Keeping up with time

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Leap second added on New Year’s Day!

When I first heard about it, I thought that surely this must be a joke. I mean, with everything going on in the world, do we really have someone in charge of making the world’s clocks accurate to within one second?

It turns out that we do.

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This public service is cooperatively provided by the two time agencies of the United States: a Department of Commerce agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and its military counterpart, the U.S. Naval Observatory. Readings from the clocks of these agencies contribute to world time, called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time maintained by both agencies should never differ by more than 0.0000001 seconds from UTC.

Anyone who has ever seen my desk would automatically disqualify me from serving on anything that regulates things so precisely. In fact, it was all I could do over the last couple of weeks to remember what day of the week it was with all these holidays.

With everyone’s time back in sync for the next few years, there shouldn’t be any excuse to be late to church, work or dinner. Now if I could just remember where I put my watch.

Predictions for ’09

The last few days I have read a dozen columns predicting what is likely to happen in the coming year. I have also given some of my predictions over the years. My success rate with predictions is about the same as my success rate with resolutions, which means both are close to zero.

The couple of times I have made serious New Year’s resolutions I started backsliding within hours. This is particularly true when I made any resolution regarding losing weight. Just the thought of losing weight makes my hunger level double. My focus goes from losing weight to thinking about food almost instantly.

So this year, there are no resolutions to torture me until I give them up. Just a plan to eat healthier, eat less and exercise more. Sounds a bit like a resolution, doesn’t it?

New Year’s resolutions

Do you ever have a time, especially with a close loved one, where you think of the same thing at the same time? Perhaps you’ll be driving down the road, think of something, and then you get a phone call about that very issue.

Mary Lou just called me and gave me the type of factoid we are famous for passing back and forth. It seems a study by John Hopkins School of Medicine stated that most New Year’s resolutions were made on Monday, Jan. 5. Here I am writing that I am not going to make any resolutions, and she calls me to ask me if I had made my resolutions yet.

It seems the Web site,, suggests that you make your resolution for one week, but that you make it every Monday for a year.

“It’s a fresh start—the January of each week. A day to refocus and recommit, celebrate your progress, or to quit again if you relapse.”

OK, maybe we could give that a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Subjects for articles

People often ask me how I come up with things to write about. I usually reply that most of it comes from memories in my past that are triggered by events in the present. The rest of the material comes from things that others are doing, particularly our elected officials.

It is about that time when we will be blessed with plenty to write about, both at the state and federal level. Between Atlanta and Washington, there are an awful lot of things that need to be straightened out.

As a long time political junkie, I usually have some hope as the Congress or General Assembly are about to begin a new session. Over the years, I have often been disappointed with the results but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start over again the next year. Sort of like the “Healthy Monday” I mentioned above. Just because we have done a pretty poor job of running things lately, doesn’t mean we can’t start over and do a bit better this time around.

We have more than our share of challenges to confront this term. At the national level, we have two wars with a budding third on the horizon. Nationally, our education continues to decline versus our top competitors around the world. The economic turmoil around the world will take the bulk of the time of our national lawmakers during this first term of the new president.

At the state level, we have no fewer problems, just a bit different. We are being hit harder than most states with the economic downturn. Unemployment is even higher down in our part of the state. The long running drought appears to be easing in parts of the state, but not because we have done any meaningful planning for the future.

For as long as I have been in politics, education continues to be part of the cause of our problems and even more so part of the solutions for our future. You would think that by this time we could have figured it out. Both parties have had a shot in both flush and lean times.

Good luck and Godspeed to all those elected to serve the rest of us. We will be watching you and hope that your rhetoric of the campaign will become the words of statesmen. The population is tired and anxious. We don’t want political solutions, we want practical solutions.

Look us in the eye and tell us the truth. Don’t take us for granted. Remember you were one of us long before you became one of them. In the end, the measure of a true statesman’s success will not be determined by the press or the electorate. It will be measured by the ease with which he sleeps after looking at himself in the mirror.