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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bmag Feb 21st 2012 - Patterns in dates

How special is the date on the cover of this issue of bmag? Can you see it? 21 February 2012? Anyone see a pattern there? Anyone? Bueller?! I don’t know when it started or why I persist – maybe I need some professional help – but I can’t help seeing and thoroughly enjoying patterns in dates.

For example, 21 February 2012, when written out in numbers, is perfectly symmetrical: 21022012! Probably the reason for my fascination is that, being on radio at breakfast time, I’m one of the first people in Brisbane to see the day’s date written down. And then, like an overenthusiastic “pincher and puncher” on the first day of the month, I get to shout it from the rooftops (or, in my case, radio speakers!)

Sometimes, you have to be creative, arguably contradicting your own rules. For example, 21 March can be symmetrical too, as long as you don’t have the zero before the three and you reduce the year to 12 (21312). Not as impressive as 21022012, I know! In fact, if you remove that zero, the 21st of every month, bar October and December, is symmetrical (or palindromic, to use a word most of us probably learned from Monty Python’s Pet Shop Sketch!)

Then there are the fun sequences, like 10 November 2012, which can be written 10 11 12. To really impress, consider the time at 15 seconds past 14 minutes past one in the afternoon and you have the date/time combination of 10 11 12 13 14 15. Have I hooked you in yet?! It bugs me when I miss one. For example, 1 February this year attracted the nickname Roadies’ Day, in recognition of the traditional sound-check “12 12”! It wasn’t until late afternoon on 1 February that I noticed the pattern, too late for me to use on radio! The next day I more than made up for it, declaring that 2 February (2 2) was both Ballerina Day (tutu) and Richie Benaud Day (a cricket fan will enjoy explaining that one to you).

So as not to miss any more, I’ve started looking ahead. Here’s what I’ve spotted so far. I’d love you to email me more that you can see coming up at

4 May is Star Wars Day – “May the fourth be with you” (a play on the line from the movie’s “May the force be with you”).

22 July is Pi Day – Pi (the relationship between the radius and circumference of a circle) is often approximated to 22/7. In the United States, where the month is written before the date, Pi Day can instead be marked on March 14 – 3.14 (plus a bazillion more digits, but who’s counting?) being a very rough approximation of 22/7 (which in itself is an approximation of Pi). Have I just crossed an invisible geek line? No? That’s good. Oh, a most visible geek line? I see.

The most exciting and obvious date this year is 12 December, or 12 12 12. It’s the twelfth year in a row we’ve enjoyed a triple date like that, starting with 1 January 2001. We won’t get another triple until 2101! If you’ve been following along, you’ll already be thinking about what happens at 12 seconds past 12 minutes past 12 that day! That’s right – 12 12 12 12 12 12! If you miss all the 12s, there’s some consolation in 20 December being 20 12 2012. Be still my mathematical heart!

Radio for children

My column on the lack of children’s radio drew a huge response, including from Deborah Lever, who says “The lack of kids radio has frustrated me for some time. Though these days finding good funky music with no ‘toilet words’ is a bit of challenge.”

Marion Mora remembers listening to The Argonauts’ Club in the 1940s: “As a child on a farm, I enjoyed every second of every program. The Argonauts gave me a window into so many worlds and had a huge impact on my life.”

Linda Tait says “age appropriate” radio for children “would definitely be something I would encourage my kids to participate in.”

And Allain Edwards shared the good news that children’s music and stories are broadcast on fully-automated narrowcast radio stations in a small number of regional towns and cities, the closest to Brisbane being Toowoomba’s 99.1 FM. Thanks Allain – let’s hope there’s more good news on the children’s radio front.

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