It's About Time

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I've had the same clock since I was about 16.  There's nothing particularly excellent about it, but it's become something that's been with me so long (29 years) that it's difficult to send to the scrap heap, especially as it mostly works.  It tried to find its way to the grave about 10 years ago, but I decided to fix it instead.  That was back in the days when Radio Shack sold electronic parts, and a little soldering did the job.

GE Clock

It's an electric clock, but it has mechanical parts as well, with a belt drive that flips the numbers and dials on each side for setting the alarm and tuning the radio station.  It's also proven helpful when the power goes out momentarily, because the time remains roughly accurate whereas every other clock in the house resets to midnight and blinks.  And blinks.  At this point, it's really become more of a groovy retro clock, much cooler than my wife's nondescript and blaring red LED digital clock.

Lately, the old fella started acting up again, the light intermittently going off, or on, as it so chooses.  It mostly chooses to remain dark when I most need to see it, such as at night when I wake and want to see how much longer I can sleep before the alarm sounds. I'll probably break down and break it down again, but I'm in no rush.


Because for 29 years, I've had to wake without a snooze alarm!  In an evolutionary turn, I've developed an internal alarm that after 10 or so minutes (usually) prods me (yes, the jolting variety), letting me know that I had best get up lest I re-enter the beckoning deep slumber.  It works, but it isn't pleasant.

So, I've gone to the dark side.  Digital.  It's not retro and it's not cool.  But it has advantages for these modern times. I don't have to remember toSony Clock set the alarm each night, I don't have to turn a knob almost  a full revolution to adjust the alarm setting (or twice if I turn it too far), I'm not limited to 10 minute increments for the alarm, and I don't have to be as mindful of waking myself after I've been woken.  It even has a battery so that it retains the current time when the power goes out.  And, as the picture depicts, I can at least cite one reference to having gone "green."

It's a big change for me.  But wait!  There's more!

Sometime in the early 1990's, my watch stopped.  It ticked me off more than it ticked, because I had just changed the battery several months earlier.  I never wore the watch again.  Suddenly, I had "Time for Livin'."

That's the name of a song by the 60's pop group, The Association ("Wendy," "Cherish," "Never My Love" - go ahead, look them up and give your iPod a touch of that innocent AM radio nostalgia).  Anyway, part of the lyric is as follows:

I kicked off my shoes, and felt the good earth beneath my feet. 

I loosened my tie, and felt what it feels like to breathe

I found the secret to life

I took some time for living

I took off my watch, and found I had all the time in the world.

As it turns out, the time is everywhere.  Look around. Car radios, wall clocks, computers, cell phones.  And if those should fail, I have an innate sense that is (usually) accurate to within 15 minutes.

Last Spring, my wife and I were in Las Vegas at Benihana, enjoying those welcome and unpredictable conversations that come with dining with strangers.  There was a jewelry convention in town, and three gentlemen were exhibitors for two watch companies - one of whom was the President of a family owned Swiss company whose brand I don't recall.  They each showed us the watches they were wearing, ranging from $5k to $12k. 

They keenly observed that neither my wife nor I were wearing watches (and we noticed that the other couple at our table were also without), but they didn't seemingly hold it against us.  The most interesting aspect was that the owner was lamenting the state of the industry, and he was resolute that his son grow to follow his interests and avoid the watch industry at all costs.  I didn't offer my services, but I should have, even with a naked wrist.

I haven't really missed wearing a watch, but a coworker is an enthusiast, and I gradually started paying attention to the watches that people wear, those that do, anyway.

Well, in keeping with the times, I surrendered.  In a reversal from the clock "upgrade," however, I opted away from the digital, and went with an automatic (self-winding) watch. Watch front As compared with my new clock, it's really rather a pain.  I still have to wind it periodically, it doesn't keep perfect time, and adjusting it for month, date, moon phase (have you hugged your lycanthrope lately?), and additional time zone of choice (because, um, I might need to know), places me firmly into the category of "occasional tinkerer."

But, it does seem an appropriate return to equilibrium for the loss of my retro clock.  I mean, look.  It has cool gears.  And a spiffy see-through backing.  Groovy.

watch back

Click this link for those with a mechanical interest.

1 comment :

  1. My bedside alarm clock is also 30+ years old. I think we got it at Woolco, if anyone remembers that ancient discount store chain. I had it all through high school, took it to Clemson with me, and I still use it today. It's small, compact, digital, and runs great. I think it's surpassed it's expected life by about 20 years. I just want to see how long I can keep it going at this point.