No, you didn’t misread the headline of this column, I’m here today to discuss DST (better known as Daylight Saving Time), not DDT the insecticide.
Yet in some ways, DST — which started its yearly cycle again last Sunday morning — can be just as deadly when you consider the implications of all-knowing Mankind tampering with established institutions such as Time.
If you’re like me, you might wonder what determines how time is kept as far as what one’s trusty (or not so much) timepiece officially is supposed to say at any given point during the day. Of course, this goes against the sentiments of a song with lyrics including “does anybody really know what time it is — does anybody really care?”
When my imagination runs wild, I can envision a sweaty muscular guy such as Hercules turning a giant wheel on Mount Olympus or somewhere to make sure Earth stays on its axis so the exact time is kept.
The truth is, according to my trusty research team at The Mount Airy News, official timekeeping is a carefully calculated science. It’s one that involves a 24-hour time standard being kept through the use of highly precise atomic clocks combined with the Earth’s rotation.
If you’re not lulled to sleep already, let me point out that this whole thing seems to hinge on an agreement by so-called “timing centers” around the world to keep their scales closely synchronized to maintain a coordinated universal time. A bunch of little Herculeses are on the job, if you will.
So with all the scientific mumbo-jumbo that goes into this process, you’d think Mankind would have the decency to avoid tampering with time by switching back and forth between Daylight Saving Time every six months or so.
Now despite the sensationalizing title of my column today (it’s “Lamenting the many dangers of DST,” for the benefit of those who might have dozed off), I am not against Daylight Saving Time itself and in fact am a big DST fan. I wish it would be in effect for the entire year.
It’s nice to have that extra period of daylight in the late afternoon — which abruptly ends come October or so, when Eastern Standard Time returns and we are forced to settle in for months of darkness.
I have heard that the main reason Daylight Saving Time is not imposed year-round is because the extra hour of morning darkness on the other end of the spectrum creates hazards for kids walking to school or waiting for buses.
Well, you could alleviate that by starting classes one hour later each day — since kids must go to school too early, in my opinion — and dismissing one hour later.
Also remember that Daylight Saving Time supposedly originated in the first place in order to provide an extra hour of work time for farmers, which seems archaic by modern technology and other standards.
Today with more corporate farms operating as opposed to family ones, giant combines and other equipment with headlights and maybe even radar allow precision nighttime planting and harvesting far removed from the days of horse and plow.
But along with maintaining respect for the traditional farmers still in our midst, Daylight Saving Time should be made year-round just because it’s the right thing to do.
For one reason, having to change your clocks back and forth — which include DVDs, vehicles, a microwave oven, a wristwatch and others in my case — is a major inconvenience. (I purposely do not alter the time on my watch as a small gesture of rebellion.)
At this particular point in history, my watch is one hour less than the official time — but isn’t what’s shown on my watch face by Mickey’s hands the “real official” time (Eastern Standard), which we’ve temporarily altered in order to impose Daylight Saving Time?
Apart from the inconvenience factor is the impact on your body rhythms, etc. It takes a while to adjust to the new morning and evening light patterns in addition to losing an hour’s time — an eternity in the news business.
And just when you get adjusted, we change back again.
I know this schizophrenic thing with Daylight Saving Time undoubtedly has caused major problems other than someone being late for church, including the case of a traveler who missed a flight in Phoenix last fall because that city doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time.
There are probably other cases when being an hour off was a matter of life and death, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
So unless somebody invents a machine that enables reliable time travel, let’s quit trying to cheat the process an hour here and an hour there.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.