Yesterday was one of the first days of the year that I finally got to see the sunrise at 0630. The sky was overcast but the sun peeked through a clear layer close to the earth and illuminated the tips of the 30 foot tall fir trees at my local park with a fiery orange glow. It had been so long since I last saw a nice sunrise that when I first saw the orange on the trees, I thought the neighbors were shining a massive light off their back porch and wondered why they would do such a thing.
That’s what life is like in far northern climates*. We go long periods of the year with late sunrises and early sunsets. If you live somewhere nearer the equator then this phenomenon barely registers if it happens at all. And it’s especially pronounced in Western Washington State because we are on the Western edge of the pacific time zone. That means for us here near Seattle, sunrise is later in the morning than even in other portions of our own state/time zone: sunrise today in Aberdeen (the birthplace of Kurt Cobain) is 0636, sunrise today in Spokane (birthplace of Candlebox**) is 0613.
But when I saw that sunrise yesterday, my joy was short lived because I knew that a change is coming on Sunday. See, we’ve got just a few days left on standard time, folks, before we switch to Daylight Saving Time and sunrise goes back to 0730.
Daylight Saving Time is such an annoying concept that even the name is intentionally annoying: daylight SAVING time. Not “savings” time as most English speakers would expect, SAVING time. It’s also a misnomer: it isn’t saving time. Time doesn’t change. The earth spins on its axis and rotates around the sun the same number of times before this great human conceit as it does after. What it does do is make sunrise and sunset an “hour later”. And for those of us in the far reaches of our respective time zones and in higher latitudes, that means sunrise today at 0630, sunrise on Monday at 0730.
This change is incredibly annoying if you have children. It means my teenage son has to get up an hour earlier to go to school next week. That means it’s even darker than the week before for a whole month.
It’s also annoying for those of us who need to do our fitness in the morning before work. I walk the dog for an hour every morning and I need to be on the road for work by 0730 in order to get the kid to school on time. For this one week just before DST kicks off, the sun has been rising at 0630 ish and it’s a wonderful walk: I get natural light, the birds are incredibly active, and my walks lower my blood pressure and help me welcome the day. But for the next month, I’ll be plunged back into darkness for my walks. It sucks. And before you say “well it’s only a month”, it’s not. Because of DST, this same phenomenon happens at the end of summer as well. Plus since George W. Bush extended the USA’s DST by a month, it means that those of us who get up early have an “extra hour” of darkness from September to April, 7 full months of the year.
There are some folks who want to do DST all year round. A lot of folks, actually. It’s funny too because a lot of places already tried this in the 70s and absolutely hated it. The first time they go to work at 0900 and it’s still dark out, or the height of summer and it’s still light at 2300, they will be begging to have standard time again. There are bills that have passed in many state legislatures, including Washington State, and the US Senate passed a national bill to make DST the standard time for the USA. We are very close to making DST the “law of the land”.
That’s fine by me, I’ll take it as long as we can stop playing around with the clocks. There is ample evidence that manipulating the clocks like this is bad for human health. And I know how annoying it is to me so I will accept daylight saving time as long as we do one more thing: make it so that kids go to school an hour later. And while we’re at it, let’s start work an hour later!*** Then you can have your precious “extra hour” of sunlight and I have time to walk the dog and scope some birds in the morning for more than 5 months of the year.
Oh, I almost forgot: Arsenal drew 2-2 with Sporting CP in Lisbon on Thursday. Arteta rang in multiple changes, none of which worked: Vieira is far too anonymous whenever I see him play, he has a long way to go to get into the first team; Matt Turner needs a few seasons on loan to a club which plays ball to feet football and is put under pressure before he’ll be able to start for a big club like Arsenal; Martinelli through the middle was largely toothless, though he nearly scored a Chelsea mk. II goal; Nelson on left provided very little and didn’t give hardly any freedom to Martinelli in the middle; Kiwior literally cowered on a header for their first goal; and Jorginho was exposed for his lack of speed in the counter attacks. It’s hard to tell whether the Portuguese side looked very dangerous, or that Arsenal team made them look dangerous. But despite the complaints and the now very clear fact that a huge section of Arsenal’s second team is scary, Arsenal managed a 2-2 draw and head back to London just needing any win to advance. With the home crowd, plus the number of suspensions they will have, plus getting our starters back, Arsenal should advance quite easily.
*Obviously the same applies to far southern climates like New Zealand, etc.
**There are two Washington States, one is Nirvana and the other is Candlebox. (I’m aware that Candlebox pretends that they are from Seattle but they will always be a Spokane band for me, because Spokane sucks.)
***I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this as my work is flexible but for most people this isn’t an option.