Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of Daylight Savings Time in 1784 as a joke but, as Will Rogers would conclude many years later, too many jokes have a nasty habit of turning into law.
Daylight savings time, my paternal grandmother used to say, “is like trying to make a blanket longer by cutting a foot off one end and sewing it back on the other end.”
My stepfather used to say his cattle could never learn to adapt to daylight savings time. “They want to be fed on the time they know,” he said. “So I have to adjust for an hour to accommodate them.”
Governments, state and federal, offer many rationales for advancing clocks an hour in the spring and then taking it back in the fall. Mostly, they say it save energy. Franklin’s joke finally became law in 1918 because someone felt it would preserve energy for World War I.
Farmers successfully lobbied to repeal the law until World War II came along and, boom, it was back. After the war, the position of the sun ruled the time for a while until the feds put it back into law in 1966, supposedly to save gas. In 2007, George W. Bush expanded DST for another month, so now the time shift that may or may not help anyone now runs from March to November.
The bottom line: We lose an hour of time between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Those who need a new excuse for not showing up for church blame their absence on forgetting to change the clock and don’t wake up on time.
In this digital age, that excuse doesn’t work as well. Our computers change the time automatically. So do our digital clocks. Amy gave me a watch for Christmas several years ago that resets it time every day at 2 a.m. Eastern time.
Daylight Savings Time means an extra hour of daylight in the evening and more darkness in the morning. For those of us who get out of bed at 0500 each day it means keeping the lights on longer in the morning and a few bruised knees from bumping into things.
America’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) says Daylight Savings Time (DST) is a potential health hazard because people tend to lose sleep trying to adjust to new time.
The CDC says about 60 percent of us feel the effects of lost sleep, which “reduces productivity.” Traffic accidents, we are told, to up about six percent in the first week of DST.
Some argue that DST should be permanent year round, which means America would be out of sync with the rest of the world, assuming — of course — that we are not already out of step already.
Maybe the answer is to just ignore time zones and idiocies like DST and go to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is the 24 hour clock that much of the world (and our military) lives on.
The military, airlines and other entities run on GMT, also known as UDT (Universal Time Coordinated). The U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington says that when its 6 a.m. in the Eastern Time Zone it is really 1000 hours GMT.
Those due at work at the Pentagon at 8:00 a.m. this coming Monday know they must report at 1200 hours.
It beats the hell out of EST or EDT.