The End of Time

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The Time Lady is going…going…gone. As of September 19, Californians will no longer be able to call for the time. You remember: you call a number (New York it was 976-1212; here in Northern California it’s POP-CORN) and a female voice says “At the tone the time will be…eight-fifty-six…and 15 seconds.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Northern California’s Time Lady was Joanne Daniels, “an Atlanta actress who recorded the time signals 20 years ago in a Georgia studio – more or less in one take.” No residuals (can you imagine?), just a flat $500. If you want to hear Daniels being interviewed about her life and weird Time, check out sfgate.com/podcasts.

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Another former Time Lady, Jane Barbe, retired in 2003 after 40 years of time-telling. That’s a lot of Time. Some people managed to make a career of Time, but it was definitely a niche market.

So how are they going to go out? Will they bring Daniels in to make a farewell time statement? “When you hear the tone the time will be…eleven-fifty-nine-and…bye now.” Or just “This is the Time Lady and I’m…outa time.” Or just a simple, dignified, “G’night.” And what of the people who aren’t in the loop, who call in the next day and get “Hey, Jimmy’s Pizza, can I take your order?” or “The number you have dialed is not in service” and wonder what has happened to Time Itself. It’s bound to be a little disorienting, don’t you think?

Quickie Update on Bird Flu

I’m preparing a really cool post on the space program, but it’s taking me longer than I thought. So meanwhile, here is a good interview on H5N1 with Dr. Grattan Woodson, a physician who is an expert on flu.

…the chances of a major pandemic are really only 1 in 3. In medicine, that’s a big risk. I don’t know about in other fields, but if something has a 1 in 3 possibility of happening, that’s a really major chance, and we want to do everything we possibly can to reduce the risk or the impact of the event if it happens. And that’s why I wrote the manual on the preparation for the coming pandemic. I wish I could be more definite about the timing. It’s just not possible to say when it will happen. There are only probabilities and it may be this year or it may not. But it will happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. [emphasis mine -mjl]

Read the whole thing. Here is another good article. And again, I strongly urge everyone to familiarize themselves, and prepare. The risk of a pandemic is high, and this flu is a really, really bad one.