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I Do Not Like Daylight Savings Time

If I were Dr. Seuss, I would make a rhyme. 🙂 But I am not, so I will just write in prose.

The only era where I sort of liked the Daylight Savings Time aspect, was when I was a boy, and I loved to stay out and play. Basketball in someone’s yard, touch football in the street. And even after dinner, it was nice to play wiffle ball in the back yard, or sit outside on the lounge chair, and read a good book, or just listen to Vin Scully announce the Dodgers game, before going inside when it got dark.

But of course even without DST, it would stay light longer in summer, that is part of the natural cycles, of the Earth rotating on its axis, and the Earth circling around the sun. We human beings, and every other creature on this planet, have lived with those cycles, and it is pretty obvious that over evolution, all of our bodies have adapted to them, to form what are termed circadian rhythms. They are very important.

As I understand it, Earth’s orbit around the sun, combined with the tilt of the Earth’s axis, is what accounts for the change of seasons, and why Summer in the Northern Hemisphere corresponds with Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and then the reverse. So for us in this country there is more light in the summer, and thus the “days,” that is, the hours of daylight, are longer then. The day is still 24 hours of course, but in winter, the sun sets earlier.

Many people prefer the daylight hours, and many hate the shorter hours of daylight. They find it depressing when it gets dark at around 5:30. I never did, since I loved to read, and that can easily be done next to a lamp. And of course as we move from winter to spring and then summer, the days get longer and that is fun. It was nice to think that when you got to December 21, each day would be a little longer, until we got to June 21, my mother’s birthday, and one day before my birthday on June 22. Then the days start to get a little shorter, not really that noticeable until a few months later

But somehow, humans were arrogant and greedy enough to disrupt all of this, by inventing Daylight Savings Time. This apparently first began in 1908, in Thunder Bay, Canada. Then it was adopted by Germany and Austria in 1916, during World War I, to increase daylight hours so as to save fuel for the war effort. More countries eventually adopted it, and there are 70 or so which have DST. The United States first used it in 1918, and has expanded the calendar which is under DST, over the years. There are some in this country who want permanent DST, and they keep trying to pass bills to mandate it. They don’t have it in Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, maybe because they are more in tune with the natural cycles. Also, some parts of Arizona do not have it, for one reason or another.

There are two basic reasons why I hate DST. One is personal to me, the other is related, but general. I do not like to get up early in the morning. I have always felt that I do my best work, whatever that might be, from about 11am to 4pm. That is not much of a window, but I can function at other hours, too.! At college, I mostly lived in a dorm, and it was only quiet for studying after about 11pm, but that was okay, I liked studying late, though that also meant that I slept late, and sometimes right past my 8am or 9am freshman classes, until I managed to enroll only in classes later in the day.

I know that some people really love getting up early; hence the various comparisons between people who are “larks” and “owls.” They might be born that way, or maybe grow into it. Whatever, I do not like getting up early, unless there is something really nice to do at an early hour, or the next day is going to be so exciting, that I can’t sleep, and I am eager to get up for it. I have always said that I have seen more dawn hours from the night’s end, than from the beginning of the day. Not that many in either case, really!

What I rather dreaded was the clock change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. That means that if you are used to waking up at around 8am, now the clock says 9am. And if you have to get up at 8, then you now have to get up at 7, at least until you adjust, which for me took about two weeks. The opposite was nice, when you wake up at 8 and the clock says 7, so you get an extra hour in the morning, when it seems much nicer than getting the extra hour in the night. But DST keeps encroaching on Standard Time. In 2007, a few extra weeks were added to DST, so that now ST is only about for four months out of the year.

The other reason is that I think it is bad for humans, animals, and other living things on this planet, to have the daily routine disrupted like that. There are statistics showing more heart attacks in the first few weeks of a switch to DST. Also, there are more traffic accidents, which is not surprising at all, with millions of people having to get up an hour early for work. Now, there are also studies showing that there is more depression in the ST periods when the days are short, but that is not because of an artificial ST, since ST is based on natural cycles.. Maybe some think that adding an extra of afternoon daylight makes people happier, but it is artificial, like living in some science fiction based city where it is always light.

My intuitive theory is that it is all about big business trying to make more profits, which they think is their own natural right . The longer it stays light, the more inclined people not on time clocks will be to stay at the office. I know that when I was doing most of my work in an office at a law firm, I found myself staying later, because it seemed like I had more time to do it. Or the attorneys would have a general conversation about this or that. If it were dark, more would leave, since many do not like to drive at night, or they felt like they needed to enjoy the remaining part of the day. And then the heads of the firms, who may have been workaholics, or just trying to bill more for profits, would stay late, and so I would feel that it looked good to be staying, too. But suddenly it was 7:30, and I would not get home until 8:30 to eat dinner, and then I had an hour or two before I needed to go to bed to get up early if I had to drive to a faraway court the next day .I’m not complaining, because many of us go through that; and eventually I was able to carve out a career where I could do much of my work at home, and all that mattered was that I did it, not at what hour, or whom I impressed by appearing assiduous.

So I think very rich and powerful people who run corporations, want their employees to stay later, and DST helps in doing that. And then of course when it is still light outside, people shop more , and are more inclined to eat dinner out, or go to a movie; whereas when it is dark, and it is midweek, one feels a bit guilty staying out late, and wants to get home and be fresher for the next day. These are just trends, they obviously differ among people, but I am pretty sure that this is what is behind the increasing creep of DST.

And I am also convinced that the expansion in 2007 was pushed by Republicans, who still made sure that DST ended just before November elections, so that voters might be more inclined to not go out in the dark and stand in line to vote. Since they were so eager to expand it, why not just one extra week; but, no.

I don’t want it to be light all day. It is cooler in the evening; there is a certain solemnity and stillness about it, as well. One of the miracles of this planet is the dual nature of things; one cycle or season is succeeded by another I don’t follow much science fiction, but surely there are stories about other worlds, or simply ours in the future, where there is always sunlight, no darkness, no evening, and it always appears the same.

I never have forgotten a line from a so-so film which did have its moments, “White Mischief,”about a mostly displaced decadent British aristocracy living in Kenya in the late 1930’s and a little after. Sarah Miles, playing one of the most bored and debauched of the enclave, gets up one day, looks out the window, and says, “Oh, god, another fucking beautiful day.” And then she goes up to her room and shoots herself. Well, that is an extreme, but I do not like Daylight Savings Time, this effort to alter the rhythms of nature, in a way that the average person cannot easily choose to opt out of; and where humans and other animals have their biological rhythms disrupted by the greed and whims of those people who have an inordinate power to regulate virtually every facet of existence.

3 Responses

  1. Having just shoveled a couple of feet of “Colorado sunshine” off the walk and driveway, I must admit to being somewhat less thrilled with the Earth’s axial tilt than usual. 😉

    I tend to prefer DST but like you I hate the changeover. My natural sleep cycle tends to run from 3AM to 11AM, so I’m also very much a night owl.

  2. I don’t like the time change… I don’t care which one gets picked, but I would also like to see the change done away with. Having spent a few years in AZ, I kind of liked it and would love to see it here in PA.

  3. Good health report today. See Pi thread for more. (I can’t post images on Will’s threads.)

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