Monday, October 30, 2006

An "Extra" Hour

Saturday night, we received the best present possible -- time. I went to bed late, slept in the next morning, and still had time to run my four miles, take a shower and be to church early. What decadence!

Then the confusion sets in as I try to keep track of which clocks have been updated and which have not. But is all this stress and changing of clocks really necessary?

In this map of the time zones, you can easily see that those of us in the United States have been victims of some pretty severe time zone gerrymandering. Clearly, from this diagram, if our lines hadn't been moved all over the place to align with something that someone thought would be more right, the city of Austin would have been in section T -- placing us seven hours before Universal Time, and therefore in traditional Mountain Time. In general, that means we would stay in the Central Daylight Time we just left all year round.

While I enjoyed my extra hour of sleep this weekend, I still think we should have stayed in CDT, or more appropriately, we should be in Mountain Standard Time all year long. Why do I feel this way? I run in the morning, so you'd think I would want light for that time. However, I have mostly run in the dark till now anyway, so light a little earlier is not likely to affect me. Mostly, though, I abhor the fact that it will now be dark when I leave work today. I hate the early hastening of the dark sad time of the year known as winter, when the days get so short that you start to forget what the sun looks like. I know I shouldn't complain -- I'm so far south that this is barely an issue compared to all the folks that live in the north. But I've grown spoiled with the days of sunshine, and I depend on it to remain sane (if you can call me sane). Without the abrupt changing of the hours, I would have been eased into this part of the year where I leave work in the dark. I might have had time to adjust. But now, when I left work on Friday it was light, and when I leave today, the sun will have already departed. No adjustment period allowed.

I know Daylight Savings Time was initially suggested as a way to help out farmers dealing with businesses, primarily banks, be able to work their fields and still get to town as necessary. At this point, that argument is now archaic and completely useless. People are expected to continue to remember an arbitrary rule set up during a time when the country was virtually entirely agrarian, when most of us now couldn't even distiguish a combine from a hay baler. Last year congress wasted time while figuring out the latest energy bill to debate adding four more weeks to daylight savings time. Apparently this was, at least partly, motivated by a desire to give the kids more daylight in which to collect candy on Halloween. If, instead, they had just spent the same time realigning our country with the longitude lines that were originally intended to be used in time zone definition, we'd all be better off.

Some people say that the lines squiggle around to keep whole states together in the same time zone. If that's the case, then why are so many states, including Texas, divided anyway? if you're going to divide South Dakota into two zones, why not divide it along the longitude line, rather than some other arbitrary location? I, for one, wouldn't care if Austin was in Mountain Time and Houston was in Central Time. It would just add to the flavor of the state.

Why isn't this incredibly important issue front-and-center on everyone's election platforms this year? If someone promised me they'd move Austin into Mountain Time, I'd vote for them.


James said...

Yeah, I'd vote for someone who could provide more light than darkness as well...

mr. kyle said...

I would love some mst or even pst, mostly because the sporting events are over sooner.

There was an article in Slate yesterday arguing the merits/ramifications of a single nationwide timezone, ala China, that you might find interesting.

Heather said...

James, ha!

Kyle, I'm not sure about one time zone for the whole country, just the year. But I'll check out the article, and let you know what I think.

Heather said...

I read that Slate article now -- nice. I think I agree. But I'll have to think about it a bit more. Thanks for passing that along!