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Friday, April 2, 2004   |    Non-Fiction

Time Is on My Side; No, It’s on My Side

by Alan C. Baird

The Intricacies of Daylight Saving Time

Silly Season, a.k.a. Daylight Saving Time (DST), is upon us yet again.

Residents of the European Union switch to Summer Time at 1:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in March, and all time zones change at the same moment (under the Universal Time system). It’s very efficient and well organized. Bravo, Europe!

But here in the continental U.S., time-changing is a little wonkier. For most of us, DST begins at 2:00 a.m.—local time—on the first Sunday of April. So each American time zone “springs forward” at a different hour. However, things don’t get really strange until we start dealing with the exception states of Arizona and Indiana.

77 Indiana counties are in the Eastern time zone and never switch to DST; they’re on Standard time year-round. But five counties near Chicago, Illinois, and five near Evansville, Indiana, are in the Central time zone and change to Central Daylight Time. Two other counties near Cincinnati, Ohio, and three near Louisville, Kentucky, are in the Eastern time zone; they switch to Eastern Daylight Time. Theoretically, it’s possible to build a house in Indiana with one time for the east wing, and another for the west wing. Depending on where they live and/or work, Hoosiers refer to the local time as “fast” or “slow.”

In the Southwest, our time situation gets even crazier. First, there’s the overall Arizona Exception: like those 77 Hoosier counties, most Arizonans refuse to spring forward. Then there’s the Navajo Rejection of the Arizona Exception: the northeast corner of Arizona is part of the Navajo reservation (which extends into three states) and in an effort to keep the same time across the entire Navajo Nation, they observe DST. But then there’s the Hopi reservation, which sides with non-Navajo Arizonans. Yes, the Hopi Partitioned Land, completely enclosed by the Navajo Nation, has declined DST… resulting in the Hopi Repudiation of the Navajo Rejection of the Arizona Exception.

Finally, there’s Tuba City, Arizona, which is split in half by the Navajo/Hopi border. The time in each store is determined by who owns the business—Hopi or Navajo—which means that in Tuba City, time is used as a weapon of tribal warfare.

Ah, the good ol’ summertime, when the livin’ is easy.

Alan C. Baird recently coauthored 9TimeZones.com—a print/Web/WAP project featured at the Whitney Biennial. Some of his online work appears in Locus Novus, minima, LitPot, Opium, In Posse Review, The Morning News, flashquake, 3am, Inkburns, the-phone-book.com and Quick Fiction. He lives just a stone's throw from Hollywood... which is fine and dandy, until the stones are thrown back.