Time Travel is Confusing (a.k.a. DST)

I live in a non-daylight savings state, for about 40 years now.

I never have to think about it until I’m going to call elsewhere in the US which is rare. If you don’t have to think about it often, it IS confusing. And I find the whole mess irritating. I can’t tell you how many times, after the time change people ask me to tell them what the difference in time is between their state and mine. My response is always, “No. MY time did not change, YOURS did. Therefore YOU, not ME are in charge of keeping track of this."

I find it a lot less confusing now that we have the interwebs to keep track of everything for us.:slight_smile:

Even more confusing for the clock-challenged in North America is that in Australia it’s often a totally different day – like right now, Sunday morning, it’s about 3:30 AM on Monday in NSW. Not only that, but everyone there is preparing for summer, even though we know that winter is coming, because it’s November, fer Christ’s sake. Plus, everyone there is upside down. Really, time differences when it comes to Oz are the least of the problems!

Anyway, I greatly dislike this time change game, but those who want to get rid of it rather inexplicably want to standardize on Daylight Saving Time year-round, which makes no sense to me. There’s a reason that “Standard Time” has that name!

What time is it?
You mean now?
-Yogi Berra

I can identify with the OP. I once had a friend (in NYC) who thought that if he called someone in California, it would take the person 3 hours to hear him. And somehow, if that person called him, he’d hear the guy’s voice 3 hours before the guy spoke. No matter how I explained it to him, he never did understand.

You’d think that it could be explained with just a globe, a desk lamp representing the sun, and series of grunts! :smiley:

I remember seeing somewhere (but cannot seem to find it now) a comparison of year-round applications of either Standard or “Daylight Saving” time in the US, whereby sticking to Standard time, or at the very least reverting to the older shorter DST schedule, would result in more of the country having more days with a closer to “reasonable” sunrise/sunset balance – that the hyperextension of DST in recent years actually resulted in too much of the country being unnecessarily dark in the mornings for not much evening benefit at the far end of the period. (One would imagine it should run symmetrically on either side from the longest day, but as it stands it runs a little over a month longer after.)

That however may not be wholly related to the very existence of DST per se, but to where the time zone lines are. These were mostly drawn for the convenience of the railroads (in North America) or of easing contacts with trading partners/allies/regional financial and political hubs. Thus for example you have Britain and France, or in the US Alabama and most of Indiana, in separate time zones in spite of being directly north/south of each other; and Florida’s Panhandle in the same zone as Texas’. In the US the Eastern and Central time zones cover a whole lot of area west of where it would “naturally” apply just by effect of longitude so the extra darkness or light at either stage is more noticeable.

A co-worker of mine thinks that standardizing on one clock for the entire world would be the best solution. I try to explain to him that that is a solution that is worse than the disease…

No, no, no. I hate standard time. I don’t want to go back to the old schedule. If you do anything, just get rid of standard time and let us stay on daylight time all year.

Hee. I’m imagining you dissolving into giggles in the face of her bafflement.

There are a handful of counties in the Northwest and Southwest that are on Central time but the majority has been on Eastern. To the best of my knowledge though none of the state observed DST until a few years ago.

I believe the decision on observing DST is a state decision, and which time zone you are on is decided by some other organization (I seem to remember counties having to petition to move).

I made a trip this weekend from my home in the Eastern Time Zone part of the state to the Central Time Zone part to visit my son (my wife ended not coming with me). As I left for my trip I turned my watch back an hour. That way I was on the time of the place I was going to visit which was perfect for when I got there. Then this morning my watch was already on the time for where I was returning to.

The TV show West Wing had a great episode where they were on a campaign tour driving through the part of Indiana where they changed time zones without changing states and possibly even throwing in the DST piece. They missed or were early for every event. It was funny but very realistic. I used to work with several offices in different states and it was always a challenge to remember how many hours apart we were in different parts of the year.

And I’ve never understood why so many otherwise bright people add an ‘s’ to Daylight Saving Time.


Doesn’t either Russia or China operate on time based on that in the capital?

The Wikipedia article on DST in the US has a specific entry on Indiana, and states this:

Note the “10 observed CST/CDT”, while the vast majority of the counties in Eastern time were only observing EST. If this article is accurate, then (at least until the 2006 change), all of the Indiana counties which were on Central time in those years observed DST, but nearly none of the counties on Eastern time did so.

if this is accurate, this fits my recollection of how it used to work, as well. I suspect that the counties in NW Indiana observed DST, in large part, to stay synced up with the rest of the Chicago area.

Wow… I never would have guessed it was 12 years ago that we joined the modern world by observing DST. I would have guessed 5-6 years.

I guess I never realized the “pocket” counties around Chicago and Louisville/Western KY observed DST. I guess I was more focused on how far off we were from NYC or LA since that is where I did most of my business.

Ignorance fought.

UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) is used in aviation (If I look at terminal area forecasts the times are UTC) and amateur radio and probably other fields.

When specifying wide area live broadcasts I prefer UTC, otherwise I have to use time buddy to figure out the time difference from me to (e.g.) German time. (it doesn’t help that the DST schedule is different). I know I am in the -5/-6 time zone.
My watch has two clocks – I set T2 to be UTC. (yes I am a geek)

I’ve heard some places are thinking about permanent DST and even DOUBLE DST in summer.


I grew up in a Canadian province that didn’t observe DST, and it took me a long time to figure out what going “forward” and “back” meant in that context. Finally I figured out “forward” means “add one hour to the clock” and “back” means “subtract one hour from the clock”, but it still isn’t intuitive to me.

One fun result of not having DST as a kid was having Saturday Night Live start at 9:30 in the summer, while it’s still light outside (we got U.S. cable stations from one time zone away, plus the extra hour shift in the summer).

Yes, yes, yes! I hate it when it gets dark before 6 PM. Being dark in the morning when I wake is a bit tough, I’ll admit, but I seem to get used to that very quickly (as when we advance the clocks in the spring). But, having the sun set before 5PM (which is what I have to look forward to until next spring) makes me feel as if someone has stolen my whole day.

Where, oh where are these mystical lands of which you speak?

For all practical purposes, Indiana’s already there. There’s no difference between year-round DST and being one time zone to the east of where you really belong, and as AskNott points out, Indiana is in that latter situation.

And now that they do DST on top of being one time zone to the east of where they belong, they effectively have double DST in summer.

China has a single timezone, set from Beijing.

I work remote support, and I list 4 relevant timezones in my signature for my customers.
I have to change it so many times during the year as those zones move in and out of Daylight Saving.

Fun fact: how to compute your real time zone (so you can check by how many minutes or hours(!!) the clock is off). This is called Local Mean Time.

First, look up your longitude; this will be some number of degrees east or west of zero. For example, Chicago is about 87 degrees, 41 minutes west. To convert to time, there are 24 hours in 360 degrees, 4 minutes in one degree, and 4 seconds (of time) in one minute of arc. So local time in Chicago is 5 hours, 48 minutes, plus 2 minutes, 44 seconds behind Greenwich Mean Time; let’s say 5:51. Now, Central Standard Time is UTC/GMT-6 – not too bad!