Knight Watchman

This week’s headlines are full of speculation about Apple’s soon-to-debut iPhone X. We’re still a month away from pre-orders, yet iPhone X headlines carry the weight of those for the hurricanes and North Korea.

          Images courtesy of www.apple.com

iPhone X’s new/improved features sound impressive: “”It’s all screen”, facial recognition, surgical-grade stainless-steel, water resistance, wireless charging, superior camera functionality, and an “A11 Bionic” smartphone chip capable of 600 billion operations per second.  Sounds like a noticeable upgrade from the iPhone 7.

Despite this fanfare, my eye is still drawn to the iPhone’s most basic app: those numbers at the top of the “elegantly-rounded screen” silently telling the time-of-day.

I wear a watch.  Always have.  I wake up every morning, get dressed, pocket my wallet, handkerchief, and keys, and “wrist” my watch.  It’s a habit I’ve had since college days.  Granted, my wallet gets slimmer by the year, as the need for cash and physical cards dwindles.  My key chain is no longer a chain; not even a set of keys (rather, a small fob controlling my car without ever leaving my pocket).  Mercifully, my handkerchief hasn’t changed whatsoever (other than the purchase of a new one every couple of months).

My analog watch – though threatened by technology – remains steadfastly on my wrist.  I started wearing watches when I was a kid, and several decades later I still have the first two I ever owned.  My Snoopy watch was the wind-up type, telling time with its hours and minutes “paws”.  My gold (colored) Pulsar was one of the earliest of its brand, and seemed to say, “time to grow up”.

Several years after my Pulsar I purchased (or received) another wristwatch, followed by another and another and another.  At some point in the process my watches became too nice to part with, and “replace” became “collect”.  Today, I choose from half a dozen.

Recently, I gave smartwatches a try.  I figured, why not get my time and all those other time-saving applications on my wrist?  But it just didn’t take.  Like digital-display watches, I missed the elegant mechanics of a real analog watch.  For a short time, I tried wearing an analog on one wrist and a smartwatch on the other.  Also didn’t take (and probably drew a few curious looks in the process).

On yesterday’s commute talk-radio, the discussion was the iPhone X, and the host said, “anyone 40-and-older probably still wears a watch”.  That statement applies to me (both age range and habit).  I simply cannot forego my wristwatch for a smartphone.  No knock to smartphones, mind you.  In fact, with its $1,000 price tag, the radio host asked callers to predict whether the iPhone X would sell.  All ten callers I heard said people would buy, just as they did at the $500 threshold.  To anyone who thinks $1,000 is excessive, consider this: the smartphone has become a cultural necessity; a here-to-stay personal computer appendage (gather dust, ye laptops and desktops).  And $1,000 is a reasonable price for a personal computer these days.

Here’s a more concrete argument for the $1,000 price tag.  Make a list of the iPhone’s basic apps, and consider the cost of say, five years of physical materials to replace those apps.  Note pads, address books, calendars, paper maps, wallets, cameras, telephones, stereos, calculators, newspapers, and postage stamps (a wholly incomplete list).  Watches.  Well, what do you know; you just spent a lot more than $1,000!  Any further arguments?

No arguments from me either: the X will be a good and popular buy.  But you’ll still find a watch on my wrist.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

Here we go again, time-travelers. This Sunday at 2:00am a good portion of the world will effortlessly move backwards one hour as we roll off of Daylight Savings Time (DST). It’ll be dark outside earlier (no more “summer nights”) and it’ll still be dark when most people wake up. Slam the door on summer – our days will feel shorter for the next eighteen weeks.

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The rules of DST have changed over time (ha), at least here in the United States.  The concept itself was borrowed from the Germans as a way of conserving fuel, and began in 1918; the same time the U.S. adopted “standard time zones” (Pacific, Mountain, etc.).  At first it was a federal mandate in conjunction with wartime activities.  Several years later DST was abandoned entirely.  Then it was turned over to the individual states to adopt (or not).  Finally, DST was given formal guidelines in 1966 as part of the Uniform Time Act.

DST still feels like an experiment with no satisfactory results.  In 1974-1975 the U.S. tried DST for an entire year, but went back to the on-off approach when concerns were raised about kids heading off to school in the dark.  In 1986 DST was extended from the half-and-half calendar to include the entire month of April.  In 2005 DST was extended again to the first Sunday in November -to accommodate trick-or-treating on Halloween.  That last modification was only eleven years ago, for a concept that has been around for a century.  Any bets the rules of DST will change again?

Arizona (outside of their Navajo lands) and Hawaii may have the last laugh.  Both states leave their clocks untouched while the rest of us move backward and forward year after year after year.

Whether or not DST continues, this much is true.  On Sunday I will be resetting two alarm clocks (my wife’s actually auto-adjusts but doesn’t understand post-2005 DST), three wall clocks, three temperature gauges, two thermostats, two car clocks, and several appliances and watches.  Any of these products could be designed to auto-adjust (like phones and computers) but maybe their creators don’t trust the DST rules won’t change yet again?

A word of advice about Sunday’s change.  Proceed with caution when you head out on Monday.  Not only will it be darker, but your body clock – which can’t be adjusted with a button – will be slightly out of kilter.  Strange things happen the day after clocks adjust, including more accidents between cars and people (if certain Department of Transportation reports are to be believed).

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Last thought.  Today’s word is mnemonic, which refers to any means of making the retention of information in the brain easier.  MNEMONIC is also an acronym for “Memory Needs Every Method Of Nurturing Its Capacity” (I like that).  That brings to mind a couple other mnemonics.  The Great Lakes can be remembered with HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).  The bass clef in music (the notes A,C,E,G) can be remembered with “all cars eat gas”.  And of course, DST has its own mnemonic to determine which way the clocks adjust.  Remember: “Spring forward, Fall back!”

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.