Saturday, March 7, 2020

My Obligatory Daylight Savings Posting

Should we get rid of daylight savings?   Who cares?

A reader asks me what I thought about daylight savings, and whether I would do a posting about it.  Well, here you go.  It is in the news a lot lately, as some folks are fed up with it, and some States have voted to secede from the plan - but such succession requires Congressional approval, unless they want to move to an unauthorized local time.  You laugh, at one time in this country (no pun intended) time was indeed a local matter, and what the clock on the church tower said, in town, was your "time."

Of course, this is America, so people have to be alarmist about it.  In one stupid article I read recently on the topic was this boner of a paragraph:
It is good news for those who enjoy more daylight in the evening. But experts say a growing body of evidence shows that the annual time shift is bad for our health, disrupting our circadian rhythms and sleep and leading to a higher immediate risk of heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and potentially car accidents.
So, daylight savings time is killing more people than the Corona virus.  Yet there is no task force to eliminate this scourge of humanity!   The horror!

To me, it really makes no difference, as for the last 20-30 years, I have been self-employed or retired. So I get up when the sun is warm and go to bed when I am tired.  Clocks and calendars mean little, other than when to make some infrequent appointment.   But even for the first couple of decades of my life, when I had "jobs" and had to be "on time" (a problem for me, as I was chronically late) it never seemed like that big a deal - an oddity of the clocks, and an excuse one day a year to be late for work - "Sorry!  Forgot to set back my clocks!"

Funny thing, though, once I got into the Patent business, we didn't have to be "on time" anymore.  Patent Examiners, back then, "signed in" when they arrived and "signed out" when they left - so long as you put your hours in (and did the requisite number of cases) no one really cared whether you came in at 7:30 or 8:00.  And as a lawyer?   Well, it would look bad to the Partners if you constantly came in late or left early, but there was no set time for "punching in" as there was no clock to punch in to.

But as a burning issue, it doesn't appeal to me.  Some argue that the school buses will be delivering kids in the dark, and that's dangerous.   I am not sure I agree with this.  Schools, for some reason, insist on picking kids up earlier and earlier in the day - a tacit admission that their primary function is day care for working parents.   So kids trudge out to the school bus in the dark, in the morning, when angry commuters (are there any other kind?) are driving like manics to get to work "on time".

Then, they let the kids out of school at two in the afternoon.  I am not sure the kids will be getting off the bus after dark then, unless they live in Alaska - but then again, I guess "daylight savings time" doesn't save much daylight there, in December.

If this was really such an issue, why not just change the bus schedules to compensate?   Oh right, de facto daycare.  The parents want a specific time for the kids to catch the bus, because they have to be at work at a specific time.

But upsetting circadian rhythms?  Causing heart attacks and defibrillation?  I don't buy it.  Causing car accidents?   Those are caused by the drivers.  This is akin to the new method of storm reporting, where any car accident that occurs during a storm is attributed to the storm, and not the shitty driver who blasts down the road at 70 mph in whiteout conditions.  People love causation - particularly when it takes causation away from their own actions and ascribes them to greater forces.   I'm not a shitty driver - nosiree!  It is just daylight savings time and all these storms!   And I'm fat because of hormones.   Sorry - no sale!

I really don't give a rat's ass about time, but this gives me an opportunity to point out how you can use time to your advantage - by time-shifting.   When we lived near Washington, DC, most of the people there, being government employees, behaved like lemmings.  I did it - for a while - myself.   You tend to look to your neighbors for cues as to your own behavior - normative cues - and they are often bad ones.

So everyone gets up at the same time and goes to work at the same time and comes home at the same time, and says, "Gee!  All that traffic!"  And on the weekend, they all drove out Route 50 to Rehoboth or the Eastern Shore in a giant clog of traffic - and all return on Sunday afternoon, and say the same thing - "So much traffic!"    But as a self-employed person, I could time-shift my life - go to the Eastern Shore on a weekday, instead of the weekend.  Or even, if I left on Sunday, wait until Sunday evening after 7 - and find the beltway deserted.

And you don't have to be self-employed to do this.  Mark would take the weekend shifts at Sutton Place simply because it freed up that weekday time.   Most managers and employees loathed working weekends - even if offered a premium in pay - because they wanted their weekends "free" to flock with the rest of the lemmings.  The idea that Tuesday and Wednesday could be your "weekend" was alien to them - they thought that clocks and calendars were set down by God himself.

It is odd, but people really believe that different days of the week have different flavors to them.   "I hate Mondays" some say, as if it had some unique mystical properties aside from the other days.   But days are just days - and "Monday" and "Tuesday" are just labels we put on them.  Nowhere is is this more true that with Leap Year - the "extra day" we add for the 1/4 day extra every year has, but we can't account for (should we work a quarter day every year instead and have the sun go down by 12 noon? - just kidding).

Time-shifting is one way to say "screw you!" to the clock and the tyranny of the calendar - if you can do it. But so many people shun even opportunities to do so - wanting to preserve their precious "weekend" as a Saturday and Sunday, so they can relax with their fellow masses.

We do have choices in life, even when we think we don't have choices.