11, 41 A.B.
Time The Old-Fashioned Way
do you like best about the female body?"
ability to metabolize complex proteins without the use of pincers."
- From "An Introduction
to the Author of 'Almost Another Jester's Journal'" by Florence T. Mason
(University of Saskatoon Press, 1976), p. 3.
It occurred to me today that I've been telling time the old-fashioned way
lately; i.e., inaccurately.
This started back in April when I put up a cuckoo clock in my living room.
As I knew in my youth and have now relearned, a cuckoo clock is many things
- but accurate ain't one of them.
No matter how many times I reset its little white plastic hands, the thing
has invariably gained or lost a minute or two come the morrow.
In theory, this gain or loss can be regulated by moving the ersatz leaf
on the pendulum up or down to change the swing of that pendulum (and hence
the time which elapses between tocks) but in practice... in practice it
is well nigh impossible to finely tune what is basically an ersatz leaf
on a stick.
And so every day for months now I have had to move those little white plastic
hands once (sometimes even twice!) a day or live with the consequences;
i.e., a cuckoo that tells increasingly outrageous lies as the days go by.
It is bad enough that its name is basically a lie.
I mean, everyone calls it a cuckoo clock when the fact is that it
is a bong-cuckoo clock. That is to say, each of its delightful
little cuckooings is preceded by a little metallic "bong" sound (which
apparently only I can hear).
The term "cuckoo clock" is euphemistically what's known as a "misnomer."
I personally am coming to prefer the term "a lying little imported mechanism
which has the nasty habit of interrupting Dan Rather as he attempts to
read me the big news of the day" but I suppose that's just me.
Jester has taken to referring to it as "meals on wheels," after all, and
he's the smart one....
Do they make digital cuckoo clocks?
Never mind. I'd rather continue playing with my ersatz leaf on a
stick than have to reboot one more thing every day....
Comic Strip Fact-Checker In Action!
Today's "Family Circus" comic strip showed Billy and Jeffy in front of
a TV on which words were displayed.
These words indicated that the sun's surface temperature is 11,000 degrees.
Having long been unimpressed by cartoonist Bil Keane's grasp of reality,
I thought I better check this claim out before I accepted it as true and
woefully embarrassed myself sometime at somebody's wedding by standing
up and shouting "But the sun's surface temperature is 11,000 degrees!"
during the exchange of vows when the surface temperature is actually 714
degrees, or a million and one, or some other temperature completely different
than 11,000. I realize most people probably don't care about the
accuracy of what they shout out at weddings, but hey - I'm not one of them.
I'm what my teacher's used to call "special."
As luck would have it, my Time Almanac (1999 edition) says that the surface
temperature of the sun is 11,000 degrees F.
And my Encyclopedia Britannica strongly hints the same thing.
Not quite able to accept the fact that Mr. Keane might actually be right,
however, I checked a few more sources, and boy - I'm glad I did!
My Universal Almanac (1992 edition) says that the sun's surface temp is
really 10,260 degrees F.
My Compton's Encyclopedia says it's 10,000 degrees F.
My Infopedia 2.0 CD says it's 10,800 degrees F.
Ask Jeeves tells me that it's 9980.334 degrees F.
NASA's site tells me that it's 9926.334 degrees F.
Another site tells me that it's 9932.000 degrees F. Ok - not really.
It actually says that it's a mere 9932 degrees F but I couldn't resist
making my "degrees" line up by adding a few 0s after the decimal point.
On the bright side: No government funds were wasted on the perpetuation
of this fraud.
The real point to remember is this: The surface of the sun might be as
much as 1075 degrees hotter than you think it is, so adjust your cooking
And base your major life decisions on information gleaned from a
comic strip at your own risk!
(Postscript: Still not content to drop this issue, I have just gone outside
with a meat thermometer and attempted to measure the temperature of the
sun myself. Standing facing the sun under a cloudless sky, thermometer
in hand and arm fully extended for a period of not less than five minutes,
I find that the sun registers a temperature of at least 98.6 degrees
F - and maybe as much as 98.8 [depending on whether I look above or below
the bit of Thanksgiving turkey still clinging to the side of the glass].
Getting my stepladder and repeating my measurement produced more or less
the same result (the chief difference being that the stepladder was harder
on my feet than the lawn).
So take your pick: The the temperature of the surface of the sun is somewhere
between 98.6 and 11,000 degrees F.)
(Now, if anyone out there knows if it's really possible to own a dog like
Marmaduke for all these years without being driven to shoot the damn thing,
please let me know. You owe me!)
Sun-Kissed Prior Entry
To Self: Reorient Monitor Before Next Summer)
Poor Substitute For
Supernova In The Sky
(©Now by Dan
Birtcher while suddenly pondering what the temperature
of the surface of
the sun might drop to at night)