Man’s invention to mess up time, calendars

David Atwood Points of the Compass
Posted 7/26/13

If you find yourself bored, and want to complicate your boredom by gaining knowledge whereby you become bored AND confused, study calendars. There are so many ways of measuring time that you would swear that every group of people ever organized into …

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Man’s invention to mess up time, calendars


If you find yourself bored, and want to complicate your boredom by gaining knowledge whereby you become bored AND confused, study calendars. There are so many ways of measuring time that you would swear that every group of people ever organized into a society has come up with a calendar.

Since the beginning of time, men have found ways of measuring it. Ancient peoples did so by the observing cycles of the sun and moon, which we still do. They built observatories like Stonehenge to get it right. This led to arguments, even wars as to which god ruled the universe, the sun god, or the moon god. As centuries progressed, people quit killing each other over it, but the calendar argument continued. To complicate the issue, some societies measured time by the Venus cycle. Now, there’s a group of people with too much time on their hands.

Most of the world today follows the Gregorian calendar, which came about in 1582 because the Christian world could not agree when Easter was. It is no wonder that we can’t predict such significant days as when the world will end. Nobody is sure what time it is. You would think that in the modern era with atomic clocks and sophisticated ways of observing time, we would not have these problems, but I submit, at least in my home, that we are no better than the ancients who used sticks and rocks to mark the passing of the days.

There is a calendar hanging on the wall by my desk. It has done so for years because I like the pictures. It doesn’t do much for keeping the right date, but it makes me happy. I imagine some ancient with a stone calendar saying, “I think I’ll keep this one another year because I like the carvings.” No wonder time is so screwed up.

The Admiral is way ahead of the stone carver. She prints new grids for mine each year and glues them on. It has gotten so heavy that I have had to graduate from a pushpin to hold it on the wall to a framing nail. Next year, I’ll be using a railroad spike.

I am amazed at the number of calendars we have hanging around the house. In addition to the one by my desk, there is one by the Admiral’s desk. I think it is an Egyptian one. Not because it follows the Venus Cycle, but because it has indecipherable squiggles that must be hieroglyphics.

There are calendars in each of our bathrooms. These are mostly decorative. Mine has a new owl every month. The Admiral’s has snowy mountain scenes, which make my hands and feet hurt just looking at them. I don’t know why we do this. I guess it is cheaper than buying new artwork every month. I have never stood at the sink brushing my teeth and marked it off on the calendar.

Each of the Princesses has one on the wall by their beds. One has many events marked on it and the days are religiously marked off. The other hasn’t been flipped since January. I think it is too much work for her and she uses her sister’s calendar. Somehow, she reasons it is easier to walk across the room, across the hall, to the opposite wall of her sister’s room and look to see what is going on than to roll over in her own bed and look at the one hanging there.

There is a calendar in the kitchen that is the master one, and a true work of art. Every year for my birthday in June, the loving Admiral makes a collage of photos from years past corresponding to each month, and prints and assembles them with a grid below to make a beautiful calendar. Of course, it goes June to June, which, when some archeologist finds the collection of them in the far future, will think our society had a year based in June, not January, and that it has to do with the summer solstice and declare us a cult. No wonder time is so screwed up. This calendar has everyone’s events written on it in various colors, and most in the Admiral’s hieroglyphs, which makes the idea of a central calendar ludicrous.

We each carry a cell phone that has a calendar incorporated in it. When a date is emailed to me, such as a doctor’s appointment, I can highlight it, and the machine will ask me if I want to create an event on my calendar. I click, “yes”, and it happens, along with a reminder.

You would think with all that redundancy and reminders that we would never miss an appointment, or nearly as bad, suffer the heart stopping realization that we have one, but only ten minutes to make a thirty minute trip to it, but we do. At least two or three times a week you will hear someone from the kitchen shout, “Oh, (insert expletive here), I missed,” or “am about to miss, such-n-so appointment!”

I have a theory. Success in calendar usage is not only hanging them and writing stuff on them, but actually looking at them occasionally. As I have pondered this epiphany, I have formulated another theory. The reason our calendars are so messed up is that the ancients, even when they went to all the trouble to carve them, didn’t look at them either. I can hear it now shouted from the town square, “Oh, (insert expletive here), we missed the end of the world! Now what? I guess we’ll have to make a new calendar.”

It is no wonder we don’t know what year it is.

David Wilson Atwood is a local writer whose human-interest columns offer a unique perspective. He may be contacted at