Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dispatches from the edge of the Eastern time zone

It was dark this morning--until 8:00 a.m. It wasn't murky, it wasn't rainy, it wasn't foggy. In fact, today has turned out to be one of the sunniest days we've had in awhile here in Bloomington, Indiana. But this morning, it was just dark. Really dark.

About a year ago, I posted a short piece on the State of Indiana's decision in early 2006 to adopt daylight savings time. For those of you who don't know, most of Indiana used to observe Eastern Standard Time all year round. Basically, this meant we spent half the year on Eastern Standard Time and the other half of the year on Central Daylight Time. If you're confused, join the club. Nobody ever seemed to know what time it was in Indiana, except maybe those of us actually living here.

For most of last year, I considered Indiana's move to observe daylight savings time a welcome one, since it put us on the same time year round as my friends and family living back east. There were other benefits that followed, too, since Indiana was now effectively the western edge of the Eastern time zone. The best part was how the daylight lasted deep into the evening. In summer, sunset occurred close to 10:00 p.m., and even in winter, daylight would linger until about 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. That was a far cry from when I lived in New Hampshire. There, sunset in December happened around 4:15 or 4:30 p.m.

Anyway, the U.S. Congress has gone and mucked it all up by extending daylight savings time by two weeks this year. Those who observe the time change set our clocks ahead one week earlier than normal this past April, and this coming weekend--one week later than normal--we'll set our clocks back. The result has been the incredible darkness we've lately been experiencing each morning here in Indiana. By the time we do set the clocks back, sunup won't happen until close to 8:15 a.m.

Let me tell you, it's hard getting out of bed when it's that dark, even when you know, rationally, that you normally get up at 7:30 a.m. or thereabouts.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the restoration the move back to Eastern Standard Time will bring. Regrettably, it's only a temporary respite. The days keep getting shorter until the third week in December, which means, just about then, sunup won't happen until 8:00 or 8:15 a.m. again.

Who knows? Maybe the old, two time zone system wasn't so bizarre after all....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On being wrong

Sorry for not having written in awhile. I've just been swamped, really swamped. So in lieu of something more substantial, let me share with you a revelation I had as I was struggling to revise an essay I first drafted many moons ago: it was so much easier to write the piece when it was wrong.

As it happens, the revelation I just had about my own work reminds me of a pearl of fortune cookie wisdom I received after dining at a local Chinese restaurant here in Bloomington. It reads: "It is harder to ask the right questions than to find answers to the wrong questions."

Indeed. And isn't that an almost a perfect description of the work cultural studies is supposed to do? It sort of reminds me of something my mentor and friend Larry Grossberg once said. To paraphrase roughly, if it seems too easy, you're probably not doing cultural studies.