Sunday, November 1, 2009

An hour saved is a month gained

Halloween was probably the most perfect of nights this year. There was a large, practically full moon lighting the way for the children, who gleefully ran through the streets from house to house seeking candy and treats. The night had just the slightest of chills to take the edge off a warm day, making a glass of wine (or was that blood?) a perfect libation to take it all in. Then, after a long night of merrymaking, it was time to sleep and to worship the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, the first man to propose Daylight Saving Time or, as some people refer to it, Summer Time. The idea first cropped up in the writings of Dr. Franklin in 1784 in Paris, when he was acting as an American delegate for the young nation to France. The idea took root when several Frenchmen ran with the idea, but nothing came of it until over a century later when British builder William Willett in his pamphlet "Waste of Time" proposed clocks be turned back 20 minutes for four successive Sundays in April and turned back ahead in the fall. Imagine dealing with four separate time changes in the spring and the fall. Daylight Saving Time has its critics, but with few exceptions statistics have indicated a one percent savings in nationwide energy costs. Not every state participates in Daylight Saving Time. Arizona and portions of Indiana do not as is the case for Hawaii and American territories in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa. Countries in Asia and Africa typically don't observe Daylight Saving Time either. Countries along the equator get equal amounts of sunshine and daylight, so it would make it foolhardy to implement it as well. During World War II, "double" Daylight Saving Time was implemented in Great Britain, meaning clocks were set back two hours for additional savings. Luckily, Daylight Saving Time has been standardized in the United States for some time. Implemented in April of each year, we lose an hour's sleep and retrieve that hour when we return to Standard Time, usually in late October (or, as it was technically this year, very, very early November). It's nice to get that extra hour of sleep and this year was no exception. But a curious thing happened. No sooner did I get back that hour than a new month loomed large. It is November, after all. I reckon it is only a little over four weeks from Thanksgiving and that means the holiday season is also fast approaching. Without fanfare one hour of rest was retrieved and, without expecting it, reality began to sink in. Planning for holiday parties means Mardi Gras balls and parades are not that far off too. I'm not trying to rush the end of the year, but I must be pragmatic. There's a whole lot less of 2009 left than we've enjoyed so far. Another year has almost lapsed and it won't be long before we are all caught up in the maelstrom that is holiday time, the New Year and (especially as it applies here in the Big Easy) the Carnival season.

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