Changing car clocks confuses the daylights out of me

March 14, 2011
  • Rowland

As I publicly track my descent into old age, I stumbled across another clue this weekend in the form of daylight saving time.

Yes, daylight saving time, that honored tradition in which we play games with the clock and remember to change the batteries in our smoke detectors (or, in Western Maryland, remember to reload our guns.)

I suppose I’ve taken part in about 100 time changes in my lifetime, but this go-round I noticed something new: I used to prefer the “fall back” aspect of daylight saving time because it meant that I could get up an hour later. Now, however, I seem to prefer to “spring forward” because it means I get to go to bed an hour earlier.

And boy howdy, I needed to jettison some minutes this time after trying to stay awake listening to two hours of ESPN’s “bracketology,” in which grown men argue, almost to the point of tears, over who is the 68th-best college basketball team in America.

I was more than ready for the sack by 7:45 standard time, so you won’t catch me complaining about the switch, which spared me at least four more segments of Doug Gottlieb carefully explaining why he’s a genius for picking the No. 2 seed to beat the No. 15 seed.

My main problem with daylight saving time is that six months is just about how long it takes me to forget how to set the clock in my car.

In my view, automatic-drip coffeemakers have it all over the automotive in terms of clock technology. To change the hour, you hit the button that says “hour;” to change the minute, you hit “minute.”

In an age when modern cars come with back-up cameras, dual-climate zones and can brake for themselves, why then is this simple hour/minute concept beyond their grasp?

Maybe it’s too simple. Can’t have a $50,000 car whose clock can be changed by any old Joe Sweatsock just by poking a knob. How ordinary.

I had a foreign car once with a clock that was so unfathomable that even teenage boys were befuddled. These were kids who wouldn’t have needed an operator’s manual to run a Cray computer, but my clock left them spooked. I finally gave up and figured it would be enough if the clock were right six months out of the year. Finally it stopped running altogether, which in all honesty was something of a relief.

Even American cars, which need controls simple enough to be understood by the average viewer of “Jersey Shore,” are no cinch. We have a Ford where, if you wish to set the clock, you do not hit the button that says “clock” (there is none); you hit the button that says “RDS.” Oh, of course.

From there all you have to do is go to Bal/Vol SEL RDS-ON Traffic Seek/Scan set clock hour/min. Once you’re there, it’s a simple matter of homing in on the correct digit, which takes both hands and a delicate touch and makes you look much like a 1930s short-wave operator trying to reach an ancient-civilization expedition in Burma.

No lie, I went to the Web once to see how to set the clock in a pickup. I plugged into a forum that went back and forth between the frustrated owner and an army of helpful people who were trying to solve the problem through all manor of complex suggestions — until it came to light that this particular truck didn’t HAVE a clock.

Maybe that’s the answer. We’re already in too much of a hurry as it is.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant on, on or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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