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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daylight Saving Time -- Why?

I find it rather incomprehensible that in this day and age of technology, we continue to do the stupid Daylight Saving dance twice each year. And by "we", I mostly mean America and Europe -- many of the other countries in the world have come to realize that shifting clocks to generate more "daylight" doesn't actually work. What's more, it's inconvenient at best, causes a bunch of headaches at worst, and while people argue about whether it's good or bad most of it comes down to this: we continue to do it because we've done it for a long time now, and there were several proposals done roughly 100 years ago that suggested we could benefit by changing our clocks ahead in the summer.

Get this (from the DST Wiki): two of the earliest proposals were from a guy that liked doing stuff after work in the summers and so he wanted to shift the clock two hours ahead to accommodate his hobby, and the other guy was an avid golfer that didn't like having a round of golf cut short -- and he was also irritated by all the Londoners sleeping in and missing out on the daylight hours. So basically, the initial idea came from people that wanted later daylight hours in the summer for selfish reasons.

Later, with WWI and WWII, DST use became more common as a way of rationing. You'd get up with the sun and go to bed when it set, more or less. I don't see how changing the clocks really makes much of a difference if you're doing that, but the nanny state says that's what we should do and so we do it.

Actually, I personally don't really mind DST -- I'd just as soon go on DST permanently if I lived on my own. It's the changing of the clocks that irritates me. However, this past week, when we did the "spring ahead an hour" thing, our two boys (ages 1 and 3) surprisingly enough didn't care that the clocks had changed, so they have been staying up "late" and waking up a bit later. They'll get with the program eventually, but while I am more of a night person than a morning person, I find that my children are the opposite (except for my 10-year-old daughter). What's more, getting little children to bed when it's still plenty bright outside can be rather difficult at times. "But daddy, I'm not sleepy and the sun is still up!" "That doesn't matter -- the clock says 8PM so get to bed!" I know from experience that where we can often get our children to bed by 7:30 or 8PM during the winter, once summer rolls around and it's light until 10PM, all bets are off. They still wake up at 6AM though...ugh.

Anyway, this isn't really a "tech" related post, but it was on my mind this week. Today, interestingly, one of my coworkers located in the UK commented on how he now has to modify how he thinks about our time as we've switched to DST but the UK doesn't switch until March 31. How's that for a useful "standard"? Everyone just do your own thing and it will all work out! I'm not sure why we changed our DST dates a few years back, other than "someone" told us it was the best thing to do for the greater good or something.

My bet: some environmental group is still using an old study done 60 or 70 years ago that showed DST cut power use, and anything that cuts power use is good, right? And so they lobby for even more DST, rather than questioning whether DST actually saves any power. More recent studies from around the world have generally shown no power savings (and sometimes even a power use increase), which is what I would expect from the modern world where most people have computers, TVs, lights, refrigerators, AC, etc. running whether or not the clock says it's 10AM or 11AM. But instead, we get social engineering to try and "fix" our lifestyles, which end up costing more time and energy than they save but are declared successful.

It's times like this that I think AZ might be a good place to move -- then I can forget about all the DST silliness and just set my clock once and forget it!

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