My alarm clock radio literally came to the end of its time when I depressed one of the buttons and could no longer set the time or the alarm correctly. So it was off to the store to purchase a replacement. The radio portion was a feature I seldom used anyway, so this time I opted for “just” an alarm clock, minus the bells and whistles. If it tells the time correctly and the alarm works, that is all the functionality needed.
Ah, but things are not so simple. This is an atomic alarm clock, meaning the time is correctly set (automatically) to synchronize with the official NIST atomic clock in Fort Collins, Colorado. I’ll just insert the two required AAA batteries and the clock will be all ready, right? Not quite. First I had to read through four pages in the instruction sheet and learned, among other things, the clock should not be stored with the batteries in it. Does having the clock on my night stand count as “storing” it? I hope not because without the batteries this time piece is not going to function.
I was also advised, per the instructions, the clock should not be placed in a high humidity environment. It’s Iowa and nearly July and Iowa is always humid in July. (The locals say that’s what makes the corn grow.) So if New Clock stops working in a week or so, I’ll trust the reason is the high humidity!
Well, the “atomic signal indicator” did not show up on the face of the clock. Hmmm, so much for automation. But there it is on page 3 of the instruction sheet to depress the “wave/down” button and that yes, indeed,the signal shows up. We may be in business. Shortly the clock does set itself to the correct time, year, month, and date. And, it also shows the outdoor temperature. Wonderful, now I’ll know how hot it is and be warned of too much humidity. Wouldn’t want this marvelous sundial to quit functioning!
Years ago my sister and I had a good ole key wound clock that never failed. They are still possible to find but certainly cost more than the four dollars and fifty-eight cents we shelled out for it. That ole clock ran forever … provided we remembered to wind it AND the time control mechanism on the back was set just right. Slide that little mechanism too far one way or another and it either gained time or lost time.
And the beauty of that old classic was that the alarm WOULD stop ringing once it ran its course. You could ignore it and eventually the alarm would stop.
And if you wanted to shut off the alarm, you could just turn the hands to another time! Try that with an atomic clock. Impossible.
There really was something quite soothing about the “tick toc” sound of that old clock. Maybe it was the predictable rhythm that allowed us to doze off to sleep so quickly.
I think over the years we dropped it several times and cracked the glass covering the face, but what’s a small defect on the face of an old, reliable clock?
Well, I now have a clock that supposedly is within a fraction of a second of the “correct” time, that is, until the batteries need to be replaced. Wish I still had my old clock from days (and years) gone by.