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§9.8. Approximate times, lengths of time

Clocks and watches vary considerably in how much detail they show, and we tend not to report the time over-precisely: half-past ten is an elastic concept. The following room description for the Clock Chamber comes across much more naturally:

The Clock Chamber is a room. "The dark chamber behind the clock face, a mill-room of gears which grind down the seconds. Through the glass you can see the reversed hands reading [the time of day to the nearest five minutes in words]."

The phrase "... to the nearest ..." rounds off the given time, just as it sounds; as we'll see later, it can actually round off any arithmetic values, not just times. For instance, "9:58 PM to the nearest ten minutes" is 10:00 PM.

In talking about lengths of time, rather than times of day, it's useful to have these:

(number)** minutes ... time**

This phrase converts numbers into lengths of time. Example:

Because it's a phrase, not just a notation for writing constants down, the number doesn't have to be given literally:

let X be 5;

if the player is in the Slow Room, now X is 10;

let deadline be the time of day plus X minutes;

Note that lengths of time can't exceed 1440 minutes.

(number)** hours ... time**

This phrase converts numbers into lengths of time. Example:

Note that lengths of time can't exceed 24 hours.