What Time Is It?


Our lives are governed by time – that artificial construct that measures everything we do.  We divide our days into minutes and hours.  We multiply our days by weeks and months.  And we commemorate our years with an annual cake-and-candles celebration.  We work by the clock, sleep by the clock, arrive and depart by the clock and even play games by the clock.  Our language is full of references to time.  We say things like “fast food,”  “running late,” “split second” and “give me a minute.”  These phrases mean more than their literal meaning and everybody understands that.  Yet, despite our apparent obsession with all things temporal, there are lots of occasions that we don’t bother to measure or even name.  These are regular events that happen to everyone, so it seems weird that we treat them so casually.  Here are just a few examples — and I’m sure the world would be a better place if they had names.  Feel free to offer suggestions!

The time we spend waiting for doctors.  Every doctor, from Boston to Beirut, has a waiting room, and it’s called a waiting room for a reason.  It’s where we go to wait until – I don’t know — your name comes up in the lottery?  And this doesn’t just happen once in a while – it’s every time.  Personally (given this kind of regularity) I think we should have a name for the time we all spend rehearsing our symptoms and looking at out-of-date magazines.

The length of time between when the repairman says:
“No problem!  We’ll get this taken care of in a couple of hours.”
“Nah!  We had to order the part from the manufacturer in Borneo, and we have no idea when it’s going to get here.”
There should be a name for that feeling of gathering doom.

The length of time it takes to get rid of a headache.  I guess we could just call it “to infinity and beyond” and get it over with.

The time between when we buy the gym membership (and swear by all that’s holy we’re going to go 3 times a week) and the time we take the membership card out of our wallets to make room for the Cupcake-of-the-Month card.

The time we spend in a traffic jam, between when every car within 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) slows down to a crawl, and when we discover that there was no road construction, no collision, no dead pedestrians: in fact, no reason whatsoever for traffic to come to a standstill.  Frustration should have a name.

The time we spend with the remote control, dancing through the Netflix’s selections, trying to find something really, really good to watch.

The time between now and never.  This is a negotiable unit of measure that lasts from the time we say something like, “I’ll never drink tequila, again” and the time we think “What the hell” and pull out the Jose Cuervo.

The time between when the computer guy (it’s always a guy) starts telling us what to do to fix the problem and the time we realize we don’t understand a word of this gibberish and start jamming the keyboard — like a Rhesus monkey looking for a food pellet.

But my favourite is:

That situation when something important is going to happen in the near future and we’re completely ready for it.  We’ve done all the prep, got dressed, gathered our stuff, been to the toilet, etc., etc., and now … and now ….  Suddenly, there’s not enough time to do anything but too much time to do nothing.  Seriously!  This needs a name.

Suddenly, Every Day Is Special!

calendar 15

Yesterday was Pi Day, a celebration of the number 3.14159 etc., etc., etc.  Numbers don’t usually get a day, but mathematics is not what you’d call a labour-intensive profession and Math Nerds have a lot of time on their hands.  Today is the Ides of March, an ancient Roman something-or-other festival that nobody would care about if Brutus and his buddies hadn’t taken the opportunity to turn their pal Julius Caesar into a pin cushion.  And Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, a day when everybody tries to drink themselves green because a pack of 19th century New York Irishmen got homesick.  Folks, I think we’re getting a little over- scheduled.

Back in the day, primitive humans observed a couple of annual events to break up the monotony of trying to stave off starvation.  They celebrated Spring because they’d lived through the winter.  “OMG! We made it!”  And they celebrated the autumn harvest because there was food on the table.  “Yay!  Let’s eat!”  Aside from that, there wasn’t all that much for primeval humans to get excited about.

Enter organized religion.  When you have nameable gods, it makes sense to pause from time to time and thank them for life, liberty and the pursuit of getting enough to eat.  “Oh, Lord!  You’ve been awful good to me this year.  Thanks for letting me kill that mastodon.  Here, I made you a necklace out of his bones.  Any chance of getting another one before winter sets in?  Amen.”

From there, it was an easy step to commemorating tribal events — things like the death of a great leader, a particularly successful hunt or a military victory.  “Hey, Benny!  Remember last winter when we kicked the crap out of the Neanderthals?  We should set aside a special day to have a howl and a dance and tell our kids that story.”

The calendar wasn’t all that crowded, and these were important occasions.  They were seasonal or religious events or days of national pride, and for hundreds of years, our society used these times to celebrate our common beliefs and aspirations.  We even added a few new ones, like Thanksgiving and Labour Day, and allowed a couple of “not-so-serious” days to come along for the ride – notably, Hallowe’en and Valentine’s Day.

Welcome to the 20th century.  We loaded up the year with enough “special days” to give every date on the calendar five or six notations.  It all started with Mother’s Day in 1908 because, of course, everybody loves their mother.  She deserves a special day.  But, what about dad?  We couldn’t leave that poor bugger out in the cold.  He needed a day.  And from there it was just open season – Grandparents’ Day, Groundhog Day, Farmers’ Day, Secretaries’ Day, Road Construction Day, Robbie Burns Day, Bloomsday (June 16th) Star Wars Day (May the 4th) and on and on and on.  Suddenly, every day was special.

So, today, if you don’t want to celebrate the 2,062nd anniversary of the death of Julius Caesar, you have some choices — and BTW, these are all official days.  First of all, it’s International Day against Police Brutality (kinda self-explanatory.)  Next, it’s World Consumer Rights Day (Good luck with that one!)  But, it’s also World Day of Muslim Culture (which, depending on where you live, could tie in with item #1) World Speech Day and Eva Longoria’s birthday (she’s 44.)

Personally, though, I’m going with World Contact Day.  That’s right:  This is the day that the International Flying Saucer Bureau wants you to go outside and try your best to contact extra-terrestrials — telepathically.  Don’t knock it!  It beats the hell out of World Malaria Day.


Hello 2019!


Father Time (like Mother Nature) doesn’t wait for any of his children.  He just keeps marching along and you can lead, follow or get out of the way – whatever your preference.  So, today we turn another page in the book of history and become 2019 — whether we like it or not.  Personally, I always ring in the New Year with a renewed sense of optimism.  However, this January 1st, I’m finding it hard to get excited about a year that the United Nations has already designated “The International Year of the Periodic Table.”  (Whoa!  Party on, dude!)  I’m not saying 2019 is going to be a dud (Who knows?  The Cricket World Cup in May might be a barn burner) but for now ….  The thing is, though, we better enjoy 2019 while we got it, because time has a way of strolling along, and before we notice, somehow it’s gone.  Let me demonstrate.

Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Gene Simmons and Bruce Springsteen are all going to celebrate their 70th birthday in 2019.

George W. Bush (who doesn’t look so bad these days) hasn’t been president for 10 years.

Jim Cameron’s Avatar was an instant success 10 years ago until everybody got over the CGI and 3D effects and realized that the story was just a total rip of Dances with Wolves.

The last time Jimmy Fallon was funny was 15 years ago– when he left Saturday Night Live.

Ex-Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, cheated for the first time 20 years ago.  He would do it a total of 7 times before he finally got caught and confessed.

Sponge Bob Square Pants and Vladimir Putin both made their debut 20 years ago.  (Coincidence?  I think not.)

Harry met Sally 30 years ago.  The same year the Berlin Wall came down.

I’m not sure if anybody even watches The Simpsons anymore, but just in case, Maggie is over 30.

All those beautiful half-naked people you see in the photographs of Woodstock (circa 1969) are retired now and probably spend their days worried about their digestion and bitchin’ about Social Security.

Barbie is about to turn 60.  I don’t want to sound catty, but I think that girl has had some cosmetic (plastic) work done.

Kurt Cobain died 25 years ago.

Half the people alive today weren’t even born when Freddie Mercury died in 1991.

But the weirdest thing about the coming year is:

Blade Runner, a movie that many of us grew up with as a dystopian look into our own future, is actually set in Los Angeles, November, 2019.