Monday, June 23, 2008

In Support of a 26-Hour Day

I have a complaint about Earth: it rotates too fast.

Normally, I'm all for Earth. I get all weepy when I see pictures of Earth from above and I adore lunar eclipses and I hate people who kill sea turtles and all that. Earth is my home.

However, the fact is that at bedtime I don't ever want to go to bed; there are too many fun things I want to do; I could easily stay up for another two hours, then get my 8 hours of sleep, and wake up to another day of the same schedule. Why can't I have 18 hours to be awake and then 8 for sleeping? Earth rotates just a bit too fast. Am I the only one who feels this way? Don't the days seem too short? What are we to do?

If I had two extra hours a day, I would use one hour to read Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and one hour to eat ice cream and listen to music I've never heard before. What would you do?

Incidentally, are all of you acquainted with Lord Peter Wimsey? In case you're not, I will now take it upon myself to acquaint you. Lord Peter is the creation of mystery guru Dorothy L. Sayers. He's exceedingly rich and intelligent and also slightly funny-looking and lives in post World War I England, and he's always solving crimes. He can't help himself, it's the way he's built. His adventures are forever interesting and funny, and the later ones especially (say, from the novel Strong Poison on) can be incredibly rich, beautiful, and satisfying.

Here, if you have a few minutes to enjoy it, is an excerpt from the short story The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach:

"[Wimsey] had great fun at the [antique book] sale next day. He found a ring of dealers in possession, happily engaged in conducting a knockout. Having lain low for an hour in a retired position behind a large piece of statuary, he emerged, just as the hammer was falling upon the Catullus for a price representing the tenth part of its value, with an overbid so large, prompt, and sonorous that the ring gasped with a sense of outrage. Skrymes -- a dealer who had sworn an internal enmity to Wimsey on account of a previous little encounter over a Justinian -- pulled himself together and offered a fifty-pound advance. Wimsey promptly doubled his bid. Scrymes overbid him fifty again. Wimsey instantly jumped another hundred, in the tone of a man prepared to go on till Doomsday. Scrymes scowled and was silent. Somebody raised it fifty more; Wimsey made it guineas and the hammer fell. Encouraged by this success, Wimsey, feeling that his hand was in, romped happily into the bidding for the next lot, a Hypnerotomachia which he already possessed, and for which he felt no desire whatsoever. Scrymes, annoyed by his defeat, set his teeth, determining that, if Wimsey was in the bidding mood, he should pay through the nose for his rashness. Wimsey, entering into the spirit of the thing, skied the bidding with enthusiasm. The dealers, knowing his reputation as a collector, and fancying that there must be some special excellence about the book that they had failed to observe, joined in whole-heartedly, and the fun became fast and furious. Eventually they all dropped out again, leaving Scrymes and Wimsey in together. At which point Wimsey, observing a note of hesitation in the dealer's voice, neatly extricated himself and left Mr Scrymes with the baby. After this disaster, the ring became sulky and demoralized and refused to bid at all, and a timid little outsider, suddenly flinging himself into the arena, became the owner of a fine fourteenth-century missal at bargain price. Crimson with excitement and surprise, he paid for his purchase and ran out of the room like a rabbit, hugging the missal as though he expected to have it snatched from him. Wimsey thereupon set himself seriously to acquire a few fine early printed books, and, having accomplished this, retired, covered with laurels and hatred."

(hee hee ho ho hoo)

Finally, closing with some business: if you'd like to receive my semi-weekly posts as emails OR subscribe to my blog OR friend me with your lj account, check out the features I've added on the left. And now, I must run; Earth is spinning and I'm trying to keep up...

4 comments:

mrmorse said...

When I was in college, various friends of mine lived on unusual sleep schedules of varying degrees of insanity. One of the relatively sane ones was a 28 hour day.

This actually works out conveniently to a six day week that matches the traditional 24 hour day, seven day week in length. If your daily schedule is flexible enough, this can actually work and not result in your being institutionalized.

(As with all of my suggestions, this should be approached with caution.)

kristin cashore said...

(As with all of my suggestions, this should be approached with caution.)

Yes, I recall that you were the fellow who suggested I save my clutch by resorting to clutch-free shifting, pulverizing my transmission in the process...

JackAcme said...

You may be pleased to know that the rotation of the earth is slowing down and you can look forward to a 28 hour day in a mere 1/2 billion years or so. In other news I've just started "Gracelings" and am enjoying it very much and have a crush on you thanks to your kickass heroine and lovely author photo.

-- Jackacme@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

there seems to be two types of people: those who wake up in the morning full of energy, ready for breakfast and those who wake up more slowly and might not have an appetite for food for maybe an hour or two after rising.
however those 'hit the ground running' types also seem to hit a wall after having been awake for 14-16 hours where those of us morning 'sleepyheads' seem to be able to go on working deep into the night, writing things like this.
for me, a 25-26 hour day would be great but would it wreak havoc on those annoying 'morning people'? (i secretly wish i could be one of them!)
i think i recall reading about a study years ago in which volunteers lived and worked in an environment where they did not know what time of day it was-no access to clocks or windows.
working, eating, sleeping, turning artificial light on and off as it suited them, it was observed that most participants gravitated to what averaged to be a 25 hour day/cycle. i have been unable to locate this study or any other like it; it may never have happened but such an experiment could be helpful to see what sleeping/waking cycles might be observed without the tyranny of the earth's speed of rotation.
joe