Daylight Saving Time

“Time And Tide Wait For No Man.”

/////

That quote is from Goeffrey Chaucer and it has been used in many different situations. This time it has meaning for two situations. If you pay attention to your calendar you probably noticed that the Vernal Equinox is fast approaching and so is the changeover to Daylight Saving Time. As a matter of fact both events occur on the same day March 14, 2021. The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Vernal Equinox3
Vernal Equinox3 | Image by earthsky.org

We all remember being taught about Equinox and Solstice events in school, but how many of us actually remember the details today? That’s why I am going to explain it in detail now.

Here is the definition of the Vernal Equinox according to an article in Astronomy Essentials by Deborah Byrd posted on earth sky.com: The Vernal Equinox “signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north.” Equinox translates as “equal night” which means the length of day and night is nearly equal all over the world during the equinox.

Vernal Equinox2
Vernal Equinox2 | Image by heimhenge.com

It all has to do with the earth’s axis. That’s the reason for the seasons. As you might remember the earth’s axis is tilted and not parallel to the earth’s orbit. According to the meteorology text book The Atmosphere by Anthes, Panofsky, Cahir, and Rango “There is an angle between the plane of the equator and the plane of the earth’s orbit (also called the ecliptic). This angle, which has the impressive name obliquity of the ecliptic, is now 23 1/2 degrees.” “As the earth revolves about the sun, it’s axis points in the same direction in space.”

Solar Rays
SolarRays | Image by lpi.usra.edu

Both the northern and southern hemispheres get exactly the same amount of sunshine during the two equinoxes, March 20-21 and September 22-23. The authors explain that over tens of thousands of years this angle has changed, and, as a result, the severity of the seasons has also changed. The seasons are less harsh when the angle is small and conversely they are more harsh when the angle is large. Over the last 100,000 years or so the angle has varied between 22 and 25 degrees because the earth actually rocks back and forth a bit as it continues it’s march around the sun.

Solar Rays At Equator
Direct Solar Rays At Equator | Image by Annenberg Learner

At the Vernal Equinox the rays of the sun are directed straight at the equator and then move northward continuing the spring warming and then bringing on summer, the warmest time of the year.

Sun Ray Angles
Solar Ray Angles | Image by physics.weber.edu

One would think that the direct straight-line rays of the sun when the distance between the earth and the sun are at their closest would make the area under them see the warmest time of the year but that is not the case. There is a space of about 3 months between the Vernal Equinox and the warmest days of summer.

Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time Clock | Image by 1011now.com

Daylight Saving Time is when we “Spring Forward” by turning our clocks ahead by one hour at 2:00 am Sunday March 14th or at bedtime Saturday night if you are not a stickler for being perfectly accurate and don’t want to stay up until 2:00 am to change your clocks. Most of the newer appliances and electronic devices make the change automatically, but the older models must be changed manually which can be a pain. The authorities tell us that we should also check our smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide detectors, and Radon detectors to make sure they are in working order. Replace batteries if necessary.

Oregon lawmakers passed a bill in June 2019 to keep Oregon on Daylight Saving Time all year long. The Governor signed the bill one week later, but we still went back to Standard Time November 1, 2020. It is possible that we will have made that changeover for the last time, but we’ll have to wait for an official announcement that the change is really final.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Oh No! We Had To Do It Again.

/////

We have all read the directions on the shampoo bottle that say Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Some repetitions can be very enjoyable while others can be a real pain. Eating chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven while putting them on the cooling racks is one of my favorite things to do. My wife makes the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten, so I always find an excuse to eat more of them along with drinking a cup of hot cocoa. I only eat the malformed or broken cookies that we wouldn’t take to the gathering for which they are being made. My decision making process is purely subjective so my wife often chides me for eating a cookie that to her looked fine, but I found an excuse to eat.

St. Paul Choir 2
St. Paul Catholic Church Choir Performing At “The Grotto” In Portland | Photo by Lynda Atto

As I have mentioned before I sing in a church choir. Some of the most beautiful hymns we sing are for the Easter Week services that take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Easter Sunday. We have been rehearsing that music in preparation for those services. We do this every year and this is a repetition I really look forward to with eager anticipation.

Shoveling Snow
Shoveling Snow- Blizzard Of 1966- Rochester, NY | Photo by White Pear Store

Now one of my least favorite things to repeat is shoveling snow. If you are a regular reader of this column you have read about my growing up in snowy Rochester, New York and living in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for four years with more snow and cold weather. Actually shoveling snow is by far my least favorite repetition. I’m sure shoveling all that snow from when I was a kid and though adulthood helped me develop Degenerative Disc Disease requiring a fusion at L-5 S-1 with a rod and six screws to hold it in place.

Me Shoveling Driveway
Me Shoveling My Driveway | Photo by Suzanne Chuey (My Wife)

We all experienced our recent big snow storm and once again, against all the rules of taking care of my sensitive back, I had to shovel at least a path for the wheels of our car to get out of the driveway and into our nearly impassable street. I certainly am not looking forward to another storm that requires shoveling snow. To me that is my worst repetitive activity has just been described. Did I just repeat myself again? Of course Winter is by no means over yet so I could have to do it again, God Forbid!

Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time Clock | Image by 1011now.com

The repeated activity this article is really about is what we just did this weekend. We had to “Spring Forward” to change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. There has been and still is a lot of discussion as to whether we should continue the practice of changing back and forth from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time. Most of the new appliances and gadgets that are being made can make the change automatically. But what about all of the older ones that have to be manually changed? For me I have a specific ritual for the actual change. First I set my watch to the clock on my iPhone. My watch tends to gain up to a minute, so I reset it to the phone and then use the watch to be the guide as I walk around the house making the change. We have an old car so that clock has to be changed manually also.

Ben Franklin
Benjamin Franklin | Image by Famous Biography.org

Bothersome as the process may be many people don’t know the history of how and why the time change came into being. It all started with Benjamin Franklin when he was an American Delegate in Paris in 1784. He wrote an essay, An Economical Project, describing his idea of saving an hour of daylight in the evening by pushing the clocks one hour ahead in Spring and returning the hour to the morning in the Fall. The U.S. and Canadian railroad systems started using “Standard Time” on November 18, 1883, but it took many years for the practice to be generally accepted.  “Standard Time” was adopted so that train departure and arrival schedules would match up in all parts of the country. Before that each railroad company set their schedules on whatever time they wanted.

William Willett
William Willett | Image by ideastream.org

The idea of “Daylight Saving Time” wasn’t taken to seriously until 1907 when a London builder named William Willett wrote a pamphlet, The Waste of Daylight, in which he proposed turning clocks forward by 20 minutes on the four Sundays in April and changing them back on each of the four Sundays in September.  In the pamphlet he did give a reason for changing the clocks: “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings.  Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used.”  While he was taking an early morning ride he noticed that people kept their blinds closed to keep out the morning sun.  Changing the clocks would make that sunshine last an hour longer in the evening and allow the mornings to be less bright. The British Parliament passed on May 17, 1916 to formally start the time change to Daylight Saving Time, known in Europe as “Summer Time,” on Sunday May 21,1916. The energy savings were really noticeable during WWII when they set the British clocks two hours (then called “Double Time”) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time during Summer.

The adoption of “Daylight Saving Time” in the United States began in 1918 and the first time it was put into effect was on March 31,1918; it lasted for 7 months so that industries wouldn’t need to use artificial lighting during the evening hours.  Many people didn’t like the idea so in 1919 after the war ended and with serious protests, Congress using an override repealed the bill.

There has been debate over whether it is “Daylight Saving Time” or “Daylight Savings Time” but I am in agreement with the group that favors “Daylight Saving Time” because that is the term originally used to describe time period.  The actual dates of starting and ending “DST” over the years has now been expanded to start at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday of March and conclude at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday of November. It seems Oregonians may soon be able to vote on whether we want year-round Daylight Saving Time. Whether you like “Daylight Saving Time,” can’t stand it, or don’t care, we changed to it this past weekend, so deal with it.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].

It’s That Time Again And I Have Too Many Digital Clocks To Change.

///

I don’t know about you, but I get really tired of having to change so many clocks twice a year. I’m either Springing Forward or Falling Back.  The newer appliances and electronic devices are programmed to make the change automatically, but we still have many old ones that I have to change.  Every time I go from one room to another setting the clocks by matching the time on my watch to each digital clock.  Another problem I have is that, for some reason, I have a couple of devices that I’m not sure whether they change automatically or not.  There are times when I wish they would just decide whether we should be on “Daylight Saving Time” or “Standard Time” and get it over with.  Who started this clock changing anyway and for what reason?

Now that I have asked the questions I guess I have to answer them.

Benjamin Franklin | Image biography.com
Benjamin Franklin | Image biography.com

It all started with Benjamin Franklin when he was an American Delegate in Paris in 1784.  He wrote an essay, An Economical Project, describing his idea of saving an hour of daylight in the evening by pushing the clocks one hour ahead in Spring and returning the hour to the morning in the Fall. The U.S. and Canadian railroad systems started using “Standard Time” on November 18, 1883, but it took many years for the practice to be generally accepted.  “Standard Time” was adopted so that train departure and arrival schedules would match up in all parts of the country. Before that each railroad company set their schedules on whatever time they wanted.

The idea of “Daylight Saving Time” wasn’t taken to seriously until 1907 when a London builder named William Willett wrote a pamphlet, The Waste of Daylight, in which he proposed turning clocks forward by 20 minutes on the four Sundays in April and changing them back on each of the four Sundays in September.  In the pamphlet he did give a reason for changing the clocks:

William Willett | en.wikipedia.org
William Willett | en.wikipedia.org

“Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings.  Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used.”  While he was taking an early morning ride he noticed that people kept their blinds closed to keep out the morning sun.  Changing the clocks would make that sunshine last an hour longer in the evening and allow the mornings to be less bright. The British Parliament passed on May 17, 1916 to formally start the time change to Daylight Saving Time, known in Europe as “Summer Time,” on Sunday May 21,1916. The energy savings were really noticeable during WWII when they set the British clocks two hours (then called “Double Time”) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time during Summer.

The adoption of “Daylight Saving Time” in the United States began in 1918 and the first time it was put into effect was on March 31,1918; it lasted for 7 months so that industries wouldn’t need to use artificial lighting during the evening hours.  Many people didn’t like the idea so in 1919 after the war ended and with serious protests, Congress using an override repealed the bill.

Samuel Merchant | Image kbookscanada.com
Samuel Merchant | Image kbookscanada.com

Robertson Davies in his 1947 book, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, wrote: “I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind.  I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it.  At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.” Come on Robertson, tell us how you really feel!

There has been debate over whether it is “Daylight Saving Time” or “Daylight Savings Time” but I am in agreement with the group that favors “Daylight Saving Time” because that is the term originally used to describe time period.  The actual dates of starting and ending “DST” over the years has now been expanded to start at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday of March and conclude at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday of November.   Whether you like “Daylight Saving Time,” can’t stand it, or don’t care, we will change back to PST, Pacific Standard Time, at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 3rd, of this year.

Fall Back | Image ebckingsmountain.com
Fall Back | Image ebckingsmountain.com

What are you supposed to do on that date?  It is rather simple. At bedtime on Saturday November 2nd, or for you purists out there 2:00 AM Sunday November 3rd, you should turn your clocks back one hour (or as the saying goes ” Fall Back”).  The Fire Department also would like for you to test your smoke detectors and make sure their batteries are functioning.  The same goes for Co2 detectors and Radon gas detectors.  Having those alarms on the ready could very well save your life and the lives of your family members.

I am sure I haven’t changed the minds of those of you who don’t want to keep changing from “PST” to “PDT” and back again, but please feel free to post your thoughts on the matter as a comment.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].