Friday, February 29, 2008

Look, Leap.

The rain is now starting to cross over the mountains in earnest and it appears — appears — that we may get our twentieth of an inch of rain. Hell, maybe more. And that is, by at least one measure, a great leap forward.

Let's dispense with the meteorology for a moment in favor of a chat about the arc we're carving through the universe. The following, then, from what has to be NOAA's most bizarre division, the Global Monitoring Division of the Earth System Research Labratory (which has, as many of you must already know, recently absorbed the Surface Radiation Research Branch). Surface Radiation as a separate beast, I understand, but what else would you monitor, besides the globe, at the Earth System Research Lab? Anyway, let's go back over that one more time to make sure you've got it right in your notes: the GMD is housed in the ESRL, which also now of course houses the SRRB. What I need is a job over there at the ESRL— or just at NOAA— gimme a satchel of Scrabble letters and I'll remake the government from the ground up. Anyway, February twenty-ninthers, according to the alphabet soup (and brought to you here in full text at ANYLF), here's why today is today:

To account for the fact that it takes Earth 365.242196 days to orbit the sun, the Julian Calendar implemented a system by which every fourth year would have an extra day (366 instead of 365). These years are called leap years. Later, the Gregorian Calendar improved this correction by calling for every fourth year to be a leap year, unless the year is divisible by 100. This corrects the calendar to a year of 365.24 days, which is a good start but not perfect. So there is another condition: if a year is divisible by 400, it is a leap year. Therefore the year 1900 (divisible by 100, but not by 400) was not a leap year, but the year 2000 was a leap year.

The following are reportable, non-governmental items, which the staff here felt compelled to include on this extra free bonus day, which is not extra nor free nor bonus, really, according to Greg and Jules: The clouds rolled in right around three o'clock. Buzzards on the way in, buzzards on the way home. They're drilling a well down through the gravel parking lot of the Brightwood, or at least they were this morning. The pickup is leaking a new amount of oil. I've been teaching Amy Hempel this week. The daffodils survive. My new anti-barking dog system involves walking three-quarters of the way down the driveway and glaring at the completely curtained windows of the house across the street. Oh, friends and fans of weather, and of corrected calendars, that'll by god show 'em.

I love that our calendar, of all things, is broken. And I love even more that the way we fix it, it seems like, is to rub a little dirt on it. To walk it off.

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