On time

This [via Counterparties] is not your standard commencement speech about stopping to look around and breathe and be aware of the mundane miracles you’re missing.  Our perception of and perspective on time are fluid.  This is one of my favorites:  

If this speech was a millennium long then right now the first smallpox vaccinations would be going on in England, and a society to oppose vaccination was being established in Boston. That was in the late 1700s, although smallpox wouldn’t be officially eradicated until 1979.

Time as we think of it now is vastly different than how it was considered just a few decades ago [when people didn’t even think of time in 10-year chunks], and the units are inexorably shrinking.

A former boss has a stock ticker in his study, a steampunk-looking machine with gears and a spool and wood and brass and glass and actual ticker tape.  He earned a palatial home on a 6-acre plot of land in bucolic southern NJ, from where he has been commuting to Manhattan for the last 40 years.  At the time I was working for him, I could not imagine anyone wanting to live anywhere besides New York.

When I first started working on the trading floor, I marveled that we still wrote on paper tickets, time-stamped and faxed [faxed!] them.  Not only that, but Compliance requires the time clock be synchronized by stamping a sheet of paper between 9:00am and 9:30am and again between 12:00pm and 3:00pm, at any minute in those ranges but within 1 second of :00 [so xx:xx:59, xx:xx:00 or xx:xx:01].  The purpose of this is to demonstrate that the clock we are basing our trading on is within 1 second of the National Institute of Standards and Technology standard.  Twice daily I can be found sitting on a desk, sighing with impatience, paper poised in hand, stalking digitally phasing numbers.  These are excruciatingly unhurried seconds, ones that hail from anywhere but New York, moseying during rush hour.  But there are other seconds as well.  These leave you feeling the tourist; they don’t stop and wait for you as you try to capture a 3-minute post-earnings dive, a movement that itself might not have even been possible a few years ago.

“Hey, how’s it going?” “Busy, just crazy busy.  How are you?”  “So busy. I’m fucking exhausted.” “Me, too.” “Seriously.”

I attended college in the age of Telnet and Ethernet, when the Internet [with a capital “I”] couldn’t compete with New York because the most entertaining meme [before we even knew to refer to it as such] at the time was The Hamster Dance.  14 years later, I hate New York and earlier today watched an auto-tuned cat sing the theme song to Game of Thrones.

Why does the sun appear to move so quickly when it just rises over the horizon or the mountains or wherever you first see it emerge?  It never seems to move that fast during the day.

A piece of advice someone gave me recently was to sit on the idea for 6 months before getting a tattoo.  So I’m anxiously counting down to December, just in time for my birthday…


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