Thursday, December 01, 2005

In 1982 I moved to Austin, Texas, to begin my career as a Student at the great and mighty University of Texas. I'd never really been away from home for extended periods of time. My mom insisted I live at Madison House Dormitory, because that was where the other Jewish kid from my home town lived a year or so earlier.

I know mom meant well. I'd meet other jews, I'd have new experiences, yadda yadda.

It sucked. My room had grey cinderblock walls, enough space for 2 twin beds, and 2 crappy desks. There were 3 of these rooms connected to a main "suite" that had vanitys with sinks, and 2 bathrooms. I did not like any of the guys in my suite, and they did not like me.

Heck, I did not know them, I did not know where I was, I did not even know how to do my own laundry. (yes, I bought the small vending machine pack of soap and threw it in with the clothes. unopened)

That was one of the "bad years" in my life.

I did not have an alarm clock, so I drove to the nearest store I could find, A target. And bought the cheapest red LED digital clock they had. A Cosmo-Time(tm) clock for $3. I've had that clock ever since. It's a plain little number, with fake walnut adhesive over a black plastic case, maybe 7 inches by 3 inches by 2 inches high? It has been with me through thick and thin,

Later that year, the esteemed Dr. Nell Dale, chairman of the UT Undergrad computing program told me "Mr. Statman, personal computers are a fad. They will vanish soon. You need to learn PASCAL and COBOL. Computers are only going to be used for business. Stop wasting my time with your talk about modems and BASIC. VAX is the only real platform."

I dropped out of the program, and applied computers to practical, real world problems. Eventually evolving a spreadsheet into a database allowing a political candidate to have 'help' remembering people, places, dates, names and contributions.

When we got home from the desert on Sunday night, it was flashing. A usual sign the power failed in the house. Only resetting the time would not clear the flash. Nor would replacing the battery. It is time for me to face the fact, the circuit board on the clock has given up the ghost. It has degraded from flashing the time, to flashing 12:00, to just the colon :

I've spent years looking at it's little glowing red numbers, sort of a security blanket. I knew what time it was, and I knew where I was, by seeing it.

I unplugged it for the last time. Pulled the battery out. I even looked on eBay, hoping to find the exact model, thinking I could swap the guts.

No, I have not gone to a store to pick out a replacement. I am gonna take this one apart, and consider hacking it. Maybe I can keep the case, and make another controller?

My father purchased a Cosmo digital clock at some point in the late 70's or early 80's. He bought it because it had large digital numbers he could see at night without his glasses. He died in 1983, a few months before I joined the Air Force. I've been in the Air Force more than 23 years and I've moved 11 times, and that Cosmo clock is still on my nightstand. I suspect after at least a quarter century of non-stop use, the warranty has expired. I think the clock is going to out last me.
Replace the capacitors, that helped one other clock i heard of.
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