Sunday, March 11, 2007

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME: How much daylight have you saved today?

I'm just going to lay my opinion out there, and I'm not gonna hold back--I think daylight savings is a sham. I am sooo confused this morning; I have asked four different people since waking up, and I don't believe that any of them really knows the truth: no one knows what time it is.

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A few days ago, my father told me that Saturday night would be the time to set my clocks ahead--he told me 10 or 11pm. Then I asked a few housemates and friends. One person said it wouldn't happen until tonight, another said it had happened just a few hrs ago; his friend concurred. But when I did my own investigation, I found an article (I believe it was the transcipt of an NPR story) which said DST happened at 2am Sunday (today).

This year's DST has actually been quite controversial, as Congress decided that the clocks in America would be "sprung ahead" on the 2nd Sunday of March, rather than the 1st Sun in April as an extra "time saving" bonus to us lucky sun lovers. This has created a mini-Y2K snafu, with most Microsoft applications set to change their systems' time settings in April.

But why do legislators all over the world feel the need to manipulate the time? Many people believe that DST was started by farmers in the midwest about 100 yrs ago, and has little to do with us city folks. Not true. Farmers actually complain about DST--when you rise at the crack of dawn, what difference does time make?

I can clearly recall living in northern Nevada as a 12 year-old girl, in a rural farming town called Gardnerville, where a school bus trip took nearly an hour. Once DST hit, my morning routine became nightmarish. I was accustomed to waking up without daylight; but to stand in my driveway, waiting for the bus in the dark, staring at the frozen grass and listening to cows being brought to the slaughter--this is why some kids drop out of school altogether.

In America, DST was made into law in 1883 at the request of railroad executives who just had to have that extra hour of good old-fashioned slave-driving. DST was in and out of vogue throughout the 20th century, most notably during WWII, when FDR called it "War Time"--that lasted for three years. Throughout the decades, Congress arbitrarily passes DST legislation, leaving it up to local jurisdictions as to whether or not to comply. But then in 1973, the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act was passed by Congress to last eight months, rather than six, saving an estimated 100,000 barrels of oil each day. The most recent congressional measure, the Energy Act of 2005, allows DST to start one month earlier in the spring, and one week later in the fall.

All this "saving of daylight" makes me worry about future power-mad time manipulators. We've got a "war president", whose to say he won't change the time again and make it "war time" all the time? What if some world leader decides that October is too short and decides to extend it? What if a small-town mayor doesn't like 2007 and wants 2008 to begin one week earlier? It madness, madness I say!

But until the voice of reason reaches our elected officials, just remember: spring ahead on the 2nd Sunday of March, and fall back on the first Sunday of November (why November? why the hell not?)

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