Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Time and tide wants for no one." ~ Sir Walter Scott

However, that doesn't mean that man doesn't like to mess around with it twice a year! Once again it's that time of the year to go through the house and change the seven clocks and who knows how many watches that I own while we "fall back" out of Daylight Saving Time in the government's effort to give us more hours of daylight in the morning versus the evenings.

Though Benjamin Franklin initially conceived of the idea of daylight savings way back in 1784 in an essay called "An Economical Project", the United States didn't do anything with it until 'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918 during World War I. The law proved to be so unpopular that it was repealed in 1919 but came back in the form of "War Time" in 1942 when it was instituted once again by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. At that time, States and localities were free to choose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time (DST) and could even choose when it began and ended which obviously caused a lot of confusion - especially with the railroads, bus companies, and airlines.

In 1966 Congress finally decided to step in and end the confusion caused by 100 million Americans observing Daylight Saving Time based on their own local laws and customs. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 was signed into public law on April 12, 1966 by then President Lyndon B. Johnson exempting only those States that passed legislation keeping them on Standard Time. In 1986, Congress once again tweaked the law to begin DST on the first Sunday of April and ending it on the last Sunday of October.

One more change is planned here in the U.S. in 2007 when The Energy Policy Act of 2005 goes into affect extending DST to start on the second Sunday of March and not switching back until the first Sunday of November. Of course, Congress has retained the right to revert to the previous law should the new change prove to be too unpopular as so many in the past have been. Daylight Saving Time in the rest of the world is highly variable but most of the countries of Western Europe switch over the last Sunday of March and switch back on the last Sunday of October.

Confusing? You bet! But not as confusing as it is to some people:

"In September 1999, the West Bank was on Daylight Saving Time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank terrorists prepared time bombs and smuggled them to their Israeli counterparts, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded — one hour too early — killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims — two busloads of people.

"To keep to their published timetables, trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks fall back one hour in October, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight passengers are often surprised to find their train at a dead stop and their travel time an hour longer than expected. At the spring Daylight Saving Time change, trains instantaneously become an hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time."

Leave it to man to screw up the entire concept of time and not leave well enough alone! Daylight Saving Time has many detractors, especially people who are prone to Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder such as myself who don't like the extra hour of darkness in the evenings and would rather get it over with in the mornings when I'm still half asleep! But it has its proponets as well who believe that DST saves energy for lighting in all seasons of the year and even believe that it reduces traffic accidents and fatalities by more than one percent.

All told I've got to agree with Robertson Davies in The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, "I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind ... At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier,to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves."

Naturally I have NO objection to being able to catch an extra hour of sleep tonight though I certainly do miss it in the Spring! How about you? Are you for DST or against it?


  1. Anonymous3:54 PM EDT

    I myself don't see the point. All it does for me is cause a disruption in my painstakingly aquired sleep schedule for my children. I am sure to miss out on that extra hour of sleep when my daughter wakes up at 6am tomorrow thinking it is 7...........

  2. Anonymous4:50 PM EDT

    I thought DLS was invented because the farmers needed more light at night. When I was a kid I thought it was a bank promotion. I wanted a Day Light Saving account. I was confused why I couldn't have one when they used to talk about it on the news. Oh well.

  3. I think we should just leave time the @#%! alone, starting tonight. I'm with you, Linda. By the time my coffee kicks in, it's light enough for whatever. Jen has a good point about kids and sleep schedules as well. And no one EVER considers the plight of the day-sleeping shift worker. When I worked first watch, time changes either way seemed to mess me up worse than at any other time.

  4. Amber - according to my research, "Standard time in time zones was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads on November 18, 1883. Prior to that, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by a well-known clock (on a church steeple, for example, or in a jeweler's window)."

    I, too, had thought that it was because of the farmers that we did all this clock changing stuff but then it dawned on me that cows have no idea what time it is so they have to be milked at the same time each morning and as far as an extra hour of daylight in the evening - what does a farmer really care about that either? They stop working outside when it's dark and they can't see anymore and that's all there is to it. I was actually rather surprised to see that it was mostly because of the railroads that any sort of "set" time was instituted but when you think about schedules and such, then it makes complete sense.

    I kind of like the idea of a Day Light Savings account! Sort of like a Christmas Club!

  5. Anonymous1:09 PM EST

    thanks for the clarrification linda. now that i think about it i guess cows really don't wear watches. my aunt, who works in a bank, still teases me about the savings account thing. she loves to tell that story to her customers. i'm known in the bank as the DLS girl. your friend cyndi sounds like she's alot of fun

  6. Anonymous2:27 PM EST

    I'm with Jenifer on this one. At 31/2 years of age, Patrick doesn't tell time. To him it's still 5:30 am when he comes in to wake us at a lovely 4:30 am and wants to watch a movie... He never seems to get used to the change so until April I may be a little more crabby at work. You all have been warned so why not pick up an open shift or two and make it easier on all of us... haha

  7. Anonymous2:45 PM EST

    And I am going to disagree with you all... as a runner who gets up at 4:15 to get out the door no later than 5 am to do my run, I look forward to the fall back. About 1/2 way through my run daylight starts breaking and it's so gorgeous. It's the spring forward that I dislike -- at least until my body clock gets used to it!

  8. Anonymous3:29 PM EST

    i actually did like getting up to sunlight this morning. i was defianetly more awake on my way to work at 6.

  9. Geez, Helen, you get up at what time to do what??? It makes me tired just to think about that! But, you're right, it's always so pretty in the mornings when the sun is coming up and then I'm glad that I'm up to see it but not enough to want to get out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning! I am slug - hear me snore!


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