Thursday, January 05, 2023

Facing a New Year

Happy New Year! -- even though it is an arbitrary date. Why not the precise day of the winter solstice instead of over a week later? Or, better yet, the spring equinox? The ancient Romans originally set the beginning of the year in March, the debut of spring, which has a certain fitness. That year contained ten months of 30 or 31 days each. Wikipedia has a detailed article about the changes and reforms in the Roman calendar over many centuries:

Roman Calendar

Earth's movement through space has the inconvenient feature that a full revolution around the sun (year) isn't evenly divisible by the moon cycles (months). So having twelve months in a year doesn't work properly; days are left over, making each month, except February, longer than a moon cycle. The original Roman calendar had "intercalary" clusters of days or even whole "extra" months, depending on which era we're looking at. According to Wikipedia, "winter was left as an unassigned span of days," later replaced by January and February. Moreover, in the early calendar, weeks had eight days, a figure that doesn't fit properly into the phases of the moon or divide equally into 30 days.

To make matters worse, the solar calendar doesn't have an even number of days, requiring insertion of "leap days" at fixed intervals.

In ancient Rome as well as some other societies, the intercalary days were considered unlucky. Is it unlucky to be born on February 29? Even if leap year babies, like the hero of PIRATES OF PENZANCE (who got trapped by that technical point in his apprenticeship contract), have far fewer birthdays than the number of years in their lives, I suppose they still get annual birthday celebrations. I sort of like the idea of a cluster of "unassigned" days in a year. They could be holidays with no obligations of any kind.

As I've mentioned in the past, I don't make "resolutions" anymore. I do set "goals," modest, mainly short-term ones. My immediate goal in January, as usual, is to finish my annual vampire fiction bibliography update and send it to interested parties before the end of the month. In terms of writing goals, I have two more "orphaned" (by a company that went out of business) erotic paranormal romance novellas to revise slightly and submit to my new publisher who's been re-releasing them. I plan to re-release on my own a spicy, humorous paranormal romance work with Lovecraftian elements that consists of a linked pair of stories from the same former publisher. With a different publisher, I have one older paranormal romance novel, non-erotic, awaiting re-release. Although I have no new fiction in mind at present, that situation could always change later in the year.

In other areas of life, I aim to get back to riding my stationary bike a full 29-30 minutes in each session rather than slacking off to barely above 25 minutes, as I've done too often lately. Also, I tentatively agreed to sign up for the coffee hour duty roster at church, and I plan to follow through with that activity. I'd like to declare a goal of catching up with the dozens of manga volumes in my to-read stack, but that's probably a fantasy under the category of, "If I can't die until I've read all these, I'm destined to live forever." The collection is infinite, because several new manga are added every month. There is, however, some possibility of catching up with the prose books in the pile before they multiply beyond control, because I usually manage to keep up and got behind only within the past couple of months.

Wishing you the best of luck with your goals for 2023. And, to repeat one of my favorite quotes from MASH, "Here's to the new year. May she be a durn sight better than the last one."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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