Roman Off Topic

By Adam Kraemer

As many of you probably know, the word “month” comes from “moon,” as in the amount of time it takes for the moon to make one full revolution around the earth (i.e., full moon to full moon). Of course the exact lengths of our calendar months vary. I’m told this is because in ancient Rome, each Caesar wanted his month, or that of his patron god, to have more days than the other. Thus July (Julius) has 31, August (Augustus) has 31, January (Janus, god of beginnings) has 31, March (Mars, god of war) has 31, etc. Apparently, Februus, the god of purification, didn’t have a whole lot of admirers.

A more measured calendar, a truly lunar calendar, would have each month lasting exactly 28 days, with a thirteenth month lasting 29 (28 x 12 + 29 = 365). Of course part of the problem with this is that 13 is traditionally a bad luck number, so that thirteenth month would be even less popular than February. And very few things are less popular than February.

A month is also the amount of time allotted between new Weight Watchers membership cards. And Weight Watchers payments, for that matter. Not that Weight Watchers is alone in this. Nearly every creditor to whom I owe money requires monthly payments. Turns out I’d be doing great financially if I never bought anything or joined any groups. I’d be lonely and sad, but well off. Like Bruce, the god of halitosis.

I recently woke up early one morning in time to see the moon “setting” over the mountains visible from my balcony. I raced to my computer to find instructions on how to take a photo of the moon without the light ruining the focus. Turns out, it’s pretty simple. A low ISO setting plus a high shutter speed. I even took a few good shots with my cell phone using the same principles.

You can see my results in the photo here. Now, anyone who thinks long and hard on this image is going to realize it’s a composite. In order to get the focus on the moon like I have there, the surrounding area would basically be really, really dark. Or, conversely, in order to see the view, the moon would just be a very bright blur. I did, however, take both shots within a minute of each other, and combined them to what I think is a great effect. Like Susan, the goddess of rhythm and blues.

Interestingly, the process I described is not unlike getting the best from the Weight Watchers plan. For starters, all the info you need is online. Secondly, the secret to success is a composite: Eat less and exercise more. Or compare it to the combination of low ISO setting/high shutter speed, whichever speaks to you more. I’m not trying to tell you which of my hastily thrown-together analogies is the correct one.

(Hint: Vesta erat dea foci.)

All joking aside (as if I could do that), take this month — or the month between receiving new membership cards — to really evaluate how you follow the plan. Are you just concentrating on one thing? Are you losing focus? Is your ISO setting off? Do you regularly wake up at 6:30 a.m. to look at the moon? Do you really believe that Bruce is an actual Roman god or are you pretty sure that I made him up?

Well, there goes the “joking aside” part. Seriously, though, a month is a good length of time to evaluate your progress, correct what’s wrong, emphasize what’s right, and generally plan for the following month. While you’re at it, you could let me know how impressed you are that I even remembered a sentence from 8th-grade Latin class.

And, no, neither Bruce nor Susan were actual Roman gods. This probably comes as no surprise.

Talk to you soon.

Follow Adam on Connect @adam.k

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