Happy New Year!
I write these columns Friday mornings, so by the time they’re done I’ve watched a sunrise light up the world outside my window. I want to share what I always think about that.
I think, “If I were a morning person I’d probably be pretty jazzed about seeing this. But I’m not a morning person. I’ve seen plenty of sunrises before, enough already, and I wish I were still in bed.”
I feel the same way about New Year's. By the time you read this, unless you are one of my editors, there will have been a new year celebrated. It will have been, was, the 70th New Year’s Day celebration of my life by the Gregorian calendar reckoning. I will most likely have slept through it.
Why do people feel the need to keep track of years anyway? Do you have an urgent need to know, every single day of your life, how that day stands in relation to the growing and harvesting seasons?
Here, let me solve calendars for you. This is all the calendar you need. There’s something called a Modified Julian Date, which tells you how many days have elapsed since some specific Wednesday in the 1800s. For Jan. 2, 2019, the MJD is 58,485. From now on, forget the month and the year and just count. Next day is 58,486. Next day after that is 58,487. Need to know when spring starts so you can figure out when to plant your sweet peas, Farmer Brown? You get a MJD Almanac that says the next vernal equinox falls on 58,562. It’s just like watching an odometer click over. Next Christmas is 58,842. Mark that in red on your calendar, and you’ll see it coming up.
Down with Marches, Junes, Septembers and Decembers! All you need are days!
I’m about 25 and a third kilodays old, going on 25 and a half. Woo-hoo.
OK. Nobody is going to switch to Modified Julian Day calendars. I know that. I can be realistic when I have to be. I can accept disappointment and heartbreak with equanimity.
Speaking of being realistic, what they are now calling “Viadoom” starts on MJD 58,494, which you can tell just from looking at it is a Friday, ‘cause Wednesdays are divisible by 7.
That’s the real Viadoom that you will actually have to live through and survive, not the VIADOOM(™) by [insert name of a popular game system here], which will be based on it.
Yesterday I got a letter from Metro Transit apologizing in advance for their plans to deal with the impending horror by changes in bus service. I thought it was very nice of them to consider my convenience. They may have to reroute some buses through your backyard. Not to worry much, it will only be for a little more than three weeks, unless the groundhog is dead by then. Remember Metro’s slogan, “We’ll get you there.” (It’s their job.)
Of course, the object of the video game will be to navigate the streets of Seattle from West Seattle to the groundhog’s lair in Ballard before the evil villain Dr. Chaos gets to him/her. If the game were in real time you’d probably need all three weeks. The game-winning trick will be to get out of your car at Denny and run the rest of the way past the Aurora Avenue parking lot.
The Seattle School District is treating Viadoom just like they would a forecast of 22 or 23 days of consecutive snow.
The funniest thing that could happen between the viaduct closure and the opening of the tunnel that Bertha dug would be a jack-knifed semi on Interstate 5. Or two. On an actual snow day. Which is quite possible since this is winter.
Further Adventures in Extrapolations:
It’s still 2018 where I am writing this and the federal government is still 25 percent shut down because Trump wants money for his border wall. Since I can’t predict the future I’m going to say that the shutdown will continue until Jan. 20, 2021 (59,234). My New Year’s resolution for 2019 is (was) to get one day older at a time, all year long.
Congratulations on the opening of the new Harborview Hall shelter, which will serve 100 men and women and their pets. I’m going to keep my pessimism in check on this one. Way to go, Seattle, and I’m sure we’re on track to having shelter and housing for all.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
Read the full Jan. 2 - 8 issue.
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