The end of DST?

Twice a year we go through the process of changing clocks either forward or back when daylight saving time rolls around or comes to a crashing end. Yesterday I had to change the time on 5 devices and luckily a bunch more automatically changed. While this process is a little bit of a pain and losing the hour of sleep wreaks havoc on our schedules for awhile, I like daylight saving time as the extra hour of daylight is most welcome.

Recently, a member of the California Legislature has introduced a bill (AB-2496) to eliminate DST. While this sounds like it would simplify things and not subject us to schedule adjustment, generally everything I’ve read indicates that people want DST all year long and not have PST. Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t address that.

If people really wanted DST all year long and still get that extra “hour” of daylight, then we, as a society, have to shift our schedules and notions of when things start. So instead of having a normal workday be 9-5 (OK, I know that 9-5 is a cliché, but bear with me), we’d make it 8-4. Everything would have to shift so that we would have the perception that we have an extra hour of daylight; we wouldn’t gain an hour of daylight, we’d just start and end the routine activities (like work) early so that we can have free time when it is daylight. This, of course, is never going to happen.

Given that we’re stuck with either our current system of DST or ditching DST and not shifting our schedules, ditching DST is not easy. While yes we wouldn’t have to change our clocks, think about all the computers that automatically change their clocks. So now instead of Pacific Standard Time which assumes that DST is followed, we’d have another option like “California time” which doesn’t handle DST. This means that computers and IoT devices have to be updated to support this. It isn’t technically difficult, but rolling this out could be harder than the daylight saving time switch in 2007 (based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005) as consumers would have to explicitly choose this new time zone (with the last change, the rules which specify the DST rules just had to change with no user interaction).

If you take a look at an iCalendar entry, you can see that most modern calendaring programs already take into account DST rules.

    BEGIN:VCALENDAR
    VERSION:2.0
    PRODID:-//Apple Inc.//Mac OS X 10.11.3//EN
    CALSCALE:GREGORIAN
    BEGIN:VTIMEZONE
    TZID:America/Los_Angeles
    BEGIN:DAYLIGHT
    TZOFFSETFROM:-0800
    RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;BYMONTH=3;BYDAY=2SU
    DTSTART:20070311T020000
    TZNAME:PDT
    TZOFFSETTO:-0700
    END:DAYLIGHT
    BEGIN:STANDARD
    TZOFFSETFROM:-0700
    RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;BYMONTH=11;BYDAY=1SU
    DTSTART:20071104T020000
    TZNAME:PST
    TZOFFSETTO:-0800
    END:STANDARD
    END:VTIMEZONE
    BEGIN:VEVENT
    CREATED:20160304T043923Z
    UID:AAAAAA
    DTEND;TZID=America/Los_Angeles:20160311T220000
    TRANSP:OPAQUE
    X-APPLE-TRAVEL-ADVISORY-BEHAVIOR:AUTOMATIC
    SUMMARY:Some Event
    DTSTART;TZID=America/Los_Angeles:20160311T180000
    DTSTAMP:20160304T043925Z
    LAST-MODIFIED:20160304T043923Z
    SEQUENCE:0
    END:VEVENT
    END:VCALENDAR

Yes, EVERY calendar entry you have has DST rules in it because they are a mess worldwide. So while calendaring programs are already ready to handle a DST change, are we ready for it? Can you imagine someone in California scheduling a meeting for people in New York and Portland? People in Phoenix already do this, so it should be easy, right?

As much as I don’t like changing clocks and having to wake up the Monday after the change to DST to get ready for my day, I’m OK with the current system. I know that a recent study shows a link between the switch to DST and stroke, but there are also links between the Super Bowl and violence. Should we get rid of the Super Bowl as well just because of that? (There are other reasons to get rid of a sport that almost encourages head injuries, but that is a different story.)

One Reply to “The end of DST?”

  1. It’s the darn car clocks that are a bit of a pain. My wife’s 12 year old Jetta works one way, my 11 year old Tacoma another. My brain, well, doesn’t work too well anymore.

    But, at least we don’t have to set the VCR… the cable company does that (and no VCR on the end of it).

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