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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Today In My Bedroom ...

In other posts, I've used the motto "Be Prepared" adopted by the Boy Scouts of America, but no amount of physical or mental preparation (even Preparation H, for that matter) can override the annoyance I find with time changes associated with Daylight Saving Time (DST).

I just want to punch someone ... usually it's the perky morning talk-radio personality who for the last two weeks has been doing a little "Spring forward, Fall back" promo. I get it!! In this great country, we set clocks one hour ahead on the second Sunday each March and reduce the time by an hour on the first Sunday in November.

But why? The claims are that DST saves energy because we don't have to light our homes and businesses as much. Also, there is a belief that DST provides more hours for leisure which benefits various sports and leisure industries. I've heard that their are safety issues too ... like putting school children on buses and avoiding fog and other inclement ground weather conditions that plague much of the U.S. in the wee hours of the morning. I've even heard PSAs ... public service announcements ... that encourage people to use this twice-a-year time change as a "reminder" to do things like replace batteries in smoke detectors, check tire pressures in automobiles and bicycles, have their blood pressures taken, and even update things like address books and medical records.

For me, Daylight Saving Time means I get to be reminded that I need an engineering degree to adjust the time on my VCR/DVD player. It's also a guaranteed way for me to be late or early for Sunday morning appointments, and a surefire method for leaving me so disoriented the entire day it occurs that the following Monday is always a special little slice of Hell!

And although my computer and cell phone and alarm clock seem to update themselves just fine, I have to personally adjust the timekeeping devices in my car, microwave, and stove ... not to mention the various clocks in my house and watches on my bureau. It's just a pain in the ass!!

was introduced in the U.S. during WWI to save energy that was needed for the war-time production of various goods. In 1966, U.S. Congress standardized the process with the Uniform Time Act. This was adjusted in 2007 with the Energy Policy Act which added four weeks to the DST period. Economists predicted that this added time to DST would result in a savings of 10,000 barrels of oil each day in the U.S. ... a premonitory statement that has yet to be proven.

Much of the world has observed similar time-adjusting schemes for decades. Europe standardized their European Summer Time in 1996. Countries in the Southern Hemisphere observe DST from October to March since there summer begins in December. And nations in the lower latitudes don't even bother with DST because they have very little fluctuation in the number of sunny hours during any season.

Besides the chatty, upbeat morning radio lady, three other gentlemen deserve a smack in the chops for their involvement in the creation of DST. The first is dear old Benjamin Franklin. This well-known statesman was serving as an American envoy in France during the late 1700s. While already being known for his famous proverb "early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," Franklin supposedly authored several suggestions for improving the French economy ... including rising earlier to make use of morning light instead of candles. The germ of an idea was planted -Strike 1.

Next came the man who is actually credited with creating the concept of DST ... George Vernon Hudson. Hudson was a bug guy ... an entomologist ... Gil Grissom in funnier clothes. Anyway, Hudson saw the merits of additional after-hours daylight for bug collecting so he presented a paper in 1895 proposing a two-hour daylight-saving time shift. His ideas were met with considerable interest. The seed was sprouting - Strike 2.

A bit later ... 1905 ... an English builder and outdoorsman named William Willett independently conceived of advancing the clock during summertime basically because he wanted people to make better use of their leisure time and he hated that dusk sometimes cut into his golf game. Well, Willett was lucky enough to have influential friends and in 1908 the first Daylight Saving Bill was introduced to England's House of Commons. The plant had flowered - Strike 3.

I do have two positive things to say about DST: 1) the initial proponents of the measure were smart enough to plan the changes to occur on weekends to affect businesses with shift changes as little as possible. And 2) it is extremely cool to be in a bar in November when "last call" isn't really last call because at 1:59:59:9 AM the "clock" jumps back to 1.

POINT OF RANT: Isn't life annoying enough without DST!!

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