From the Editor: The blanket isn’t any longer
March 13, 2018
Full disclosure: I hate Daylight Saving Time — absolutely loathe it. I always have, and I'm pretty sure I always will.
Even when I was a kid, I think I dreaded that inevitable annual ritual of "springing forward" even more than I dreaded trips to the dentist or clothes shopping excursions or that one night every week or so my Mom would insist on cooking liver and onions for supper.
I realize I'm in the minority.
According to a 2017 Princeton Survey Research Associates International survey, 55 percent of those polled said they aren’t disrupted at all by DST, while 41 percent said they were "at least a little disrupted." Only 13 percent — the group I'd fall into — described the time change as a "major disruption."
And, frankly, I just don't get that. How could losing an hour's worth of sleep not be disruptive? How could having your days and night arbitrarily shifted by an hour every six months or so not trigger an extended condition of ill-temper, angst and general wretchedness?
For me, it's always been excruciating. Regardless of what preparations I make in my futile attempts to steel myself for the coming change — shifting my bedtime back by an hour a week or so prior, telling myself that it's only an hour and that a single hour shouldn't make that much difference, stocking up on extra-caffeinated coffee and Red Bulls for the hour of truth — nothing seems to help.
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So, I just resign myself to the fact that, for a couple of weeks every six months, I'm going to feel tired, disorientated and generally out-of-sorts.
I guess I could maybe get behind DST if someone could offer a good reason for observing it. Returning to my childhood hates, I could sort of see the sense of it when my parents told me that I had to see the dentist because I didn't want rotten teeth, that I had to go shopping for clothes because I'd outgrown all my old ones, that I should eat liver and onions every now and then because they were good me.
But whenever I asked why we had to reset the clocks twice per year, the best they could come up with was, "Well, we just do."
Beyond that, I've heard reasons such as, "It saves power during the summer months." Only, it may not. According to an article published on livescience.com, research on the subject is decidedly mixed, with some insisting the savings are real and others countering DST actually increases energy consumption.
Another reason I've heard being bandied about is that DST helps farmers by extending daylight hours into the evenings. Only, it may not. Many farmers have found that livestock don't generally wear wristwatches and care little for what time we humans tell them it is. As a result, some dairy farmers complain the time shift negatively affects milk production.
And the final reason — the only one, in my opinion, that comes within a mile and a half of making sense — is the time-tested cry of "Well, I like having that extra hour of daylight in the evenings after I get off work.”
OK. Fair enough.
So, why not set our clocks to DST and never set them back? Personally, I prefer Standard Time — it just seems wrong when the clock reads 8:30 p.m. and the sun is still out — but in this case — to escape this needless, biannual exercise in pain — I'd be willing to compromise on which system we adopt.
I ask only that we set it one way or the other, then leave it alone; there's no good reason to put ourselves through this twice per year every year, and there are some pretty compelling reasons not to.
For instance, studies indicate that, on the Monday following the shift to DST, heart attack rates rise by 14 percent, automobile crashes rise by 17 percent and productivity — both at school and at work — is lower than any other day of the year.
I'd need some convincing, but maybe, way back at the end of World War I, switching the time twice a year served some legitimate purpose. But even if it did, that purpose is no longer operative or valid.
All that said, DST is probably with us to stay, so I guess I'll go on enduring it as best I can for as long as I have to. But every blessed time I have to wander around my house resetting all the clocks, it'll be with the following anonymous quote banging around my head.
"When told the reason for Daylight Saving Time, the old Indian said, 'Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.'"
Jim Patterson is editor of the Craig Press. Contact him at jpatterson@CraigDailyPress.com or 970-875-1790.