metro_ashby_featureb1

THE DEN – Move the hands of the clock one quarter of an hour and the clock chimes a tad. Move it to the half hour and the clock chimes two tads, and so on through a tedious 12 hours on the clock. My problem can be blamed on Benjamin Franklin and World War I. It’s about daylight saving time, or DST, which kicked into effect days ago but I am still wrestling with repairing the damage. Tell me, this past November 1 did we go on or off DST? Did we spring forward in fall or fall backward in spring, except for February, which has 28? This is one of those programs or systems that effects everyone.

To explain: In 1784, the idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin, apparently after making sure the U.S. Postal Service worked perfectly. His actual observation was: “One hour early to bed and one hour early to rise, makes a man hung-over, confused and hastens his demise.” Britain went on DST during World War I to save electricity. (I’m not exactly sure how that worked.) Here in the U.S. on March 19, 1918, Congress passed The Standard Time Act which established time zones and daylight saving. I guess until then we didn’t have official time zones.

We jacked around with DST over the years, with each state doing its own thing. Indiana, for instance, split itself into two zones. That ended on August 8, 2005, when President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law. Part of the act extended daylight saving time starting in 2007, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, which is what we have now. This does not explain why all of Texas is in Central Standard Time except for El Paso, which is on MST, sounds like an illegal drug but actually stands for Mountain Standard Time. Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t change their hours, neither do the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and American Samoa. About 70 countries around the world observe DST.

A question: If a train leaves Dallas for Austin at 1 p.m. going 60 mph, and another train on the same track leaves Austin for Dallas at noon going 120 mph, where will they collide? This brings us to Amtrak. To keep to their published timetables, trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks change one hour in the fall, all Amtrak trains that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. At the spring time change, trains immediately fall one hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time. All of this would be easier if Amtrak was ever on time. Here’s a good story. Wonder if it’s true? A man born just after 12:00 a.m. DST in Delaware was drafted during the Vietnam War. He argued that standard time, not DST, was the official time for recording births in Delaware back when he was born. So, under official standard time, he was actually born on the previous day — and that day had a much higher draft lottery number. He won the argument, and avoided the draft.

Oops. I forgot the Mickey Mouse clock by my bed, which explains why I slept till noon. Re-set the clock on the stove, the one in my office and don’t forget my watch. I didn’t change the clock in my car, which is why I was an hour late to the dentist and didn’t have to wait but 15 minutes. Our nation is divided about almost everything, and DST is no exception. According to a poll by the Associated Press, 40 percent of people prefer standard time to 30 percent that prefer daylight saving time. The other 30 percent just want things left alone. To some, the matter warrants study. Professor of Political Science at The University of Texas — Dallas Thomas Gray has spent hours (maybe daylight, maybe not) studying the issue. In an interview with the CBS affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, he said, “The change is deeply unpopular and different interests want us to either be on permanent standard or permanent daylight-saving time. The businesses and the interests that benefit from standard time are what we would call early riser businesses. And when we say business, we can also mean other kinds of operations like schools… like farmers in the agriculture industry, which tends to be early rising.”

Here’s a good story. Wonder if it’s true? A man born just after 12:00 a.m. DST in Delaware, was drafted during the Vietnam War. He argued that standard time, not DST, was the official time for recording births in Delaware back when he was born. So, under official standard time, he was actually born on the previous day — and that day had a much higher draft lottery number. He won the argument, and avoided the draft. There are a few mistakes we must correct (as Texas voters told the Democratic Party and Donald Trump was tweeting America). First, the term is daylight saving (singular) time, not savingS. Think of it as a time when we save daylight. But we really don’t. We are rescheduling it, and don’t save minute. Another mistake: as with summer, winter and e.e. cummings, the term daylight saving time is not capitalized. Its abbreviation, DST is capitalized, but not the term. People get it wrong all the (saving) time.

Finally, whether we spring or fall, those two times of the year are when fire officials remind us to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. But with all the time changes how do the alarms know when to go off? In any event, I still plan on sleeping till noon. I just don’t want noon to come too early, so I’m telling Mickey Mouse to shut up.

 

Ashby dozed off at ashby2@comcast.net

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