Time: Does anybody really know what time it is?

August 15, 2008 by in category Blogs tagged as with 6 and 0
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By Marianne H. Donley
I love clocks. I have wind up analogue clocks that chime every fifteen minutes, a KitKat Clock with red sequined eyes and a moving tail that acts like a pendulum, battery clocks that are boring but accurate, atomic clocks that know when to change to daylight-saving time without me telling them to do so, and, of course, digital clocks on the microwave, cable box and computer screen. With one or two exceptions they all report different times.
It starts in my bedroom where we have matching digital clocks on matching night stands. The old guy’s clock reads ten minutes faster than my clock. He sets it that way on purpose. Every morning when HIS clock says 6:30 and mine says 6:20 he shuts the alarm off BEFORE it rings. Then he goes back to sleep.
I poke him and say, “Time to get up.”
He says, “No, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
I say, “Why do you set it early?”
He says, “So, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
This makes no sense to me. He knows the clock is ten minutes fast. Why doesn’t he set the clock for the correct time and then set the alarm for ten minutes early? As much as I like math (and I really do –be careful I’ve been know to prove the square root of two is irrational with little provocation!) I don’t want to do arithmetic at 6:20 in the morning. In addition, he is legally blind without his contacts on, no joke. So he can’t even see the clock until he gets up and gets dressed. And, not to belabor the point, he turns the alarm off BEFORE it rings, so why does he even need to set the alarm?

Moving down to the family room we have the mantle clock, an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime, Seth Thomas, my sister, Rosemary, gave to me as an engagement/Christmas present. No matter how many times I set it or fiddle with the +/- lever in the back, it runs about two minutes slow. This doesn’t really bother me. The clock is thirty something and has survived my kids, my nieces and nephews, and now my grand kids trying to see how it works. I figure it’s entitled to be a little slow. This drives the old guy nuts. He complains about it nearly every day which is why I keep fiddling with it.

In the dinning room we have an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime that my brother, Michael, made for my son, David’s wedding. We hung the clock when David and his family moved in with us. It doesn’t work because someone (I’m not naming names, but it wasn’t me) set the time by moving the hands counterclockwise. We’ve taken the clock to a variety of clock repair guys who have told us a variety of tall tales as to why it doesn’t work, including one guy who said it needed to be cleaned to the tune of three hundred dollars and one who wanted to replace its expensive movement with a cheap battery operated one.
My KitKat Clock didn’t survive the move from California whole. One of the mover guys misplaced his tail (on purpose I suspect as I had to take the clock off the wall twice and hand it to the guy when he said everything was packed). I hung KitKat in the solarium anyway, and his red sequined eyes still move with the time. But without his tail, he doesn’t have quite the noble bearing he did before. He keeps pretty good time as long as he is perfectly balanced. Dust his pretty face and he’s likely to stop ticking completely until I get the level out. My five-year-old grandson would like the clock to completely disappear because KitKat has scary little eyes. When he visits, I think poor tailless KitKat will have to live in the basement for a while.

Now here are two time related tasks for you.

Task One: Go look at an advertisement for clocks or watches. You can use a newspaper or even the Internet. What time is it in most of the ads? Do you have any idea why?

Task Two: A Westminster Chime clock, chimes four times at quarter past the hour, eight times at half passed, twelve times at quarter to the hour and sixteen times at the hour PLUS one extra chime for each hour (so at 6 am the clock will chime twenty-two times). How many chimes will that be for this whole year? (I warned you about the math.)

Marianne H. Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her supportive husband Dennis and two lovable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.


  • Anonymous
    on August 23, 2008

    Okay, Dee Ann, why didn’t you just set the alarm for 30 minutes before you wanted to get up?


  • Anonymous
    on August 22, 2008

    I’m with your hubbie! Before I retired, I set my clocks thirty minutes ahead because it took me that long to wake up after the alarm sounded. When our kids would come to visit, the clock drove them crazy.

    I’ve always wanted a grandmother clock, but our home’s too small. I settled for a small wall clock that rings with the Westminster Chime. Love it! But when our musician son spends the night, it drives him crazy if we forget to silence the chime.

    Dee Ann Palmer
    aka Carolina Valdez

  • Anonymous
    on August 19, 2008

    We’re working on getting the KitKat Clock his tail back.

  • Anonymous
    on August 19, 2008


    Nope! The “happy” excuse is used a lot, because people don’t really know why they are doing this.

    Oddly before WWII all the clocks in ads had the time 8:20.

    And WHY would digital clocks read 10:10?


  • Anonymous
    on August 17, 2008

    I’m Behind the Times on this blog! Late!

    I’m not up to the math, but I am worried about your KitKat clock. It needs it’s tail back!

  • Anonymous
    on August 15, 2008

    You’re clocks are all smiling, Marianne.:-)

    When I worked at the Disney Stores, we were told to set the clocks at 10:10 so they looked “happy.” LOL

    But, I believe the reason they’re set that way for the ads is to show the logo, right?

    And, sorry, but I’m soooo not trying the math! I’ve been up since 3 am.

    What a fun blog! I love clocks too.

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