When it comes to time I seem to have a lot of conflicting behaviors. If a meeting is supposed to start at 10AM, I strive to be there on time. If my meeting is supposed to last one hour, it will end before the hour is up. These actions are categorized by many people as politeness.  I actually consider it a form of efficiency. Starting a meeting on time and ending it on time forces a lot of efficient behaviors like being prompt, sticking to an agenda, not letting the conversation wander. It also allows people that have meetings directly following the current one get to the next one on time.

I’ve noticed that this does not seem to apply to social events. I’ve surprised many a host or hostess by promptly showing up at the stated time. While I’m smart enough to recognize that this is not optimal behavior, I’ve never managed to come up with a correction factor that I felt comfortable with. As a result, I have decided to continue to show up at the stated time. That way only one of us is uncomfortable with when I show up.

What surprises me is that this obsession with time does not extend past the hours in a day. When I buy a watch, I want it to display the day, month and year because I’m often less sure what month it is than what hour it is. History test, after history test, I have successfully demonstrated to numerous history professors that attaching meaning to a date in time is beyond my capability. Birthdays, holidays, historic days, none of them stick.

I’ve often wondered if this is not due to the time scales I have to work with. While you are reading this the processor on your device is probably humming along at one gigahertz or better. Ever wonder what that means? Referencing Wikipedia, a blink of an eye is .03 seconds, or commonly referenced as 30 milliseconds. There are 1000 microseconds in a millisecond and a thousand nanoseconds in a microsecond. At one gigahertz, your processor is changing state every nanosecond. Now, unless you have a very fast or efficient processor, it takes many of these states to do a memory fetch and execute an instruction but most of the microprocessor  designs require nanosecond resolution.  A few nanoseconds too fast or too late and you won’t believe how many errors you can generate.

While I’m on the subject, I would like to give a moment of respect to the many physicists out there. They measure time in femtoseconds, one millionth of my nanoseconds.

Back to that eye blink. It takes 30 million nanoseconds to blink your eye. There are one billion nanoseconds in a second. Multiply that times the number of seconds a day, 86400, and you get 86 trillion nanoseconds in a day.  This is a number that is simply beyond my comprehension. Nanoseconds, microseconds, milliseconds, seconds, minutes and hours, when I consider time those seem to be the limits of my comprehension.

So, dear wife, while I’m truly sorry I forgot our anniversary, this is my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

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