Tag Archives: time

Confessions of a rain-worshiper, or, why isn’t it called non-standard time?

It’s been over ten days since the switch from Daylight Saving Time (Please note: saving is singular, not plural) to Standard Time in most of the U.S., which might be a little late to be blogging about it, but a couple of comments passing through my social media streams compelled me to broach the topic.

I didn’t think to screenshot or bookmark either comment, so I’m paraphrasing from memory. First: "Rather than arguing about whether it would be better to have an hour of daytime before work or an hour after, shouldn’t we be asking why the workday is so long that it covers all the daylight hours in winter?" Second: "We have to get Congress to allow all states to stay on Daylight Saving Time year round! It is unacceptable to have sundown at 5:30 in the winter!"

I’ll respond to the second one before moving to the next: The sun is still up after 5pm where you are in the winter? LUXURY! The day I finished this blog post, November 17, sundown in the Seattle area was at 4:29pm. And it’s just going to keep getting earlier for the next month!

Sunrise on the same day was at 7:19am, so there were potentially 9 hours of daylight. I say potentially for a couple of reasons, one is that November is one of the wettest months of the year in our region, and so many of our days are overcast during that time. But also, it gets noticeably dark outside well before the sun fully dips below the horizon. Even with all of the blinds open, I have to start turning lights on inside the house shortly after 3 during November.

To be fair, the sky starts to light up in the mornings shortly before the sun starts to appear above the horizon. If you’re willing to count that as some of the daylight, on many days it would make up for the early gloom that happens as the sun gets close to the horizon in the afternoon.

When I’ve mentioned online how early sunset is here, I have been met with disbelief. And I get where the second post mentioned above is coming from. The same day that Seattle’s sunset was 4:29pm, Los Angeles’ sunset was at 4:47pm, while Houston’s sunset was at 5:24pm. Latitude (how far you are from the equator) makes a big difference in this!

The shortest day in the year at our latitude is about 8 hours and 26 minutes. Again, that’s counting from sunrise to sunset. so in theory, if you are only working an 8 hour day, technically there would be 20-some minutes when you aren’t at work and could see a bit of daylight.

Now if the person arguing about working hours is suggesting a workday of only 6 hours, that’s great. There’s actually a lot of research out their indicating that workers would be more efficient during such shorter work shifts. Right now, it’s difficult enough to get a job where you aren’t being forced one way or another to work well more than 8 hours a day, so I’m not sure how that would work out.

None of this is to imply that I don’t agree that we should advocate for better work conditions or that we need to abolish this abominable practice of jiggering the clocks twice a year. I am all for getting rid of the switch from Standard Time to so-called Daylight Saving Time. Which to be consistent and accurate should actually be called Non-standard Time. We’re not actually getting any more daylight hours during DST, we’re just cutting off the bottom of the blanket and sewing it to the top and pretending that there is more blanket.

We know that both the switch form ST and DST and from DST back to ST is associated with an increase in automobile accidents, certain kinds of sometimes fatal health issues, and temporary decreases in productivity. So we should stop doing it.

But you’re not going to win me over if you center your argument on how much daylight we get when. For one thing, it is just inverse of the same flawed argument used to justify DST in the first place. And for another, I’m one of the freaks who really likes the dark more than bright and sunny times. I love rainy and overcast days. I don’t mind the nighttime.

Which is part of the reason that from the beginning of Autumn through the Winter Holidays is, for me, truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Lost in time

Why aren’t you up?
I wrote last year about how the time change was messing with me worse than usual. This year I can at least blame the frickin’ high pollen counts that have coincided with it. I prefer to blame the pollen, rather than think about the possibility that it might simply be because I’m getting old, and bouncing back from things, even a simple time change isn’t going to be as quick as it was when I was younger…

Continue reading Lost in time

Where’d the time go?

Just hanging out this holiday.
It has been five years since I was laid off from my previous place of employment of 20 years. And the thing that I miss the most is still the paid time off.

A lot of other people have written about how stingy American employers are with paid time off. About how even at companies with policies which, on paper, appear very generous while the realities of work schedules require workers put in longer and longer hours. Despite studies showing the workers become less productive in those situations, we seem incapable of grappling with the problem in a meaningful way.

For me it manifests most strikingly at this time of year. I seldom took long stretches of time off at my previous place. I would take a week off in the summer, and I’d lake a few days off here and there to go to conventions, and I’d take a week off for Christmas.

And for several years I had gotten in the habit of taking off all the Fridays from Thanksgiving through New Year. And that’s the thing I really miss. I realize that part of the reason I seem to feel more tired all the time is that I don’t have as many of those little vacations throughout the year. And I’m getting older, which isn’t helping.

But it’s really noticeable right now, when I’m further behind on all the holiday stuff than usual. Each Monday that’s rolled around, the alarm clock goes off and I have this little argument with myself about how it can’t be Monday already.

And I feel like an ingrate for even feeling this way, as I know several people who are looking for work. Or have jobs that they don’t like (I love my job! I sometimes feel guilty for that, too!). Or just have much more complicated, busy, or unpleasant lives.

I would just like to stop feeling as if I need to sleep for a week.

Tilting at windmills

For some reason this year the time change is messing with me more than usual.

I’ve been going to bed early, falling asleep, and so far as I know sleeping soundly through the night. Yet when the alarm goes off in the morning, either I just lay there unconcious until Michael gets up and turns it off, or I stumble over, turn it off, and collapse back into bed for another hour.

I keep my alarm clock at the far side of the room precisely so that I have to get out of bed to turn it off. If I keep it on the bedside, I will just hit snooze again and again and again some days. I also have the clock radio portion set to turn on news about an hour before the alarm. Ordinarily, this nudges me toward wakefulness before the alarm goes off.

We used to have Michael’s alarm clock set to go off about a half hour after mine, just in case. Maybe we should go back to doing that, at least until we both stop feeling so dead in the mornings.

Neither of us are morning people, can you tell?

I’ve always felt a little guilty that I don’t hate Daylight Saving Time as much as some of my friends do. It’s the kind of thing you would expect me to rant about: the supposed energy-saving practice that actually decreases productivity, causes measurable increases in injuy-causing accidents, measurable increases in illness (usually attributed to stress), and so on.

If I keep feeling this crappy every morning for much longer, I’m going to to stop being so resigned and equanimical about Daylight Saving Time.

Not that anyone else’s rantings about it have had any effect. I’m feeling like that version of Rimmer from the first Emohawk encounter on Red Dwarf, wanting to organize a committee and bring out the big guns: a full on leafletting campaign.

Who’s with me?


According to the Shropshire Word-Book, written by Georgina Jackson and published in 1879, “It is called catchin’ time when in a wet season they catch every minute of favourable weather for field work.”

We have a weird relationship with time. When I was a kid, adults in my life put a lot of importance on how early one got up in the morning. If you were the sort of person who regularly got up at dawn (or earlier), you were obviously a morally upstanding, productive member of your community. If you slept in a bit later, but still got up “early” and started your workday sometime well before 9am, you were still a good person, though perhaps not quite as good and hard-working as the people who got up earlier. If you slept in until “all hours of the day,” there was something seriously wrong with you, and you were clearly leading a life of decadence bound for a (deservedly) horrible end.

Exceptions were made for people who had jobs that required them to work “graveyard” shifts, and the like, but even then, there were implications that this was only-just tolerated as a necessary evil.

I became especially cognizant of this in my early twenties, when I was juggling part-time college with multiple part-time jobs, one of which was a night job. A number of my relatives could not understand why I thought it was all right to sleep in past nine just because I had worked late, then stayed up to finish homework, and didn’t have to be at class or work until afternoon. They would quote folk proverbs and Bible verses at me about how early risers were healthy and successful, and only the wicked “slept the day away.”

Which, unless one is working in agriculture or some other vocation where sunlight is literally necessary to the work at hand, is nonsense.

While the human wake-and-sleep cycle is moderated by sunlight, it is part of a complex system of neuro-chemicals and hormones. The release of some of those chemicals are stimulated by the detection of sunlight, but it isn’t exactly the same in every person. There really are some people who are biologically wired to be morning people, some that aren’t, and even some who are definitely night people.

I am not one of those morning people. Getting me up and about before sunrise is a seriously unpleasant chore, no matter how early I go to bed. Even when I do get up regularly at a particular hour after a good night’s sleep, my brain never feels as if it is firing on all cylinders until a couple of hours after sunrise. In the summertime that’s no problem, but in winter—when sunrise at my latitude doesn’t happen until nearly 8 am—that makes working a 9-to-5 office job less than ideal.

Which is why I’m grateful that at least some flextime is fairly standard in my industry for my kind of work.

The flip side is that in the summer, when sunrise is much earlier, it’s a lot easier for me to get into the office and productive earlier in the day, and more likely that I will leave the office earlier, so that I can enjoy the sunny evenings.

Which is why I have a lot less hatred for the arbitrary annual movement of the clock forward and back than many of my friends. I understand perfectly well that the amount of sunlight we get in the summer is the same, no matter what any of us arbitrarily set our clocks to. But, because the official business world does follow that convention, and even in a flextime environment, one is expected to stay at the office until that hour hand creeps into the vicinity of the 5, the artificial temporary movement of that hour to earlier in the solar day gives me more time to appreciate and enjoy the sun when I am awake and out of the office.

So, it works for me. I’m sorry that it does nothing more than annoy some others.