He Turned the Clock Off?

We are staying at Lew’s while we wait out the weekend in hopes that Himel’s Air Conditioning will be able to get everything done on Monday. We got in last night and had a supper bought from Champagne’s ready-to-eat case. We all went to bed early and slept late: none of us realized how much the day had taken out of us.

We woke this morning and decided to have breakfast at Hub City Diner, which is only a few blocks away. While Lily and I waited for Yung-Hsing to get ready, we were sitting in Lew’s living room, playing and talking. Suddenly, Lily noticed the mantle clock that Lew keeps on top of the armoire which holds all his entertainment equipment.

“The clock’s stopped,” she said.

“Yes,” I said. “I guess Mr. Lew forgot to wind it.”

“He turned it off?”

“No, that clock isn’t electric. It gets its energy from being wound up, like your wind-up robots. When they wind down, they stop.”

“He turned it off?”

Our discussion continued for a little while, but I’m not sure if Lily ever quite understood that the clock wasn’t powered by electricity. It’s interesting, really, because we don’t have any electric clocks, *per se*, at home. All our clocks are battery-powered, and I am pretty sure that she has seen me replace batteries in those.

But the more interesting moment to consider, I think, is an universe in which everything is electrically powered. We are not far off from that moment as I write this. All the major automakers are racing to develop either electric cars or hybrid ones. Our house, with our gas heater, clothes dryer, and hot water heater, is something of a throwback when so many new homes opt for the clean, single source of electricity. (That electricity is more expensive than gas is only something of this moment. As we move to solar power, especially at home, I think gas lines will slowly wither away.)

What isn’t electric is gas-powered and usually encased in a way to discourage understanding of how the thing works.

That I would think about any of this probably is also the reason that I am currently pursuing my current work on crawfish boats. I would perhaps go on to lament that these men are something like a dying breed, but the fact of the matter is that they are not. There are plenty of them out there, but there is, I think, an increasing divide between those who can work with materials and with their minds and those who work only with abstractions.