Spring Forward Fall Back
April 2, 2003 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Spring Forward, Fall Back... Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner. This Sunday at 2am to be exact, for Americans. This is just a friendly reminder. In Europe it's already happened. Time's weird. Humanity's been trying to figure it out since Stonehenge and we still have to reset our clocks twice a year. You think by now we'd have gotten it right. Even MetricTime would require regular fixin'. Why can't we just stop the madness? Or would that be even worse?
posted by ZachsMind (34 comments total)
And why do some people want to be rid of it?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:42 PM on April 2, 2003

I happen to live in a place of sanity, a place where the clock is not reset twice every year.
Oh joy.
posted by spazzm at 11:53 PM on April 2, 2003

Timekeeping is the bane of computing (well, after off-by-one errors). I am currently working on some software that must be properly localized for ALL timezones on this damn planet, and you wouldn't believe the number of special cases involved. Not to mention the fact that some countries (in Africa and South America) like to change the way they handle daylight savings time simultaneously with regime changes, which happens often but witout any degree of regularity that software can depend on. Why can't they get their shit together and have a violent bids for power every third Wednesday or somesuch?
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:53 PM on April 2, 2003

You should see the confusion just east of here in western Indiana every year. There's a section of Indiana that ain't havin' it, and just flops from central to eastern, and eastern to central time, just by leaving their clocks the same all year. Kind of a little corn covered surrealness, how they will change time zones by not changing their clocks.

Of course my favorite is the(I assume) urban legend about the lady who complains to the goverment every year about how the extra hour of daylight is burning her lawn up, and can't somebody do something about it? ;)
posted by dglynn at 11:57 PM on April 2, 2003

Oh please god YES! i am in favor of ending not only DST but all time zones. Please let's just, as a world, agree to use GMT/Zulu or something.

- signed: Sick of trying to parse time zone headers to figure out when an e-mail was sent.
posted by quin at 12:26 AM on April 3, 2003

Down with the tyrany of timezones. Perhaps the new regime in iraq can impose US central standard time along with CDMA or something. Sure, the sun'll come up at like 8:00pm, but people will get used to it. Eventualy the rest of the world will fall in line like dominos.
posted by delmoi at 1:36 AM on April 3, 2003

I propose to call this plan "The Project for a new american timezone"
posted by delmoi at 1:36 AM on April 3, 2003

This is a little time zone tangent...

When I did market research, I called someone up in Newfoundland? New Brunswick? Anyway, somewhere up northeast of the USA. She said they were an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Time.

Can this madness really be?
posted by TheFarSeid at 1:37 AM on April 3, 2003

TheFarSeid: Yes, Newfoundland is in a little half-timezone of its own, a half hour ahead of Nova Scotia & New Brunswick.
posted by misteraitch at 2:00 AM on April 3, 2003

Newfoundland was also, by the way, the first part of North America to enact daylight savings legislation (in 1917). As recently as 1988 the province experimented with double daylight-saving, i.e. moving the clocks forward by two hours.
posted by misteraitch at 2:15 AM on April 3, 2003

I interviewed a guy from Texas a few months ago, while Daylight Savings was in effect here in Melbourne, Australia. He asked me was it true that it didn't get dark here until nine PM. I said sometimes.

I still don't know why that surprised him so much. I expect darkness to fall somewhere between six and seven PM, generally. Is that typical?

Personally, I think Daylight Savings is an abomination, a most inelegant solution to an inignificant problem. If people want more daylight, why don't they decide to go to work an hour earlier rather than screw with something so fundamental to our existence?
posted by chrisgregory at 2:35 AM on April 3, 2003

Someday we'll all have our own time zones, synching as needed with local "timed" events: e.g. a trip to the train station (trains being the reason time zones were established).

Thanks for that lead post. Now I can get the proper changes in my calendar. Sitting in France right now communicating with my suddenly seven hours apart family and freinds makes my head spin.

I was sailing in the Caribbean recently and looking at a time zone map for the first time some years surprised me. There are quite a few half-hour time zones but my favorite thing is the Chinese time zone. They use only one.

I like the arrival of daylight saving time. I don't know why but I get a kick out of the late summer light (even though I know that an hour of that is an illusion).
posted by Dick Paris at 2:48 AM on April 3, 2003

In the UK we seem to have come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to go to CET (GMT+1) except for one point... it would mean that the kiddiewinks go to school in the dark in the winter. Do what?!?

Lets go to CET, ban the 'may contain nuts' and 'don't swing from powerlines' campaigns and increase the national IQ by killing off the deadwood. Yes, I probably wouldn't have survivied childhood, but is that really a bad thing? ;)

[on preview: dick, I think you'll find timezones weren't (directly) introduced for the trains. Rather that you needed a standardised time system which coincidentally meant (in the USA) a breakoff point. The world has always been the victim of timezones, just not very well controlled ones. ;) ]
posted by twine42 at 2:57 AM on April 3, 2003

I love that its now light until 7-8pm ish (UK), and if the farmers are against it then that's just another reason to keep it.
posted by biffa at 3:51 AM on April 3, 2003

Anybody remember "internet time"? Swatch made a big push for it several years ago...kind of liked the idea, myself.

Anyway, what I like about spring forward/fall back is that it provides a clear line of demarcation between seasons, so to speak...you KNOW that it's spring when the kiddies can play outside, in sunlight, until 8:00 pm or later, and you KNOW that fall/winter has arrived when it gets dark before Jeopardy! come on!
posted by davidmsc at 4:05 AM on April 3, 2003

Over the years, supporters have advanced new reasons in support of DST, even though they were not the original reasons behind enacting DST.

One is safety. Some people believe that if we have more daylight at the end of the day, we will have fewer accidents.

In fact, this "benefit" comes only at the cost of less daylight in the morning.

Egods, he's right!
posted by cohappy at 4:19 AM on April 3, 2003

The weirdest thing about DST to me is that some parts of the country simply ignore it, and the federal law seems to allow for it ... kind of.

Take the wonderful state of Indiana, for example. Technically, the state falls in the Easter time zone. The US Uniform Time Act of 1966 placed Indiana in the Eastern time zone, but in 1969, ten counties in the Chicago and Evansville corners of the state were moved to the Central time zone. Since then an eleventh was added. Five counties near Cincinnati and Louisville, while in the Eastern zone with the remaining 76 counties, do observe Eastern Daylight Time. Indiana State law, however, is allowed by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to keep those 76 counties on Eastern Standard Time all year long.

So there are three different methods of keeping time in Indiana Central Standard/Daylight, Eastern Standard, and Eastern Standard/Daylight. Some business and government offices have two clocks on their walls -- one with EDT and the other with EST
posted by marcusb at 5:03 AM on April 3, 2003

Twine, my understanding of the introduction of time zones comes from only one source and it is admittedly quite fuzzy since I read the book long ago: _The Discoverers_. I've seen remnants of our pre-time zone days in a few European cities -- the "ball" on the top of the clock tower "set" the time for each town. Each town had a ball that dropped at noon and, as such, a time zone all their own. (The "apple" dropping in Times Square at midnight on the New Year is the time ball's distant relative.) When trains started running from one town to the next, schedules were a mess because each town kept schedule according to their own clock. I could be wrong but it makes a great story.

The extablishment (and battle) for setting the prime meridian occured before the need to coordinate train schedules, aid in the creation of better maps. Greenwich, Paris and Washington were all in the running for that honor.

About Indiana: I lived in Indianapolis for a while and it is a time zone mess. Living in adjacent Ohio and doing business there was always confusing: which county am I calling, whose time are they on, etc., etc.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:14 AM on April 3, 2003

Also being discussed on Metatalk from a coding perspective.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:01 AM on April 3, 2003

An interesting read on the origin and need for time zones is Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.
I have family in Arizona and when they first moved there they used to remember that it was 'Go to the beach in the summer and the Mountains in the winter' as Arizona also flops time zones from Mountain to Pacific.
posted by geekyguy at 7:16 AM on April 3, 2003

Try living in a northerly area. Sun comes up at 4am, sets around 11pm in the summer. During winter we get 6 hours of darkness, maybe. I vote we switch to random time. Couldn't make any less sense on some days.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:59 AM on April 3, 2003

I'm in Indiana, and I'd just like to say that I'd appreciate it if everybody else would quit switching their clocks around! In the winter, I can watch A&E until 3 am, when it goes off air, but in the summer, it goes off the air at 2 am. I never have any idea what the time difference is when I go out of state (I visit Ohio... hmm... sometimes, there's an hour difference, sometimes there's no difference at all...) Sometimes I'm on the same time as Texas, but not New York, and vice versa. People ask me what time zone I'm in, and they look at me funny when I say "Indiana Eastern."

Everybody would be a lot happier without DST, I swear- no time change jet lag! No running around the neighborhood searching for an 11 year old to reprogram the VCR! And also, it would make me very happy, which is the most important thing at all. *removes tongue from cheek, exits, stage left*
posted by headspace at 8:01 AM on April 3, 2003

Without daylight savings, I wouldn't have had the chance to attempt to convince a couple of kids at the Grand Canyon that, yes, during the summer Arizona is the same time as Navada. Depsite the two being in different time zones.
posted by skynxnex at 8:12 AM on April 3, 2003

Well, I'll stick up for DST. I like it. I like having my schedule brought a little bit back-into-sync with the day/night cycle, and I like it being light out later, and everything I have except my wristwatch deals with it automatically anyway. It's never caused me any problems of note, and it's brought me some small pleasures or contentments.

Except in Indiana, which should make up its mind already.
Arizona is also split -- the state doesn't use DST, but the Navajo reservation does.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:47 AM on April 3, 2003

This was already tried some years back. Folks freaked out about schoolkids being hit by cars early in the morning. Don't you care at all about THE CHILDREN?
posted by HTuttle at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2003

I hate DST. I don't like mornings, so I'm perfectly content for them to be dark. Gimme the light when I need it: after work!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:52 AM on April 3, 2003

What I hate is the change from standard time to daylight savings. It is such a jolt to my system, especially in spring. It takes me about a week to recover from springing forward and having to adjust to doing everything an hour earlier. I say, let's just switch to daylight savings time and leave it there!
posted by Lynsey at 10:36 AM on April 3, 2003

I hate DST. I don't like mornings, so I'm perfectly content for them to be dark. Gimme the light when I need it: after work!

Uhhh.... I hate to break it to ya, FFF, but that's what DST *does*.

By late spring, daylight is running from, say, 5AM to 7PM, so there's an hour of daylight going to "waste" in the morning except for joggers and other insane people. But if we shift everything an hour later, then daylight is running from 6AM to 8PM.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:24 PM on April 3, 2003

Okay, then I hate switching back from DST. Whatever. Let my mornings be dark until about 8AM, and let the rest of the day be sunshine.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2003

DST matters more to those of us further from the equator. I love it. Double DST? Bring it on. Looking at the timezone map, Maine really ought to be 1 more zone over to the east, but it would cut us off even more. Maybe we could join Canada, since they have that nifty mapleleaf flag and all. Even better, can sombody do something about how dark it gets in winter? I hate that.
posted by theora55 at 3:47 PM on April 3, 2003

Okay, then I hate switching back from DST. Whatever. Let my mornings be dark until about 8AM, and let the rest of the day be sunshine.

Isn't it funny that what we call it makes such a difference? Why not just get up when the sun gets up? If you want more light after work, you're suggesting you'd like to go to work an hour earlier... but the number we assign that time takes on its own importance.
posted by mdn at 5:05 PM on April 3, 2003

I want and have always wanted more daylight savings time. Every year we get only 8-9 weeks of the dreaded Standard time before the Winter Solstice, but 14-15 weeks after. We simply don't need to suffer those extra weeks of post-Solstice standard time. March should be freed from the unnecessary cruelties of Standard Time domination!!!

(When I was younger, I also wanted one more week of daylight savings time so that there could be another hour of trick-or-treating on Halloween. But practically, I have to admit that the morning is too dark too late that week to make it practical. In fact, I'd be willing to give up a week of October daylight savings time to get a week of March daylight savings time if my heroic campaign to take back all of March from the evil Standard forces fails. E-mail me if you're the person to negotiate this with)
posted by gspira at 9:03 PM on April 3, 2003

Amateur astronomers, in general, don't like DST (pet peeve: it's Daylight Saving Time, not "Savings") because it doesn't get truly dark in the summer in mid-latitudes until after 10 p.m., which tends to interfere with the jobs that pay for the expensive toys we use to look at the sky.
posted by AstroGuy at 9:15 PM on April 3, 2003

I used to work the overnight shift. There's nothing more depressing than knowing you get off at 8am and watching the clock turn from 2:59 to 2:00. Even if you do get an hour of OT.
posted by Vidiot at 1:12 PM on April 4, 2003

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