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Messing with time

Friday, March 22, 2013 - Updated: 4:30 PM

"... The family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your congressman and ask for the repeal of Daylight Savings Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord's Time."

Thus ends an obituary written for Harry Stamps, an obviously much-loved gentleman from Mississippi. It is perhaps the best obituary ever, quirky and kind, sweet without being excessively so, and funny without silliness. You can tell his that daughter, who wrote it, knew him, loved him, and wanted it to reflect who he really was.

Besides sharing Harry's fondness for fishing, history books, and proper tools in proper tool boxes, I share his antipathy for the time change.

Given my druthers I would just stay on Daylight Savings Time, but it is the changing wherein lies the real rub. Like the animals with which we share our lives, we are governed by internal timing machinery. Disturbing it is not fun.

Living outdoors for several decades tends to impart the ability to tell time without electronics or wind-able things carried in pockets or strapped to the wrist. Just the passage of the hours and the changing of the light is enough to apprise outdoor folks of what time it is.

That is until the government steps in and moves the cheese. Twice a year, every year, we take a few seconds to reset all the digital and not-so-digital time keeping apparatuses around the house, and weeks doing the same for our internal clocks.

It plays havoc with immune systems, sleep cycles, and tempers.

Grouchy becomes the word of the day, with grumpy trotting right along in tandem.

Does anybody actually like the time change?

And if not, why on earth are we still dancing to that miserable tune?

Florida State Sen. Darren Soto has proposed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would keep the Sunshine State on Daylight Savings Time year round. If his measure is passed, Floridians would no longer fall back with the rest of us, but stay ahead of the pack all year.

Of course, as always when someone has a great idea, there are nay-sayers. According to Fox News, airline lobbyists think we are too stupid to deal with such a concept as having different times in different places. They think we would be "confused" by the difference in times. (Hello? Do they think we are too dumb to change our time keeping devices when we travel east or west?)

And then there is Arizona, which hasn't bothered to change time in 40 years. They voted with Mr. Stamps and eschewed Daylight Savings in favor of Mountain Time. This makes a certain amount of sense to me, even though I am a fan of Daylight Savings, as my favorite time of year is my personal mountain time up in the 'Dacks, but, wait, I digress.

Reasons given for continuing to flop the clock around like a freshly landed fish include theoretical energy savings because of more daylight during working hours and getting kids to school in daylight.

The latter is the only one that gets any traction with me. The sun is so anemic and frail in the winter in northern regions that everyone turns the lights on anyhow. That energy saving dog won't hunt.

Meanwhile, heart attacks and other sudden deaths escalate in the weeks following time changes. According to Science Daily, heart attacks increase by 10 percent on the days right after the spring change. "Exactly why this happens is not known but there are several theories. Sleep deprivation, the body's circadian clock, and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone's health."

The reasoning behind this is partly explained: "Every cell in the body has its own clock that allows it to anticipate when something is going to happen and prepare for it."

The day after your sleep patterns are messed up is not so safe in other ways either. Work-related injuries skyrocket. Also from Science Daily, "On average, there were 3.6 more injuries on the Mondays following the switch to Daylight Saving Time compared to other days, and 2,649 more days of work were lost as a result of those injuries. That's approximately a 68 percent increase in lost work days."

And then there are the car accidents. According to the Mother Nature Network, a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an 8 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents on the Monday following the time change. A 2001 study from Johns Hopkins and Stanford Universities also showed an increase on the Monday following the change.

And, as if the government messing with our biological clocks didn't cause us enough problems, we are more likely to harm ourselves right after the time change as well. "The 2008 Australian study found an increase in suicides among men following the start of Daylight Saving Time -- an increase of roughly .44 per day."

With all these potential disasters lurking in the wake of the spring forward into Daylight Savings Time, it is small wonder that the Los Angeles Times called the Monday after the change, "one of the most dangerous days of the year."

With all this evidence against changing time it is small wonder that there is an active movement to do away with the idea. Petitions abound against the practice of springing around like tempus antelope. There is a Web site Standard Time.com that advocates strongly against time changing. "If we are saving energy let's go year round with Daylight Saving Time. If we are not saving energy let's drop Daylight Saving Time."

I guess the good Mr. Stamps had it right. His family said of him: "He particularly hated Daylight Saving Time, which he referred to as the Devil's time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest."

Fultonville dairy farmer MARIANNE FRIERS

is a regular columnist. She blogs

at http://northviewdiary.blogspot.com/

     

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