The alarm clock saga

I'm picky when it comes to my sleep. I don't like bright lights because they keep me awake or wake me up. My brother used to torture me by keeping on the light and then beating me up whenever it went dark. Since he could doze with light off, it meant that I spent the entire night awake because I just couldn't sleep.

The light

This leads to my hatred of ultra-bright LEDs. In specific, the blue ones that every humidifier, fan, and recharging cable seems to think is the greatest thing in the world. And, "ultra bright light that will keep you up" isn't listed on the side of the box, I don't know that I'm going to have a blinding light until after I buy it and set it up.

My alarm clock is the worst offender of all, mainly because I can't cover it with duct tape (my usual answer to bright lights) or bury it. By its nature, it needs to actually be visible to be useful.

The history

When we moved a year ago, we lost one box. Naturally, it contained my "good" clock which was a tolerable Emerson alarm clock with amber numbers and a decent dimmer. It also had the gradual buzzer (starts soft and gets louder), two alarms, and the 7-5-2 alarm modes (weekdays, weekend only, or all the time) for both alarms.

I have two other Emerson alarm clocks already. The green LED one is in the guest room and starts off with the mind-shattering loud sound. The blue one, which is the one I use, is so bright, I put it face down every night just so I can sleep. But, since both works (the green one sometimes fails which is why its in the guest room, it also doesn't get below green laser intensity), I had no reason to replace it.

The excuse

At least until SMWM said she wanted a clock on her own side. She was tired of using her Android phone for an alarm (since that means it has to be in a known location and charged, something we both are bad at). After a brief negotiation (e.g., me begging), I got to look for a new alarm clock that doesn't hurt my eyes as much and lets me sleep.

With all the excitement in the world, I got to go online and get a clock.

The first drama

I like Emerson clocks, mainly for the sound but their side and sturdiness. Sadly, Emerson doesn't really make alarm clocks anymore and the one that is available is in soul-scarring blue. The amber version (CKS9051) is almost impossible to find.

I did find it at Sears and Amazon. When I was trying to decide on where to get it, SMWMW reminded me that my philosophy is "buy small, buy local". I already canvased every store in the area to find any clock that was close, but couldn't find anything. So, Sears qualifies as smaller than Amazon, so I went with them.

After a few minutes of trying to figure out what their Max program is (Sears' version of Amazon Prime), I went with cheap delivery and paid by PayPal. And then sat down to wait for my clock to show up.

April 17 came around and nothing. Getting a little worried, I went online and found out that the order was canceled. Not by me, but by their system. Apparently, they sold something that wasn't in stock in any store and their system doesn't send cancellation notices if there is no stock. So, I got no email saying it was canceled, no notice that my money was refunded, or anything.

I bitched on Twitter and got the Sears adjective adjective Customer Care group person DM'ing me and then calling me. After going back and forth, they found out why I didn't get an email, why it was canceled, and figured out where my money went. According to the, it takes 7-10 business days and a fax to PayPal to refund my money. Last I checked, I just click the "refund" button on PayPal, but apparently they need a "fax" from Sears. I also guess no one has ever had the system cancel their order ever since it took a day to figure this out.

I haven't gotten my money back, but at least I know that Sears is not an option.

The second drama

I still could go with Amazon, but I decided to keep with my philosophy. After doing some searches, I ended up on eBay. There was only one "new" version of the clock, so I made an instant buy, paid for it and the $10 shipping, and waited another few days for it to show up.

I finally got to hold it in my hand. Plugging it in, it looked like exactly what I needed. Except... one of the buttons didn't work. Apparently, "new" means smelling like smoke and not actually working. After going back and forth with the seller, I found out they plugged it in but never tested it beyond seeing the lights go on.

This afternoon, I sent it back in exchange for a full refund and them paying for the shipping. I'll find out in a few days if they actually will do that, but it's frustrating.

The never giving up

I decided to try again on eBay. The clock looked pretty good for what I saw of it in person and I think I want it. So, there are a few others selling that clock, so I'll find out if there is going to be a third drama in a few weeks.

It's hard to imagine that buying a clock would be such drama, but I know what I want and what I don't want. And I suspect that much of the world is migrating toward smart phones or just keeping their clocks for 20+ years, so the market for good clocks is going down. I've noticed that for a while now, but the selection is growing thinner every year.

  • Two alarms with 7-5-2
  • Gradual crescendo for the buzzer
  • Red (preferred) or amber, as dim as it will go

It seems like a small thing, but I also think this is important. A quality sleep is something that most people don't get and I think it is because they don't think about bright lights, background noise, or temperature. The problem with knowing what I want is that it makes it that much harder to get what I think I need (and I'm always willing to realize that it won't quite work out).

The alternatives

I actually found an alternative which is to use the window tinting film and basically tint over the screen to make an existing clock dimmer. I could also build a clock, which sounds like fun but I have so many other project right now.

Sadly, the only clock I found that looked like the perfect clock, the Muse M-15 CR, but sadly it's a Europe-only clock. But, it does 24-hour time. Oh well.