Leap Year Day

29 February 2012

February 29th: the most disruptive weekday of all time.

The leap year, or leap day, is the most disruptive aspect of the Gregorian Calendar. Not the leap year day itself, which keeps the calendar year aligned with the seasons, but making a leap year day a weekday throws what would otherwise be a reasonable calendar system out of whack.

If leap day were not a weekday, then it would be easier to follow the Gregorian Calendar. If we only look at the 365 days of the year, then the weekdays would progress regularly. Jan 1st 2012 fell on a Monday. Without a leap day, Jan 1st 2013 would be Tuesday, 2014 a Wednesday, 2015 a Thursday, 2015 a Friday, 2016 a Saturday, 2017 Sunday and so on. An even schedule of progressive weekdays. This would be the same situation for birthdays, holidays and observations based on dates (Groundhog’s Day, Halloween, Christmas and so on). However, because February 29th is a weekday, every four years (with omissions 3 days out of every 400 years) this progression is thrown off.

Also, observing the leap day two months into the year is more disruptive than if it were added at the end of the year (March used to be the first month of the Roman Calendar. The switch to January 1st didn’t include a change in the leap year observation. As a result, instead of the cycle of months and weekdays repeating itself every 7 years, they repeat themselves every 400 years, with lesser cycles every 28, but these are thrown off every century.

There are a number of strategies to deal with aligning one’s calendar to the year.

Lunar and lunisolar calendars (Chinese, Hebrew, Hindu, Muslim) avoid this by inserting embolismic lunar months periodically, so they are excluded from this comparison. They follow the moon and don’t have the same problems as do purely solar calendars.

The Egyptian Calendar had 12 months of 30 days, and an extra five days left over. They didn’t insert a leap year day (at least not initially, they were later brought into alignment with the Roman Calendar). This isn’t necessarily a big deal. The Mesoamerican calendar does the same dance. The Winter Solstice would fall one day later every four years. At that rate, it would take 1460 years for the calendar to drift with respect to the seasons to come around to its starting point again.

The way we measure the year varies a great deal. We generally accept the mean tropical year of  365.2421897 or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.19 seconds (as of Jan 1st 2000). The leap year is meant to account for that fraction of 0.2421897 or 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.19 seconds. There are a number of schemes to account for it, some of which are more accurate than others.

Here’s a comparison of some of different leap year schedules:

Mean Tropical Year

0.242 189 7


Leap Year Schedule




1 day per 4 years

0.25 + 0.007 810 3


1 day per 4 years

– 3 days every 400 years

0.242 5 + 0.000 310 3

Persian Calendar

8 days every 33 years

0.242 198 52 *see below


1 day per 4 years

– 1 day every 128 years

0.242 18 75 –  0.000 002 2

*the Persian Calendar system is much more complex than indicated above, as it uses astronomical observations to determine its leap year schedule. As a result, it is the most accurate of the periods measured above, as it doesn’t measure itself against the mean tropical year, and takes variance into account.

The advantage to theAbysmal Calendar is the simplicity compared to the Persian. Also, the Leap Year day can be added or removed to ensure seasonal accuracy without disrupting the year of 52-weeks. This is one of the biggest advantages to observing the leap year day at the end of the year, and excluding it from the cycle of weekdays. One can add or remove leap seconds, minutes, hours or days, while keeping the rest of the year perpetual.

What do you think?

296 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Fractal Time

28 February 2012

Book notes that tie much of theAbysmal ramblings together.

Fractal Time – the Secret of 2012 and a New World Age (2001) by Gregg Braden

[check out the Cycles of Time posts from theAbysmal that touched on some of these same subjects]


p3 Time Code 1: We’re living the completion of a 5,125-year-long cycle of time – a world age – that the ancient Maya calculated would end with the winter solstice on December 21st, 2012.

p4 Time Code 2: Our ancestors recorded their experience of the last “end of time,”showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the close of one world age is the beginning of the next, and not the end of the world.

p11 “If we were to find that every aspect of our world is part of an ancient and ongoing cycle, such a discovery would give us a powerful new way to think of ourselves. It would imply that everything from the beginnings and endings of jobs and relationships to the exact years when war is waged and peace is declared is all part of  a cycle – a pattern that makes it possible to reveal the conditions for the future that we’ve already experienced in the past.”

p12 Time Code 3: New discoveries show that we can think of time as an essence that follows the same rhythms and cycles that govern everything from particles to galaxies.

Time Code 4: We can think of the things that happen in time as places within cycles – points that can be measured, calculated, and predicted.

p 13 Time Code 5: If we know where we are in  a cycle, then we know what to expect when it repeats.

p 14 Time Code 6: The Time Code Calculator shows us when we can expect the conditions of the past to repeat, not the events themselves.

[n.b. this emphasis on the conditions, not the events, needs to be stressed – not everything manifests itself in the same manner]

Chapter One – The Time Code Program: Finding our Future in the Cycles of our Past

I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate. —Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

Time is an indivisible whole, a great pool in which all events are eternally embodied… —Frank Waters

p20 “When we look a little closer at nature’s cycles, we find that each is part of  a larger one that unfolds within an even larger one and so on – nested cycles of time and energy that govern the rhythms of the universe and life. The familiar experience of day and night is a perfect illustration of how these nested cycles work. The hours of light and dark that we see daily are due to the way Earth rotates with respect to the sun, a cycle that takes about 24 hours. How long the light and dark of each day last, in turn, is linked to the way Earth tilts toward or away from the sun while it’s orbiting: the cycles that create the seasons of the year. How much our planet tilts is part of an even greater cycle that determines how long the seasons last over thousands of years.”

p24-5 “…if we know when a cycle begins and the pattern it follows, then we also know where and how it will end. Perhaps most important, if we know the conditions that a cycle brings, the we also know what to expect each time it reappears.”

Chapter Two – Our Journey Through Time: the Doctrine of World Ages

The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. —Carl Sagan

our distant ancestors understood the true astronomical meaning behind the doctrine of World Ages. —John Major Jenkins

p37 “…the Hopi description of the events that ended each era is eerily similar to the history of the earth as it is preserved in the geological record. … there was a period of earthquakes and volcanic activity around 20,000 years ago. The ice age peaked about 11,000 years ago, and there was a deluge that is believed to have been the biblical Flood, which occurred approximately 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.”

p39 Time Code 7: Ancient traditions divide Earth’s 25,625-year orbit through the 12 constellations of the zodiac – the precession of the equinoxes – into five world ages lasting 5,125 years each.

p45 “[the Dendera zodiac disc] is obviously about here and now. … specifically…a celestial clock that is still ticking away the changes in our relationship to the heavens.”

p47 Time Code 8: the position of the earth within our galaxy creates powerful changes that signal the end of one world age and the beginning of the next. The knowledge of these cyclic changes is known as the doctrine of World Ages.”

p53-4 “The anonymous author of a 9th-century text, The Book of Thousands, describes a pattern of galactic cycles that last for 180,000 years each, ending with the conjunction of all the planets of our solar system in the beginning of the zodiac sign of Aries. What makes this account so interesting is that the last occurrence of such a conjunction was the same time that a global “deluge” covered the earth. According to the author’s calculations, the date of the conjunction was the day before the Kali Yuga began: February 17, 3102 BC.”

p54Time Code 9: The Vedic traditions describe an extended time of devotion expressed in action (bhakti), that began around 1898 and lasts well beyond the 2012 Mayan end date.

Chapter Three – the End of Time: Our Date with 2012

The ancients knew something which we seem to have forgotten. —Albert Einstein

p67 “In the absence of high-speed computers and complex software, [the Maya] calculated the movement of the earth and our entire solar system as it relates to the core of our own Milky Way galaxy.
“The key to the Mayan ‘galactic time’ was a 260-day count called the Tzolkin, or Sacred Calendar. Intermeshed with another 365-day calendar, called the Vague Year, the Maya viewed these two cycles of time as progressing like the cogs of two wheels – progress that would continue until the rare moment when one day on the Sacred Calendar matched the same on the Vague Year. That rare and powerful day marked the end of a 52-year cycle and was part of the even larger expanse of time known by the Maya as the great cycle.”

p70-1 “At the end of the cycle, our solar system, our sun,and our planet move into alignment with the core of the Milky Way galaxy, or more precisely, with the equator of the galaxy – an alignment that will not happen again for another 26,000.”

[n.b. the centre of the Milky Way, is a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*, which is 26,000 light years away from us]

p71 Time Code 10: The present world age began on August 11, 3114 BC. Its end is signalled by the rare alignment of our solar system with the core of the Milky Way galaxy on December 21, 2012 – an event that last occurred 26,000 years ago.”

Chapter 4 – the Key to the Universe: Time and Nature’s Most Beautiful Numbers

The history of the universe is, in effect, a huge and ongoing quantum computation… The universe is a quantum computer… As the computation proceeds, reality unfolds. —Seth Lloyd

p82 “The more we learn about our relationship to nature and time, the clearer it is that patterns and the cycles of time are more than simply an interesting phenomenon of life. The cycles of time are life. In fact it’s fair to say that for everything from the biology of DNA and the laws of physics to the history of our planet and the evolution of the universe, our world of matter follows very precise rules that allow things to ‘be’ as they are.”

p82-3 “Regardless of the scale, whether the cycles last for a nanosecond or for tens of thousands of years, the keys work the same way

  • The first key is the principle of fractals. These are the patterns that nature uses to fill the space of the universe.
  • The second key is the golden ratio. This is the number that determines how frequently nature repeats the fractals that fill the space.

p87 Time Code 11: Nature uses a few simple, self-similar, and repeating patterns – fractals – to build energy and atoms into the familiar forms of everything from roots, rivers, and trees to rocks, mountains, and us.

p89 Time Code 12: Everything we need to understand the universe lives in the simplicity of each piece of it.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. —William Blake

p91 “Phi with an uppercase P is 1.618; and its close relative phi with a lowercase p, is .618. both are forms of the golden ratio.”

[n.b. Phi: uppercase Φ, lowercase φ, or math symbol ϕ]

p92 “Following are the first 20 members of [Leonardo] Fibonacci‘s numbers, which are known as the Fibonacci sequence: 1; 1; 2; 3; 5; 8; 13; 21; 34; 55; 89; 144; 233; 377; 610; 987; 1,597; 2,584; 4,181; 6,765; …”

p93-4 “The proportions of the human body are governed by the golden ratio:

  • ratio of navel height to total body height is .618
  • ratio of length of hand to that of forearm is .618
  • ratio of human face from brow to the chin is .618 of that from the chin to the crown.
  • the body’s ratios continue with additional proportions and even the location of organs determined by .618.

“The orbits of planets, such as Mercury and Venus, are approximated by the golden ratio.

“The spirals that form everything from the arms of the Milky Way galaxy to the vortices of a hurricane to the way hair grows on the human head and the pattern of seeds in a sunflower are governed by the golden ratio.”

p94 “…one complete turn of a DNA strand is 34 (angstrom units) in length and 21 wide. Each of these lengths is a member of Fibonacci’s sequence…”

p108-9 “In 1913, the mathematician Elie-Joseph Cartan (1869-1951) proposed a new kind of mathematics that would explain some of the mysteries of space-time that Einstein’s relativity theories couldn’t account for. The result was the Einstein-Cartan theory describing space-time as something that moves in a special way and follows a special path, which creates a special effect. The path is that of a spiral, and the effect is called a torsion field.”

p110 “The spiral that we see so commonly in the world is actually a special kind that is made from the numbers we explored previously as the Fibonacci sequence. It’s called a Fibonacci spiral.”

p110 “The evidence of spirals in energy and nature suggests that the waves of time follow the paths of those spirals. As they do, they create the torsion fields that move in cycles throughout the universe.”

Chapter Five – History Repeats in Love and War: Fractal Warnings for the Future

The eternal flow of time goes through cyclical periods of manifestation of the universe… —Alexander Friedman

p125 Time Code 13: Our knowledge of repeating cycles allows us to pinpoint times in the future when we can expect to see the repeating conditions of the past.

p140 Time Code 14: The Time Code Calculator can pinpoint personal cycles of love and hurt, as well as global cycles of war and peace.

Chapter Six – the End of Time Revisited: What Can We Expect?

The future has already happened, it just isn’t very well distributed. —William Gibson

p153 “From the results revealed to date, however, three principles have become apparent:

  1. the conditions of nature, including human events, do repeat themselves in cycles
  2. the conditions of one cycle often repeat with a greater magnitude of expression in a later cycle
  3. It’s the return of the conditions, rather than the events themselves, that can be predicted”

p154 Time Code 15: Patterns identified for an earlier time in history tend to repeat themselves with greater intensity at later dates.

p156 Time Code 16: Using a template of human events, Earth events, and celestial events gives us a consistent way to view the past as a realistic window to 2012

p159-60 “In 1993, an international team studying magnetoreception, the ability of our brains to detect magnetic changes in the earth… published the remarkable finding that the human brain contains ‘millions of tiny magnetic particles.’ These particles connect us, just as they do other animals, to the magnetic field of the earth in a powerful, direct, and intimate way.”

p160 “…magnetic fields have a profound influence on our nervous systems; our immune systems; and our perceptions of space, time, dreams and even reality itself.”

 What Can We Expect?


Early 2008

1,155 BC

13,824 BC



~7.5 Units ~10.5 Units ~5.2-7.25 Units



Sharp Increase Sharp Increase Sharp Increase



* Warming .6+/-.2C*Polar-Ice Collapse*Sea-Level Rise *Warming +1C*Polar-Ice Collapse*Sea-Level Rise *Warming +2C



*Multiple Wars*Collapsing Economy*Overextended Military *Collapse of Egypt’s 20th Dynasty*Multiple Wars*Overextended Economy *No Civilization as We Now Know It

 p166 “this summary shows the key conditions for the 2012 reference dates indicated by the Time Code Calculator for both the 5,125-year world age and the 26,000-year precession cycle. The similarities in teh conditions between these two vastly different times in our past are striking. If the cycles of nature follow the patterns of the past, these indicators give us a concrete idea of what we can expect in the 2012 transition between world ages.”

p169 Time Code 17: There is nothing in the geological record to suggest that Earth’s magnetic fields will reverse before or immediately following the 2012 cycle end date.

p170 Time Code 18: The Time Code template shows that the human, Earth, and celestial conditions of today are in the same range as the key reference dates of the past. In other words, the changes happening now are just what we’d expect for the end of the world age.”

Chapter Seven – Choice Point 2012: Armageddon or the Second Eden?

p188 “herein lies the key to understanding what quantum physics and the Mayan calendar may really be saying to us about our power in the universe. A growing number of scientists have arrived at an inescapable conclusion: there’s a place where all things begin, and that place is the realm of quantum energy. It’s the same realm that’s influenced by our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs. In this ‘no-man’s-land’ where all things are possible, the laws of time and space seem to break down and what scientists call ‘quantum weirdness‘ takes over. It’s also in this place that the atoms of matter are influenced by thought, feeling, emotion, and belief to become the reality of our world.”

p190 Time Code 19: There is a consensus among the best minds of our time that the current depletion of natural resources, exponentially growing population, global poverty, and competition for the necessities of life are converging toward a ‘bottleneck’ in time.

p192 Time Code 20: The results are conclusive: heart-based focus and living will have a direct effect upon the way we experience 2012 and our time of change.

p194 “It is well documented that the human heart generates the strongest magnetic field in the body, nearly 5,000 times stronger than that of the brain. This field creates a doughnut-shaped pattern that extends well beyond the physical body and has been measured at distances of five to eight feet from the physical heart.”

p194 “Certain layers of Earth’s atmosphere, along with the earth itself, generate what is now being called a ‘symphony’ of frequencies (between .01 and 300 hertz), some of which overlap the same ones created by the heart in its communication with the brain.”

p195 “In the words of Heartmath researchers, the relationship between the human heart and Earth’s magnetic field suggests that ‘strong collective motion has measurable impact on the earth’s geomagnetic field.'”

[Elizabeth RauscherGlobal Coherence Project/Initiative]

p195 Time Code 21: Faced with the greatest number and magnitude of potentially world-ending challenges in 5,125 years of human history, we now discover that the key to our transition lies in our collective feelings about the change.

p202 Time Code 22: December 21, 2012, s a rare and powerful window of opportunity for our collective emergence into our greatest potential

Time is the substance I am made of.
Time is a river which sweeps me along, but i am the river;
it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger;
it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. —Jorge Luis Borges

Selected Endnote Links:

Appendix A

The Time Code Programs

Note 1: conversion to absolute dates. For ease of use, the ‘modern’ dates (Gregorian dates) are converted to absolute dates in terms of the cycle itself.For dates after the year 0, this conversion is accomplixhd by adding 3113 (the number of years between the beginning of the Mayan great cycle in 3114 B.C. and the year 0) to the seed event (example for the year 2012: 3113 + 2012 = 5125)

Note 2: conversion of decimals to months. Some of the calculated dates create numbers to the right of the decimal point. These are portions (fractions) of the year indicated and may be converted into the corresponding month for greater accuracy using the following formula.

  • (Number to right of decimal / 12) x 100 = percent of the year
  • (Percent of the year x 12) / 100 = month of the year

Mode 1: When Can We Expect Something That Has Happened in the Past to Happen Again?

We need to pieces of information:

  • Input 1: the target date in the past
  • Input 2: the totla length of the cycle

Apply these steps:

  1. identify Gregorian date of seed event
  2. convert the Gregorian date to an “absolute” date in terms of the total cycle.
  3. calculate the lapsed portion of the cycle, and divide by the total length of the cycle
  4. calculate the phi ratio of the cycle’s lapsed portion (multiply by .618)
  5. calculate the cycle balance from the seed to the end
  6. apply phi ratio of lapsed cycle to the balance of the cycle to find the interval in years between the seed date and the next time it repeats
  7. add the interval to the absolute date to find next repeat (new seed date)
  8. convert back to Gregorian date

Example 1:

  • Input 1: the target year and month in the past (here using December 1941 for the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941.12)
  • Input 2: the total length of th ecycle that tells us where we are in present time (5,125 years)
  1. identify Gregorian date: 1941.12
  2. convert to absolute date: 1941.12 + 3113 = 5054.12
  3. calculate lapsed portion of cycle as ratio: 5054.12/5125 = .986
  4. calculate phi of lapsed cycle: .618 x .986 = .609
  5. calculate cycle balance: 5125 – 5054.12 = 70.88 years
  6. apply phi ratio of lapsed cycle to the balance of the cycle to find the interval years: 70.88 x .609 = 43.17 years
  7. add the interval to the original seed date to find the next repeat date: 5054.12 + 43.17 = 5097.29
  8. convert back to Gregorian date: 5097.29 – 3113 = 1984.29 (March 1984)

using March 1984 as the next input date produces March 2001, and continuing along we then get September 2007 and finally April 2010. September 1983, the Soviets accidetally shot down Korean Air Flight 007, which heightened tensions between the USA & USSR. The USSR was planning a pre-emptive strike against the USA, who they were assuming would retaliate. The conditions for an attack were present, but did not come to be. In September 2001, the attacks on the Pentagon and WTC are well known. Unsure what situations would apply to the dates in 2007 & 2010.

297 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Rethinking a Good Night’s Sleep

27 February 2012

Eight hours  uninterrupted or segmented? – hmmzzz.

an article at Slashdot brought to my attention research that points to interrupted sleep, particularly in two segments, as the way in which we used to sleep. Interesting. I have read enough to know the importance of REM sleep to good health, but that doesn’t necessarily exclude sleep in two segments.

Book Notes on Chronobiology, Circadian Rhythm and Sleep:

from The Myth of the Eight-Hour Sleep

[historian Roger] Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.

By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

A few of Ekirch’s references include:

  • “He knew this, even in the horror with which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream.” Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840)
  • “Don Quixote followed nature, and being satisfied with his first sleep, did not solicit more. As for Sancho, he never wanted a second, for the first lasted him from night to morning.” Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote (1615)
  • “And at the wakening of your first sleepe You shall have a hott drinke made, And at the wakening of your next sleepe Your sorrowes will have a slake.” Early English ballad, Old Robin of Portingale
  • The Tiv tribe in Nigeria employ the terms “first sleep” and “second sleep” to refer to specific periods of the night

“People were becoming increasingly time-conscious and sensitive to efficiency, certainly before the 19th Century,” says Roger Ekirch. “But the industrial revolution intensified that attitude by leaps and bounds.”

Strong evidence of this shifting attitude is contained in a medical journal from 1829 which urged parents to force their children out of a pattern of first and second sleep.

I haven’t read Ekirch’s book, however, the commentary bears reading. If we are better suited to two segments of sleep, then best to change our behaviour, see what benefits, if any it holds, and schedule our nights to accomodate this new (or renewed) pattern.

Here’s Ekirch’s article in the NYT, Dreams Deferred.

298 Days to Dec 21st 2012

the Rise and Fall of Getting Together

26 February 2012

How to Use Our Time for the Greater Social Good

Previous Related Posts:

Once upon a time, there was this thing called the Olympiad. Starting in 776BC, the games were as much religious celebration as they were competition. Hostilities ceased in order that competitors might travel to the perform in the games without being molested. This is the spirit of the games that is completely and utterly absent from the current incarnation, which has become a corrupt money grab that uses athletes as product. It’s quite an undermining of the spirit of the events themselves. Athletics of the highest level.

The aspect of the ancient games I wanted to look at is the timing of it. The events began on the new moon, and ended on the full moon two weeks later. This is not the only such observation. Many cultures schedule activities during the waxing days of the lunar cycle, and consider the days after unlucky (or some equivalent). I find this whole idea of singular interest when organizing large groups of people for a common activity.

Think of the two weeks from the New Moon to Full Moon in terms of light. It starts in darkness, and progresses in 14 steps to bright, reflected sunlight. Aside from the pull on the tides, the Moon shifts from out of the Sun’s path to the opposite side of earth. The shift in gravity from one source (the Sun and Moon together at the New Moon) to two sources (the Sun at one side of the earth, the Moon at the opposite side). Along with this increasingly distinct gravitational pull comes the increase in reflected solar light and energy.

In part, this is the reason for planting according to the phases of the Moon. Not only does the Moon effect the tides, but groundwater levels as well. A very general rule of thumb is to plant above-ground plants at the New Moon, and let the Moon pull it out of the ground, and underground plants at the Full Moon, where the gravity diminishes. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea.

So too with group activities. Bring together people and resources at the New Moon. As the pull of the Moon, and as light & energy grow, put our collective energy together towards whatever the project’s goals are, in time for the Full Moon. After this the winding down, whether that be filling out reports, cleaning up, and taking time to recuperate will give everyone a breather until the next New Moon.

Using this same pattern with the annual fluctuations of the day length (note: only helpful in the higher latitudes). Beginning a longer-term project at the Winter Solstice (it is theAbysmal New Year after all), when the length of daylight is shortest, working the project for 6 months until we come to the central month of the year: 4 weeks of the event itself, whether it be a concert, conference, or holiday (Paris empties out in August, a ritual we would do well to emulate). Then the following 6 months are denouement, preparing for the winter months indoors (or underground to use the lunar gardening model).

Activities that encourage participation are a good start, whether it be a community lantern festival, or a non-competitive sport like Chinlone, the more we participate in the preparation, the more stake we have, and the more we tend to enjoy it, as opposed to simply showing up as an audience, or worse, as a consumer.

theAbysmal Calendar has several time periods which could be used in this way. There is the day itself, which I think we’ve got figured out, in terms of starting in the morning, peaking at noon, and winding down in the afternoon. This also follows our circadian rhythm, as a post-lunch slump in energy level is typical.

The Week is a seven-day cycle, although the work week tends to be Monday to Friday, with Wednesday as the peak (or hump, as we say in the parlance of our times).

The period of 13 is effective this way as well. 13 months/year, 13 weeks/quarter, and why not 13 days? The Mesoamericans used them. The 7th is the central period with 6 months/weeks/days before and after. It would be a better way to plan, as it schedules the peak of activity and gives everyone a breather, which is in keeping with the natural order, as opposed to the ongoing sustained levels of the mechanized world (breakdowns nonwithstanding).

So here’s the deal – December 21st 2012, we collectively agree to get together, on a global scale here, and work together towards Month 6 on theAbysmal Calendar. In Canada, the Summer Solstice is Aboriginal Day, however, I feel it would be better to take the whole month, and do it right. To celebrate the first peoples of wherever we are, to integrate the subsequent peoples and their cultures, and play nice together. I personally recommend drums, dancing, ball games and food. Don’t forget to dress up in costume, because we want to set this apart from the everyday.


299 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Stargazing in the Modern Era

25 February 2012

Polluting Darkness with Light

Part of the living in our age of technological marvels are the drawbacks. Certainly the advantages are mentioned with greater frequency, but there are disadvantages that need to be acknowledged in order to be addressed. We haven’t looked too much at the troubles associated with the electrical infrastructure. At least until there’s a blackout, and then, somehow, we manage.

Being bathed in light 24/7 rivals the moon for attention. Before the modern era, the Full Moon would have illuminated the night with startling brightness. It would have been natural to be attuned to its rhythm. Now we’re lucky if we notice it at all. And therein lies one of the biggest disadvantages to surrounding ourselves with light all through the dark hours. We hide the biggest marvels from ourselves, preferring astronomy apps.

If we are truly going to determine what future we want for ourselves, it is critically important to remember from where we’ve come. Our physical selves are tied to the natural cycles of light around us, and so, too, are our cultures. To wash these away in the latest gimmicky gizmos is to do our entire history a disservice.

300 Days to Dec 21st 2012

the Body Clock Guide to Better Health

24 February 2012

Listening to the pulse of your own rhythms.

The Body Clock Guide to Better Health – How to use your body’s natural clock to fight illness and achieve maximum health (2000) by Michale Smolensky and Lynn Lamberg

1. It’s about TIME

p5-6 “We report evidence from studies at leading medical centers worldwide showing that:

  • Many illnesses disrupt body rhythms.
  • The signs and symptoms of many illnesses vary across the twenty-four-hour day over the month, and around the year.
  • Time of day patterns help identify causes of many illnesses.
  • Chronotherapy, or timed treatment, aims to correct these underlying causes or reduce their adverse impact.
  • Glitches in the body clock itself may undermine health.
  • The time of day you take diagnostic tests or undergo medical procedures alters the results.
  • Time-of-day norms are known for many rhythms.
  • The time you take medicine matters.
  • Nondrug treatments may help correct underlying disturbances in the body clock.
  • How you organize your daily life, with respect to sleep, meals, exercise, and other factors may make  symptoms better or worse, and hasten or slow your recovery.

p9 “…the way your body absorbs, uses, and excretes drugs varies over the day. The same dose of medicine may be too much at one time, and too little at another. It may not even work at all.”

2. Your body is a Time Machine

p13 “In any one person, in all of us, body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates, concentrations of hormones in the blood, hand dexterity, sensitivity to pain, and all other bodily functions differ markedly over the twenty-four-hour day. These variations are not random. They occur in synchrony with our habitual daily pattern of activity and rest.”

The Best of Times

p19 “Drug studies typically are conducted in the daytime for the convenience of both scientists nd subjects. Tests often begin early in the morning so they can be completed by the end of the normal workday. Ludicrous as it may seem, even some sleeping pills undergo testing this way.”

4. How Your Body Clock Works

p33 “The time at which the body is most sensitive to light comes when body temperature is lowest, around 4 AM to 5 AM.”

p35 “Signals from the eyes travel on two pathways to the brain in humans and other animals. Conscious vision travels by one route, and circadian vision, the other… Some blind people also function well on a twenty-four-hour day. They may not consciously recognize light, but still may receive circadian clock-setting light information…”

p36 “Light tells us it is daytime. The hormone melatonin tells us it is night. both day- and night-active species secrete melatonin mainly in the dark.”

“Melatonin is produced by the pea-sized pineal gland just behind the hypothalamus. Dusk tells the SCN to tell the pineal to turn melatonin secretion on, and at dawn to turn it off. We secrete melatonin longer in the long nights of winter, and for a shorter time in the short nights of summer. Changes from day to day alert animals that days are growing shorter or longer and, if they breed only in certain seasons, that it is the right or wrong time to breed. Melatonin may play a role in human reproduction, too.”

5. Are You a Lark, an Owl, or a Hummingbird?

[note: Lark = early bird, owl = night owl, hummingbird = in between, in a ratio of 1:2:7]

p41 “Some of us think of ourselves as night people, but humans can’t truly claim the night as home territory. We are programmed to function best in the daytime. We can’t see in the dark.”

“Lark and owl traits influence many aspects of daily life, including when we feel most alert, or when we sleep best. These traits determine when we most enjoy meals, exercise, sex, and other activities.”

p48-9 How Larks and Owls Differ




Most alert (self-report) Around noon Around 6 PM
Most productive (self-report) Late morning Late morning and late evening
Most active Around 2:30 PM Around 5:30 PM
Best mood Between 9 AM and 4 PM Steady rise from about 8 AM to 10 PM
Temperature highest Around 3:30 PM Around 8 PM
Age Most persons over age 60 Most college students and twentysomethings
Bedtime Go to bed two hours earlier than owls; fall asleep faster More variable bedtimes, stay up later on weekends and holidays
Waketime Awaken at desired time Awaken about same time as larks on workdays, 1-2 hours later on days off
Use of alarm clock Don’t need it Need multiple alarms
Temperature lowest Around 3:30 AM Around 6 AM
Quality of sleep Lifelong: sleep more soundly; wake up more refreshed, usually 3.4 hours after temperature minimum, daily low point on body clock Lifelong: get less sleep wake up sleepier, usually 2.5 hours after temperature minimum
Nap Rarely Take more and longer naps; fall asleep more easily in daytime
Mid-sleep time Around 3:30 AM Around 6 AM
Favorite exercise time Morning Evening
Peak heart rate Around 11 AM Around 6 PM
Lowest heart rate Around 3 AM Around 7 AM
Mood  Mood declines slightly over day Mood rises substantially over day
Morning behavior Chatty Bearish
Evening behavior Out of steam Full of energy
Mealtimes Eat breakfast 1-2 hours earlier than owls Often skip breakfast; eat other meals at same times as larks on workdays, 90 minutes later on days off
Favorite meal Breakfast Dinner
Daily caffeine use Cups Pots
Personality More introverted?(still debated) More extroverted?(still debated)
Shift-work adaptability Work best on day shifts Work best on evening shifts; tolerate night and rotating work better
Travel More jet lag Adapt faster to time-zone changes, particularly going west
Peak melatonin secretion About 3:30 AM About 5:30 AM

7. A Good Night’s Sleep

p66 “It is increasingly clear that good sleep, and enough of it, is critical for both mental and physical health.. Too little sleep has wide-ranging ill effects.”

p67 “Missing sleep lowers the body’s production of natural killer cells, an important part of our self-defense system. … To fight infections, we produce chemicals called cytokines that make us feel sleepy.”

p70 “Sleep gates open and shut roughly every 90 to 120 minutes… Sleep gates explain why you may find it hard to fall asleep if you go to bed early.”

p77 “When people are tired, Donald Blimise notes, they eat more, and they eat more often.”

p77-9 Timewise Tips for Good Sleep

  • regularize your schedule
  • Program yourself to sleep with daily rituals
  • Keep your bedroom dark, or wear eyeshades
  • Keep your bedroom quiet
  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • go to bed only when sleepy
  • Reserve bed and bedroom for sleep and sex
  • If you can’t fall asleep within thirty minutes, get out of bed
  • If you nap, limit time lying down to thirty minutes in midafternoon
  • Take a hot bath ninety minutes before bedtime
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid caffeine within five hours of bedtime
  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke near bedtime
  • Learn relaxation techniques

9. Fitness by the Clock

p92 ” How strong you are, how fast, how accurate, how flexible, how quick-witted, how focused, and how able you are to keep going are among the numerous factors that vary over the day, some modestly and others markedly.”

“Exercising at the times your body is most suited for it has many pluses: you’ll perform better, be less likely to get hurt, and probably enjoy it more.”

“As a general rule, physical performance is best, and the risk of injuries least, in late afternoon and early evening.”

10. Time to Eat

p110 “Body rhythms call for different mixes across the day of the three essential macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.”

11. Time for Sex

p122 “Among both married and single heterosexual couples, sex is most frequent on the eighth day of the woman’s menstrual cycle, counting from the first day of menstruation.”

“Sexual desire and fantasies in women peak about a week later, at mid-cycle, when they ovulate.”

p123 “Although popular culture links spring with romance, people have sex most often in the fall. This is true for the population as a whole, despite vacations, religious practices that either encourage or discourage sex, and similar events that may alter the frequency of sex for some individuals and groups.”

Menstrual Cycle Clock

p128 “Light exposure, crucial for strong daily rhythms, also may ensure menstrual regularity.”

“Evidence that fertility rates are lower in areas where people spend most of their time indoors suggest light’s importance. … Fertility rates are higher closer to the equator, where daylight hours are longer, than in far northern latitudes.”

“[Menstruation] starts sooner in girls who live at sea level than in those who live at higher altitudes, with higher light intensity. First menstruation also shows an annual pattern. It begins most often in the late fall and early winter, particularly in girls who live in rural settings, suggesting a tie to changing day length.”

13. Clockwatching at Work

p166-8 “…research suggests how sleep loss may have contributed to some of the twentieth century’s most grievous industrial catastrophes.”

  • the crisis at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant
  • the Exxon Valdez spill
  • the space shuttle Challenger explosion
  • the meltdown and explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant
  • the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India

14. A Time to Heal

p193-4 “Charting your own body rhythms is a good first step in health maintenance and disease prevention. You need only a few simple tools.”

With a pencil and paper you can chart

  • your mood across the day
  • your alertness across the day
  • your wake/sleep cycle, and the time and type of disturbances of sleep
  • what you eat and when you eat it
  • symptoms of pain, fatigue, urinary frequency, etc…

With a wristwatch you can chart

  • your heart rate
  • your breathing rate

With a thermometer you can chart

  • body temperature over the day
  • body temperature across your menstrual cycle

With a blood pressure cuff

  • blood pressure over the day”

the Worst of Times

Health Around the Year

301 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Cycles of Time – Book Notes

23 February 2012

A New View of the Universe that made my head hurt.

Cycles of Time – An Estraordinary view of the Universe  (2010) by Roger Penrose

2.1 Our Expanding Universe

p60-1 “One should not think of the Big Bang as being localized at some particular region of space. The view that cosmologists take in accordance with Einstein’s perspective of general relativity, is that at the time that it occurred, the Big Bang encompassed the entire spacial spread of the universe, so it included the totality of all the physical space, not merely the material content of the universe. Accordingly space itself is taken to have been, in an appropriate sense, very tiny at the time.”

2.2 The Ubiquitous Microwave Background

p75 “…at the present epoch of the universe’s evolution, the greatest entropy contributions, by far, lies in black holes, like the one at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, with a mass around 4,000,000 times the mass of our Sun. The total entropy in such objects completely swamps that in the CMB [cosmic microwave background], which had previously been thought to represent the dominant contribution too the entropy present in the universe. Thus, the entropy has greatly increased via gravitational condensation from what it was at the creation of the CMB.”

p77 “…the energy that the Earth receives from the Sun by day is essentially equal to that which the Earth returns to the darkness of space! If this were not so, then the Earth would simply heat up until it reaches such an equilibrium. What life depends upon is the fact that the Sun is much hotter than the darkness of space, and consequently, the photons from the Sun have a considerably higher frequency (namely that of yellow light) than the infra-red photons that Earth returns to space.”

p78-9 “So what the Sun does for us is not simply to supply us with energy, but to provide this energy in a low-entropy form, so that we (via the green plants) can keep our energy down, this coming about because the Sun is a hot spot in an otherwise dark sky… This applies, also, to the Sun’s ability to raise water from the oceans high up into the clouds, which again depends crucially on this temperature difference.”

2.3 Space-time, null cones, metrics, conformal geometry

p93 “If m is a particle’s mass (assumed to be constant), then we find that it has a rest energy E given by Einstein’s famous formula


which is fundamental to relativity theory. the other, almost equally famous formula – fundamental to quantum theory – is Max Planck’s


(h being Planck’s constant), telling us that this particle’s rest energy defines for it a particular frequency v of quantum oscillation. In other words, any stable massive particle behaves as a very precise quantum clock, which ‘ticks away’ with a specific frequency

v=m (c2/h)

in exact proportion to its mass,via the constant (fundamental) quantity c2/h.”

2.4 Black Holes and Space-Time Singularities

p98 “Whereas the Big Bang is seen as the beginning of time, the singularities in black holes present themselves as representing the end of time – at least as far as the fate of that material that has, at some stage, fallen into the hole is concerned. In this sense, we may regard the problem presented by black-hole singularities to be the time-reverse of that presented by the Big Bang.”

p117 “Yet, if we take the very very long view, and bear in mind that the exponential expansion of our universe will, if it continues indefinitely, lead to a vast cooling in the CMB, we would expect it to get down to the temperature of even the largest black holes that are likely ever to arise. After that, the black hole will start to radiate away its energy into the surrounding space, and in losing energy it must also lose mass (by Einstein’s E=mc2). As it loses mass, it will get hotter, and gradually, after an incredible length of time (perhaps up to around 10100 years for the largest black holes around today) it shrinks away completely, finally disappearing with a ‘pop’…”

3.3 Earlier pre-Big-Bang proposals

p171″[Lee] Smolin makes the tantalizing suggestion that when black holes form, their internal collapsing regions – through unknown quantum-gravity effects – become converted to expanding ones by some kind of ‘bounce’, each one providing the seed of a new expanding universe phase. Each new ‘baby universe’ then expands to a ‘full-grown’ one with its own black holes, etc., etc.”

302 Days to Dec 21st 2012