January 22, 2018

January-o-phobia.

A nice Roz Chast New Yorker cover:



My January calendar has 4 positive dates. 2 are personal to me, my birthday (12) and my bloggiversary (14). But I also have 2 others that we all share and that are very important, I believe, psychologically, especially if you live in a northern latitude where you must deal with the short days and long nights.

January 5: The End of Darkmonth. Darkmonth is the darkest monthlong period of the year, that is, the period with the winter solstice at the center. The solstice was December 21st, so I put the last day of Darkmonth on January 5th.

The second day of note, following this line of reasoning, is January 20th, which marks the end of the darkest 2-month period. I don't have a name for the 15 days on either side of Darkmonth — Nonconsecutive-Second-to-Darkest-Month.

But we just got past that, and in 2 more weeks, the darkest 3 months will be over. So even though it will only be February 5 (or 6th), which seems a long way from the end of winter, if your problem with winter is, as it is for me, the darkness, you should see winter as over.

59 comments:

Tim in Vermont said...

If we didn't have a holiday that involved light displays, we would invent one for that time. Thankfully Christmas lights are right in the Bible!

Tim in Vermont said...

Jews have a "festival of lights" around that time, but they punch below their weight.

Amos510 said...

Dark quarter is November 5 to February 5 -- winter from a solar perspective. Feb. 5 is my first day of spring. Holding on . . .

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I don't get up as early as you, so I don't really care about total hours of darkness. I care about what time the sun sets. Oddly enough, the earliest sunset occurs two weeks before the shortest day of the year. ( At least, it does where I live. Not sure what causes this, so I'm not sure if it is different for different locations ).

But yes, I too survive winter by tracking how much better things have gotten, daylight-wise.

Luke Lea said...

Winter can be pretty dreary down here on Signal Mountain, but it is a temperate paradise compared to where you are. Is that why we have no high culture?

Carol said...

Is sunrise earlier yet? Mornings are darker longer until mid January. I forget why. Elliptical orbit or something.

Dawn still not breaking until 7:30 here in Missoula.

Achilles said...

Where is my global warming?

William Chadwick said...

I have come to be quite the Roz Chast fan. I loved her book "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" It takes a grim subject and finds humor in it without trivializing the seriousness of what is happening. I also liked her book on New York City. I like how nearly everyone in her cartoons has this angst-ridden look.

Re February 5th, ever since I read that early February was the beginning of Celtic Spring, I find Groundhog Day cheerful no matter if the Groundhog sees his shadow or not.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Sunset now is 14 minutes later than it was back on November 5. It would be the same time as sunset on October 26, except for the daylight savings time switch throwing things off.

EDH said...

What are "weird frozen pellets"?

traditionalguy said...

At least the girl on the cover is wearing her pink pussy hat, so all is au courant.

SDaly said...

"Quarterly Taxes Due" seemed out of place to me.

Art in LA said...

The New Yorker costs $8.99?!! If you have a globe handy and it has an analemma printed on it, you can see how quickly we are coming out of the "dark months" as the sun moves away from the Tropic of Capricorn.

madAsHell said...

$8.99. Can this be a successful business model?

n.n said...

Too hot, too cold, just right.

Curious George said...

"...if your problem with winter is, as it is for me, the darkness, you should see winter as over."

The "shorter days" are an issue for sure. In December I often think time for bed only to discover it's still very early evening.

More of an issue is the lack of sunlight...at least here in Wisconsin. It's not unusual to go a week, or even weeks, without sunshine. Grey and cloudy day after day. I prefer sunny, even if it brings with it very cold temperatures, which it often does.

traditionalguy said...

It is of note that in January Global Warming is our old friend and Global Cooling is admitted to be our worst enemy...and those Maunder Minimum sun spotless years just keep rolling along.

Nonapod said...

Darkmonth sounds like something out of Warhammer 40k, a game with the slogan "In the grimdark future there is only war".

rhhardin said...

I like January. It's cold enough so that you can run computers without overheating the house, solve math problems.

robother said...

After 70 years mostly in the High Plains, I gravitate to the Celtic division of seasons into 2; Summer beginning May 1, Winter, beginning November 1. (June 21 is "Midsummers Eve" not the first day of "Summer").

rehajm said...

What they missed: every New Yorker recognizes January begins the appearance of the dreaded but ubiquitous snow and dirt hybrid called snirt.

Don't get me started on snit.

chickelit said...

Your calendar reckoning reminds me of the Romans. They had only 10 months in the year (December being the last one). They counted days for the period between Jan 1 and the end of February and started a new year every March.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim in Vermont said...

I like January. It’s cold enough so that you can run computers without overheating the house, solve math problems.

LOL Free Bitcoins! I think Trumpit lost the IQ cage match!

Original Mike said...

”if your problem with winter is, as it is for me, the darkness, you should see winter as over.”

Your attitude is blinding you to the beauty of the universe. The winter sky is transparent (when it’s not cloudy, I admit) and the most striking star fields of the year are overhead early in the evening when you don’t have to fight sleepiness to view them.

gspencer said...

While there are lots of people I dislike, I hate no one.

But I do hate the month of January. When the corner, Feb., 1, is turned the sun is noticeably higher in the morning sky, and my spirits pick up a bit

MadisonMan said...

About mid-february I can start to feel the sun on my bare skin. That's when I know winter is well and truly over. Oh, it might throw a tantrum still, but it's on the ebb.

Bad Lieutenant said...


rhhardin said...
I like January. It's cold enough so that you can run computers without overheating the house, solve math problems.

1/22/18, 10:17 AM


Nigga pleez, you've told us about your hamster-powered junk laptops. What thermal problems could you have, what nontrivial math problems could you solve, with that shit?

Nancy said...

That is one huge pigeon!

tcrosse said...

The New Yorker must have pulled this one from the archives, because it doesn't take a shot at Trump. Now is the winter of our discontent and all that.

Fernandistein said...

This winter we've only had two days - yesterday and the day before - when the weather was too crummy for us to sit on the uncovered back porch and drink margaritas in the afternoon.

traditionalguy said...

In Atlanta this weekend, millions of wide eyed people emerged from inside their homes and saw their shadow. That means winter is over in Dixie, except for an occasional frosty morn.

Ann Althouse said...

“This winter we've only had two days - yesterday and the day before - when the weather was too crummy for us to sit on the uncovered back porch and drink margaritas in the afternoon.”

Uncovered porch? Isn’t that a terrace or deck? I’d say its the cover that makes the thing a porch. No cover, no porch. What am I wissing?

Ann Althouse said...

I just actually looked up “porch” in the OED, and although I feel confirmed in my intuition about coverage, the main thing I was to give you is this quote from 1975 which is there as one of the examples: “ My wife and I would eat mashed potatoes from the pot and lie out on the porch smoking reefer until it got too dark to see.”

Because doesn’t that help you get the concept of “porch”?

Ann Althouse said...

Missing. Not wissing.

Terry Vance said...

For many of the reasons suggested in the cartoon and in Professor Althouse's comments, I schedule Lent from December 30 to Feb 14 -- 46 days when one should avoid alcohol in order to keep depression from spiraling. Also, most of your friends who decided to cut back on drinking as a New Year Resolution are throwing in the towel by then.

surfed said...

January 6th for me fellow Capricorn.

wwww said...



For me the important date is the 25th of December. Although it's not noticeable, I know it's getting lighter everyday.

I'm ok with the amount of dark we get going into the end of December. It's nice to cuddle on the sofa with family and a warm dinner and fireplace for Friday night movies. The lights on the snow are calm and beautiful at night. The early dark gets the kids ready for bed. Every season has its charms.

steve uhr said...

Biggest snow of winter - by far- today in twin cities. Looks like rain in Madison. Sucks.

Fernandistein said...

Ann Althouse said...
Uncovered porch? Isn’t that a terrace or deck?


Yup, I shoulda said "deck"!

And even more so since now the word "porch" looks weird, like it's not a word at all, or maybe it's the past-tense of a French fish.

Now we're "deck monkeys".

Earnest Prole said...

Not to put too fine a point on it but Northern Californians have no idea what you and Chaz are talking about.

Etienne said...

That cover is SHOCKING!

SHOCKING!

$8.99 a copy? Holy shit...

Inflation would be $3.18 from the 1970 price of 50 cents.

I think the Chinese Communists are ripping them off on their printing and shipping charges.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Chadwick said...


Traditional guy wrote:

"At least the girl on the cover is wearing her pink pussy hat, so all is au courant."

"The girl" (she'll be flattered by that if she reads it) is the usual cartoon persona of the cartoonist. Roz Chast . . . complete with her trademark facial expression of extreme angst.

tcrosse said...

Surprisingly, that's not a pussy hat.

Unknown said...

Why do people that are obsessed by the cold weather and short daylight hours continue to live in an area that features both, when they seem to hate it so? Is it so they can perennially complain? Why not just move to someplace more to your weather and daylight liking? Do you fancy yourself as some sort of noble martyr?

I live in the Boston MA area, have for all of my life. Days are short this time of year and the weather can be fierce and demanding. Wouldn't consider living anywhere else.

-sw

William Chadwick said...

"Why do people that are obsessed by the cold weather and short daylight hours continue to live in an area that features both, when they seem to hate it so? Is it so they can perennially complain? Why not just move to someplace more to your weather and daylight liking? Do you fancy yourself as some sort of noble martyr?"

I complained about it a lot less when I lived in NYC than I do now that I'm in the Sun Belt. I find this not unusual among NYC transplants to the South. Two of them have told me the worst winter experiences they ever had were while living in New Orleans and Atlanta; and for the same reason I find winters so unpleasant here: that all-permeating dankness that leaves my feet chilly from about Halloween to May Day; and the fact that dwellings are not really built for winter. As one friend of mine said (having moved from Manhattan to Georgia and then back again), "As cold as it gets in Manhattan, you're usually out in it for only a short time, and then it's back inside your nice, overheated apartment!"

Meade said...

"What thermal problems could you have, what nontrivial math problems could you solve, with that shit?"

What the hell is he building in there? We have a right to know.

Ann Althouse said...

“Why do people that are obsessed by the cold weather and short daylight hours continue to live in an area that features both, when they seem to hate it so? Is it so they can perennially complain? Why not just move to someplace more to your weather and daylight liking? Do you fancy yourself as some sort of noble martyr?”

I don’t think I complain about it that much. You have to live somewhere. Every place has good and bad points. I like a little challenge weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cold. It gives a sense of reality, dealing with it. I’ve got my darkness strategies, like the idea of Darkmonth, sleeping from 9 to 4, and some other things. It makes the coming of spring very exciting.

Art in LA said...

What I have learned over the years, and made even more obvious with the advent of social media, is that people just enjoy to complain ... most folks have a "half-empty" view of life.

ELC said...

On my old blog, I called the month before and after the winter solstice "The Darkness of the Year".

For those interested in these matters, I highly recommend an Android app I found a couple of years ago: LunaSolCal Mobile. There's a Windows version, which is not nearly as useful, but the application says there are also iPhone and Windows phone versions.

The LunaSolCal Mobile app is a gold mine of sun- and moon-related information. It even gives you a map showing in which direction the sun (or moon) rises or sets on a given day at a given location. It tells you how many seconds of daylight you gain (or lose) from one day to the next. And I have learned that here (in SW PA), sunrise actually continues to get later after the day of the winter solstice: on Dec. 21st, sunrise was at 7:38 am; it continued to get later until it was at 7:41 am on January 9th. It was at 7:40 am on January 10th and continues getting earlier. So, in the first days after the winter solstice, all of the increasing amount of daylight was coming in the afternoon. (And, if I recall correctly, the minute of sunset in the summer did not get earlier until July 5th.)

Again, a highly recommended app for you, Ann, or anybody else interested stuff like this. :)

Gahrie said...

“Why do people that are obsessed by the cold weather and short daylight hours continue to live in an area that features both, when they seem to hate it so? Is it so they can perennially complain?

Some move to the South, and spend the rest of their lives complaining about the insects and the humidity.

Darrell said...

I don't have a name for the 15 days on either side of Darkmonth

The Fortnight of Gloom Waxing and the Fortnight of Gloom Waning.

rhhardin said...

what nontrivial math problems could you solve, with that shit?

One of the laptops is working on the Costas array 32 point problem, which can probably absorb as much computer power as you want to throw at it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costas_array

rhhardin said...

See?

$ cd /tmp/costas2009
$ jackpot.sh
-rw-r--r-- 1 rhh None 0 Feb 12 2014 //E3/tmp/costas2009/jackpot.32.out
$

Old file, nothing found yet (size 0).

rhhardin said...

Most old laptops around, which are way to slow to handle modern video requirements for browsing and stuff, are still much faster and bigger than the computers routinely used for serious math up through the 90s.

cf said...

Thanks, Althouse!
Very helpful segmentation, oregonians need this too! cool that this jan. 20 played a role as Marker and soon enough we get to feb. 5, I am cheered.

gadfly said...

As the calendar turns and we await the forecast of the end of Winter by Sun Prairie's own Jimmy the Groundhog, I am reminded that Wisconsin snowfall and temperatures always result in cabin fever. I will always remember January 1977, my first month living in rural Dane County.

In 1977, it was the brutal cold – something like 26 consecutive days of subzero temperatures. The day that I moved into my new house off of Airport Road west of Middleton, the temperature was -21.

The following January, snow pack was more than 3 feet and the plows had piled snow 9-12 feet at the top of every ridge on the Airport Road. Those were the days, my friend . . . .

Bad Lieutenant said...

Meade said...
"What thermal problems could you have, what nontrivial math problems could you solve, with that shit?"

What the hell is he building in there? We have a right to know.

1/22/18, 5:11 PM


10 seconds in, I had never been so bored in my life. Pass.



"
Old file, nothing found yet (size 0).

Note I said solving. Nothing found yet is not solving. Meanwhile back to the part about heating your house. If you shoved it up your ass you *might* be able to maintain body temperature but I don't think you could keep a thousand square foot house with 8-foot ceilings warm.