About 16 years ago, I decided to go all in with technology again and buy a digital clock radio with built in adjustment for daylight savings time.
I was getting married and my old battery-powered alarm clock, with it’s shrill alarm reminiscent of a smoke detector’s shriek, seemed outdated. This clock radio I spied at Circuit City seemed like the best thing for me as I was leaving another Ludite phase in my life.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with technology.
I was an early adapter when I was flush with money working in the oil field. One of the first things I bought with my oilfield paychecks was a digital watch, which was a new thing in 1977.
Who wouldn’t want to know the exact time, down to the second? So I went to Service Merchandise in New Orleans East and bought a fancy gold Casio watch with black liquid crystal numbers large enough for me to see without my glasses.
I could press a button and read the time in the dark. The same button could also tell me the date and work as a stopwatch, depending on how many times I pushed the button.
Life was good for a while. Then one day, we were driving somewhere and a friend’s little sister asked what time it was. “It’s about a quarter til 2,” I said glancing at my watch, which read 1:44 p.m.
“Quarter til? What is that? I asked what time it is,” she said smartly.
I got to thinking how much my old watches, with their round faces divided up into 12 equal parts helped me better visualize how I was using my time and dividing up my day. I felt sad that the generation after me wouldn’t know how to do that.
A few weeks later, I bought a new watch. It had a black face and gold dots where 12, 3, 6 and 9 should be. It had a second hand, but no calendar function. It served me well. and I have not gone back to a digital watch since then. I use my time wisely (for the most part.)
The 1981 Thunderbird I bought had a digital dashboard. Coolest thing I ever saw. lighted bars showed me how much gas I had, the radiator temperature and the oil pressure. The speedometer had a digital display, like my Casio watch.The door locks were digital, too.
You could toggle the speedometer between miles per hour and kilometers per hour, which allowed me to freak my mom out, because 60 mph converts to 100 kph. “You slow this thing down right now,” she yelled from the back seat.
The Thunderbird had a 36,000 mile warranty. The digital dashboard went out at 37,000 miles and by that time, my oilfield earnings were cut in half by the bust in the 80s. The speed would flicker on every once in a while. I drove by instinct for the next 3 years. The power windows went out at 40,000 miles and the power antenna at 38,000.
I replaced the Tbird in 1987 with a Chevy Nova, which was really a Toyota Corolla, with a 5-speed manual transmission, hand crank windows and a conventional dashboard. I got 66,000 miles out of the Tbird. I got 150,000 from the Nova.
But technology started creeping back into my life as my newspaper career started paying better. The Corolla I replaced the Nova with had a digital radio and I started building my own computers. (My current Toyota has a powered moon roof and power windows along with a door remote, but no digital dashboard.)
A clock radio that automatically updated for daylight saving time seemed like an absolute necessity in 2000. And it worked great.
The amber digital display is big enough for me to read without glasses in the dark, but not enough light to bother me when I’m dozing off. Not having to remember which weekend was the end of daylight savings time was a bonus, too.
But Congress changed the daylight savings law five years after I bought the clock and suddenly, I had a problem.
Where before I had a clock that I had to physically change twice a year, I now have a clock I have to change four times a year. It is set up to automatically change on the second Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. Daylight saving time changed in 2007 to the first Sunday in April and the first Sunday in November.
So why not buy a new alarm clock set to the new time changes? Because the law also gave Congress the ability to revert to the old system if it wants to without altering other provisions in the Act. Rest assured that as soon as I replace this clock with a more modern version, Congress will change the law back.
Plus, it’s the only radio in the house that can consistently pick up LSU games on WWL-AM at night.