The Things We Do For Love

Sunday is Valentine’s Day, so let me direct your attention to a song called “The Things We Do for Love.”  It was written in the 1970s, and it’s woefully inadequate.  In fact, it’s crap!  The truth is, if you’re doing it right, when you’re in love, you do extraordinary things that all seem perfectly ordinary — and all that ordinary stuff adds up to make lovers feel special.  Let me give you a few examples.

Walking in the rain with a single rose under your coat — when you kinda/almost/nearly forgot the anniversary — because you know she prefers romantic and on time to expensive and a day late.

Suddenly developing an interest in football — just in time for the championship game.

Holding her hair during the sudden tequila volcano that erupted halfway through her brother’s wedding reception — and vaguely wondering what the penalty is for getting caught in the women’s toilet at the Hyatt Regency.

Watching that same stupid movie every year — even though it’s not a Christmas movie and … “Oh for God’s sake!  How many times do you need to shoot him?  Die already!”

Watching that same dumbass movie every Christmas — even though nobody in their right mind would ever mistake Hugh Grant for sexy.

Leaving the last brownie — just because.

Knowing how to shut up and listen when someone’s had a bad day at work.

Hiding chocolate in the tampons box when “we” are on a diet.

Not stealing the chocolate she hid in the tampons box when “we” are on a diet.

Laughing in all the right places of the same story he told at the last dinner party.

Telling the same story over and over again because she thinks it’s funny.

Spending an entire Saturday afternoon going to every store on the planet to find those disgusting frozen burritos that taste like wallpaper paste – just because he likes them.

Dragging the heaviest suitcase in history across two international borders, through three airports, over miles of cobblestones and up four flights of stairs because “I’m not going all the way to Europe looking like a tramp!”

Taking tons of extra stuff (he’s definitely going to want) to Europe — because his suitcase is the size of Rihanna’s evening bag.

Ignoring bodily noises.

Spending a whole weekend watching crap TV, even though the final episode of Season One and the first episode of Season Two are just sitting there, waiting for someone to watch them — but somebody isn’t going to be home until Monday, and you promised not to peek.

Any bikini wax.

Stopping whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re doing it, to hunt for the exact spot under the bra strap where it itches.

Enduring the Just-Got-Into-Bed cold feet on your … “OMG, lady!  You need to see a doctor!  No human being can be that cold and still be alive.”

And finally:

Ruining your dress, dancing in the rain.

Ruining her lipstick, not her mascara.

Life On Mars

It’s been 40 days and 40 nights since New Year’s– when we finally kicked 2020 to the curb.  And even though every person on this planet shouted “Goodbye and good riddance!” (I know I did) we’ve largely forgotten about it.  The hats have been thrown away, the champagne bottles recycled, and the resolutions … well … the resolutions really didn’t stand a chance this year, did they?  But not to worry.  You can renew those resolutions with a clean slate and a fresh start all this week– because last Sunday was also New Year’s Day – on Mars.

I’ll grant you, unless you’re a NASA scientist, it’s not something you think about, but now that you are, it definitely makes sense, doesn’t it?  After all, Mars has a different rotation from Earth and a different orbit around the sun, so our time – 24 hours/365 days – just doesn’t apply.  Actually, the Martian day, called a sol (pronunciation still in doubt) is 24 hours, 39 minutes long.  (That 43-minute difference is just enough to screw things up.)  And it takes Mars 687 days to get all the way around the sun – a Martian year.  So, since Mars has four seasons (just like us) a quick pen and paper calculation and you have 12 months (BTW, you can name them anything you want; nobody’s done that yet!) and there’s your Martian calendar.

Of course, none of this really mattered before we started sending our machines to Mars to have a look around.  But the minute we did, we discovered we needed a way to keep track of them: Earth time just wasn’t going to do it.  For example, right now in the Pacific Time Zone, it’s about 5:30 p.m. and the sun is going down, but on Mars (where the Rover is) that same sun is shining in the middle of the afternoon.  So far, so good.  But tomorrow (relative to me) Martian time is going to slide backwards 43 minutes, and it’ll do it again the next day, and the next.  By this time next month, me and Mars are going to be out of sync by nearly a whole day!  Oops!  So what NASA did was lengthen the Martian second by (approx.) 1.027.  Then they chose the Martian Spring Equinox as Day One of the Martian year. That allowed them to measure and schedule Martian time accurately from that fixed point.  (FYI, this is no different from Great Britain setting up Greenwich Mean Time in the 19th century, Pope Gregory XIII rebooting the calendar in 1582, or Julius Caesar naming the 7th month after himself when he was running the show.)  Anyway, for some reason (I can’t find out why) NASA decided to backdate Martian time to begin with Year Zero on Earth Year 1955.  That makes this Martian Year 36!

Ever since humans dropped out of the trees and looked up into the sky, the Red Planet has captured our imagination.  It’s our nearest celestial neighbour.  We can see it flickering red with the naked eye.  It has mysterious canals, polar ice caps, volcanos and canyons.  It’s been part of our literary culture for two centuries and part of our scientific world for nearly as long.  So, go ahead and celebrate the hell out of this Martian New Year — cuz the next one isn’t going to happen until December 26th 2022!