April 6, 2004 - Give Ed Some Time
On Sunday morning, time sprung ahead. And whether we liked it or not, we all had to set our clocks and watches forward and give up that requisite hour to the sun gods. Yesterday morning, the birds sang, the sun rose, and the poppies opened an hour later than they did the week before. The dedicated staff and everyone else in the country (with the exception of parts of Arizona and the Midwest), had to get started an hour earlier. Monday was a groggy, sleepy, and gloomy day.
So, with all the clock and watch setting going on, you would think that everybody would have gotten their times straight, checking with the Internet, cable TV, or some other reliable source of time when they moved their minute hands once around the dial.
The dedicated staff of edhat.com went to find out how accurate watches were on this first Monday of daylight savings time. First, we synchronized our watches with the official time that is kept under lock and key at the Boulder Colorado Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. You can access the accurate time from their website.
With our highly accurate watches hidden deep in our pockets, we walked up and down State Street asking people for the time.
“Excuse me,” we said, “Do you know what time it is?”
The response we got was similar from all we asked. While you would think that one of them would break into song …
“Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? ...”
But, no one did. Mostly they went from initial shock that someone they did not know would be speaking to them, to a guarded self-protective mode in case we were asking for money (or selling timeshares), to relief that all we wanted was the time. And they gave it to us, but usually they rounded. Once the time was on our side, we gave a quick “Thank You” and scurried away out of sight to compare their time to the one on our watches.
We found that 69% of the watches were slow, and 31% of the watches were fast. The average watch was 152 seconds off (2 minutes, 32 seconds). Not to burden our readers with damn lies and statistics, but the average watch was 32 seconds slow.
In our contest, most subscribers incorrectly picked fast. The winner of the edhat “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” survey was BoopEd, whose guess of slow and 145 seconds was the closest. BoopEd wins free movie tickets. Time Machine, Time Bandits, Once Upon a Time in America … there are plenty of good movies to see but don’t be late!
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