03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Time Of Our Lives

Rejoice!  Today is the Longest Day Of The Year.  No, it’s not a solstice.  Today we right the wrong of so-called “daylight saving” and get back closer to being in sync with the sun in our obsession for tracking the arrow of time.  Why do we put up with effectively moving to a different time zone twice a year, with all the dissociation that goes with it?  Beats me.  There are still a whole bunch of countries that never ever fell for it. 

And Daylight Saving Time is far from “free” -- I’ve seen estimates that figure the costs of changing the clocks start at a minimum of half a billion dollars.  

Not that there is anything “standard” about “Standard Time”.  Of course, that too is a human invention, a convenience to and for the gargantuan railroad industry that was the beating heart of much of the industrial revolution in the developed world.  

But at least please let us remember.  NO DAYLIGHT IS SAVED just because we fool around with clocks.  (If you’re interested in the long and contentious history that goes with all this, there’s an excellent website.)

Others seem to take the biannual disruption of their endocrine system lightly but I do not.  And year ‘round, I have the great luxury of being able to awaken more or less at the same time every day because our schedules are much less fixed than other peoples’.  Try as he might, my husband has yet to convince me that what a clock says really does not matter, as long as I get where I need to be when I need to be there.  Yet to have the hands on the clock, digits on the LEDs and roll-overs showing moment by moment on my computer more accurately reflect -- calmly, consistently, correctly -- where the sun is in the sky relative to “high noon”?  A visceral relief!

For five long-gone years, I lived in Indiana during the years it refused to completely capitulate.   All year long in many counties (including the one in which I lived,) clocks remained “Standard”.  Simply in biological and psychic terms, it was nothing short of wonderful.  Neither in spring nor in fall did anyone have to factor in a week or more acclimating to what is in effect moving to a different time zone -- twice a year!  

Alas, the Indiana legislature caved recently and forced the state into the lockstep of the nation’s time-fiddlers.  The result?  No less that National Geographic reported a study that stated unequivocally, that it “cost homeowners dearly on their electric bills.  Just in the state of Indiana, it turns out to be almost seven million dollars a year in increased residential electricity bills... And that's at a far lower price for electricity than the national average."

The study found that daylight saving time did save on lighting use but that heating and air-conditioning use more than offset any gains.

“Daylight Saving Time actually increases electricity demand, instead of lessening it. DST caused electrical demand to rise almost 1 percent each year overall—with a much heavier increase of 2-4 percent in the fall, when residents ‘fall back’ an hour.”

My half-baked solution is clumsy at best.  And yes, it lasts all the months that I have no choice but to endure the mandated “daylight savings”.  I operate on a double clock.  My internal one does what that of all living creatures do -- I stay with the sun.  Then in a weird kind of 2-2 time, I adjust my steps to that which society imposes.

Admittedly, I am all the more rankled that a.) this was a war-time solution that never went away (that’s World War ONE,) and b.) my months of relief are even fewer than they used to be because a Republican Congress -- actively averse to doing anything meaningful about America’s oil dependence after “9/11” -- imposed DST on me and everyone else four weeks earlier in the spring and stretched it out one week longer in the fall.

Given all the things about which I could get “het-up”, fooling with the clock -- especially my internal one -- may seem a tad silly.  But never, ever, should one miss an opportunity to challenge arbitrary authority ... particularly when it, too, is half-baked.

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