idea went unheeded until World War I when Germany implemented the system of putting the clocks back in order to increase diurnal productivity during a time of conflict. Britain and other nations soon followed and (much like the pub licensing hours in the UK within the Defence of the Realm Act from a similar time – but I digress…) the idea stuck and never went away.

On April 13, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into effect the Uniform Time Act to “promote the adoption and observance of uniform time within the standard time zones” to stop states from changing their clocks on different dates, standardizing it at the last Sunday in April. Eh, but it’s only March, so what’s going on?> Well, it seems that the powers that be were still not happy with this so the law was amended again in 1986 to move the date to first Sunday in April from 1987 and then again in 2005 to the second Sunday in March (i.e., today!).

If that wasn’t bad enough, other countries change their clocks at different times and even some US states and territories don’t observe this practice (namely Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands).

So, what is a person to do?

Well, as there’s very little I can do about it I will be forced to embrace the extra hour of light in the evening and sit outside on the deck with an alcoholic beverage, fortifying myself for the return of the dark morning on the morrow…



Happy Mother’s Day (UK)

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Although we Brits also refer to it as “Mother’s Day” it has a different origin to its namesake celebrated in the US.

Mothering Sunday has origins from a historical religious holiday associated with encouraging people (as in servants, largely) to go back to their “mother churches” on the 4th Sunday in Lent. The fact they also visited their mother’s was probably just taking advantage of having a rare day off from their toils and also because their parents were most likely to live near the original church since, years ago, people didn’t generally travel so far. Over the years, as Britain has become more secular, the original meaning seems to have been largely lost.

Mother’s Day in the US, on the other hand, was first celebrated in 1908 by a lady called Anne Jarvis who held a memorial to her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis, if Wikipedia is to believed, and occurs on the second Sunday of May. It appears to have no particular religious connotations.

Anyhow,  being of British origin, my children helped to celebrate today by accompanying my wife and I to a nice brunch and walk through the local horticultural gardens. I had my small camera with me and so was able to get a few nice uplifting floral shots to share.




So, to all you mums out there, in the UK and elsewhere – Happy Mothering Sunday!


All You Need is Love


Yes, today is the day to celebrate lurve… or so we are told. Quite why we cannot share love for the rest of the year is beyond me, but I guess this day at least provides a focal point for this emotion. In the “old” days, when I was a youth, Valentine’s Day was a day when sweethearts connected with cards, flowers, chocolates, and dinner. These days it appears that valentine greetings are appropriate for any member of your extended family, friends and even pets. This year we were even asked by our school district to send valentine wishes to our kids’ teachers, in a desperate attempt to raise funds. Personally, I found that request fairly disturbing, but then perhaps I am too much of a traditionalist – the lyrics to the Police’s classic, “Don’t stand so close to me” seemed to instantly fly into my head when I read the email.

So how did we get to today? Valentine’s Day really first emerged in the writings of one of the first authors to compose written works in English, Geoffrey Chaucer, best known for his wonderful collection, The Canterbury Tales, way back in the 14th Century. In another book, The Parlement of Foules, he celebrated the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia when he penned:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.    

The meaning of which roughly translates to “A gift was given on Valentine’s Day, when every bird chooses his mate”

However, given that mid February in England is way too early for birds to be mating it seems unlikely that he is referring to today’s date.  

Over the following centuries there were many other links of St Valentine to the expression of love, but it seems to have been the early 19th century where this exploded into the sending of amorous missives as handwritten notes and then the mass-produced cards that we know today. For some reason this activity struck a collective chord (perhaps even plucked a heart string) in the populace and today we spend an estimated $19 Billion (yep, you read that correctly) celebrating the day in the US alone. Is it no wonder that Hallmark, jewelers and even car manufacturers push this date down our throats almost as soon as the xmas trees are cleared away?

Anyhow, not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade, to use the modern vernacular: May you all have a very Happy Valentine’s Day wherever you are, whatever you do, and whomever you are spending it with, and that’s especially if you are on your own.



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