Dear Matthew Alice: Okay, I was a little lazy this morning when I woke up and hit the snooze bar on my alarm. Nine minutes later, the alarm went off again. Some of my friends say their clocks' snooze time is seven minutes, some say ten. What is the right snooze time and who determines how many minutes to program on my alarm clock? — Aaron Cull, La Jolla
According to the General Time Corp., makers of the Westclox brand, the snooze was defined for us (arbitrarily) years ago by some now-forgotten engineers. The “right” snooze time varies with the type of clock movement you own: old-fashioned electric analog nets you seven minutes; digital/LED and liquid crystal diode give you nine minutes; quartz is strictly for the “snooze, you lose” crowd, with four minutes. They’re the industry standard. The snooze mechanism in the electrics is mechanical. The spring-loaded snooze bar bumps a gear onto the snooze track and turns off the alarm for seven minutes. Digital and LCD are strictly electronic; the snooze bar sends a jolt of voltage into the preprogrammed snooze microchip. A quartz snooze is a mechanical-digital hybrid. Some digital clocks let you regain control of your destiny and define the next day’s snooze time by overriding the programmed default setting, if you want that kind of decision-making responsibility that late at night.