17 Mar 2011

Daylight

No, this post is not about the corny 1996 action movie starring the venerable Sylvester Stallone - although remembering the moment where he emerges drenched from the Hudson River, only to have perfectly blow-dried hair in the next scene, still makes me laugh today.

Much like the protagonists in said flick, the people living in higher latitudes are keen to get back to daylight after their long dark winters, when they frequently arrive at work in complete darkness and leave the office again under the same circumstances. Unsurprisingly, many head straight to the liquor store after days like that. ;-)

As the northern hemisphere moves towards summer, days automatically get longer again. But for the past 200 years, various countries have at various times resorted to trickery to further lenghten usable daytime. They did so through the introduction of daylight saving time, also known as summer time after the effect it produces: Shifting an hour of daylight from mornings to evenings during the summer months. That's bad for roosters, farmers and beer brewers, but for the ever-growing class of white collar office slaves, the extra hour of after-work sunlight is most welcome. The dramatic increase of evening joggers, along with the melting snow, is a sure sign that as of last weekend, summer time is upon us.

It was the Bush Administration which, with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has extended the period of DST in the United States for three weeks into March, and one week into November, creating a temporary misalignment with Europe and a summer time which in fact covers almost two thirds of the year. They claimed that extending DST would help save energy, as people would use less artificial lighting in the evenings. Even though a study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that nationwide savings from extending DST amounted to a paltry 0.5%, most of Canada still decided to go along with the Americans - adding a time change to the usual border hassles was not applealing.

Unless, of course, you live in Saskatchewan. As I was politely informed by the CBC's morning news on Sunday, "all of Canada has set their watches one hour forward tonight, except for the province of Saskatchewan". That's right - time is a provincial affair in Canada, and those good people in Regina have decided to have none of this time change business. With the provinces around them changing time, this means that Saskatchewanians are aligned with Manitobans to the east in the winter, and with Albertans to the west in the summer. The fact that the prairie province is one of the few places where farmers (and roosters) still outnumber white collar workers is surely just a coincidence.

Daylight, clearly, is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. I assume it was in recognition of this fact that executives on the top floor of our corporate headquarters have decided to remodel the work spaces, so that only the selected few in walled off outside offices get any exposure to it at all. Unlike hens and roosters, mere humans such as yours truly are kept firmly away from any daylight year-round, lest this create any sudden bursts of energy in their biorhythms. All we can do is wait until it's time to emerge from the workday, to whatever outside condition awaits us. Or maybe we could just tear down some walls? Ah, where is an action hero when you need one!

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