Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve and Cats

Happy New Year
You'll have one - or not -  whether I want you to or not.  It's not up to me.  I issue that more as a non-denominational prayer on your behalf than as a command, but if making it a command gives you some kind of intellectual permission to have a happy new year, then take it as such and get cracking.

We only think about it being a new year because we keep track of time.  We watch seconds, minutes, hours become days, weeks, and ultimately a year.  None of it really breaks down correctly though.

There's 365.2564 days in a year.  That's after some rounding.  That's a really inconvenient number.  To make up for it, we add a day every four years.  That gets us close to right...but.  That .0064 left over starts to become an issue, so in a year divisible by 100, we don't have a leap year.  "But wait!" says you.  "2000 was a leap year!"  Correct.  Because in a year divisible by 400, the previous rule is skipped and we do have a leap year.  It all comes out in the wash, of course.

Interesting but not really a big deal.  Before the advent of personal timekeeping devices, people didn't have to be any more punctual than "before lunch" or "before dinner."  They lived their lives by the length of the daylight.  I recently read a fascinating book called Artificial Sunshine that explored the history of domestic and commercial lighting, really interesting stuff.  You could break the family budget trying to stay up late during the winter.

So more about the New Year.  Since we have to have a new calendar, we call it a new year.  Is it really new?  Not by any means.  People will continue to fight wars and make love, have babies and die.  Just like last year.  Only the names will change, a few of the details will be different, many will be much the same.  The only one that really changes and has a significant effect on us, the everyday people, is the date we write on checks.

I sit at this conglomeration of electronic bits and spring-loaded switches (that's the keyboard) and have to reach way forward over the cat.  She sits on me, grumble-grumbles when I shift and digs in if I move too much.  It's a love-hate relationship.  I love cats and their "Go to hell" attitude.   But I hate the fact that she stays put, obligating me to not cause her any discomfort.  It's a little ridiculous.  She's lounging luxuriously but my legs are going to sleep and my back is creaking and stiff. But the cat's independent nature is appealing just the same.

"Come here, kitty," you say.
"Not likely," responds the cat.  If you're lucky.  She might be rude and say something unprintable.

Let's be real, if she says anything I'll be printing it in large letters, and calling the papers.

Focus!  Back on point.  Okay.  But the resentful independence is coupled with a deliberate preference, too.  You might make demands and the cat resists, but when she chooses she comes to you.  And if she tends to choose to come to you and be with you, you can't help but feel a little honored.  This animal won't do as I ask, but when given her preference, she chooses me.  That means I'm wanted, wanted by someone who is really quite stubborn and picky.  Okay, it's a little backwards but I can accept that.

That doesn't mean I don't get tired of being stiff and sore-backed reaching all the way to the keyboard over her.  "Get off!"

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