November 6, 2011


It is a well-established fact that popcorn is my favorite food. I can eat popcorn for any occasion and quite frankly, I can even eat leftover popcorn and enjoy it very much. Popcorn was omnipresent on the supper table when I was growing up; soup, popcorn and hot dogs were a favorite for the hibernation months of winter. Grandma Country made popcorn every Saturday night for Gramps and there was always leftover popcorn in a big bowl on Sunday morning when we went over for coffee and donuts, a ritual that was called “Family Day”.

I was trained early on that the proper way to serve popcorn was in a big bowl so that it could be easily accessed by several people in the efforts of sharing. Multiple hands, dirty and clean, reached into the popcorn bowl back in the day and we all survived. There was no Purell present. We just used common sense.

Since hibernation season has officially begun with dark evenings, I thought it was appropriate that we have a big bowl of popcorn as Earl and I relaxed in the living room. This is what it looks like after about a half hour. The bowl was empty shortly after this picture was taken.

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So it is shortly before 5:00 p.m. and it is getting quite dark out. This is what happens at this time of year. I like it. A lot. But I can hear the whining from other folks that wish the daylight was around farther into the evening.

It has been a good, relaxing weekend. So good, that last night I decided that I would try to freeze time.

Hats off to those that know why I was trying this particular method in my efforts to freeze time.

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Earl and I enjoyed a relaxing ride yesterday, too much food, a walk along Onondaga Lake and a wonderful visit with my sister.

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We even made it to the North Country, where we ended the night with a wonderful dessert at a locally owned truck stop near the main gate of Fort Drum. My choice of dessert was homemade strawberry shortcake, which was made properly using homemade biscuits instead of sponge cake. Earl had apple pie a la mode that curiously cost $4.44.  The strawberry shortcake was $4.95. As far as I’m concerned it was worth its weight in gold.

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Yesterday morning I woke up naturally at 6:30 a.m. This excited me aside from the fact that I was waking up at such an early time on a Saturday morning, because it meant that my circadian rhythm was in sync with my schedule again, because if it was Monday morning, it would be standard time instead of daylight saving time and it would be 5:30 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. and I need to get up at 5:30 a.m. to get to work on time.

It was a good way to start the day.

I was so excited by this revelation that I had a hard time trying to sleep in, since it was Saturday and all, so I grabbed my iPhone and read some email that I really need to respond to. Amongst the email messages was a comment from my friend Erik on a previous entry about insomnia. His comment included the suggestion of Pzizz, an app available for the iDevices.

Well his comment reminded me that I already had Pzizz! I promptly found the app on my iPhone, donned a pair of headphones that would be easy to sleep in and fell promptly asleep for two hours. I used it again last night and aside from some mayhem with the school clock collection in the house during the time change (more on that in a moment), slept like a baby. I feel great this morning.

There is further information about Pzizz on their website. I am finding that the iPhone app works great for me, especially when coupled with a really good set of earbuds.

As I have mentioned many times before, our house has a collection of school clocks wired in every room. These clocks advance once-a-minute with the familiar two-click sound that has been heard in classrooms around the world for more than a century. All of the clocks are made by The Standard Electric Time Company, the company that made the original clocks in my elementary school, which of course was the first time I was exposed to such a thing.

The clocks are run by a server in the basement which is controlling relays via a program that I wrote (to provide the electrical impulses required to close and then open the magnet-driven mechanisms in each clock). This was a cheaper alternative to buying a master clock like what would be found in the main office of a school today and something that I’m rather proud of. The program keeps track of what times the clocks allegedly say at any given moment and if they’re behind, will send out extra impulses to catch the clocks up to the right time. I had also written in a routine that would stop the clocks at 01:59 daylight time the first Sunday of November and have the clocks sit there for 62 minutes before resuming at 02:01 standard time.

Except the pause mechanism didn’t work.

So at 02:00 daylight time it became 01:00 standard time. Except the clocks thought it was still 02:00. So they decided to start advancing the 11 hours required to get them to 01:00. Two clicks per minute, 60 minutes in an hour, eleven hours “behind”.  That’s a glorious 1320 clicks in the middle of the night. It took the clock system about 15 minutes to advanced that far.

Except a certain geek wrote the program to consider military time. So the server actually thought they were 23 hours behind.

I made it downstairs in no time once I saw the clocks advanced further then they should have. I disconnected the power to clocks, stopping them when they said 01:43. And there I sat, rewriting the program to avoid future mayhem and waiting for real time to catch up with the clocks. I started them back up at 01:46 when they then advanced the three minutes they were behind.

That’s when I went back upstairs and fired up the Pzizz again and had a wonderful night’s sleep.