Saturday, November 2, 2013
It dawned on me this morning, no pun intended.
Tonight we “fall back”. Oh sure, the HR department at work put up the little reminders a week ago. Yeah, the church bulletin has been going on about it for the past 2 or so weeks. I think I heard the guy on the radio mention it once or twice.
But, hey, I’m a guy. Sometimes, it takes us a bit longer than average to get the message. While my Lovely Bride and I were having breakfast, she mentioned helping a friend of ours distribute his campaign literature tonight. Without thinking, I blurted out “Wow… you get an extra hour to lit drop tonight.”
We stared at one another in stunned silence. She, because I actually remembered the time change, and I because I was suddenly seized with the technological enormity of it all.
See, years ago, before the microchip, GPS and (not-so) smart phones, the semi-annual ritual of changing the clocks on Time Change Sunday (actually Saturday night) was fairly easy and straight forward. The pendulum driven clocks were a breeze in the Spring. One would open the glass cover, or unlock the glass fronted door on the grandfather clocks, and gently advance the minute hand. As the big hand would circumnavigate the face of the clock, the little hand would follow as if by magic! When one reached the desired Daylight Savings Time, one stopped moving the minute hand, closed the door, and it was done.
Returning to Standard Time in the Fall was even more simple. One opened the door as before, or reached around behind if an old mantle clock, and stopped the pendulum in mid swing. The clock was now stopped. After an hour, one returned to the clock, gave the pendulum a gentle shove, and the clock now read the desired time. The only major glitch would be if one forgot to return at the end of an hour. This was easily remedied by advancing the hands as above until the correct time was showing.
Likewise, wall clocks were very simple to change. The most difficult part was lining up the little hook thing on the back of the clock properly with the picture hanger or nail upon which it hung. Changing time was a snap! Each of the clocks would have a little knob protruding from the center of the plastic covering the face of the clock. One would grasp the little knob, and turn the minute hand either forward or backward until the desired time was reached. This same principle applied to the clock built into every stove/oven that did not require wood to use. Simple, easy, no hassle; life then went on.
Over time, wall clocks cut the cord, and became battery powered. This advancement was a boon to those who were either disturbed by the appearance of ugly, clashing power cords running down and across their walls, or the unreasonable constraints imposed by limiting to just where on the wall one could place a clock.
Setting the time was fairly simple. One would have to remove the clock, turn it over, blow the dust off the back, and look upon a little electric motor. This would be humming along powered by a battery of various size and voltage. This was done by the clock manufacturers to ensure the American consumer would have a stock of batteries of all shapes, sizes and colors. For a bit of added whimsy, it would be discovered none of the batteries on hand would fit any of the clocks.
This would typically result in the adult male (quaintly referred to as “Dad”) questioning the parental background of the so-and-so who designed the blanketey-blank clock as he hopped in the family conveyance to drive to the local hardware store, only to discover some other canine offspring bought the last of the batteries.
While Dad was expressing his displeasure to the store owner, the adult female (referred to as “Mom”) would be explaining as best as possible what Dad was talking about, and that children don’t ever use such words. Her guidance is proven to be of little effect the next day upon leaving church, when her youngest greets the Minister with “ Hi, old blanketey-blank” Upon returning home, the youngster would make the discovery that as well as floating, Ivory soap tastes really, really awful.
Assuming all went well and the proper batteries were on hand setting the clock was still fairly easy. On the side of the little motor driving the hands would be a little round disc. One would hold the clock in one hand, take the little disc in their finger tips, and while gazing at the clock face, move the hands according to whether springing ahead or falling back. Back on the wall the clock would go.
Wrist watches were so easy…each watch had a little round thing protruding from the side of the case. This is called the crown. To set the time, one would grasp the crown with the fingernails of the index finger and opposing thumb, pull gently until the crown clicked into the unlocked position. By turning the crown, which turned the stem, the hands could be set with ease. This technology was embraced by travelers who would frequently have to cross time zones during the course of a work-week.
Now, along comes our present day world. I have been wracking my brain, trying to remember where I put the instructions for my wrist watch. I used them in the spring to set the device to Daylight Savings Time; but the Lord knows where I put the booklet. Someplace where “I will be sure to find it”, I am certain. I hope I find it, because I don’t want to spend the next several months mentally subtracting an hour each time I look at the time. I suppose the up-side is I would not be late for anything….just obnoxiously, annoyingly early all the time.
Our wall clocks are a marvel unto themselves. Not only do they display the time, we have three which make a variety of sounds at the top of each hour. Two clocks in the kitchen emit bird calls, and the one upstairs is “Sounds of Nature” These range from the crashing of ocean surf, the gentle music of a rainfall, to nighttime insects. All this is very entertaining. EXCEPT, when it is time change time!
Recalling the electric clock mentioned above, the procedure is basically the same with the exception one must remove the batteries, move the hands to a pre-set obscure time, do 3 back-flips, recite the Gettysburg Address, insert the batteries, and VOILA! The clock is set. One either undergoes this ritual, or the time shown and the bird sounds will never match! Do you have any idea how disturbing it is when the Tufted Titmouse sings at the time the Belted Kingfisher should be singing? Most unsettling, to be sure.
Setting the clocks in the vehicles is somewhat challenging also. Well, at least in Lovely Bride’s car. In my low-tech Jeep, there is are two little indents on the face of the radio, marked H and M. To change the setting of the Hour or Minutes, all one needs to do is stick something pointed in the little indent and press. There are a myriad of tools which can be used; ballpoint pens, straightened paper clips, toothpicks, tips of knife blades. On LB’s SUV though, I have to drag the 15 pound manual out of the glove-box, flip through a zillion pages of extraneous stuff (how to drive in the snow… fascinating), until I stumble on the 3 lines devoted to changing the clock on the radio, or “time display” to be proper. After translating the instructions from Pre-Columbian Mayan into English, I am able to set the time. I hope.
The good news is, once I have completed my tasks, stretched my cerebral capacity to its limit and then some; I will not have to undertake this task until, once again… I spring ahead.
Whose bright idea was this, anyhow???