Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Timely Thoughts

Most people have an opinion about the fact that our year is divided between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time. It seems to me that, although a few people don't care one way or the other, most people have a definite preference for one or the other.

I prefer Standard Time. There's something dishonest about Daylight Savings Time. Noon is when the sun is highest in the sky, and calling noon one o'clock in the afternoon is lying - plain and simple. I'm sure there are all sorts of other ways that we humans lie to ourselves for convenience sake - but I'll save them for future posts.

I'm old enough to remember when Daylight Savings Time wasn't a given.  Various forms of daylight time had apparently been tried on a haphazard basis, making The Uniform Time Act of 1966 necessary. It didn't require anyone to observe Daylight Savings Time; but it said that those who want to observe it must all observe it uniformly. Everybody had to change at the same time. That makes sense. Uniformity would have prevented a summer of chaos and confusion in the area of northern Florida where I grew up.

I don't remember the exact year, but it must have been in the 1950s, before the Uniform Time Act was passed. We lived in the rural county - between the city and the Air Force base. One summer the city and the Air Force base went on Daylight Savings Time while the county stayed on Standard Time. This, of course, meant that if you lived in the county and had an appointment in the city, your appointment would be an hour later than what the watch on your arm said. The same thing was true if you lived in the county and had business on the Air Force base.

On the other hand, if you lived in the city or on the Air Force base and had an appointment in the county, your appointment was an hour earlier than the hour your watch displayed. I was just a child at the time, but I remember that the grown-ups grumbled all summer about the confusion. People were always arriving early or late for appointments.

Thank goodness things are more uniform now. Well, sort of. Hawaii and Arizona choose to stay on Standard Time year round even now. Well, almost. The Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona does observe Daylight Savings Time. That's surprising. I would have thought the Native Americans were so in tune with nature that they would be even more repelled by Daylight Savings Time than I am. Sometimes my logic just doesn't hold up.

Of course, modern humans are not the first to tinker with time. The Romans, with their sundial system, couldn't even count on an hour having sixty minutes. The time from sunrise to sunset was divided by twelve, and the time from sunset to sunrise was also divided by twelve; so there were twenty-four hours in a day for the Romans just like there are for us. But in the summer - when there is more daylight than dark - an hour could have as many as seventy-five minutes while an hour during the night could have as little as forty-four minutes. Of course, in the winter when the darkness lasts longer then the daylight, the night hours were longer than the day hours. Comprende? If you want to know more about Roman time-keeping, you can check it out here http://www.beaglesoft.com/timehistoryroman.htm. All I can say is it's surprising that Romans ever got anywhere on time. Maybe they didn't.

All this rambling aside, I'm glad to be back on Standard Time. My body is more in tune with Standard Time, and I find it easier to get up in the morning. My apologies to those of you who prefer Daylight Savings Time.

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