I’m not sure what time I fell asleep last night, except that I was watching Heathers with my teenage daughter, and it was sometime after Veronica and J.D. shoot Kurt and Ram, but before J.D. plays suicide bomber. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a funny movie. I thought it would be “too soon,” as someone in my daughter’s circle of friends sadly did end her life earlier this year, but another friend recommended she watch the movie, and I have no problem personally with “laughing in the dark.”
I woke up some time around 1 am, lights still on, television on, though to a blank Netflix screen, and glad that I had the common sense to take my nightly shower before watching the movie. I drifted back off to sleep pretty quickly after shutting all the stuff down. And then, before I knew it, the alarm clock on my cellphone was playing the creepy little tune I have set as my default alarm tone. (I’m not really a morning person, though I sometimes enjoy watching the sun rise.)
For a few glorious moments of confusion, I convinced myself that it was Sunday morning, that I was on Day 3 instead of Day 2 of my 3.5 day work stretch, and that I was already “past” the shift to Daylight Savings. Then I realized that was wishful thinking, that tonight is the night we sacrifice an hour of sleep to wake up in the dark and have time shift so that 1800 hours claims to be 1900 hours on our clocks. Oh, and it’s the law, except in states that opt out…
I was sifting through some “History of Daylight Savings” websites I found on Google, and I actually learned a few things this morning.
- Here in America, we like to credit Benjamin Franklin with the invention of Daylight Savings. Not entirely true… First of all, humans measured time more fluidly in ancient times. For example, the Romans measured time differently for different months of the year.
- Benjamin Franklin was just kidding. Seriously, it was a joke… and he was only proposing that people wake up earlier, not that they reset clocks.
- Railroad Executives were the first to convince the U.S. and Canada to even adopt a Standard Time.
- Daylight Savings Time was first implemented during World War I, and was implemented year-round for three years during WWII. It was called “War Time” here in the U.S.A.
- Germany was the first country to actually use DST. This was in 1916.
- The first person to suggest changing the clocks was a New Zealander, entomologist George Vernon Hudson, who wrote a paper proposing a two hour shift for summer months. (Which would have been October through March, because he was in the Southern Hemisphere.)
I have mixed feelings about Daylight Savings Time. I really, really hate losing that hour of sleep in the spring, though I like “finding” it again in the fall. Last year, I was “lucky” enough to be on night shift when it happened, so I worked seven hours but received the same pay I would have if I’d worked eight. I think that was quite possibly the best DST transition in the history of ever for me. My poor coworker who was on night shift in the fall? Not so good for her.
I like the perception that it is light later in the evening, though I don’t like the trade-off of getting up earlier. Then again, the daylight hours grow longer because of the rotation of the earth, so however we set (or don’t set) our clocks, daylight hours will become more abundant. Which brings me to one of my pet peeves…
I hate when people say, “We gain an extra hour of daylight.” No. We gain nothing. The earth does not suddenly shift and get us closer to summer just because we reset our clocks to trick ourselves into waking up an hour earlier, and going to work an hour earlier, and performing all the usual tasks an hour earlier than our bodies want to perform them. We do not defy the laws of physics, we just change the names we give values. For eight months out of the year. It’s kind of like saying that zero will now be called one, one will be called two, etc., and we will have a new name for zero, but we will only be doing this for eight months of the year, and then everything will revert to “normal.” But how normal or standard is something that is true for less than half the time? Because in 2005, Congress, who could not agree on just about anything, agreed that Daylight Savings should stretch to eight months.
So, in a nutshell, they unanimously agreed that it was okay to monkey with time.
Enjoy your upcoming distortion of reality. And take heart, if you are sick of snow and frigid temperatures, or wilting heat in the southern hemisphere of the planet – the spinning orb on which we live is always rotating, and you are that much closer to summer/winter. And death. Don’t forget Death.