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Springing Forward

by Christina Ritchie Rogers

April 5,2006

There is nothing better than sleeping with the windows open – it’s a simple pleasure for me. I always sleep better. And, with Daylight Saving Time, a good night's sleep is particularly important. After all, with an extra hour of daylight, we are all much more productive, right?

Established during World War I as a way to more efficiently use and save energy, Daylight Saving Time has been welcomed by some, dreaded by others, and whoops! forgotten-until-the-next-day by others. Though the exact dates have changed a few times, we have been saving daylight for almost a century. The theory behind its maintenance and longevity is simple and two-fold.

One purpose of the shift is that it encourages us to spend more time outdoors. For some, it is an opportunity to cut the grass, garden, work on the car, or clean the gutters after work. For others, it is one more hour to cook out, one more pick-up game of basketball, or one more round of hide-and-go-seek. Children love the extra playtime, and adults love...well, the extra playtime.

My friends and I joyfully welcome the warmer weather and the extra hour. The other night, we were lucky enough to seize an outdoor table at Thomas Street Tavern. The weather was gorgeous, and we closed the place. While there, we met someone visiting Charlotte from Texas for the first time. She commented on how clean the city seemed, how "normal" the people seemed, and how much fun she had outside Uptown. Like typical annoying locals, we then bombarded her with things to do while in town. “Oh you have to go here!” “And you can’t miss this!” “Did you see this yet?“ The poor girl got to hear all of the things we couldn't wait to do ourselves now that Daylight Saving Time had joined forces with the Carolina Spring. The night before, we had been out on Lake Norman, and the weekend before, we had been hiking at Latta Plantation.

In addition to providing more light for outdoor activity, "springing forward" is a way to save energy. The more natural light there is, the fewer electric lights we turn on – simple. The more time we spend outside, the fewer appliances we turn on inside – makes sense, right? In fact, President Bush believes the energy-saving potential of Daylight Saving is so strong that he has extended it beginning in the year 2007.

His decision has been met with mixed reviews. The reaction currently receiving the most press is actually one of grave concern. The pending extension of Daylight Saving has been met by the deep furrowing of technological brows. In fact, it is causing some Y2K-like fallout, reminiscent of the panic which ensued in anticipation of the electronic shift from '99 to '00. Apparently, a shift in Daylight Saving Time could have a similar effect (or, as was the case with Y2K, a similar non-effect). Gasp! Will our DVD players be able to handle the shift in schedule? Egads! Will our Tivo record the wrong shows?

Irony, while often funny, can sometimes be grotesque. Upon learning that we will have more time to be outside, to be productive, and to save energy by using fewer indoor electric appliances, we are biting our nails and taking antacids because our televisions might record Law and Order CI instead of Law and Order SVU.

You have GOT to be kidding me. We have got it too good down here with the weather and the city to stay indoors. My stance in this argument is not political, but rather ideological. I mean, who knows if delaying our “falling-back” will significantly impact our energy bills. I don’t. If it does, great. What concerns me most is the shear magnitude of personal and public concern for our indulgent forms of technology. Maybe it is the Spring Fever talking, but to sit outside in North Carolina, in the now-lighter evening, and worry about your television is appalling to me. Whether you’re a golfer, hiker, shopper, or sailor, there is a reason you live here. And it starts at this time of year.

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