Friday, October 30, 2020

Andy Young: The Biggest Weekend of the Year

By Andy Young


The upcoming weekend is huge, and not just because it’s the last one before Americans go to the polls to decide not only who’ll be president for the next four years, but also which half of us are going to be rendered perpetually indignant and/or righteously outraged by the results until Nov. 5, 2024.

This weekend also includes a day that’s normally anticipated by youthful types nearly as eagerly as Christmas is. But in 2020 wearing a mask isn’t unique, and as a result of the pandemic trick or treaters will probably be as scarce as people willing to allow costumed cherubs of any size to even approach their front door.

But Halloween's not just about dressing up and shaking down the neighbors for candy. This year it's also when iconic TV newsman Dan Rather celebrates his 89th birthday, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban blows out 69 candles, and rapper Vanilla Ice turns 53.

Numerous impactful events have occurred on previous Oct. 31sts. Nevada became the 36th U.S. state on that date in 1864. Work on Mount Rushmore was completed on Oct. 31, 1941. And the world’s human population officially reached seven billion on October’s last day in 2011.

This gargantuan weekend’s relevance isn’t just because it’s comprised of the 305th and 306th days of this dreadful year, or that at Monday’s dawn those of us in the northern hemisphere will be a mere 50 24-hour planetary rotations from the start of winter.  Sunday is really the weekend’s big day.

November’s 1st can give October’s last 24 hours a run for the money when it comes to historical importance. The first-ever medical school for females opened in Boston, Massachusetts on Nov. 1, 1848. Pictures of bare-breasted women first appeared on the pages of National Geographic on Nov. 1, 1896. And in Marysville, Ohio on November’s first day in 1982, Honda become the first Asian automaker to open a factory inside of the United States.

There’s no shortage of compelling birthdays this year on Nov. 1st, either. Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook turns 60 this Sunday, as does lefthanded pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, the apple of Los Angeles Dodger baseball fans’ eyes in the 1980’s. Longtime media fixture Larry Flynt, who might never have found fame and fortune in the adult publishing industry were it not for National Geographic’s decision to print images of topless women precisely 46 years before the day his life began, turns 78. And for fans of actual ancient history, Frankish King Louis the Stammerer was born on Nov. 1, 846.

But the real reason this weekend seems big is because it is big…literally! It’s larger by 2.083 percent than standard weekends, since it’s going to consist of 49 hours. This Sunday morning 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time magically becomes 1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, which adds 60 minutes to both the weekend and to this particular Sabbath (which, for those keeping score, is 4.166 percent greater than other Sundays).

It’s likely many people will opt to spend their extra hour sleeping. Not me, though. 

I’ll be using it to further my fascinating research on Louis the Stammerer, who in 877 succeeded his father Charles the Bald (brother of Louis the German and son of Louis the Pious) as King of West Francia. Charles the Bald, by the way, was also Emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 875-877, when he died and was succeeded by Charles the Fat.

Or I suppose I could continue to act like Andrew the Bored and start a daily countdown of the 140 days remaining before the start of spring, 2021. <

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