Time’s up for my alarm clock!

My alarm clock has marked the passage of time for me but its time is finally up. Alarm bells have been ringing and alerting me of its imminent demise with limp hands, no glow and yes – a dead alarm feature. Farewell, my ex-trusty alarm clock. May you snooze in peace…

Let me introduce you to my alarm clock. I bought it at the start of my university studies and it has faithfully provided me with the time every day ever since. It has woken me from timeless slumber and ticked on through my waking hours.

An amazing 26 years later it’s sadly time for me to let it go.

Alarm clock - been with me through thick and thin but times up!
Time’s up for my alarm clock 🙁

Yeah, it’s a clock, and arguably there’s not much that’s special about it. It’s certainly not in the class of time pieces in this post but it has been special to me, and has reliably marked the passage of much time during which much has happened.

Everything was fine when I bought it, which is quite some time ago. And in this instance, “quite” means 26 years. Why so long? Yes, I hoard, but at the same time, why throw something away when it works perfectly?

Ah. In this case, “perfectly” means “not quite right”, though the hoarding part of me wants to clarify by saying, “not completely broken” either.

Let’s start at the beginning.

No cap on power

Although my clock is analogue it runs with a battery. A battery powered clock – and a ticker.

I wrote an article a few years ago about the horrors of analogue clocks and the terrible monotony of the tick-tock. Grandfather clocks are the worst with their sonorous din. Aaarrghh! They don’t even tock! Some sort of deep throated lazy C-U-L-L-O-C-K. Then that incessant striking every 15 minutes, worse each half hour – then on the hour it bangs out a chime for each hour we’ve endured its annoying operation.

The misnomer of digital clocks (clocks with no hands – or fingers) are beautifully silent. But my battery powered clock wasn’t silent; it ticked. Not uncomfortably so, but the tick was there, and if it was self aware it would have felt some shame of the noise it made, like a cheap electrical appliance would do when it makes that irritating high pitched whine.

And I think this is why it openly displays its energy source as a reminder that it is in fact battery powered, and is doing its best to be silent.

Alarm clock - missing battery cover

It’s nothing to do with me using it during my studies in Plymouth where it was on a shelf on the opposite side of the room to my bed, forcing me to get up and out of bed to put it on snooze when the alarm clock sounded) and falling off the shelf when I…got out of bed to put it on snooze, and the battery cover came off and somehow was never found again.

Too hot to handle

With age comes signs of wear. (Please recall that although this is a personal blog I’m talking here about my clock!)

Alarm clock - snooze button and melt mark
How many times has the snooze button been smashed in its life time? Note the melt mark in the top left and the fading luminous paint by the numbers on the clock face.

You might notice that there’s a part which has been melted away in the top left. Not in an El Salvador Dhali kind of way, but in an ironing kind of way – the kind of way that the neighbours of my in-laws came over to make and fit some curtains for us and somehow ended up ironing my alarm clock instead of the curtain. Was she removing a wrinkle in time? Making a stitch in time?

Who knows what goes on in the minds and on the faces of those who have traversed many years of time.


A missing battery cover didn’t stop the clock’s operation, as a further 23 years will testify.

Its operational demise started with the alarm – which ironically should have been an alarm signal for me, but wasn’t. This is the old fashioned alarm which is set with only an alarm hand which equates (in theory) to the hour hand. The idea is that when the hour hand crosses over the alarm hand, the alarm rings.

And I press snooze.

I don’t know for how long I snooze, but it’s never long enough, so after an amount of time that someone who was fully awake would be able to tell you, when the alarm clangs its ringers again, my arm crashes again to the black button on the top. Snooze.


And I must admit that the process is repeated a number of times. A number which someone who was fully awake might be able to count and tell you.

The point is that the alarm clock isn’t a person, and doesn’t count out that number. And as time marches on and the hour hand slowly moves away from the alarm hand, the snooze feature isn’t reactivated. And correspondingly, my sleep isn’t de-activated and I remain in permanent snooze.

Permanent, that is, until someone who’s awake comes crashing into my room, or pounds on the door and startles me into the land of conciousness.

Snoozing. There’s no such thing really permitted. But I can’t even give it the chance now that the alarm no longer works.

A loose sense of time

So the alarm clock became just a clock – one which projected the circular motion of the hands onto a square clock face. A square peg into a round hole. But now it’s fumbling.

The hour hand has come loose of the central spindle so it hangs limply at or around the 6. Sometimes, like a spider in the bathtub trying to climb up the side, the hand will gain some energy and get itself to the 7 or even the 8. Perpendicularity to gravitational forces at the 9 are always too much; the hour hand drops back down.

You’d think that setting the alarm for six o’clock would mean either a continuous alarm, or a snooze of anywhere between 0 – 15 minutes. But who wants to get up at 6 in the morning?

The lights are on but no-one’s home

So to be clear, the internal time-telling mechanism works fine; it’s just the hands which struggle to keep a grip. So whilst the hands don’t run, the clock turns the expression on its head.

Shining for all to see

Time works in the dark, but where this clock has no back light, it has a glow in the dark capability – except the luminous paint is wearing off…or something. The glow has faded, like a red hot poker which has been out of the fires of time for too long.

The time has come

So finally the time has come. A clock which doesn’t work is right only twice a day, and I need it to be right more often than that. Or at least, for the number of times that I look at it, and by extension (or more accurately, interpolation) for all those times in between.

And when I look at my clock, I have memories of the times it has shared with me – but I don’t have any sense of time.

It cannot serve the purpose of its existence. It’s time has come. Goodbye dear clock, you have served me well.

May you snooze forever in peace…


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Strapped For Time

It seems to me that we’re obsessed with time enough as it is, and by putting on watches we’re strapping ourselves to time even more literally! We want more degrees of temporal freedom – but there’s a paradox…

As time travel fans we often feel the need to understand the nature of time so that we can have an idea of how we can travel through it. Or scramble out of the River of Time and splash back into it at another time / location. Or some other way of bypassing time’s normal flow or passage.

However, the precise nature of time seems to elude us. Qualitatively, it’s unclear, but in some ways time travel is more concerned with its quantitative nature – how much of it there is. Indeed, it seems a logical prerequisite that in order to verify time travel we need a means of its measurement.

But why the clock?

Are we as time travel enthusiasts different from others when we obsess about one of the 4 dimensions? I don’t think so, especially when we consider that often we look more at the measurement of time rather than at time itself – how many time travel sites and authors use the image of a clock as an icon (ahem…look at the favicon of this site! 😉 )

Other sites obsess over other dimensions and units of measure: health and fitness, weight loss (mass). Holidays and travel (temperature, distance), 18+ sites (size, proportions, not just linear, but their differentials (curves…)).

Of course – I’d argue that the dimension of time trumps the lot – it’s intrinsic to our state of being; when we talk about the meaning of life (love) we talk (and sing) about our hearts beating as one. Our heart defines our natural rhythm, “the old ticker”.

An obsession with clocks and watches

It seems to me that we’re obsessed with time enough as it is. From the moment the alarm clock goes off in the morning to when our body clocks alert us through some biological means that we’re tired and that we’ve had enough awake time, we depend on time.

By putting on watches we’re strapping ourselves to time. We catch the commuter train at a specific time (allegedly – bar delays and cancellations) to take us to work which begins (note: not ends…) at a set time. Meetings are scheduled to start at a set time – and we righteously become aggrieved when those meetings demand more time from us than originally allocated.

Everything is run by time. Einstein is quoted as saying that “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once”. Makes sense.

One handed watch
Would it make a difference if it was 3:41 or 3:42? Image courtesy: https://www.slow-watches.com/

I have a friend who showed me a watch he’d received as a gift from his wife – a special watch which at first I thought was faulty because it only had one hand! It turns out that’s its special feature!

Having only an hour hand means that he’s not tied to time – always watching the minutes and seconds and using them to dictate his life. He’s got a greater degree of freedom by vanquishing such precision – more room, more time for movement. He knows it’s around 2 pm, or somewhere between 2 and 3 pm.

Whilst such a watch won’t help me catch my train (though I suspect I’m sure that many train drivers use such a watch) I love the idea! Not being tied to time, not literally strapping ourselves to it and enjoying a certain kind of freedom! Surely it’s a better way to truly live in the present and to seize the day!

And when the day’s over? We turn to bed and sleep; our minds are untangled from time and we enter a place – the land of nod – where as the movie “Inception” reminds us, time flows at a different rate, or indeed, exhibits an entirely different behaviour than in our normal waking hours.

The paradox

Seems to be a paradox that we wish to free ourselves of time in some way, and perhaps this is one of the key drivers for a desire to time travel. Yet at the same time, in order to time travel we need to be keenly aware of time…


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Complex 3D Time

Can complex number theory be applied to time? Would a “complex time” component would effectively turn a time line into a time plane (or time volume?) possibly allowing for multitasking?

complex wall clock

Here’s my wall clock. Again. I ‘introduced’ it and its angle on warped space time in this post back in October 2013. That’s not really that long ago, but the clock’s given up the ghost now and moved on to places and times beyond the ken of humankind.

I admit it – I’m playing with your perspective here! Naturally the wall clock’s off the wall, but it’s also been in the hands of my young daughter (after the time of death! 😉 )

Do you ever have time on your hands? My daughter did – and this is how my clock looks from another angle after she’d finished with it.

My old knackered clock

Her child’s play got me thinking about the ‘normal’ movement of hands around a clock. What if they could move not only clockwise on the plane of the clock face, but also in the third dimension?

It sounds like it might be complex…

Complex time

Time moves linearly – usually forwards – hence we have a time line. We also have number lines (also linear) which range from lower integer values, through real numbers to the next highest integer, and so on. Or in reverse if we count backwards.

Linear number line
Linear number line (image credit: www.math.tutorvista.com)

But perpendicular movement is possible on the number line – “complex numbers” (multiples of the square root of minus 1, often denoted by i or j) explain a deviation away from the time line along the “imaginary axis”.

Complex numbers provide perpendicular movement
Imaginary numbers (denoted j) provide a way for perpendicular movement away from the number line (real axis) (Image credit: http://cnx.org)

So can complex number theory allow for a similar methodology to be applied to time? Can there be a “complex time” component which effectively turns a time line into a time plane? Or a time volume?

complex time is similar to a sundial

Admittedly, this might look a little like a sundial with pturned hands casting time shadows across the clock face area.

I remember watching a lunar eclipse and someone nearby mentioned that this was the largest shadow that there was. Being keen on astronomy (and a nerd with no social skills) I was compelled to mention that actually the shadow on the moon was just a 2D image of the 3D shadow of the Earth which projected into space and struck the moon.

Perhaps as sundials signaled the advent of clocks and telling the time, they may also signal the beginning of an understanding multi-dimensional time.

Now, I’m not a mathematician but is this idea of complex time something which can be worked out further?

is complex time the solution for multitasking?
Is complex time the solution for multitasking? (Image credit: www.moebiusnoodles.com)

Practically speaking I’m guessing the realisation of complex time into the real everyday world would be something similar to multitasking (something my wife’s good at).

Worth a try, surely? Is 3D time so complex? Or is it just child’s play? 😉

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Dealing with Earth Time

It’s seems to me that children and animals have it right when it comes to dealing with Earth time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time.

Earth is out of sync with itself. Seasons are defined with respect to the (maximum / minimum / midpoint) tilt of Earth’s rotational axis towards or away from the sun, but in reality they tend to run a day or two either side of this. (Or maybe more?)

Earth time split

We already know about the addition of leap seconds and days at various times to keep time in sync, and we manually adjust our clocks around the Earth, roughly into time zones so that we ourselves can be in sync with the Earth’s rotation. (Perhaps we could argue that there’s not enough time for all of us so we need to divide it into 24 time zones to spread things out, just as the Dutch spread it’s population out over the summer holiday and define it in 3 sections of overlapping 3 week periods).

And then there’s the further manual adjustment of time, sometimes controversial, often discussed, but necessarily adhered to – the advancement or retreat of our clocks by an hour to maximise sunlight hours (assuming that we live in a country with a local climate allowing sunlight…).

This year I noticed it for the first time – the Earth’s hemispheres are not in sync with each other. Whilst Europe does away with ‘summer time’ tonight (24th October), the southern hemisphere has already entered into it’s summer 3 weeks ago.

What? Is the differential hemispheric rotation going to cause a shear across the Equator and split our world apart?

Oh wait. Southern summer starts on “World animal day”. Animals are more in tune with nature than we are. They wake up when the sun goes up and sleep when it goes down (apart from the inverse solar (nocturnal) creatures.

It happens every year, twice a year. The clocks change by an hour and people wake up and go to sleep at the wrong time. Some are too tired, others too energetic. (This is sounding like my kids…).

More seriously, you get those cretins who think they still don’t need their car headlights on in winter and plough into pedestrians they didn’t see, or into wildlife who have become confused with the advance or retreat of rush hour by an hour.

It’s seems to me that children and animals have got it right when it comes to dealing with time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time. Actually, we’re even pretty useless when it comes to dealing with time when we leave it well alone. We run out of it, we lose it, we chase it, we don’t spend it wisely.

So how on Earth can we think of time travel when we can hardly deal with daylight saving time?


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A unique signature of time

In the same way as Plato’s prisoners or Hawkins’ goldfish, are each of us seeing shadows of time, or a distorted view of it? How is it that each of us judge the duration of a second differently, just as each of us reproduce a uniquely shaped “0” when we hand write?

My teachers at school were always harping on about my poor level of handwriting as it clearly fell outside the margins of what was considered to be acceptable (to them).

It’s a fair point – we all try to write a “0”, for example, but each of us draws it differently – our handwriting is unique, despite each of us trying to replicate an identical shape. And if we are ‘too unique’, we call it “bad handwriting”.

Sure, there are some general patterns (bubbly, scrawly, etc.) but the point is that we all have our own personally unique interpretation of a common number or letter. Perhaps the same can be said too of art – that each of us would draw or paint a different picture even if we are given an identical object to reproduce.

Is it the same with personal time?

Not that we judge time differently. If a group of friends decide to meet outside a bar at 8 pm, it’s likely that there’ll be a spread of times of arrival, probably centered on 8 pm but perhaps with a spread of some +/- 10 minutes.

But whose version of the time is correct?

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave he postulates the idea of prisoners who are only able to see projections of shadows on a wall in front of them – they have no idea of the ‘real’ objects making the shadows, the light behind them, or the source of any sounds that the puppeteers may make and which echo off the cave walls. For them, the echoes and the shadows are the real world.

Image courtesy: http://theglobalelite.org/
Plato’s Cave. Image courtesy: http://theglobalelite.org/

Stephen Hawkins reproduced this idea with a fish who looks out of a goldfish bowl and sees a distorted view of things outside the bowl as the light travels through the glass. On a similar footing, that distorted view is the real world as it really is…for the fish.

In the same way as the prisoners and the goldfish, are each of us seeing shadows of time, or a distorted view of it? How is it that each of us judge the duration of a second differently, just as each of us reproduce a uniquely shaped “0” when we handwrite? Surely a 0 is a 0? There’s even a mathematical formula for a circle! Surely time is time?

Perhaps we’ll never know. Plato’s prisoners, once taken to the surface and shown how things really stand, were unable to accept the truth. And we all know that a fish out of water can’t survive. Could we?

A sundial never lies.
A sundial never lies.

In days old it was said that the camera never lies, but in modern times with digital photography, sophisticated editing software, or even basic filters, the final photo can often look very different from the image which first appeared in the view finder.

Some clocks and watches can [be made to] ‘lie’ too – a readjustment of a setting, or through mechanical fault. Except for a sundial. It’s much harder to tamper with the position of the sun…but isn’t it ironic that a sundial points the time…with a shadow? 😉


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Does time have a personality?

Old Father Time – a personification of time. But would you say he has a personality? A jovial old fellow who delights in our brief moments in time, or a grumpy old codger who’s seen and experienced it all before? I this recent experience of mine might show that he has a sense of humour!

Old Father Time (or “Kronos” or “Chronos”) is probably one of the most famous personifications of time.

Father Time
Kronos. Image courtesy: oldfashionedholidays .wordpress.com

Often pictured as an old man, Father Time looks after time, and according to , carries a time keeping device, interestingly, which monitors time in a uni-directional flow (source: wikipedia). This might suggest that Father Time doesn’t like time travel as he’s guarding the safe passage of time.

So he has preferences and desires.

So can we say that he has a personality? Would he be a jovial old fellow who delights in our brief moments in time, or a grumpy old codger who’s seen and experienced it all before?

Perhaps this recent experience shows the former.

I took this photo of a train station clock reading 16:50 which I took moments after the announcement that the 16:45 was leaving “in a few minutes”.

The clock has the last laugh
The clock has the last laugh!

Informational announcements on the train station are almost infamous for being a misnomer in that they provide very little useful information. Either this is a vampire clock which doesn’t show up in photos, or time has the last laugh by not humouring me and helping me show the stupidity of the station announcement!

Then again, maybe I had the last laugh. I took the (non)photo whilst waiting for the 17:00…and it came on time! 🙂


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Is energy released in time travel?

A huge obstacle in time travel is the vast amounts of energy needed to power it. What if we could borrow and pay back energy by moving it through time?

A thermodynamic conundrum

One of the biggest obstacles in time travel is summoning the vast amounts of energy required to power it. I’ve often wondered whether we could use the energy from one time and return it in another during the time travel expedition the same way as we move physical objects around according to our transient desires.

So far it would seem not; the laws of thermodynamics mean that there cannot be a creation (or destruction) of energy and moving it from one time to another (forwards or backwards) is essentially the same thing (removing it from one time is ‘destruction’ and replacing it in another time is ‘creation’).

Looking at it another way, does time travel imply that there is a creation or destruction of energy? Perhaps thermodynamics hints at the importance of direction, at least in the temporal field.

A matter of direction

Most of us have probably heard about the direction of time, or time’s arrow. In these cases the direction is linear, that is to say, forwards, backwards or if we’re being creative, sideways.

Equally creative, but perhaps more conventional given the motion of hands on a clock, have we ever considered a rotational direction of time?

Image courtesy: Google images.
Image courtesy: Google images.

In H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (or was it that b***dy Baxter’s The Time Ships), the Time Traveller talks of a twisting of the spatial and temporal dimensions so that all 4 dimensions are transposed and travelling through time could be done so as easily as easily as travelling through space. Give or take a bit of nausea.

(Yes, it was Baxter. I remember now; he [appears to have] nicked the idea of rotating of the 4 dimensions (and inducing sickness from centrifugal and Coriolis forces from Poul Anderson, or at least the rotational aspect from Michael Moorcock’s Flux. )

It seems to me that if we’re going to play about with thought experiments and how time moves (or at least, how we move through an otherwise static time), then we should at least pay a bit of homage to the idea that it might twirl about!

Indirectly, my wife and I recently had a conversation which lead to these kind of musings.

I’ll say upfront that the conversation wasn’t directly related to time travel or even about time…but it did involve a clock. Note the manly pink colour, but please recall that I am a father of 2 daughters!

Rotated clock
Does time have a rotational direction? 10 o’çlock, 1 o’çlock or quarter past?

A few nights ago my wife exclaimed surprise that the bedside clock still worked even when the battery is put in with the knobbly bit on the wrong way reversed polarity. “Even the light comes on!”

Why wouldn’t it? In a general and simple electrical case (e.g. one without diodes), it’s not the direction of flow of electricity that makes light light or clocks tick (that’s an expression…digital ones don’t!) – rather, it’s the flow itself.

[Aside: an economist friend of mine once told me that the value of money is unimportant – it’s that it changes hands. Not spending a million dollars is the same as not spending 1 dollar. Movement, or flow, of money is important…though in this case the direction is important too…we’d rather receive a million dollars than part with it!]

My wife (who I should add, didn’t marry me for my money!) said that given all the warnings in the instruction manual about taking care to observe the correct polarity, she’d expected the clock to simply not work. Or blow up spectacularly.

At the very least, that it might run backwards.

Whilst this wouldn’t explain the workings of Edward Page Mitchell’s The Clock that went Backwards (which was a wind up Grandfather clock), the comment did lead to the usual cart-before-the-horse question: was our hypothetically backward running pink clock marking a backward motion of time, or was it actually driving it?

And if I can milk the driving metaphor, was our reverse polar battery the equivalent of the flux capacitor in the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine?

Now that the horse is well and truly trailing the cart, my wife and I turned to thinking about the local effect of a backward trip in time. As local as the battery squeezed in its compartment with the knobble against the spring.

In the usual case, the battery discharges and powers the clock. The corollary, if we’re going back in time, is that the battery is now charging – electricity is coming out of the clock and into the battery.

But if the battery isn’t discharging, then it can’t be powering the clock to drive the time backwards, and that means it should be discharging. We have the classic Grandfather Paradox…nullifying our speculative thought experiment!

Well! Paradoxes such as these are common place in time travel, so perhaps we’re on the right track…

But something else is at odds here – power is required to push time forwards (or to maintain it’s ambient rate of natural progression), and now it looks like energy is released in time travel when we go backwards!

This sounds counter-intuitive, but I wonder if it’s something else entirely…I think the clue is in the battery not being charged but recharged – the energy it spent in pushing time forwards is now being paid back.

It’s a subtle difference, but this idea of a return can be taken further in the case of time itself in that it’s not a backward motion of time but a return to some state of equilibrium, like an aeroplane doesn’t expend energy to fly downwards, but returns to the ground and gives up energy doing so.

This seems to be more in line with thermodynamic principles where energy is required to bring order and expended to return to chaos, and indeed…we have a battery with increasing energy.

A reversal of time is an increase in order(!)…the matter of the universe, going back in time, will become more ordered. Perhaps, into a singularity rather than an expanding universe.

So what’s all this got to do with rotational time?

Well OK, you got me! Clock hands rotating the wrong way doesn’t signify a rotational time direction any more than a digital clock counting backwards signifies time going backwards. Does it?

Maybe we’ll never know. If time is going (or rotating) backwards now how would we know? It would be normal to us; the definition of a direction would be a matter of convention.

I can’t help thinking though, that a time might introduce some twirling about, some seemingly random changes in direction, or loops or somersaults to avoid those pesky time travel paradoxes we’d have with a linear motion in time. And it would be a much cleaner solution that just making up a new multiverse to get out of the conundrum.

Don’t you think?

Well, we’ve talked and thunk ourselves into a tighter and ever decreasing circle, and like the Time Traveller, probably feeling quite dizzy and nauseous from it!


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A finger to the clock

The distinct resonant tock of an old analogue clock. A hammer hitting nails in the analogue coffin. Their time is up, their glory gone in a sonorous din.


I like the idea of analogue clocks because they measure time exactly.

For example, the position of a hand on a clock face can indicate when the moment of a third of a second has been reached, whereas a digital clock is inherently incapable of this feat – at best it shows an instant in time in decimal notation to a limited number of decimal points.

And for irrational numbers that’s not exact.

But my problem with analogue clocks and watches is this: that the glory of analogue and continuous monitoring of time is punctuated. And how irrational is that?


It is true that this is largely down to the inherent mechanical design of a clock or watch (although some models do have “sweep” hands) but what I find close to unforgivable is that the precise toiling of the cogs and sprockets and springs and things is deliberately engineered that it grates on the aural senses with an audible “tick tock”.


Not just every hour, or every minute, but every single second. Actually, sometimes more; smaller watches have the rapid tick-tick-tick-tick, a tick every half second or so.

This ticking and tocking is arguably worse than the Japanese water torture where the irregular dripping of water causes psychological neurosis. But the regularity of the tick-tock means that the next one is expected. So we wait for it. And the next, and the next and the…



It’s an irrational crime against Analogue to interrupt or to mark the passing of predefined moments in such a way.

Tick tock cuckoo.

In this post I revealed what a Dutch clock is. Dutch clocks and grandfather clocks are the worst culprits as the swing of the pendulum creates such a thud of a tock that the body reverberates in an anti-echo of antagonised yearning of peace; their analogue glory gone in a sonorous din.

And if that’s not enough, most models mark the passing of each hour – sometimes even each half and quarter hour – with further exclamations emanating from the time piece to remind us of their presence. Aargh, the distinct resonant tock of an old clock.

A hammer hitting nails in the Analogue coffin. Their time is up, especially for those which have cuckoos or hideous figurines which come out and make quite literally a song and a dance about the time.

Pepper pot, Zwolle
The “Peperbus” (“Pepper pot”) in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Image courtesy: www.cloudshots.nl.

The chimes of Big Ben (London) are world famous. Not so well known is The Peperbus (Zwolle, Holland) plays a variety of songs (including the theme song to The A-Team) prior to donging local (and some not-so-local) inhabitants to near audible death. (Or how some Londoners might pronounce it, deaf! 😉 ) Noise pollution. And yes (and bear in mind I say this as an unbiased practising Christian) I find the sound of a church bell untuneful, dull, and sickly lacking in sonic lustre or attraction.

Even my 2 year old daughter makes a more tuneful racket when thrashing a wooden spoon against the side of a baking tray (and admittedly I say that as a highly biased Dad!)

The thing about digital watches

The author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, made the comment in the first of that ‘trilogy’ (of 5…) that humans thought digital watches were “…a pretty neat idea”. And as a human, I tend to agree.

Digital clock

True, we need to read the time (numerically, in series) rather than ‘tell’ the time from a bizarre form of parallel (clock)face recognition.

And it’s true that some morons set their digital watches to make an hourly chime.

And it’s true that some digital watches have so many functions that the battery size required to power them all takes more space than my wife needs to parallel park.

It’s also true some digital watches and clocks are too faint to read in daylight, or too bright to allow sleep at night and burn red holes in your retinas as you desperately try to count sheep.

But digital watches and clocks are silent. There’s no noise with digital clocks. Silence is golden…they just simply let the time pass!

A final thought: If analogue clocks have hands, shouldn’t digital clocks have fingers? 😉


Time to eat

Some time ago I took a short break to Texel – one of the Wadden Sea Islands off the coast of Holland.

Quite by chance (or so I thought…) I ended up in a cafe called “De Tijd” (“The Time”).

Pancake cafe "De Tijd"
Pancake cafe “De Tijd”

The walls were absolutely plastered with clocks! The waitress told me that they were all gifts, donated by patrons over the years. Now (sadly) there is not enough wall space for the tradition to continue, but instead notebooks lie on each table for visitors to jot down any thoughts they might have (regarding the food they’re eating, where they’ve come from, etc.).

wall of clocks
wall of clocks…with yours truly!

Above my head in the shot above is a plaque with a poem, “De Tijd”

Dutch Time Poem "De Tijd"
Dutch Time Poem “De Tijd”

Here’s the translation (thanks to google translate…my own Dutch isn’t up to the task!):

Whatever one does, the time passes
though it does not, time passes
whether they are impoverished or enriched
uitslooft themselves or sailing stroke
been doing it wrong, though it does well
‘t they awake or asleep, and nothing suspect
yes, which one also gets rid of
elapses from the time, time!!!

And talking of things above my head (and I’m talking quite literally here!) did I mention that the ceiling space was also used as efficiently as the wall space?

Ceiling of watches
Ceiling of watches

And what of the food? It was served on plates like this, which get a thumbs up from me for not displaying the annoyingly presumptiously happy ten-to-two (or ten-past-ten…)

Dinner time!
Dinner time!

Whilst we were waiting for the food to be prepared, my wife reminded me that we’d been here the previous year. I’d forgotten all about it! We were having about to have a ‘Deja Eat’!

So my wife as reliving her past I was living the present, and as the food was brought in, served on a time-plate, I couldn’t help thinking of Plato (sorry…! 😉 ) and his wish to remember the future.

Maybe we’ll be back next year…but I can’t remember!


Warped space time?

I recently bought myself a new wall clock. It was an impulse purchase, but at only 2 Euros I couldn’t go wrong. Or so I thought until I had a closer look. Can you spot it?

Time and space are intricately intertwined
Time and space are intricately intertwined

A wall clock with a manufacturing printing error sold off for only 2 Euros? Or a cunning representation that both space and time can be intricately linked…as well as warped?

I’m going with the latter!

Time for a time change

The clocks go back an hour tonight. The addition or subtraction of an hour twice a year in an effort to optimise daylight hours has been going on for years, and yet still causes countless people to get confused, turning up too late or too early to various appointments.

It might seem like some sort of pseudo time travel when people turn up at different places at times they thought were different, but it’s just time (or it’s representation) moving onwards (or backwards as is the case now) and not taking us along with it on it’s hourly journey.

Spring forward, fall back.

Now it’s Autumn. We ‘gain’ an hour, but lose the sunlight. I for one am happy as I can stay in bed longer tomorrow morning. In theory anyway – I have two young children that haven’t mastered the concept and will still wake 3 hours before I’m ready to get up.

For the rest of you…enjoy the pseudo time travel! Your time is precious – use your hour wisely! 🙂

A Picture Paints a Thousand Seconds

Recently, the following question was posed in the Goodreads.com Time Travel group:

“If you discovered a way to travel through time by using a photograph, which photo (personal or historical) would you use? Feel free to include…an explanation of why you chose it.”

I wanted to repost my response to that question here as my answer will serve as an introduction to a forthcoming post.

Here it is…

I’d use a picture that my 3 and a half year old daughter made with my wife a few months ago. It shows a picture of a watch and a clock, and shows the abstractness you could imagine from a young child.

Or is it abstract? Perhaps it’s an accurate statement of the real workings of time!

Time travel basics 101
Image credit: My daughter!

Why do I choose this picture? I think my daughter’s understanding of time and the possible ramifications for time travel is excellent given the conversations I’ve had with her about time. I’ll quote from a post in my Daddy blog about children’s understanding of time.

Me: (showing her a clock) “That fast hand goes all the way around, and that’s one minute, and then that long hand moves forwards a little bit. And when it goes all the way around, then that’s one hour and the short hand moves from number 1 to number 2.”

Daughter: “But Daddy the hands are moving all at the same time!”

If the second, minute and hour hands all move together, does this mean that seconds, minutes and hours all pass at the same time? Are seconds, minutes and hours pretty much all one and the same? Maybe they are for a three (and a half) year old. Everything happens at once, NOW…

Daughter: Can I have this now, Daddy?

Me: No, You can have it later, Sweetie.

Daughter: Is it later now, Daddy?

I’m also sure that on the day she gets married and I walk her down the aisle, I’ll be taken back in time to these childhood moments…but I don’t think I’ll need the picture then!

As for when the picture would take me…I don’t really care, as long as it would take me back again to my family. These moments in time are far too precious to lose!

This post won me a copy of “The Photo Traveler” by Arthur J. Gonzalez. I’m currently reading it, and I’ve been asked to provide a review.

So stand by!

PS: I’ve only ever won 2 things. This was one. The other was a rag doll at a tombola when I was 8. Although my daughter might disagree, the time travel novel comes out tops!