Originally Published: Friday, 15 June 2001 Author: Kristina Pfaff-Harris
Published to: opinion_articles/opinion Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Kristina in Space: Don't have Enough Time? Blame the Physicists

At last, it's Friday again. Didn't that seem like a quick week to you? This Friday Linux.com's satirical column, Kristina in Space takes a look at the frightening but all-too-real phenomenon of shrinking time. Pfaff-Harris knows which geeks to blame for this one: It's the Physicists. Read on.

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Here I am: back from a week in the woods, and looking forward to the joys of working. That is, I would be looking forward to it, had I not suddenly realized something terrifying: Some evil person is shrinking time.

Take my recent camping trip, for example. It was over a week long according to the calendar, but it only felt like a day or so. Last year, it felt like at least three days, and the year before it felt like about five. Lest you think I'm just paranoid, I've confirmed my suspicions with a variety of other people who have also noticed that time is shrinking. Everyone I've spoken to this week has allowed as how their Spring Break from school or their vacation from work have seemed a lot shorter than they actually were. Many, many others have backed up my own perceptions.

I now know that time is, in fact, shrinking.

How and Why?

The only question that remains is how and why this could occur. I mean, what possible reason could there be for such a phenomenon? And who would be so cruel as to shrink that one commodity that we never have enough of?

After much intensive research and investigation I have come up with a brilliant theory: It's got to be the physicists. Those particular geeks are always messing about with formulas and equations and figuring out stuff about how the universe works. For instance, did you know there are equations about time? Einstein came up with some good ones. Anyway, these physicists have most likely been sitting in a top-secret lab somewhere and fiddling with time so that even though the clock still says the same thing, the actual amount of time spent is getting shorter and shorter.

As for their motive--well, the way I see it, these are PhD's who had to teach one too many Physics 101 courses and they just snapped after the strain of those 200-student lab sessions. Can you imagine having to puzzle out partial credit for a screaming horde of that many people every semester? Makes me shudder just to think about it.

The Conspiracy

Even more frightening is the fact that this has obviously been going on for many years: getting worse with each passing season. For instance, I don't know about you but I clearly remember when I was in first grade how a month was a really astronomically long time. Now it's nothing but a few minutes in between the time I'm given a program to write and the time I realize it's due tomorrow. Lest you misunderstand, let me make one thing clear. I absolutely do not procrastinate, it's just that time is shrinking. (As a side note, I wouldn't try using that excuse for why you didn't make your deadline, though. Many other people in high places are obviously in on this fiendish plot as well. When I tried to patiently explain the whole time-shrinkage conspiracy to my stubborn editor, he merely gave me a stony glare and said that I should seek help. You have been warned.)

I'm positive that this time shrinking conspiracy is why I'm more tired lately and never seem to have enough time to do what I need to get done. It's the reason I always seem to be frantically doing assignments at the last minute and running around like a maniac trying to get things turned in by deadline. And no, spending the day tracking down my Erdos number or reading through online journals does not contribute to exhaustion: Believe me, I'm keeping track.

The Plan

At this point, though, it really doesn't matter. Let them continue with their evil plot! For you see, I have a plan: A most ingenious plan. From now on, I refuse to believe in this concept of time as reckoned by clocks. No indeed, instead I'm going to go by the only indicator of true time: my own darn perceptions. For this reason, I'm not going to turn in my article for next Friday until about three weeks after it's due, which is, by my reckoning, actually about a week from today. I will also start going to work every 4th day instead of every day, since this way I'll be working a true eight hours and a normal week.

The plan can't miss: I'll get the right amount of sleep, have time to get things accomplished and will, overall, lead a happier and more productive life. Minor problems might arise, like not being able to convince a client that their project isn't really due until 2007 (shrink-time), but these are small issues in terms of the overall big picture. At least I will know in my heart that when they say it's 2007, it'll really be July, 2001 by true time. I may lose one or two projects because of this, but after all, what's life without a few sacrifices along the way?

And now, I believe I'll take a nap. I'll wake up in a few days, which for me, will be about an hour.

Kristina Pfaff-Harris has, over the years, worked as: Air Traffic Controller with the US Army, Casino lounge singer, freelance journalist, portrait photographer, English teacher, Resume writer and self-marketing consultant, systems administrator and Perl programmer, among other things. Her years of extensive on-the-job research and training, combined with an amazing general knowledge of all things geek, led to her current position as features writer for Linux.com.





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