Monthly Archives: February 2012

Leap Year

Undoubtedly, you have been inundated with Leap Year and Leap Day information today. Today is February 29th, which means it IS Leap Day. As a youngster, you probably heard horror stories of children being born on February 29th and only having a birthday every four years.

But what does it all actually mean? Why do we have Leap Years?

We are taught that a year is 365 days because it takes the Earth 365 days to revolve around the sun. But that actually isn’t true; our precious planet takes 365 1/4 days to revolve around the sun. This adds up to an extra day every four years. So we tack on February 29th every four years to keep us coordinated with the sun’s position.

Why do this? By not adding little February 29th every four years, things would shift and our seasons would seem off to us; eventually our spring holidays would be occurring in the fall (pumpkin pie for Easter, anyone?).

However, this calculation isn’t exactly spot on (naturally). We’re about eleven minutes off on this calculation, which means that every 128 years would include a massive discrepancy. In order to alleviate this travesty, in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that Leap Year would be skipped three times every four centuries. In other words, an end-of-century year is not a leap year unless it is also exactly divisible by 400. You should have paid more attention to your maths, eh?

But why February 29th, you ask? Why not June 31st? October 32nd? I could winge on about Terminalia and the Kalends‘ but instead I will tell you this: when the Roman system of numbering days was replaced by sequential numbering during the late Middle Ages, February 29 became Leap Day.

Does your head feel a wee bit swimmy? Watch this delightful video from a fun little website called geeksaresexy.net:

I suggest waiting about an hour before exercising after all this knowledge. Safety first, m’dears. Safety first.

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Poetry in Motion

The Rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

 

By Robert Creeley from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley.

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Wastrel

Let us suppose that you are in your workshop, working on a balloon-enhanced pedal-powered flying machine.

Let us suppose that your brother barrels out of your house in a whirlwind of coats, scarves, early-afternoon bourbons and goggles. And let us suppose that as he does this, your brother shouts “Are you aware that there are wastrels in your front yard?”.

What could he mean? There are a few choices.

Wastrel is a noun that means a vagabond, idler, waif and it also means refuse, waste as well as one who expends resources foolishly and self-indulgently; a spendthrift.  It originated in the late 1500s and stems from the word waste plus the pejorative rel.

So what did Mordecai mean? Was the front garden awash with garbage? A gaggle of orphaned tykes? Or a profligate relation?

Upon inspection, the front yard was full of Canadian geese yelling at the dragons. Who were yelling back. I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t complain, but let’s be honest – this is the least offensive thing that’s happened in my front garden in a good while.

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Things Got Presidential in the Garden

This morning I woke early and slightly blue, perhaps feeling a bit let down from the current season of Downton Abbey ending. I brewed myself a strong cup of coffee and stepped into the garden to soak in some February sunshine and crisp air.

Instead of the cleansing solitude I had hoped for, I stepped into a tableau that included Bubo wearing a Lincoln-esque hat, the dragons chopping down a “cherry tree” ( a broom handle anchored into the ground and covered in spray-painted grapes) and the yeti warbling an off-key yet catchy tune. It’s an original song titled “John Adams Is My Everything”.

I stood silently, sipping my coffee, curious to see what would come next.

When Bubo rolled out the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison’s Proclamation on the occupation of West Florida, though, I left.

Happy Presidents Day, my dears.

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