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The Backyard Ramble - Daylight Savings Must Be Stopped Edition

March 8, 2014

I hate Daylight Savings Time, and I always have. I suspect that tomorrow, as you are awakened one hour earlier than you usually would be, you will hate it too. Each spring, it robs me of a precious hour of my life, tearing me away from Sweet Lady Slumber’s warm embrace sixty minutes too early and souring my mood for the remainder of the day. Why did we ever decide to do this to ourselves, and why do we continue to participate in this crude, ritualized form of instantaneous time travel? The answer to the former, of course, is war, and the answer to the latter, of course, is money. If you’re as confused as I was by those statements, read on, my friend, and the veil shall be lifted from your eyes…


Humanity’s sense of time has not always been as rigid as it is today: the Romans, for instance, measured time according to the actual amount of sunlight in a day, which meant that an hour could fluctuate from anywhere between 44 and 75 minutes, depending upon the time of year. At some point, somebody somewhere decided it might be a good thing to standardize the amount of minutes in a day, and modern civil time was born. (Sort of…you’re not reading a bar’s blog to learn the intricacies of the history of Greenwich Mean Time, so let’s just say it was created by Gandalf in 1682, and it made the world a better place) Then, a funny thing happened: Ben Franklin, the Tony Stark of his day, became the American ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War, and he wrote a satirical essay about how the citizens of Paris could save money on candles if they woke up before noon in order to capitalize upon the morning sunlight. (The French knew how to party back in the day, as did our boy Franklin) Strangely enough, Franklin’s joke was onto something: people generally don’t like the dark or the cold, and, in the absence of the sun, they will use whatever means they can to illuminate their surroundings and stay warm. This would not become important for another 150 years or so, but it was the kernel of the idea that would eventually give us Daylight Savings Time, and it all started as a goddamn joke the smartest man in the world told to himself because he was hung-over and bored. (Never let it be said that even the whimsiest of musings can't change the world)


About 100 years later, George Vernon Hudson and William Willett both proposed the idea around the same time from opposite ends of the Earth for very different reasons: Hudson, a “shift-worker” (whatever that means…I’d like to think it was the nineteenth century equivalent of “Rodeo-Clown,” but it was probably a terrible, alienating factory job) who studied entomology in his spare time, wanted more daylight to study bugs, and Willett, an outdoorsman, wanted more time to work on his golf swing. (This will become important later) Then, WWI broke out, and the Germans, who never seem to miss a trick, instituted Daylight Savings Time as a way to save money on their coal expenses. (Somebody over there probably read Franklin’s essay and thought, “Holy Shit! We can totally save some money while we are fighting this World-wide War against everyone!” The humorous tone of Franklin’s essay was likely lost in translation due to Germany’s proven inability to comprehend the concept of humor) The Allies soon followed suit, and, in 1918, the United States figured, “Fuck it, we might as well give it a shot,” and hopped on the bandwagon, because everyone loves saving money on coal. While Woodrow Wilson, an avid golfer (Hmmm...there it is again) loved Daylight Savings Time and vetoed its repeal twice, his second repeal was overturned, and America went back to normal for a while.  Since that time, it has been reinstated and repealed a number of times, but why? While the war-time rationale made some sense in the fact that people used less electricity while they slept, it’s not really the case anymore, thanks to a whole slew of inventions such as air conditioners, personal computers, cell phones, and everything else that makes the modern world different from the world of 100 years ago. Why, then, do we continue to do this? We continue it, of course, because Clorox, 7-11, the golf industry, and the retail and sporting goods industries want us to. Stil confused? Keep reading, my friend...it will all make sense soon, I swear.


In 1987, Clorox, who owns Kingsford Charcoal and several other subsidiaries, teamed up with 7-11 to form the Daylight Saving Time Coalition. It was estimated at the time that an additional seven weeks of Daylight Savings time would add an additional 30 million dollars per year to 7-11’s coffers, and Clorox would certainly sell a lot more charcoal if we had more daylight hours to spend barbecuing our dinners. (Not sure what the correlation between daylight and 7-11 is all about, but I can only assume that America drinks more Big Gulps when the sun is shining) The National Golf Foundation (And the third time's the charm) estimated that they would rake in an additional 200-300 million dollars as well, and the proposal was eventually accepted. In 2005, the retail and sporting goods industries both proposed extending Daylight Savings Time again, and, that push, in particular, is why our country’s collective hangover will be so severe tomorrow. To reiterate, we only do this because people  are making money from it, so let’s make a deal: I promise to buy  a few golf balls and a slurpee each year if they promise to put an end to this madness once and for all. (A few burritos a year is easily worth a precious hour of sleep, and I hope you'll join me in signing my "I will buy a few burritos a year" pledge in order to seal the deal and get us all back in bed where we belong)


That being said, no Backyard Ramble would be complete without pairing a beer with the occasion, and Daylight Savings Time is no exception to this rule. Given the fact that you will lose an hour of sleep tonight, you would do well to stick to a session beer, something with a good amount of flavor and a relatively low ABV so that the inevitable angry morning does not turn into something out of Dante’s Inferno. I highly recommend Slyfox’s Helles Lager, a Munich Helles Lager that clocks in at 4.6% ABV. Crisp and refreshing with a smooth finish and a mouth-feel that screams, “Party in my mouth, and everyone’s invited,” the Helles will dull the pain of your forced trip through time and leave you in decent enough shape to recover in time for work on Monday. Until we unite and rise up against 7-11 and the golf industry, it’s the best we can do to get through these troubled times.


See you on the flip side.




Disclaimer: I know it’s actually called “Daylight Saving Time,” but fuck it- I’ve added an “S” to it my entire life, and I’m certainly not going to stop now, so thanks for putting up with me.

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