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Time Zone Shift (copy)

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2008, file photo, Electric Time Co. employee Dan Lamoore adjusts the color on a 67-inch square LED color-changing clock at the plant in Medfield, Mass. Most U.S. residents will "spring ahead" this weekend. 

Well, once again, we're about to fall for it: On Saturday night (or maybe Sunday morning), we will go through our households and advance every clock (and every electronic device with a clock) by one hour. 

We will lose an hour of sleep as we again make the adjustment to daylight saving time. In theory, we get the hour of sleep back later in the year when we revert back to standard time, but everyone knows the truth: It's another hour of sleep gone forever. In a nation that has issues with sleep deprivation, this is no longer just a nuisance.

In fact, evidence continues to mount that our twice-annual adventures in resetting clocks are posing real dangers to our health and safety, especially when we make the switch to daylight saving time.

Just to point to one example: Research points to an increase in traffic accidents in the days after the March switch, as sleep-deprived drivers hit the road.

As for the purported justification behind daylight saving time — to save energy — forget about it.

A study by Laura Grant of Claremont McKenna College and Matthew Kotchen of Yale University concluded that the switch to daylight saving time actually increased energy use. The study examined energy use in Indiana, where most counties did not observe daylight saving time until 2006. By comparing energy use before the switch to usage afterward, the researchers found that electrical demand in that state actually increased by 1 to 4 percent annually.

As for the longstanding belief that daylight saving time was created to aid farmers, forget about that as well. Remember that daylight saving time, despite the title, does not actually create any more daylight — it just shifts an hour of it to the time when many of us are getting off from work. Farmers tend to work when it's light; they just adjust their schedules accordingly. (And, increasingly, the rolling equipment that farmers use is set up these days to run day and night.) As for farm animals, to paraphrase a recent report on "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:" They don't care about the time.

Here's the bottom line: We shouldn't be making the switch at all. We should choose one (our preference is daylight saving time, but it doesn't really matter) and stick with it year-round. 

Seemingly, the only reason we're still doing these time switches is because we have this sense that it would be hard to stop. But, really, would it? What would happen if we made the switch this weekend and then just, you know, didn't switch back? There. It's done. Our long national nightmare would be over.

And we would sleep easier (and an hour longer) every March.  

Stopping scams

An elderly Linn County man recently lost $29,000 in a scam that involved the purchase of iTunes cards. According to the Sheriff's Office, the man received a message on his computer telling him to buy the gift cards at local stores and to send them to an address; in return, the message said, the man would receive money. As you can imagine, it didn't work out that way.

But here's a question we have about this: If an elderly man is purchasing thousands of dollars worth of iTunes cards, one clerk at any one of those stores could have suggested that perhaps the man was being victimized. (In fact, we know of cases in which a savvy clerk was able to stop a scam with just a question or two.)

Would it be worth it to develop more formalized training efforts for store clerks so they can keep an eye out for customers who might be on the verge of being victimized? It doesn't seem as if that would be too difficult — and what better way to build loyalty among customers than to save them literally thousands of dollars? (mm)



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