Taking A Little Time Out For Time
Today's topic, ladies and gentleman, is: Time. We're going
to talk about time today because I never seem to have enough
of it. And I figure that if I dedicate a whole column to the
subject of time and stress some of it's finer points, then
perhaps Father Time will show his appreciation by granting me
a few extra hours each day. This will allow me to be able to
complete a couple more important tasks each day such as hitting
the 'Snooze' button on my alarm clock at least 15 more
times each morning. And speaking of snoozing, there will be
none of that during today's lesson which will begin right now:
Time is defined by the The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language as: 'A nonspatial continuum in which events occur
in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the
present to the future.' This definition leads us to the obvious
question: If a definition contains 20 word, 5 of which contain 10
or more letters, and it still doesn't make much sense, isn't it
time to get another dictionary?
Of course, dictionaries aren't the only people who have trouble
with time. The ancient Mayans, for example, struggled to
understand time for centuries and never got it quite right.
One look at their calender clues you in to this fact. The
Mayan calender had 18 months, one of which was called ChikChan
(short for May), and each month had 20 days. There was even one
month, Wayeb, that had only 5 days. As you can imagine, this
horribly inaccurate calender made scheduling important events
like the Super Bowl next to impossible. It also left them wide
open to insults from other ancient civilizations, like the
Sumerians for example, who had fairly accurate calenders.
The Sumerian calender had 365 days per year and even incorporated
a leap year. Sadly, there was no Presidents Day, Martin Luther
King Day, or Arbor Day incorporated into the Sumerian calender
which is why the Sumerian civilization was eventually wiped out.
Such flagrant calender discrimination, even in the Dark Ages,
could not be tolerated.
Since we have covered all pertinent information available about
calenders, I think it's high time we expand our understanding of
time by discussing another mechanism by which we mortals judge the
passing of it. But first, does anyone know where the phrase
'high time' comes from? Is there such a thing as 'low time'. Feel
free to ponder these questions quietly as we move on to discussing:
A clock, for those of you who don't know, is
defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language as...Wait a second! Let's not even go there. We're
already pretty confused as it is. Let's just all agree that a
clock is a device that has lots of numbers and two arms and
makes it's living by juggling minutes and seconds.
I feel the extreme need to insert a time cliche here. This
cliche makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and probably has
pagan, barbaric origins, but I think it summarizes what
we've learned thus far in our discussion. So here goes our
first time cliche 'A stitch in time saves nine'. And now back
to the show.
There have been numerous different kinds of clocks throughout
history. Many of them made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
A good example of this is the ancient Egyptian water clock,
which was basically just a bowl with a hole in the bottom of
it. There were markings on the inside of the bowl that measured
the passage of 'hours' as the water level reached them. One of
the obvious problems with this clock was the fact that whenever
working-class Egyptians wanted to get off work early they would
keep taking little sips of water from the bowl/clock throughout
the day. This was one of the reasons it took so long to finish
the Pyramids.That and the lack of power tools.
Time doesn't permit us to talk about the other types of
ancient clocks like obelisks, sundials, and hemicycles. And
there definitely isn't time to go into merkhets.
Speaking of merkhets, a close cousin of the clock is the watch.
The watch is the time-telling device that most of us use today.
We do not however, use it to tell time. We use it to do numerous
other tasks that watch manufacturers have incorporated into
watches like instant messaging, reading email, and fast forwarding
the DVD player. There's even a new watch on the market that
comes equip with a radiation detector. And you laughed at
the Eyptians for drinking from their time-telling devices.
Obviously, time is not something that can be explained in just one
lesson. There's a ton of more interesting stuff we could go
into about time but, frankly, I don't feel like taking the time to
look it up right now. I believe I've achieved my goal of using as
many time cliches as I possibly could in one article and now, I think
it's time to call an extended timeout on this whole time subject.
I'm sure when I do write the follow-up to this article that it will
be just in the nick of time. Probably sometime around Wayeb 1st.
About the Author
Timothy Ward invites you to subscribe to his weekly humor column 'I Never Said I Was Normal' at timward.1afm.com