Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dispatches from the edge of the Eastern time zone

It was dark this morning--until 8:00 a.m. It wasn't murky, it wasn't rainy, it wasn't foggy. In fact, today has turned out to be one of the sunniest days we've had in awhile here in Bloomington, Indiana. But this morning, it was just dark. Really dark.

About a year ago, I posted a short piece on the State of Indiana's decision in early 2006 to adopt daylight savings time. For those of you who don't know, most of Indiana used to observe Eastern Standard Time all year round. Basically, this meant we spent half the year on Eastern Standard Time and the other half of the year on Central Daylight Time. If you're confused, join the club. Nobody ever seemed to know what time it was in Indiana, except maybe those of us actually living here.

For most of last year, I considered Indiana's move to observe daylight savings time a welcome one, since it put us on the same time year round as my friends and family living back east. There were other benefits that followed, too, since Indiana was now effectively the western edge of the Eastern time zone. The best part was how the daylight lasted deep into the evening. In summer, sunset occurred close to 10:00 p.m., and even in winter, daylight would linger until about 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. That was a far cry from when I lived in New Hampshire. There, sunset in December happened around 4:15 or 4:30 p.m.

Anyway, the U.S. Congress has gone and mucked it all up by extending daylight savings time by two weeks this year. Those who observe the time change set our clocks ahead one week earlier than normal this past April, and this coming weekend--one week later than normal--we'll set our clocks back. The result has been the incredible darkness we've lately been experiencing each morning here in Indiana. By the time we do set the clocks back, sunup won't happen until close to 8:15 a.m.

Let me tell you, it's hard getting out of bed when it's that dark, even when you know, rationally, that you normally get up at 7:30 a.m. or thereabouts.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the restoration the move back to Eastern Standard Time will bring. Regrettably, it's only a temporary respite. The days keep getting shorter until the third week in December, which means, just about then, sunup won't happen until 8:00 or 8:15 a.m. again.

Who knows? Maybe the old, two time zone system wasn't so bizarre after all....


Bob said...

Here in Pennsylvania, our VCR clock (which updates itself according to some mysterious synchronizing magic algorithm) now insists it's an hour earlier. My wife reports that half the clocks at her workplace are also an hour off. What's the deal? Has some temporal distortion followed us here like a cloud of bees from Bloomington?

Me said...

Arizona still doesn't change time zones.

Ted Striphas said...

Bob: Funny, isn't out, how technology can get the better of us--especially when it's trying to "help?" Or then again, as you say, maybe you've brought some of Indiana's temporal distortion with you to Pennsylvania. Both are equally plausible scenarios, I suppose.

Me: I recall once passing through Arizona , thinking it was strange that the state didn't observe daylight savings time. Now I realize, as a time zone "border" state, that the decision probably is a good one. Stay strong, Arizona, stay strong!

Bob said...

Ah ha. Here's the answer ...