Day Six: Franklin, Ben, I Don’t Give A Darn

ben and his pigeon

Ben and his pigeon (Photo credit: lisa cee (Lisa Campeau))

I’m upset with Ben.  It’s all his fault I’m getting up at 4:30 am.  My body is still saying it’s 5:30 am, and the clock says, “Hey, rise and shine it’s 4:oh-so-30 am.”  Stinks, it does.

Good old Ben.  The guy who brought us the lightning rod, bifocals, and that cute little stove, also brought morning grouse.  Fine. Now that I am wide awake, I will attempt a homework assignment now because later I won’t want to because later  I will want to take a nap. So Ben, I extract my revenge and YOU will be the subject of my persuasive essay that Mrs. X wants on her desk Friday.  Being cranky at being up so early you will not receive a favorable view, Benny old boy.

DST or How A Penny Saved Is Not Also Wise

How well do you know Ben Franklin?  Here’s what comes to mind when I think of him right off. There’s that wacky kite flying incident, the advocating that the turkey become the national symbol, and the spouting of cutesy sayings like, “A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned,” “Early To Bed And Early To Rise, Makes A Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.”  The man couldn’t be content with good things like inventing libraries—no, he had to go around and disrupt people’s sleeping patterns.  I’m thinking how turning the clocks back, as Ben Franklin proposed so very long ago, is no longer necessary, and in doing so, is in fact, detrimental to society.

First of all, we need to establish a few facts about DST.  Most people think it is Daylight SavingS Time, when in actuality it is Daylight Saving Time (no “S”).  The “Saving” is used as a verbal adjective, a participle.  It is modifying time and describing it.  In other words, it is a saving daylight kind of time.  It should be hyphenated: Daylight-Saving Time.   Similar examples of description are describing what kind of tiger: a man-eating tiger.  Furthermore, Daylight Saving Time is actually inaccurate, since daylight is not being saved, merely shifted. Daylight Shifting Time, would be a more correct term, yet the public has made it to be what it is.  Even the dictionary adds the extra “s.”

Now, let’s look at the particulars of DST.  “Spring Forward, Fall Back.”  We all know the little ditty.  Do you know the time when clock havoc occurs?  Most people adjust their clocks before going to bed on Saturday so life will be hunky-dory when they arise Sunday morning.  Most people are not up at 2:00 am or 1:59 am, to be technical, to roll their clock either forward or backward.  Most of the USA begins DST on the second Sunday in March and goes back to Standard time the first Sunday in November.  To add to this confusion figure in the time zones and how they switch at different times.  The time switching shouldn’t be too big of a problem, after all  people did at one time, go to bed a couple of hours past sundown to wake up with dawn’s early light.  Not so any more.

In the United States 2:00 am became the chosen changeover time with the idea it would cause the least disruption.  People were home, not that many trains were running, and most businesses were closed for the night.  The switch would not affect the majority of the population. That was the theory.  It probably worked for a time.  Explain time inconvenience to a 24/7 society.  These are a few examples of how DST picks at the thread of a well-run society:

-Up until 2006, DST ended prior to October 31, better known as Halloween.  It’s no surprise children pedestrian casualties were four times higher on this night than any other night of the year.  In 2007 the law changed to have DST changed to the first Sunday in November, so the little trick-or-treaters would be able to collect their goodies with more light, as many parents prefer their children not go out after dark.  The 2007 switch probably did not have that much effect as it appears that the little candy-seeking ghosties simply waited for it to be dark to do their trick-or-treating.

-Amtrak being the well-run business that it is, desires to further its good reputation by keeping to their published timetable.  Therefore trains do not depart from the station until the scheduled time.  When DST causes clocks to turn back an hour, all Amtrak trains that are running must stop and wait an hour before resuming.  That’s right.  They put on the brakes and take a siesta until the hour is caught up. It must be rather surprising to be an overnight passenger and find oneself at a dead stop with an hour added onto the travel schedule.  In the spring, Amtrak is not able to launch into bullet train mode and make up the lost hour, so trains do their best to make up the lost time.  That might explain a lot about Amtrak.

-How about birthdays being messed up because of DST?  In 2007 a set of North Carolina twins were born in November, and even though they were born thirty-four minutes apart they have reversed birth order. One was born at 1:32 am and when the other entered the world at 2:00 am, she became the first born because DST reverted to Standard time, causing the second born to actually be born at 1:06 am.  I’m not making this up.  Explain that one when it comes to contest the will.  I wonder how it would have turned out if DST have been around during Jacob and Esau’s time.

So why did Ben decide to instigate DST?  He woke up too early one day.  Truly.  While residing in Paris as the American diplomat, Ben must have encountered many a late night.  After one such night, he went to bed past midnight only to be awakened by his room being immersed with light.  Thinking someone must have lit one of his new lamps he arose, only to discover it was the sun rising as it did at six in the morning.

In a letter to a friend Ben wrote this reflection, “This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections.”  The main reflection being that if the sun had not awakened him as it did he would have slept until noon.  Sleeping through six hours of daylight meant to get caught up on his work a portion of his day would be spent by candlelight.  Being a man of thrift Ben knew that daylight is much more economical than manmade illumination.  Ben did some serious calculating.

He worked on the premise that 100,000 Parisian families burned about half a pound of candles in an hour.  Multiply that by seven hours per day and this is the answer to his calculation.  “183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage.  Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight.  Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64, 050,000 pounds.  At a price of thirty sol per pounds of tallow and wax (two  hundred sols make one livre tournois—uh huh), the total sum comes to 95, 075,000 livre tournois. An immense sum,” Ben remarked with thought and foresight.

Although Ben’s 1784 essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Daylight” was penned with his trademark humor and wasn‘t supposed to be taken absolutely seriously, it did spark ideas to put the idea into practice throughout different eras.  It wasn’t until 1966 in the United States that Congress decided to actually do something with Ben’s idea.  The Uniform Time Act of 1966 created what is known as Daylight Saving Time.  It would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October.  To be exempt from the law a local ordinance had to be passed.

In 1986 DST began on the first Sunday in April. The Carter administration amended DST in 1973 to help with the energy crisis and the nation endured DST for two years.  In 1975 DST reverted back.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 moved DST to begin three weeks earlier, starting on the second Sunday in March, and ends on the first Sunday in November.

Is clock shifting really that beneficial?  That is the question.  This is a sensitive issue and the cons are increasing as society drifts further and further away from the agrarian society we once were.  Here are the specific cons to consider:

1        Adjusting the clock creates or increases sleep disorders.

2        Auto accidents can increase due to darker hours and inattention due to sleep-deprived decision making.

3        Work productivity is diminished as people feel sluggish in attempts to readjust their body clocks

4        Saving energy is a weak argument since DST extends daylight in the summer months causing people to be out and about more, which means more gasoline and other forms of energy are being used

5        Farmers note that their animals do not adapt to the change until several weeks have gone by, which can add stress to a farmer’s already hectic lifestyle.

6        Parents contend that it is dangerous for their children in the morning since it is darker and their children must wait in the dark for buses to arrive.

7        Medical opinion is that those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD have increased depression due to the darker days.

There is the one argument that there are some energy savings with DST; however, the energy saving argument is up for some heavy discussion since more energy will be consumed with the darker mornings and darker evenings.

There are certainly more negatives than positives when it comes to considering DST, yet real change won’t come until Americans decide in unison and rise up and shout, “I WANT MY HOUR BACK!”  This probably won’t happen as the nation can’t function due to sleep deprivation.

Of course, Mrs. X would probably take her red pen and slash and slay my essay with so much red ink a tourniquet would be required to quell the flowing of crimson correction.  No, I could not even entertain turning this in to Madame X.  I will spend lunch hour tomorrow amending my rantings to a reasonable and correct form of persuasiveness.

I got my post in, my homework done and I remembered to put my clothes in the dryer.  Maybe my procrastination days are diminishing. Time to celebrate! Ha ha—I think I just committed a bad pun. I need to reward my hard work by grabbing a spoon and a pint of frozen vanilla yogurt.  Adios, me cha-chas.


One response to “Day Six: Franklin, Ben, I Don’t Give A Darn

  1. Pingback: Push Day « cricketmuse

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