Friday turned out to be a quiet day, with half of my staff adding this day to the bank holiday weekend and no ink jet coder breakdowns to report. By lunchtime we had received the grand sum of six telephone calls, you know the usual suspects all wishing to speak to the person responsible for utility bills. At around 3pm it had become obvious that nothing of any great significance was going to occur. I despatched my remaining staff for an early finish and settled myself into the task in hand.
I have for some time been designing a new inkjet coder in my head, with perfect peace and quiet and the phones on divert; now seemed like the perfect time to get my ideas down into a hard copy format.
A glance at the clock confirms it is seven fifty five. I had failed to notice the failing light; compounded by the poor weather conditions. I seem to remember reading somewhere that we actually lose forty three minutes of daylight in August. With that my mind drifts away to the thought of yet another summer which failed to live up to expectations.
Memory does tend to play tricks on you, but I would swear that thirty odd years ago when I was a young lad, summers used to be at their peak through July and August, and you were virtually guaranteed snow from December through to February. These days summer doesn’t seem to get going until September, by which time the light nights are history.
If that is the accepted pattern, then over the course of thirty odd years the seasons appear to have shifted position by around two months. Which set me wondering why, February only has twenty eight days. If February had actually had thirty days, then over the last thirty odd years the seasons would surely have stayed in exactly the correct place. So should it just have the twenty eight days, or was there some clerical oversight when we switched from the Lunar calender to the Julian calender, and somehow February managed to slip through the net.
The real answer to the February conundrum is somewhat less inspiring than the idea of a century’s long cover up.
We have to look back to the Romans, who first tried to reconcile the moons twenty nine and a half day cycle, with the Earths three hundred and sixty five and a quarter day rotation around the Sun.
The original idea to build to a year around twelve lunar cycles actually came up eleven days short, so an extra month “Mercendinus” was added.
Supposedly it was Julius Ceasar who decided that this lingering attachment to the lunar cycle was unwieldy. It was said that he decided to ignore the Lunar cycle and get rid of Mercendinus, by arranging the number of days into twelve months to add up to exactly three hundred and sixty five and a quarter days. February wound up with with twenty nine days, plus an extra day every fourth year. In this arrangement, July – the month named to honour Ceasar himself, had thirty one days. August by contrast had only thirty.
Supporters of the emperor Augustus were having none of that. So a day was removed from February to August and hey presto, the calender we all know and love was born.
It occurred to me whilst discarding this flawed February hypothesis, that quite often in the world of coding and marking product design, if said product or system fails to work as originally envisaged, I doubt any of us would be so quick to jump to the wrong conclusion, but certainly picking up the cause of any problem depends on being equipped to ask all of the right questions.
Successful design of the perfect industrial coding and marking products, depends on the right questions being asked all the way along the line. The input from existing customers for this task is absolutely paramount, their observations and experiences however hard to sometimes stomach; should be used as the framework from which all future coding and marking machinery is designed around.