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03 October 2005

Evens and Odds

Whilst nothing much worth blogging about is going on in my life at this very moment, I thought I'd take this time to go back to the days of summer camp.

Every year on Wednesday night (weather permitting), we wait until the sun goes down and we play Capture the Flag. In order to fairly divide the teams, we are split by birthdate. One side consists of all campers who were born on an even day of the month. The other side consists of the odds.

If you're thinking that's all well and good, let me tell you something: it's not! This method of team division is absolutely not fair! It has been, and always will be, skewed toward the odds.

First of all, as manager of the camp contact list, I collect birthdates from people so that I can easily sort them by age. Well, looking at this year's list, 80 campers reported themselves as odds, while only 75 reported an even date of birth (the rest declined to answer). This is simply not fair! Why should we give the odds a nearly 7% advantage even before we set foot on the field? Granted, the officials do try to even the teams out before we start, but how can one be sure they're not biased?

There are 365 days in a normal year. Only 179 of them are even, leaving 186 odd days. It's even worse in leap years, when we add 29 February (notice that it's an odd day). So, every four years, 716 out of 1461 days are even, or 49.00753%. Leap years, however, don't occur on "century years" other than those divisible by 400. So, it's really like 71600 out of 146097 days in 400 years are even, or 49.00854%. I guess that's slightly better.

Let's break it down even further (because I like things to be perfect). This is absolutely necessary in my book, because on top everything, Daylight Saving Time (DST) throws weird things into the mix. Of course, it starts and ends on different dates each year, but they're always Sundays. Such calculations were made easier, however, by the fact that the current version of the Gregorian calendar repeats itself in a perfect cycle every 400 years (i.e., today, 03 October 2005 is Monday and 03 October 2405 will be Monday). The hard part is that those 400 years in the cycle don't start on each day of the week with the same frequency. 01 January falls on Monday and Saturday 56 times, on Wednesday and Thursday 57 times, and on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday 58 times during each 400-year cycle.

Using this, though, I could determine how often DST begins on each date (01-07 April) and ends on each date (25-31 October), keeping in mind that when it starts, the appropriate side loses 1 hour of baby birth, and when it ends, the appropriate side gets an extra hour of baby birth. (Wow, this sounds weird.)

So, when DST starts on 05, 06, or 07 April, they cancel each other out. One side loses an hour in spring, and gains it back in autumn. When DST starts on 01 or 03 April, even has a net swing of 2 hours in their favor, because odd loses 1 hour in spring and even gains 1 hour in autumn. When it starts on 02 or 04 April, odd has a 2-hour swing for the same reasons. Add this all up, keeping in mind how often DST begins on each date every 400 years, and the evens get a total swing in their favor of 8 hours every 400 years! So, rather than 1718400 out of 3506328 hours being even every 400 years, it's 1718408! That brings us to 49.00876%! Yay!

I don't know how many of you are in favor of President Bush, or how many hate him, or how many are relatively neutral toward most of his policies but still can't help but wonder what his IQ is (no, I'm not changing the subject). In August, he signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which, effective March 2007, will change the nationally observed dates for DST. Instead of starting on the first Sunday of April (01-07 April), it will start on the second Sunday of March (08-14 March). Rather than ending on the last Sunday of October (25-31 October), it will end a week later, on the first Sunday of November (01-07 November). This changes things a bit. Let's see what he did to the system.

Remember how I said that sometimes the swings caused by DST cancel each other out certain years? Not true under the new system! Every time DST will start on an odd day, it will end on an even day, causing a 2-hour swing toward the evens. The same holds true the other way. Since four of the possible starting dates are even (08, 10, 12, and 14 March), odd gets this swing roughly four-sevenths of the time. In fact, if you add everything up, they get a net swing in their favor of 108 hours every 400 years, bringing the total number of even hours down to a measly 1718292 out of 3506328, or 49.00546%.

If you're thinking this is some sort of Bush-planned conspiracy against the evens, think again! It only has to do with his concern for conservation of energy! In fact, Bush himself is an even! So there, he didn't plan it to work that way. It's only the repercussion of yet another Act we probably didn't need anyway (or at least not the DST part).

You may be wondering why I'm so frazzled by this whole DST thing. Not that it will affect my daily life much, but for my birthday this past year I got, among other things, a new alarm clock and a new wall clock. Both automatically adjust themselves for DST changes. Now I have to contact the Customer Service Department of both companies and see if I can get them fixed! Ugh!

I have a year and a half left to sort that all out, though. I'll probably send them in next summer when I don't need them to help me wake up in the morning (I am not a morning person)!

So now that I've ranted for well over 1000 words about how unfair everything is toward the evens, I guess I'm done. I just find it ironic that the four people whose blogs I regularly read (and who often comment here) are all odds! Grrr; I bet it feels nice.


Anonymous said...

I'm an even!! <3

Hehehe. I find it amazing, though, that you can write so much about this subject. No wonder I haven't heard from you in so long... ^_^;;

Tim Parenti said...

Actually, I'd had this post, half-done, in a queue for about a month. I finally pulled it out on Sunday and decided I needed to finish it.

Miles C. said...

Yeah, lets go odds! (actually, my B-day is this month. On the ODD number, just shy of the middle.)

Lexi Elizabeth said...

i'm an odd! haha. i would never want to do all that math just to prove how unfair it is for the evens. haha.

Robert said...

That was an amazing blog entry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
En passant, comme j'ai lu que tu avais étudié le français, je me demandais si tu étais toujours à l'aise avec la langue?

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