Kirby: Don't throw away that calendar

The slack is running out of the chain.

– Georgia Rep. Terry England

 

A new year is looming. Its motto: “Things look lean in 2014!”

But who really knows?

That’s why we have newspapers (print and online) to let you know what happens.

And of course, you’ll know what day it happens if you have a calendar, which many of you probably got for a Christmas gift.

I have mine up already. It’s about baseball. Nice and fresh and ready to go.

All those days, all those dates, boxed and packaged in little squares. Neat and clean. (If only our lives could be simple.)

Maybe that’s why I like calendars. I have never thrown one out.

I come from a family who considered calendar photos as art and often framed favorites at home. I keep them in the attic, in the closet, in assorted drawers. I’m big on baseball and Edward Hopper and Edgar Degas and Western artists, Remington and Russell leading that list.

Though some use calendars for looking ahead, I’m always jotting notes on mine. I can tell you, for example, that Jan. 1, 1978, was rainy and cool and that the Cowboys and Bron­cos won playoff games (on their way to the Super Bowl, as it turned out).

I can you tell you all that, and I can also tell you that if you had a spare 2003 (or 1986 or 1975) calendar, you can get them out and put them up again. Same dates for the same days. Except for the Easters … and that’s another story.

That’s the thing about calendars – eventually another year will come along with the same number of days in the same sequence.

History books give the Egyptians credit for figuring out that movement of the sun was a crucial element in calendar configuration. (Others kept trying to use the moon.)

Though Jan. 1 is as good as any day to start a new year, you have to admit it doesn’t seem logical. Why, you might ask, select an arbitrary date 10 days after the winter solstice?

It perplexes me … but then it perplexed the ancient Romans, too. Back before they declined, the world conquerors of Jesus’ day thought they had also mastered time. Their year had 10 months of 304 days. There were 60 days left over, which, because they fell in the middle of winter, the Romans chose to ignore. (An enlightened approach.)

Gradually, however, they realized things were going wrong. Autumn, for instance, was beginning in July. Julius Caesar called in an astronomer named Sosigenes to fix it.

His solution? Twelve months of varying days, and every four years an extra day to keep things in balance.

The only drawback was that all the adjustment prolonged the year we now call 46 BC by 445 days.

It’s something to think about next time you think you’ve had a long year.

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