Sheltering-in-Place: Day 42

Sheltering-in-Place: Day 42

A woman in a black dress sits cross-legged, seeming to float. She has pigtails. The text on the image reads  On this,  our 42nd day of SiP,  we contemplate the noble concepts of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

The text on the image reads

On this,
our 42nd day of SiP,
we contemplate the noble concepts
of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

All of this, in my limited understanding, is tied together by the construct that is Time. (I'm capitalizing words because I feel like it. I'm a little sassy today.) What the hell is Time anyway?

It's a tool. Sure, but does it meet the rigors of Hume's toolness of tools? Is Time tooly enough to be called a Tool? 

It's a measurement scale. Absolutely, but the words that describe those increments of Time mean different things depending on context.

Colloquially, "I'll be there in a second!" can mean anywhere from right now to at least 3 minutes from just then.

Scientifically, "It will implode in a second!" means that "It" is expected to implode in 1 second, or 1000 milliseconds. (Thank you, metric system, AKA the International System of Measurement (SI).) For us non-scientific people, we can get away with saying it'll implode in 1/60 of a minute (Thank you ancient Bablylonians and ancient Arabic navigators. (Not everyone works in base-10.) (I love parentheses.)).

I know, I know, no one talks like that, Sarah! 1/60 of a minute. What? 

Well, what about "half a sec" or "a jiffy"? Hmmm? Okay, okay, I just wanted to bring up other cultures and different ways of thinking about counting, measuring, and valuing concepts. I digressed.

Hyper-precisely, thanks to the SI mentioned above, we have something called International Atomic Time (TAI). Yeah. It's kept track of by a number of atomic clocks. According to, TAI is smashed together in a very analytical and regulated way with astronomical time/Universal Time (UT1) to give us the compromise that is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

And now I paraphrase from

So! TAI is measured by atomic clocks. They only deviate 1 second per 100 million years. They count time using oscillating Cesium atoms. How fun is that? It's super steady and has nothing to do with the length of a day on Earth—which varies thanks to, you know, the realities of Earth being a spinning ball of matter rotating around a ball of hot gas hurtling through space. We're slowing down. It's a thing. That means our days are getting longer, but we still count them as 24 hours, or 1440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. Changing that would confuse a lot of people (like me). The solution to the confusion, is to look at UT1 and TAI to create an accurate standard that keeps our planes landing safely across continents. That standard is UTC. 

Neat, right? 

What does this mean for my cupcakes? Nothing! My oven is a feral beast that believes 18 minutes to be a dream in the mind of a ravenous child—and it taunts that child with burned bases or raw middle bits on the regular. But I digress. My oven timer does a good job, regardless of the lack of consistency with the heat output of my oven. My watch and microwave also do a good enough job with keeping time and running timers.

Do seconds or even minutes matter for everything? Not so much. Counting our lockdown time in seconds would be miserable. Just for the sake of illustration, let's do that. This is day 42. The end of my 42nd day happens in 9 hours, 25 minutes, and 14 seconds from right now. 42 full days is 3,628,800 seconds. If I subtract the rest of today, I am left with 3,594,886 seconds in near total seclusion. That doesn't sounds as bad as I expected. Somehow, 42 days seems worse. LOL?

Personal concepts of time are fun.

You know who seconds matter even less to than me and my cupcakes? Geologists. 

Part of how this whole train of thought came to mind today is thanks to the words era and eon showing up repeatedly in my crossword puzzle adventures recently. What's the different between an era and an eon? For most of us, not bloody much! They're long expanses of time often used to express just that, without a real thought given to an actual fixed measurement. But for geologists and anyone else who might have a use for Chronostratigraphic Charts (WHAT!? YES! THIS IS A THING! I'm so happy right now.), those words have specific meanings in this specific context.

Please visit the International Commission on Stratigraphy (!!!) for more information. Please. Seriously. PLEASE. Your inner 8 year old needs this.

The short version for my crossword puzzle needs is

Eon > Era > Period > Epoch > Age

This one is my favorite chart. It's a PDF of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart from 2018.

Okay. I feel complete now. Excited. Happy about having done rudimentary information scouting and collecting. My mind is still too messy for actual research, but I'm pleased that I got this far. 

I'm nerding it up today in a dress from one of my favorite shops, called Goldie's, my librarian-style glasses, another second hand necklace from an antiquing outing with family, and earrings I treated myself to way back when—even though I should have spent the money on groceries. Heh. I'm still alive, so it couldn't have been that poor of a decision, maybe.

P.S. Did you know that a period of 5 years is called a lustrum? I didn't!

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