Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bend Goes on DST (Dismal Sucky Time)

On Sunday, Bend, like the rest of America, went off Daylight Saving Time and back onto standard time. This means that the evening darkness, already arriving ridiculously early, began arriving an hour earlier.

Of course it also means that the sun rises an hour earlier, but who the hell wants to get up to see the sun rise?

Bend's suckiness -- the climatic aspects of it, anyway -- is largely the product of two attributes: its altitude (3,623 feet above sea level) and its latitude (43 degrees, 3 minutes and 23 seconds north of the Equator -- nearly halfway to the North Pole, and just one degree south of Bangor, Maine). These two attributes mean that it's cold more or less year-round, and cold and dark in the winter.

Bend's relatively high latitude compounds the misery of its dreary, cloudy winters: Not only is the sun behind clouds most of the time, but there's precious little time for it to shine during the brief intervals when the clouds aren't there.

There's a slick little gadget on the Web called the Daylight Hours Explorer that lets you determine how many hours of daylight a place at any given latitude receives on any given day of the year. The Daylight Hours Explorer tells us that on Nov. 9, a place at latitude 43N -- like Bend -- gets 9.8 hours of daylight. By Dec. 21, the winter solstice, it will be down to 8.8 hours.

On the other hand, San Diego, California (latitude approximately 33N) gets 10.5 hours of daylight on Nov. 9 and 9.8 hours on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year.

On the third hand, Nome, Alaska (latitude 64N) gets only 6.8 hours of daylight on Nov. 9 and 3.6 hours on Dec. 21. But who the fuck would voluntarily live in Nome, Alaska?

Of course, every place on the planet, from Nome to Bend to San Diego to Tierra del Fuego, averages 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness per day over the course of the whole year. Places like Bend that get relatively short days in the winter make up for it by getting relatively long days in the summer.

The catch is that the long summer days don't really "make up for it." The human organism can't store up sunlight during the summer and release it during the dark, dismal days of winter, when it needs it. That's why people in northern latitudes are prone to such afflictions as rickets and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So if you find yourself in Bend during Dismal Sucky Time, your choices basically boil down to two: 1) buy a light therapy device and lots of cod liver oil, or 2) move.


Anonymous said...


Quite possibly your greatest post evah! The Daylight Explorer is the bomb. Hmm.. wonder why realtors don't have that kind of info in their "Move to Beautiful Bend" welcome packages?

Right, wouldn't it be great if we could 'store up' all that well-deserved and long overdue sunshine for when you reall need it? Yeah no such luck.

I'd also add, it's possible that the lack of sunlight might contribute to falling T-levels in males? Certainly would make for an interesting study. Our MD prescribes Vit. D which both the myself AND the wife have had to resort to in an effort to fend off depression.

In time, all of these factors have a 'compounding effect'. Lack of sunlight = depression = lack of motivation = decreased exercise = weight gain = decreased t-levels etc. etc. And please spare me the "You've just got to do more outdoor activities 'regardless' of the weather!" bs.

Some of my friends are the biggest outdoor-types you'd ever want to meet, many are flirting w/ morbid obesity and look like they've one foot in the grave!

blackdog said...

Thank you.

Two years ago I got a light therapy device made by Phillips. It's very compact -- about the size of a portable CD player (remember those?)-- and it works quite well. I use it for 20 minutes every morning right after I wake up.

You're right, nobody LIKES to work out in shitty weather. Some lie about it and say they do, but they don't.

Anonymous said...

"Some lie about it and say they do"

Every Fall I see joggers going passed my office as I'm walking in to work at 6:15am. Great stride, great shape, a real picture of determination! Just "getting in a mile ot two" before commuting off to work!

Then... the crowd thins. And thins some more. By Feb? Zero. We all 'start' w/ the best of intentions but... in no time, The Drear wins out. And I don't believe it's b/c Feb. ( April!? ) is any more unpleasant than Nov? Probably more a matter that we're so psychologically 'beaten' before we even lace up those running shoes ( or move inside to the T-mill? )

Whatever the case, not positive developments. Every year I say I'm going to get one of those light thingees, would you say it's a measureable improvement? I mean, just attitude/health-wise? Curious...

blackdog said...

Those hard-core joggers probably are jogging on treadmills in gyms by February.

Re light therapy: Yes, I experience a perceptible improvement in mood from it, and also in sleep. I think it tricks your body into thinking the day is longer than it is.

Also it will help your mood if you force yourself to use the treadmill every day, even for as little as 20 minutes. Try it. Pretty soon you'll find you actually look forward to it.

Hmm, just thought of something: I wonder what the effect would be of using the light therapy device while treading the mill?

Anonymous said...

"using the light therapy device while treading the mill?" LOL

In the PNW ( they should come 'Standard'! ) I will def. give that 20-Minute-a-Day 'Rule' a shot. What can it hurt? Partly in jest I suggested alcohol might be the 'answer' in coping w/ our weather.

It... was a ridiculous suggestion. You wake up Sat. morning, it's socked-in foggy, chilly w/ forecast of more/same/worse and... now you're hungover! Bad combination. Physically AND psychologically. I fully intend to reserve over indulgence for but a few special ocassions. At least that's the game plan.

Nothing says "Our Weather Sucks" and adds to the depression ( quite like packing on a few extra pounds? ) Oh and if someone could turn the Economy back 'on' that'd be grea...t. Yeah, that'd be grea...t.

Spockgirl said...

Just came over here from Mr. McGeary's blog, and from what I have read so far, I may have to add you to my regular reading, because, you too have been able to inject humour into the daily retail "suckiness" that is my life, even closer to the north pole than you.

blackdog said...

What can we do but laugh, eh?

Anonymous said...

"the daily retail "suckiness" that is my life"

LOL, God love you Spockgirl! Whom exactly is "Mr. McGeary"? What our critics may fail to realize is that, there's an old Russian saying; "When you kick your neighbor's dog once a day..."

And, in their own particular brand of 'humor', it stops there! In the Russian mindset ( it's a complete thought ) While I have had many Russian neighbors ( and... relatives ) over the years, they've never felt compelled to finish?

So, I've only to conclude that this cumulative effect, day in/day out of getting a good swift kick, the dread of -anticipating- it becomes more detrimental to said dog's mental health, than any physical impacts ever could inflict? Wise folk. Make the best wine too.

blackdog said...

Duncan McGeary is a Bend merchant and blogger. His blog: http://pegasus-dunc.blogspot.com

Spockgirl said...

Thanks for answering the question. I haven't quite gotten used to "anonymous" commenters. A couple of my friends post comments only occasionally but sign in as anonymous. I suggested just making up names to make it more interesting. No takers yet on that idea.
And... I'm curious, what's with the Russian references?