Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seeking a Timely Solution

Deals involving acquisition of acreage by the federal government through purchase or trade can be complex, requiring specialized knowledge and careful negotiations. Forest Service retiree George Campbell served for years on lands staffs in the Eastern and Intermountain Regions, and those who worked with him said he did his job very well.

Despite indications that Campbell could manipulate high-tech gadgets with no trouble, he is not fond of some of them. He chooses not to use a home computer. His recent pronouncements on the subject indicate he fully intends to maintain his distance from PCs.

Just after daylight savings time reverted to the regular brand, Campbell appeared at a Wednesday coffee assembly and asked in a voice filled with frustration if anybody knew how to reset a digital watch, because he was having no luck with his. I told him not to feel lonesome, because neither Sandy nor I had been able to get my fairly new watch properly calibrated. We reset the hours and minutes correctly, which was a bit better than Campbell had done, but we couldn’t get the gadget to acknowledge that it was Wednesday, not Sunday.

After some contemplation of the resetting problem, Campbell announced he had the solution. He was going to buy a duplicate watch. He would have one set for standard time and the other for daylight time. He simply would trade watches twice a year. Someone in the group that heard the “Campbell solution” observed that those who traveled often through several time zones would need quite a few watches.

I mentioned the idea to Sandy, who thought it had some merit. She, however, believed I probably could muddle through. She pointed out that I didn’t do much of anything most days, so carrying around a constant reminder of what day it was probably was not vital.

The next time we met, I asked Campbell how he was coming with his watch problem. He said by working at it for about 30 minutes he figured out the process and had everything reset to the correct numbers. Meanwhile, Sandy and I had downloaded pages of instructions from the manufacturer of my watch, and when they failed to work, obtained another instruction sheet from Walmart, where we bought the gadget. Those directions didn’t work, either.

I was nearly ready to apply the “Campbell solution’ and go with at least two watches. Sandy saved the day. She told me to leave my watch in her care when I was heading off to a meeting and she would make one last try at adjusting the date display. When I got back, the timepiece was functioning correctly.

Sandy had made a 20-mile roundtrip to another Walmart store where clerks gave her a copy of the right instructions. She then restored order in our high-tech world, at least until spring when I try to remember where we put the reset instructions.

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