Sunday, March 3, 2024




From the vault:

Why a leap year?

It takes the earth about 365.25 days to go around the sun. To be more precise, it takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. This means that every 4 years the calendar will be one day out. To stop that happening a year is added each fourth year to counteract the difference between the calendar year and the astronomic year. This method of fixing the problem was first imposed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC.

So a day is added every February 29, easy peasy.

Well, that’s not all. The extra day every four years doesn’t exactly equal the 6 hours x 4, there is also the matter of the missing 11 minutes x 4 when rounding up. After 128 years, that 11 minute difference will equal a full day that the calendar is out, 3 days each 400 years, but this time in the other direction. The adjustment of one extra day each 4 years counteracts the additional 6 hours but the rounded off 11 minutes needs to come off. Enter Pope Gregory in 1582 with his Gregorian Calendar. Dispensing with the Julian Calendar, he decided that every 100 years there would not be a leap year. Therefore 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, to allow for the missing 11 minutes added by rounding up.

Okay, I can understand that, but then why was 2000 a leap year?

There are also the 14 seconds that are added each year for which allowance must be made. As noted above, every 100 years there is no leap year. However, to adjust for the seconds, every 400 years is a leap year. Therefore 2000 was a leap year, as was 1600.

And so that’s it. A bit complicated but I think I understand it. Thanks for explaining it, I’ll be off now.

Err, well, there is one other thing. To fine tune it even more, every 4000 years the century years will not be leap years. Therefore 4,000, 8,000 etc will not be leap years.

If all that’s too much, use this guide:

To sum up:
  • Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year
  • EXCEPT the last year of each century, such as 1900, which is NOT a leap year . . .
  • EXCEPT when the number of the century is a multiple of 4, such as 2000, which IS a leap year
  • EXCEPT the year 4000 and its later multiples (8000, 12000, etc) which are NOT leap years.

Some vintage leap year cards:

Saturday, March 2, 2024





Aesop's Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with his name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and continue to be reinterpreted in different verbal registers and in popular as well as artistic media. The fables originally belonged to the oral tradition and were not collected for some three centuries after Aesop's death. By that time a variety of other stories, jokes and proverbs were being ascribed to him.


The Woodman and the Serpent

One wintry day a Woodman was tramping home from his work when he saw something black lying on the snow. When he came closer he saw it was a Serpent to all appearance dead. But he took it up and put it in his bosom to warm while he hurried home. As soon as he got indoors he put the Serpent down on the hearth before the fire. The children watched it and saw it slowly come to life again. Then one of them stooped down to stroke it, but the Serpent raised its head and put out its fangs and was about to

sting the child to death. So the Woodman seized his axe, and with one stroke cut the Serpent in two.

"Ah," said he, "No gratitude from the wicked."


In a similar vein, from the vault . . .

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field.

While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realise how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out!

He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung and promptly dug him out and ate him.


1. Not everyone who puts you in the shit is your enemy.

2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.

3. When you're in the shit, don’t make a song and dance about it.