One day as I surveyed the multiple time reminder devices in my sphere, I realized I really did not know what time it was.
In this age of technological precision, amazing ability to slice time into microseconds, and instant communication and knowledge, time has become fuzzy.
Here Is What I Mean
Right now, the current times showing on a few of the devices around me are:
- Mac Desktop – 7:17
- iPhone – 7:19
- iPad – 7:23
- Wife’s iPhone: 7:19 (Hmm, maybe I should stick with the iPhones)
- Atomic clock on my desk – 7:18
- World Clock app on my iPhone – 7:19
- World Clock app on my iPad – 7:19 (but about 10 seconds different from the iPhone app)
- Clock in my car: Who knows? it gains random amounts of minutes.
- Smart thermostat in the living room – 7:13
- Gas range clock – 7:20
- Microwave clock – 7:19
Various clocks around town, displayed on banks, stores, and signs, seem to all march to their own tick-tock.
Most of my life I wore a watch on my wrist. I’d look at it and be fairly confident in announcing the time. There was no concern that it might be 10.23 seconds off. It was 9:03, and that was good enough. It was not synched with the US Naval Observatory Master Clock. If doubt did creep in, we could then “call time“. That meant dialing a number (usually the last four digits were “1212”) on the phone and an official-sounding voice would set our minds at ease. Often, as a result, I’d adjust my watch.
When it gradually dawned on me that wearing the watch was superfluous, I ditched it. It never felt comfortable hanging on my skinny wrist anyway, frequently rotating out of position. What was the need? I can gain knowledge of the time wherever I am, as clocks have proliferated like rabbits. What time is it now? And now? And two minutes from now?
Slices of Time
We now track the last minute of basketball games in 1/10th of a minute slices. We create logs of our walks with GPS and a timer. My newly acquired “smart”phone has an app for this. I was curious about the distance of some of my local routes, and how far I actually walk in a week. It records a map of where I walk on each excursion. I expected that. What I did not expect is that it tracks my pace, and, without me asking for it, shows me my “splits”. What? I’m taking a walk, not training for the Olympics.
We have countdowns to let us know the precise second when the congregation can begin to worship God. (Eh? I have to wait another 4 minutes 28 seconds before I can pray?). Ready. Set. WORSHIP! Maybe we should put one up on the screen to show the pastor how many more minutes he has to wrap it up. (The last time my grandson sat with me during a sermon, he looked up at me and said, “This is taking the whole day.” Now, there’s a sense of the passage of time.)
We have timers to track everything. We love milliseconds. We revel in our ability to be categorically correct with the chronos. Yet, our devices, supposedly connected to the Source of All Time Truth, do not agree with one another.
How is this so? Is there more than one atomic clock? Do clocks with no moving parts slow down? Do the synchronizations only take place every three or four days? It seems I remember the quick guide that came with one of our atomic clocks stated the device wouldn’t be off more than a small fraction of a second in something like 100 years. (OK then. I am safe making it to my next dental appointment. That is, if I wasn’t so focused on trying to get 3 more things done before exiting the room.)
But, other electronic time slicers disagree with those clocks that lose milliseconds per decade. In our quest for precision we seem to have lost it.
My wife and I have been tracking our daughter’s journeys in Asia. She recently stayed in a mountain village in the north of Thailand.
Oh the sweetness of being disconnected! It looks like not a soul is concerned with timing anything. Conversing and moseying are highly valued. Time slows down. Time becomes less relevant. Days and seasons are the measures.
I could get used to that.
Meanwhile, can anyone out there tell me which of the multiple electronic time keepers I should believe?
What time is it?