Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baseball in November?

It is bad enough (in my book) that we continue to call the annual contest between two North American teams the "world series". Of course, some of the leading performers in baseball are from such countries as Cuba, the Domincan Republic, and even Japan.

Some years ago, in additional round of playoffs was introduced by dividing the North American clubs into six divisions, permitting two so-called "Wild Card" teams to participate in the two rounds to produce the participants in what some wags describe as "the Serious". This year, teams representing New York and Philedephia are vying to become "World Champions". Those watching at the stadiums will be well advised to wear warm winter clothes. They can be thankful that they don't need to go even further north, as would be necessary if Toronto had made it to the final pairing.

I have mixed feelings about the actions of our former President, in approving the extension of what we call "daylight saving time". If one lives on the eastern boundary of a timezone, this unilateral move in the USA probably does save some fuel, which is good. If you live, as I do, near the western edge of the time zone, it gets a bit ridiculous, when it is still dark at 7:20am on Halloween. We now change back to normal time on the first Sunday in November. Thankfully, this year that took place yesterday, but in some years it will be as late as November 6.

In Britain, we called it "Summertime" that name would sound absurd in November, as most British children are thinking excitedly of "Guy Fawkes Day" (November 5).

(One advantage of having fireworks when it is dark is that young children can enjoy them at a much earlier hour than our American equivilent, the fireworks displays on Independence day (July 4).)

It was common place in my childhood to find children going around the neighborhood, calling out "Penny for the Guy" collecting coins to buy fireworks. Little did they realize the cruelty of setting the effigagy they had made on a bonfire. Few of them even realized that Guy Fawkes was sentenced to the even crueler fate reserved for those convicted of so-called "treason", nor did they realize that the eponymous originator of the beloved festival, in fact had been first tortured and then escaped the ghastly horrors of his sentence by jumping from the gallows, breaking his neck.

We have just concluded an American tradition, which I well remember horrifying my best friend's parents when they visited this country in 1938. Children ring doorbells of neighbors and complete strangers, calling out "Trick or Treat!". The idea is that you "buy off" the potential tricksters, by handing out goodies, usually candy. It is rare indeed to hear of anyone actually being "tricked", although I have heard of examples of air being let out of tires, of white wash being brushed onto windows, and of quantities of toilet paper being spread on bushes, trees, or anywhere else where it will take some time to clean up the mess.

One problem when our daylight saving time begins or ends on a different date from that used in most parts of the world is the havoc it plays with airlines schedules. There are parts of the US where (because of state boundaries and other considerations) daylight saving time differs from the expected pattern of being guided by time zones. When last I checked this out, the state of Arizona ignored daylight saving time altogether.

Typically, farmers - especially dairy farmers - dislike setting clocks back or forward. Cows can hardly be expected to understand why the milking routine has to be changed twice a year.

Anyone old enough to remember what is was like during WW II in the UK will remember that we had Summertime in the winter, and "double Summertime" in the Summer. All in the name of saving energy and reducing the hazards of driving without normal headlights.

Yes, we sure know how to mess things up when we con everyone to get up an hour early - but for the most part, it does work.

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