Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

August 8, 2013

How to set a wristwatch

By Dan Graves Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — For just a moment, stop and look around you.

What do you see? If you’re in a public place, I’ll bet at least half the people will have their noses a couple of inches from an electronic device such as a small communication and info device that serves as a telephone, internet connector, texter and gaming station that occasionally says “Droid” in a deep voice.

In fact, chances are that if these users were in a bank during a robbery, being so engrossed in the little transistorized marvels, I doubt they would realize what was happening. Questioned later, the answer would probably be, “what robbery?”

Even though I’m attempting to cling to the old traditional ways of communication and information gathering, it’s now impossible to avoid being swept up in the “innovations” that seem to change on a daily basis. After so many years of stuffing things away in my mental file cabinets, I don’t have room for the basics of using an iPhone, iPad, or electronic notebook.

In fact, if they start messing around with something as simple as an electric razor, I’ll be sporting a full beard. I recall with fondness the simplicity of TVs. Change a channel? Get up and turn a knob. Turn it on and off? Get up and turn a knob. Now, it takes a six month course in television operation for the simple things like on, off, channel selection, volume control, recording, contrast, record and playback, and something called input.

I’ve mistakenly pushed the wrong button on the remote a number of times and after a grand expansion of my vocabulary, Judy, my resident expert, plays the remote like a pianist and has me back to Duck Dynasty in no time. A “self destruct” button would be nice. I could watch the thing disappear in a small mushroom shaped cloud.

However, a modern television is child’s play when compared to some of the other so-called every day devices.

Such simple things as making a cup of coffee requires another short course in “Know Your Coffee Maker.” Whatever happened to put in a filter, load with coffee, pour in water, push a button and wait a few minutes? Now, the control panel looks like something on a modern airliner. Weak, mild strong settings. Timers. Expensive little plastic sealed cups for individual servings. Auto on and off. De-scaling, whatever that means. Small LED information screens. Some day these things will evolve and can be used to walk the family dog.

Modern automobiles are hot beds of electronic gadgetry. Take a $10,000 vehicle and add the accessories deemed necessary for daily driving and watch the price climb to well over what it would cost to build a garage to put it in. One feature is self locking doors when the vehicle reaches a certain speed. Mine refused to let me out when I stopped. Out came the 250 page owners manual for re-programming the thing. An hour later I gave up and decided to carry a brick to use on the window. Use the brick, reach out and open the thing from the outside. Duct tape a piece of plastic over the opening.

That is just one small aggravation on modern automobiles, but I didn’t expect the same to apply to my wrist watch. A few years ago, my brother gave me a watch that was the latest in modern timekeeping. Displaying the day, the month, the year, and time in seconds, it’s controlled by satellite signals from the atomic clock in Boulder, Colo. Times are automatically set and it compensates for time zone changes and leap years. But heaven help the owner when the battery dies.

One morning mine was dead. After installing a new battery, out came the 200 page “How To Re-Activate Your Timepiece Without Losing Your Temper And Destroying It” book. The thing doesn’t have the traditional winding and setting stem; instead there are four buttons that have to be manipulated in set sequences to restore all the functions. I decided to give it a try while waiting at Lee’s Garage for a general inspection of our four-wheeled computerized transportation device.

Seeing my frustration, Lee kindly offered me his office in a move to avoid scaring his other clients into cancelling their repairs. I began a sequence of holding in button A while cycling button B three times, then depressing button D while using my elbow to depress button C. The thing would flash a few times and then tell me what time it was in Hong Kong.

Making little whining sounds and gritting my teeth I found that it was 6 a.m. in London, and in Iceland it was 1300 hours Greenwich Mean Time.

Luckily, the thing is shock proof and by the time my transportation computer was ready, I had thrown in the towel. Defeated by something as simple as a wrist watch!

Thank you, Lee, for charging me only for services rendered while throwing in the sympathetic back pats at no cost. Does anyone know where I can get one of those watches with a winding and setting stem? I’ll trade one for it that will give you the time in Moscow.