Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - Updated: 2:13 PM
The good news: summer is closer than it feels.
Seriously, it’s coming. I know everyone has gotten their hopes up lately only to run out of the house one morning in shorts and a shirt only to find a bird frozen to the front porch feeder. Don’t give up. Start digging through the closet for that camping tent or use the leaf blower to get the dust off the boat.
In less than a week days will start getting longer. Daylight saving time will have folks moving their clocks an hour forward Sunday. Coincidentally it’s also this writer’s birthday.
Luckily, for me, the shortest day of the year is also the day people remind you regularly that you’re old.
Which is not a good thing if a Reuters report last year is to be believed. According to the authors, “switching over to daylight saving time, and losing one hour of sleep, raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25 percent, compared to other Mondays during the year....” Researchers examined admissions at 42,000 hospitals and found an “average of 32 patients had heart attacks on any given Monday” and an average of 40 on post-DST Mondays.
It’s also been linked (loosely) to relationship woes and on-the-job accidents.
In short, daylight saving time is trying to wreck your life.
And who do we have to thank for it? Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin — an otherwise brilliant and underrated historical figure — wrote a satirical essay one morning after being awoken early by the sun. Franklin was in Paris at the time, serving as America’s first ambassador to the European superpower that was home to un-superpowered mimes. He jokingly wrote that Parisians could save the equivalent of $200 million in today’s money by using the sun instead of candles.
As with any joke, a politician lacking a sense of humor but apt to taking suggestions turned the essay into a money saving plan. Soon, both America and several European countries were fiddling with their clocks to save candles and coal. America made the switch in 1918 as part of its war effort, a move that — contrary to popular belief — was opposed by many farmers.
More people should learn a life lesson from daylight savings time and Franklin’s “suggestion.” Avoid making jokes because there’s somebody out there foolish enough to believe it and stubborn enough to turn it into reality.