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March 08, 2009



By Sarah

Along with whether or not Socrates suffered from syphilis, one of the many issues my husband and I Ben franklin have batted back and forth in our marriage is the question of whether Benjamin Franklin invented Daylight Savings Time. The truth is - sorry, Charlie - that he DID come up with the idea, though it wasn't implemented until 1918 as a fuel saving measure during WW I. Both Franklin and Congress figured that adding an hour of sunlight at the end of the day would burn fewer oil lamps and, later, less electricity.

They're still using the same reasoning these days, but here's the thing: the fuel-saving argument a lie. DST is not about saving fuel, it's about getting us to spend more money. If anything, we actually eat up more gasoline because we're driving extra hours. How do I know? Because Exxon and other "Big Oil" companies are ardent promoters of it.

I know I'm supposed to like DST, enjoy the extra hour of sunlight and all that, but having never been a Rainy dayparticularly big fan of sunshine (I'm more of a rain/cloudy/nighttime person), this time change does not flip my switch - especially since it was extended in 2005 to start earlier and end later. Blech.

Our inner clocks are nothing to be messed with. I mean, I can see five minutes here, five minutes there, but a whole hour? When I was the mother of young kids, it was a disaster adjusting to this twice a year. It wasn't so much the morning end - though rousing a kid for daycare when it's dark is never easy. It was the night end, convincing a small child that he needs to go to bed when he swears he has another hour of play due is impossible. Not to mention the whole lunch/dinner cycle.

And I'm not the only griper. Statistics show accidents go up and work productivity goes down immediately after the biannual time changes. Then there's the minor stuff. When I was on a book tour years ago in Arizona, the publicist in New York arranged for a live telephone interview at four o'clock, New York time. I did the math and called at what was four o'clock DST in NY. Only...Arizona doesn't observe DST so I missed it by an hour!

But what I really resent is the idea of some uber body (in this case, Congress) manipulating time and me in an effort to get me to spend more of my hard earned dough. For example, corporations argued for its extension in 2005 on the basis that DST would promote more golf, barbecues and shopping.

Golf You mean, we risk more auto accidents for golf, barbecues and shopping??

And then there's the Puritanical aspect behind this, that we need to be up and productive, longer, instead of heading to bed and reading and whatnot. But don't listen to me, listen to Robertson Davies from The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947....

"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. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. 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."

So how do you feel? Do you like DST and, if so, why? Or maybe you're on my side of this argument. Hey, I'd love to be proved wrong. Anyway...it's not like I have a choice in the matter.

And that, I suppose, is what I find really aggravating.



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Sarah, to be honest, between work schedule and insomnia, the time change has never really bothered me. It does make me happy The Boss gets home while it's still light out, but other than that, no real effect on my life....

I've always liked it--I like it light later in the evening (more time on the porch to read and sip wine). But I think it really stems from all my years as a teacher--longer days meant the school year was finally nearing its end.

Hate it. I've blogged about it and complained on Facebook. Why do we put up with this? Let's leave the time one way or the other year 'round and stop the madness!

Sarah, I'm with you DST sucks! I don't care if it's suppose to provide one measly extra hour of sunlight, with the invention of electricity, how important is that measly hour. Arguing with the kids when they were little was by far the worst, trying to make them lay down when it was still light outside, finally gave it up, pushed bedtime back an hour. Totally a waste of time. Now, it hard to make them get up and off to school, the last thing I need in my life is someone to take away an hour of my sleep or their's. So, DST sucks! It takes forever to get use to the change, I hate it!

I'm the lucky one, Sarah. I live in Arizona, where our time never changes. But, it gets confusing for television since we're on MT for half the year, and PT for the rest of the year. Our TV schedules change. And, I have to remind people that we're not 3 hours behind Eastern time, instead of just 2. But, it's very nice to not change time. (Here in Arizona, the Navajo Nation changes time, but not the rest of the state. Now that would be confusing!)

Lesa Holstine

Just try getting cats to adjust to the change! This morning they were surprised that I fed them 'early'. In the fall they'll act like I'm starving them to death because breakfast will be an hour 'late'. It takes them about a week to get used to the change.
I still have 5 or 6 clocks to change, but with tornado warnings today, I may be resetting them all again if the power flips off! ugh

I am so sleepy as I type this that I could fall asleep before I finish! I have trouble "adjusting" to change but since I spent Dec-Feb in Florida on EST, my body was already on "DST" for Arkansas, so I'm adjusting better this year.

But I do like the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.

Cats do not get DLS at all, Rita, and I will hear feline whining for months. I just whine for a week while I try to adjust to the change. But I have to admit there's something depressing about coming out of work at 5:30 and it's pitch dark. I feel like I lost my whole day.

Could we find a way to get an extra hour of light at both ends? That would be worth changing for.

When it's really hot, it takes an extra hour to cool off the house at night.

I'm not a fan.

Not a fan either, although that might be my loss of an hour's sleep (perceived loss I should say...I just needed to be up early today and didn't quite make it). I suppose someone thought the later "fall back" and earlier "spring forward" would shorten the feeling of winter, but at this moment all I know is that my one true day off is only 23 hours long. Oh well...I wonder what happens to all those hours...or do they even out? Or is that why we do leap year? Geez...it wasn't broken, right?

Ha, time doesn't change, our manipulation of it does. It does seem kind of dumb; you can sure tell a man thought it up, can't you?

I'm here to tell you that as of this week I have found the cure to insomnia--just be in full charge of an active four-year old. I can hardly stay awake, day or night. He gets up at 7 AM (although this morning he got up 20 minutes before 7, old time), and since I typically don't hit the rack until the wee hours, I've been taking naps during the day to keep up with him.

On the upside, there are lots of hugs and spontaneous declarations of love. Swoon.

I like DST. That extra hour of daylight means it's light long enough to go for a bike ride or a walk. I'm so happy it started today!

All time is artificial anyway, isn't it? We can say noon is when the sun is highest in the sky, but that means different things depending on where you're standing. In the modern world, we have to agree on what time it is in order to function. If we lived a hunter-gatherer sort of life, or a farming life, we'd get up with the light and go to sleep with the dark and not worry about what the clock says, so the adjustment would happen in nice easy increments. But how do you manage that for 300 million people?

Michele, you're so right. If I sit in my sunny kitchen reading, where the light streams in at midday, I can actually see the sun's movement as the shadow moves across the page. Considering that the "highest point in the sky" is such an ephemeral event, and considering that my perception of that precise moment at the extreme western portion of the time zone is different than my daughter's perception at the extreme eastern point of the same time zone, it's all arbitrary, anyway.

There was a fascinating discussion of time and our perception of it on RadioLab, a very cool NPR show that my daughter got me hooked on:

They also, if memory serves, address the issue of DST. (It's been over a year since I listened to this one.)

Electricity probably made the biggest change in time as we know it, and for just the reason you mention, Michele. We no longer rely on daylight or the lack thereof to tell us when to go to bed, or the chickens to tell us when to get up. TV and radio made a second quantum leap in how we use time.

Then there's the school of thought that all time is relative, and that everything that has happened or will ever happen are all going on now, at precisely this moment, which is the only moment we get. That one is too hard to wrap my head around, though. You?

When I was growing up, a woman in Nebraska complained that she was against DST because an extra hour of sunlight would burn her grass. (and people wondered why I moved to NYC).

I'm with you, Sarah. I'm a moon person, not a sun person. And trying to get the kids into bed while there's still daylight is a nightmare. There's some conspiracy afoot here; I've always suspected as much.

I like DST, I just don't like the new dates for beginning and ending. I liked the old April/October dates. At the rate they keep pushing forward the start date and pushing back the end date, pretty soon we'll be on it 365.

Hate changing all the many clocks -- and hate it more in the fall because it's 11 or 23 hours forward to get the clock one hour behind. It's such a nuisance -- leave the time alone!! "Fix" stuff that needs fixing.
My father used to complain that just as he would finally get a bit of sunshine on his way to work in the windowless McDonnell plant (then McDonnell-Douglas), DST would take away the sun. It's hard to wake up with no sun.
Rant over . . . for now.

Pam, tornadoes? There was a brief storm, now sunny.
BTW, lovely moon last night!

I like DST because being cooped up in an office every day, I love the extra hour at the end of the day when I can take the dogs for a walk or do something else outside. I guess I wouldn't care if I could go out anytime I want.

I don't like that they changed the time of year we do it.

We have dogs, and it sucks in the Fall, because they're waking us up earlier to eat. Now it's kind of nice, because they'll let us sleep later.

But in the overall scheme of things, I guess I don't see DST as worth my effort to be negative about. I'm craving less negativity these days. It makes my heart hurt.

DH and I don't mind the change. I do enjoy having more sun for gardening. The dogs don't mind the change either because they live on MY time which is completely weird anyway.

Daylight Savings Time makes about as much sense to me as cutting ten inches off the bottom of your blanket and sewing it onto the top because youre blanket is too short.

I hear ya, Laura, about the negativity. Sorry I let you down this time :(

Peggy - BWAH! I'm going to use that one.

I don't like DST. It's too confusing when you deal with people all over the country. Nobody knows what time it is.

Ben Franklin was a slut, by the way. Just in case someone didn't know.

Here is a date to look forward to, even though it's arbitrary: Spring starts next week - March 20th!

Ask me again in a week once I am used to it. YAAWN! I love it in the summer but today not so much. It was dark when I woke up around 10---or was it 11? When the weather gets a bit warmer it will be great; going for a walk in the evening when its light out will be a big plus.

I can't wrap my mind around that one, either, Karen!! The only thing I'm really sure of about time is that it only moves in one direction. Maybe that's why I have no interest in seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. ;-)

Interesting topic and good discussion today!

No, Sarah, sorry. Of course you didn't let me down. It's not you, it's me, lol. I am trying not to let all the negative crap in the world get to me, and it's very hard lately. I guess I'd rather look a little more light in all the darkness as a good thing right now.

In the meantime, coming here is always a positive, no matter what the subject. All of you are definitely a little light in the darkness.

I used to have more patience for the back-and-forth of the time change, but since hitting 40 it all seems... RIDICULOUS! Pick a time and stick with it, is my outlook.

What did Robert Louis Stevenson write....."In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candlelight; in summer quire the other way I have to go to bed by day"....
Was he talking about DST back then? Just a thought.....

Good point, Lynn. We have never been content with time's variations. Better just to enjoy the NOW.

Many years ago, I got in a lot of trouble.

I was anchoring the news on the weekends at the CBS affiliate in Atlanta.

It was DST night, and the weather person said to me, all cheery: "And don't forget, tonight is he night the time changes.

And I said: Well, you know, the time really doesn't change. The time is endless, and unchangeable. WE change the clocks, and that's how the system works now. But the TIME does not change. It's all a continuum, I said. Mere people cannot change the TIME. We can call it something different, but it stays the same, no matter what. WE change what we call it, but the time is the same.

He looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.

And Monday, I got called into the general manager's office. And got yelled at.
"You're going to have to practice your ad libs," he said.

I rest my case.

Did I neglect to mention this was on live TV?

It was.

Hank, if someone with that depth was doing news and weather, I'd tune in!

Aw, Mary. Thanks. I truly got in trouble for not just going along with the whole thing, so I think you and I are in the minority. And yet, it's a fun minority.

We are in good company --
Much Madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense-the starkest Madness-
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent- and you are sane-
Demur- you’re straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain-

Emily Dickinson

I hate DST! Both time changes are awful and it was truly awful when Lady K was a teeny baby. Sleep schedule was off....everything had to get re-settled.
Would that President Obama would proclaim an end to all time changing and let it be. Pick one and stay with it....or we all move to Arizona....

I'd happily adjust to the pros and cons of either time system, if we'd just STICK with one. The switching back and forth is crazy. And the new schedule, especially the March change, makes things worse. Just what the immune systems of schoolkids (and the rest of us) need at the tail-end of the winter cold/flu season: a lost hour of sleep.

Kathy - go for it! Unfortunately I don't have it copyrighted.

And I do know how to spell "your" correctly, I must have just gotten in a bit of a hurry typing my last comment. I spotted the error immediately after it was too late to correct it. Unfortunately there's no way to edit a comment once it has been posted.

I do not even bother knowing what time it is anymore.

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