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A tick in time

In this modern age of repair-by-technologic-wizardry, it is gratifying to discover that the old Theory of Accidental Repair still works. We know a couple whose 19th-century French mantel clock hadn't worked in a decade. Two family members had tinkered with it for hours - no tick-tock. A clockmaker had a crack at it - still mute.

Last week along came the twice-a-month cleaning lady, who jostled it. Tick-tock, tick-tock. It's kept perfect time ever since.

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However - there's one unexpected problem: It now has a de facto midnight alarm. Seems the midnight strike awakens the family dog, long accustomed to blissful after-dark silence. Her annoyed barks, cross-country in volume, awaken the family every midnight.

But at least they know what time it is when she gets them up.