Monday, March 21, 2016

The Vernal Equinox

Pope Gregory IX  (1552-1614)

If this were not a leap year, today or yesterday would have been the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.  Instead it was on the 19th.  It is a testimony to the accuracy of the Gregorian calendar that the equinoxes and solstices otherwise come on the same dates every year.  

The differences between the Gregorian and Julian calendars are so slight that few of us will experience them in our lifetimes.  In the Gregorian calendar, century years are not leap years, unless divisible by 400.  Then they are.  Thus the year 2000 was a leap year in both calendars.  1900 was not and 2100 will not be.  In the Julian calendar all were leap years.

The Gregorian calendar reform was adopted by Catholic countries in the 16th Century and by Protestant countries in the 18th Century.  Russia, as a Russian Orthodox country, was not interested in reforms promulgated by the Pope of Rome.  As a Czarist country they were not interested in reforms.

To this day, Lenin and the Bolsheviki storming the Winter Palace in 1917 is known in Russia as the October Revolution and everywhere else as the November Revolution.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Get Organized

Full disclosure statement:  Google gave me a free copy of GoTask before I wrote this review.  On the other hand they give everybody a free copy so my venality "will not influence me".

I suffer from the bane of the retired or otherwise indolent in that I am unable to get organized and get things done.  So it feels like life is passing me by while I dither.

One way to get organized is to make a list of things that I should do.  And I have.  As the saying is, "there's an app for that".  The app I got after reading reviews was ToDoist.  I was initially so hot for it that actually spent $5 and bought the upgrade.  (Having once owned a Commodore 64, it is against my principles to pay for software if there is any possible way to avoid it.)  It is great for making lists of things to do.  One can assign dates when they are supposed to get done.  One can organize sets of things into projects.  One can even make tasks hierarchical within a project.  For example "oil the chain" and "inflate the tires" are subtasks of "ride the bicycle".

Sadly, after a while it became a list of things I hadn't done.

Another useful  software / app is Google Calendar.  Again full disclosure:  Google gave me a free copy of Google Calendar before I wrote this review.  And again, they give everybody a free copy.

Google Calendar is part of the suite of utilities that now come with Gmail.  (Google gave me a free copy of that too.)  It is a fairly complete scheduling system which can also be used by several people together, typically in an office or an unusually active and over-scheduled family.  One can set out tasks and appointments for every hour of the day or even every fifteen minute increment, assign a color to each of them, add extra notes and particulars, make them repeating if you like, set up up to five reminders for each, and so on.

Sadly, after a while it became a schedule of things I hadn't done.

Recently I got a copy of Google's GoTask.  I have already admitted that Google gave me a free copy of GoTask and so on.   It is fairly similar to ToDoist in that one makes tasks and organizes them into lists, and one can organize the lists into some larger unit.  One can assign dates here too.  Actually there is a lot of overlap among these three softwares.  The real basis of choosing among them is not the software's features so much as your features.

Since I am hopeless at keeping a schedule and am readily overwhelmed by a long list of tasks to do, I realized that I need to have lists of tasks which can be readily organized such that what is presented is not so much the list as the first thing on it.

Ever so slowly, confronted with only one task, I will eventually undertake it.   So far so good.  I have done very little, but the difference between that and doing nothing is huuuuge.