Wednesday, May 11, 2016
In Praise of Daylight Savings Time
As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I always loved summertime. In addition to no school, there was a lot to love about it: Hot weather, baseball, swimming pools, fresh fruit, and long nights when it seemed as if you could play forever.
I still recall one particular game of Over-the-Line played at Balboa Elementary School, just down the street from where we lived in Glendale. Our three-player team had racked up a big lead, and the other team was coming up for its final at-bats just as the sun had set.
In the gloaming, every fly ball — every pop fly, even — turned into a potentially lethal missile, nearly impossible to see or catch. We got two outs early, but our invincible lead was melting as an ice cube would have on that same playground two hours earlier. Finally, with the lead down to one run, I snaffled a ground ball for the third out and we won the game.
It was 8:30. We walked home in the dark, laughing.
Plenty to Do After Dinner
I don’t go out and play with friends after dinner anymore, and maybe kids today don’t do it either. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the inexplicable pending ballot initiative to end Daylight Savings Time in California.
But even so, you’d think people would like long summer nights for other reasons. They give you time, when you get home from work, to run some errands, go for a walk, watch the sunset, or do some gardening after dinner. The earlier the sun sets, the less likely you are to do those things.
Look, I get that people don’t like changing time and setting the clock back or forward an hour. It’s a pain and it messes up your sleep patterns for two or three days. But isn’t that small price to pay for those summer nights? If the extra hour at night lets you catch one good sunset you otherwise might have missed, the change was worth it.
An Earlier Wakeup?
The summer solstice is on June 20 this year; sunrise in Santa Cruz that day will be at 5:49 a.m. and sunset at 8:31 p.m. The lingering light will mean you can still see without artificial light until 9 o’clock. That’s with Daylight Savings Time.
On Standard Time, we’d be having sunrise at 4:49 a.m. and sunset at 7:31 p.m. The predawn light means you’d be able to see outside by around 4:20 a.m. I’m sure there are people who would get more done with an extra hour of light in the wee, small hours of the morning, but a whole lot more of us are going to find the light a whole lot more useful in the evening, when we’re awake.
We are now at the beginning of what I call the Hundred Days of Light, the longest hundred days of the year. Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time are both man-made concepts, neither one inherently right or wrong. The critical question is which gives us the best use of those long days. That’s a no-brainer. It’s Daylight Savings Time.