Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's About Time

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

This is the day of the year when people happily exclaim that they get an EXTRA hour of sleep.  All it means for us reverse insomniacs is that we are miserably aware of exactly how early we're getting up.  For me, today it was the "new" 3:20 a.m.  Yesterday I was up at 4:30...which is only 10 minutes later than I was up today BUT, because of the time change, it FEELS (and looks on the clock) like I'm up a whole extra hour early.  Sigh.

What TIME is it?
This whole reverse insomnia thing is a vicious cycle.  The earlier I get up the earlier I want to go to bed.  The earlier I go to bed, the earlier I seem to get up.  Actually, that's not even true.  There is no predicting what time I'll get up.  Since it's the weekend, I seem to be up EXTRA early.  But tomorrow when my alarm is telling me how I should try defying gravity, I will hit the snooze button until about 6:30 a.m. because nothing makes me sleepier than facing a Monday at work.

So, faced with hours in front of me with nothing to do other than laundry, work on a website, cut more bay leaves (that's another blog altogether) or read one of the three books I'm currently NOT reading because I just can't seem to get into any of them, I opted to do a little research on Daylight Savings Time.

Benjamin Franklin (was he a drunk?  Somehow I just picture ol' Ben as a drunk...) first introduced the concept in 1784 while he was in Paris. Probably while he was in a brothel in Paris (did Ben go to brothels?).  He wrote an essay about how people could conserve candles by getting up earlier in the morning to make use of the daylight.  Ben probably didn't consider people like me who rise hours BEFORE dawn.  Ben, I could USE some candles right now.  It's dark, Ben.  It's been dark for the last two hours, trust me.  But since you're in the brothels, you're probably still fast asleep.  [Kelly's note:  OK, please don't think that Ben Franklin was a drunk and a philanderer just because I wrote that.  I have no clue about Benjamin Franklin's pastimes.  I just have this CONCEPT of him as a drunken womanizer.  It may be true.  But maybe not.  I read a lot of fiction.]

The first concept of Daylight Savings Time as we know it today was actually credited to a guy named William Willett in 1905.  His parents called him "Will Will" for short.  I think he may have stuttered uncontrollably.  [Again, I'm just making this up.]  Will Will was pretty messed up, though, because he suggested that the clocks be moved forward twenty minutes four Sundays in April and then doing the same by switching them back 20 minutes four Sundays in September.  Will Will must also have been a drunk because that REALLY sounds confusing to me.  You know that ministers EVERYWHERE were wringing hands and gnashing teeth at that idea because their pews would've been EMPTY for EIGHT SUNDAYS of the year due to the mass confusion over what time it was.

Will Will died in 1915 without ever having to defend his proposal.  I wonder if he just changed his OWN clocks.  "Screw you, people.  This is a GOOD IDEA.  You can think me late/early if you wish, but I'm marching to the hands of my own damn clock."

And so, Daylight Savings Time was FIRST implemented in the U.S. during World War I on April 30, 1916 so that people could save fuel for the war effort.  Many other countries adopted DST as well for the same reason. After the war was over, though, people went back to the same ol' same ol'.

Franklin D. Roosevelt did it again during World War II but called it "War Time" which was much like "Hammer Time" but without the crazy pants and the beat you can dance to.   The law went into effect 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and they went a little crazy with it.  There was "Eastern War Time," "Central War Time," and "Pacific War Time."  After Japan surrendered, they thumbed their noses and relabeled EVERYTHING "Peace Time."  They gave peace a CHANCE, people.

From 1945 until 1966, everything was chaos.  Cats and dogs were actually living together.  Everyone could decide when AND IF they chose to observe daylight savings time.  You could go over to the next town and they'd be having lunch while you were still eating breakfast.  Confusion reigned supreme and I'm sure there was more than one person who just decided to sleep in and blame it on the clocks.

Congress ended the confusion (they actually DECIDED on something and IMPLEMENTED it...those were the days, right?) with the Uniform Time Act of 1966.  States could exempt themselves from it, but most states adopted it.  There have been tweaks here and there and it was revamped (somehow...there is a list of things they did but frankly I'm growing bored with the topic now) in 2005 to be the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  They probably renamed it that because they wanted people to think that Congress actual cares about energy use or, really, the people of this country at all. 

So, in the end, I got to poke fun at Ben Franklin, Will Willett AND Congress.  I think that makes getting up at 3:20 a.m. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Enjoy your extra hour.

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