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29 February 2012

Horological Reflections

It's Leap Day again!  I haven't really had crazy Leap Day traditions along the lines of those in last week's episode of 30 Rock (#609), but blogging is, I suppose, something that I do on days such as these.  I did wear a bit of yellow and blue, though, today, so no one would poke me in the eye or pull my hair.

I feel as though I spoke too soon four years ago when I said that "even though 29 days is still shorter than any other month, it just seems like February is unnecessarily 'hanging around'" during leap years.  I didn't feel that way today.  There are a couple potential reasons for this.

One is purely personal: I'm not quite ready for it to be March yet.  Quite frankly, I wasn't ready for February to start 29 days ago, either, and I doubt I'll be ready for April when it comes around.  With the unparalleled velocity my endeavors this year have brought (which I still need to mention here; it's getting a bit old), there is always something to be doing, and even if I'm not actually behind, I still feel like I am.  I'm sure most busy people know this feeling; it's quite familiar to me.

The other reason is mathematical: Usually, months have 30 or 31 days, so when you're calculating a date across a month boundary, you're basically doing modular arithmetic, mod 30 or 31.  You know, a week after the 26th is either the 2nd or the 3rd if there were 31 or 30 days, respectively, in the month just ending.  After a while, you get used to this.  February's the odd case, with 28 days usually, but working ahead to March is usually easy because it generally looks the same; since 28 is divisible by 7, all of March's days line up with February's in most years.

But 29 days in February is the exception to the exception, and being one short of a nice, round number is just harder to get around than being one over it.  Unless, of course, there's something else at play.  I don't know if it's voodoo symmetry or what, but Wednesday, being right in the middle of the work week, just seems like a natural place to put Leap Day, much more so than the Friday we had in 2008 or Sunday in 2004.  For some reason, I've not had any trouble figuring my dates mod 29.  All seems right with the world.  (Which is good, because that's sort of the point, aligning the calendar with the cosmos and such.)

As I mentioned on Twitter last night, today "completes the set" of Leap Days for me.  Since being born eight weeks before Leap Day 1988, which was a Monday, I've now been alive for seven Leap Days, one on each day of the week.  And I've never had a friend to whom I could actually wish a happy birthday on 29 February until today!  (Happy sixth birthday, Chris!  Facebook says we've known each other since November 2008, so this has been a long time coming.)

Leap Day is like a gift, in a way.  I mean, yes, it's just another day that would otherwise be called something else... but it's special, darn it!  It's a built-in prompt for horological reflection that reminds us to make each day special, and to make good use of the precious time we have.

It is thus that I must digress and mention my atomic shower clock.  Although I often take long showers intentionally to "clear my head," sometimes you need to be in and out; other times, you don't have to be quick, but still don't want to dawdle.  Sometimes, then, it's easy to go into the shower with one mindset and then, regardless, suddenly forget all about time continuing to pass by (at least until the water starts getting cold).

While this suction-based waterproof contraption wasn't terribly cheap, it has certainly paid for itself already in saved time (read, "not accidentally wasted time"), including a few minutes this morning. I think that's worthwhile.

And all in all, today was a good, productive day.  I'm determined to have a great many more in the 1460 days between now and the next intercalation.

But now, as I am running out of time, I leave you with Le Chat Noir, édition bissextile 2012:


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