Time is your uncle?

They say “you don’t know what you’ve ’till it’s gone.”  Not only does it make for the central theme of a power ballad, my direct experience since last week’s post has provided a reminder and proof.  I had mentioned before how I started this year teaching three online classes instead of my usual two.  Writing this post offers proof of survival, but that six-week run sure did take away what small chunk of time I had left to give on given day.

While I have some home time freed up again, time for work at SBU is still in short and fleeting supply.  I’ve ended up settling on this topic of time, as I did not make any progress on a certain project since last week’s post.  It’s nothing earth-shattering, or perhaps even mildly awesome, but one of many things I want to get the experience of doing, to know if it is something I could tell others, “you should do this.”

What is Time?  From our perspective here on Earth, we measure our day by the rise and setting of the Sun as we rotate around it.  Observations and measurements taken by generations before us has led to a construction of seconds, minutes, hours in a day, and how many days makes a week, a month and a year.  We’ve gotten so good, we now make corrections not just with a leap day every four years, but the occasional leap second.  After the recent earthquake in Chile, scientists say the rumble may have affected the earth’s rotations such that our days are now shorter by at least a microsecond.

But what if a human being or two is floating in some manner of craft, in a typical dark void of space?  Would they care as much to know what Time it is, when there is no rising/setting sun?  One of my favorite Einstein quotes is:

“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

Life can be easier when taken with the relative approach.  Mark the end of your day with the setting of the sun (most folks even now are up to witness this), rest before the sunrise, do what needs to be done while the sun is up.  But then we got clever.  Calendars and clocks mean we can plan, segment and regiment what will happen when.  And deadlines.  Oh my yes, we’ve all got deadlines.

And do they ever make cool whooshing noises as they go past, right Douglas Adams?

Time and electricity means we can do just about whatever we want, whenever we want to.  Go to work in your allotted time, and you earn the money needed to pay the electric bill to light your home and run your equipment.  Stay ahead of those deadlines from work and life in general, and you must be doing something right.


So, if time is mostly something we’ve made up, is anyone’s time more precious, valued, coveted, protected than an other person’s time?  Why do we use Time as an excuse?  More and more it seems I run into phrases and thinking which can be summed up as:

“I don’t have time to learn that myself, won’t *you* do that for me?”

I’m finding it harder to not take such thinking personally.  Yes, I may have gone before you and invested the time and effort needed to understand XYZ.  That does not mean I can just tell you a brief synopsis, or perform this ability for you, and have you know it like I do.  My time is just as precious (and yet imaginary?) as yours.  I made the investment, why don’t you?

Lest I come off as ranting or selfish, I am writing this as I am midway through pulling some Daddy Taxi Service duty for my youngest child.  And earlier this evening, I gave up a significant (relative to something?) time waiting in a pharmacy line to get the needed cold medicine for my oldest child.  When you live in the area code now associated with a chemically brewed drug, no more getting the good stuff right off the shelf.  My wife is finishing the second of three days (planned, and those plans can change) helping my father-in-law with pre/during/post of a medical procedure, away from us.  All of our time is relative, yet precious, and I think we, the human race, are better when give some of it to others, instead of just using it all on ourselves.

Excellent, I managed to write about Time, and not even mention that big N-zero birthdate, centered in the middle of the average lifespan, that I’ve got coming up fast.

Drat.  Or better yet, D’oh!

Speaking of Time and WordPress, why is my local time 8:20-ish pm, but this site thinks it is in the 2am hour on March the 3rd?  I know that works out to be the 6 hour difference in Zulu time from here, hmmmmm.


~ by Neal Cross on March 3, 2010.

6 Responses to “Time is your uncle?”

  1. Good post. I’m in area code 517, what kind of drug are we named for? 🙂


    • Excellent question. As a native of 517, what seems like a suitable choice? Something brought across the Canadian border/Great Lakes? 🙂

  2. Have I got a book for you, “Einstein’s Dream.” I hope you have TIME to read it 😉

  3. Excellent post, Neal. We’ve been having philosophical discussions for the last two days about time, ever since the Chile earthquake discussion arose. Some of our discussion (we are chicks, after all) centered around whether or not, if the day truly got shorter, we would age more slowly. I’m going with that theory, myself.

    Go, #teampie!!!!

    • I had not thought of that aspect yet. But if I understand my relativity correctly, I *think* your perception would be “I’m aging more slowly”, but the reality is, we keep advancing towards getting older?

      OK, I think I felt a synapse in my brain explode? Ouch.

      And, Go #teampie!

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