Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight

Mark Ambrogi has a nice article at on the statewide meeting of the Central Time Coalition (CTC) at Monon Center in Carmel on Saturday, 28 August 2010.

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight --

Judging by the quick posting of over 300 comments already since the article went up this morning, the time zone is still a matter of much interest to many Hoosiers.

In skimming through some of the comments, I see that there is still some misunderstanding over the difference between the separate, but related, issues of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and the time zone.

Just to be very clear, the CTC proposes continuing to observe DST along with most of the rest of the country and world, but restoring most of all of the state to the central time zone (with individual counties able to request continuing to observe eastern time, such as those in the Cincinnati and Louisville metropolitan areas).

The geographic center of the central time zone is 90 degrees west longitude, running north-south nearly through Peoria, Illinois -- about 215 miles due west of Indianapolis.

The geographic center of eastern time is 75 degrees west longitude, running through Philadelphia -- about 645 miles due east of Indy.

The natural dividing line between eastern and central time is 82.5 degrees, running through the middle of Ohio and down the eastern borders of Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Geographically, there is not a square inch of Indiana anywhere near the eastern time zone, the natural western edge of which lies near Columbus, Ohio -- about 175 miles east of Indy and about 100 miles east of Indiana's eastern border.

Before observing DST, Hoosiers on eastern standard time already had about 45 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening year-round. During the 7.8 months of DST, those Hoosiers on eastern time now have an additional 60 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening, resulting in unnaturally late sunrises and sunsets compared to most other locations at our latitude.

Some folks talk about wanting to put a time zone referendum on the Indiana ballot. According to the following IndyStar article, a non-binding statewide referendum was conducted in 1956, asking voters their preference on Eastern versus Central time and whether to use daylight-saving time in the summer months.

A Brief History of Time (in Indiana)

"The only clear consensus that emerges is that most oppose the 'double-fast time' that would result from being on Eastern Standard Time and switching to Eastern Daylight Time in the summer."

Ironically, this is exactly what we ended up with some 50 years later.

Some who favor staying on eastern time are concerned about the early winter darkness we would have with central time. On central time, the earliest sunset in Indy would be 4:20 pm for the first two weeks of December. When it actually gets dark is around civil twilight, which is about 4:45 pm.

This only seems earlier than normal because the eastern time zone Indiana counties have not experienced "normal" winter sunsets since about 1961. "Normal" for Indiana's latitude is what you see at the middle of any time zone due east or west of us. At those locations, the "normal" early December sunset time is about 4:30 to 4:35 pm (Philadelphia, Peoria, Denver, Reno). So a 4:20 sunset on central time is more nearly normal for our latitude than 5:20.

The problem with eastern time for farmers is not the farming itself, but the evening activities such as childrens' sports, school board meetings, etc. that cut into the farmer's work day an hour more on eastern time than they would on central time.

On the 23rd page of comments, josefK wrote (perhaps tongue in cheek) that he supports Newfoundland time. Ironically, everyone whose clocks are set to Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 4 hours) is observing the natural clock time (Local Mean Time) of Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada (60 degrees longitude).

One thing never much mentioned is that many people have the schedule flexibility to shift more of their daylight to the end of the day regardless of what time the government tells us to set our clocks to. For example, the city of Columbus, Indiana has an 8 am to 5 pm schedule during the school year and switches to a 7-to-4 schedule during the summer break. Many businesses could do the same thing, effectively doing the same thing DST does, but on a voluntary, local basis, for those that want less daylight in the morning and more in the evening.

If or when Indiana is restored to its natural time zone of Central, any business whose employees want to have the same amount of evening daylight as they have now can simply move their day shift schedule an hour earlier. So instead of working 8 to 5 eastern daylight time, they can work 7 to 4 central daylight time and employees can have the exact same amount of daylight after work as they have now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Musings on old books, bookstores, and phone numbers

Wow. Way too long since I've been here. Twitter and Facebook seem to capture most of my online writing efforts recently.

I was just making a note in a Facebook comment about thinking that I have a copy of "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat when I got up to check my bookshelf.

I didn't find "The Law", but realized that I have two paperback copies of "None Dare Call it Treason" by John Stormer (1964).

The covers look identical. One is a used copy I bought somewhere (probably online) on 19 October 2002. It was the 20th printing, one of a run of 1,000,000 in October 1964.

The other is more interesting. It has my dad's name inside the front cover, in his own hand. It is the 11th printing, one of 400,000 in the third printing of July 1964. I see by my penciled notation that I finished reading it on 3 December 1995.

The faded inked stamps on the title page indicate it was distributed by American Opinion Library at 1514 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. I believe that American Opinion libraries and bookstores were an early distribution method for John Birch Society materials.

The phone number was MElrose 5-2891 = ME 5-2891. Today, we would know it as 635-3891, but that was back in the days when the first two characters were letters that stood for some recognizable geographical feature of the neighborhood with those phone numbers. Maybe this was associated with Melrose Avenue not far away.