Dawn in the Americas, as seen from space

On Sunday, all of my clocks were pushed back one hour. On Monday, my working day for The Steve Dahl Show was moved up eight and a half hours. It’s going to take me some time to fully adjust to this new normal.

One of my favorite rituals so far is morning coffee alone downstairs as the furnace begins heating the house and it’s still pitch dark outside. Our kitchen floor consists of 20-inch stone tiles and does not creak, so I don’t need to tiptoe. I pull back the curtains and pace from window to window, sipping from my mug and listening to the CBS Radio News on WBBM 780 with an earbud while Amy continues sleeping. Then at 5:05 every day, Pat Cassidy comes on the air and says, “By the dawn’s early light.” He must be in a windowless studio. The darkness actually lasts until nearly 6:00.

I get a kick out of seeing my coworkers online in my Adium contact list before the show goes on the air. There’s a sort of gleeful sense of conspiracy that’s enhanced by the early hour. It’s like we’re all on the Impossible Missions Force or something.

The signal of our new station (104.3 Jack FM) is much stronger here in Wisconsin. For instance, Amy can now tune in both here in the house and driving around, and my sister can listen on the way to work in her car.

There are some agreeable aspects outside of working hours, too. Rather than waiting until 2 p.m. to begin my job, I now start soon after waking up. Instead of finishing at 7 p.m., then eating and squeezing in a little TV, I am now done at 10 a.m., with the rest of the day in a more convenient block. I can make afternoon appointments, and eat dinner at a more reasonable time. It’s even been suggested that I could cook dinner now and then. We’ll give that a little time. Who knows? Maybe more restaurant reviews will occupy this space in the months ahead.

Still, even though I’m not getting up that much earlier than I used to, work is work, and a lot of my energy goes into it. I’ve been doing much more yawning in my free time after work, plus a certain amount of staring — at things like my toothbrush, wondering how I was planning to shave with it.

Ideally, I will have more time for reading and writing, but so far it’s been way too easy to get caught in odd little corners of the Internet. I keep playing with things like StumbleUpon, trying to see if it’s any more useful than the junk people send to long lists of their friends, relatives, and coworkers in email. All of these wondrous Web tools that gradually learn your likes and dislikes seem to take an extra long time to learn mine, if they ever do.

Plus there’s always YouTube, which is where I ran across this woman, Lilylulay:

Sure, I probably have important chores to take care of — but look! — she’s made lots of other videos, including one where she’s disquietingly unhappy, one where she eats an apple, and another one where she questions the repeated featuring of Oprah on YouTube.

Oh, yeah — this brings me to the most encouraging news of the day: Oprah Winfrey has accepted my MySpace friendship at last — even though she has had a much harder week than I have.

Yes, I had doubted Oprah, but she came through for me after all. If a busy woman like that can take the time to bestow a click of approval on an obscure news junkie like me, well I think it’s the kind of thing that can give us all hope for the future.

Crap. Now there’s breaking news that Al-Qaeda plans to attack Chicago malls during the holiday shopping season. Or maybe not. Or is it Los Angeles malls? Perhaps there’s a separate, vague, chilling-but-trivial threat tailored for each market.

Great. Christmas and terrorism: Two more things to lose sleep over.

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