As a retired public school teacher and proponent of lifelong learning, I feel it is my sworn duty to fight to correct misinformation whenever and wherever it occurs.
Last week Cate Gable wrote: "Thus we begin a new year and a new decade all on one blue moon evening." I believe her statement does the Observer readership a huge disservice by perpetuating a common misunderstanding about our calendar.
Ten pennies completes a dime; the 10th penny does not start a new dime. The year 2010 is the end of the first decade of the millennium; it does not start a new decade.
The confusion begins with the mistaken belief that the "new millennium" began at the stroke of midnight ushering in 2000. The year 2000 was actually the final year of the 20th century. The new millennium began on Jan. 1, 2001. Parties celebrating otherwise were premature. Again, think of 100 pennies as completing a dollar; the 100th penny does not start a new dollar.
To sum it up: All years ending in a zero complete the current decade, century, or millennium. The first year of a new decade, century or millennium begins with a one.
It's never too late to learn something new. A very happy 2010, the year that completes the first decade of the 21st century, to one and all.