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Daylight Saving Time

Springing Forward Falling Back

by Dorothy Hamm
When did we become such a time obsessive culture? We have clocks in every room and watches for every day of the week. We have clocks in and on everything we own…radios, television sets, home appliances and in our cars. There are clocks everywhere, and yet most of us complain that we never have enough time. Apparently we somehow manage to “lose” it. Have you ever heard someone say they got a speeding ticket because they were trying to make up for “lost” time?

Did you know there are some cultures in our world today that do not have clocks? Not many, perhaps, and certainly not any that are “industrialized.” The really odd thing is, those cultures seem to have plenty of time.

Time, or lack of it, has become such an issue with Americans that our government evidently thought they needed to step in and institute a sort of “social security” for it. I am deeply grateful to be living in a country where I can disagree with my government. And I do quite often. Disagree I mean. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is but one of those areas of continuing dissent.

I resent DST tinkering with my body clock twice a year by insisting I spring forward and then fall back. Listen, falling back may not be such a big deal, but when I run the idea of springing forward past my internal clock it seems to have developed a bit of attitude. In the first place, it thinks it is absurd for Congress or anyone for that matter, to think they can cut and paste time. I think I heard it muttering something about taking DST and putting it, uh, well, some place where there isn’t any daylight.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with “inventing’ DST. Now I will be quick to say Ben was a brilliant man who had a lot of good ideas. I just don’t think this was one of them.

The idea is good, my more tractable friends have explained when I voice my objections…which is every spring. DST gives us an extra hour of sunshine each day they say. This probably sounds like a good idea for folks in Seattle, San Francisco or Philadelphia. But in Texas, where summer temperatures think nothing of settling in at 100 plus degrees for weeks at a time, another hour, indeed another minute of pavement melting sunshine, is not high on my list of things I want more of.

As for Ben Franklin, I don’t think he ever spent so much as five minutes in Texas in the summer. If he had he might not have been so enthusiastic about trying to arrange for more sunshine for us.

There are a lot of things we do need more of in Texas, inexpensive and convenient mass transit would really be nice for a lot of good reasons. Ditto for healthy, low cal chicken fried steak and Tex-Mex food. How about some more mountains? I would really like that. What do you mean we can’t make mountains? If we can change time we can make mountains.

What if we took all our garbage from all over the state and put it in a single pile. Before too long we could have a good start on a nice sized mountain. Then in the spring when they start having those dust storms out in West Texas we could offer a big reward to someone who would invent an air vacuum that would suck all that dust from the air and then we would put it on the mountain, add some rocks, plant some aspen trees and we could be skiing downhill on that mountain in only a few decades. Not going to happen you say? Well, its food for thought.

But back to sunshine and how to save and redistribute it. The only time we could use more sunshine in Texas is in the winter. Hasn’t Congress or Ben or anyone besides me ever noticed that the days are shorter in winter? And cooler too. An extra hour of sunshine would be quite welcome then.
© Dorothy Hamm
"Words and Music" Column

April 5, 2006 column
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