Letter from the Editor

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Time in a bottle

All of Iowa's Congressmen in the House voted in favor of the massive energy bill, which includes as a minor sidelight a four-week extension of Daylight Savings Time.

Starting in 2007, sunrise and sunset would be an hour later, with Daylight Savings Time stretching from early March into November.

Many otherwise quite intelligent people have attempted to explain Daylight Savings Time to me, and received only a blank gaze in return. I'm sure I've missed a vital point here, but for the life of me, I'm not certain why we set clocks back or forward, I never remember until I've shown up an hour late or early for my body wax, and I don't understand why, if Daylight Savings Time is good, it isn't good enough for all year.

Can anyone explain to me how changing the clock by an hour a couple weeks earlier is going to break our dependence on foreign oil? I'm told the co-sponsor of the energy bill has said that it's in there basically to make our moods sunnier. How nice. Gas under $2 a gallon would make me grin, buster.

You may remember that Ben Franklin first proposed a U.S. time shift in 1784, scheming to save on candle wax. That had to be the very first energy bill. Candle wax corporations, the oil companies of their day, probably hired lobbyists.

President Nixon imposed a near year-around time shift in the oil crisis of the 1970s, in hopes of having more good daylight working hours for the picking of locks on Watergate Hotel suites.

I'm not opposed to this idea. Time, that is, not picking burglarizing Democrats.

I'm too groggy if aroused in the morning to know if its dark or light, anyway, let alone to find two socks of approximately the same color. I have no idea what I would do with 28 extra hours of evening daylight - might be good for an extra hour of tossing the football with my son, an early-season/late-season bike ride, time to squeeze in one more Storm Lake Police seatbelt check stop.

Area Senator Jack Kibbie, Emmetsburg, recently floated a state legislative bill that would have made Iowa the only state to have year-around Daylight Savings Time. He was resoundingly ignored. Why? Because his last name sounds like a nickname for a wiener dog? Hah! - the joke is on the Iowa lawmakers - Kibbie was simply ahead of his time as an energy-savings genius.

Frankly, I've never figured out how to program the dash clock in my old truck, and I just have to wait half a year for it to become right again. If nothing else, Kibbie's idea would make me appear less of an idiot to my automotive passengers.

Heck, maybe with an extra hour, people will go nuts and go outside for a walk, a sit on the screen porch if they still exist. Maybe they will - gasp - talk to other people, go fishing, have supper as a family, all those things that we somehow lost the time to do somewhere along the line.

Yeah, I know that we don't really get any more time - just a change in the settings on our clocks, but never mind that. It seems like an extra hour, and we might as well slap that sunny look on our mugs and treat it that way.

Dang it, shut off those PlayStation 2's, X-Boxes, Nintendos, and all the rest of that mind-rotting junk. Unplug the laptop, and turn off the i-Pod. Give up a numbing reality show, dumb sitcom, another Cubs loss, Full House rerun or whatever they show on television these days - if only for an hour.

Not only might we recycle a few brain cells and get a bit of exercise for our lardbutted national image, the word is that an hour without household electrical stuff running would cut our national electrical bill, and in turn the oil demand, by more than 1 percent, and save $100 million-plus in our collective energy spending.

Of course, what most of us really need isn't just Daylight Savings Time energy legislation, but energy...

The kind that would get this column written before 6 a.m. on pressday for once. That would get the basement cleaned, the school clothes shopped for, the trees trimmed, the sibling fight refereed, the morning run completed on those days when I can't pick myself up out of bed, ad nausium.

Man, would I be impressed if Congress could come up with more energy of that kind for us. If anyone knows how to save it, let me know. I might even get all sunny on you.