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Making the most of our time

By Staff | Mar 5, 2010

If you’ve ever asked, “Where does the time go?” Now you know.

Just when you thought there weren’t enough hours in the day already to finish all you need to do, there’s more bad news.

Earth’s days may have gotten a little bit shorter since the massive earthquake in Chile, but don’t feel bad if you haven’t noticed.

According to scientists, the difference would be only about one-millionth of a second. A scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and colleagues calculated that last month’s quake slightly moved the Earth off its axis shortening the day by 1.26 microseconds. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.

An earthquake can make Earth rotate faster by nudging some of its mass closer to the planet’s axis, just as ice skaters can speed up their spins by pulling in their arms. Conversely, a quake can slow the rotation and lengthen the day if it redistributes mass away from that axis. I guess this time we are on the minus side.

So a bunch of big quakes could add up to make the day shorter to a point where we might even notice.

Living in this frozen tundra makes us look forward to spring and longer days when we can enjoy those coveted outdoor activities. Then just as spring finally approaches, Mother Nature goes ahead and steals time back from us.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get more organized. I’ve been taking measures to get my life in order and clear out the junk. No more junk all over the kitchen table, no more throwing “stuff” into the junk drawer and forgetting about it. I’ve been trying to not let the junk mail pile up. But now I have less time to do all that.

Just when I found myself complaining that there isn’t enough time in a day to work, take care of all the kids’ needs, not to mention all the household chores, the days are getting shorter.

But I guess I could always add it to my list of excuses of why all that stuff doesn’t get done.

My husband: “Did you wash a load of socks?”

Me: “Nope. Now that the day is 1.26 microseconds shorter, I just couldn’t squeeze that in.”

My daughter: “Mommy did you get more Coco Puffs from the grocery store?”

Me: “Sorry, honey, with 1.26 microseconds less to get everything done, I just couldn’t.”

I’m pretty sure my three-year-old won’t understand what that means. But as soon as she’s managing her own household years down the road, she’ll know exactly what it’s all about to wish for more time in the day to get all of it done. They say as you get older, time seems to go faster. But I wonder. Here’s my theory.

The problem is that time remains the same, we are changing (and not for the better I think). We are trying desperately to cram as much activity as possible into the amount of time that we have, and, as a result, we are missing out on the “flavor” of the moment. Take driving for example. Do you really have to talk on your cell phone while driving at the same time? Must you read the newspaper while you’re eating dinner?

We all know most of our multi-tasking isn’t really necessary, but there are only so many seconds in the day and we have to make the most of every one of them.

Well, now there are 1.26 microseconds less of them. So I guess we have to make the most of what’s left.

Mullally is a Tribune writer.

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