Living On The 49th Parallel

We’re a few days into Spring now, according to the calendar, but the temperatures outside still scream WINTER to me.   The sunlight, though, is definitely springtime sun.  Ever since this winter was declared the darkest on record since records began, I’ve been feeling the darkness much more acutely.  A few weeks ago, we had about one week of warmer temperatures and sunlight- a  Spring tease, if you will.

sungone

This week, it snowed again.  And it got cold, damned cold.

49thParallelThe problem is that Germany pretty far north.  Bavaria, where I live, is on the 49th Parallel.  In North America, the 49th Parallel roughly describes the border between the US and Canada.   For someone who spent most of his life up until 2011 in Florida, this takes some getting used to.

During the core part of Winter,  the days are much shorter than anything I’m used to.  This is especially true in late November and December- it’s night-time dark by the time I leave the office at the end of the day.  Last year, I actually bought one of those sun lamps that people use to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  I used that lamp almost every day last winter, and I barely noticed the omnipresent gloom.  This year, I mostly didn’t pay attention to the lamp, and the end result was I didn’t leave my apartment as much, I didn’t travel as much, and I was generally less interested in doing much of anything. My friends noticed I was especially grumpy for about two months, and that it was obvious that I was super cranky and unhappy.

Lesson learned.

The trade-off is in the summer months, though. I was astonished last year while visiting Amsterdam to note that it was still basically daylight after 10pm, and didn’t start to get dark until close to 11.   When we switch to daylight savings time this weekend, that will put sunset at close to 8pm.  I’m really looking forward to it. (The switch for Germany is on the 31st of March, if you’re wondering.)

As usual, Itchy Feet nails what we’re all thinking:

germany_sunset

Summer time is coming.  Do you prefer longer or shorter days? 

PSA: DST Is Coming, Or Only Flava Flav Really Knows What Time It Is

Most of the time, Germany is six hours ahead of the East coast of the United States.  For the next three weeks, however,  that’s not going to be the case.   This weekend, on March 10th at 2 am, daylight savings time begins in the United States.  On March 31st at 2am local time, Central European Summer Time (CEST) begins in Germany.  There is a span of three weeks between those two dates.

What this means in simple terms is that meetings with my US colleagues are going to be constantly mis-scheduled because every time we have a week or three between our respective time-shifts, Exchange calendar seems to go to hell.

I research everything I write about on this blog, because I always learn cool and interesting stuff.  I didn’t know that Germany was the first country to implement Daylight Savings Time, in 1916.  They did so to conserve coal during World War I.  It made sense at the time.

Even though it’s been a part of my reality for my entire life, I still think it’s kind of ridiculous in modern times.  Studies on whether it saves money or energy expenditure have gone all over the map- some have shown a huge savings, some have shown increased energy consumption, and some have shown very little change at all.    Other studies have shown that it causes disruptions to sleep habits, and one 2008 study showed that changing to DST correlates to an increase in heart attacks.

Do you think we still need Daylight Savings Time?