Pick Wayne's Brain

March 11, 2016

It’s Those Damn Clocks Again

Filed under: Commentary, Science — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 5:05 AM

“Spring Forward, Fall Back.” It seems we learned that one before we learned the Lord’s Prayer. (Some of you may have learned that one faster than the rest of us.) But why do we do it? Wasn’t Daylight Savings Time something Ben Franklin thought up? Wasn’t it supposed to be for the benefit of the farmers, so they would have more daylight to harvest their crops and work their fields? Don’t they have alarm clocks now? Can’t they just let the rest of us sleep?

The answers are: To save energy. Yes. Yes. I’m sure they do. No.

Not going along with it may defeat the point, to save energy. You see, the theory goes that if daylight lasts a little longer, there will be less demand for turning on lights. It is assumed that during the extended hour of darkness the next morning, you’ll have fewer lights turned on.

But, contrary to right wing conspiracy theories that I have no doubt exist, it is not a plot to take away the freedom of the states. It’s not mandatory.

Not everybody goes along with the plan. Arizona sticks with Mountain Standard Time, which turns out to be the same as Pacific Daylight Time. (The Navajo Nation, however, goes along with the summertime switch.) Hawaii and U.S. possessions such as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are also staying on standard time.

Most European countries don’t switch to summer time until the last weekend in March. That means the usual time difference will be out of sync for two weeks. For example, when it’s noon in New York, it’ll be 4 p.m. in London. But starting March 27, the five-hour difference between the two cities’ clocks will be back in force.

Some countries in the Southern Hemisphere move their clocks back an hour at this time of year. In Brazil, for example, the switch from daylight saving time to standard time took place in February, when they moved their clocks back one hour.

You can see how the world changes its calendars here.

It’s also a good idea to try to get to get back to your normal sleep routine (at the new hour) as soon as you can. Losing sleep for even a few days in a row can weaken your immune system, and you’ll be more susceptible to colds and viruses. Here are some more tips.

That being said, what is the damn point? There is no need to make anything about this mandatory, or even to go along with it at all. If the federal government believes that energy can be saved by everyone starting and ending the working day an hour earlier during the summer months, then just change every federal employee’s shift schedule to begin and end an hour earlier. Let the rest of us do it or not. And that goes for the small business owner, too. If any company does business with the federal government and believes keeping the same time schedule with them makes doing business easier and more cost-effective, then they can change their employee’s shift schedule, too. School districts can make their own determination on what hours to follow. Since the time shift is mostly during the summer months, they can shift the hours of their summer school operations and maintain standard time the rest of the school year. But if there’s no real, tangible, quantifiable benefit to upsetting everyone’s natural biological rhythms, then what’s the point of doing it at all? You know what one of the things I like about summer is? Fireworks. You know what I hate about DST? That I have to wait until 10 PM or later to see those fireworks. If the clocks hadn’t been set ahead an hour, those fireworks would be going off an hour earlier in the night. And the people with kids could be putting them to bed an hour earlier, too.

Maybe my beef is personal. I still feel like the universe owes me an hour. While stationed at Ramstein AB in West Germany in September 1987, I took leave to visit my then-girlfriend Jane and to take part in a friend’s wedding. Now, keep in mind that in Europe, they moved the clocks back one hour on Sept 27. I was in the United States at the time. Here in the US, we didn’t change the clocks back one hour until October 25. I was back in West Germany when that happened. So I never got to set my clock back an hour and get that extra hour of sleep. I’ve been carrying this persistent feeling for the past 28-1/2 years that the universe owes me an hour. When the United Nations finally implements the One World Order plan we’ve been hearing Pat Robertson and Alex Jones whimper about, I’ll complain to them about it.

BTW, the time change takes effect this Sunday morning, 2 AM EST. At that moment, it changes to 3 AM EDT. Set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed Saturday Night.

It’s also a good time of year to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, or to buy smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them.

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