It's about time

July 2021 – Senior Connections
By Dale Kovar

The intricacies of the calendar often amaze me.

As we know, the calendar is a tool to try to measure time in relation to the earth’s daily rotation, its revolution around the sun, and the moon’s revolution around the earth.

Also as we know, there are 365 days in a year, split into 52 weeks.

But wait: 52 x 7 is only 364 days! There is one more day slipped in there somewhere, two in leap year.

I first became aware of this long ago in budgeting for a weekly newspaper when, lo and behold, one year we had 53 publication days.

For example, for a newspaper published on Fridays, we knew there are four months every year that contain five Fridays. This matters on both the revenue and expense sides.

But once in awhile that extra day falls on Friday, making 53. However . . . it’s not once every seven years. Leap year changes when the days fall, so it’s a very unusual pattern of how often it occurs.

I’ve never put the effort into figuring out what the pattern is; I just know to watch for it.

Then there are payday cycles.

If you get paid every other week, you know there are 26 periods in a year. That makes for some interesting withholding calculations on things like insurance that are monthly amounts divided into two-week periods.

Some companies make that calculation. Others simply withhold twice a month and skip the two instances a year when they are three paydays in a month.

A few years ago, our company switched to a twice-a-month pay cycle instead of every two weeks. This brought to light some other calendar quirks.

Most pay periods contain 11 working days, but a few are 10 days and a few are 12 days.

Offhand that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you translate a 9 percent variance down to take-home pay, it becomes quite noticeable. We learned to point this out to new employees to avoid unhappiness later.

It is even more important when the second half of February ends up with only nine working days.

That brings together two cycles conspiring against an individual: your March payments are due after the shortest month of the year at the same time you’re getting the smallest paycheck of the year.

Lenders have accommodated for these variances by charging interest on a daily basis. To my knowledge, they haven’t yet gotten to the point of adjusting for Daylight Savings Time changes when certain days are 23 or 25 hours.

As for months, according to my research (everything on the internet is true, right?), the original concept was that each quarter would have two 30-day months and one 31-day month. Then politicians got involved, and you can imagine where things went from there.

Reportedly, Julius Caeser took a day from February and placed it in the month of July he named after himself. Then Augustus Caeser did the same thing with his namesake month. Sorry, February, you can’t beat the Roman empire.

In my studies, the piece of trivia that I was most surprised to learn is how the leap year formula really works.

It’s not just every four years. If the year can be evenly divided by 100 it is not a leap year, unless it can be evenly divided by 400.

Thus, year 2000 was a leap year. (And the toilets still flushed properly.)

Since we missed 1900 and most of us won’t make it to 2100, this fun fact becomes sort of irrelevant, at least for the time being.

Throughout history, there have been a number of calendar adjustments in consideration of equinoxes, politics, and general accuracy, not to mention Joshua 10:12-14.

Currently, our calendar is deemed accurate to within one day for every 3,236 years, so we should be good for awhile yet.

And one more time thing: I became pretty upset when hearing usage of CE and BCE in place of BC and AD last year.

Those terms mean “Common Era” and “Before Common Era” which is one more way for society to deny “Before Christ” and “Anno Domini” (in the year of the Lord).

This year, we’ve been using the AD designation with the date on the front page of our newspapers to demonstrate how it should be done.

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