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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Rites - Daylight Saving Time

Good Morning everyone. It’s 5:00 a.m. here in California—but it’s really only 4:00 a.m. Or is it 6:00? It's been two days, and I'm still reeling. It’s Clock Confusion Time again.
 Does anyone else struggle with this annual phenomenon? I believe if it weren't for the jingle we all learn about springing forward and falling back, we'd be even more befuddled than we are. Still, it's one of our most important spring rites.

Daylight Saving Time

Note that the correct term is "Saving Time" not "Savings Time", abbreviated DST. The period runs from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March to 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

I'm always taken off guard when the time comes around to change the clock. What are your thoughts on Daylight Saving Time? Do you like it or dislike it? Find it hard to adjust? Do you know the purpose and history of Daylight Savings time?

Where Did The Idea Come From?
● The general idea of daylight saving was first suggested (indirectly) by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, while US ambassador to France, for the purpose of saving resources. While Ben often gets the credit, he really didn't propose anything about setting the clock differently. He only suggested rising at dawn would get more out of the sunlight hours...essentially, a change in sleep schedule.
              Ben Franklin                                 George Vernon H
● Modern daylight saving was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and he valued after-hours daylight. He presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society which generated considerable interest, but never went anywhere. 

● In 1908, Englishman William Willett wrote a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight” His proposal was considered by the British parliament, but the bill didn't pass. Willett died in 1915 without success.

● In April, 1916 Austria and Germany adopted Daylight Saving Time as a wartime measure to conserve electricity. Other countries in Europe followed suit, including Britain. The US accepted the idea in March 1918, as a wartime measure, not for the benefit of farmers, as some people believe.

● After WWI ended, Woodrow Wilson ceded to popular demand and repealed Daylight Saving in the U.S.

● WWII brought Daylight Saving back to the fore in 1942, when FDR mandated the measure, known as "War Time", throughout the United States. This time, it stuck for most of the country.

● For years, different cities and states in the U.S. started and ended their daylight saving time on different dates, creating chaos throughout the country. Congress passed a law in 1966 which set a standard for Daylight Saving Time with the period beginning on the last Sunday in April and ending on the last Sunday in October. The law gave the states the option of remaining on standard time year round.

Arizona—with the exception of the state's Navajo Nation— and Hawaii did not wish to participate. The overseas territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands didn't participate. However, some local variations persisted.

● In 2005, Bush signed a law moving the Daylight Earning Time back to the first weekend of November, a measure designed to help cut down on the number of children injured or killed in automobile accidents while trick-or-treating after dark on Halloween.

One source claims that one of the reasons for extending into November was to encourage voter participation. The rationale was that more voters would go to the polls if it were still light when they returned from work.  I hadn't heard this before.

So, Are We Happy?

Not everyone supports Daylight Savings Time—I don't think the term "Daylight Earning Time" ever kicked in. The states of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are reported to be looking into opting out of DST. In 2014, a bill was introduced in Kentucky to go to DST year round.

The biggest supporters of DST are always the commercial and retail interests, and there is no substantial body of evidence that the practice saves energy. Some suggest that more gasoline is used during this period. Since the time period coincides to a large extent with school summer vacations, it would be hard to find that conclusive. The anecdotal material on the results of daylight saving time is abundant.

● A man, born in Delaware just after midnight DST, managed to get out of being drafted into the Viet Nam war by arguing that standard time, not DST, was the official time for his state of Delaware for recording births. Under standard time he was born the prior day and that day had a much high draft lottery number. He wasn't drafted.

● To maintain their published schedule, Amtrak does not allow trains to leave a station before the scheduled time. When the clocks are set back by one hour, Amtrak trains that are running on time have to stop and wait one hour. In the spring, the trains lose an hour and have to make up the lost time and arrive at the station on schedule.

● On the day when DST springs forward an hour, patrons of pubs become disgruntled about losing an hour of drinking time. There are been riots in bars when they have to shut down early, particularly in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University.

● In September 1999, with the West Bank on Daylight Saving Time while Israel has just switched back to standard time, a terrorist bomb attack was thwarted by the terrorists' lack of understanding of DST. The timing on the bombs, set to go off to kill two busloads of civilians, was misinterpreted by the terrorists planting the bombs in Israel. They went off an hour earlier than expected, killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims.

If you have a story (real, written, or read) about Daylight Saving Time, make a comment and share with the rest of us. 


Lynda Bailey said...

What a cool history lesson! Love it!! ;)
I had no idea about the "War Time" thing - as a born/raised Iowan, I always assumed the farmers were to blame...
My favorite quote about DST is from the Native Americans: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket... LOL...Thanks for sharing!

Tina Donahue said...

Fascinating post. :)

Cara Marsi said...

How interesting. I loved it. Being from Delaware, I was particularly interested in the clever way that guy got out of being drafted. Also, the terrorist bomb in Israel was very interesting. For the record I HATE DST. I HATE changing time and don't understand why we have to do it.

Renee Vincent said...

Wow, this was one VERY interesting post! As I live in the rural KY, DST was always used as a way for farmers to have more daylight for work in the fields. Back in the day when kids had to work their families farms to help their parents maintain profits, DST was extremely important, allowing kids to get more work done in the fields before and after school. Not much of that goes on now...but as someone who lives on a farm, DST is great during Spring, Summer and Fall months. In winter, it sucks as there seems to be hardly any daylight hours. For this, people tend to get depressed in those winter months.

I'm neither for or against. I'm Switzerland :-)

jean hart stewart said...

Love the bomb story.. personally, I hate switching times and see no reason not to have the same time year found. Might have made sense at one time, but not now....

Rose Anderson said...

Great post, Ann. :) It takes me a few days to get in the groove of the new time. I really dislike DST.

Melissa Keir said...

I went to Ohio University. It doesn't surprise me that they rioted about the bars closing early. That town is known as the top party school. They close down the whole main street to party outside for Halloween.

Mike said...

Having lived in a country for a few years that does not observe DST, I can testify that it is absolutely useless. There's no need for this in the modern world. Stores keep their lights on all night now anyways (at least where I live in the USA), so no power is being saved, especially with the advent of automatic timers, etc. I really think we should abandon it.

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