In Which My Calendar Notifications Are Honestly Being Over-Dramatic


I don’t have a lot of stuff on my calendar, because I’m a very disorganized person and am kind of reckless with my tasks. But sometimes something comes on, and yesterday was one of those days, and here’s what my calendar notifications wanted to make of it:

Tuesday, December 4: The first thing on your calendar today is 'Furnace', and it started over an hour ago.
Things my calendar should have on it but does not: birthdates for my nieces, nephews, and in-laws. Thing my calendar actually does have on it: a mention every year of the day when my father was accompanying my mother for a checkup, and fainted in the hospital, and they examined him and discovered he had a previously-unsuspected aneurysm that’s since been successfully treated and does not seem to be passed on to us kids. Why? “Why” is a question that certainly deserves an answer.

And honestly, no, “Furnace” had not started over an hour ago. It’s been chilly but it’s not been that chilly. The furnace was going for like maybe five minutes at the max. I don’t know where it gets these things from.

Why Grand Strategy Games Are Thrilling


I have a deep love of grand strategy video games. Let me explain the genre. You know Sid Meier’s Civilization, possibly from the guys who spent 1993 through 1998 sitting continuously at the computer mumbling weird things about taking on the Ruso-Aztec alliance? It’s what that grew into. Civilization is still around, but it’s not nearly complicated enough a game for me. I prefer the Europa Universalis line of games, by which I mean, last week I just finished my first-ever complete game of Europa Universalis 3, a game I bought in Like 2009 and hadn’t yet understood. I did win.

Anyway. I was playing China, and along about the early 18th century came this exciting bit of pop-up news:

Spread of Discoveries: We have learned about CONNECTICUT. We must find a way to exploit this knowledge.
This is noteworthy because my China didn’t have the naval explorers to go poking around the world. Apparently someone just came up to the Imperial Mapmaker and said, “Hey, you wanna know something the rest of the world hasn’t been letting you in on? Oh, you’re going to love it. This is finally going to make sense out of those weird rumors you’ve heard about New Haven and Saybrook and fill in that gap to the west of Woonsocket!” … … I’m kidding, of course. Why would the Ming court have heard about Woonsocket, Rhode Island, at that stage in history? But, hey, access to Danbury, that’s something!

And I just haven’t stopped giggling about the potential wonders that alternate-history 1722 China hopes to find now that they’ve got an “in” with Connecticut.

In other stuff, my mathematics blog gave me reason to talk about comic strips yesterday. Also, Apparently Frank Page’s comic strip Bob The Squirrel has observed some problems similar to mine.

Statistics Saturday: The Months Of The Year In Alphabetical Order In Afrikaans


Because someone, somewhere, requested it, I guess!

  1. April
  2. Augustus
  3. Desember
  4. Februarie
  5. Januarie
  6. Julie
  7. Junie
  8. Maart
  9. Mei
  10. November
  11. Oktober
  12. September

I kind of feel like Afrikaans isn’t trying very hard to make the months of the year its own.

When Time Came To New Jersey


New Sweden was established in the Delaware River valley, in what is now southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania and the Twelve Mile Circle of Delaware, by exactly the nation you’d imagine, in 1638. It carried itself along for just under two decades. In 1655 the colony was conquered by, and absorbed into, the Dutch colony of the New Netherlands. But this expanded New Netherlands, with outposts along what they termed the North River (the Hudson) and the South River (the Delaware), would stay in Dutch control for barely a dozen years. In 1667 the whole colony was conquered by the English, New Amsterdam famously surrendering without firing a shot. History moves on: in 1673 the colony would be reconquered by the Dutch, New York less-famously surrendering without firing a shot. But they would be returned to England a year later, in the peace treaty which concluded the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The settlement would be exchanged for various East Indies spice islands, including Run, the legendary fount of nutmeg.

The many states of Europe adopted Pope Gregory’s reformed calendar — our modern calendar — at different times, mostly based on the religious politics of the state. Sweden held fast to the Julian calendar until 1700, when it made an attempt to switch over which went so wrong they had to create a February 30th to clean up the mess. (They would finally adopt the Gregorian Calendar successfully in 1753.) The states of the Netherlands switched to the Gregorian calendar or stuck, ten days behind, with the Julian calendar, depending on the religious preferences of the state. The colony of the New Netherlands was settled by the West Indies Company. The company was organized in the Catholic state of Holland, and so would be on the Gregorian calendar. England stuck it out on the Julian calendar through 1752 while telling itself it was so Protestant that the other Protestant nations couldn’t even see its Protestant-ness from where they were.

Presumably at least some part of the conquest of territories by new powers is to adjust the calendar for the residents. The courts, the tax assessors, all the business of government will naturally cling to the time which the regent keeps. North America may be far from Europe, and farther in the 17th century, but it would be intolerable to have European outposts not even agree what day the 21st of April is.

Therefore a resident of New Sweden should have seen her calendar switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar sometime after the Dutch conquest in 1655, losing ten days but getting a spring that actually starts in mid-March. And then she would have to see ten days stuffed back into the calendar somehow in 1667, with the English conquest. Possibly the Dutch would take the ten days back out again in 1673, if they didn’t have bigger problems to tend to what with being at war with both the English and the Anglos. If they did, then the resident had to stuff ten days back into her calendar as it switched back again a year later.

This surely annoyed and baffled the locals. It was confusing and frustrating enough in Europe where the calendar standards were fairly well-established and known for the whole 17th century. On what they regarded as the frontier these standards must have been even more whimsical and arbitrary. And yet I’ve never heard of any incidents involving the alternating calendars. I don’t even know when New Sweden’s calendars were changed, or New Netherland’s, or whether it changed for the Dutch interregnum. I know about the annoyances of 1752, since that’s renowned in calendar studies. It’s like hearing about the Beatles; if you haven’t, you just don’t know the subject at all. Of course, 1752 I know from the British perspective and people talking about William Hogarth paintings and whatnot. It’s just assumed that the North American colonies went along, things unfolding about the way they did in London. Or at least Sheffield.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of New Jersey or the surrounding states. I doubt I own more than ten histories of New Jersey, and fewer than half of them are academic texts. But I don’t remember it ever getting a single line of mention ever. The dates must have changed, but when, and how was it done? And what did the people living with the change think of it all? How much of a hassle was it, and what were people saying about the trouble, especially when it kept coming up over and over again? They must have told at least some jokes about the absurdity of this all; what were they?

So with this to ponder, I think you’ll agree I was right not to do a lick of work today, and I appreciate your understanding, boss. I can’t make promises for tomorrow either. But if you do have any contacts with the New Jersey Historical Society we just might be able to come to some arrangement. Isn’t that everything you could ask for?

Idele Talk


Looks like we’re going to reach the 15th of yet another February without anybody casually mentioning it as “the ides of February” around me. And so I won’t be able to snap in and say “Ha! The ides are not the 15th of February! The ideas are the 15th of the month only on months that originally had 31 days. For months that started with 29 days — all the ones that now have 30 days, plus February — the ides are on the 13th of the month! We passed the ides of February two days ago and you never even knew it!” And then nobody’s going to have the chance to sidle off, brisky, turning to fleeing when I explain that this strange pattern of when the ides fall in months is due to the Romans really not knowing what they were doing when they made their calendar. I might even have tossed in a bit about how you can see their efforts to fit together lunar and solar calendar schedules with the otherwise inexplicable placing of January 1st where it actually is. Or how they’d sometimes jam a whole extra month in between the 24th and 25th of February.

Tch. What’s the point of knowing stuff like this if all you do is have a deeper appreciation for the wonders of mundanities like “the 13th or 15th of the month”, and don’t even get to overhear people making perfectly idle chatter and jump on them for not knowing trivia?

Statistics Saturday: The Relented March Of Time


Some astounding facts about how it is later in time now than it ever was before:

  1. The network television debut of Star Trek (1966) is closer in time to the network television debut of Lost In Space (1965) than it is to today (2015).
  2. The end of the Thirty Years War (1648) is closer to us (2015) than is the start of the Thirty Years War (1618).
  3. There are no known living survivors, or spouses of survivors, of the Battle of Manzikert (1071).
  4. More than twelve whole generations of mice have been born, lived, and died of old age since the last installment of Charles Dickens’ The Mystery Of Edwin Drood was published (1870).
  5. At no point in the 21st Century has President Thomas Jefferson been alive.
  6. Though you may be loved today more than yesterday, and may expect to be loved more tomorrow, there is no reason to believe that the amount by which your belovedness increases between today and tomorrow is itself an increase on the amount by which your belovedness increased between yesterday and today.
  7. Between the founding (1922) and the abolition (1991) of the Soviet Union, World War II began (1939 or maybe 1937 or arguably 1931), was fought, and ended (1945 or 1947 or maybe early 1991).
  8. 2016 is to see the 25th anniversary of the 225th anniversary (1991) of the founding of Rutgers University (1766).
  9. November 1st is closer to November 5th than November 22nd is to November 30th.
  10. The television series Casablanca (1983) has been off the air more than twenty times as long as it was on the air. The same astounding property holds for the other television series Casablanca (1955-56).

Calendar Notice: When You Can Stop Cleaning Ahead Of Thanksgiving


Just a reminder to readers in the United States or observing United States holidays. Thanksgiving falls on the 26th of November this year. Therefore after 3 pm local time on Tuesday, November 10th — two weeks and two days ahead — it is officially acceptable to stop doing any dusting or mopping on the grounds that “we’ll just have to do it all over again right away” for company coming the 26th. You may shove it all into the frantic and stressful pile of cleaning done the 25th and early the 26th.

Similarly, as of 3 pm local time on Monday, November 16th — ten days ahead — it is officially acceptable to stop minor clean-up and pick-up chores on the grounds those will be done again anyway in the Taz-like whirlwind of cleaning and hollering that will occupy the 34 hours before the guests are scheduled to arrive.

You are not actually required to tell anyone when they should arrive, and just trust that they will go about their business without you, if you want to put off the dusting and mopping and general picking-up until Christmas. The pre-Christmas deadlines will be announced when we get around to it.

Statistics Saturday: The Months Of The Year In Alphabetical Order


No, I really can’t stop myself doing these.

  1. aaJnruy
  2. abeFrruy
  3. achMr
  4. Ailpr
  5. aMy
  6. eJnu
  7. Jluy
  8. Agstuu
  9. beeemprSt
  10. bceOort
  11. beemNorv
  12. bcDeeemr

If it helps any, my most recent review of mathematical comics is the “Spherical Squirrel” edition, and the name is accurate.

Statistics Saturday: The Years 1972 – 2015 Ordered By Length


  • 1. 1972
  • 2. 2012
  • 2. (tie) 2008
  • 2. (tie) 1992
  • 5. 2004
  • 5. (tie) 2000
  • 5. (tie) 1996
  • 5. (tie) 1988
  • 5. (tie) 1984
  • 5. (tie) 1980
  • 5. (tie) 1976
  • 12. 1973
  • 12. (tie) 1974
  • 12. (tie) 1975
  • 12. (tie) 1977
  • 12. (tie) 1978
  • 12. (tie) 1979
  • 12. (tie) 1981
  • 12. (tie) 1982
  • 12. (tie) 1983
  • 12. (tie) 1985
  • 12. (tie) 1987
  • 12. (tie) 1989
  • 12. (tie) 1990
  • 12. (tie) 1993
  • 12. (tie) 1994
  • 12. (tie) 1995
  • 12. (tie) 1997
  • 12. (tie) 1998
  • 12. (tie) 2005
  • 12. (tie) 2015*
  • 32. 1986
  • 32. (tie) 1991
  • 32. (tie) 1999
  • 32. (tie) 2001
  • 32. (tie) 2002
  • 32. (tie) 2003
  • 32. (tie) 2006
  • 32. (tie) 2007
  • 32. (tie) 2009
  • 32. (tie) 2010
  • 32. (tie) 2011
  • 32. (tie) 2013
  • 32. (tie) 2014

* Scheduled.

Statistics Saturday: 2015 Saturdays versus Other Days, To Date


For the year 2015. As of the conclusion of the 25th of July, 2015.

Day Count
Sunday 29
Monday 29
Tuesday 29
Wednesday 29
Thursday 30
Friday 30
(Cumulative) 176
Saturday 30

Have to say, I can see most of these days catching up, but I expect Thursday to win in the end.

Statistics Saturday: 2015, Compared To Projections, Update


Completed to date: 151 days. Planned for this date: 151 days. Planned for the year: 365 days.
How 2015 is progressing compared to projections for this point.

The good news is we’ve made a lot of progress since February! And that’s about all I have to say for that.

National Cheese, Penguins


According to Missy Meyers’s comic feature panel Holiday Doodles the 20th of January was both “Penguin Awareness Day” and “National Cheese Lovers Day”. I had no idea, indicating the need for Penguin Awareness Day awareness campaigns, but I spent at least the later part of the day ready to notice any penguins that happened to be hanging around mid-Michigan. I didn’t notice any. I may not have the adequate holiday spirit.

Cheese, now, I’m always ready to be aware of, since it’s one of the things I feel good about eating. (Other things on the list: pretty much everything except octopus. I’ve tried octopus — and squid — repeatedly and haven’t liked it any time, and since it ends badly for me and worse for the octopus I’m done with eating them, and I imagine they’re even happier to be done with being eaten by me.) I don’t know what “National Cheese” tastes like, but I’m going to go ahead and imagine that it’s “kind of like cheddar”.

Statistics Saturday: Countries Which Have Sent Me A Prime Number Of Visitors This Past Quarter-Year


A quarter of a year (91 days) is not prime, but what can you do? Calendar reform hasn’t been a going concern since the 1930s.

Country Prime Number of Visitors
Argentina 2
Australia 17
Austria 5
Brazil 2
Chile 2
Colombia 3
Cyprus 2
Denmark 2
Finland 3
France 3
Greece 5
Indonesia 3
Italy 2
Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic 2
Malaysia 2
Malta 2

New Zealand 3
Pakistan 3
Romania 2
Russian Federation 2
Turkey 7

Somehow I had always imagined myself to have a more composite relationship with Malta and Malaysia. Australia feels about right.

Statistics Saturday: The Forgotten Days


The most popular forgotten days of the week:

  1. Bragiday (traditional day for the complaining about the poetry of others)
  2. Hellinsday (traditional day for doctor’s appointments and hacky jokes about hospital gift shops)
  3. Tuesday (except in its two-fer form)
  4. Meimeirsday (good for running about like one’s head had been cut off; removed by the Council of Nicaea and put aside “for Miss Manners”)
  5. Sagasday (nobody knows when this was)
  6. Ransday (day of the sea and/or misunderstood Paul McCartney albums)
  7. Wednesday (the remake; lost in the 1922 calendar reboot)
  8. Gefjunday (position in the week given away to Bragiday, then left in the back of the closet until it was forgotten)
  9. Hoenirsday (no records of it, sorry)
  10. Voersday (traditional day for realizing what you should have said instead; in French, le jour d’escalier, the day for remembering one should have pushed someone down the escalator)

The Beatles’ Revolver Hits


The days of the year you’re most likely to hear the various songs from The Beatles’ Revolver on NewsRadio 88 or your equivalent news station:

Song Most Popular Day
Taxman November 15 (Tax Day for procrastinators)
Eleanor Rigby September 24 (Eleanor Day)
I’m Only Sleeping August 8 (Snoopy’s Birthday)
Love You To First Monday after First Tuesday of February (Why Not?)
Here, There and Everywhere October 8 (Dave Barry’s Son’s Birthday)
Yellow Submarine Second Weekend of August (Manasquan, NJ, Big Sea Day)
She Said She Said July 16 (Echo Eve)
Good Day Sunshine Penultimate Tuesday in March (first sunny day of year)
And Your Bird Can Sing May 5 (Bird Morning)
For No One December 2 (Nothing going on)
Doctor Robert October 28 (Robert defends his thesis)
I Want To Tell You Last Sunday before Last Monday in June (Honesty Day)
Got To Get You Into My Life January 14 (National Absorption Of Other Amoebas Day, Amoeba Orthodox calendar)
Tomorrow Never Knows April 16 (better get ready!)

Making Me Smile: From The Back Of My Peanuts Calendar


This, now, this just made me smile. It’s “The Daily Extra” that’s on the back of my page-a-day Peanuts calendar, a feature they include so as to distract people from how they don’t have Sundays as separate days anymore even though the “page-a-day” calendar is implicitly one (1) page for one (1) day, of which Sundays (S) are one (1). Anyway, from the back of the 3/4th of August calendar for the year 2013:

Unique Gift Idea

Do you have a unique gift idea, but you can’t find the item locally? There’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to find it on the Internet. Have a friend help you search the Web if Internet shopping is outside your comfort zone.

That’s outstanding advice and I figure to put it into practice just as soon as I’m in 1998.

Community Calendar: Streetlight Counting Day


Monday, August 5, 9:30 pm. The Lesser Pompous Lakes Office of the Comptroller invites all residents in and around the municipal area to take part in the fourth-ever Streetlight Counting Day. A half-hour after sunset please step outside, identify any and all streetlights in your area, and whether they’re working, and report back to the Office of the Comptroller. Asked if residents should decorate their streetlights or dance around them or maybe do a thing with flowers or papier-mâché the Comptroller-General said, “Yeah, sure, whatever, just send in the counts.” We can’t wait!