Let the government handle something and it really gets screwed up! This past weekend, we went on Daylight Savings Time (Summer Time to you English blokes), because Congress, in its infinitely self-perceived wisdom, so decried. It is normally bad enough when the time change occurs on schedule, so it follows that when an act of Congress moves it up by a month, complete chaos will ensue. Accordingly, I spent Sunday completely screwed up.
“Daylight saving just brings a smile to everybody’s faces.”—Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on March 8.
Oh, yeah? Our duly elected representatives just drop bombs like this without considering any impact beyond the end of their noses, or at least past the November ballot box. The last time these dweebs changed the timing, computers did not completely dominate our lives. Superdweeb Jimmy Carter had imposed his “moral equivalent of war” sanctions on energy usage, part of his plan being a temporary measure that gave us Daylight Savings Time for the whole year. As of 1987, the Democrat Congress decided to make a three-week advance in Daylight Savings Time permanent. At least that’s how I remember it. This, of course, put us out of sync with the rest of the civilized world, but what else is new?Now, via the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress is back again dicking with the unknown, but this time computers are a lot smarter and they are not just the tools of dreaded cor-por-a-tions—they pervade just about all aspects of private citizens’ lives. Computerized clocks exist in everything from our cameras to our appliances—and, of course, our indispensible computers, cell phones, and PDAs. And alas, they were all programmed before the enactment and implementation of this latest legislation to screw around with our time!
So, yesterday, after manually setting about 800 clocks—my wristwatch, my irrigation system, my stove, my microwave, my two cars, my coffee maker, my three programmable thermostats, my two digital cameras, my postage meter, my fax machine, and, of course, my traditional , analog clocks, I next looked at my cell phone. It had the wrong time. Hey, I thought that cell phone networks automatically supplied the time. So, I turned the damn thing off and back on again, and magically, the correct time appeared. Then, I began to tackle the chore of ensuring that my four computers were all in sync.
Without boring you with details of my network—I’m a geek with a couple of back-end servers and some other crap, which I say is necessary for business in order to rationalize my geekological recreation—I’ll say that the Macintoshes functioned flawlessly, but the Windows systems were so screwed up that by 1 PM I had no idea what the hell time it was. My Windows 2000 Server is the time standard for my network, and it synchronizes with an Internet time standard. It must have waited for a while to change its time. Meanwhile, my XP laptop, which gets its time from the server, was an hour off. So, I changed it. At some time later, the server must have changed it back, or forward, or sideways—I don’t know what! While all this was going on, I was applying a Microsoft fix to Outlook, to change all the times for my appointments to conform to the new time scheme. They’re stored internally in Universal Time (the politically correct, sanitized euphemism for what was formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time, lest we give the lily white Brits too much credit for something used by the Third World, too), to which a bias is applied to the user’s time zone. I viewed the results. Now, people’s birthdays were starting at 11 PM the night before their real birthday and ending at 11 PM on the proper night. So, I changed them back manually. At some later point, presumably when I wasn’t looking, the time on the laptop changed again, which required that I change all those appointments and birthdays manually—again!
At around 1:15 PM, or what I thought was 1:15, I got an e-mail from a friend. The e-mail was time-stamped 12:15. So, I responded, patiently explaining to my friend that the clocks had changed last night and didn’t she get around to changing hers? After all, my computer said it was 1:15, and computers don’t lie—well, mine don’t—even though hers was caught prevaricating in flagrante delicto. Or, so I thought.
The response came back about a half-hour later. “Did you set clocks twice? I have 12:50 pm at my house.”
I looked at the computer. It said 1:51. I looked at my wristwatch. It said 12:51.
So, I changed the computer.
All the appointment times in Outlook were once again screwed up. So, I ran the Microsoft time zone change utility again and it changed them. Well, yeah—this time it changed all the appointments going forward. I looked at the calendar and decided that I had to change them back.
I came back in a couple of hours. The time on the laptop had changed yet again!
And so it went, for another hour or so until everything was in sync. On my to-do list today is calling the doctor to find out whether my April 16 appointment is at 10 AM, 11 AM, 12 PM, or 1 PM—because it’s been every damn one of those times at one time or another in the past 24 hours according to my Outlook calendar! Perhaps I should cancel the appointment with the internist and make one with a psychiatrist instead. Come take me away to a place where there are no clocks and no computers!
What the hell time is it, anyway???????
Our paternalistic government wants to tell us when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This ongoing battle with our circadian rhythms, under the guise of saving energy, is just another aspect of government intrusion into our private lives. And it might not save any damn energy, according to some studies. From Wikipedia:
Critics argue that the energy savings of DST are overstated, and that DST can sometimes increase energy consumption and peak demand. Also, the rise of air conditioning calls older energy models into question. In 2000 when parts of Australia began DST in late winter, overall electricity consumption did not decrease, but the morning peak load increased. Currently there is no clear evidence that electricity will be saved by the 2007 U.S. rule change..
That same friend who e-mailed me yesterday with the correct time told me today that she has kept a kid home from school today. The kid had stayed up too late last night due to the time change and couldn’t get up this morning.
Congress cannot legislate our body clocks. I got up at 7:30 this morning. Normally, I get up at 6:30. My ass doesn’t know the difference between standard time and daylight time.
Mark Twain said:
The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.
I’ll end this rant with one more tidbit from that Wikipedia article:
Golf courses, convenience stores, and other businesses benefit from extra afternoon sunlight. For example, in the mid-1980s Clorox (parent of Kingsford Charcoal) and 7-Eleven provided the primary funding for the Daylight Saving Time Coalition that successfully lobbied to extend U.S. DST, and both Idaho senators voted to extend DST on the basis of fast-food restaurants selling more French fries made from Idaho potatoes.
DST can adversely affect farmers and others whose hours are set by the sun. For example, grain harvesting is best done after dew evaporates, so when field hands arrive and leave earlier in summer their labor is less valuable.
Clock shifts disrupt sleep patterns, and correlate with decreased economic efficiency. Researchers estimated in 2000 that the daylight-saving effect implies a one-day loss of $31 billion on the NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ alone.
Maybe we should send the bill to our congressional geniuses, who continue to find ways to spend our money and invade our lives while achieving no net positive effect upon the general welfare.
What time is it? Time for a change.