What Time Is It Now?

I waited the other night till after the son had left for work, shortly before 10:30 PM, to have a bath.  I like to soak, and I took three books with me, but also wanted to see the Tonight Show. (Didn’t matter!  It was a rerun.)  That gave me just an hour, and three books can be quite a distraction, so I did as I usually do.  I took my old Timex work watch with me and placed it where I could keep an eye on the time.

As the water cooled, and I ate into the second book, I glanced at the watch – 11:10.  Seemed like it should be later than that, so I craned my head around the shower-wall (Which is why I take the watch with me.), and the clock above the door read 11:20.  Time to wash up and get out – or is it??  “Honey, what time is it?”  “Almost quarter after; the bathroom clock runs a bit fast.”

I had feared that the old Timex was running slow because I haven’t put a new battery in it since well before I quit work, over three years ago.  I have two wrist watches, the 20-year-old Timex which only follows me for a bath now, and a gold Rolex-look-alike which I only wear when I go out.  I’ll probably not bother to put another battery in old Digital Dan when he croaks.  The son wears exactly the same model, and I offered it to him, but he declined.

I never wear a watch in the house because I have All The Time In The World.  As I said, we have a clock on the wall in the bathroom.  I could adjust it to run a little slower, but it nudges the wife to be ready just a little earlier when we have a doctor’s appointment to get to.

You can’t get away from clocks these days.  They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!  In the computer room, there’s one in the computer, one in the microwave that the wife uses to heat bead-bags for her arthritis, and one on the wall.

There are two digital alarm-clocks in the bedroom, as well as the ones available in the TV, and through it, the satellite box.  The same set-up in the rec-room, plus the ones staring at you from the DVD player and the Blu-Ray.

With both a DVD and a Blu-ray, we’ve got rid of our old VHS.  At least if you couldn’t set the clock on a VHS, all it did was sit there and flash 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, but it worked.  In the kitchen we have a clock in the microwave, a clock in the stove and a clock in the toaster oven.  If the power goes out for any reason, we have to go around and reset all these clocks, or the appliances won’t function.

We also have a wall clock in the kitchen, and a desk clock in the living room.  It is said that a man with one watch knows exactly what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  With the exception of the wife-nudger in the bathroom, I try to make sure that every clock in the house is at least at the same minute.

I had an online discussion with Jim Wheeler about the number of gadgets in our houses which steadily eat our electricity.  The bathroom clock, the kitchen wall-clock and the desk clock all tick, even though they run on batteries.  All of the rest of them, whether I want, or use, the clock function, quietly, continuously, just keep sucking up the power.  At least the new 12-volt toys use far less electricity than the old 120 V units, but there’s so many more of them.

The first electric clock we had in my family home, was a 120V, plug-in model.  We placed it on the wall at a spot where it could be easily seen, and went to plug in the cord, only to find the receptacle about five inches too far to the right.  Oh well, says Dad, and firmly pulled the cord.  It plugged in but, for years, that clock hung on a 10 degree slant.  It lasted for decades, but, not meant to be on a slant, after about ten years it developed a noticeable grind-y whine, yet kept perfect time.

Towns used to set their time by the sun, and residents knew what time it was, vaguely, by town hall or church bells.  The development of railroads, in Europe, but especially in North America, created a need for some agreement on “What Time Is It?” over hundreds, or thousands, of miles.  Several others had proposed limited plans, but a Scottish-born Canadian, Sir Sanford Fleming, oversaw the birth of both a trans-Canada railroad, and the 24-hour, world-encompassing Standard Time Zone system.

The continued rise of, and finer division of, technology, has produced more and finer divisions of time.  This is important for both individual machines and systems, and co-ordination between/among numerous, far-flung operations.  GPS knows where you are, because it knows “exactly” when.  It’s just that I sometimes feel that I’m drowning in TIME.

They’re almost impossible to find, but I wish I had a microwave that just microwaved, a stove that just cooked, and a toaster oven that just heated.  I feel almost threatened in my own home when I roam around in the dark, with those red and blue eyes staring accusingly at me from the dark.  I’m sure I could make do with the wind-up timer the wife uses in the laundry room.

Good grief, you old Luddite!  Get with the 21st Century!  What next?  You’ll want a cell phone that only makes and takes telephone calls?  I’ll use the reminder app. on my camera phone to send you a picture of one.

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14 thoughts on “What Time Is It Now?

  1. 1jaded1 says:

    The only reliable clock I have is my phone. I don’t set an alarm. Every clock in my place is a different (and wrong) time, as is the one in my car. People do call me a Luddite. I haven’t worn a watch in over 10 years!

    It is rebellion for the constant barrage of meeting reminders and tight deadlines at work.

  2. And to think ancient civilizations kept “time” accurately with no tools other than keen observation.

  3. The worst thing about all the clocks/timers in the house, is some of them will have to be manually changed this weekend.

  4. Jim Wheeler says:

    Agreed, Archon, the compulsion to time everything is ubiquitous. Once upon a time, farmers, i.e., almost everybody, got up and went to bed with the sun, and when you think about it, that was a fine system. For farmers. Now, of course, even they have meetings to go to and market reports to study, and they probably want to watch the Tonight Show too. There’s no going back.

    Ovens of course need clocks if you want the convenience of programming. We’ve had a programmable thermostat now for 14 years – the way I know it’s time to go to bed is, it gets chilly.

    There was a law for many years that required all electric utilities to synchronize the 60 Hz power exactly to the precise time, just because so many electric clocks and other devices could depend on that for their accuracy. (This is why your old kitchen electric clock kept perfect time.) . I recall reading an article that because of the increased use of GPS for timing, that officials were considering relaxing that standard. However, I can’t find what became of that initiative and the link in the article is now broken.

    Glad you mentioned GPS. That is the essence of time accuracy and accounts for certain things being always correct, things like my cell phone, the satellite DVR, and the clock in our car (GPS-equipped). Of late I’ve notices that some of the new, bright and colorful LED street signs also have perfect timing (it agrees perfectly with the car clock) – they’ve got to be tied into GPS. Who could have imagined in the old days just how dependent on a space-based satellite system the world would become?

    • Archon's Den says:

      A young man where the son works thought that DST was to benefit the farmers, and was surprised to consider that they work from “can see” to “can’t see”, no matter what the clocks say.
      Technology is wonderful – as long as it works. The little tree in my back yard is my sun dial. In the opening episode of The Bionic Man, a watch-less pilot estimated a 7 AM meeting by the sun. :roll:

  5. garden2day says:

    Hahaha! Good one. A clock in the bathroom? Phone lines of the past I understand. The ex used to ask me the time (by sun) when we were out. I could usually get within 10-20 minutes which I never understood because the angle changes according to the day of the year. Throw DST in the mix and I have no clue.

    I quit setting clocks like the microwave because electricity is so undependable. I get it set and the power goes off again. I heard yesterday there was a political person (I don’t want to know who it is) in California who was proposing a 2 hour time change rather than our 1 hour. I only read the headline and that was too much. I like DST but poor ancestors. What ever did they do ;) ? They got up with the chickens and worked until everything was done. No clock needed-problem solved. Thanks for the laugh. :D

    • Archon's Den says:

      Yes, a bathroom clock. It helps get the wife places on time, but she forgets about travel time. Walks out of the house at 9:55, and expects to make a 10:00 doctor’s appointment, a half-hour drive away. The only thing saving us, is that every doctor is always late.

      Oh dear! What area do you live, that power outages are common? Saskatchewan and several US states don’t subscribe to DST, which can produce the two-hour difference at border cities with places that do.

      • garden2day says:

        :D Funny. Southeast US. We are still dealing with problems from the past month with the crazy ice storm. Not sure if we will ever get over this. I know it sounds crazy but it was the worst I’ve seen. In the summer same thing-power outages because of lightning or wind and such.

        DST-my thoughts: move ahead 30 minutes for everyone and forget about this flipflopping back and forth-that way everyone gives up something. Have a good day. :)

  6. benzeknees says:

    I stopped wearing a watch when I stopped working – I have enough clocks in the house (most appliances now have clocks) & if I really want to know what time it is I look at my cell phone!

    • Archon's Den says:

      Being at work was like being in a Vegas casino, they didn’t want you to know what time it was. I did the no-work – no-watch thing too, because of all the appliance clocks. If only they would function after a power outage, without needing to be reset. I’m too dumb to run a smart-phone, and too clumsy to carry one.

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