Time Travel

The rest of the country went off daylight savings time last weekend. When I resided in Minnesota I recall the biannual ritual of manually adjusting mechanical clocks to accomplish “springing forward” or “falling backward.” I also recall arriving at work for my 7 am shift and seeing the analog clock on the wall reminding me it was “really” 6 am because the engineer with the ladder hadn’t arrived at my department yet. So now I live in Arizona and the DST curse is behind me…or is it?

Some interesting facts about the evolution of this time travel manipulation:

  • Ancient people divided the day into twelve equal daylight hours, regardless of the amount of time the sun was shining. In ancient Rome, winter hours lasted 44 minutes while the summer hours ran a full 75. How to fix time pieces then? Just have your servant adjust your water clock if you were wealthy enough to own one.
  • Ben Franklin —your “early to bed, early to rise…” kind of guy—proposed to the French (mon Dieu!) that they tax window shutters, ration candles, and ring church bells and fire cannons to wake lazy louts and get the day started when the sun rose.
  • Many political advocates for DST ran into brick walls when proposing changes that would conserve coal during WWI until Germany took the leap and – guess what – Britain and most other allies decided maybe the enemy was onto something and changed too.
  • Besides the usual arguments of saving energy and improvement in physical and psychological health, proponents of DST postulate benefits such as selling more French fries at fast food restaurants (who knew?) and a reduction in traffic accidents and street crimes while opponents claim an increase in heart attacks

DSTrSo why do we Zonies (Navajo Nation excluded) dig in our heels and resist what the rest of the mainland is doing? The simple answer is, “We don’t need more daylight.”The heat here in the summer prompts most residents to wait until after sunset for outdoor activities. So we are exempted from the federal law. But that means during the summer we have to mentally add an hour to other time zones when deciding to make a phone call or sign up for a webinar or set our digital clocks to resist the “correction” from the U.S. Bureau of Standards sweeping out from Boulder, CO at 2:00 am twice a year.

We do miss out on the mythical idea that we have an “extra hour” to squander once per year on anything we choose. Coming at 2 am, I suspect most people snooze through those 60 minutes. But think of all the other time you spend stuck on the freeway, waiting for the grocery store clerk to stop the chit-chat with the shopper ahead of you and get on with it, or the incessant music playing in your ear (with the volume set at Max Distortion) while on hold for “the next available associate” to place your order. Maybe this is “payback time” in the grand scheme of celestial things? So this fall, as you set back your clocks, decide to spend that hour reading that book sitting on the shelf, or take that pooch for a walk around the block, or sort through the old photos of people now dead and think about the past. Or just enjoy that extra hour of sleep the gods have owed you since April.


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