Guest writer Robbin Anthony on DST

DST – (Sounds like it’s spelled.)

 

As the golden days of summer fade into memory, we once again are faced with the task of adjusting our clocks to reflect the inevitable fall into fall. Though last week was mostly sunny, and it had been long enough since we sprang forward into spring that I had adjusted to that illogical clock changing event, next week will most likely prove to be the beginning of another unwanted adjustment period. Yes, my friends, Daylight Saving Time (DST) has once again come to an untimely end and we in Utah must now fall back into Mountain Standard Time.

 

Summers in Utah are way too short for me and the winters are far too long. It always seems that the end of DST coincides with the end of light. It is as if at that moment (at 2 a.m. no less) as we either manually change our clocks or the “smart” clocks change themselves (wish “smart” babies could do the same), the darkness settles in for a long winter’s dreary night. This would be all well and good if we could really all settle in for a long winter’s nap as the holiday story goes, but that tradition seems to have gone out with the advent of eternally lit fluorescent lighting.

 

It may surprise some readers to know that DST is not a natural phenomenon. Humans created it and hold on to it as if its implementation was mandated by some holy writ. I have great respect for Benjamin Franklin and a good number of his ideas  (such as eyeglasses). DST, however, is one of those thoughts which feels to be quite outdated.

 

The history of DST is very interesting if you can wade through the confusion.

 

DST was first implemented in the United States and in many parts of Europe during World War I. The intent was to conserve fuel by having more daylight in the evenings during the summer. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt implemented what was then called “War Time,”  (has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?) which lasted from February 1942 to September 1945. After that time DST evolved into a string theory of confusion. Because there was no federal law regulating DST, state governments could implement or cancel DST at will.  Some states mandated DST and some opted out of using it. This caused havoc for many industries such as radio and television stations, as well as the railroads and other transportation companies.

 

I knew nothing about DST until one fine morning in 1974 when I went to the bus stop on my way to high school (yes – I know that dates me). The previous Friday morning had been sunny and bright (don’t question my pleasant memory) but suddenly it is Monday morning and we are freezing in the dark as we wait for the very same bus at the very same time. Even worse than the morning shock, it remained darkish all day and by the time the school day ended it was even darker and colder (again – don’t question my memories no matter how distorted by time). I felt that I had entered an everlasting Twilight Zone episode.

 

To this day I wonder what happens to that “saved” time. Into whose time account does it get deposited? How do we access it? I want my share and I’m certain some of you want yours too. I can think of a number of wonderful places to spend that “saved” time such as Hawaii (a blissful state where clocks are irrelevant in the first place and are not sprang forward nor fallen back), or Alaska (where there is so much light in the summer months that to “spring” the clocks forward would only prove more confusing than the residents already are). I suppose the answer to this question lies within the very name itself: there are no savings in Daylight Saving Time.

 

Another puzzle is the exact timing of the change. Moving the hands of the clock backward at 2 a.m. may sound like an easy task to remember to do. Most people change them before they retire the night before and wake right on time for their Sunday activities. A kind student remarked that his cell phone would make the change on its own so he didn’t need to worry about it. I would call that device, and others like it such as computers and other electronic devices “smart” to know when to change and which way the time has shifted. My battery operated (I know right?) clocks all need to be manually changed and with any luck I will remember to change all of them in the house so I can (hopefully) have some idea what time it is. I’m also hoping that the clock in my recently purchased car knows that it is time to change. If not, I’ll read the manual and assist it if I can figure out how.

 

With any luck at all my “smart” clocks will adjust themselves and all of this concern about the end of DST will fade quickly. My internal clock isn’t that “smart” however, so I am quite certain that I will be late, early or just confused (and grouchy about it) for the next few weeks. If only the great time deciders (i.e. our elected government officials) would come to their senses and leave time alone, we would all be able to get along more nicely.

 

I’m dizzy just thinking about it.

 

By Robbin Anthony – Assistant Coordinator  – Student Media – UVU

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