Pop Takes on The Time Change

The recent time change means lighter mornings, darker nights... and that once again I would need to take on the daunting task of setting the clock in my car radio.

What was a simple, intuitive two-second act in my last car, has in my new one become a complex endeavor rivaling Super-String Theory in Theoretical Physics. And about as tangible.

Which is why, last year, it was December and I was still driving around with the clock the wrong time. I figured I could just mentally add one hour to the time for a few months, and then eventually we'd be back to daylight savings time again, anyway.

Yes, this is how I roll.

But my dad was visiting at the Christmas holiday. And we were doing a lot of driving around. And inevitably, he got tired of seeing the wrong time blinking at him every time he looked at the clock. And felt, with his Ultra-Super-Mega-Technological Skillz, he could easily correct this bit of simple consumer tech piffle.

It was the moment that almost broke him.

Picture it. I'm driving. He's sitting in the passenger seat with the instruction book. We were on our way on a sunny winter day to an indoor flea market.

It took ten minutes, first, for him to find info on setting the time. Because did the book list it under "C" for "Clocks"? Or "T" for "Time?"

Nope. It was listed in the index under "S."

For "Setting the Time."


Now, here I should explain... The Pop, he's one of those people who firmly believes he's really calm, and procedural, and laid back, and this go-with-the-flow sorta guy. Pretty much Gandhi in the body of Chevy Chase.

And while he can be easy-going at times, in fact, mostly... er... he isn't. One little thing can set him off, and he doesn't forgive a lack of logic easily. So the "S"-- I knew it was only the beginning.

Pop: "S? S?!! What is wrong with these people?"

I could hear his blood starting to bubble. I could see him questioning the thought processes of every single person who works at Saturn. I could hear him wondering what kind of person -- me-- was silly enough to buy a car with a clock with instructions under "S'. "

The day could be ruined by "S." I'd be hearing about "S" clear through New Year's. Next New Year's.

I tried to head it off.

Me: "Pop, it's okay. You found it. What do the instructions say?" (subtext: look, shiny object!)

Pop: (grumble) "Fine... 'Setting the Time'... Well, are we 'Setting the Time for Radios without Radio Data Systems' ? Or 'Setting the Time for Radios with Radio Data Systems'?"

Me: "What's a Radio Data System?"

Pop: "Don't you know?"

Me: "I just drive it."

One point more down for me. First I drive a car with the instructions under "S". Then I don't know my stereo system.

After ten minutes we discovered that the radio had a button that said "RDS."

We still don't know what that button does exactly-- although we did learn that the "Radio Data System" seeks stations that put out... er... Radio Data. (Translation: You can read the station's call letters and sometimes song information in the little screen in the middle.)

So, okay. We determined I had RDS. So...

Pop: "'Setting the Time for Radios with Radio Data Systems (RDS)...'

'Press and hold the RCL button and at the same time press the HR (AUTO EQ left) or MN (AUTO EQ right) arrows...

'You will hear a beep indicating that you can change the time.'


Pop: "There are no HR and no MN buttons."

Now, remember, I'm driving here. So I'm trying to keep one eye on the road, and the other on Dad-- who was once a director of biomedical engineering and an adjunct professor of electronics at a local university-- but is now just randomly pushing buttons on the car stereo.

Me (peering, pointing): "There's an 'AUTO EQ' button there."

So Dad pushed the "RCL" button while pushing the "AUTO EQ" button. And nothing beeped.

RCL... AUTO EQ....



By now, my father has forgotten all about our nice drive into the country to the indoor flea market. He has forgotten all about it being Christmas Eve, a time of togetherness and family and goodwill and peace and joy and...

He is in a full-out war with my clock-radio.

Pop: "Rassnfrassnshassn, how long do I have to hold this blasted bugger down?"


My father sighs a sigh of relief. So do I.

Pop: "'Release the RCL button'-- it's about time-- 'and press HR until the correct hour appears on the display.'"

Of course, there was no HR button. There was only AUTO EQ.

Pop: "So HR is..."

Me, swerving on the road to look: "The left arrow."

Pop: "Why don't they just SAY the left arrow?"

Me: "Because it's HR."

The Pop, his blood-pressure now barely being controlled by his morning medicine, he overshoots the correct hour three times and keeps having to go back.

I was concerned I would be the only driver on Christmas Eve that had to explain to the local police the total human spontaneous combustion which occurred within my car interior.

Pop: "There! Finally!... 'Press MN until the correct minute appears on the display."

Me: "The RIGHT arrow."

It was about this time I realized that "HR" stood for "Hour" and "MN" stood for minute and I figured I better not mention that to my dad, or his brain really might have exploded right there in the car, and I'd just had it detailed.

So the Pop spent a certain amount of time pushing the right arrow, and then the minutes were set, too.

I thought of this as I reread the instructions this morning.

You see, the Pop will be visiting again over the Christmas holiday, and I figured it might just be a smart move to already have the time set.

I noticed, this morning, at the bottom of the instructions was this alternate time-setting suggestion.

"To synchronize the time with an FM station broadcasting Radio Data System information, press and hold the RCL and RDS buttons at the same time for two seconds until SET RDS Time appears on the display."

Cool! I thought, the easy way out. My favorite station, WYEP, does indeed broadcast RDS information!

So I held down the RCL. Then the RDS.

One second... two seconds...


"If the time is not available from the station, NO RDS TIME SET will appear on the display."

Of course, nothing at ALL appeared on the display. Um, did I mention I'm on blood pressure medicine, too?

I'd love to hear about YOUR high tech frustrations if you'd care to share 'em!



Miss Shirl said...

"who was once a director of biomedical engineering and an adjunct professor of electronics at a local university" Good Lord! your family must be super smart. I have lushes and whinos!

My husbands soulution to anything flashing that he can't turn off is electrical tape over the light.

I used to have high blood pressure too. Learn to meditate it really, really helps.

Unknown said...

Shirley- Oh, we have our share of interesting leaves on the family tree, too. :) Believe me.

Both mom AND dad have high blood pressure, so it's hereditary. I need to get into a regular exercise routine, though, and that should help.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to clocks in cars. where they just had the H button and the M button and a Set button ?
My Dad's car (which he still drives - a 1983 Toyota Cressida) has such a clock but believe it or not - you had to poke a tooth-pick or other slim instrument to reach those buttons !

Hey ! Learned something today ! My cell-phone comes with an FM tuner and has RDS and AF. I knew what they did - but I had no idea that they stood for - Radio Data System and Auto Frequency !

Unknown said...

Jaffer- That's an excellent question, and I just don't know. This double-duty of buttons feels a bit extreme. LOVE the tooth-pick technique, wow-- that's state-of-the-art. :)

And now we all know what RDS is. See, that's good larnin' and edumacation here at Cabbages!

Anonymous said...

I would have just left the time alone. You only have to add for 6mo until it changes again. ;) Yeah that is how I roll too. LOL

Unknown said...

Chyna- That was really my thinking on the matter. I can add +1 for six months, can't I? :)

Shieldmaiden96 said...

My Saturn had HR and MN molded into the panel just underneath the seek and scan buttons. The instructions said to push in the volume knob, hold it, then use those buttons to reset the time. I tried and tried and tried and gave up several times until I figured out one tiny small detail they neglected to add: the radio has to be OFF.

Unknown said...

Shieldmaiden- AH! Yes, that is the system I had in my former Saturn. I did okay with that, except for, as you stated, the fact that the radio had to be off, and it never mentioned a thing about that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think changing the radio before he gets there would be a good thing...but now he knows how to do it so maybe he'll be a pro by now.

Unknown said...

TheSnackHound- Heh, yes, heading him off really is the safest plan. I'm not going to bank on him remembering. I can, in fact, see why he might want to block the experience out entirely. :)

Da Old Man said...

I don't even bother to change the time on mine. Forget the hours and minutes, I have the equivalent of the VCR flashing 12:00 all the time.
My solution is to have the Mrs. with me and I just ask her what time it is.
Next time Pop comes to visit, you could pick her up and she could ride in the back to let you know what time it is.
It may be faster, even discounting the 8 hour ride to NJ.
BTW, your car rides sound like mine with the Spawn's, but with a lot less yelling in your car.

Unknown said...

Da Old Man- Or, I could have just electrical taped over what is apparently "the RDS" so he couldn't read it. Though borrowing Mrs. Crotchety is a good idea, should I need a human clock option.

Yes, we're not a yelling family. This is probably why we all have high blood pressure. :)

ReformingGeek said...

What? It didn't set itself automatically when the time changed? Ha! Like that works anymore since they decided to change when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends and the little bit of programming inside of whatever no longer works.

OK back to the car clock. Mine is buried 2 levels down on my navigational system menu. Once you're there, it's easy. Thank you for something, Acura.

Unknown said...

ReformingGeek- Oh, I know-- my computer at home thinks it's so helpful these days by changing the time for me-- only I haven't downloaded the patch to let it know it's LATER these days.

It's amusing when these car manufacturers give us so many great gadgets and then we can't change our clocks!

Kirsten said...

I'm gonna need you to come over to my house and set my clock radio. Otherwise, I'll just have to do the math as I always do.

Unknown said...

Kirsten- There is definitely a positive side to the math.

Chat Blanc said...

Oh I feel for you going thru that with your pops! Some how I've managed to get all my clocks reset but now I'm unmotivated to change any of my watches!

Anonymous said...


My car is nice and simple. OH's car has radio controlled clock so it sets itself and copes with the time changes. Just as well, because he is so time-obsessed that he'd probably drive into a building while trying to reset the thing!

Babs (Beetle) said...

Ha ha! Reading this, I can just see me (your dad) and Mo (you).

Why can't things be simple any more? It might be better if they had a separate clock.

I still say that people who write these instruction books could do with a lesson in how to communicate through the written word!

Melanie said...

ROFLMAO!! Wiping tears from my eyes. This is the main reason I have downgraded vehicles. I bought myself a 1978 Ford for running around. AM radio. No clock no nothing and I love, love, love it!

My other ride is a 92 ford ranger that used to be DH's. He put in a stereo that has more bells and whistles than I know what to do with. For the last 18 months (since I had the battery unhooked) the clocks has been blinking some number that you can't even do the math to figure out what time it is. I just look at my cell phone if I really want to know. Except we live right where central time switches to mountain time, so depending on where I've driven to, my cell phone may or may not give me the time I need.

Unknown said...

Chat Blanc- I still have a watch or two to go-- probably good you mentioned it! :)

Jay- I don't want to hear about any DWCTT (Driving While Correcting the Time) accidents or tickets.

Babs- A good tech writer is really worth their weight in gold. (Unfortunately the price of gold has tanked lately, but you know what I mean.)

Melanie- So you flip between time zones regularly, eh? It has to be fairly confusing. My brain is still convinced it should be going home at 4:00pm instead of 5:00pm because of the light outside.

That 78 Ford may last another 30 years.... they built cars sturdily then.

Karen said...

In a strange turn around, my car has gone to 'It's obvious idiot, press the button under the word on the screen' which completely confused me and forced me to spend 2 hours reading the manual, to make sure I was doing it right.

Anonymous said...

Too busy trying to set the time on the new computer...haven't bothered with the car clock, yet! Now I know why...

Unknown said...

Karen- I think I'd be looking at the manual, too. Easy things make me suspicious.

Greg- Heh-- good luck!!