November 06, 2010

About Daylight Saving Time Or Summer Time. Or Fast Time. Or whatever it may be called in your neck of the woods - although not all countries or regions use it.

Before we learned how to mess with our clocks, noon meant the sun was directly overhead. One thing is sure - no daylight is saved. And while some like it, others do not.

  • For those of us (like I was for much of my working life) who got up at a 'regular' hour (generally around 7AM), Daylight Savings Time actually kept us from 'wasting' daylight while still asleep during the summer, and avoided getting up 'in the dark' during the winter. Its effect on the other end of the day, however, was ridiculous. Sundown after 8PM in June and before 5PM in December. And it's even worse for those living closer to the Poles than Southern/Central California (what I call the Best Latitudes). With fewer people working the 9-5 regular schedule, fewer than ever are enjoying the benefits of Daylight Shaving Time (not a typo, it used to make it unnecessary to turn on the bathroom light when I shaved). Within each time zone, "natural noon" will vary by an hour - or more, so it's going to be arbitrary anyway, so either year-round "Daylight Time" or a half-hour compromise is probably better than the twice-yearly adjustments. Anyway, I'll see you all tomorrow, same time minus one hour...
  • I'm against it, personally. I think the clock should hold still, but governments should promote different working hours in the summer/winter. (What particularly surprises me is that farmers in the north of Scotland often complain that British Summer Time doesn't suit them - but why do they take any notice of it? Farmers can get up when they choose, can't they?)
  • Four dimensional time cannot be saved without a cube of some kind.
  • When I lived in the Yukon I loved the summer nights that never got dark but the trade-off was the period in winter when the sun never rose above the horizon. Now that I'm further south, I still enjoy the long, light summer evenings and would prefer to have an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day rather than the beginning, summer or winter. I think that many people who work primarily inside would feel the same. In North America we're now on Daylight Saving for two thirds of the year so having the time change disruptions just four months apart seems rather pointless. So I say spring forward in 2011 then leave the clocks alone. A few more arguments for and against here.
  • I wonder what quid-clock would look like.
  • Pleggers, one difficulty for farmers with livestock is that many animals don't go by Daylight Savings Time, and so there's upset and hassle even to the point of cows not wanting to be milked or be brought into the barn just because a clock says its time to hitch 'em to the milking machine. It can get rather tense for several weeks while critters adjust. Didn't want a North America-centric or EU-centric post since many monkeys live in other parts of the globe, but it was difficult to find one. In the European Union the clocks got changed on October 31st. And my assumption is that south of the equator - if the time changes at all - it should be just the reverse of what folk do in the northern hemisphere. We are in the fall of the year, but for tracicle, for instance, it's still springtime in New Zealand.
  • Bees, around here the dairy folk have to comply with the milk pickup, but they can milk anytime they want, so what the smart ones start doing is milking five minutes earlier or later a couple weeks prior to the change, and then gradually move toward the legislated time. Of course, the biggest dairies don't give a rip. (anyone that milks a cow, or feeds a horse, dog, or heaven forbid, a cat on the dot of the hour in a strictly punctual fashion is asking for trouble. If you're late, it's heck to pay! Whereas, if you feed half hour or forty five minutes either way all the time, your critters are a bit more relaxed about it. My horses don't start nickering until I go into the hay shed. They might keep a hairy eyeball on me walking around outside prior to, but nobody gets excited.)
  • I agree about not setting a rigid timetable, because it's so stressful to critters when any variance to the schedule happens. And of course large, stressed-out or excited animals can do such swift and surprising damage to themselves or to anyone trying to handle 'em - not worth it. But animals can be as bad as human people about forming habits and writing things in stone.
  • I'm working in Dallas, and we will do it tonight. The English people I am on the phone with every day did it a week or two ago, and the corporate head office is in Scottsdale Arizona, where they don't do it at all. We end up like some unsyncopated jazz band, never being quite sure what time "zone" our coworkers are in. I'm with Plegs - the clocks should never change - offices and schools should adjust their start times as required (maybe gradually). In fact timezones are a bit of a nonsense too - why not all work on GST (or UTC) and just get used to the fact that the sun comes up at (in my case) 12:00 GST and sets at 24:00? It's just a number. And then I could say "The meeting is at 13:00" and anyone, anywhere in the world (at any time of year) would understand when that was. China is wide enough for 5 timezones, but they use only one and no DST. They have got it figured out!
  • Interesting viewpoint, but I think unlikely to have wide popular appeal to those who prefer their mornings to begin with eastern sunrise, and their evenings to include sunsets rather than dawns or darkness. It is very hard on birds and animals when artificial light intrudes on what should be darkness. There's suspicion it may also be very hard on human beings as well, and the flooding of our lives with artificial light may well account for some of our contemporary quandries and problems.
  • Bees, I'm not suggesting that we should all work at the same time, we would all work/play/sleep whenever it suited us locally. I'm just saying that the numbers we assign to times of day are arbitrary and could be different at different places. Why did we pick "12" for when the sun is overhead? (Because we have 12 fingers). It could as easily be zero for noon. Or 50 (% of the day) for noon. Or (for me) "18:00 GST". Then there are no timezone or daylight "savings" problems. We are a global community now and should have a global way of talking about time. Yes, and we should all speak Esperanto too ;-)
  • Never supposed ye meant we should all work at the same time. Yes, it would be handy to have some simpler means of referring to time. Though what such a system might be I can't imagine.
  • But when are we going on Siesta Time? And yes, bees, I believe we have greatly underestimated the negative effects* of light pollution on ourselves, as well as on the other fauna and the flora of our planet. *aside from the fact that I miss the lovely stars!
  • Aboriginal time runs east to west. For one group, anyway, the past lies somewhere to the east, while the day after tomorrow lies two days to the west.
  • I like living on the West Coast of North America. I'm almost the last to get a new day so I can look at the rest of the world, see what's coming and decide if it's worth getting up. And living in the boonies, the nomansland between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, gets me a great view of the night sky (but GoogleMaps made an error; Avila Hot Springs is NOT next door, it's a mile south of me). Some might not like the road noise from Highway 101, but I grew up in the San Fernando Valley almost as close to an urban stretch of the 101 and it was louder there, and I got used to it, so this is easy.
  • "And living in the boonies..." Nice map! The meander along the creek looks especially interesting...
  • Foop, the aboriginal one's quite ambiguous. For you, things and I suppose people too further to the east would be envisioned as being in your past history. While the more easterly folk would envision you as a couple or more days in their future. If I grasp this aright, which I may well not.
  • It's a tough thing to wrap one's mind around, fer shure. Although after thinking about what was printed, I believe the metaphor the author used for Americans was incorrect: In the United States, time is generally thought of as running from left to right. I believe time is most commonly thought of as running from front to back: "Your whole future is in front of you." "Put that behind you." "March bravely into the future." "The months ahead." "The worst is behind." If I remember my college courses (far back in the mists of time) Lakoff said that we most commonly think of time as a journey. Proceeding forward means moving into the future. With a written time line, we can visualize from left to right, but I'm thinking that paper restricts us with it's two-dimensional element. The beauty of metaphor is that we're not restricted--time can be a circle or spiral, for example.
  • Some ancient Greek said ye couldn't set foot twice into the same river. The notion of time as flow ... perhaps it's more like the ocean, wave after wave but no two waves the same? Or more like an oscillation? ... the way a horse can shudder its hide to dislodge a fly. I think the directionality bothers me. But I will be first to admit I don't have a firm grasp of time.
  • I once wondered why clocks went clockwise. Is it because we are more right handed than left; is it because we (mostly) write left to right (at the top of the clock face); or is it completely arbitrary? The accepted reason is: the shadows on sundials (in the Northern hemisphere) turn clockwise, and the clock face copied that. Although a 12 hour clock face has about twice the angular speed of a sundial shadow. That made me think that if clocks had been first invented in Australia they would run backwards (errr... I mean forwards in a counter-clockwise direction). But now we learn that they would run Westward, and presumably be long and thin. * imagines a prototype Aboriginal clock as a horizontal broomstick, facing West, with each "hour notch" cut around it *
  • TT, I was unaware of that fact, and it's just so logical and therefore satisfying to know. *desires to make winter sundial* Funny, that we should conceive of time as both a solid, a liquid, and a vapor: frozen time, melting time vs river of time, sea of hours vs the mists of time, the clouded/hazy past, I'm sure if we put out the Languagehat sign, he could come and enlighten us more on cultural metaphors and time, but it's fun to keep muddling along by ourselves, also.