Summer time is out of age

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 9:24 | Posted in Personal | 9 Comments

This morning the European countries switched over from summer time to the normal zone time. It is a bit funny to talk about summer vs normal time, since we are out of the normal most of the year. Thus, the rule has become an exception and vice versa.

The North Americans call it the daylight saving time. That does not make sense either. How do you save something if you cut from one end and paste to the other?

The concept of doctoring the time may have made some sense at the age where everybody went to bed and got up at approximately the same time and worked the same hours. At that time illumination was a more important consumer of energy than it is today. Most devises consuming electricity are nowadays running 24 hours a day and people are much more individual in their rhythm of work and sleep.

The time switch is particulary stupid here in northern parts of Europe. In mid winter we have only a few hours of vague daylight each day and it does never really become dark in mid summer. It does not matter if those few hours of twilight occur one hour earlier or later.

The semi-annual time switch causes a lot of administering in different schedules. I do not have the latest information but at least a few years ago long distance night trains in Finland used to stop for an hour in the morning of the last Sunday of October so as not to arrive at their destination too early. This spring I was left in the dark with shampoo in my hair during my weekly sauna session as somebody had accidentally switched the automatic clock devise in the wrong direction and the lights went off. A few years ago I missed the annual meeting of my then sports club as I had forgotten to switch my clocks to the summer time in March.

At this day and age, the interaction between countries requires that decisions on time switch are coordinated at least regionally. The Estonian government ignored that at the end of last millenium and decided not to swicth the clocks along with other European countries. They did that for two consecutive years and managed to cause me quite a lot of practical problems.

It was more than a rule that I tuned in to nine o’clock TV news one hour too early. The first morning hydrofoil boat from Helsinki to Tallinn sailed off at eight a.m. as usual but arrived in Tallinn one hour too early to allow me to do my banking and shopping. I had to kill off that extra hour somehow but the again, I was that much busier in the afternoon to make it back to Helsinki.

It does make sense that the issue of time switching is decided by the European Union, just to eliminate the sort of stupid situations that the Estonian government caused before the Estonian EU membership. But has anybody in Brussels really raised the question what good the semi-annual routine really brings? Has anybody honestly calculated whether the damage is not greater than a possible gain?

I am convinced that the only reason to continue with this time doctoring is that it has been done too long to be questioned. If the time zones need to be re-estimated, then just do it for once but stick with them once they have been established. And stop this nonsense with switching the clock.


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  1. This clock-switch-nonsense really sucks, especially in March. It takes quite some time to get used to that other time. This night is a bit different for me as I didn’t sleep as much as I wanted. But then I’m possibly tired enough that I get to bed early enough.

  2. I was lucky enough to have been awake for 24 hours from Friday evening so I had no problem to hit the sack early last night. As I woke up this morning my clocks showed 7 a.m. but I realized it was only 6 as I turned on my radio. My clocks are already switched including the time display of WordPress which for some reason has to be done manually.

  3. Well, I switched my watch at 01:00 to 00:00, my computers switched on their own (although my one pc seems to get GMT from ntp since after the harddisk migration). Everything else I’ll have to see.

  4. My computer is still displaying summer time because I did not turn it off last night. I have temporarily a Linux running from a CD. I am going to buy a new computer on Wednesday which will solve most of my current problems, including this one.

  5. Well then I can suggest you to either buy a Mac or buy something that runs a nice flavor of Linux. You’d better not buy anything with Widows on it, except if you like pain. 😉

  6. Andre, I would definitely consider a Mac, unless I was as broke as I am. I have settled for a PC with a pre installed Linux Linpus. It is not the latest model but I figure it will serve me a good number of years. It comes without a monitor for 299.90 289.90 €. I can always buy a new monitor later. The same goes for adding memory. The box has 256 Mb which will get me started.

    The current situation is a pain in the butt because each boot will create a fresh swap division. Thus, all my desktop and browser options are replaced by defaults including keyboard, character codes, favorites, certificates and log ins. It takes about half an hour to adjust everything back the way I need it. And I can not download anything of importance. Not to mention that everything happens in slow motion. 😦

    Edit (31 Oct): I just checked in the web. The price of that computer has gone down with 10 €. I am going to get it tomorrow. 🙂

  7. […] Jah, ma olen nõus et maakeelset materjali on veebis ingliskeelsega võrreldes liiga vähe. Et aga juba kirjutatud sai, ei pea vajalikuks tõlget meisterdada. Seega, kes tahab teada, mida ma kellakruttimise kohta arvan, peab seda paraku inglise keeles lugema. […]

  8. […] switch sucks Just for the record, I still think exactly the same as I did last autumn: doctoring the clock twice a year is out of age. I doubt if the possible benefits cover the damage. […]

  9. […] if one time switch were not bad enough, two of them is at least one too many. And what the heck makes Windows think it would be the only […]

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