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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Analog – digital – time


“Digital” seemed to sweep the world round in the seventies. LED’s, light emitting diodes.  Some men I worked with could afford an LED watch, and pushed a button on their wrist to see the time. The watches didn't pack enough battery power to be lighted all the time.

My father, the engineer, was enthralled by advances in science, and the digital age did not pass him by that last decade he lived. He and mom woke up to a digital radio alarm.  We disputed the validity of that clock for some time. It was completely mechanical, and thus “analog” in my opinion. The numbers were tiny sheets of paper that flipped from one number to the next, with a little clicking sound that made me nuts. I probably still don’t grasp the concept of finite, discrete, the number changes and is gone.




I've never had a digital clock on a wall. I don’t like digital time. Like every child, I struggled with, then learned to “tell time.”  I taught two daughters to tell time, another feat. It was all hard work and not to be thrown lightly away for flipping numbers.

Most of my clocks do tend to the unusual. I have a forty year old Brookstone clock on a wall at work. It registers temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, as well as time.  Another old clock is a Seth Thomas with external hands. Every grandchild has removed its hands multiple times, or multiples of multiples. About eight years of age most were able to fess up and stop.



Twenty five or so years ago I acquired the clock du jour, with singing birds. Like every clock, it had to come off the wall twice a year for a time change, and occasionally for a battery change. Two batteries in this case, one for the bird’s songs. The shorter I became the harder to lift down the clock, so the bird battery eventually did not get replaced. A while back a new battery, then another new battery did not bring the clock into proper time, and I relied on the digital numbers at the bottom of my computer screen while I thought about a new clock.



I found it, an atomic clock! Well, really a radio controlled clock, set by the master atomic clock in Colorado. There were bells and whistles on the clock I saw in a catalog, so I checked my friend Amazon and bought one for about thirty dollars.

I followed the written instructions, then the YouTube tutorial, but my new clock could not find the radio signal. In that event, the instructions said, put it in a west facing window and wait three to five days for it to locate the signal. The only such window in this house is upstairs, Tom’s TV room. I turned it over, with instructions to give it back when it was displaying Pacific Standard Time, and touch no buttons!

Tom is an inveterate button puncher. Something of interest might happen. If not, he punches harder, or shakes and listens for rattles. I needed my clock back, displaying PST, nothing more. It’s been a couple of weeks, but I remembered it tonight and asked if it was telling time yet. Yes, but three hours behind! In spite of that, he touched no buttons. Rather like the grandkids not taking the hands off the Seth Thomas.

I turned my clock over and slid the switch from PST to MST to CST to EST. It came with a switch preset to DST, to be moved only if the clock would reside in a rare place that does not observe it. On the other side the clock hands already were cycling from five to six to seven to eight. I hope the battery does not give out for a long time, as that is the only reason to take it down.


23 comments:

  1. My mom had one of those bird clocks...loved it. I remember the first digital watches. Told time, worked as stopwatches and calendars also. They cost about $300. I remember joking that someday they would also have miniature calculators. Several later they did in fact have calculator watches, told time and had several other functions...cost $29.95. Never envisioned smart phones that could do all that plus access all the information known to man, and play music or videos. All truly amazing. I love clocks, and all my wall clocks are analog.

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  2. My Dad always wanted an atomic clock...never got one, but he does have a bird clock.
    Jane x

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  3. I would LOVE a bird clock. And might have to do some exploring. This, despite the fact that we are a very 'over clocked house' and I curse them when daylight savings changes - in either direction.

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  4. All my clocks have faces no digital here.
    I don't have a bird clock but the beer fairy has a backwards clock in the kitchen, I don't look at it, it just confuses me.
    Merle................

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  5. Oh, I had forgotten all about those mechanical digital clocks and their annoying noise!

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  6. I don't miss winding my analog watch every day, but then again it seems crazy to pay $8 for a battery to keep my $7.50 watch running.

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  7. I remember my sister sending us a bird clock one year for Christmas. Koda always barked when the birds would chirp. Then they stopped chirping regularly, but randomly, which he still would always bark. Then I think we moved and the bird clock ended up being donated to Goodwill. We don't have an atomic clock, but we manage to have lots of clocks with none of them ever agreeing with the right time that it is.

    betty

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  8. Those bird clocks were such a nice idea but I don't think they were very good quality. My mother had one and it went the same way. It would be nice if someone could produce a really top quality one with nice bird images too that don't fade. I would buy one!

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  9. Nice clock. I have two analog clocks, one in the kitchen, one in the lounge, the bedroom has a digital so I can easily see the time at night, the numbers glow red. It's just a clock though, no radio or cd player attached. I had one of those, but the cd player didn't work after a while and the batteries for back up in case of power failure leaked all over the nightstand. so now I have this one which is very easy to reset the time on, so I don't bother with back-up batteries. The kitchen and lounge clocks get a new battery probably every three years.

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  10. Hari Om
    ...and OMG, again our worlds collide Joanne; the day I arrived back from the Southern Sojourn my one and only wall clock decided to stop. I had changed the battery but three weeks earlier. I took it down, shook it, turned it and off it went again. Till Friday. It has been stopped since then. With it's new battery still in place. What is more at exactly the same time it stopped in the first place; 4.07 no more no less. I am not willing to find out if it stops there for a third time. It could be trying to tell me something...

    Trouble is my watch is showing signs of going the same way; so a timely shopping spree could be on the due!!! YAM xx

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  11. We have digital timekeepers....one on the microwave, one on the stove and one by the bed....BUT...I also have a collection of time face time keepers. You need those in case of power failure lol.

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  12. My parents have at least a dozen bonging, singing, noise making clocks. I can't sleep there.
    I have many silent clocks, my son made a few in shop class. Tick tock..that is the sound a clock should make, in my opinion!

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  13. heaven help us all if the electricity goes out and the cell towers and satellites. When we lived in Arkansas we had a house built in a 1963 and the telephone was from that era, we left there in 1998 and that phone was still working through lightening storms and more. I agree with Susie, tick tock and phones should ring with an actual phone ring not a song or music.

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  14. Your bird clock sounds very chirpy! The litlle clicking numbers on the digital clock my parents had too, I found the sound as annoying as you. They also had an analog little travel clock I found fascinating: the numbers glowed poisonous green in the dark - later I heard that there should have been radium in it (though I am not sure if that is true).
    In our kitchen I have a clock about which my best friend Anne says at each visit: "It has to come down." Ha!

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  15. Don't like clocks or watches, but it seems like every blooming electric appliance I own has one. The only clock I actually like is my Grandfather clock that sits at the foot of the stairs and it hasn't worked in years.

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  16. The only digital clock I own is one by my bed, it's too difficult to read hands in the middle of the night. Otherwise, I'm analog.....I have a pocketwatch of my dad's I used to bring to meetings and put it on the table in front of me; it seemed to hurry people along when I'd look at it.

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  17. I think my teenage grandkids have trouble telling time on a clock face. they grew up in a digital world. the only clocks here have faces and hands, well, except for the ones on the computer and ipad and phone.

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  18. I'll never forget my surprise when I realized that the two boys across the street - at the time about 7 and 8 - couldn't read our clock on the wall. They could only read a digital clock, so I had to tell them how much time they had before they had to go home. They were the youngest of six - maybe their mom had run out of energy.
    In their defense, they did grown up to have very successful careers.

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    Replies
    1. I'd completely forgotten trying to teach my nephews and then my grandson, how to tell time. Now I wonder if this generation is chronically late because they don't know how much time they have left.

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  19. I love clocks. Actually I have quite a few around my house. I don't know what my fascination is. Did you know that my kids didn't learn to read a regular clock till they were older? I had to sit them down and explain how it works as the schools don't teach it anymore. Weird.

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  20. Of all the clocks you posted, I adore your bird clock. What a wonderful invention!

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  21. We have similar digital clock that we used for an alarm clock when we needed. I still love the old fashioned clocl though.

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  22. I love the bird clock. I always need to know the time so we have multiple clocks all over. We have both analog and digital. There is no such thing as to many clocks.

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