Monday, February 25, 2008

Leapin' Lizards Frogs Years

The word "leap" puts me in mind of little green lizards -- leaping. Or little green frogs -- playing leap-frog. Leap Year, alas, has nothing to do with frogs or lizards, more's the pity. I've never quite understood the whole concept of leap years, or grasped how it is that sometimes February contains 29 days and sometimes it doesn't. I'm very glad I wasn't born on February 29th. Had I been, I'm sure I'd have no idea how old I am today.

So, let's try and figure out what Leap Year actually is. In short, the Gregorian calendar has both common years and leap years. There are 365 days in a common year and 366 days in a leap year. That extra day, properly called an intercalary day, becomes February 29th. A leap year is necessary every four years in order to synchronize the calendar year with the solar year; i.e., the length of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun, or 365-¼ days -- less eleven minutes. To compensate for that deficiency, three times every four hundred years there is no leap year. For that reason, a century year cannot be a leap year -- unless it is divisible by 400. To further confuse you, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, while the years 1600, 2000, and 2400 are.

Confused? Join the crowd. And I repeat, I'm glad February 29th isn't my birthday. I'd be way more confused than I already am on an everyday basis.

To add to your confusion, TWISTED LINGUISTICS has picked up some Words Gone Wild for you to contemplate.

deodarant - Anti-perspirant for daredevils.

convieniant - Deviant cons vying for position.

alful - Everybody ate too much and now they feel terrible.

reputal publisher - That which purports to be the reputation of PublishAmerica. Pew!

dis-allusioned - Passing reference to a bad review of a PublishAmerica author.

visions of grandure - Sentiments seen on the PublishAmerica message boards.

going out of their ways to slender you - Reference to PublishAmerica methods of lightening your wallet, such as libel suits.


Charles said...

In addition to leap years, we also have leap seconds. ;)

If it weren't for leap years eventually those born in the astrological period we think of as being a given time on the calendar, would actually be born under a different sign, or we'd be having winter in the northern hemisphere in June. So it actually relieves some confusion. The really confusing part is that they call it a leap year, when its longer rather than shorter. Wouldn't it have more sense to call it a stretch year?

Isn't it kind of interesting that our elections are always held during a leap year? I wonder if the country will make it to see a year with an election, without a leap day?

As to being born on the 29th of February, I know a person who was, he was born before me, but hasn't had as many birthdays. He's my best friend's father in law.

Charles said...

Wouldn't it have made more sense to call it a stretch year?

Hale McKay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
/t. said...

if you
were born
on february 29
you could live for a very long time and still be young -- many women would like that
you would have to wait until all of your friends were in their 50s to go drinking with them -- most men would not like that

¤ ¤ ¤


VE said...

Can we just collectively flunk those that came up with our calendaring systems? Leap's like some rounding correction to make the math work out right.

Kanrei said...

Leap years and daylight savings time are just two examples of creating more confusion instead of using a simple fix.

Mona said...

Tee Hee.. -/t stole my comment...

Yes Serena you would be always young & going around with leaps & bounds!

deodarant. Rant of a Deoda ( whatever that is)

convieniant. a convent educated ant

alful, alleviating yourself from the awful

visions of grandure. Visions that my grandma had to endure

going out of the way to slender you. Atkins Diet

Serena Joy said...

That's all very interesting information, Charles. I didn't even realize that about election years. I agree, it might make more sense to call it a stretch year. So, your friend's father-in-law -- does he know how old he actually is?:)

So, /t., if I'm in my 50s and want to go out drinking with my friends, would they be toddlers and I'd have to wait for them to grow up, or would they have to wait for me? This is all tres confusing!:)

I agree, VE. I don't like rounding off in the best of circumstances, much less on something as important as time and the calendar. There's just something wrong with that.:)

Oh, I know, Kan! DST drives me nuts. I say pick a damn time and LEAVE it. What do you want to bet something really weird happens on Feb. 29th?:)

I don't know about staying young, Mona, but I figure I'll probably go out in a leap and a bound. That's a nice collection of alternative definitions you came up with.:)

/t. said...


well, i figure
you'd age at one-quarter
the rate of your friends, so by the time you were 18... they'd be senior citizens

(you see that i screwed up the math here at first)

but no worries, serena -- i'd drink with you even if you were in your 50s... and i was, uh... over 200... hmmmm

¤ ¤ ¤


Serena Joy said...

And what makes you think I'm NOT in my 50s? Or even getting close to 200? Of course, considering the mathematical enigma of these leap years, by the time I'm 200 you could be sliding back down the scale and just be starting grammar school -- in which case I'd get arrested for buying you a drink. I hate math!:-)

Little Lamb said...

This leap year stuff is very confusing.

Serena Joy said...

I know, Lamb-chop; it's SOOOO confusing.:D

Charles said...

This stuff isn't really that confusing. You want confusing? Try prototypal inheritance, closures, and scoping in Javascript, when you come from a background of other languages. They aren't so bad once you get the concepts, but trying to get the concepts can be confusing.

Serena Joy said...

Charles, you're talking computer languages, right? I don't do those. At all. And besides, aren't they based on Math? Double whammy for me.:)

G-Man said...

I prefer the Chinese Calender, it would be the year 4706...
The year of the RAT!!!

I happened to be born in 4648..The year of the OX!
How appropriate eh?

Sherry, you were born in 4651..The year of the Minx!!


camillealexa said...

Feb. 29th is my ex-husband's birthday. Talk about cradle robbing! I think he was only four when I married him.

Serena Joy said...

Geez, G, now you're going to have me going off on a tangent to find out the ins and outs of the Chinese calendar. I do think what little I know about it is interesting, though. Oxen are pretty cool. Didn't Paul Bunyan have a big blue one? I thought my Chinese symbol was a bunny or something, but minx is good. Minxes bite, if I'm not mistaken. Yeah, minxes rock.:-)

LOL, Camille. I'll bet he made a sweet little groom. Too bad they don't stay that way. Alas, you take 'em home to raise and they can grow up warped on you. So, he'd be what now, about 8?:)

NYD said...

All this gregorian calandar chanting has left me confused. I believe I will leap away from the standard and start using the Aztec calandar.

Serena Joy said...

Hold the phone, NYD. I'm pretty sure a certain amount of chanting is a requirement of the Aztec calendar as well. I think they do that when they start letting blood in an attempt to camouflage the missing day.:-)