|At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier and earlier to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves. Robertson Davies
Forcing the sun to set one hour later may conserve energy, but for lovers of moonlight there are other schools of thought. Some would argue that we are not saving daylight at all, but rather subjecting ourselves to the semi-annual inconvenience of changing many clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule, whether we have insomnia or not. Also, believe it or not, Daylight Saving Time is a singular phenomenon. It is not Daylight Savings Time, which might be the perfect name for a bank whose funds are available only from sunup to sundown. "Saving" is singular and not plural. If this is clear, allow me to assure you that what follows is not and has little chance of ever becoming so. Speaking for myself, Daylight Saving Time, whether alone or in company, is a grand old pain in the lower extremities!
Where on earth did this concept come from anyway? For millions of years, people have measured the passing of time based on the position of the sun. It was always noon when the sun was highest in the sky, (except for High Noon, when Gary Cooper was too busy warding off the bad guys to even notice what time it was). Sundials gave way to mechanical clocks, but the one problem was always that every city was on a slightly different time. The idea of saving daylight was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin and penned in his 1784 essay: An Economic Project. Great Britain, however, was the very first country to set one standard time throughout an entire region. This was done by the railroads to synchronize their schedules, the first one to do so being The Great Western in November of 1840. Standard time and time zones gradually took hold in the United States and Canada because of their practical advantages for communication and travel.
During World War II, the United States observed year round Daylight Saving Time from February 2nd, 1942 to September 30th, 1945. From 1945 to 1966, there was no federal law concerning its regulation. States and localities observed and didn't observe and could choose when it began or ended, leaving it all up to whether or not the local magistrates had bad hair days, cramps, splinters, hangnails or fights with their respective spouses. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established a system (within each time zone, that is) of Daylight Saving Time throughout the US and its possessions, exempting only those states in which the legislatures opted to keep the entire state on standard time. These include Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin islands, the Eastern Time Zone portion of the state of Indiana and the state of Arizona, except for the Navaho Indian Reservation, which does observe. I trust this makes perfectly obscure sense to you, just as it does to me.
In the good old USA, the clocks "spring ahead" in the Spring and "fall back" in the Fall. They change arbitrarily at 2AM because it was felt that most people are in the land of Nod at this hour, far away from consciousness and care about the disruption of schedules. Supposedly, 2AM is late enough to minimally affect bars and restaurants from "switching to yesterday," also known as "crying in one's beer," which could happen easily if one hangs around bars at that hour anyway!
I have never understood exactly where that extra hour goes. Is it in the same place as those ten pounds I keep losing every year and gaining back every other year? Or maybe they both found a home with all the lost gloves, earrings and umbrellas in the world? Is everything floating somewhere in the ether of the air just waiting for a chance to return and cause havoc? What if I no longer want them in my life? How can I keep them away? I suppose that I can't and that time and clocks are always going to be a source of trouble for me as the following true to life experiences will illustrate.