Friday, March 8, 2024

Insight: Time Traveling Yet Again

By Ed Pierce
Managing Edito

The odds are 100 percent that I will not be awake at 2 a.m. Sunday when Daylight Saving Time arrives once more for 2024.

Years ago, I couldn’t wait to lose an hour’s sleep once a year because it meant more time to spend outside after dinner for months. And I didn’t care about gaining an extra hour of time every fall when the clocks returned to normalcy.

But now that I’m older, I question why the annual time change always takes place at 2 a.m. Why not at 5 p.m. on a Monday to trim an hour of work for employees or at 6 p.m. on Friday evenings so Major League Baseball games start an hour earlier?

From what I’ve observed, Daylight Saving Time was set up this way because at 2 a.m. Sunday, most people are home asleep, and it’s the customary closing time for many bars across America. The thought was that making a time change at 2 a.m. would affect the fewest people.

But why make the time change at all? A teacher once told me that Daylight Saving Time was created to give farmers more daylight hours to grow more crops. But that’s not true as farming groups actively lobbied against Daylight Saving Time, saying it gave them one less hour to prepare crops for sale.

During an interview I once had with a dairy farmer in Sanbornton, New Hampshire, he told me his cows were temperamental and were creatures of habit. He said his cows liked to be milked every day at sunrise and disrupting that schedule by shifting to Daylight Saving Time resulted in his cows producing less milk until resuming Standard Time in the fall.

My mother always said switching to Daylight Saving Time was a good thing as it helps us all hold down energy costs. She said if you’re doing something outside after dinner, you’re not inside your home running up your electric bill.

Recently though I discovered that’s not the case because as energy bills have risen sharply across the nation those not outside after dinner tend to turn on air conditioners or ceiling fans to the delight of power companies.

When I was in the U.S. Air Force, where Daylight Saving Time was implemented always baffled me. Some states where I was stationed switched times while others didn’t.

For example, when I was assigned to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, that state was warm year-round and didn’t want an extra hour of sunshine every day. And during the summer months there by 5 a.m. it was already 100 degrees outside, so by not changing to Daylight Saving Time, the sun was up at 4 a.m. and you could hear some homeowners out there mowing their lawn at that early morning hour.

I also spent time in the Air Force in Indianapolis, Indiana which didn’t recognize and adopt Daylight Saving Time until years later, yet other parts of Indiana did. I recall making a phone call from Indianapolis to an office at Grissom Air Force Base in Kokomo, Indiana which was not that far away at 4 p.m. but the office in Kokomo was already closed because it was 5 p.m. there.

Lately, some state legislatures have passed measures to make Daylight Saving Time permanent throughout the year or others have passed bills to do away with the time-change practice. I have a hard time keeping up with where every state currently stands.

During World War I in 1918, Americans experienced Daylight Saving Time nationwide for the first time, but by 1919, many states abandoned it. At some point during World War II, it returned only to be phased out again by some states and municipalities after the war, producing a kalidescope of time zones for airline schedulers and weary travelers.

Congress intervened in 1966 and passed the Uniform Time Act, standardizing Daylight Saving Time to start every year on the last Sunday in April and run through the last Sunday in October across the nation. It was not a complete bill though as some states could remain on Standard Time all year long.

Two years ago, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act permanently moving clocks ahead one hour year-round and jettisoning the practice of switching clocks back and forth twice a year. But that measure has never been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and forwarded to the president to be signed into law.

As someone who walks their dog after dinner during the summer, I like having it light outside to be able to see. It’s much easier than having my dog leash in one hand and the other carrying a flashlight to guide our way down the sidewalk.

Just last week, I read a magazine article suggesting that home break-ins and other property crimes go down during Daylight Saving Time as those crimes typically occur under the cover of darkness.

As for me, I really am ambivalent about the return of Daylight Saving Time. I just wish we could set one time and let it go at that. Changing clocks throughout the house and in the car twice a year is not something I relish.

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