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The Madera Tribune

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Summer winding down, but slowly

September 2, 2017

The Labor Day weekend has always struck me as the most ironic holiday commemorated in the U.S.A. In this country we celebrate the hard working men and women of America by closing down government offices, schools, banks, the post office and many private businesses.


Labor Day is typically considered as the end of summer or the beginning of fall but it really isn’t. California is a universe all to itself, and rarely does it begin to feel like fall until Daylight Saving Time ends on Nov. 5.


The debate on the merits of DST populates the Internet. What seems to be a majority (of people on the web) complain about the disruption in schedules the lost hour of daylight creates.


“Who but the government thinks one can take a pile of blankets, remove one from the bottom of the pile and move it to the top of the stack and have it result in a taller load of blankets” is one of the funnier anecdotes on the subject.


Founding father Benjamin Franklin gets historical credit for the idea in 1784, according to timesanddates.com. In the 18th century, altering the clock in this manner made sense when all artificial lights required a flame.


According to the not always reliable Wikipedia, Franklin suggested the idea as a joke in an essay titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.” He sent it to the editor of The Journal of Paris.


At that time, it was seen as a logical way to cut down on candle usage by sending workers into the field earlier as the days of spring increases the sunlight hours.


Since the advent of electrical light, the need for DST began to lose some of its attraction. Yet here we are 233 years later and modern man is still springing forward an hour in the spring and falling back an hour in the fall. That is the trick to remembering which way to set the clock.


Some people, and especially my husband Fred, growls that “they” should just leave it alone. He has the same attitude about Microsoft Window updates. He wants to learn how to do something once and then know how to do it forever. Today’s technology doesn’t like to work that way.


If a product doesn’t add new features, change its appearance and claim to work faster there would be no need to buy the newest product when it debuts. He swears computers have a predetermine fault clock that expires so that consumers are forced to hire help to keep their systems functional. Fixing a computer is often more expensive than replacing it.


Some software companies get to a point where they no longer provide support to older versions of their programs.


This frustration isn’t without merit. I took a class and learned to use Word Perfect just about the time that Microsoft Word became the most popular word processing program. Many of the Word Perfect skills were transferable to Word, but a lot of the shortcuts were different.


When enjoying the last holiday of summer, be smart. Pick a designated driver or plan to stay put if adult beverages are consumed. Law enforcement will be out in force with maximum road patrols and DUI checkpoints.


I believe life is good when no one is in the hospital, needs bail money or is under indictment. A DUI can cost upwards of $15,000 to resolve and can result in loss of employment, embarrassment to one’s family and jail time.


Contrary to the popular belief of people on bar stools all over the country, they can’t drive better when they are high. Knowledge of one’s inebriation will not automatically make you more cautious. Traffic accidents injure and kill thousands of people a year.


According to the New York Times, in 2016 more than 40,000 people were killed in traffic accidents, the first year to surpass that number since 2007.


“About half of all traffic fatalities involve unbelted occupants and almost a third involve drivers who were impaired by drugs or alcohol, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal government’s main auto-safety agency,” said the Times.


So buckle-up, slow down and be careful. The highways will be crammed full of cars, the lakes will be filled with boaters and the parks will be filled with families enjoying the end of summer. An abundance of chemicals in one’s system will in no way enhance the experience.


Have a great last weekend of summer.

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