The Many Faces of the Pomodoro

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The original Pomodoro was a kitchen timer shaped and colored like a tomato, hence Pomodoro if your Italian is up to snuff. The town I live in has a lifetime ban on Pomodoro timers, viewing them as something from Europe, possibly therefore socialist, and certainly not edible, and a threat to American kitchen timers manufactured in China.

The white kitchen timer pictured above is an American product manufactured for WalMart in China. All it lacks is a little Stars and Stripes banner to fly out and wave when time is up.

Frankly, I don’t understand why noisy kitchen timers are considered so ideal for Pomodoro work. When this sucker hits zero, the blast of its bell sends shockwaves through my brain, pretty much wiping out whatever I was just  reading or studying. With all due respect to the founders of the Pomodoro movement, this is simply not the solution, unless of course one is meant to bury the timer inside a large tomato in order to muffle the bell and prevent neuronal shock.

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There are, of course, a wide range of digital timers, such as the dandy little Radio Shack model pictured on the right. It’s quite flexible, with two timers, up counters and down counters, counting to the second if necessary, and fairly easy to use. Its alarm is a faint beep, perfectly acceptable to my neurons and synapses, quiet, but with sufficient volume to get my attention. It does not, however, tick, and the Pomodorian founders seem to consider that the ticking sound, a staple of kitchen timers, is necessary to keep one focused on the passing of time. One might think that one’s focus should be on the reading material, but one is not an expert in these metaphysical matters. One would note that the timer is custom manufactured for Radio Shack in China.

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Here’s another dandy Radio Shack timer, manufactured in China by very silly Chinese people, or at the very least designed by very silly people somewhere. Notice the round bottom. This bloody little thing won’t stand up: it must be clipped to something, or at the very least leaned against something, as in the picture. Very annoying. This particular model also eats batteries, so I pulled the last button battery out and soldered in leads from an AA battery case, which I taped to the back of the thing. It’s been happy for a couple of years, at least, on one battery. On the other hand, the weight of the battery simply exacerbates the thing’s balance problems.

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Here’s my latest acquisition from WalMart. Yes, it’s made in China. It counts time down, it counts time up. It’s easy to use. It stands up on its own. It’s kind of cute. It sounds a quiet but insistent double beep when time is up, very polite to the neurons. It takes a triple-A battery so it should last a while. The display is not the easiest to read, but since I’m supposed to be reading a book or some such why would I want to be reading the timer?

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This next model simply does not work at all. It’s an American product, designed and manufactured right here in the U S of A. It’s only got one timer and that one doesn’t count up or down. It doesn’t do much of anything. It is, however, very efficient as far as power consumption, not using any. The best that can be said of it is that its color scheme is not displeasing, and the alarm does not disturb, of course.

I realize this has been a highly technical discussion, larded with terms of techspeak and timetalk, but it had to be done as I seek to fill in the picture of my journey through LearningLand.

Time to run. I believe I hear the Red Queen approaching. Ta ta. Tick tock, tick tock.

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