The history of leap year

>> Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap years are years with 366 days, instead of the usual 365. Leap years are necessary because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days, as commonly stated. Basically, leap years occur every 4 years, and years that are evenly divisible by 4 (2004, for example) have 366 days. This extra day is added to the calendar on February 29th.

However, there is one exception to the leap year rule involving century years, like the year 1900. Since the year is slightly less than 365.25 days long, adding an extra day every 4 years results in about 3 extra days being added over a period of 400 years. For this reason, only 1 out of every 4 century years is considered as a leap year. Century years are only considered as leap years if they are evenly divisible by 400. Therefore, 1700, 1800, 1900 were not leap years, and 2100 will not be a leap year.

But 1600 and 2000 were leap years, because those year numbers are evenly divisible by 400.

Julius Caesar was behind the origin of leap year in 45 BC. The early Romans had a 355 day calendar and to keep festivals occurring around the same season each year a 22 or 23 day month was created every second year. Julius Caesar decided to simplify things and added days to different months of the year to create the 365 day calendar, the actual calculation were made by Caesar's astronomer, Sosigenes. Every fourth year following the 28th day of Februarius (February 29th) one day was to be added, making every fourth year a leap year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII further refined the calendar with the rule that leap day would occur in any year divisible by 4 as described above.


It is interesting to note that had we adopted the Lunar calendar, which is based on Moon cycles, (and is feminine), rather than the Solar calendar, (masculine), an invention of the Romans, we wouldn't have a problem of odd days, our months would divide out evenly--each having 28 days--and we wouldn't have a "leap year".

But when has anything having to do with men ever made sense?


Random drug testing in the public schools

>> Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I just found out yesterday, that my daughter, Heather, was subject to a mandatory random drug test at school the other day. At the beginning of the school year I had to sign permission for Heather to be randomly tested in order for her to be able to participate in the Pioneer Chorale. I did so, but only under protest because I felt it was a violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which governs unwarranted search of person or property without probable cause. When I found out that they tested her on Monday, I was pissed, and even though I had signed the permission slip, (I had to or Heather couldn't be in the Chorale), I decided that I was going to lodge a larger protest than the one I made when I signed the slip. The following is a letter that I typed to Heather's principal and to the director of the Chorale:

Dear Mr. ******,

My name is Lynette ***** and my daughter, Heather ******, is a senior at Stillwater High School. My purpose in writing this letter to you is to register my protest of Heather's recently being subject to a random drug test, which I believe to be in clear violation of Heather's 4th Amendment Constitutional rights. I understand that in order for Heather to participate in the Pioneer Chorale that I had to sign permission authorizing the school to test her, which I did under protest. As a citizen of this nation, state, and community I feel that it is not only my right, but my obligation to protest an action by an agency of those governments that are sworn to honor and uphold my Constitutional rights.

Enclosed you will find two articles which support my protest, and outline in a very clear and concise manner the opinions that I share with the authors on the subject of random drug testing and why it is not only ineffective in deterring drug use among children, but is also a violation of our children's Constitutional rights. I ask and encourage you to read them and take them into consideration.

K. Lynette *****

Below you will find Links to the articles mentioned in my letter:

School Drug Testing Violates Rights

Blowing Smoke: Why Random Drug Testing Doesn't Reduce Student Drug Use

My daughter is an outstanding student and citizen with absolutely no record as a trouble-maker at school or a police record. She has given no "probable cause" to have her person searched, nor was there a warrant issued. Is this not clearly a violation of her 4th Amendment rights?

This is scary stuff, folks.



>> Sunday, February 24, 2008


The World's most beautiful music: David Gates & Bread

>> Thursday, February 21, 2008

Most people don't know that David Gates is from Oklahoma. The son of a band director and a piano teacher, he was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1940. He married his high school sweetheart in 1958 while studying at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Gates and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1961 and Gates became a songwriter and became involved in producing. He worked as a music copyist, studio musician, and producer for many artists including Pat Boone. Success soon followed. His composition "Popsicles and Icicles" was recorded by The Murmaids in 1963. Another song, "Saturday's Child", was recorded by The Monkees. By the end of the 1960s, he had worked with many leading artists, including Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Merle Haggard, Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. Gates produced the 1965 Glenn Yarbrough hit, "Baby the Rain Must Fall." In 1966 he also produced 2 singles on A&M Records for Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band which were hits in the Los Angeles area.

"Aubrey" was recorded in 1973, the same year as the break-up of Bread. Having grown up listening to his music on the radio, I have always loved David Gates' songs, but this one is by far my favorite. Full of the tenderness and angst that is always present in Gates' music, this particular song makes full use of his many strengths as a singer/songwriter and leaves the listener yearning to know just who this girl is, and if you're a girl, wishing your name was Aubrey and if you're a guy, wishing you knew a girl like her.


Dare I even breathe on this?

>> Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Barack Obama continues his winning streak across the nation by sweeping Hillary Clinton, once again. He won in Wisconsin by nearly 60%, and in Hawaii by, last I heard, nearly 75%. I'm holding my breath that he keeps up this momentum and takes both Ohio and Texas. If he does, then I predict that we will be looking at the next President of the United States!


Sixteen years ago...

>> Monday, February 18, 2008

I was in the early phases of labor and didn't know it. By 8:00 in the evening, I had a 9lb 4 oz boy, with white/blonde hair and blue eyes. Today he's nearing 6 feet, around 170 pounds, and likes to do pretty much what every teen-aged boy likes to do. Of course he's a heart-breaker.

Happy Birthday, Nathan. I love you more than words can express!


The shocking reality of illiteracy

>> Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yes, I've heard the statistics over and over again. I've heard how we're graduating high school seniors, and even college graduates who can't read beyond a third grade level, but I had never encountered it until today.

This afternoon I attended a baby shower for one of my voice students who is due to deliver in the next couple of weeks, and when it came time for her to read the cards that accompanied the gifts she received, she was so emotional that she asked some of the young women who were present to read them out loud for her. It was then that the reality of illiteracy came rushing in upon me. These young women, most of them in their early twenties, high school graduates, and some attending college, could not read the simplest lines in a greeting card out loud without laboring and stumbling over the most rudimentary of words such as "hugest" and "surrounded". Having been literally sequestered in an environment where literacy and education are utmost, and having a family that carries on a daily love affair with the written and spoken language, I was unprepared for this scene, and I confess that my shock was most likely scribbled all over my facial expressions. I was quite frankly, embarrassed and taken aback, and it only served to bring home to me what a widespread and tragic problem illiteracy has become amongst the youth of this nation. It frightens and disturbs me, and I confess that I am at a loss at what we should or even can do about such an obviously serious and widespread problem.

On my part, I have raised three children who love to read, and who are, all three, excellent writers. One of my three children, at the age of 19, now fluently reads, writes, and speaks both English and French, and has plans to pursue her college degrees in language. One of the greatest thrills I have had as the parent of teens is the joy of watching as they read and discover the world's great classic literature. It takes me back to the days when I first discovered the works of Shakespeare, the Oresteia, Plato, Mark Twain, Hemingway, and Elizabeth Barret Browning. Memories I will always hold dear is of a Saturday morning when Lauren and I sat downstairs over a cup of coffee and discussed Dickens, and of the times when Heather has come to me with her astounding creative writing endeavors and asked me to read them and offer my opinions. And it is always a thrill to know that if I come up short on ideas for birthday presents, I know that I can always buy a gift certificate from our local bookstore and it will be eagerly received. There is nothing more satisfying and exciting than parenting children who are eager to read and learn, and I fear for a generation of parents who, because they cannot read themselves, will never instill in their children the love of reading, and as a result, the love of learning.

I fear that we are on the threshold of yet another dark age if something does not change soon.


Amazing Grace: You'll want to see this one

>> Saturday, February 16, 2008

I admit it. Steph and I are very difficult to please when it comes to films. We're not indiscriminate movie-goers, preferring art films, period pieces, and the occasional "chick flick". So it was with great anticipation and some intrepidation, that we rented the box-office sleeper, "Amazing Grace", a historically based film about the life and work of British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, friend of the ex-slave-trader-turned-clergyman, John Newton, who penned the hymn after which the film is titled.

Don't let the title of this film put you off, as it almost did us. It isn't about John Newton, his conversion experience, or even the hymn, (which Newton penned after his conversion experience following a violent storm through which he piloted one of his slave ships and lived to tell about it). It's about the people who were dedicated to the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain during the late 18th century and early 19th century, most notably Wilberforce, and the struggles they encountered in trying to wake the British arostocracy out of their complacency regarding the evils, suffering, and immorality of the slave trade. Besides the fact that it's story is based on incredible historical events and people, the film features beautiful, historically accurate costuming, gorgeous cinematography, a compelling screenplay, and impeccable acting.

It's a film well-worth seeing, and in our case, one we have decided to purchase and add to our library of period films.



>> Thursday, February 14, 2008

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


The World's most beautiful music: The Phantom of the Opera

In the breath-taking duet, "All I ask of you", from The Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christine and Raoul pledge their undying love for one another, as the Phantom looks on in despair.

To all the lovers of the world, I wish you a very happy Valentine's Day.


This says it all!

>> Monday, February 11, 2008

1 step beyond: I'm Making My Call

RW over on 1 Step Beyond has just expressed my thoughts concerning this crap hole that we call our Federal Government in a way that I if I could write the way I can sing, I would have said it. This is a MUST READ.


The World's most beautfiul music: Puccini, La Rondine

>> Sunday, February 10, 2008

I first heard this aria on a recording with Beverly Sills, and instantly fell in love with it. Although Puccini operas aren't my favorites as a whole, (I don't really get into the stories he chose), some of the most beautiful arias ever come from them. This particular aria is from his opera, La Rondine, and is entitled "Ch 'il bel sogno di Doretta", and the recording features Soprano Angela Gheorghiu in all her magnificent glory, literally floating on her magical high C's and lulling her audience into Doretta's dreamworld.

You'll be as enchanted as I was.


My life's purpose

There is not something you are supposed to do. There is not something that you should do. There is only that which you are inspired to do. And how do you get inspired except by the contrast...It is the life experience that gives you the idea of the desire, and then as you focus upon the desire, the Energy flows.

~ Hicks 1998


The World's most beautiful music.

>> Saturday, February 9, 2008

Today I'm beginning a series of posts that will feature some pieces that I consider some of the world's most beautiful music. I will feature classical pieces, opera, and the like, as well as jazz, pop, and even rock.

Of course I begin with Mozart. The piece I will feature today is the Andantino from his Flute & Harp Concerto, K. 299. Peaceful, pastoral, enchanting...


The fear of success

>> Friday, February 8, 2008

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

~ Marianne Williamson


Of all the waltzes by all the Strausses...

>> Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This one is my absolute favorite!


Nothing says it like a song.

>> Sunday, February 3, 2008

And this song says it all...


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