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Daylight Saving Time: Who Needs It?

Most of you are probably happy to get that extra hour of sleep Sunday, but at what cost? Think of all those days to come that you'll get up before dawn, plus, the drive home from work will be in the dark, because if you're working at all nowadays, you're working past dark either way in the winter.

Is that really worth the tradeoff? Who thought up this load of crap, anyway, and why? It was touted as a way to provide farmers an extra hour of daylight. What's next: We're going to mandate an extra hour of rain -- even during a drought?

"Farmers don't need it," a manager of the renewables division of a major utility said about Daylight Savings Time. That's probably so, because there are only about three family farms left in the country and the corporate farmers, the Archer Daniels Midland Companies of the world, make their own sunlight. "And," he added, "kids don't walk to school anymore."

No, instead their parents drive them three blocks away in their very own SUVs. That's kind of a bummer, because the main reason Daylight Savings Time got institutionalized -- after fits and starts in this country since WWI -- was to conserve energy after the oil embargo in 1973.

The research results on actual conservation actually have been mixed, and not just because of carpooling kids in their very own Hummers. Plus, the most conservation attributed to DST is mainly in March and April, leaving the rest of us wondering why we're jumping through hoops for an additional nine months each year.

Okay, justification #2: "Safer trick-or-treaters" says one of the clouds under "Why?" at this site.

It's highly unlikely this brutish practice will keep children dressed as Peter Pan or a Transformer or a budding Kardashian safer from threats like poisoned Pixy Stix.

And it cuts into time postal workers can be out on the streets, says one Houston letter carrier (Okay, Hair Balls' neighborhood letter carrier). The old adage about "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is apparently an inscription on a historic USPS building and no longer the agency's creed.

Speaking of energy, some of the workers most impacted by the DST transition days in the spring and fall are those who keep the lights on, literally: the "real-time" scheduling desks at utilities and other power-trading or -producing entities. They can't just blow off the extra hour this Sunday; they've got to make sure what lights are on stay on, by making sure the 25-hour day is scheduled with enough megawatts to meet their area's demand.

The result, when one utility trades power with another, can create a confusing mess for scheduling authorities like ERCOT if A dubs the extra hour "Hour 25," and runs the same schedule for both hours, but B refers to it as Hour 3, parts a and b -- and trades different amounts and different prices (maybe 3a with Utility A and 3b with Utility B). To mix things up just a bit more, there's not even common agreement on which hour should be deemed the extra hour: Is it Hour 2 (the majority of those in California) or Hour 3 (other parts of the Western U.S.)? Perhaps GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain -- with his amazing grasp of numbers -- should be in charge of reaching consensus there.

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Or maybe the "Abolish DST" groups on Facebook or a chat room near you are right.

But there's a compromise, said the utility renewables manager: "We oughta cut out the change altogether," he said, "and keep Daylight Savings all the time."

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