An Uncapped Pen

November 4, 2008

Time Change and Changing Times

Filed under: About Me — cindylv @ 11:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m so tired of the election hoopla, negativity and character-bashing that I could . . .  Well, I don’t know what I could do, so I’ll blog about the time.

Growing up in Hillside, Illinois (just outside of Chicago), we had one clock on the wall above the sink.  The only time I remember looking at it was around 8:00 pm to see if it was time for our bedtime snack.  I always just assumed that one of the big people in the house adjusted it as needed to accommodate time changes.  Daylight savings time came and went without notice.  As long as we were home by the 6:00 whistle, no one paid any attention.

At 19, I left home and reported for Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  No matter where I went or what was scheduled, I always found a drill instructor waiting to tell me precisely what time it was:  chow time, PT, or worst of all–-time for the gas chamber.  And I learned to appreciate the 24-hour clock, just like I used to see on my favorite TV show — MASH.

Once I was assigned to my unit in Germany, I learned about military time zones, military standard for dates and DTG (date/time groups).  All military time is Zulu unless L (for local) is specified. I learned to write dates as 04 Nov 08 or as part of a DTG: 041542 Nov 08.

After the Army and successful completion of college, I entered the corporate world and became addicted to checking my watch.  I realized that I rarely looked at the actual time, I just checked my watch.  Many years later when I figured out what I was doing, I quit wearing a watch.  My left arm no longer twists obsessively, but I still rub the wrist where my watch once lived.

Today, my relationship with time is more flexible and more complicated.  The clock in my truck runs three minutes faster than most of the electronic time/temperature signs around town. My bathroom clock is deliberately set for 12 minutes faster than reality, to ensure there is no lollygagging during morning prep. I learned that if you bump this clock the wrong way, the chime turns itself on and we will be treated to chimes at fifteen minute intervals and a real chorus of bonging on each hour – every single hour, even during the night.

My old bedside alarm clock used to be set nine minutes fast, but our new clock is automatically set by the mothership, GE-in-the-sky, or maybe even God — no fudging allowed, not even a minute.  Come to think of it, so are the digital displays on my computer and cellphone. With the loss of my ability to manipulate time in my bedroom, I no longer force myself to sleepily calculate the possibilities of another seven minute snooze in the fake-real time continuum.  I just get up when I wake up.

My coffeepot, microwave and stove clocks (all electronic) are set by my handy husband.  And one of them is usually a minute behind the other two.  These things I notice while I have to stir continuously while cooking.  The TV room clock, an analog model, is set pretty close to the time on the TV Guide channel, directly below the clock.  The VCR/DVD player below the TV has a mind of its own.  I believe it may have been made in China and therefore observes Beijing time, stubbornly resisting any attempts at conformance to Pacific time.

The fancy desk clock I received as a wedding gift from my little brother is another analog model that requires two triple-A batteries.  It stopped last year at seventeen minutes past nine and the frozen hands provide a lovely symmetry in that position.  Batteries are still on my shopping list.

The formal clock in my not-so-formal living room used to belong to my mother.  This is the clock I use to check the time as I leave for work, or to see how many minutes until the sprinklers come on, and how long I’ve walked my dog.  It’s usually set at the same time as the kitchen models.

Inside the small cabinet above the exhaust fan over the stove is a small electronic timer connected to the can lights on the plant shelf above the kitchen cabinets.  Two years ago, we set it to go on at 7:00 pm and off at midnight.  It has sped itself up by about 11 minutes since then.

There is a green box on the wall in my garage that has miniscule flashing red numbers, but I don’t recognize anything that looks like hours or minutes.  My husband swears it’s a clock for setting the sprinklers, but I have my doubts. I think it may be some sort of meter related to the beer supply in the refrigerator right next to it.

In addition to clocks, I have kitchen timers (digital and mechanical) and five or six watches.  I have a gold Seiko ladies model that I wore to a live taping of a TV Tae-bo episode where I worked out with Billy Blanks.  Unfortunately, during the taping, I was sweating so profusely that the inner workings of my watch got rusty.  I keep it as a souvenir.  I also have a beautiful Movado watch that was a gift from my sister.  I wear it for special occasions (since I can be a little rough on the crystal).

One of the watches, a fancy sports model, has a stop watch that beeps twelve times at approximately 11:48 every night.  I know that the watch is somewhere in the kitchen, because I hear it as I’m shutting down the house to go to bed, but I can’t find it.  One night when I’d have enough of the beeping, I went looking for it.  I never found it, but I did find my old clip-on pedometer from Weightwatchers that randomly beeps for no apparent reason.

I still calculate time zones for my family.  My sister is three hours ahead, my brothers and stepdaughter are two hours ahead, and the rest of the family share the Pacific time zone with us.  On one of the Max Martini fan boards I frequent, one of our members lives in Australia.  I enjoy logging on first thing in the morning to see what she had to say while I was sleeping.

I just realized that the clock on my compose/edit screen for this blog is set for eight hours ahead of where I’m sitting as I write this.  I imagine it’s some sort of relationship to GMT.

In conclusion, now that I have relinquished my need to track seconds, minutes and hours, I no longer know or care what time it is.   I usually know if it’s light or dark outside, what day of the week it is, and I can always find someone or something to provide more specific information if needed.  

Hmmmm….I wonder what I could use all this free time for?



  1. Ha! Scott has a watch somewhere in this house that beeps a good dozen times every night, but we have no idea where it is. I hardly ever wear a watch or look at a clock anymore — unless you count the clock on my PC, and I look at that all the time.

    Comment by Lisa Kenney — November 5, 2008 @ 12:06 am | Reply

  2. I guess I’m not the only one to put up with random beeping!

    Comment by cindylv — November 5, 2008 @ 1:31 am | Reply

  3. Hubby has a watch that goes off at 3AM. Fortunately, most times that happens to be in the 303rd room of my house, so I don’t hear it.
    But when guests are over…sigh.

    My son says that the gas chamber is for Tear Gas training? Is he right?

    Comment by angel — November 5, 2008 @ 4:03 am | Reply

  4. Re: My son says that the gas chamber is for Tear Gas training? Is he right?

    Sort of right. They use tear gas (technically called CS gas) to teach you how to don, clear and seal your gas mask within the alloted time.

    Comment by cindylv — November 5, 2008 @ 5:09 am | Reply

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