Monday, October 8, 2007

Standard Time.

At the Clock and Watch museum, you not only get to see a whole lot of clocks and watches, but you get to find out some odd things about time measurement and the history of calendars.

Did you know that in Japan they used to use variable length hours? They changed as the season changed. Clocks were VERY difficult to build there.

The original water clocks were built to limit the length of politician's speeches. Some long-winded speakers would not pour in clean water at the start of their speech, but would use water from a well that had a lot of silt in it so that the water would flow slower.
That is where the term "don't muddy the water" came from.

The oddest thing to me was some American history that wasn't too far in the past.
We have Eastern Standard Time (EST), Pacific Standard Time (PST), CST, MST.
Well, there are twenty four of them around the world. Obvious after it's stated, isn't it?

Well they still argue about daylight savings time, but they used to argue about Standard time too. Every town had it's OWN noontime. When the sun was directly overhead.
Every town. Not just the big ones. That worked fine. Most watches weren't that accurate and you didn't travel fast enough that anything seemed askew. You would just adjust your pocket watch to match the local time.

Then the trains started running. Time wasn't an issue when a train line only had one train that went one way to the end of the track, and then went the other way, but trains became popular and more were built. They started using the same tracks to go both ways ... at once.
Spectacular collisions with large explosions from large boilers became common.

They needed to use a consistent time value.
Railroads developed "Railroad Time".
Each railroad company would synchronize ALL of their stations to the local time of the city that the main office was in. Each railway station had clocks that showed the "Local Time" and the "Railroad Time". The "Railroad Time" was transmitted by telegraph so that they were consistent.

Trains could now coordinate when they should pull into a siding to let a train going the other way on the same tracks, actually go the other way without the nasty interruption of an explosion and dead people. The quantity of train wrecks went WAY down after "Railroad Time" was adopted.

Then the various railroad companies started connecting their tracks to other railroad companies. For a while there were conversion tables so you could subtract 2 hours, 19 minutes and thirty seconds from the Denver railroad to know when the Chicago railroad was going to be at ten o'clock. They had used the same type of conversion charts back in the old days to convert from "town time" to "other town time" with very limited success. These charts were worse.
East-West wasn't the problem, it was which BRAND of train was coming through.

Train crashes were becoming much too common. The price of equipment meant that a single crash could ruin a month's profits, and if there were several crashes..... well, something had to be done.

The railroad tycoons developed standard time at about the same time that Europe was running into the same issues. Some people wanted 24 time zones, some wanted none. If we had time zones, where do they start? Greenwich had become a stepping off point for many of the conversion charts over there, so it was decided that worldwide standard time would be Greenwich minus your timezone. Except France. France wanted the standard time to be in Paris. So for a great number of years there was worldwide standard time, and then "Paris Time" which was some hours, nine minutes, and 12 seconds different from Greenwich Mean Time.
Years later, when one central office was needed to coordinate the correction input from all the different areas of the world, Paris was chosen as the spot. At that point France finally adapted Greenwich Mean Time and synchronized their clocks with the rest of the world.

And America? The trains were already running on time with a lot less booms.

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The advantage/disadvantage of not having any plans is that things don't quite go like you haven't imagined them.
We were finishing up the Blue Ridge Parkway which sort of automatically loads you into Skyline Drive when you cross into Virginia from North Carolina. We were enjoying the great camping, abundant deer, and astounding vistas, but we were being affected by Bart's Boring Beauty Syndrome so we took a left down off the ridge and drove along the base of the mountains in the Shenandoah Valley. We love back roads. Up down left right cows houses barns cars trucks fields. It is very comforting to us to have a change of pace.
When we got to the Tri-State area and settled into the hostel, we realized that we were only two hours from Carlisle and we had an entire week to get there.

We were all museum-ed out. No more. We needed a break. Beth also didn't want to be around a lot of people before the week of the Hershey car show.

Washington D.C. was within a quick drive and we KNEW that we could easily grab a train into the city, but if you aren't there to collect or distribute money then D.C. means museums.

No museums. We left the hostel and turned left. We were driving right next to the old C&O tow-line canal which was recently re-opened to the public along the entire length. A couple of miles along we saw "Mr. History" from the hostel, and we stopped to talk to ask him how the locks worked way back then. He talked for quite a time about the details of the C&O and how it was George Wahington's brainchild and broke ground July 4th 18?? on the same day that the B&O railroad broke ground. He said we should go on a tour of Harper's Ferry while we were there, but we said we were museum-ed out. He showed me on the map where Antitiem was, the site where more Americans died in a single day of battle that at any other time or place.

We avoided Harper's Ferry park, and drove along next to the C&O. Ate in Shepardston. Went through Antitiem and took pictures of the battlefields. We traveled along more backroads. These are roads that we will NEVER be on again. If there is something to see, you've got to see it now.
An orchard, buy apples. Some driving. Ooooh! The town that is preparing for the huge apple festival in two more days. Sixty to one-hundred thousand people in a small town. Let's keep moving. Oooooh! The national apple museum. They are closed, but since we drove so far... our private tourguide showed us their museum which includes a nice collection of apple peelers from Goodell Company in Antrim, NH.

More backroads. We come across Gettysburg. We have no choice. We would be in trouble with some folks if we didn't stop. We drove around the fields and took pictures and read the signs.
We started talking about the importance of things that we just read about.

We drove through the town of Gettysburg, more back roads, some non-descript city. Gotta see the Clock & Watch museum, but it's Friday and housing is always tough to find on Friday.

The Clock & Watch Museum was great! After a couple of hours, Beth went out to the car to take a nap. I got kicked out at five PM. I attempted to claim that I didn't know what time it was, but when I said it, I realized that I was in a section where all of the clocks were working correctly. Damn.

I went out to the car and Beth had been on the phone with a campground to see if they had any vacancies and was yelled at for having the nerve to ask "on our busiest weekend".

I was able to find a place Pennsylvania State Campround an hour away, and off we went. We stayed the night at a wonderful camground and headed off in the morning, swearing that we were NOT going to go to any museums.

We drove straight to Carlisle.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Car Week, again.

We have been circling around Carlisle for as long as we could. We were scheduled to get here next Tuesday, but the East Coast is a little smaller than we remembered and we got here a week early. We are camping in a Marmoneer's backyard and are going to the Carlisle show in a few more minutes. It turns out that the "Carlisle Fall" show is for parts. There is NO car show. All of the leftover parts travel twenty miles up the road on Monday and Tuesday to Hershey for the hoards to peruse. They did have a two day auction here. We checked in when they were auctioning off number 220 of 242 cars. Beth and I really liked this wonderful 1954 Nash Metropolitan Convertible, and we were actually going to bid on it, but the price came within our grasp and then quickly shot up above our self-imposed limit.
There were a number of other cars which various people we know would have loved. I called my brother David about a beautiful 1962 Galaxy 500 hardtop that was very nice with a 4 barrel and 4 on the floor. I was going to bid up to a few thousand for him since I didn't have his permission. It went for $29,000.
Then right behind it was a 1958 Galaxy 500 hardtop with 14,000 original miles, one owner, all original, never restored, looked like new. That sold for 20-something too.

Today is parts. I only need a hubcap that isn't likely to be there. I am safe.
You folks are also spared the overload of photos that were likely to ensue. I have been having an ongoing argument with my cheapo-stubborn-crapola-computer for a week now, and it seems to be winning the argument about whether it wants to read photo memory cards or not.

Now I wasn't going to be uploading all of the photos right now, that would be when we are settled in for a while in one spot (starting in late October), but I use the computer to clean off my camera for the next day's adventure. I have had to throttle my picture habit back a little until I fix this $^&$@! computer.

So it is beautiful weather on this fine Sunday morning in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
George the homeowner will be back in a day or two, and we have been trying to organize with some other folks the details of who is going to be where for the Hershey show later this week.

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