There are two looming events on our calendars that may further confirm the difference between compulsory law and bendable customs.

Rollie Atkinson Column Photo

Rollie Atkinson

The two news items have most likely never been linked in a paragraph before. One is the increasing likelihood of a presidential impeachment and the other has to do with the official time on our clocks. One is bound by the strict language of our U.S. Constitution, and the other is not. Looking at all the partisan bickering, ignored subpoenas, Twitter threats and quasi quid pro quos over the looming impeachment, we begin to question whether Congress and our president could agree on what time it is at any given tick of their clocks. Maybe it’s time to impeach them all.

As it turns out, what is deemed as “official time” may be more binding than our constitution. That test will be proven next weekend at 2 a.m. on Nov. 3 when all of us will be forced to turn our clocks back one hour and exit daylight saving time. Last year 60% of California voters voted to eliminate this annual time change edict. We supported Prop. 7 so we wouldn’t have to set our clocks backward, favoring a later sunrise and sunset times all year long. But federal law prevailed, and the Uniform Time Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1966, remains the law of the land. The penalty for violating this act is a missed bus or missed meeting.

We don’t like daylight saving time, and there’s not a thing we can do about it. It makes us grumpy. After Nov. 3 we will get up in pitch black until the sun rises at 6:30 a.m., and we’ll drive home in the dark when the sun sets at 5:30 p.m. Daylight saving time was invented to save energy and help farmers do their early morning chores. Go try and find a farmer that likes changing clocks and work routines twice a year. She’ll tell you that cows and chickens don’t use clocks, and the sun’s going to rise when it damn well pleases.

Wait, there are more laws about clocks coming our way here in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed a new law last month that will mandate later start times at most schools over a phased-in period of the next few years. When in full force, middle schools will not begin before 8 a.m., and high schools won’t open until 8:30 a.m. We recognize health studies support these later starts for young students but what will parents who have to start work much earlier do? Parents might get grumpier, but sleep scientists are guaranteeing them that they will have smarter children with better scholastic performances. Good, let the kids tell us what time it is.

Time is a deep subject. (We’re avoiding the debate over the Trump impeachment here.) Did you know there is a single clock that sets the official international times across all time zones and continents? It is the Master Atomic Clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Time is measured in seconds, the amount of time it takes a Cesium-133 atom to oscillate 9,192,770 times. Why? Don’t ask, just obey the law.

Winter Solstice will be at 8:19 p.m. on Dec. 21, our day with the least amount of daylight. That’s according to the sun, no matter what Congress says. The longest day will be June 20, 2020 and we will be ordered to revert to daylight savings time on March 8, 2020.

We believe between then and now that U.S. Congress will have finished its presidential impeachment proceedings, with hearings in the House of Representatives and a trial by the U.S. Senate. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we will “fall back” out of daylight saving time on Nov. 1, 2020, just two days before we elect a new president on Nov. 3. Don’t be late.


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