Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

(Feb. 29 , 2012) Today is "Leap Day," an extra (intercalary) day added during a Leap Year, making the year 366 days long — and not 365 days, like a common (normal) year. Nearly every four years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian Calendar.

Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth about 365.242199 days (a tropical year) to circle once around the sun. If we didn't add a day on Feb. 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by about 24 days.

The ancient Roman Calendar added an extra month every few years to maintain the correct seasonal changes. But Julius Caesar implemented a new calendar — the Julian Calendar — in 45 BCE (Before Common Era) with an extra day added every four years. At the time, Leap Day was Feb. 24, because February was the last month of the year.

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII refined the Julian calendar with a new rule that a century year is not a Leap Year unless it is evenly divisible by 400. This transition to the Gregorian Calendar was observed in some countries including Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The transition took longer for other countries; Great Britain started using the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and Lithuania in 1915.

Leap Day as a concept has existed for more than 2,000 years, and still is associated with age-old traditions, folklore and superstition. One of the most popular traditions is that women may propose to their boyfriends.

An American folk celebration for the day is Sadie Hawkins Day, a pseudo-holiday that originated in Al Capp's classic hillbilly comic strip, "Li'l Abner" (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, for which girls ask boys out.

In Li'l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. The "homeliest gal in all them hills," she grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin'. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic about Sadie living at home for the rest of her life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it "Sadie Hawkins Day." Specifically, a foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town's eligible bachelors — and matrimony as the consequence.

Read about current traditions and more in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online here at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers may e-mail me at for more information on this free 21st century communication tool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

(Feb. 21, 2012) Today is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the last day of Carnival and the day before Ash Wednesday which begins the annual Christian penitential season of Lent in preparation for Easter. According to tradition, folks make merry, eating rich food and drinking, before the Lenten 40 days (not including Sundays) of fasting, prayer and selfless service.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the church tradition of placing ashes on the foreheads of Christians as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. It is a movable feast occurring 46 days before Easter (this year April 8) which is set for the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox. The ashes are derived from burning palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. The Lenten season is in memory of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the start of his public ministry.

Read about this season and more in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online here at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers may e-mail me at for more information on this free 21st century communication tool.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Presidents Day

(Feb. 19,2012) Tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 20, the third Monday of February, is Presidents Day, a celebration of all U.S. presidents, a state holiday, as well as a federal holiday in observance of George Washington's Birthday which is Feb. 22. Most governmental offices will be closed and there will be no mail delivery. Many schools and banks also will be closed. Retailers are offering Presidents Weekend sales.

But, even though their offices are closed, Recorder Community Newspapers are always open right here online. Readers can visit to read the latest local news as well as blogs by community individuals and organization representatives. All kinds of messages and pictures are available including holiday closings and programs for the weekend as well as firsthand reports by a local woman taking a bus tour of the country and advice from a professional organizer.

Anyone in interested in joining the growing group of 60-plus bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail to learn more about this simple, free, 21st century communication tool. All you need is a computer and an e-mail.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

(Feb. 14, 2012) Today is St. Valentine's Day, often simply Valentine's Day, a holiday observed on Feb. 14 honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentinus. It is celebrated in countries around the world, mostly in the West, although it remains a working day in all of them.

The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines").

Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

There is a certain pall over this year's Valentine's Day for lovers who count as their song "I Will Always Love You," the signature number of iconic singer Whitney Houston, or others of her romantic hits, since the 48-year-old world-renown star died Saturday afternoon before performing in a pre-Grammy Award show in Beverly Hills, Calif. The funeral for the Newark native is set for Saturday in her hometown.

During the 1990s, Houston was married to Bobby Brown at her estate in Mendham and they lived there for some years. Read about remembrances of them by local folks in Recorder Community Newspapers' Observer-Tribune.

Other interesting local stories can be found in Recorder Newspapers and their blogs online here. Anyone interested in joining the 60+ Recorder bloggers may contact me at (908) 832-7420 or for more information about this simple, free, 21st century communication tool.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two feet on the ground

(Feb. 12, 2012) Ever since Super Bowl XLVI last Sunday, "two feet on the ground" has had a new meaning -- a super play that led to victory when Giants' wide receiver Mario Manningham caught a precise fourth quarter pass from his quarterback, Eli Manning, and planted his feet for just enough time before falling out of bounds with the football. The rest is history as the Giants went from 15-17 to win 21-17, thwarting a last-second Hail Mary touchdown attempt by the New England Patriots. Calm, cool and confident MVP Manning, 31, credited team play and coach Tom Coughlin, 65, for the victory.

That same day, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, attended church on the eve of the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. She said, "In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighborliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth."

Elizabeth ascended the throne when her father, George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952. She is the longest-serving monarch after Queen Victoria, who reigned for more than 63 years.

Over the course of 2012, members of the royal family -- including newlyweds Prince William and his wife, Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge -- will fan out across the globe and travel to Commonwealth countries including Canada, Jamaica and Belize in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Elizabeth, 85, and Philip, 90, will stay closer to home, touring the UK from March to July.

Both of these events remind me of the power of working together. More such examples can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and in their blogs online. Community individuals or organization representatives interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers may contact me at (908) 832-7420 or for more information on this free, 21st century communication tool.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six more weeks of winter

(Feb. 2, 2012) At 7:25 this morning, amid mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 30s, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the little town of Punxsutawney, Pa.

Punxsutawny Phil’s “brother” may be dead and stuffed, but he didn’t let that stop him from making a prediction.

According to folklore, Phil’s sighting of his own shadow means there will be six more weeks of winter. Had Phil not seen his shadow, it would have meant there will be an early spring.

If Phil’s forecast is right, it signals a dramatic reversal from the mild weather pattern affecting much of the country. Many parts of central and eastern United States have seen temperatures 20 to 30 degrees above normal in recent days. Yesterday just 19 percent of the lower 48 states had snow cover compared to 52 percent at this time last year.

Historic odds heavily favor a forecast for winter to last deep into March. Since the groundhog’s first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 99 times and failed to spot it just 16 times. There are nine missing years in the record, but Phil has issued a forecast without exception.

But just how accurate is the prognosticator of prognosticators? It depends on the source. The official website of Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps not impartial, claims the groundhog has issued a correct forecast 100 percent of the time. AccuWeather’s grade for the groundhog’s accuracy is slightly lower, but still quite respectable.

Washington, D.C.’s winter prognosticator, Potomac Phil agreed with his fellow groundhog in a ceremony in Dupont Circle about an hour after Phil’s prediction: Six more weeks of winter.

There are lots more interesting traditions and facts to read about in Recorder Community Newspapers and their online blogs. Interested individuals and local community organization representatives are invited to join the growing group of Recorder bloggers. Just give me a call at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail and I will explain the free process.