real time


For the past 3 weeks, I have had an experiment going. I have a pocket watch which my friend Ronnie gave me. It is readily accessible, and I have not re-set it to Central Standard Time, but have left it on summer time, to which I have become acclimated and seems particularly appropriate to this desert environment.

With summer time, I got used to the sun rising around 8:00 am (give or take a period of time, depending on the season of the year). Today the sun didn’t rise until about 8:26 am and it set at about 6:44 pm. Daylight will become shorter through December 21, the Winter Equinox, and then will begin getting lengthier. There is about a 3-hour, 45-minute difference in the length of daylight from the Winter to the Summer Solstice.

By staying on the same time year-round, I can more easily observe and be aware of the shortening and lengthening of daylight and nighttime. I feel more in touch with my surroundings. I am less disoriented and confused.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from Standard Time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.

“Spring forward, fall back” is one of the sayings to help remember which way to set your clocks.

Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere (north of the equator)—USA, Central America, Canada, Europe, Asia, northern Africa—observe DST in the summer time, but not all. Daylight saving time is in use between March and April and ends between September and November.

In the Southern Hemisphere (south of the equator)—Australia, New Zealand, South America, southern Africa—participating countries start DST between September and November and end it between March and April. Standard time in the Southern Hemisphere starts in March and April and ends between September and November.

Many countries use DST to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings, and many don’t. The difference in light is most noticeable in the areas close to the poles—that is, furthest away from the Equator.

Some studies show that DST could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries by supplying more daylight during the hours when more people use the roads. DST is also said to reduce the amount of energy needed for artificial lighting during the evening hours. However, many studies disagree about DST’s energy savings and while some studies show a positive outcome, others do not. Some other studies claim that people’s health might suffer due to DST changes by affecting their body clocks and health. Studies show that there is an increase in both heart attacks and road accidents the days after clocks are set forward one hour in spring.

US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin first satirically proposed the concept of DST in 1784, but this was in an earlier time when Europe did not even keep precise schedules. Franklin’s 1784 letter, published anonymously, proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. However, this soon changed as rail and communication networks came to require a standardization of time unknown in Franklin’s day.

Modern Daylight Saving Time first saw the light of day in 1895 when an entomologist from New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, presented a proposal for a two-hour daylight saving shift. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and led him to value after-hours daylight.

Many publications credit the English builder and outdoorsman William Willett, who independently conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer’s day. An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later.

However, Germany was the first country to implement DST. On April 30, 1916, clocks were set forward at 11 pm as a way to conserve coal during wartime.

In the US, Daylight Saving Time—or “fast time”, as it was called then—was first introduced in 1918 when Woodrow Wilson signed it into law to support the war effort during World War I. The initiative was sparked by Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh industrialist who had encountered the idea in the United Kingdom. A passionate campaigner for the use of DST in the United States, he is often called the “father of Daylight Saving”.

This seasonal time change was repealed just seven months later. However, some cities—including Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York—continued to use it until Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in the United States in 1942.

Year-round DST, also called “War Time”, was in force during World War II, from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. The change was implemented 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during this time, the US time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”. After the surrender of Japan in mid-August 1945, the time zones were relabeled “Peace Time.”

In the United States, DST caused widespread confusion from 1945 to 1966 for trains, buses, and the broadcasting industry because states and localities were free to choose when and if they would observe DST. Congress decided to end the confusion and establish the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that stated DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. However, states still had the ability to be exempt from DST by passing a local ordinance.

The US Congress extended DST to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975, in hopes to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo. The trial period showed that DST saved the energy equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil each day, but DST still proved to be controversial. Many complained that the dark winter mornings endangered the lives of children going to school. After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the US changed their DST schedule again to begin on the last Sunday in April. DST was amended again to begin on the first Sunday in April in 1987. Further changes were made after the introduction of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Daylight Saving Time is now in use in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over a billion people every year. The beginning and end dates vary from one country to another. Another way to think of it is that over a billion people are, to a degree, disconnected from the natural world and its phenomena.

Now the experiment has become even more intense. I had bought a back-up generator, and it fell apart with proper use after about three weeks. I called Amazon for a replacement, and the replacement was here within two days—but it didn’t work. Amazon issued a refund and I ordered a new generator—but not from Amazon, because they eliminated from Amazon Prime a superior product at the same price-point. The supplier of the new generator offered 2-day shipping, but at a confiscatory add-on of $200! Needless to say, I settled for “free” shipping, but it won’t arrive until December 7-10.

I am now restricted to about 6½ hours of power provided by the sun… less if cloudy. These hours alone are my most productive time. I am acutely aware of how much nighttime is won back by technology.

But to the main point: standard time or daylight saving time—either will do if observed rear-round. Anything but sun-time is arbitrary.


If you need more than just my opinion, visit here.



Weather Report

64° and Cloudy, Rain


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