What to do with an extra day?

Published 2:38 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

By Mimi Becker


We get an extra day this year.  It is not a day of our choosing.  The calendar, of course, preordains the day.  Way back when, the folks with the brains, or time to notice, observed that something was amiss in the commonly used methods of day to day recording over time. The relentless pattern of the sun and the moon and the earth alignment were not predictable on the prevailing calendar basis.  It seems the advancement of civilization demanded a method of human scheduling which more accurately reflected the relationship between the earthly and cosmic elements.

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Several attempts were made to rectify this problem which became more complicated as more humans became more involved with other humans.  What a surprise.  A generally accepted calendar evolved and here we are.

Would I have ever noticed the shift in the calendar and the universe?  Probably not as it would have taken a very long time for the effect of such an inaccuracy in human calculations to be noticeable.  If leap years did not exist, in a few hundred years, we would experience an upside down seasonal calendar.  Spring would be in November.

All the tasks associated with spring now, in March, April and May, would be too early, or too late depending on personal habits.  We would be tending and harvesting vegetables on Super Bowl Sunday rather than serving up chips and dip.

Second by second, our daily lives would be altered while we get up each day and get along with our business, turning the calendar page over to this day.  Once every four years or so, there are some exceptions, a day is added to the calendar.  There will not be a leap day in 2100, 2200, 2300 or 2500.  A child born today may be around to experience this short change in their calendar.

To be accurate, there are also leap seconds.  According to an Internet source, a leap second is added to the calendar, actually the world clock, about every 21 months.  At that pace, in my lifetime I have gained 40 seconds of living.  Did I use that time wisely?  What could I have accomplished if I had just known.

According to my Internet source, the leap second is added as needed.  I appreciate the significance of scientific accuracy and the vigilance necessary to monitor such.  However, I am quite relieved my career path did not take me in the direction of the field of study which manages such, apparently critical, functioning of our world time.

A leap second is added when the difference between the movement of all the parts of the universe and the clock we are involved with vary by .6 seconds from where they should be to line up.  The correction is made by inserting a “beep” into the world clock.

Such an extraordinary concept with apparently serious ramifications over a very long time.  Sometimes, there is an advance announcement of the impending “beep.”  Perhaps we should all be notified.  We have major tourist events when other celestial happenings cross our specific paths.

Leap day occurs in each location by time zone.  We start leap day one hour before the Central time zone and two hours before Mountain time.  Japan begins leap day….well, you get the picture.

On the other hand, the leap second is at the exact same time all over the world.  For one teeny, tiny, fraction of a second, we are all in sync everywhere in the world.  Given the state of world affairs, a little time to prepare could be life changing.

In years past, I don’t recall taking particular notice of leap day.  I make note of the odd date when writing a check or dating a letter. The calendar page had no entry distinguishing the date from the usual work day.

This year February has been a very busy month.  More so than usual.  When filling in the days and weeks at the end of January, I must have sensed the writing on the wall.  There was a lot to cram into a normally very short month.  My scheduling system is ritualistic.  No need to explain, everyone has their method.  Right when I need it most, there are not enough days in the regular February.

By habit, in advance, I pencil in the usual cyclical tasks and meetings, adding in some appointments, birthdays, and activities I know are set. With just 28 days available, the calendar pages were looking messy.  But wait, there is an extra day.

I must have been in a quirky mood when organizing the month.  Perhaps I was reacting in self-defense.  I turned the page to the 29th.  I had entered “BONUS DAY!”  when filling in the month.

A whole day more than last year.  I can’t do much with an extra millisecond, especially when I don’t know of its existence, but a whole day I can work with.  Do I throw it away?  Should I be practical and get ahead?

Just knowing I have it is relaxing on its own.  2028 is a long way off.