Cranky….who said I’m cranky?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

Pardon me if I appear a bit cranky today.

Like all of you, I lost an hour of sleep on Saturday night to this bizarre annual ritual known as Daylight Saving Time.

I don’t know about you, but I love to sleep. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite hobby, beating by a long shot my other relaxation rituals such as underwater basket weaving and pole vaulting over waste lagoons.

Nothing makes me feel better than say 10-12 hours of sleep every night. That goes back to my childhood where my mom said I would hit the sack at 6:30 p.m. and was up at 6:30 a.m.

So, with that in mind, this past Saturday night was a bummer. I tried to go to bed one hour earlier than normal in order to make up for what was coming, but that was a big waste of time. I tossed and turned all night, dreaming I was being chased by a huge clock.

So, what’s the big deal about Daylight Saving Time. I found out a lot by performing a Google search on the internet, including the fact that it’s not Daylight Savings (with the s) Time. Because the notion behind this law is due to the fact that we &uot;save daylight,&uot; DST becomes singular, not plural.

DST begins for most of the United States at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April. It ends at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. However, it always hasn’t been this way nor is it observed everywhere.

DST is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and by most of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation in that state).

Meanwhile, Indiana, which used to be split with a portion of the state observing DST and the other half not, is now whole. In the past, counties in the Eastern Time Zone portion of Indiana did not observe DST. They were on standard time year round. A state law was passed in 2005 that has the entire state of Indiana observing DST beginning in April 2006.

Did you get all of that?

The American law by which we turn our clock forward in the spring and back in the fall is known as the Uniform Time Act of 1966. The law does not require anyone to actually observe Daylight Saving Time; all it says is that if we are going to observe DST, it must be done uniformly.

The notion of Daylight Saving Time has been around a long time. Benjamin Franklin, while a minister to France, first suggested the idea in an essay titled &uot;An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.&uot; The essay was first published in the Journal de Paris in April 1784, but it wasn’t for more than a century later that an Englishman, William Willett, suggested it again in 1907.

In 1918, in order to conserve resources for the war effort, the U.S. Congress placed the country on Daylight Saving Time for the remainder of World War I. It was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. The law, however, proved so unpopular that it was later repealed.

When America went to war again, Congress reinstated DST on February 9, 1942. Time in the United States was advanced one hour to save energy. It remained advanced one hour forward year-round until September 30, 1945.

From 1945 to 1966, there was no U.S. law about Daylight Saving Time. During that time, states and localities were free to observe it or not. This, however, caused confusion, especially for the broadcasting industry and for trains and buses. Because of the different local customs and laws, radio and TV stations and the transportation companies had to publish new schedules every time a state or town began or ended DST.

By 1966, some 100 million Americans were observing Daylight Saving Time through their own local laws and customs. Congress decided to step in end the confusion and establish one pattern across the country, thus Uniform Time Act of 1966. Any area that wanted to be exempt from DST could do so by passing a local ordinance. The law was amended in 1986 to begin Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April.

But change is on the way again. Beginning next year, DST is extended one month and begins for most of the United States on the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday of November. These new starts and stop dates were set in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

And I thought all along that DST was a slick invention that allowed wealthy businessmen to put in a &uot;full&uot; six hours of work and then be able to get in 18 holes of golf after 5 p.m.

But alas, the real reason our government decided that DST was good for us is that it saves energy. By extending sunlight by one hour, the government thinks we’re all outside goofing off rather than inside our homes using electricity.

That’s our government for you…making us believe the things they conger up in Washington are done with our best interests at heart. If that’s the case, then why are they telling us that giving illegal aliens a &uot;guest worker&uot; permit is good for the economy. Isn’t this the same government that allows U.S. industry to outsource jobs to overseas labor markets.

Between guest workers and folks over in India who offer customer support for American computer companies, we’ll all be out of jobs in the very near future. But at least we’ll be able to enjoy an extra hour of daylight standing in the unemployment line!

Cranky…who said I’m cranky?