Leap Year


In my state of penury, I get email offers to rent a private jet. I yen for an hour on a g650 Gulfstream, even just in my dreams, a good reason to leap up this Leap Year. And leap, I shall. The whole month of March shall be my last month to write this column daily. I’ve threatened to quit before, now the threat is no longer just mine. We will cut frequency rather than forego the exercise all together. I told a friend at PSS that I will be joining the ranks again, and will cease from writing.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Keep writing while you are teaching,” she added. Until we meet all existing obligations, we will probably continue with the scribbling, but I encourage others to take on the task, not to display literary erudition (we did not have any) but simply to express one’s self. As I averred elsewhere, the person and the perspective cannot be divorced from each other, in spite of the Enlightenment goal to “objectivity” that we forced into our journalistic accounts. The perspective matters. Pretensions at objectivity is exactly that, a pretense.

Anyway, the Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun in 365.25, so every four years, the Gregorian calendar add a day in February and dubs it a “leap year.” An added day makes the day sequence after leap year two days from the previous one, so for the three years usual years, the year’s day goes one after the other, but on the fourth year, it “leaps” a day. Got it?

There are other explanations, but do we really care?

Calendars. There are many in history categorized as solar (Gregorian), lunar (Jewish), lunisolar (China), and planetary (Egyptian to Venus). Four weeks in the lunar calendar completes 28 days, the phases of the moon.

The solar Hijri is the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan, considered the most rational in existence, with 31 days on the first six months, 30 days on the next five, and 29 days on the 12th month during usual years turning 30 on the fourth, a leap year. Its New Year begins in spring, in the vernal equinox from astronomical observations rather than mathematical rules. A 33-year cycle is adjusted on the 29th and 37th years but New Years day always falls on the vernal equinox in March.

The western Zodiac follows the constellations, Aries to Pisces; the eastern one follows the qualities of animals. In the west, we look up the skies; in the east, we journey with the monkey this year. In the West, we name the sky wonder as divine; in the east, we wage in the down-and-dirty characteristics of familiar animals. Take your pick. I’ve forsaken staring up in the sky; I locate the profound in the here-and-now on Earth.

Pope Gregory started count on the birth year of Jesus in the last 434 years. The Solar Hajri in longer use begins the Year One with the Hegira of Mohammad from Mecca to Medina 662 anno domini; during the Shah’s reign, Cyrus the Great, familiar to Biblical readers as the ruler who let the Jews return to the Promised land after their Babylonian captivity more than 500 years before Jesus, started the count so what was 1355 in the old Islamic calendar was 2535 in the Shah’s calendar.

If you think this is confusing, figure out how China counts its days and years. Beijing goes by the Gregorian calendar, the one used by Europe to which ascendant Zhongguo accommodated. But the countryside calendar is lunar that insures the New Year to remain exactly between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox of spring. While the Gregorian regulates the formal conduct of administrative offices, the lunar one follows the season and is more popularly in Chinese cultural festivals.

On Saipan, there is a run against time as staffing, e.g., the construction company BSI of the Imperial Pacific International Holdings Lt. that got battered in the 2014 HK stock listing and referred to by a wit as a lot of BS, International, relies on foreign labor for management and operation. U.S. laws after the CW-in-the-CNMI-only provision expires 2019 recognizes residency in immigration procedures.

Over staying one’s visa is not unusual. An acquaintance when I came on island revealed that for every legitimate electrical connection, there were nine that bypassed the meter. The Feds ignored the ingenuity. Water distribution was even worst. A source in Papago piped its water to the village below the hill. No metering was involved. The utility company allegedly did not care; they ran themselves like a subsidized public entity!

That was then. Now, we are more meticulous about the way we live; utilities are getting rationalized. Well, almost.

In my unit, the TV connected to a live line that the previous tenant had was not legit so the hook-up was quickly disconnected. Four doors of the total 12 on our building paid subscriptions. More than a dozen were turned on one evening. You may guess on the connection’s legality.

But CW ingenuity is not just on TV connections. This island would not move without them. They bound; I leap!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at pinoypanda2031@aol.com.

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