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November 07, 2011

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

 Hank Phillippi Ryan

Ah, we made it. I think we made it.  Usually, at the end of daylight savings time (or is it the beginning?) there's  chaos at our house. Because I fall-back the clocks, and then Jonathan does, too. Which makes us twice as early.  Or twice as late.  Don't even ask me about it.

Clock 2When I was anchoring the news in Atlanta,  there was one November show where the weather guy said to me-- "Don't forget, Hank, this is the night the time changes."

I said--this is live TV, remember--"Well,  the TIME doesn't really change. We just change the clocks. But the time is a continuum, and it stays the same no matter what. WE just change how we count it."

Long story, but I got in a bit of trouble.  In fact, I was ordered to "practice my ad libbing"--but that's another  blog for another day.

 Television is all about TIME. Getting breaking news on in time. How much time there is until the next deadline. How much time they’ve allotted for your story.  How much time there is until someone is going to tell you you’re late. There is no late in TV.

 I’ve been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. And as a result, if you want to know what time it is, don’t ask me. I only know what time it is *for me.*

 I see you looking baffled. But here’s what I mean. I don’t know what time it really is—because I’m fooling myself about it. And somehow, it works. How can we fool ourselves? I mean, we should know, right?

  Clock 4For instance. The alarm clock-radio on my nightstand is set nine minutes fast. So when it rings at 7:30, the time I usually have to get up, I creak open my eyes, try to focus on the green numerals, and my brain yells: GET UP! It’s 7:30. 

 Then there’s a pause, while the other half of my brain happily reminds me that it’s really 7:21, and I delightedly hit the snooze.

  Why? Why not just set the clock for the real time? Then set the alarm for, say 7:21, then hit the snooze for nine minutes and get up at the real 7:30?

 Because then I don’t get the precious nine “extra” minutes of sleep.

 There’s a clock in the bathroom where I do my hair and makeup—I set that one about 12 minutes fast. Here I’m fooling myself to get me to hurry up. I look at the clock, mid-mascara: it’s 8 o’clock already! I panic. Hurry! Then I realize it’s actually jusClock 3t twelve minutes until 8 o’clock, and I have plenty of time, and I can relax a bit. I’m no longer behind—I’m ahead.

 Does that make any sense? Do you do that?

 I do it with the clock on my wall at the TV station where I work as a reporter—I set that fast, too, but it makes sense in the world of unmissable deadlines. I suppose. I can’t be late, so if the clock is fast, it’s less likely that’ll happen.

 My husband says: why don’t you just set the clocks to the REAL TIME?  And I see his point. Kind of. But faking myself out works for me.

  CheckbookI also fool myself with money. On payday, I enter the income into my not-so-perfect checkbook register—but I put the deposit amount as less than it really is. So I have a little pad.

 My husband says—why don’t you just write down the real amount? So you know how much money is actually there? Not some theoretical amount? Yeah, I see his point. But that doesn’t work for me.

 I also hide money from myself in my wallet. The other day, I unzipped a little pouch on the side and there was the secret 20 dollars I had tucked there for emergencies. But I had forgotten it was there! So much for the emergency idea. But see—I’ve done that several times. Lots of times. And I always forget it’s there. Smile
Then I’m always delighted to find it.

 Is reality so complicated and unmanageable that we have to fool ourselves into making it all work? My little self-trickery makes me happy, and it makes my life work very nicely.

 Do you face reality? Or do you have your secret ways?


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Hank, this is a fun blog

A blast from the past..the romantic in me:


Hank! We are foolie-foolie twins!

I do that thing with clocks, too! I have ever since I had to walk to the bus stop in first grade. I missed the bus once and had to walk the whole way to school. Never again!

I pretend I only have half as much in the bank than I know has been deposited. I started that when I made the mistake of taking out a student loan before I realized there were scholarships and things like student jobs. I was really la-la back then. It was the only way I could keep myself from spending all my money and be able to pay back my student loans.

We don't have the time zone thing in Arizona, just on Navajo. We still have to track it though, because everyone else changes. So confusing!

I never remember I've set my clock fast until I'm wondering why the van is so late in picking me up, or why is the doctor late, or why hasn't the movie started? Then I remember and smile, sit back, and relax.

I think being foolie-foolie is a great strategy!

Marie, I love that video! Thanks for posting the link.

In college and law school, I set my clock 20 minutes fast. Not my watch, just my alarm clock. I stopped when I moved in with my future ex-wife.

And...I keep $100 cash hidden in my wallet for emergencies, but I know it's there, so I don't know if that really counts.

I also used to keep $1,000 cash in my murse in case I would need it for bailing myself out. (Please don't ask.) I didn't need it, and when I moved into my apartment in March, I spent most of it on household goods.

The differences between men and women: Hank hides $20 from herself. Josh hides $1000..........for bail.

My husband is a foolie, so I never really know what time it is. But then, it rarely matters for me, since I only have to report to myself! But........if I am pushing really hard for a couple of weeks to get pages written, I can give myself stress chest pains, which is No Fun, so maybe I was never meant to observe the passage of time at all?

We love you, Hank. We really do. I think of you now when I hear the phrase "cock-eyed optimist." ;-)

There's a new one making the rounds that honestly made me laugh out loud:

A portrait of an Indian, perhaps Medicine Man or Chief. The caption reads, "Only the Government would cut a foot from the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and claim the blanket is now longer."

Struggling with insomnia since I was a child, this whole time change thing really snaps my tail. But when I read that, I laughed so long and loud I had tears shooting...:)

When I didn't work from home, I set my alarm every day of the week, because on weekends, it was my satisfied joy in life to turn it off and go back to sleep.

Or a clock-eyed optimist, right?

(I did get--a weird questin in a meeting theo ther thday. Someone said--Admit it, HAnk, yo do always lok on the bright side. How could that person make it sound as if that's a bad thing?)

SO now--is it giong to be darker earlier? It is, right?

Has on-line banking made the check-register technique obsolete? I'm thinking about my co-workers, mch younger, who may not know what a check register is.

Certainly some of them don't know what an alarm clock is. Or a watch. They just use their phones.

Holly, that's fantastic, That is taking real joy from life. I am definitely going to try that. NICE.

Great post, Hank. I LOVE hiding money and forgetting about it. The clock thing wouldn't work for me, but I tend to be chronically early, so I guess time isn't my problem. (I have plenty of others!)

I do feel like switching the time affects me like jet lag. I hate getting out of sync.


Hank, I do the same thing, setting clocks ahead as a sort of error pad. But my husband hates it, and he's been known to stir himself to the point of figuring out how to change the clock to the real time. However, I came home last night from a "Girl Camp" overnight in the country, and only one clock had been changed in the entire house. Sigh.

With cell phones, though, isn't it more difficult to fool yourself? The darn things are so accurate.

My personal preference is for an alarm clock with a nine- to 15-minute snooze button. Mine has a six-minute snooze button--what's the use of that? And how do you know how much snooze time the clock is going to give you when you buy the darn thing? It's too complicated, so I just set my cell phone alarm, instead. That has a nice long 12-minute snooze. Much better.

When my mother-in-law passed away my father-in-law asked me to go through her handbags to see if there were any I wanted. (Hell, yes. She had fabulous taste.) I found three $20 bills stashed away, and was kind of surprised there were no hundreds. She was famous for keeping cash around.

I also try to fool myself, although once I remember how fast the clocks are I waste extra time, so it really doesn't work. The clock on my nightstand is 5 minutes fast, the one in the bathroom is 20 minutes fast, my car is 3 minutes fast, and the phones at work are an hour off. Thanks to the government's "wisdom" in changing when we change our clocks, older computer stuff still changes on the old schedule so we have to manually correct it, then correct it again when the change actually occurs. I wish they'd just eliminate Daylight Saving Time entirely. The only benefit to it is it's a good reminder for changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. Have you?

Is it bad to admit that I don't hide money, but I do put a Snickers bar in the freezer and then forget about it until...I remember?

You only got in trouble for your ad-libbing because you were right.

Sandi, the rationale for changing the time was so that school kids didn't have to wait for the bus in the dark, and that rationale still holds for most of the country.

But when my kids got to middle school and had to be there at 7:25, they were waiting for the bus in the dark.

Two different people on Facebook, including Sarah Strohmeyer, reported that their smoke detectors beeped at them to have batteries changed on the time-change day. Now that's weird. Ours are hard-wired, so I don't have to worry until they start beeping.

Clocks....all 2 of mine that work are set 5 minutes fast. For some reason I have to leave the house on the quarter hour.
You know how you say I have to be there by 9:30 so I'll leave at 9:15? Well then that gives me a 5 minute cush in case I forget (insert cell phone, house keys, wheezer etc. here)to go back.
I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to sleep in the morning. I could probably not go to bed until 3:AM if I could sleep until 9:00. I call it dessert sleep because it is soooo delicious!
And I just found a $100.00 check in one of my dance bags in a birthday card from my folks from 2008 yesterday. Cool beans! Happy birthday to me!
So call me a cockeyed optimist too Hank! You Rock!
For some reason I thought the time change was for farmers. But then what do I know? Ack! It's almost 10:00! I need to leave!

Karen, you may be right about the rationale, but I always heard it was so that the 9-5 workers could have more daylight summer hours to play golf or work on their lawns or shop. DST or not, it's still dark when the schoolbuses rumble past our house and I, for one, would be glad to stay on the same time year-round.

Hank, I play checkbook games, too. When deducting a check in my register, I round off to the next higher dollar. Or, if I'm feeling a little flush, to the next highest five-dollar mark. Amazing how quickly that extra fifty-cents or two dollars can mount up.

Oh, my gosh. How do the smoke detectors know???? ANd what else do they know?

Sorry I am a clock fanatic. I think I was destined to be this way. I have been thinking about this for about a month since the leader of Princess Two's Daisy (pre Brownie Girl Scouts) troop was thirty minutes late to a one hour meeting.

All of the clocks in the house are within a minute of the same time. They are all synced to the cable TV time since that is what lets the VCR (yes I am a geek without a DVR) watch TV when I cannot. If you want me someplace at 7:00, tell me 7:00. I will take care of the rest. This is a problem since I married into the family that doesn't use clocks so 4:30 for dinner means when the cow will still be mooing at 4:30, not cooked at 4:30. How far up the wall does this drive me? Sears Tower high. It is ok, I am teaching the princesses that late = rude.

As a 'puter geek, the servers like being within 5 seconds of the same time as each other. They check against the Naval Observatory twice a day and reset themselves. The desktops check against the servers on every logon.

OK, being obsessed with time was a very good thing in the "30 minutes or three dollars off" days. Everything was timed. Is there a difference between 8:00 and 8:01? Hell yes! One is on time, one is not.

College wasn't much better. My degree is in Aeronautics. My labs had wings and propellers. If an airplane is more than three minutes off at a waypoint (think a cube in the sky a 1000' or so to a side at a set altitude) it is lost according to the FAA. If something means your estimated times are off, you need to calculate the revised times and report them. Now, they don't start looking for you then, but technically you are lost.


YES YES YES! My soul sister!

All my clocks are set to different times. Every time I'm flying in an airplane to a new time zone I consider setting my watch to real time, but then I'd be late to everything for at least a month while I adjusted to it. And it never seems to be the right month to be late for everything. So I never do it.

I have money squirreled away in 6 or 7 different places around the house, and when I've stolen from myself in at least 4 of those places, I go get more cash from the bank to replenish it. I have a similar system going on with chocolate.

I have no idea how much is in my checking account except that it's more than it says in my little check ledger.

Harley, when I travel to different time zones I leave my watch at the time at home, and then mentally adjust. It keeps me sharp, or at least that's the rationale. ;-)

I can't stand not knowing, to the penny, how much money we have. Thank heavens for Quicken.

My stomach is still hungry at the old time -- and so is my cat's.

Oh, watch-setting for travel. Okay, weigh in on this, you all.

I used to keep my watch on Boston time, figuring I needed to know what time it was at home. For SOME reason. And then I wondered, why am I setting myself up to *do math* every time I look at my watch?

I spent my whole trip adding and subratcting and trying to figure out whether I shoud be tired or hongry.

SO--now, I just--well, it sounds odd to say it. I live in the reality of where I am.

Reine, I love the moniker of "foolie." (is it monicker? If I go our of blog to dictionary, I'll never get back here.)

And Margaret, yeah, exactly. It's like--secret saving. But then--why are we keeping it a secret from OURSELVES?


My editor could tell you that I have no sense of time!

Check registers? What an interesting concept! I gave up on those and instead make it a point to live below my means. It works well, except for that little misstep when I bought the condo and automatically wrote out a check for the full balance on Visa -- fixed that potential overdraft with a call to Bank of Overland (love local banks!) and the deposit of my next paycheck.
Clocks aree more or less together now, except that the alarm clocks, all on their own, got ahead of themselves, and I'm letting them stay ahead; it does seem a good trick. Speaking of tricks, when I was still teaching, I'd fight insomnia by lying to myself. "It's Friday night. The alarm will not be going off at 5." Then I would relax and sleep; I was so gullible.
On short trips I have occasionally opted not to bother to change my watch, but I put a little reminder sticker +1 or -2 to keep myself on time . . .
I'm with Thoreau on this: it's NOW everywhere. I've seen a photo of a clock with NOW for all 12 positions . . . my kind of clock.
Alan, I have VCRs, too, and converter boxes and antenna . . . and I do try to be on time and not rude.

Hank, my foolie twin, according to Merriam Webster it is both moniker and monicker from the Shelta -- language of Irish itinerants -- don't you love it!!!:
Main Entry: mon·i·ker
Variant(s): also mon·ick·er \ˈmä-ni-kər\
Function: noun
Etymology: probably from Shelta (language of Irish itinerants) mŭnnik, modification of Irish ainm

I can so relate, Hank. I used to play games with my clocks setting them ahead just a little so I wouldn't be late. Now I just leave early. I work in a business where time is done by the hour, and I need to be aware of the time, and I do notice when clients are habitually late. Not only is it rude, it shows a lack of respect for the work we do. As for money, I hide money, and forget about it and am always pleasantly surprised. But, I use Quicken and a check register-power outages are often destructive. A little anal, you think?

Oh and my husband the rocket scientist - the real kind, not the foolie kind - is a foolie too. He says you have to be a foolie in rocket science, because science is bendable especially in space, and it is never exact, it's all relative. He is my favorite foolie. Well of course be is, but he is the biggest money foolie going. He has whole foolie accounts -- thank god -- that saved our foolie asses when we had to buy a new house in Arizona (before the real estate crash that made it worth less than Memere's chicken coop back in Quebec). Oh and he is such a good foolie he leaves those 20s everywhere, so I can find them. OK maybe not so I can find them, but he doesn't notice when I do.

Hank, I am truly beginning to believe that we are sisters! I keep nearly all of my clocks running half an hour fast; this includes my watch, the microwave, the VCR, the clock in my car. One of my three bedroom clocks (I fall back to sleep a lot, even with the snooze feature) has the correct time and that's because it's one of those that changes automatically when the time changes in the spring and fall. I keep my kitchen on Daylight Savings all the time because DST is my FAVORITE time,and because the clock is in an out of the way place in the kitchen and is therefore difficult to access.

I am NEVER late. One of my sisters once angrily accused me of being "obsessed with arriving on time"; that may be true but it is also polite, in my opinion.(She had asked me for a ride to a 3:15 appointment on a day when I happened to be off from work. She was annoyed that I showed up at her house at 2:45;she ended up not being ready to leave until 3:30! She has her own obsessions!)

My doctors love it that I arrive early,and I am often seen by the doctor early. One of them told me that the late-comers will just have to sit and wait.

It's now everywhere. I love that, Mary! (Just try telling that to my news director when it's time for the 6pm news...)

"science is bendable especially in space"

That's the best line I've EVER heard.

So that means: you never know, right?

This post and comments are comforting. Glad to know I'm not the only one to set my clocks ahead and to engage in a little tomfoolery with my checkbook!

My checkbook shenagigans are a little out of control, actually. I keep track of how much money I actually have in my account inside the front cover of the check register. Each month I deduct from that total the budgeted money for the month, which I then add to main register. So every month I start with the budget allotment, which dwindles down to zero (or into the negative), and then start again. But this isn't all, inside the back cover I track specific expenses. For example, I always allot a certain amount of money for animal expenses for the year. So that money is deducted from inside the front cover but then added back onto the back cover. So when I have a vet bill I deduct the expense off the back cover rather than the main registry. Did that make sense?

I sometimes commit fraud against myself by transferring a little money out of the animal fund and back into my monthly operating expenses fund, for example.

Writing this out, I now see that I'm a tad nuts. But this works for me, really it does! :-)

Sorry, not to be argumentative - just to point out . . . Benjamin Franklin wrote a humorous article called A Economical Project, regarding the thrift of natural versus artificial lighting. He wrote about rules that Paris might adopt to help. Countries around the world now use variations of his ideas to conserve energy and enjoy the benefits of having more daylight. It's a fascinating story http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/c.htm

Karen, there are check register apps for cell phones now. I use one on my iPhone that syncs to my banking program on my computer. It goes to an alternate version for my use only (Step has several), so the reality of our accounts are available, but our foolie accounts are the ones that work for us.

Yes, Lisa, that makes perfect cents..er, sense.\\And that's exactly what I'm getting at--we all have little way to make the universe work or be understandable or feel a little in control. You know?

Including fooling ourselves.

Lil, you need to get your Mac on the iCloud. It will automatically back up and sync all your stuff on all your devices.

Lisa Alber you are a genius. And so is Xena.

And Hank I miss you on TV soooooooo much!

Reine, not for my phone. I always say I have the dumbest "smartphone" ever made. There are no apps for it, period. Which is fine with me, to tell the truth.

I am obsessively on time. Not late, and not early, but smack on time, and I drive myself a little crazy because of it. One of my daughters tends to leave the house at the time she's supposed to be somewhere, and it doesn't matter how far away her destination is from where she lives. That also drives me a little bats.

Hank, I love the notion of 'practicing your ad-libs.'

Our clocks are all variously set (except for the grandfather clock, which we do not let run). The reasons are the same as yours.

'Foolies' indeed!

Thanks, Tom. I must admit, I smile whenever I remember that..wonder what happened to that boss?

Oh, Reine..thank you! And you like iCloud? Thinkin' about it..

I am an on time person. I hate to be late for anything - my mom always jokes that I was born early! My clocks are all set a minute either side of the time or so. Not because of any foolie reason, just because with older digital clocks you have to go around the full 24 hours or 60 minutes to get them exact.

I have a nephew who is always late (except for work), I think that is partly because he grew up in a town so small that everything was literally 5-8 minutes away and now lives in a city where 20 minutes away is a short distance.

My mom used to have at least 20 clocks in her house and one year after spending nearly an hour finding and correcting them all for DST, she decided that 3 clocks were enough work and got rid of the rest.

I don't play any foolie games or hide any money. I am very frugal and keep very close track of the $$ I do or don't have!

Totally, Hank. I like my archaic, hand-written check register accounting system. I even enjoy reconciling it against my monthly bank statement just like I learned to do way back in college accounting class.

Reine: hah! Thanks! Speaking of the genius thing for anyone doing NaNoo -- check out HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/nanowrimo-the-fastest-writers_n_1079670.html?ref=books&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Hi Karen, you do brilliantly without the gadgets and gizmos the rest of us need. Would that I could. My mind is not constructed to be disciplined. That's why I write fiction now. xxxxxR

. . . that probably takes waaaay more discipline-capable synaptic channels than I possess.

Yes, Xena, the FUN is finding it! And that's why our brains let us forget. Maybe...

Yes, Lisa, I bet that's fun too--when the check register matches.

(I suppose, never having had that happen.....!)

Oh Hank . . . I love the iCloud . . . has so simplified my life!

Reine, you and I will have to talk. xoxo

Ramona, I was about to say I would never forget if there was a Snickers Bar in my freezer.

And then I remembered--there IS one!

Harley, love your hiding-chocolate. SO there are more little treasures throughout your house..not just you and the kids!

On hiding chocolate -when we were going through our mom's things after her sudden death, just before I sold her house, we found a couple of boxes of chocolates in a dresser drawer. We have always thought she was hiding them from our youngest sister, who lived with Mom and has been a lifelong chocoholic! It explained to me why sometimes when I was visiting, my mom would whisper to me "do you want some chocolate?", would then leave the room and return with some form of chocolate, and then warn me not to tell my sister! Sadly, my sister's overindulgence in chocolate is causing her some health problems. I would offer to take some of it off her hands, but I doubt that would go over too well with her!

I'm another person who lies to herself about how much money is in the checking account. It would be highly unlikely that I could ever bounce a check. I'm pretty frugal and do not spend money on frivolous or unnecessary items. (And chocolate is ALWAYS a necessity, but in moderation of course. I'm sure you all know that!)

Hank, I forgoot to say earlier that your ad libbing made perfect sense to me. What was the other person's problem! Gee!

Deb, thank you for the vote of confidence. Sigh.

GOsh, we should do a whole blog on what we hide in our dresser drawers. (I don't even want to talk about it!)

I do the same with one alarm clock; when the second alarm goes I have to get out of bed. That's after I hit snooze on the first alarm once or twice. You know what? It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else as long as it works for me.

I used to round entries in my check register up to the next dollar. When I closed a bank account when i moved from New Orleans, I had over $400 over what my register said. It was great.

And the chocolate? Oh, yeah!

And hiding the money? That too.

I strongly support what you have said!

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