No Enemy But Time

Yesterday the United States Senate voted unanimously to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. If you wondered whether our fractured political bodies could ever agree on anything significant, there’s your answer: in the Senate, at least, Democrats and Republicans alike share a common position on time itself.

Of course, “Daylight Savings Time” is an appealing, but ultimately misleading, name. “Springing ahead” doesn’t actually “save” any daylight, it just shifts it from the morning to the afternoon. There will still be the same amount of sunlight on the shortest days of the year; the only issue is when you want to to experience it. The Senate has cast its lot with the afternooner lobby, which has been making constant inroads on our “Standard time” period over the past few decades, leaving it shorter and shorter. If the House follows suit, and President Biden signs the legislation, the change to permanent DST will literally leave “morning people” in the dark for an hour longer during the winter months.

What would it mean, practically? Well, we wouldn’t have to fiddle with changing our clocks anymore. But if you live in Columbus, or anywhere else that is on the western edge of a time zone, you will experience exceptionally dark mornings during December and January. A Google search reveals that the sun rose in Columbus at 7:50 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on December 21, 2021, the shortest day of the year–that is, the day with the least amount of sunlight. The shift to permanent DST would mean that the sunrise wouldn’t occur until 8:50 a.m. If you’re someone who’s got to clean snow or ice off your car to get to work, you’ll be doing it in the pre-dawn blackness, and it will feel colder.

The “daylight savings” versus “standard” time debate used to be a contentious one, with farmers, people working first shifts, other early risers, and people worried about kids going to school in the dark lining up on the standard time side. But the political winds have shifted, and we’ve become more of an end of day society that simply isn’t awake to enjoy those first rays of sunshine in the early morning Standard time hours. The fact that the Senate unanimously approved the change tells you all you need to know.

Bad Timing

In case you forgot, here’s a friendly Webner House reminder:  daylight saving time ended at 2 a.m. this morning.

6360638997895923221214868310_1575252Unless you are one of those nerdy Daylight Saving Time fans who actually stays up on Saturday night until 2 a.m. so you can change your clocks in complete compliance with the time change, the shift back to standard time means you will need to walk around your home, changing every clock that hasn’t already changed by virtue of its connection to a network.  So, make sure you get to that clock radio next to your bed, the clocks on the microwave and the oven, and the clock that is pretty much completely hidden by the books in your TV room.  And don’t forget the clock in your car, either!

This year it seems that the change back to standard time has come later than ever.  That’s because, about 10 years ago, the federal government shifted the change to standard time back a week, from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday of November, and in 2016 the first Sunday of November falls on November 6.

The time change has two unfortunate consequences this year.  First, it’s going to get dark a lot earlier at night, which means we’re heading into the grim period when it’s dark when we head to work in the morning and dark when we come home at night.  Second, it means we get an extra hour of time to hear about the presidential campaign before Election Day finally arrives.

Just this once, couldn’t we have banked that extra hour until the Sunday after Election Day?

Fall Back, The Clocks Are Attacking!

You never fully realize how many clocks you have in the house until it’s a “time change” Sunday and you have to patrol the household and make sure that every time-keeping instrument is set to the correct hour.

IMG_5298It’s a day that shows how beholden we are to time.  We’ve got clocks on our phones, on our computers, on our stoves, on our microwaves, and on our TVs.  There’s a clock on the dashboard of my car.  We’ve got standalone clocks and alarm clocks and clock radios.  We have more than a dozen clocks in our two-person, two-dog household — and that’s without any wristwatches, because I stopped wearing one years ago.  It’s hard to believe that our ancestors lived for generations without having any kind of timepiece telling them it’s 6:56 a.m.

When it’s time to actually change the time, I develop a special appreciation for computers and smartphones that automatically adjust to Standard Time.  The Sunbeam alarm clocks are next on the simplicity appreciation meter, because you can quickly change the position of the hands on the clock with a twist of a knob on the back.  The clock radio and the microwave are a little bit tougher, because you have to hold down a button and hit another button until the time adjusts to the new normal.

And then there is the clock on the oven, which was designed by some sadistic engineer who wanted to torment sleepy people on a Sunday morning in November.  I can never figure out how to change the clock, so after a few half-hearted attempts and some well-chosen epithets I give up.  After all, it’s only a few months until Daylight Savings Time rolls around again.