In order to ensure that I do not miss important engagements, I set all the clocks in my house forward by 10 minutes.
To safeguard against my becoming inured to this timekeeping method and mentally recalibrating to the actual time after a while, I set all the clocks in my house forward an additional 10 minutes each day. So on Monday, 9:00 is 9:10, on Tuesday, 9:20, on Wednesday, 9:30, and so forth.
The flaw in this system is that after a few weeks, I become wary of the information that I am receiving from my various timepieces and begin to rely instead on my internal clock, which cannot be so easily fooled. My solution to this problem comes in the form of a custom-made calendar, which has the days offset on an incremental scale that is analogous to my clock system, so that Monday, January 1, is Tuesday, January 2, while Tuesday, January 2, becomes Thursday, January 4, and Wednesday, January 3, becomes Saturday, January 6 (See Fig. 1).
I find that the calendar system, combined with a more-or-less random regulation of the lighting in my apartment to disrupt the (for my purposes) dangerously predictable succession of day and night, is sufficient to keep my internal clock off balance and allow my external clocks to do their jobs properly.
Lest all this hard work be spoiled by a public occurrence such as a newscast or a sporting event, I have reprogrammed my DVR to record the nightly news, the weather channel, and the NFL, and to play random 5-minute selections from a pool of 3 months’ worth of these recordings on a continuous loop in my living room.
The Holiday problem has not escaped me. To combat this particular difficulty I have bribed various acquaintances to call me with seasons’ greetings at intervals based on contemporary events that I have incomplete access to due to my aforementioned DVR-news-gathering system. So, for instance, if the San Francisco 49ers clinch a playoff berth, someone will call up to wish me a Happy Birthday, and if the President makes a public address to the nation, I will receive Christmas cards in the mail the next week. I do not take any calls or letters from close friends or family.
Although this might occasionally give me sufficient information to guess certain calendar dates with a reasonable degree of accuracy – e.g., if the Niners win their division on the same day as the President’s Thanksgiving Proclamation – I have found that the erratic sleep schedule which is occasioned by the random lighting in my apartment and the constant barrage of conflicting sports-, weather-, and current-events-related information coming from my television leaves my brain generally too addled to perform the intricate calculations necessary to make sense of these coincidences.
As a final precaution, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (which occur consecutively most weeks), I dose my morning coffee with a strong hallucinogenic substance (usually mescaline or dipropyltryptamine), which practice has proven of inestimable value in distorting my sense of temporality in general. Consequently, I do not, at present, believe that time passes at all – a worldview which has helped me come to terms with some genuinely surprising phenomena such as the fact that I have not had a birthday since 2002.
Obviously, this entire system obliges me to drastically limit any contact with other human beings (“Spoilers,” as I call them), but apart from the occasional interruption, I have not found this requirement to be much of an imposition.