Daily Archives: November 5, 2008

How many Spongebobs?

I’ve always been a nut about “time.” There are those who’d just say I’m a nut, but sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t.

There’s a lot I like about “time.” I really like time travel stories and the great “what if” anomalies they create. Many people enjoy the “what if” game. Heck, since September, there’s been a whole lot of “if only” games played around the nation following college football Saturday. Those “if only” games are really just another version of the “what if” games.

Historians and military experts also play a lot of the “what if” games. The military does it because they want to be able to have the army prepared for any situation or circumstance. Historians do it in order to figure out all the whys and wherefores of history.

Most folks don’t know that Sir Winston Churchill, the man who would become Prime Minister of England, was one of the very first to write an American Civil War “what if?” Churchill, himself a student of history, was an admirer of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Churchill’s fictitious story posited what might have happened had Lee lost Gettysburg—it came from a perspective that Lee had actually won the battle.

It’s interesting, I think, how we measure distance with time. Back in the olden days, of which my Dad can certainly remember, distance was measured by how many days it would take you to get from one place to another. Paragould was about a day’s ride from Piggott, or Oxford about a day’s ride from Batesville. A horse can travel approximately 25 miles in a day…one pulling a covered wagon, not as far.

Many of the other old-timers can tell you actual mileage from one place to another, much of that committed to memory.

When I lived in California, I noticed that everyone measured distance by how long it would take you to travel from point A to point B in a car. And, it was always tempered by what time of day the trip was—it would take longer during rush hour traffic. It was important to know that a 20 minute drive at 10 a.m. could take two hours at 5 p.m.

We’ve all laughed at the various and sundry “are we there yet” skits. I laughed at them, too…until Brett started in. We decided that Brett knew how to measure certain things, but he didn’t really have a concept of what an hour was. He did know, however, how long an episode of SpongeBob is…so, whenever we got the question of how much longer, we answered in number of SpongeBobs…it is four SpongeBobs from here to Dyersburg. He understood that. He still does…and he asks “how many Spongebobs?”

Even astronomers measure distance with time answers. Star A is x number of light-years from Star B. Oh sure, astronomers will often tell you how far in distance, but it is the light-year measurements they often go back to.

We’ve got all kinds of neat sayings about time: A stitch in time saves nine; in the nick of time; all in due time; long time no see; third time’s a charm; time flies when you’re having fun; and too many others to include here.

The main thing I know is that unlike distance, you can’t go back in time.

But it would be cool if you could.

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