• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: A Time Change (or a Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week)

A form of jet lag.


March 16, 2017

When I teach modular arithmetic, I often begin by using the example of a clock. Whether the hands of a clock go around thirteen hours or only one hour, they end up at the same place. Thus we say that 13 is congruent to 1, modulus 12. I found myself thinking of this recently as we dealt with the after effects of moving the clock forward by one hour.

I normally love Daylight Saving Time, as it means lighter evenings and longer days. Of course, I realize that the longer days are the result of the change in position of the Earth, and not the switch to Daylight Saving Time. Still, when we switch to Standard time in the fall, I often find myself asking just how many weeks we need to endure the new time until we can go back to lighter evenings and longer days. This means that I am usually thrilled when our clocks change back to Daylight Saving Time in the spring. If nothing else, it means that warmer weather is around the corner.

For some reason, this year was different. Maybe it was because the time change happened at the end of what was our “spring break,” meaning that we needed to adjust to both getting back into the routine of teaching classes and working on a time schedule that our bodies were not yet used to (or maybe it is just that I am getting old!), but this year, the time change seemed particularly brutal. I found myself stumbling through those first few days, not quite used to waking up in what seemed like the middle of the night, even though I did enjoy the daylight that lasted into the late afternoons and evenings.

On a kind of “jet lag,” all week, I found that I had a great difficulty in managing to stay organized (always a struggle for me.) I misread a message about a meeting and thought it was a week earlier than the message indicated; I found myself struggling to copy the answers to a question on the board correctly. And, as I tried to help my daughter with some problems in geometry, I had to pause a few minutes to figure out how her teacher was interpreting the Euclidean motions in the plane. Once I understood her approach, I did manage to get an “isn’t this cool?” question in, to which her answer was something like “I just have to do this, mom.” Sigh, I guess my enthusiasm for Math is not contagious.

And that was Monday. Although it was “pi day” (3.14), things didn’t get much better as a snow storm hit the Northeast corner of the country on Tuesday. No, Ohio is not really in the Northeast, but we managed to be affected by the same storm, with the added insult of “lake effect” snow that pounded us the next day. The only good news was that we could all look forward to Friday, St. Patrick’s Day

I did seem to notice that those around me were also having a difficult time with the loss of one hour. People seemed particularly cranky, and when one meeting got canceled, there was much celebration in the hallways. Eventually, we will get used to this new time, and adjust to it. However, some have begun to ask the question of whether we should abandon Daylight Saving Time completely. Some have cited research that suggests that I am not the only one who believes that my life was disrupted with the change of clocks. Can we find a way to do away with a “loss” of one hour each spring? I would vote for that, but then, I am still hoping that we will soon pass a law doing away with the Electoral College!

What did you, my readers who live in a “daylight saving” state experience as the time change took effect?

     Once again congratulating Ursuline’s basketball team on their second year with a “bracket” in the Division II NCAA playoffs!

     Happy St.  Patrick’s Day to all of my readers, Irish and otherwise!



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