Don’t touch my 1582 calendarPublished 12:03am Friday, January 6, 2012
I remember the day my third- grade teacher predicted the impending death of the foot and the inch.
The meter, the liter and the gram would soon replace those medieval units of measurements, she said. The metric system was simpler, she preached.
I remember sitting at my desk wondering if she was right. Even at age 9, I balked at this change. After all, I liked the blue 12-inch ruler I kept within arm’s-reach in my desk.
Thirty-four years later, the foot and inch are as popular as ever.
So you can imagine my response when I read that a couple of scientists have developed a calendar that will save the world billions of dollars — all in the name of simplicity and efficiency. This calendar will replace the one that we have been using for 430 years.
Richard Conn Henry and Steve Hanke have designed what they call a permanent calendar.
Imagine always knowing that Christmas will always fall on a Sunday, that School will always start on the same day each year and that your birthday will always be on Friday.
The calendar you keep on your refrigerator would never change, as each date would fall on exactly the same day as the year before.
According to the two Johns Hopkins University researchers, an inordinate amount of time is wasted each year by people revising calendars.
If you have ever watched a school administrator jigsaw puzzle together an academic calendar, you know how much time is spent trying to figure out when school starts, when holiday vacations begin and when the final school exam will be taken. Many principals pull their hair out trying to make students, parents and teachers happy.
“Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world, and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits,” Henry said.
The amount of money spent revising calendars each year easily rises into the billions, they claim.
Complications in the world of finance would also be made more efficient. From simple mortgages to complex financial statements, calculations could be made much simpler if there was only one calendar to use from year to year, Hanke said.
Drug prescriptions could be made more accurate, and sports teams could have a fixed playing schedule every year.
Instead of the current 365-day calendar, which has been in use since 1582, the Hanke-Henry calendar would only have 364 days.
Every third month on the calendar would have 31 days with the remaining months having 30. Leap years would occur every five to six years and would add an extra week to the calendar instead of an extra day.
If you were born on Jan. 31, you would be out of luck celebrating your birthday. That day no longer exists on the Hanke-Henry calendar. But that may be the only downside.
In a day and age when people are looking to save time and money, revising something like the calendar to make our lives more dependable and more efficient seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
People don’t realize the time they are wasting, Hanke said recently.
Hanke hopes people will begin to adopt his newly developed calendar soon.
Thinking back to those days in third grade trying to learn the metric system, I am not so sure.
I am not going to throw away my 1582 Gregorian calendar just yet.
Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.