Numbers Game

August 7, 2008

It’s exciting that the Olympics are beginning on 08/08/08, but don’t the Chinese use a different calendar? I know the Chinese zodiac is on a twelve-year cycle. I was born in the Year of The Dog, which, according to what I’ve read, means I’m loyal, hardworking, and spend a lot of time licking myself. As a kid whenever we went to Chinese restaurants I always enjoyed reading the placemat and finding out that, for instance, George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Marlon Brando were born in Years of The Rat, and Albert Einstein, Orson Welles, and Confucius were born in Years of the Rabbit, while Shirley Temple and Salvador Dali were born in Years of The Dragon, and I’d get more and more excited about what famous people were born in a Year of The Dog, and the only person listed was David Niven. And for years I sat and ate my kung pao shrimp thinking, "Who the hell is David Niven?" Learning that I shared a Chinese Zodiac sign with a guy who’d been in a few Pink Panther movies wasn’t exactly a high point of my childhood. But I digress. I know the Chinese calendar is different because the Chinese New Year falls at a different time every year, which must make things interesting for the people who organize the big ball dropping in the middle of Tiananmen Square. I guess they’ve decided to go with the Gregorian calendar, though, since 08/08/4075 just isn’t nearly as catchy. Then I heard that they’re not just stopping with holding it on 08/08/08. They will begin eight minutes after 8 o’clock, and there will be eight people lighting the Olympic flame which will be exactly eight feet high. The stadium is 888,888 square feet and has seating for 80,000 people. The opening ceremony will be divided into eight separate parts and there will be eight events held every day. Organizers are being given a special banquet where there will be eight courses served. They’ve also changed things so that now only eight countries are allowed to participate, and there will only be eight events because, let’s face it, no one watches synchronized basket weaving anyway, although this used to be one event where all participants were guaranteed a medal because in all previous Olympics there were only three people competing. This year there will be eight. Things will be even tougher in four years, especially during the winter Olympics which I’m pretty sure will begin on December 12.

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