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1:34 pm EDT        80°F (27°C) in Hinesburg, VT

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I am making this update for two reasons: (1) I spent more time talking about Alaskan and Hawaiian time standards than those in the lower 48 states in my update last night; and (2) I wanted to have an excuse to update from Vermont — something I may or may not ever again get the chance to do. wink

As you may recall, I made two recommendations on time observance for the lower 48. The first of these was to shift the time-zone boundaries to where they belong based on longitude, and the second was to go to year-round observance of Daylight Saving Time. (To make a quick summary of the time zone changes, all of Michigan and Indiana, the western half of Ohio, all of Kentucky and Tennessee, the western two-thirds or so of Georgia, and Florida west of about Lake City would go Central. Places immediately west of Grand Forks and Fargo, ND; Sioux Falls, SD; York, NE; Salina and Wichita, KS; Oklahoma City; Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX; and from there south, the Interstate 35 corridor to Laredo, would switch to Mountain Time. Finally, all of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, and Montana west of Interstate 15, would switch to Pacific Time.)

Currently, it is places near the eastern fringes of time zones that get screwed in terms of maximizing the available winter daylight that occurs between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm clock time. There are places in Maine, for example, where sunset occurs before 4:00 pm local time (EST) for as much as a whole month out of the year. Chicago is another city that gets screwed; it is completely dark at 5:00 pm CST (the start of evening rush hour) from early November until around New Year’s Day. In fact, there are plenty of cities near the eastern edges of their time zones, such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Boston, and Milwaukee, that see sunsets somewhere in the 4:00 pm hour (local time), and complete darkness by 5:00 pm, for at least much of December.

The flip side to this is that sunrise in Boston never comes any later than 7:14 am EST, even on the latest-sunrise day of the year in early January. I have to ask the question, what is better in terms of energy savings — daylight from 7:15 am to 4:15 pm local clock time (in this case EST), or daylight from 8:15 am to 5:15 pm local clock time (EDT)? Seeing as “9-to-5” is the stereotypical American work day, I would go with the latter. Doing that would entail putting Boston on DST year-round.

I will grant that I have shifted the “screwing” to places on the western fringes of my proposed new time zones — north of 35°N latitude or so, there just isn’t enough winter daylight to make everybody happy. One city that would get screwed would be Cleveland; being in the eastern half of Ohio, it would remain on Eastern time, but under year-round DST, December and January sunrises wouldn’t come until after 8:30 am EDT. (Again, there is a positive “flip side” to this; Cleveland would never see a sunset any earlier than 6:00 pm EDT, meaning more evening daylight to get everybody home from work.) Other cities that would get similarly screwed in the morning, but reap the benefits in the evening, include Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha, Dallas/Fort Worth (yes, even that far south, it still happens), and Seattle.

I’m also trying to avoid resorting to “solutions” that would really do nothing more than create unnecessary headaches for people. For example, although it would make sense (in terms of timing of daylight) to exempt more southerly states from the observance of DST in the wintertime, you would create the massive headache of having to remember who is on DST and who isn’t. (It’s bad enough already with two of the lower 48, Indiana and Arizona, in the summer.) Furthermore, while creating half-hour time zones in between the current ones would also solve a lot of daylight-timing problems, I really don’t think that it would be wise to split the United States into as many as eight different time zones — it would be a lot easier to just move the boundaries of the four we have now. (People have a hard enough time doing calculations under the current four-time-zone regime. Then again, that doesn’t stop our northern neighbors, the Canadians, from using a half-hour time zone; Newfoundland Island observes GMT-3:30 as Standard Time and GMT-2:30 during Daylight Time.)

I’m going to have the whole weekend to get out to Chicago with this load, so I’ll have some time to kill en route. Now if I could just get these $^%(*@%$^#!$ to load more than one pallet every 20 minutes, we’d be all set. wink