A Tale of Two Ghost Towns

Today the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about Drawbridge, the ghost town in southern San Francisco Bay that I blogged about last month. Author Carolyn Jones reports that Drawbridge, which is off-limits to the public, is slowly sliding down into the mud. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers Drawbridge as part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, is neither promoting nor preventing decay: they’re simply letting Nature take its course. However, I have no doubt that vibrations from the frequent rail traffic—a dozen or more Amtrak trains zip past every day—hasten the deterioration of the buildings.

The Fish & Wildlife’s approach differs from that used at the famous Sierra Nevada ghost town of Bodie (also the subject of a recent article in the Chronicle), where the State Park Service is actively keeping the town in a state of “arrested decay”; that is, repairing the existing buildings with original materials, so that it continues to look the same year after year.

Today’s article also points out how we are creating modern ghost towns: empty office parks in Silicon Valley and half-built housing developments in the Central Valley, all victims of the recession. Somehow I doubt history will look back upon these with the same romanticism as Drawbridge and Bodie.

All daylight, all the time

It’s time to set the world’s clock to daylight time and leave it there, permanently. This silly switching back and forth should be given a dignified burial. Farmers get up with the sun, no matter what time the clock shows. Do the birds change their clocks twice a year? Many people don’t even have manual clocks anymore: their computers and iPhones already know when to change, hence the declining number of time change announcements from the news media.

I remain unconvinced by the various arguments in favor of the switch. As Wikipedia reports, “Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited and often contradictory.”

The time change is like getting on a plane—it’s an enforced jet lag of one hour. For some people, the loss of sleep makes a difference. A 2009 U.S. study, reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that on Mondays after the switch to DST, workers sleep an average of 40 minutes less and are injured at work more often and more severely.

So let’s just do it. All daylight, all the time.