Can You Tell the Time?


I took me 2 days to notice the time on my atomic clock was wrong.

I had to replace the batteries in the temperature transmitter for our atomic clock on Saturday.  We received this clock as a Christmas present almost 3 years ago and this is the first maintenance it has required.

I slipped 2 new batteries in, yet 3 hours later the outdoor temperature still didn’t register.  Finally, I read the instructions and reset the clock.  Within minutes the outdoor temperature registered, and everything was great.

Except that the clock was an hour off.  Except I didn’t notice that until last night; almost 36 hours later.

I quickly realized the problem.  The atomic clock doesn’t know in which time zone it is, so I set it to Central.  The other part of the problem, the part that really baffled me, took a few minutes longer.

Why had I not noticed the hour being wrong?

I had looked at the clock quite a few times over that 36 hour span. I came to realize, though, that when I check that clock for time, I tend to check it only for the minutes part of the time.  When I’m at home I generally know the hour.  So, when I look at this clock, my mind already knows the hour, and thus, for 36 hours, had disregarded that incorrect information from the clock.

As soon as I had figured this out, I couldn’t help but wonder what other information I assume.  I work with teenagers, and find that most of us bring to the table all sorts of assumptions and expectations about teenagers.

Some of them are fair, some unfair.  From my experience with the atomic clock, however, I am thinking that perhaps we all ought to consider what information or knowledge we merely assume, and thus ignore the opportunities that abound to see and understand what is actually going on around us.

One thought on “Can You Tell the Time?

  1. Some strands of modernity urge us to assume nothing. Explore, investigate, attain clarity about everything. I’m enough of a modern to find that idea attractive. Until I actually try it. What I actually prefer is for other people to not merely assume the things I have explored and investigated, on the assumption (oops!) that if they explore like I have, they will come to a conclusion that fits with mine. I chafe when other people want me to stop assuming about the things THEY have explored more deeply.

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