A Few Antedotes about Time

The clocks in my house run five minutes fast, and it continually reminds me of a story that happened this summer in China. A friend of mine, who apparently constantly runs late, had the ingenious idea of setting his watch ten minutes fast, so that when he’ll be ten minutes earlier than he would have been to whatever meeting he needed to attend. This backfired when he was giving a talk. Thinking he had ten more minutes, he continued speaking for five more minutes and delightfully announced that his talk would end early. Of course, in reality, he went five minutes over.

While it’s generally better to end early than end late, I generally want to act out the German stereotype of being precisely on time and end my talks at the appointed time. One year, when I taught classes, I would give ten minute warm-up exercises for the students to do before lecturing. Whenever I gave talks that year, I would end ten minutes early. It was quite troubling; apparently, I had gotten so accustomed to lecturing for 40 minutes that my internal clock prepared for exactly 40 minutes worth of material for my talks as well.

Some people are surprised that I wear a watch (especially before the advent of smartwatches), but it’s a much more innocuous way of telling the time. As I mentioned before, I hate going over time, especially when teaching (no ending bells in the University of Oregon). So early on, before I got accustomed to lecture timing, I would constantly check the time on my phone to make sure I wouldn’t go over. A student noticed this and angrily commented on my teaching evaluations that I was constantly checking my phone.

For those living in the US (and not in Arizona or any place without daylight savings), don’t forget to set back your clock tonight (if you are old-fashioned like I am).


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