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Spin Control: Welcome to standard time, which is arguably not the ‘standard’

Clocks will fall back an hour starting at 2 a.m. Sunday, marking the end of daylight saving time.  (DAN PELLE)

Some people will wake up this Sunday morning and go about their regular routine, only to find they are an hour early for the first thing on their schedule.

They might head to church and discover no one in the parking lot if they usually attend the first service on Sunday, or find most people leaving the previous service as they are arriving if they go to a later one.

Or they may settle into their favorite easy chair with a cup of coffee or other beverage of choice to catch some of the pregame yammering in advance of the 10 a.m. Seahawks game, only to discover political yammering on “Face the Nation” instead.

“Dang!” they will say – or something else not suitable for printing in a family newspaper. “Forgot to reset the clock last night. Didn’t the Legislature fix it so we don’t have to change clocks twice a year?”

The Legislature did pass a law in 2019 – and Gov. Jay Inslee signed it – to put Washington on permanent daylight saving time. But that was really only the start of a process that winds through the other Washington, where Congress must pass a federal law allowing states not to switch back to standard time.

As she has since 2019, Washington’s senior senator, Democrat Patty Murray, is a co-sponsor of the “Sunshine Protection Act,” which is sponsored by Florida Republican Marco Rubio and has an unusual collection of some of the Senate’s most liberal and most conservative members.

Clock Change Trivia No. 1: A state can stay on standard time year-round, but it cannot stay on daylight saving time, because … well, no one has a good answer for that, other than it’s the law.

The Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate last year, but a similarly named bill introduced in the House didn’t even get a hearing in its assigned subcommittee.

Despite the catchy bill title, not moving the clock will not protect any sunshine, which will continue to fall on the earth in the same fashion as now. The title may be inspired by the annoying habit of television talking heads to describe the switch to daylight saving time as “gaining” an hour of sunshine and the switch to standard time as “losing” one.

It brings to mind something a former colleague used to relate about his grandfather’s likening daylight saving time to “cutting a foot off one end of a blanket and sewing it on to the other end (to) give him a bigger blanket.”

As people who work the graveyard shift or some early morning shifts can tell you, the former results in them losing an hour of noticeable daylight in the spring, and the latter in gaining an hour of noticeable sunlight in the fall.

Those with a view of the eastern horizon will have to get up an hour earlier to catch a sunrise, which can be as spectacular as a sunset.

Clock Change Trivia No. 2: Daylight saving time covers about 7½ months, while standard time covers only about 5½ months, so daylight time is arguably more of a “standard” than standard time. Perhaps that’s why only two states, Arizona and Hawaii, stay on standard time all year.

This natural diminution of sunlight due to the orbit of a planet tilted on its axis has some in Seattle moaning about “The Big Dark.” It’s a time when daylight hours are so short that many day-shift workers go to and from the job in the dark. (To be honest, some Seattleites have been bemoaning The Big Dark since sometime in late July when sunset moved below 8 p.m., but they’re probably the ones that complain about the temperature of the foam in their latte or a tap room that doesn’t have more than a half-dozen IPA options.)

While the darker days are somewhat a function of the rainy weather that accompanies the winter months, the clock change does exacerbate that shift, at least in the short run. Instead of losing a few minutes between sunrise and sunset each day, most people feel they lose an hour in one day.

Considering that the sun sets about a half hour earlier in Spokane this time of year, Eastern Washington residents might be somewhat dismissive of West Side kvetching about The Big Dark.

But for anyone who feels cheated out of a chunk of sunlight this week, there is an easy way to compensate.

Get up an hour earlier tomorrow. You’ll experience almost the same amount of daylight that you had yesterday, give or take about 5 minutes.

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