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Fun with Calendars 


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Some of my favourite toys have always been calendars.

A staple at work, Microsoft Outlook's calendar is useful in that specific setting, where I use it more heavily for meetings, deadlines, appointments and all that. In my own time, where my dayplanner plays the roles of checklist, phonebook, calendar and notepad, I need only scribble down everything. All fun in their own way.

Once 30 Boxes arrived on the scene, however, I found something I was missing.

Everyone knows someone with a convoluted schedule, if it's Monday, they're in Paris, that kind of thing. My sister, who juggles three jobs, is one of those people. Me, with only one job but no two days the same, am another. My pal Mr. Pho Bich Nga works for a place with frequent shift changes. Other friends are between jobs, yet when I call them to hang out on a Monday afternoon while the rest of the sluggers are handcuffed to their cubicles, turns out they've found a job. 30 Boxes cures these messes.

Sharing 30 Boxes means comparing and contrasting everyone's schedules, as if your friends jotted their events all over your calendar. The last two months have been fun, 30 Boxes, thanks for all the laughs.

Now that Google's beta calendar is on the scene, I've switched. Not without resistance from MaikoPunk, who's grown attached to 30 Boxes. "I don't want to remember another password" is the usual protest.

What can I do to sell the Google calendar? It's one-click away from my Gmail account? How selfish. You can add and hide alternate calendars with one-click? That's more convenient than 30 Boxes. It's super colourful? Yes, that makes it more readable.

Then again, 30 Boxes has a few perks: you can read your friends' profiles, you get updates on their blog posts and links to their Flickr uploads.

Along on the scene comes iCalShare. With 2708 calendars, I've added Romanian holidays and artists' birthdays to my calendar, making every day potentially very special: "Sorry, boss, today is Odilon Redon's birthday and my religion very clearly states that on the birthday of any Symbolist artist I must fill my cubicle with puffed wheat."

(I was disappointed that the Shipwrecks of New England calendar didn't work, but life is full of bitter disappointments.)

The best thing of all about iCalShare is that you can make your own calendars and share them with the world!

When I lived in Japan, I published a monthly column on dates, covereing things like Heart and Stroke Month and Black History Month to Talk Like a Pirate Day. If I can locate my old files, I may yet have that calendar of weirdness.

And remember the French Revolutionary Calendar? We would have been in the month of Floréal, today would have been Ancolie (Columbine), Christmas would have been Chien (Dog), my favourite day Fumier (Manure) would have fallen on December 28.

Tweaking my French a few years ago (also during my stay in Japan), I translated half the calendar into English (in those days, we didn't have Wikipedia).

Now I can continue the work on my calendars, add it to iCalShare and my life's goals will be one step closer to completion.

Ooooh, first, mole slippers, then yeti lobsters, now this. Life just gets better and better.

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