Back to Measuring Time in “Barney Shows”

October 12, 2006

BarneyOkay, so, this is going to take some explaining. But I mean, yesterday was national coming out day! (Just kidding… well, about coming out, yesterday really was national coming out day, as evidenced by all the chalk writing on the ground saying things like, “It’s okay to be gay,” etc. Man, I really wish God hadn’t washed away all the chalk last night in a torrential downpour of retribution [still kidding]. I would have liked to get a picture [not kidding])

Anygay (man, okay, the gay jokes are going to stop… NOW), let me give you some background about this concept of measuring time in Barney Shows. As I child, I did watch that purple dinosaur. Yes, I did, and I loved it. Especially parodying the “I love you, you love me…” song. “I hate you, you hate me, lets all go kill Barney.” Ah, what a witty little child I was.

But before the parodying-stage, there was a time when I used Barney to track time. If you never watched Barney, it was a half hour show on PBS (it was on PBS, right? I don’t really remember channels that well from that early on in life). This was before I knew how to tell time via clocks (digital or analogue). Whenever I wanted to know how long (in time) something was, I’d ask my parents, “How many more Barney Shows?” For example, while driving out to Indiana to visit my grandparents, instead of asking how many hours were left until we got there, I’d ask how many Barney Shows were left. Cute little kid, wasn’t I?

Now to the point of this (yes, there is a point). Sometime last year Ed made a comment to me about how time seems so amorphous simply because we aren’t equipped to understand time in any quantity greater than a few minutes. We “know” how long an hour is, but we simply don’t really comprehend the length. I’ve found this to be more than true in personal experience as of late. I’ve noticed that I’ll often have an hour before my next class, and I’ll start to worry about not having enough time to get anything done. But then, when the hour begins to pass, I realize how much STUFF I could have gotten done, and therefore how much TIME there must have been. Weird.

Take for example when I started thinking about this article (about 0920). At that point, I had until 1100 before I had my next class. Looking at those two numbers, sure I can take the difference and find out I have 1.5 hours until class. I can even just look at the difference. But those differences don’t really tell me, in any sort of graspable-by-my-mind way, how much time I have.

Then I thought, “Why not measure the time in Barney Shows?” Well, I’ll use a little more sophisticated, nineteen year old language, and call these thirty minute blocks “units.” So, between when I came up with this blog post idea and my next class, I had three units of time. That’s a lot of time. It doesn’t seem like that much when looked at as 0920 – 1100, but it really is.

I don’t know if thirty minutes is the ideal amount of time for a “unit.” I guess I’ll experiment around with the concept. I don’t think I should go any lower than a 15 minute gradient (smaller than that is just a hassle) or much higher (an HOUR is an abstract amount of time [to me]).

Well, I only have two more units until class, so I guess I should get started on something homework related!


PS – I realize that this is all incredibly anal, but time really does have the tendency to slip through our fingers if we don’t keep careful track of it. I like to think of time as a liquid, really really fluid and only useful if we put it in some sort of container. Then we can take advantage of all its fluid properties. Yay for metaphors! I also realize that time doesn’t make much sense at all, and that at some point, all the metaphors break down. Yay for phenomenology!


One Response to “Back to Measuring Time in “Barney Shows””

  1. Davum said

    Wow… what english are you taking? Sounds like shovel city.

    Anyway… yeah. Time’s always slipping through my fingers. If I don’t make a plan for the day, you’d be amazed at how much I don’t get done. It’s pretty funny.

    Therefore, by doing some math, since time is always slipping through my fingers, my unit measure is technically longer than yours.

    Therefore, since I have a longer unit, I dominate you.

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