People have always made a stink about those clock changes when going on and off Daylight Saving Time. In fact, it’s been a bit of an issue ever since the monkey business started in 1918. Complaints vary: Some claim to feel out of sorts for a whole week (as if it was forced continental jetlag), that it increases heart attacks, drops productivity, incurs economic costs due to time wasted changing clocks or due to confused people not wanting to schedule flights, that it explains that extra snacking, why they missed an appointment, or worse yet, that they showed up early to church. Those with more of an historical perspective bring up the fact that saving an hour of lamp oil and heating coal to contribute to the summertime war effort might be a bit obsolete. Then, of course, others retort that DST promotes safety, a strong economy (in particular, the golfing and barbecue industries), and active lifestyles. It’s been documented that at least one sedentary middle-aged person got home in April and said, “Wow, it’s still light outside—I think I’ll try out that ‘frisbee golf.’” But on a related note, Jeopardy viewership declined by 1.3%, I think.
I do find the whole thing quite unnecessary, so I’m glad that the writing is on the wall: we may be finished with clock shifting soon in the U.S. (although the bill, approved unanimously on March 22 of last year, has had no further action as of this writing, and there are over 70 countries waiting patiently to follow our lead). I still have three clocks in my home that require a manual change procedure (two analog, one digital), so I especially wait with bated breath.
Abolishing the changes leads to a related debate: Whether to settle back to the original, traditional Standard Time or to call it a wrap after getting onto Daylight Saving Time, the latter option favored about four-to-one. Do we not understand that DST didn’t “save” daylight in the first place? We’re basically just shifting our wake-up time and work schedule here. Perhaps the “driving” motive is about extending sunlight for that commute between work and home, which, conveniently, are both quite well illuminated.
Instead of getting angry at the clock czars, why not take it out on those ominous dark clouds, or the more aggressive but occasional culprit, the moon? Yeah, right, you bellyache about the sunlight you miss because you are now simply waking up later, but then get all excited about a solar eclipse.
To be fair, I think economic inflation has exacerbated the angst. The cost of living has cut so painfully into our financial savings that we all want to save something. Yeah, daylight, let’s not be giving that away too!
When the shenanigans are done, I guarantee that plenty will complain about something they liked about it before. The reality, though, is that daylight is the result of two things: the season, and the latitude at which you live. Moving forward, may I propose some strategies for the true sun-seeker…
FOR THE VERY WEALTHY
Very northern latitudes enjoy copious amounts of sunlight, such as Banff in Alberta, Canada, with up to 16.6 hours in late June. This also happens to be a gorgeous town situated within a national park. Likewise, very southern latitudes glory in prolonged sunshine peaking in late December, up to 17 hours in Punta Arenas, the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region. This also happens to be a remarkable place, boasting brightly colored architecture and striking craggy peaks, and is occupied by local penguin colonies. Speaking of colonies, the place was started as a penal colony, but such was the case with several attractive locales in the southern hemisphere, strangely enough. Anyway, the prisoners have long since passed on.
So, the plan is simple. Purchase homes in each location and in late March, head to your “Alberta Abode,” and come late September, relocate to the “Punta Place” or “The Arena” or whatever cute name you want to give it. You’ll always have between 12 and 17 hours of the glorious orb available to you and will save so much money by not having to pay for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to treat S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). Sure, there is the cost of prime real estate and airfare to manage, but you’ll be swimming in the wealth of bona fide daylight saving instead.
FOR THE OBSCENELY WEALTHY
There is, however, a flaw to the hemisphere-to-hemisphere commute strategy: You still have that oh-so-conventional 12 hours of daylight for a good chunk of the year. The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the great equalizers—two time points every year around which all humanity must see the sun drop below the horizon for twelve hours.
So I propose another solution, involving not latitude, but longitude: Acquire homes in multiple time zones (preferably those that aren’t practically all ocean) and invest in a jet with a dedicated pilot. In those lovely latitudes between 45 and 15 degrees, you’re looking at a flight of about 750 – 1050 miles in the westward direction to gain an hour. (Yes, there’s going to be some math here, but since I’m doing it for you, I’ll take a small commission for it.)
Here’s how it works with a single time zone jump: Go wheels up around lunchtime, enjoy your sustenance and a couple cocktails, then take your daily nap in flight, or enjoy the view from the skies. With thirty minutes on each end for your shuttle and runway taxiing, and two hours for the 1000-mile flight (using a 900-mile westerly average plus a bit of north-to-south variation between homes, at 500 mph average speed), you are looking at a 3-hour lunch/siesta/chill time. When you arrive at your property-managed home, all things are ready, and you can wind your Rolex back an hour to match the clock on your smart fridge. Repeat this daily and simply train your body-clock to adjust to 25-hour days as you enjoy a repeated extra hour of diurnal light. At 45 degrees latitude, your shortest winter days will increase in daylight by over 11%! And your equinox-adjacent days, unlike for the common folk, will be “super-equinoxed,” thirteen hours of day and twelve of night.
There are tradeoffs if you try doing this for a larger time zone jump, such as for four time zones (either just for kicks or because you have yet to acquire more than a half-dozen global residences). One advantage is the slightly faster flight speed average along with relatively less taxiing and shuttling time. Whereas one time zone takes a 3-hour voyage, four zones would take (figuring on 520 mph) just under 8 hours, 45 minutes house to house. The big advantage is getting to set that watch back four hours! The disadvantages are that you’re burning most of the day flying and that jetlag is likely to be in play. It might be difficult for one’s body to adapt to 28-hour days. But try it, and let me know how it goes.
FOR THE COMMON PERSON
Remember, daylight “savings” is just an illusion created by changing clocks. Accept that you can’t stop the world from turning, and that you won’t be hopping between hemispheres or jetting toward the sun daily. So, try this (I call it the 3-4 plan): set your clock forward one hour every Thursday night, and force yourself to call it a night an hour before usual. You’ll be an hour early for work and your boss will think you are just super motivated on a Friday. You may or may not have the kind of job or boss where this will get you off work an hour early, but regardless, you’ll have a whole weekend of daylight saving! Then, set your clock back an hour Sunday night and you’ll hit Monday morning refreshed and in great spirits on account of those late sunsets you enjoyed and the bonus hour of sleep you just stole. Boss will be happy about that also.
We’ll see how this all shakes out, whether the madness will cease. I don’t expect anyone to apply my well-crafted hacks. But if you are not an economist, or outdoorsy, keep your complaints to a minimum. And most of us could at least be happy that we exclusively have smartphones and connected devices to do the springing forward and falling back for us—once I eradicate those three clocks.
Copyright © 2023 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.