Monday, March 12, 2007


NEVER BEFORE IN INDIANA. Through the instant magic of daylight savings time, it was still light enough to ride my bike at 8:00 pm this evening. Never before in the history of Indiana have Hoosiers had the opportunity to experience daylight between 7 and 8 pm as early as March 11. We just experienced daylight savings time for the first time last April! We’re not sure what to do with this opportunity, but it won’t take us long to find ways to enjoy the extra sun. I rode my bike while Sam practiced soccer out in Avon and still had time after we returned home to survey winter’s impact on our yard.

THEORETICAL SAVINGS. You noticed, of course, that daylight savings time started about a month earlier this year. And it will end a month later. Energy-saving legislation enacted by Congress initiates the "spring forward" time change in March and ends it in November--"fall back." Outdoor evening activity will be extended. Indoor lighting and appliances will be used less for an hour or two. Multiply that by multiple millions of households and you’ve theoretically conserved considerable energy.

THOSE WHO SAY "BAH! HUMBUG!" But there are those amongst us Hoosiers who deplore daylight savings time. "What happened to morning light?" they decry. It’s still dark as midnight at 7:00 am. And the day is still dawning at 8:00 am. It’s just not natural. Those who jog in the morning will do so in the dark. Children will stand in the dark at bus stops. And, besides, Indiana’s claim to fame—“nothing (er…time) never changes in Indiana”—has vanished. Now we’re just like everyone else. Bah! Humbug!

CONVERSATION ENABLERS. These are things we talk about: Time changes. The weather. Indiana’s university basketball teams that do or do not make the NCAA tournament. Who we think will make the Final Four (most of us become armchair experts about college basketball for a few weeks). Today’s and yesterday’s headlines. What’s happening on the roadways. I talked with folks about these very things today. They are conversation enablers. They aren’t intended to be the primary substance of a conversation; they don’t reflect what we really care about. But what we really care about usually won’t get articulated without a good measure of talk about time or the weather or the headlines.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. I used to think such talk was trivial and evasive. To me, it seemed pointless. I tried to avoid it or halt it abruptly or direct it elsewhere as soon as possible. But it became clear to me that I was breaking some basic rule of engagement. Sometimes, I could get folks to talk about substantial stuff sooner, but they were clearly not at ease and only talking at another level for my benefit. I’m learning—ever so slowly—to be part of conversations instead of a conversation agitator. When people are ready to talk about something of substance, it will come, if it ever does, only after we’ve established common ground in daily, local, regional, national, and global happenings. I can’t explain it, I just have to go with it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Re Daylight Shifting Time--I don't understand the energy savings. Last week I didn't need the lights on to get ready for work. This week I do.

    In mid-summer, the heat of the day will occur on the drive home--increasing greenhouse gases, increasing a/c use in automobiles, increasing a/c use in our homes (we turn our thermostat up when we are gone to work in the summer).

    How does that save energy?

    I keep hoping that the whole country will go to year-round DST, then we can safely move to the Central Time Zone where we belong and those of us who like morning light can get some! :)


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