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We can count on some things in life

Posted: April 4, 2006


Jim Stingl
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The end is near!

OK, probably not, but the numbers are lining up in perfect order today.

You likely slept through it, but at 2 minutes and 3 seconds after 1 this morning, the time was 01:02:03.

Now combine that with today's date and you get 01:02:03 04/05/06. Did you get a chill just now?

If you took it a step even further, say if you lived in the 7th house on 8th St. for 9 years, you could very possibly spontaneously combust today.

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Unless you favor military time, this confluence of time and date happens again a little after 1 this afternoon.

No one is claiming this is another Y2K, but you might want to buy a portable generator and dehydrated food just to be on the safe side.

The 1-through-6 time and date has been circulating on the Internet. "This will never happen again," some of the quickly spreading e-mails say.

Not so, says one guy who responded to a blog on this topic. It will happen again in 3006, 4006, etc., he wrote.

Actually, you only have to wait until April 5, 2106, one century from today, because we're all way too busy to mess with the first two digits of the year when we write the date. That year will be '06, just like this year.

What this means is that there are children alive now who will live long enough to experience two of these meaningless numerical lineups.

No one seemed to notice last year when, shortly after midnight on March 4, the rare moment of 00:01:02 03/04/05 occurred. It didn't have the same flair because most people begin counting with 1, unless they're counting the first year of a new millennium in which case they prefer zero.

Are you still reading this? There are a lot more important things in the paper, you know.

I told an expert on measuring time, Marquette University history professor emeritus Ronald Zupko, that six numbers would be lined up in perfect order today, not to mention in sequence and one right after the other in a row.

"So what?" was his initial reaction.

"It's happened too many times," he said. "And it will happen with other numbers in intervening years."

For example, May 6, 2007, at a few clicks after 2 o'clock is 02:03:04 05/06/07. Upside down that spells: LOVE SATAN.

Plus you can switch the clock and calendar around and get the same effect. The New York Times reported the "mind-bending" sequence on Jan. 2, 2003, at 5 minutes and 6 seconds after 4. That would, of course, be 01/02/03 04:05:06. It's just as sequential as today's, but the polarity is reversed. Or something.

Zupko reminded me of some relatively recent fun-with-calendars occurrences. Feb. 2, 2000, or 02/02/2000, was the first time since Aug. 28, 888, that every digit in the year was an even number. (I never thought of zero as an even number, but he swears it is.) That's a 1,112-year gap between.

Likewise, we saw our last all-odd date on Nov. 19, 1999, or 11/19/1999 until Jan. 1, 3111 - also a wait of 1,112 years. Cue the eerie music.

And who could forget the two palindrome years we enjoyed in a relatively short time span - 1991 and 2002 - after a drought of 110 years since 1881. A select few people alive today will see the next one in 2112. Just lay off the trans fats.

Sorry to throw all this at you while you're still figuring out if you've changed every clock to daylight-saving time.


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From the April 5, 2006 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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