Tag Archives: sky

1747. A running leap!

Professor Peter Plummer thought the idea of leap years was massively odd; if a year is divisible by four it is a leap year, unless, if it’s divisible by 100 then it is a leap year only if it is also divisible by 400. He was Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and found the whole leap year thing a little too much to manage.

Professor Peter came up with an alternative. It became so popular that it was adopted by the United Nations and by all countries in the world (except for Slovakia).

Every year is given an extra six hours, added on January 1st. That meant that six in the morning became twelve in the morning. A year later twelve in the morning would be again six on the clock. It was nothing to remember that every second year the clocks were simply six hours ahead. Adoption of this methodology had surprising repercussions. People became so confused as to what time it was that they start getting up at daybreak and going to bed at nightfall. They would eat salads and cold meats in summer and hot stews in winter. They lived according to the light; according to the season; according to the temperature.

After a while the world (except for Slovakia) discarded the calendar altogether. Who needs such an artificial contrivance when all that is needed to live a good life is to look at the sky and say things such as “I think it’s going to rain” or “My word, the days seem to be drawing out”? Who needs to know that it is August the 11th or March the 24th? And after a year or two, people would begin to say I know it’s my birthday because on my birthday the sun rises exactly over that little knob on that nearby hill.

With Professor Peter Plummer’s method, every year would be a leap year (unless you live in Slovakia).

Happy Leap Day everyone!

Poem 55: I cannot love the sky


I cannot love the sky
until I know the scientific names for all the clouds.
Look! how dramatic is Cumulonimbus!

I cannot love the garden
until I know the scientific names for all the flowers.
Oh! such lovely Lobularia maritima!

I cannot love the song
until I know the scientific names for all the birds.
Hark! to the rapture of that Turdus philomelos!

I cannot love reflections in the water
until I’ve checked for giardia,
those anaerobic flagellated protozoan parasites of the phylum Sarcomastigophora.

I cannot love you
until I have dissected your opinions
tested your resolve
verified your good faith
and checked that you don’t have a Daucus carota stuffed up your Sphincter ani externus
like some overcharged know-all who

…cannot love the sky

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

975. The sky was brilliant


The sky was brilliant; absolutely brilliant. Jolene looked out the window.

“What a brightness! What a dazzling display!” said Jolene to Abigail.

“But it’s three in the morning,” said Abigail.

“North Korea and Iran must be testing again,” said Jolene.

Listen to the story being read HERE!