Maybe leap day was a bad idea

By Bruce Stambaugh

I feel sorry for anyone born on Feb. 29. They only get to celebrate their birthday every four years. If it is a century year like 1900, they have to wait eight years.

I haven’t known very many people in my life who were born on leap day. So it’s not like I was influenced to complain about the dubious day on their behalf.

My good wife’s grandmother, Maggie, was a leap day baby. Neva remembers turning 16 the same year her dear grandmother was 16. Indeed, Maggie had to wait eight years before she could celebrate her first birthday. She was born in 1896.

Birthday boy by Bruce StambaughPeople born on Feb. 29 get cheated. Sure they have a birthday every year. But it has to be celebrated on Feb. 28 or March 1 or perhaps a day of their choosing. How would you like to consistently celebrate your birthday on a day other than the actual day?

I understand the reason for leap day. An extra day has to be added, generally every four years, to keep pace with the earth’s real speed of rotation. That fact alone reemphasizes my main point. The current calendar system is inaccurate, messed up, verhuddelt, as the Amish would say.

To make matters worse, leap days usually occur during presidential election years, except on most century years. Do we really need an additional day of negative national campaign hyperbole? The year 2000 was an exception because it was divisible by 400, which is why 1900 wasn’t a leap year.

Green frog by Bruce StambaughNow that I think about it, having a leap day would be an excellent question for the candidates to debate. If you compare that suggestion to some of the idiotic comments and ideas that they have been espousing on their own, I think it fits right into the political verbal fray.

In fact, given some of the witticisms by the candidates so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them thought leap day was a reference to a frog-jumping contest. Who could argue with that?

Officially a leap day occurs in most years that are divisible by four, like 2012. Years that are evenly divided by 100 do not contain leap day, unless they are divisible by 400, like 2000 was. See what I mean? Unless you’re a math wizard, leap day is simply confusing.

Letting go by Bruce StambaughThis is reason enough to eliminate leap day. If we have to follow all of these crazy exceptions to even have a Feb. 29, why bother? Why not just wait until an entire year needs to be added, and do it all at one time. It would be like an entire year of jubilee, only in reverse. I’ll be dead by then anyhow, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the ensuing consequences.

I am surprised about one thing with leap day. It hasn’t been made a national holiday. What a great way to stimulate the economy? Establish yet another card buying, gift giving holiday, especially right after the sales for Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. That would put three holidays in the shortest month of the year, a marketer’s dream come true. Sorry. Ground Hog Day doesn’t count.

In all seriousness, if you were born on Feb. 29, I wish you a happy birthday. If my birthday fell on Feb. 29, which it doesn’t, I would only be 17 this year. On second thought, let’s just keep the calendar the way it is.

2012 calendar looks to be a bit on the crazy side

Eerie sunset by Bruce Stambaugh
By Bruce Stambaugh

We were having a right nice 2012 until January 13th arrived. Of course, it was a Friday, the day the first disruptive snowstorm of the season hit the northeast Ohio area.

Forsythia by Bruce StambaughUntil then, the winter weather had been more like early spring. People reported dandelions and forsythia blooming. I even saw a pussy willow bush ready to open. One person bragged about mowing the lawn at the end of December.

Then along came Friday the 13th. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not blaming the snowstorm on that supposedly superstitious day. In fact I’m not even superstitious, knock on wood.

I had to wonder though if this was going to be the first of several goofy events, either natural or human induced, to occur in 2012. I’m only thinking this because of the way the year’s universal calendar plays out.

Besides the Friday the 13th snowstorm, this is also a leap year. People born on February 29 will finally get to celebrate their Birthday by Bruce Stambaughbirthdays again. February, the shortest month of the year even with Leap Day, has five Wednesdays this year. September has its usual 30 days, and five of them are Sundays.

Of the 12 months, three begin on a Sunday, one on a Monday, one on a Tuesday, two on a Wednesday, two on a Thursday, one on a Friday and two on a Saturday. I think we can thank the Leap Year phenomenon again for making sure no day got ignored.

Other oddities include Washington’s Birthday and Ash Wednesday coinciding. April Fools’ Day and Palm Sunday share the same date. A full moon occurs on Good Friday. August is the only month that has two full moons, August 2 and 31. September’s full moon also occurs on the last day of the month.

Unless you have been hiding in a cave, you have long figured out that 2012 is also a presidential election year. Given the candidates performances so far, that alone would make 2012 a bit tilted.
Flag and bunting by Bruce Stambaugh
To add to the calendar party, we have to mention the Mayan calendar references December 21 as being the day the world ends. That day just happens to be this year’s winter solstice. Maybe we won’t have to worry about winter anymore.

Of course, as we learned last year and a thousand times before, the Mayans can’t claim title to announcing the end of time. Harold Camping still has some explaining to do from last year’s fruitless end-times predictions.

Playing off the fears of an already unsettled global society, the goofiness goes on. For instance, one claim for this year is that a previously unknown planet will hit Earth. Right, and the Cleveland Indians will beat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series thanks to an assist by Steve Bartman.

Another oddball prediction has the Earth’s magnetic poles switching places, sparked by a series of solar storms. Better stock up on sunscreen before the prices go up.

Number 13 by Bruce StambaughThere is yet one more piece of information that just might sway you to cash in all your stocks, sell your property and give the proceeds to a respectable charity. Of course it involves Friday the 13th. There are three of them in 2012, January 13, April 13 and July 13.

That in itself may not be so statistically unusual until you hear what my friend, Mic, discovered. The three Friday the 13ths are each 13 weeks apart.

To quote my good friend, “Be forewarned.”