Sunday, March 10, 2013

Defending DST

It’s that time of year again. Today (here in the U.S.) we all had to “spring forward” and set our clocks up one hour for what is known as “daylight saving time” or DST.
As always, some among us will complain about having to make the change. And to some the difference made by the time change is negligible. For those who work from sunup to sundown, there is no daylight saved by setting the clock forward in the spring.
My father often literally worked from sunup to sundown during the spring and summer months on the farm when I was a boy. And he used to say, “I don’t care which way it is, I just wish they would keep the same time the year ’round.”
DST, however, was initiated for people living in the city, not for rural people. It was first proposed back in 1895 and implemented for the first time during World War I. DST was adopted as a way to save energy (electricity), and that remains one good reason for its continued use through all the years since the world wars.
For town people who work eight hours a day (such as 9 to 5), DST increases the time after work and before dark for mowing the lawn and gardening, for golf and other sports, as well as for family picnics and other activities. And in addition to reducing the amount of energy used, it is claimed that it also reduces the number of traffic accidents, as there are few wrecks during daylight hours than after dark.
Unlike here in the U.S., there is no daylight saving time in Japan. Actually, there was DST in Japan from 1948 to 1951 due to the initiative of the U.S.-led occupation army. But after Japan’s sovereignty was restored in 1952, there has never been DST there since.
Because DST was forced on the Japanese in those years after WWII, it has remained unpopular with the public through the decades since. Starting in the late 1990s, however, a movement to reinstate DST, claiming that it would save energy and increase recreational time, gained some popularity in Japan. But it has yet to be implemented.
Largely because of my roots as a Missouri farm boy, I have been an “early to bed, early to rise” person all my life. And I am constantly amazed at how so many people miss the most beautiful part of the day, the time just before and after sunrise. That is especially true during the spring and summer months.
When I was visiting back in Japan in May 2010, most mornings I would get up and start jogging around 5:30 (or before). It was truly beautiful at that time of the day, with the rays of the morning sun bouncing off the waters of Hakata Bay. But I saw very, very few people up and around at that early hour. I remember thinking then what a shame it was that Japan does not have DST.
So, in spite of some irritation at having to make an hour’s adjustment to the clocks every spring and fall, I think Daylight Saving Time is a good thing. And I was happy to set my watch and clocks forward an hour this morning.


  1. Must disagree on this point. I get up early to run, etc., and also go to bed early. I dislike having to get up and go out in the dark every day of the year and also dislike trying to go to sleep with the bright afternoon sun still going strong in my night time. Maybe we can find a way for night owls to go to DST and let us early birds stay on time year round. ;-)

    1. Wow, you must really go to bed and get up early.

      Although it is still dark well after 6 a.m. today here where I live, for most of the summer there is plenty of light to run in before 6 a.m. (as I often do) and it is dark enough to sleep by 9 p.m. (or shortly after) all summer long.

      It makes some difference, of course, where one lives in a given time zone and also how far one lives from the Equator.

    2. Well, I do run around 4:30 AM and hit the bed around 8:00 PM. It doesn't get light until close to 7:00 AM and stays bright until around 9:30 PM. Miss being in Eastern and Southern Africa where the sunrise and sunsets only changed by about 30 minutes each. Appreciated a post I saw on Facebook: "When told the reason for Daylight Savings Time the Old Indian said, 'Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket,sew it on the bottom, and have a longer blanket.'" ;-))

      I'll just tug my blanket and live with my mornings and evenings reversed. ;-(

  2. When I lived in Indiana, they didn't use DST except in the southern area around Louisville. I preferred not having to fool with setting clocks. Since coming back to Missouri, I've had to give up complicated digital watches, so I don't lose a half hour or so twice a year figuring out again how to change the time. And I resent the half hour or so it's going to take me or my wife today to change some of the fancy clocks in our house. And frankly I didn't notice any difference while living in Indiana. We had longer days in the summer, shorter in the winter. I, too, like seeing the sunrise, but I'm usually up early enough that it doesn't matter when it rises.

    You know, Leroy, when some people read you and me, writing back and forth in odes to and laments about DST, they're going to think those guys need to get a life. LOL! :D

    love, anton

  3. The higher the latitude the bigger the difference it makes. Near the equator the sun rises and sets at the same time all year. I wake up with sunlight (although I might be awake earlier). This most bothered me in Sweden when the sun rose at 2 and set at 10 in the summer. For Missouri, I am thankful for DST.

    As a side note: Thank you God for all of the recent precipitation here in KC.

  4. I remember a fellow at work (in the '90s) passing on his father's anger at DST. It always upset the cow's routine around milking time - so he didn't like it.

    My first thought was why change the cow's schedule faster than it would normally change as the seasons change? As a farmer he had no need to force the clock-time on his cows.

    One possibility though was that the milk pickup was very early and so was a factor.

    In my memory there was static over "messing with God's time" when it began, again, in my lifetime. I just shook my head as I knew about the creation of Standard Time. It was created so train schedules were standardized - to help passengers make timely train changes AND to help prevent train collisions.

    Before that all time was local - as in when local community leaders estimated noon by observing the sun's shadow at it smallest.

    Despite the obvious advantage of rationalizing time, pulpits were ablaze with "The Sin of Meddling in God's Time!" sermons.

    What's funny this time is that I was unaware of the change until I entered this blog to find out what Leroy meant by "defending DST." I'm glad a business meeting I must attend is at 2pm!

    All the best!

    1. Larry, thanks for posting significant comments again. I had not given sufficient thought to "standard time," and was interested to read the following on Wikipedia:

      "The history of standard time in the United States began November 18, 1883 when United States and Canadian railroads instituted standard time in time zones. Before then, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by some well-known clock (for example, on a church steeple or in a jeweler's window). The new standard time system was not immediately embraced by all.

      "Use of standard time gradually increased because of its obvious practical advantages for communication and travel. Standard time in time zones was not established in U.S. law until the Standard Time Act of 1918 of March 19, 1918, also known as the Calder Act (15 USC 260).[1][2] The act also established daylight saving time, itself a contentious idea."

    2. Thanks for your affirmation and additional info!

  5. I am one of those farm boys like you, Bro. Leroy, but I also subscribe to the idea that "God had it right. Why change it?" My administrative assistant and I have a standing joke at this time of year. She loves DST. I suggest that we could open the office at 7:00 AM and close at 3:30 PM instead of resetting the clocks. She says no because that means getting there too early. I respond with the proverbial slap on my forehead and ask what is the difference! She says it just feels different.

    While serving churches in AZ, they didn't recognize DST. Early in the spring outdoor businesses started requiring workers to arrive on the job about an hour earlier each month until by July they were going to work at 4:00 AM and finished by noon before the hottest part of the day arrived. Only those people who needed to start early were affected. Makes sense to me.

  6. Good comment from my son's point of view on facebook - From "The Princess Bride" Count Rugan. (Cut and paste)

    Thank you Cmdr. Sulu.

  7. One of the fun things about Leroy's blog is that we never know where he is going to go next. So here I am, trying to straighten my thinking cap on the subject of DST. So let's start at the beginning. DST was invented by Congress. It begins in March, and runs for about 8 months, leaving just 4 months for poor neglected Standard Time. That definitely sounds like something Congress would do.

    Back before I retired, my computer at work liked to tell me the time at our headquarters in Baltimore. For my agency, the world revolved around the Maryland Coast. Navigators have for some time used Greenwich Mean Time, which even London ignores half the year, for British Summer Time. At least BST only lasts six months!

    Now the ancient Israelites started a new day every evening at sundown. That would really fix our digital age. Imagine getting to reset the clocks every single day! Not to mention getting that to work with some atomic clock run by the government.

    A compromise might be to run DST in 2 month segments. So 7AM in December and January becomes 6AM in February and March, 5AM in April and May, 4AM in June and July, back to 5AM in August and September, 6AM in October and November, and finally 7AM again in December and january. That would work well in the Kansas City area where I live, although Minneapolis and New Orleans might not be quite so pleased.

    Actually, the only alternative above that makes no sense to me is the one that is the law of the land. Personally, I think I would be in favor of going back to standard time everywhere for everyone, and letting entities that really need to float with the sun to set their own schedules. The rest of us have electric lights, and can make do.

    P. S. I am impressed by how many early birds are on this blog. While I do enjoy an occasional sunrise, since retirement I have been on Theatre Standard Time, as my wife is in rehearsals for The Fantasticks in April. So we get to bed about midnight and up by the crack of eight!

  8. I have just learned, with some chagrin, that the correct term for DST is Daylight Saving Time. Although "Savings" is fairly widely used, the correct term is "Saving," as that is what is used in the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

    I have now corrected the terminology in the blog posting, and I apologize for using the incorrect term initially.