Friday, September 14, 2007

About daylight savings time

Indiana is daylight-savings-time challenged.
We've lived here since 1975, and this is the first year that Hoosiers have deigned to observe this energy-saving, evening-extending time shift.
The arguments against it have stunned me for over 30 years. It became a badge of honor for the state to totally ignore the time habits of the rest of the country (Arizona and Hawaii excepted).
It was the classic anti-lemmings argument: Just because everyone else is doing it, why should we?
And every year I would think: Do these people live in holes and never, ever interact with anyone who doesn't live in their county?
(And the answer to that is often: yes.)
Because as much as the anti-DST crowd bragged about how easy it was on Hoosiers NOT to have to change any and all of their clocks in spring and fall, they did not seem to notice the havoc it wreaked on their TV schedules! Because every year, when the rest of the country would change their time, and the TV stations following suit, all of a sudden the national news was on an hour sooner (or later), the prime time shows began an hour sooner (or later), and the news then came on an hour sooner (or later).
A couple years ago, the local stations discovered massive TiVo-ing, and all our TV during DST months became time-delayed. Even American Idol. Which meant that just about the time the finalists were singing their last songs, I could hop online and find out who won. Because reality is best experienced in real time.
The TV created a little blip in my evening viewing habits, but the real pain in the ass was at work--because we work with people all around the country (even, sometimes, the world). Regularly. And when trying to plan any out-of-Indiana meeting or conference call, it became a who's on first conversation of: What time is it there? Are you two hours or three hours behind us? Or ahead? Oh it's two hours now and three hours in the fall. Or the other way around. Imagine what it did to people trying to plan delivery schedules, or airline flights!
And it drove our families nuts--because they live in Ohio. And part of the year we would be on the same time, and part of the year, an hour behind. And no one could ever remember this, and if it was the hour ahead or hour behind, and so your phone would ring at weird times with people just want to say HI! Or, we would need to call them, and forget, and about 10 p.m. our time remember, and have to think: No, they are in bed now. Wait until tomorrow.
Well, one Republican governor and a hell of a cat fight in the state legislature later, the mountain came to Mohamed, and my impossible dream of Indiana finally coming into real time came true.
Our families are no longer confused (about this, anyway), our packages and flights are all straight, and it's a piece of cake scheduling concalls at work.
One thing. Just one. I miss that sunshine at 6:30 a.m. But not enough to fall back to non-observance.
Time to go. What time is it where you're at?

1 comment:

Bill Starr said...

Hi, Cathy.

My google alert on Indiana Daylight Saving Time pointed me to your post.

I agree that going to DST was a sane move for the state.

Like you, I miss the sun rising by 6:30 am.

I see the best compromise solution as putting the entire state back on central time, as we were until the early 1960's. I am lobbying my state legislators to support legislation asking the US DOT to do that. We weren't split into two time zones based on county-by-county petitions and it's unrealistic to think that we can be unsplit using that approach.

The natural boundary between eastern and central time (82.5 degrees west longitude) runs down the middle of Ohio and along the eastern borders of Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

It's easy to see why Ohio residents would have wanted to have the time zone boundary moved from the middle of their state over to the Indiana border. It's harder to see why anybody thought it was a good idea to move it from there to the middle of Indiana as happened in 1961.

If we were back on central time, observing DST with the rest of the country, central Indiana would have about 45 minutes of sunlight shifted from morning to evening during the 8 months of DST and about 15 minutes of sun shifted from evening to morning the other 4 months of "standard" time.

Without DST, the typical city at Indiana's latitude (e.g., Philadelphia, St. Louis, Denver, Reno) has sunrise 6:30 am or earlier from about the first week of March to the first week of November. With DST, the period with pre-6:30 am sunrises gets shortened to about the second week of April through the first week of September -- about 5 months.

On eastern time, Indianapolis has sunrises 6:30 am or earlier from about mid-May through mid-July -- about 2 months.

If the entire state were on central time, Indy would have sunrises 6:30 or earlier from about April 1 through the third week of September -- about 5 2/3 months -- much closer to normal for our latitude.

Best regards, Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sat, 15 Sep 2007, 5:58 pm EDT