Tag Archives: clock

Time Defined

Time, itself, does not exist.

It is as imaginary as angels, demons, muses, and ideas.

Time is one component of the medium in which our physical world exists, the other being the subject of next month’s blog, space.

So, how is it that we can measure a thing that does not exist? It is a matter of relationship. As a medium component, time is intimately related to all existence. Why? Because existence is change.

We perceive existence only by way of physical, chemical, or nuclear change. We see light from fusion that is a star. We hear sound that is displacement of atoms, ions, or molecules. We even feel changes in pressure. All change happens only through time.

Our moon moves through space and time in patterns that allow us to “tell time”.

  1. New Moon rises and sets with the sun;
  2. Each day the moon rises and sets later (some 50 minutes);
  3. Waxing moon gets brighter on the sun (right) side, waning stays brighter on the sun (left) side;
  4. The photo is a waxing crescent moon with the sun to the right and below the moon soon after sunset;
  5. The sun sets north of west in summer—to the right of the moon in the photo. That gives the crescent moon the appearance of pouring water rather than
    holding it. Some call this a dry (no water) moon and a cup crescent that appears to hold water a wet moon. I would reverse that, calling this moon wet because it pours the water out. In any case, it is a summer moon.
  6. This photo is a waxing crescent summer moon taken after sunset (around 9 p.m.) in early June.

I believe my conclusion is unambiguous; however, I welcome corrections and reflections. I could be wrong.

All existence (of the physical world) is change is matter and/or energy through space and time.

E = mc­2

Don’t see time in this relationship? It’s hidden in the c, the speed of light, which is a ratio of change in space (distance) to change in time, or distance divided by time.

Time, itself, may not exist, but it is still as real as angels, demons, muses, and ideas.


Public Rug: ‘Teaching Time’

There are many things I miss about teaching high school, but those damned clocks and bells are not among them. Every room and hallway had a clock with some attached bell. And, the clocks in our school all had sweep second hands. In motorcycle and drag racing vernacular, many students were adept at executing the holeshot.

Have you ever wondered what our schools teach young minds about time? Let’s think about it. First of all, if you have the notion that curriculum lives in textbooks, lesson plans, or some elaborate documents collecting dust in district offices, you are missing the obvious. Curriculum is only what the students experience, and every day they experience many lessons on time.

To begin with, the concept of curriculum is based upon a race. Chariots drawn by two or four horses were raced about a course, frequently a closed circuit inside a stadium (not really unlike NASCAR). The chariots were called curricles, and the racecourse was—you guessed it—the curriculum. Did you really guess it?

Here are a few more lessons:

  1. Head Start;
  2. Head of the Class;
  3. No Child Left Behind;
  4. School Year (say, 180 days);
  5. School Day (say 7:47 a.m. to 3:23 p.m.);
  6. School Class Period (say 47 minutes or 90 minutes);
  7. Passing Time (say 4 minutes to pee, stop at your locker, and get to your next class two hallways over);
  8. School Career (say 13 or 14 years not counting college!);
  9. Due Date (say Nov 20th at the BEGINNING of class);
  10. Late Work (sorry, not accepted).
  11. Tardy!
  12. Detention.

So, young people quickly learn a few things about time. First, they learn to bide it. The clock will turn and freedom will be theirs pretty much regardless of their actions. Hey! I’m not saying that’s the way things should be, but for many students, that is reality. Oh, they also learn that if they hurry up and finish assignments, they get free time to do whatever. So, some hurry through distasteful activities (such as tests) while others race against a clock to finish a job well (such as tests). In brief, they learn that time is either too fast or too slow depending upon attitude and intention. It tends to make one change attitude and/or intention. That could be called learning.

Just a suggestion based upon personal observation: Choices made in high school often depend upon naïve, quiet, subconscious choices students made about time way back in elementary school or (shudder) at home. Habits developed by high school are very difficult to break later. This is the nature of our magic carpet that flies our young people toward the American dream, the rug under which we sweep our social embarassments–our “Public Rug”.

Mind Wind: Beating Time

Mind Wind: Beating Time

(Note: This was written a few weeks ago, while in the north woods. I wasn’t sure I would have time after I got back to Arizona.)

I always wonder what people do with all that time they (we) save by speeding, changing lanes, and passing in traffic. Do they save a few moments to cherish later?

Individual views of time are personal but grounded in culture and heritage. We learn both consciously and subconsciously, and we develop habits without even noticing.

When did you get out of bed today?

My morning was blessed with sunshine on tall trees in a deep blue sky. Time feels different in the north woods, even as I look out the bedroom window of our RV. Then, I hear the factory whistle and know it is 7:00 a.m. and I am still in bed. That’s late for me. I feel lazy. Oh, well. It’s only 5:00 at home in Arizona.

Sometimes it can be difficult to perceive our true attitudes and beliefs because they have become habituated. It takes conscious intention to observe the day. Am I feeling a sense of urgency? Why? What’s the rush?

The world is our mirror. A sentient look around our social environment reflects our own attitudes and beliefs about time. Walk with intention of observing and see yourself. Become a stranger in your neighborhood.

The garbage truck comes between 6:00 and 7:00. Mail, not until afternoon this time of year. Irrigation at 5:00, but that’s all in Arizona. In the north woods, loons go to work early in the morning and whippoorwills call before full dark. Owls are a little later. I am not familiar with the other rhythms. See? That tells me I am still not settled into north woods time. It can take awhile.

I’ll drive into town today, first the little unincorporated county seat in WI, then the VAH in the bigger “city” in MI. I want to be there for a meeting precisely at 7:00 p.m. I hate to be late. It draws so much attention to me, and I might not get a chair facing the doors. I’ll be there by 6:45.

Our neighbor in the woods said Nancy and I are the two most punctual people she knows. I wasn’t always that way. I don’t know about Nancy. I used to be late for most things until, well, I guess until the Army. It wasn’t that I had ever wanted to be late—I hadn’t—I just planned poorly.

Tardiness and punctuality can both be egocentric. Yes, tardiness is obvious because it seems to place more value on my time than others’, but punctuality can be a personal fear of being noticed or embarrassed. Anyway, I now have a fear of embarrassment at being late.

I used to blame my mother for my being late. I said I had been a ten month baby and was still trying to catch up. Actually, I was a surprise five and a half years after my siblings. My parents had recently purchased a farm on a special low down payment WWII plan when my mother found out she was pregnant. The other five children were ages 5 to 12 years. Yeah, I would say I was born late.

There is a speed limit of 15 mph on our shared private road. A stop sign welcomes me to the civilization of a state highway. The U.S. highway through town allows 30 mph with no stop. Speed is measured in time.

Distance is measured in time, too. How far is Yuma from San Diego? Less than 3 hours. It’s 36 hours from my Arizona home to the north woods and 5 hours from here downstate to my brother’s farm where we grew up.

The bank sign here gives us time and temperature. I was across and up the street at the hardware store when I heard the radio news on 9/11. Time stopped that day. I had heard on my car radio that a plane hit the World Trade Center, but I had visualized a small private model. The owner at the hardware store briefed me on the second plane and we listened together. She said she couldn’t stop listening. I went home and told my wife we were at war, but we just didn’t know with whom. We watched TV. That is the only time in memory that my wife chose to not go out to eat on her birthday. That family owned hardware store closed just before Memorial Day, 2011.

The smoke from the collapse of those twin towers hung above America for almost 10 years. Finally, it seems like only a shadow in our collective memory. America likes short wars.

I have 27 years and a few months to pay off my mortgage. Already on Medicare, it sometimes feels like a race. Hope it’s not a dead heat. Actually, I don’t much care.

Buying on time is a way of life for many of us—including the nation, itself. If we pay off the debt, who wins? If we don’t, who loses? Time will tell.

Wisconsin and Michigan clocks agree in my neck of the woods. East or north of here, it is one hour later on the clock. It’s two hours earlier in Arizona and California, but that all changes when Daylight Saving Time ends. Arizona stays on Standard time year round. I guess there is no reason to save sunshine there.

How does one save time? Does it earn interest? Can we borrow time? I perceive some strange social views on this subject. Oh, that’s right. Time = $. No, I don’t believe that. Money is a human invention. Time exists in nature.

High winds yesterday took down many of my trees. I heard and watched two of them crash. You were not here, but I can tell you they did make sound in your absence. My conclusion is that others this spring made sounds even though I was not here at the time.

I have to go clean up a fallen tree. At least one of us has run out of time.

P.S. The moon picture was taken with my new camera at our place in Northern Wisconsin. Now, can you determine approximate date and time?

P.P.S. The blog header photo was also taken with my new camera just south of Quartzite, AZ as I approached home after ~70 hours on the road.

Essence of Time: God’s Art

Natural Time

Nature is an exquisite calendar and an elegantly functional clock. There is much we can determine about time from a single photograph of the moon—if we know how to read the clock. What time is it in the picture? How completely can you answer? Assume it is the Northern Hemisphere. I may post clues as needed from time to time.

While I was a Volunteer Interpretive Ranger at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona, I observed the phenomenon of light from the sunrise near equinox passing through a hole in the east wall, moving down the inside of a west wall, and passing through a similar hole there. Among other things, this great building is an impressive calendar.

Some people suggest this helped the Hohokam know the right time to plant their crops. I don’t think so.

My dad was a Wisconsin dirt farmer, and he taught me that the right time to plant corn was when the Burr Oak leaves were as big as squirrels’ ears. I suppose I remember this because it was important to me. It meant freedom. When my dad started planting corn, I was free to go barefoot all summer.

O’odham people, likely descendents of the Hohokam, hold a similar folk tale. The right time to plant cotton is when the Mesquite trees begin to grow new leaves.

Still, the Bitter Man of legend said to have built the Casa Grande had his reasons for making it a calendar. Prophecy aided by scientific prediction, like the Casa Grande itself, is impressive, and impressing people is an effective tool of politics. Perhaps his great big calendar helped the Bitter Man predict the coming monsoons. Maybe he even hosted great ceremonies appearing to bring the rains. That would be true power in the desert.

My interest in understanding the universe has taken me to inquiry of a spiritual nature. I find beautiful order in man’s perception of natural laws. Certain experiences have nudged me to accept some Mystery of Creation which, for simplicity and cultural relevance I choose to call God. In short, I want to know how the universe works, and this includes all things spiritual as well as physical. I want to understand what I can about God. But, I am an empirical sort of guy inclined to science as a preferred epistemology.

How do I find evidence about God? Well, I figure, if I want to understand an artist, I should probably study the artist’s work. After all, art is an expression of the artist. Since God is what I am calling the unknown (force, intelligence, being) who creates Nature (at least natural law), Nature is God’s art. I study Nature to study God.

I am attracted to Nature. I feel at home in Nature. I feel like me in wild places. I feel closer to my life goal, closer to understanding, closer to God.