Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Enjoy the leaping day

leaping.jpgI'm sure most of you will know this, but I've just realized that there's an extra day tacked on to the end of February this year. That's because 2008 is a leap year. So we get an extra day of February this year.

But what exactly is a leap year? I remember from my school days that it's added to the calendar every four years because a solar year is actually 365.25 days we need an extra day to compensate. But that seems so simple. Surely we can find a more detailed (and impressive) explanation. So I consulted Wikipedia which rarely lets me down. And it looks like I was right.
However, some exceptions to this rule are required since the duration of a solar year is slightly less than 365.25 days. Years which are divisible by 100 are not leap years, unless they are also divisible by 400, in which case they are leap years. For example, 1600 and 2000 were leap years, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. Going forward, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600, 2700, 2900, and 3000 will not be leap years, but 2400 and 2800 will be. By this rule, the average number of days per year will be 365 + 1/4 − 1/100 + 1/400 = 365.2425, which is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Now that's something that I want to have handy to be able to pull out at a moment's notice, just to impress people. Wikipedia is good for stuff like that.

So what else of interest can we find out about a Leap Year?

Here are a few more items, also from the lengthy Wikipedia entry:
- In the English speaking a world, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been argued that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, it is dubious as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century. Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. Because men felt that put them at too great a risk, the tradition was in some places tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, 29 February, or to the medieval leap day, 24 February. According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat -- fair warning, if you will."

- In Greece, it is believed that getting married in a leap year is bad luck for the couple. Thus, mainly in the middle of the past century, couples avoided setting a marriage date in a leap year.

- A person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling". In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on 28 February or 1 March.

- For legal purposes, their legal birthdays depend on how different laws count time intervals. In Taiwan, for example, the legal birthday of a leapling is 28 February in common years, so a Taiwanese leapling born on February 29, 1980 would have legally reached 18 years old on February 28, 1998.

- In some situations, March 1 is used as the birthday in a non-leap year since it then is the day just after February 28.

- There are many instances in children's literature where a person's claim to be only a quarter of their actual age turns out to be based on counting only their leap-year birthdays. A similar device is used in the plot of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance.
And finally, just to liven up this post a bit, I found an article from in Boston that explains how to leap properly, including a video on the right way to leap presented by a member of the Boston Ballet.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

World's most complete recorded music collection on eBay

World's most complete recorded music collection on eBay: "Bidding starts at $3,000,000 for this huge collection of LPs and CDs, currently stored in a 16,000 square foot climate-controlled warehouse.

200802181919From Thomas Edison to American Idol, this is the complete history of the music that shaped and defined five generations. 3 million records and 300,000 CDs containing more than 6 million song titles. It's the undisputed largest collection of recorded music in the world.

Link to E-bay listing

If you click on the e-bay listing, here's one part that I like:


Save $10 off your $3 million bid if you use the right credit card!

(Via Boing Boing.)

UPDATE -- The collection was sold for US $3,002,150.00.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Halfway around the world

Glenn Wakefield's single-handed voyage around the world passed the half-way point yesterday, 149 days after leaving Victoria.

Here's the note he sent to his wife, Marylou:
- NEW - 2150 UTC (1:50 p.m. local time). Here's the short and sweet message from Glenn letting me know that he has officially crossed the halfway point and is on his way home.

"Hi Honey I am on my way HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Open the champagne!"

Links here and here to previous posts about Glenn's voyage.

Technorati Tags:

Friday, February 15, 2008

You knew this was coming

When Barack Obama came second to Hilary Clinton in New Hampshire, he turned the defeat into a resounding victory speech, which has come to be known as the "Yes, We Can" speech. A lot of people were impressed, including of The Black Eyed Peas, who put Obama's words to music in what has become a widely viewed video.

Of course, politics being politics, it wasn't too long before others got into the act.

Below are a couple of take-offs, both poking fun at what the Republican response might be to the same words. Here's what the world's billionaires think of Obama's ideas:

And here's John McCain's slightly less positive message (as interpreted by his non-supporters):

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Apple //c Unboxing

Apple //c Unboxing
Originally uploaded by dansays
Talk about a walk down memory lane. Dan Budiac recently bought an Apple IIc on Ebay. Nothing new there. A lot of nostalgia buffs are into picking up the computers they first owned in their youth.

But this one was special. It had never been opened! So after hemming and hawing about whether he should break the packaging, he went ahead and opened it up, while his partner documented the whole thing. The result is a great unboxing story.

Many of you will already have heard about this but I only now got around to looking at the photoset and it really is a great story.

I have fond memories of the Apple IIc. My first job was working for a farm newspaper. We didn't use computers but shortly after I started, we began buying some (at my urging, I've got to admit.)

My boss at the time was a design buff, especially industrial architecture and he fell in love with the Apple IIc. I got to use it fairly often and I loved it too. Although I didn't own an Apple myself, that first computer created an interest that I finally acted on a few years ago when I purchased my first PowerBook. I've been an Apple fan ever since.