Monday, November 8, 2010

Times and tidings

Clocks fell back in the wee hours of yesterday morning, which did not exactly have an immediate, appreciable effect. In our household, no amount of sleep ever really seems to constitute “enough” even when an extra hour is repaid. It was much more noticeable to me today; I should really come up with a proper name (used only by me, of course, but still) for the Monday after Daylight Savings Time ends, because that’s the day when my commute inverts itself, in terms of the rays of the sun (or lack thereof). By the end of October I’m getting up, getting ready for work, leaving the house and just about making it all the way in to the office under the cover of darkness, then coming home in the late afternoon with slanty, searing pre-solstice sunshine right in my eyes (and the eyes of everyone else heading west on 66). Then the time zone hitches backwards by 60 minutes in early November and suddenly come Monday my morning has more of the daystar to it than the previous Friday did, and my evening commute is the one with a foreshortened period of light. It is ever-so-slightly disorienting.

Of course that’s just a prelude to the days’ illuminated visibility continuing to get briefer and briefer, until it’s dark when I’m on my way to work and just as dark when I get home. But I don’t mind that so much, or perhaps more accurately, there’s so much else to recommend this time of year that a drag like shrinking windows of sunlight kind of gets lost in the shuffle. (The six weeks immediately following the shortest day of the year, as opposed to leading into it, are by contrast much harder to endure.) On the work front, especially, it’s always nice to settle in for the long, comfortable slide into utter languor which November brings. Working in government contracting pushes the needle all the way into downright torpor.

The Hibernation Timezone
In the private sector there’s always a chance that the turning up of the month part of datestamps to 11 and/or the return to Eastern Standard Time will make people slap their palms to their temples and say “Wow, I gotta get some of this junk cleared out of my inbox before Thanksgiving.” Would that it were so in DoD offices but where the spirit may be willing, the calendar is not so accommodating. Veteran’s Day is this Thursday, and that has the capacity to torpedo an entire week, what with people combining holiday leave and personal leave to create extra-long four-, maybe five-day weekends. For my part, I’m trying to save up my accrued PTO for next spring when the baby comes, so I was planning on working every day this week including Veteran’s Day, which is a federal holiday but not a paid one for my company. However, my contracting boss has discretionary powers to give his team time off, so he informed us today that we could all stay home on Veteran’s Day without it costing any of us any leave, a plan I am definitely not going to argue against.

So I’ll work four days this week and some other people around here will only work two or three, and then next week will be an island of normalcy followed by a three-day week for everyone courtesy of Thanksgiving, and the week after that will usher in December already. And at that point the rest of the year is just a lost cause. Some things will get done, some work will get logged and not everything will come to a grinding halt, but there will be far more stuff that just kind of limps along, its progress essentially neglected, until next year dawns and the excuses for not getting around to it have come and gone.

And I know it probably seems a bit early to be contemplating the manhour losses associated with the festivities of December, but I swear to Kringla the following is true: today I got the official Outlook invitation for my office holiday luncheon, which is scheduled for the Wednesday afternoon before Christmas. (I, of course, accepted immediately. I offer absolutely no resistance to this co-opting of the last two months of the year by Yuletide concerns.) So it’s not just me.

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