Monday, February 29, 2016

A Leap In Time

Who would have thought that this once in a lifetime opportunity would present itself?*

*I guess I should say once every four years opportunity, my bad.**

**Well, actually, I guess it isn’t even once every four years. Good old Julius Caesar’s simple method has been altered slightly for the Gregorian Calendar (yeah, that’s the one we’re using now). There’s an actual formula for creating this very special day:
1)      The year needs to be divisible by 4. (Simple enough right, been doing it for ages), but …
2)      If the year is divisible by 100, it is NOT a Leap Year (OK then, but wasn’t 2000 AD a Leap Year?)
3)      Ah hah! #2 only comes into effect if the year is not divisible by 400. If it is, like Y2K was, then it goes back to being a Leap Year!

Now that we got all the technical stuff out of the way, what does that mean? Well, it just means that Y2.1K (2100 AD) will not be a Leap Year, so we’ll have to keep that in mind 84 years from now. It also means that had I been born on February 29th, which would mean either 1968 or 1972, I would only be 11 or 12 years old right now. I seem to recall an ancient Little Rascals episode that mentioned this very quirk when Froggy indicated that he had been born on a Leap Day and was only 3 or 4 years old, technically speaking.

So little February, the shortest month of the year, gets a little longer this year. Now why is February the shortest month? Well, that gets back to our good friend Julius, and his successor, Augustus and something about having their named months be no shorter than any other month in the calendar and the fact that the Roman calendar actually didn’t track months during the winter – making it a three season only calendar.

Let me get back now to that opportunity I mentioned. A thought occurred to me that I can use this occasion to make a special 4 year time capsule every time February 29th rolls around (except, of course for the future exception mentioned above). The last Leap Day was on a Wednesday in 2012, and I have been thinking back to what things were like way back then …

I was in the midst of my Tech Support job, feeling very stressed and still wondering if I had made the right career move. Little did I know on this day back then, that our wonderful US government would facilitate a change in just over a year from that point, ultimately to my relief and mental health. It shouldn’t go without being mentioned that in the previous Leap Year of 2008, I was contemplating a change in careers to go into the Tech Industy.

Of course we had the big topic of discussion being the end of the world come December of 2012, and naturally Hollywood capitalizing on the prediction. As it was, the end of the Mayan Great Cycle came and went without any real fanfare. Though I do still wish that Atlantis has sprung up from the depths of the ice in the middle of Antarctica to take over society and chastise the human race for the atrocities we seem intent on committing against Mother Nature, and each other.

We had the Summer Olympics take place in London and the closing ceremonies that highlighted significant British accomplishments, traditions, and staples pretty much snub the best one of all – Doctor Who. It also was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, so I guess things weren’t all bad over there.

In world news, we had the Arab Spring going on, as well as the attack on the US embassy that killed American Ambassador Stevens. The worst power outage in world history occurred in India, and Hurricane Sandy marched into New Jersey and devastated the Northeastern seaboard enough to actually postpone Halloween for a week.

Now, what’s going on in 2016?

Well, on the International front, we’ve got this year’s Summer Olympics hosted by Brazil this coming August in the midst of the Zika Virus outbreak. We’re talking about the terrorist organization ISIS and the fear of lone wolf and small independent cells making attacks on US soil and elsewhere.

We’ve got the next Presidential election coming up with Donald Trump of all people leading the Republican Party candidates. On the flip side we have Hillary Clinton making a bid to be the first woman President and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. So, in essence, no matter what happens, the US is really going to be screwed for the next four years. It’s not the fact that we have the real potential for a woman President, but the fact we don’t have a good choice of one to actually be able to vote for in November. Looks like I’ll be voting for the perennial Ficus Tree this year.

We’ve had a pretty wacky winter – with almost summer like temperatures for this past Christmas, followed by our first big blizzard in January, then back to spring-like weather these past two weekends, with a big Nor’easter the middle of this past week, which thankfully dropped rain on us instead of snow. As much as I like those big storms, having to dig out before going to work was not something I was looking forward to this past week, if it came to pass.

On a more personal note, things have come almost full circle on the career front as I am back in retail, but in a much better position so to speak that is much less stressful and has better hours than previously. While I can’t always say that I enjoy having to go to work, I can say that I finally don’t dread it as much as I have in a long, long time. We’re also expecting a new nephew on Shannon’s side of the family this year, by the name of Finnegan.

Instead of a one child family, we are now a two child family. The oldest is now a 5th grader going on 6th – instead of the 1st  going on 2nd she was four years ago. Obviously, this year is the year to look forward to our trips to Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland as the toddler will be almost 2 years old this summer and much more able to enjoy the experience, not to mention this coming Christmas season. We still have the (older) labradoodle still acting like he’s a puppy, but with more frequent naps. Willy’s been gone almost a year now, and we still miss him a lot, but Flash is still hanging in there somehow, and Hershey is the troublemaker of the household. Buddy the turtle is still Buddy the turtle even though we have since learned that Buddy is a girl.

One thing we are certainly looking forward to is finally getting some work done on the house in March. We can’t wait to gut and redo the downstairs bathroom as well as get a new kitchen floor. We’re adding some electrical to the basement, which I am still trying to clean up and declutter from the sump pump system we had put in back in November. Perhaps by the time the next Time Capsule entry rolls around in 2020, I’ll have it all done.

Of course, we can’t end this entry without mentioning it being the Year of Star Wars. Even though Episode 7 debuted a couple of months ago, it very much sets the course for 2016 and beyond. Boo and I are looking forward to the first Anthology prequel coming out at the end of this year which tells the tale of the events immediately preceding Episode 4. And of course, we have Episode 8 coming out in May of 2017.

All in all, it looks like 2016 will continue to bring a lot of changes and interesting things to look forward to in the months to come. I actually can’t wait until 2020 to look back at this entry and see how things have changed in the intervening 4 years and see what I’ll be writing about then.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

National Hanging in the Outhouse Day

That wonderful time of year again. It kicks off with the car and furniture commercials – usually featuring good ole George Washington and Honest Abe Lincoln. Oh how incessant for a couple of weeks, those wonderful sales commercials pushing for the new sofa or pickup. Then, just when you think it’s over – oh joy! – it’s the after President’s Day Weekend sale, because, you know, the sales event was such a big success we just couldn’t let it end now!
Oh God, the banality of it all. Nothing makes me want to buy a car or armchair less than these annual traditions of sales pitches. The same goes for WaWa and the damnable summer of Hoagie Fest we have to suffer through, and the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week promos – which usually start a good two months before the damn week arrives.

But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared with what every year brings to us nowadays. It seems that it wasn’t all that long ago that we only had to tolerate a handful of those made-up “holidays” – you know the ones that are really only there to keep the greeting card people employed. Not that I think they are all bad people – in fact there are some very creative ones I have come across over the years. The thing that really irks me are the “holidays” that help boost those sales. It really kicks off with the one that is impending as I write this – the oh so wonderful Valentine’s Day. That day where we are supposed to celebrate the one special person in your life – unless you are single, in which case it is a glaring reminder of rejection and loneliness. What a bunch of friggin’ nonsense.

Personally speaking, I think every day should be a day where couples should celebrate, support, and appreciate each other. I don’t need somebody trying to sell a greeting card with a heart on it that this one day is more important than any other day. Same goes for all those other “Special” days, like Secretary’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Third Cousin Twice Remove on Your Half-Step-Brother’s Side day. What a bunch of bull. No day is any different other day – be it one of these days, a birthday, or what have you. Dinner still needs to be cooked. The Cat still needs to be fed. The Dog shit still needs to be picked up from the yard. Whether I do it on one of these days, or just a “normal” day is pretty much irrelevant. Same thing with Birthdays. I don’t think it is possible for me to care any less about the anniversary of my birth. It’s not like I did anything special on that day – it was pretty much out of my control – just another random day out of 365. If anything should be celebrated it should be God and my parents for bringing about the event – and God gets his day every Sunday.

You know what day I find special? The day where I don’t have to go to work and can just sit on the couch and vegetate … I mean mediate on the meaning of Life for the whole damn day. Now that’s something worth celebrating. Now what’s really gotten to be completely asinine are all these “National Days” that seem to be the vogue thing – National Ice Cream day, National Cookie Day, National Peanut Butter day, and so on and so forth. Pretty much every damn day of the year is a National Celebrate this thing day. It’s gets to the point where it just becomes pointless. You know why days like Christmas, Easter, Saint Patty’s Day, and the like are special? Because they are celebrated once a year. To have a National whatever day every day pretty much makes celebrating anything one step above banality. Again, I don’t need a day in which Ice Cream is more special – frigg, I’ll eat ice cream every damn day and enjoy it the first time just as much as the 365th time. I don’t need some day in July to feel that it is more special or worth celebrating more than any other day of the year.

You know who and/or what should get their holidays and National Celebratory days? Those who have helped mankind advance in a positive manner; those who have found cures for disease and those who are still working diligently on finding cures for those afflictions that still ail us. I mean hell, Columbus gets a special day, and all he did was take the long way to the orient until he bumped into a bit of land. Frigg, it’s not like he was even the first to reach the Americas for crying out loud. How about Marie Curie, Jonas Salk, or Edward Jenner? Where the hell are their days?

Now, if there’s any day that I can actually get behind, that would be May 26th. That day is Cosmos Day, and that’s one of those “lesser” holidays that I can actually get behind. So until then, you can take all those other holidays and stuff ‘em. I’ve wasted enough time today – gotta go get the pooper scooper and get back to work.