On the Mark: Back to that annoying alarm clock

MARK STRAIN

I should have known something was wrong. Just when things seem too good to be true, you can count on government to make sure that it is. For weeks, if not months, I have been waking up each day blissfully content that I was waking up without the alarm clock’s annoying beep, beep, beep.

The fact I get to hit the alarm button to shut it off offers little satisfaction. Days seem better when they do not begin with being startled into reality by irritating artificial sound. This past weekend, government mandated “daylight-saving time” kicked in and what was once easily accomplished by waking up naturally is now again shattered by an annoying alarm.

It takes a while sometimes, but eventually I get used to the one hour change and am able to once again wake before an alarm rudely interrupts my sleep. Of course just about that time the government decides to change the time back again to where it was before this silly process all started. Now I am faced with being up an hour earlier, which is fine except it does little good when most of the rest of the world has yet to open.

Humans don’t seem to be satisfied unless they can somehow change everything in nature. We reroute rivers, drain swamps, raise mountains, modify genes and alter DNA all in an attempt to control and when we run out of physical elements we work on space and time. Daylight-saving time is nothing new but you might think that after all these years and as sophisticated as our science has become, we could have found a compromise that fits the timing process we obviously believe is broken.

If we were to apply dollars and cents to the cost of constantly moving clocks, computers, alarms, schedules, and what not back and forth and add to that the numbers of times we ourselves are confused by each time change and end up missing meetings, are late for work and just seem to start the whole day off on the wrong foot, there has to be a better way. Adding the confusion of driving across time zones, entering different countries or even different municipalities where daylight-saving time is not always accepted in the same way only emphasizes the need to once and for all fix this time problem.

The goal of changing time is simply to gain more daytime hours in the afternoon which is when most everyone is up and active. Folks sleeping in the morning later than sunrise were simply thought to be wasting good daylight. Keeping people up later is easier than waking them up earlier. Since most of us work during the same working hours regardless of the length of daylight, moving more daylight to later in the day also provides more leisure time, which if used effectively could have a positive impact on overall health.

For a time it was thought that keeping the daylight hours longer in the evening and shorter in the morning would mean an energy savings as less incandescent lighting would be used. Numerous studies have been done and this theory has not been proven and now with the decrease in use of incandescent lighting, this idea is no longer as convincing.

Retail businesses and certain activities such as golfing see significant gains when people are active later in the day. Other operations such as agriculture and prime time entertainment may not have such good experiences with longer or altered daylight hours. Farming is dictated by nature and changing the time that the real world operates cannot always easily be coordinated with the needs of agriculture. For example, many crops rely upon the evaporation of dew for harvesting and must to be picked after the sun has been up for a while, yet by making mornings shorter harvesting is pushed back to later in the day offset by the normal hours field hands work, which is generally earlier in the mornings. Yet obviously everyone has adjusted and we continue to do so twice each year.

The cost of changing the time each year has been estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, offset somewhat by the gains some businesses see by the extended hours. As a country we have been doing this since 1918 and you would think by now we could have come up with a better solution then a constant resetting of millions of clocks and other electronic devices twice per year.

As practical as it may seem to fix this, we can only imagine the outrageous challenges that would ensue if this even came up for discussion at the national level. Our two dominate political parties agree on so little, the question would probably become an absurd battle that would be debated in committee after committee, then meeting upon meeting and finally challenged by both sides simultaneously in courts for reasons that have nothing to do with the issue. All the while of course pretending that for one reason or another, this is vital to some minor special interest group that must be protected.

For now, and probably for a long time to come, I will reset that annoying alarm, get up in the dark and head out for another day! It’s still better than the alternative.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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