All posts by Phil

It’s About Time…

What’s the time?

A very everyday sort of question.  But take away one word and it changes from mundane to challenging…

What is time?

The concept of time allows us to put events, from the most minor to the most important, into a sequence.  For example, you might tell me that a parcel arrived before breakfast.  And then, just as it’s useful to have a unit of length, such as a metre, and not just say things like “This piece of string is too short”, we need units of time.  A day is a very traditional unit of time.  This came, over time (see how the word crops up?) to be divided into hours, minutes, and seconds.  In some fields such as electronics, intervals of less than one nanosecond (that’s one thousand-millionth of a second) may be important. (In that time, this computer has dealt with three events!)

Actually, there’s even a snag with defining the second as a fraction of a day.  The length of a day is not strictly constant. I know that often seems true, but here I’m referring just to the physics of it!  Seriously, days vary and are on average getting ever so slightly longer.  So scientists had to come up with a new way of defining the second.  What they settled on is all to do with radiation.  We’ve all seen how sodium in common salt will turn a gas flame bright yellow, and anyone who’s done much plumbing will know how copper turns a flame green.  Well, that’s all to do with the radiation that’s characteristic of an element.  The element Caesium has in its spectrum a particular wavelength of microwave radiation – and all waves, of course, have individual beats (oscillations.)  The second is now defined, would you believe, as the duration of 9,192,631,770 oscillations of this particular radiation from Caesium 133.  You were dying to know that, weren’t you?  There you are, then!

So much for the scientific bit.  how do we all get on in real life?  Well, it’s often said that work expands to fill the time available.  So, is the reverse true?  If we suddenly find that less time is available to complete a task than we first thought, can we still do it anyway?

To answer this, I carried out an experiment.  I didn’t start out with this intention, but what happened was this: I was installing new lighting in a building used for community purposes, and had been advised that this building was not required to be used during August.  Some problems with work being carried out by others led to a delay in the availability of the building for my work to be done, so I chose to work on the bank holiday.  I made good progress, but a lot of work remained to do.  Imagine, then, how I felt when I learned that the building was to be used the following evening!

I’ll just say that everyone involved was very co-operative and understanding, and the lights went on twenty minutes before the event was due to begin!  So the answer is ‘yes – just, but don’t count on it.’  (Not a very scientific way to put it, I know.)

I could regale you with more scientific theory and more hair-raising anecdotes of my working life.  But not now.  There isn’t time.

This post was prompted by the Writing Workshop here:

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Out of the Mouths of Babes…

The words of little ones surprise us many times
With wisdom far beyond the japes and pranks of nursery rhymes.
For though these little ones seem ‘wet behind the ears’
Out of the mouths of babes come words beyond their years.

Listen to a little one, and in those words you’ll find
A pathway to strict honesty, while still remaining kind.
A trust that calls to you to make your answers fair,
So that, with passing time, that confidence you’ll share.

(Sometimes, of course, their words are not like this
But full of silliness and hate.
That’s mostly at the times they try
Grown-ups to imitate.)

This post was prompted by the ‘100 word challenge’ here.

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Writing Workshop: Wishes

This will be a very short post.  It is too hard for me to put into words, at present, what I wish for in a personal sense.

But I’ll just say that I’d love truth and falsehood, honesty and lies, humility and arrogance, self-denial and greed, fairness and favouritism, to be shown up in an increasing way for what they are.  Because to deceive is not clever.  To defraud is not smart.  Where things are not what they may seem to many, I long for a day of reckoning.  Wherever and whenever a person or organisation presents an unreal façade to the outside observer, concealing a morass of vice and underhand activity, I wish for it to be torn down.

This post was prompted by the Writing Workshop here.

See the responses here.

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The Flower Sculpture

This post was prompted by the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here.  Please visit the post on Julia’s site and scroll down to view the photo.

Perhaps the astute wife of a country town tailor started the idea.  Imagine this:

“Bob, we should make the most of this pageant, you know.  Promote the old firm a bit.”
“Not my scene, sweetheart.  And we seem to get by…”
“Yes, love, we do.  But there’ll be another house to keep soon.  Our Nev has a thing going with Mary, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“You’ve got ideas going round in that brain of yours…”

And so, at the pageant, a cart bearing with the firm’s name carried a floral sculpture round the town: ‘Robert Flowers and Son, Tailors.’

This post is based on my own musings only.  Any similarity with any known incident, or any work of fiction, is unintentional.

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The Gallery: Week 73 – Shoes

So.  Shoes, the lady asks for, and shoes, she – and you, gentle reader – will get.  Even though I’m no great collector of them.  I count myself fortunate to find a matching pair, with non-snapped laces, as and when  I need them.  but what about these?

You see, sometimes, not only feet, but also wheels, have shoes.  But, unlike a smart pair of stilettos, ladies, they’re no fashion accessory.  In fact, they spend their working life hidden away inside a metal drum which spins with the wheel, the shoes themselves being mounted on a backplate.  Whenever a hydraulically-operated system pushes them outwards, the friction thus set up between shoes and drum slows the vehicle.

Although, increasingly, cars are now being equipped with disc brakes on all wheels, drums and shoes, many times bigger than these here, are still used on heavy goods vehicles – and stopping one of those is no mean task!  Just think how many shoes there are on a road tanker!  Oh, and the driver has a pair, too.

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