December 31, 1999 (Ira Pilgrim)

Reckoning Time

Then Frank discovered that if he put a stick in the ground out in the sun, in the morning the shadow was long, then shorter, and when the sun was right overhead, no shadow. Dick said, "Incredible ... I must have that stick!" Frank said, "It isn't the stick." Then he put twenty-four of them in the ground. "Egad," said Dick, "they all work. Those sticks are mine!" "No," said Frank. "They're mine!"

Finally after a long argument, Dick said, "I know what. We shall call them ours." And so the twenty-four ours were discovered. It was child's play to break the sticks into minutes and seconds. And since they had the minds of children, they did it. Time was discovered.

Henry Morgan(1915-1999)

The only place for me to start reckoning time is February 10, 1925, which is the time that it began for me. Times like the year 2000 have no significance for me. It might have had significance for Jesus if he had known about it. I doubt that Jesus himself knew when he was born. There was no standard solar calendar then. If he did know, it isn't recorded. However, about AD 525, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus suggested that years be reckoned from the date of Jesus' birth and the church invented a date for it, which has been followed ever since. It is now used for the entire world. It has to be, because airlines and many other systems have to function on a uniform system of dates and times. It doesn't matter what system is followed, as long as everybody does it the same way. Yes, El Al Israel airlines and Egypt airlines use the Christian calendar.

There are three things that have some genuine significance: The year is the time that it takes the Earth to go around the Sun. That also determines the seasons. Another is the day, conveniently divided into hours, minutes and seconds, which is the time that it takes for the Earth to make one rotation(or is it revolution?) on its axis. A third is the time that it takes the Moon to go around the Earth. Consequently, there is no way to get the Hebrew lunar system to relate to the solar calendar. The way that it has to be done is to make a table that compares the dates in both systems. Since Jewish and Christian holidays are determined by both the month and the phases of the Moon, there is no simple way to figure them. If I want to know what date Easter or Passover falls, I have to consult my almanac, which has tables of holidays for several Christian sects, Muslims and Jews, for a number of years. The same is true of other religious holidays. As Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, "It's a tradition!"

Any encyclopedia can give you the whole story, should you be interested.

Ordinarily, it wouldn't matter much that there even was a year 2000. However, in the early days of computer programming, the programmers used two number instead of four, for the year, in order to save precious memory; which is no longer precious and is squandered shamelessly. They never figured that those computers would last that long. Anyway, if I believe what my newspapers tell me, companies have spent many billions of dollars to correct what has been called the millennium bug. Aside from computers owned by big corporations, the year 2000 is no different from any other year.

So, December 31st of this year at midnight will find me where I am at any other day at midnight, in bed and sound asleep.

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