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Mark My Words

With Mark Haywood
Downtowner Contributing Writer

March came in with sunshine, low temperatures, and typical leonine winds.

With March, also came the noticeably longer days. Waking just before first light to hear birds singing and easing into the day is a springtime pleasure. This first light was happening before 6 a.m. Hearing the bugle for flag-lowering at the Naval Hospital took place as the sun set shortly after 6 p.m. in the evening. Then, dinner at dark.

On March 12 this all changed with a setting forward of the clock for Daylight Saving Time. One develops jet lag without leaving Norfolk. “Spring forward,” as an expression has a happy ring. In practice it creates havoc and misery. Gone are the birds in the morning as one arises in the dark where once there was light. Present is the dull headache, slight nausea, and disorientation of a flight across country. Late for appointments, oversleeping, and meals off-schedule are other common side-effects of the time change. If you were to read these side-effects before taking a prescription or an OTC medicine you would pass on taking it.

Humans are confused. Dogs and cats still follow their internal clocks. Canines and felines continue to expect meals, time outside, and walks to follow the passage of the sun from east to west. Meanwhile, humans contemplate hours to avoid intense sun exposure by translating Eastern Daylight Time back to Eastern Standard Time.

Why do we go through this time change each year? Daylight Saving Time was first implemented in 1916 during World War I by Germany as an energy-saving measure. England quickly followed and the United States succumbed to the DST practice in 1918. Agriculture areas fought the time change in this country since farmers work and cows are ready to be milked by the sun, not the clock. After the war standard time returned. World War II saw the resumption of the time-change fiasco, again in the name of energy-saving. Studies have shown a possible, insignificant, one percent energy-saving. DST was abolished three weeks after World War II ended only to be resumed on a uniform basis in 1966. Arizona and Hawaii are the only states wise enough to pass on the annual torture.

Are we really fooled by the twice-yearly messing with the clock? Definitely not, but this war-time folly is perpetuated and each year we suffer. But I, not in silence.

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March 2017
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