Matter, Energy, and Life of Michaela A. Castello.

Turning Back Time

It turns out that, like me, my car is getting older. So is this website, for that matter: it’s coming up on fourteen years since this. Back in 2009, having an in-dash LCD screen and navigation system on a Honda was pretty sweet. I still had a Windows Mobile phone with a full keyboard and no idea that in a few short years, driving directions would be handled almost exclusively by our phones.

Once that change happened, I stopped thinking about (and using) the nav system—that is, until New Year’s 2022. I spent that one at Adam’s, on his porch wearing a coat, scarf and N95 mask, covering the on-call shift because his then-fiancé had COVID-19. When I turned my car on to drive home, I noticed something was off. The clock read:

Jan. 1, 2003 (Tue.)

From then on, every time I turned the car off and on again, the clock would reset to that time. Attempting to manually change it to the correct date and time was unsuccessful, as it would immediately jump back to the incorrect one. I wondered why this was going on and tried to look up how to fix it.

Remember the Y2K Bug? Actually…don’t answer that. If you found this page via my Instagram there’s a halfway decent chance you might not remember that whole saga. The idea was that many dates were stored in computers as only two digits, so when ’99 went to ’00, software would get confused and glitch. It turns out that a quick way people fixed that issue was to remap early 20th century dates to the 21st century: 1900 becomes 2000, 1901 becomes 2001, and so on.

Programmers working on the rudimentary Honda vehicle operating system in 2001 likely remapped dates forward through 2021, probably thinking there was no way that version would still be in use twenty years later. Apparently that system was still shipping with vehicles in 2009 when I purchased an Insight; thirteen years later, when 2021 became 2022 and I was still driving the car, it ran out of dates.

For the next year, the clock essentially functioned as a timer of how long the car had been running. It’s possible that if I got a new navigation DVD it might contain a software upgrade; however, like everyone else I use my phone for that. I wasn’t going to pay around $100 for the mere hope of a functioning dashboard clock.

I assumed this was the new normal for the remaining life of the car, but there was another surprise waiting for me on New Year’s 2023, when the clock started displaying:

Jan. 1, 2003 (Wed.)

Instead of resetting, the year had updated! I thought that would be the only difference, but no, there was more. The time stopped resetting every time the car turned on, instead synchronizing itself to a time that was the correct minute, except two hours ahead.

Current state of the Honda clock in 2023. I know, I haven’t dusted it in a while.

As time went on, more changes became apparent: while the year remained 2003, the month and date appeared to be selected at random, no longer stuck on January 1st. Interestingly, the day of the week started matching up with the correct one; when I took the picture it was, in fact, a Sunday. I have no good explanation for this behavior other than that as far as this Honda is concerned, we are in an uncharted new future where anything can happen. Perhaps in 2024, we’ll get to the correct month.

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