Daylight Savings Time continues to spark debate

Published 1:28 pm Monday, March 12, 2007

If it was left up to me, we would be on Daylight Savings Time the year around and once upon a time we were, yet the concept still sparks debate among those who are for it and those who oppose it.

I was startled to learn that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to propose it, but I shouldn’t have been. He was always way ahead of his time and way ahead of even the most forward thinking of his contemporaries.

Of course, the story is that he just proposed it in jest as a way for the French to save candle wax when he was in Paris, but I personally suspect that it was only partly in jest. He was well known for being frugal.

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I am sure there is some scientific reason why we set “standard time” the way we do, but I don’t know what it is. The reason I am sure of that is because otherwise someone would have suggested just making a permanent change to the clocks to start days always later and not bother with calling it “daylight savings time.” I am also fairly certain that it has to do with astronomy and the observation of the heavens.

That’s all very well. I would just like the day to start later so I would have more daylight in the evening all year long. No, I am not a late sleeper. I generally get to the office between 3:30 and 4 a.m., regardless of whether we are in Standard Time or Daylight Savings Time.

I must admit it will be harder to get there at that time for the next week or two, which is about how long it will take for my internal clock to make the adjustment. The watch I wear on my arm, with all of its buttons, is a real pain to adjust twice a year, but that adjustment can be made in minutes as compared to my internal clock.

The other big thing, of course, is changing all the clocks in the house and at work — and getting them to synchronize. It’s amazing how many of those that there are. We Americans are time-keeping fanatics.

As for the debate about when to start Daylight Savings Time and when to end it, it really matters little to me. I do enjoy getting home in the afternoon and having more daylight time to do various chores because that saves me time on the weekends.

I started to say that it saves me time on the weekends to do fun things, but since Katrina I can’t seem to get caught up with chores, so it really just saves me more time to do chores on the weekend. At least maybe I can get more of them done and at some time catch up enough to go fishing again.

The debate this year, though, is over how it’s going to affect our computers and their internal clocks. I’m not certain that really matters to me. Yes, there are time-specific tasks, but the tasks are mine, not the computer’s.

Other people say it confuses animals. I didn’t know animals could tell time. I always have thought they worked on a dark-light cycle without the questionable benefit of clocks. Even though we call it “daylight savings time” we really aren’t changing the number of hours of dark and daylight for any given 24-hour period called a day. Only God can do that and I haven’t heard Him mention such an alteration in the cycle of nature.

As a person who rises well before the sun comes up, I can sympathize with my farmer friends that have to adjust their clocks since their milk cows and other animals that must be maintained on a fairly rigid schedule can’t adjust so easily. It is tough to get used to rising an hour earlier especially, and it isn’t easy to sleep an hour later in the fall, even to go to bed an hour earlier or later. Our internal clocks again, which is I why I come down on the side of year-round Daylight Savings Time. In case you’ve forgotten by now, I like an extra hour of daylight being located at the end of the day rather than at the beginning.

I fully understand how some people are concerned about children going to school and coming home from school in the dark, but folks, we here in the Sunny South are more fortunate than our neighbors t the north, especially those way to the north. Our days are more equally balanced in daylight and dark than their days are.

Genie and I went to Ireland over Thanksgiving one year. Ireland, even the southern part of Ireland where we were, is way north of Mississippi. Irish children were walking to school in the dark at about 8 in the morning. The sun set around 4 p.m., or maybe a little before. Those are short days.

Now during the summer, they have really long days, much longer than ours, and short nights. I’m not sure if Daylight Savings Time would do them much good.

It does do us some good, though, at least in my opinion. Some might wonder why, instead of moving the hands of the clock, we don’t move our beginning and endings of the work day. I don’t know. That would work as well for me, or at least I think it would, but for whatever reason, the powers that were back during World War I when all this began chose to move the hands of the clock and we have become accustomed to it.

I hope you remembered to change your clock last night, because otherwise you are likely to be early everywhere you go until the first Sunday in November — or until somebody reminds you to make the change.