Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012

Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in the Roman empire over 2000 years ago, but the Julian calendar had only one rule: any year evenly divisible by 4 would be a leap year. This lead to way too many leap years, but didn't get corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar more than 1500 years later.

Why is a Leap Year Necessary?

Leap years are added to the calendar to keep it working properly. The 365 days of the annual calendar are meant to match up with the solar year. A solar year is the time it takes the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun — about one year. But the actual time it takes for the Earth to travel around the Sun is in fact a little longer than that—about 365 ¼ days (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be precise). So the calendar and the solar year don't completely match—the calendar year is a touch shorter than the solar year.
It may not seem like much of a difference, but after a few years those extra quarter days in the solar year begin to add up. After four years, for example, the four extra quarter days would make the calendar fall behind the solar year by about a day. Over the course of a century, the difference between the solar year and the calendar year would become 25 days! Instead of summer beginning in June, for example, it wouldn't start until nearly a month later, in July. As every kid looking forward to summer vacation knows—calendar or no calendar—that's way too late! So every four years a leap day is added to the calendar to allow it to catch up to the solar year.

A Quick History Lesson

The Egyptians were the first to come up with the idea of adding a leap day once every four years to keep the calendar in sync with the solar year. Later, the Romans adopted this solution for their calendar, and they became the first to designate February 29 as the leap day.

But Wait! It's Not Quite that Simple!

The math seems to work out beautifully when you add an extra day to the calendar every four years to compensate for the extra quarter of a day in the solar year. As we said earlier, however, the solar year is just about 365 ¼ days long, but not exactly! The exact length of a solar year is actually 11 minutes and 14 seconds less than 365 ¼ days. That means that even if you add a leap day every four years, the calendar would still overshoot the solar year by a little bit—11 minutes and 14 seconds per year. These minutes and seconds really start to add up: after 128 years, the calendar would gain an entire extra day. So, the leap year rule, "add a leap year every four years" was a good rule, but not good enough!

Calendar Correction, Part II

To rectify the situation, the creators of our calendar (the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582) decided to omit leap years three times every four hundred years. This would shorten the calendar every so often and rid it of the annual excess of 11 minutes and 14 seconds. So in addition to the rule that a leap year occurs every four years, a new rule was added: a century year is not a leap year unless it is evenly divisible by 400. This rule manages to eliminate three leap years every few hundred years.

It's Smooth Sailing for the Next 3,300 Years

This ingenious correction worked beautifully in bringing the calendar and the solar year in harmony, pretty much eliminating those pesky extra 11 minutes and 14 seconds. Now the calendar year and the solar year are just about a half a minute off. At that rate, it takes 3,300 years for the calendar year and solar year to diverge by a day.

Now, go take a leap!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red barn, white barn, foggy barn, too.


                                                           And a couple of their occupants.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kirby Allen Jones

           Happy birthday, Kirby. It's time to come home.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Top 10 Tips to avoid cleaning out your closet

10. Make yourself some scrambled eggs with a little feta sprinkled on top. Eat leisurely.
9. Clean out old files. Throw away annual car insurance documents dating back to 2003, excluding the current one, of course.
8. Wander around the house making mental notes on what you need to make the house look better. Marvel at how messy your daughter's room is.
7. Check airfare to Mexico just in case there's a good deal lurking. Feel disappointed.
6. Eat a peanut butter sandwich with homemade raspberry jam spread on Dave's Killer Bread. ( ). Eat slowly.
5. Pour yourself a diet Dr. Pepper and gaze out your window at your perfect dog lounging happily on the grass taking in the sites. Smile and feel happy.

4. Poof up the pillows on the family room furniture and fold the afghan neatly on the back of the sofa. Admire the order.
3. Go to online banking, check balance and see what payments have gone through recently. Feel a little depressed.
2. Turn on music and make chocolate chip cookie dough for your son. Nibble a little bit here and there. Feel much better.
And the #1 thing to do to avoid cleaning out your closet is.....
Write a post on your blog.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sometimes I wonder what women are thinking!

I want to distance myself from my gender for a while. This Sunday Lily has a gymnastics meet in Seattle and as we all know, except for the @$#! women who scheduled this competition, it's also Super Bowl Sunday. Don't you think that someone would have noticed this and said to the other organizers - Hey guys! This is Super Bowl Sunday. I bet the parents of the competitors may want to watch the biggest football game of the year. How 'bout we schedule the meet on the following Sunday, ok? A man would have never made this mistake. It's shameful.

I'm tempted to boycott the whole shebang but I want to see Lily do things like this. She would also be very mad at me if I refused to take her and believe me, it gets ugly around here when she's angry so I'll drive the 120 miles at 6:00 am and sit anxiously through the 5 hour event then drive like a bat out of hell (but safely, Safety Man) to get home by the second half. Wish us both luck, will ya?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's a mean streak

My hot water heater is leaking and needs to be replaced. The pot filler that's over my range also has a leak and needs replacing.  My concrete counter was smacked by a heavy pot and has a big chip out of the edge which needs to be repaired. My kids' upstairs shower was leaking through our recessed lights in the kitchen and needs to be ripped out and re-tiled. The pipes in the well house froze during the big storm which leaves us with bad water and yet another repair job. With the exception of my counters, my troubles are all water related. Do I hear the theme song to Jaws in the background?