March 14, 2008

I’m a Time Lord! Sorta…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Otter @ 5:32 am

I had the rare opportunity of traveling to Fredericksburg, Texas, this week. Unfortunately it was to attend a family funeral. Of course that was an expectedly solemn affair, but I did have something of a “know thyself” moment while I was there. My accommodations were of the typical West Texas Days Inn variety. I’ve always felt a bit sympathetic for the Indian men and women that trek into our dying version of the wild west to manage hotels. But they do seem to have a calling. Alas, I digress. Anyway, I needed to wake up at 7:30AM the next morning and I was left at the mercy of the ubiquitous and nondescript Sunbeam bedside alarm clock. I found myself in a situation which enabled me to exhibit all the traits of a male, a geek, and an engineer in one fell swoop.

I noticed when I retired to my room for the night that my clock was incorrect, so I set it to the correct time and then set the alarm. I watched a bit of TV and then realized that it was wrong again. Being a male I reset the clock in some misguided faith that *this time* it would stay correct (it should be pointed out here that the front office and, likely, a replacement clock were only 20 seconds away). Being a geek I also set my cell phone’s alarm as a backup. A bit later and I realized the clock was once again incorrect. Seemed to be running fast. At this point I gave way to all of my most base instincts. I realized that at this rate I would be jerked from dreamland vastly earlier than I had any intention (or patience) to handle. Of course! This problem is clearly a mathematically solvable one (here comes the engineer)! So, I timed the clock for one of its minutes and then applied the following formula:

Let L = length of time (in hours) before I need to wake up.
Let n = the number of seconds for the brain-damaged clock to tick by one minute.
Let T = current time.

(60/n * L) + T = Time I need to set the alarm for. Long story short, I set the alarm for 3:15PM and woke up right on time. I toyed with the idea of setting the clock back enough that the wakeup time would coincide with 7:30AM, but I decided to leave a solved problem properly solved. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever used one of those hotel room notepads, too. And all this to avoid the 20 second walk to the front office. Awesome!

And, yes, I did measure n at several different intervals to ensure that the time shift was linear (or close enough) not accelerative. Otherwise, I’d have had to get calculus involved and then I’d probably still be sitting in that hotel room chewing on a pencil.

Whee! The nerd trifecta: male, geek, engineer.


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