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Like sands through the minute glass ...

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Got a minute?

If you're like most Americans, hooked to each other by the tentacles of technology and bending under the weight of to-do lists, there just doesn't seem to be enough minutes in the day.

But consider: In 60 seconds, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong pedals about 100 revolutions. Some woodpeckers hammer their beaks against a tree 100 times. A mosquito flaps its wings 36,000 times. You blink an average 12 to 15 times.

"I've often felt that things are blurred, and we don't remember what went on or appreciate what just happened," says Michael Rosen, author of The 60-Second Encyclopedia: The Most Amazing Things Ever Done in a Single Minute! (Workman, $11.95), the source of the above facts.

"We decide to multi-task instead of experience."

Narrowing his focus on this one unit of time, Rosen found that a lot can happen in a minute. His book, which comes with a minute sandglass, is packed with an array of natural, historical, biological and sociological occurrences that take place in 60 seconds.

For example, every minute, 6,000 lightning bolts light up the skies, and 15,838 coins are produced by the U.S. Mint. "It's really looking closely at (a grain of time) that we hadn't realized was really complicated," Rosen says.

Some aspects of the book are geared toward children. Sprinkled throughout are games and activities designed to last 60 seconds. "The Famous Ketchup Challenge," for example, involves racing your favorite condiments.

And for adults, Rosen says, a look at things that happen in a single minute might provide some perspective. When a person sees himself as one person in a world that holds so much, "that awareness in the multiplicity of life is inspiring and humbling."

Rosen is not the only author who has taken a don't-miss-the-forest-for-the-trees approach.

London-based journalist Carl Honore was motivated last year to write In Praise of Slowness when he found himself tempted by a book of one-minute bedtime stories to read to his son.

As Rosen points out, there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Honore says people rush through those minutes like "self-sustaining whirling dervishes." He writes about lifestyle changes that savor rather than speed experiences.

Rosen ends his book on a reflective note: "A minute can make a world of difference." After all, he notes in the encyclopedia, the late pianist Liberace is still in the record books more than 18 years after his death for playing the most notes - 3,000 - in a minute.

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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