Of Dogs & Daylight Savings Time
Arizona and Hawaii have the right idea. They’re the only two states in the union with the collective common sense to ignore the biannual foolishness that goes by the name of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. The Navajo Nation within the state of Arizona does follow DST as well. Go figure.
I’m convinced that when the history of our modern age is written, the phenomenon of DST will be summarized as a quirky combination of Old World practicality perpetuated by contemporary good intentions and political stubbornness.
Daylight Saving Time was first proposed in 1895 by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson. Mr. Hudson wanted more afternoon daylight hours in which to collect insects. No kidding. Years later, the concept of advancing clocks during the lighter months at the beginning of springtime grew in popularity around the world for other reasons (some more valid than collecting bugs at dinnertime), and was first instituted in the U.S. in 1918. The observance of DST in America has been abandoned, modified and reinstated several times over the past nearly 100 years, most recently during the energy crisis of the early ’70s.
Even more recently, with the passage of the Energy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time was lengthened an additional four weeks (not taking effect until 2007, however) so that it now begins the first Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November. As I researched this topic, I learned that Sen. Michael Enzi and Rep. Fred Upton actually argued before their colleagues that the DST extension was necessary to give children across the country more daylight hours to safely trick-or-treat.
I can almost hear the bloviating bluster in the chambers of democracy, “Hey, fellow lawmakers! Here’s an idea … let’s mess with everyone’s businesses, leisure activities, traffic patterns, travel schedules, record-keeping and sleep patterns so kids have more time to go trick-or-treating while the sun’s up. I mean, who wants to trick-or-treat in the dark, right?”
And that, boys and girls, is why we all just spent the last week eating dinner at 5 o’clock and waking up before the newspaper is thrown onto the roof. Sort of.
To be fair, I’ve studied the intended benefits of Daylight Saving Time; that it was supposed to boost energy conservation and help farmers harvest their summertime crops. But I’ve also seen many more recent studies that debunk or at least greatly minimize any benefits in these areas. If fact, some of the most recent data even show an increase in energy consumption due to DST.
Then again, if we can play with time itself, why not mess with the months of the year? I mean, I’ve always wondered why all the big holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s come one right after the other – boom, bang, bing! And then Valentine’s is the next month. But after that? Nothing. Nada. Squat. It’s one long, dry stretch of calendar wasteland until the fireworks fly in July. (Easter is too sacred and solemn; it doesn’t count!) So why not pass a law that shuffles the months to more fairly balance out the holidays?
I remember how goofy the whole time-change thing sounded trying to explain it to our kids who were old enough to understand the concept. Then again, I’m still not sure that I understand it myself. I do know one thing – that it’s impossible to explain to a 70-pound chocolate lab and 90-pound Labradoodle why it’s too flippin’ early to get out of bed even though only yesterday at the exact same moment it was time for breakfast.
I’ll just be happy when I’ve adjusted enough that every time I look at a clock I don’t automatically think about what time it “really” is or would have been this same time last week. And now, back to resetting all of our clocks.
I’ll see you ’round town.