Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

November 5, 2012

COLUMN: A glitch in time

— Today there will be a few folks rolling out of bed an hour early because they forgot to set their clocks back an hour before going to bed last night. For better or worse, this twice a year ritual is upon us again. Each spring we set our clocks forward, and each fall we return them to Standard Time, or what I would call “Normal Time.” If you don’t like it, I guess you could move to Arizona or Hawaii where they choose to ignore this nonsense.

I have heard that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to suggest we could benefit from daylight savings time (DST). Supposedly he was awakened at 6 a.m. while serving as ambassador to France and he was shocked to see it was already daylight. Normally he partied until the wee hours, and didn’t arise until almost noon. To me, it seems perfectly clear that a concept such as DST would have to have been formulated by a hung-over partygoer who suffered from sleep deprivation. The village idiot could have also been responsible.

Daylight savings time was first seriously implemented during World War I in order to reduce the need for artificial lighting in the evenings in order to save kerosene, or “coal oil” as we used to call it. DST was made mandatory for the entire nation during World War II, but after that it became optional. During the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo the U.S. once again inflicted DST on the nation. Despite all the hype by proponents of this madness, they could only come up with about 1 percent savings. Other studies have shown far less generous savings. The Department of Energy in 2008 reported to Congress that overall energy consumption was reduced by two-tenths of 1 percent. With lighting being a much smaller portion of our energy usage than it was decades ago, some studies have shown that DST actually increases energy use because of increased demand for air-conditioning. Overall the North gains more from it than the South because of less need for air conditioning.

The way I see it, there are a couple of benefits to DST. President Osama was able to get in 13.67 percent more golf rounds over the past four years due to extended daylight in the evenings. Since bumping the change back to standard time to the first Sunday in November, the only other benefit I can see is that children can trick or treat longer in daylight on Halloween.

Column length precludes addressing the negative aspects.

We normally don’t have difficulty making the time transition twice each year down on the pore farm, but this year we were “snake bitten.” Being old, retired folks, our lives do not revolve around an alarm clock anymore. Arthritis in my right hip and trips to the bathroom serve as a great alarm clock. Yet, this year we got a surprise, but it happened last weekend. Our bedroom clock, which is about 10 years old, automatically adjusted the time to come off DST time a week early and we got up an hour late.

Ironically, this, too, was George Bush’s fault. He signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which moved the fall time change from October to November. My 10-year-old alarm clock never got the memo.

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to nowhearthis@pwhome.com.

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