Yes, Tuesday is a special day

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By Ralph Damiani

How many of you know that Tuesday is a very unique day? The last such day was five years ago and the next one is seven years away.

Well, Tuesday is  square root day, a humorous holiday celebrated on dates where the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits in the current year.

For example, the last square root day was Feb. 2, 2004, (2/2/04) and the next square root day is this Tuesday, 3/3/09.

The final square root day of the century will occur on Sept. 9, 2081.

So far, we have had square root days on 1/1/01, 2/2/04 and 3/3/09.

Look ahead, there will be celebrations on 4/4/16, 5/5/25, 6/6/36, 7/7/49, 8/8/64 and 9/9/81.

Square root day is a holiday that was begun and is promoted by Ron Gordon, a U.S. high school teacher in Redwood City, Calif.

One suggested way of celebrating the holiday is by eating square radishes, or other root vegetables cut into squares (the truly pedantic will point out that these would actually be cubes).

Of course you can drink root beet, tie some square knots orjust see squares.

Whatever you do – or don’t do – this is a fun exercise and helps keep math teachers sane. Or not.

Anyway, if this does nothing for you, then take heart, Metric Day (10/10) is months away but Pi Day (3/14) is right around the corner!

Money still greases the wheel

Think this new awareness of ethics has made much of an impact in Santa Fe? Think again.

According to The Associated Press, lobbyists have stayed busy over the year.

They have supplied concert tickets, dinner in New Orleans, travel to the Netherlands and handed out $1.6 million in campaign contributions.

Legislators and state officials, including staff in Gov. Richardson’s office, were on the receiving end of the largess.

Lobbyists and their clients spent almost $126,000 on meals, drinks, gifts, entertainment and special events from late April through the end of the year, according to the latest expenditure reports submitted with the secretary of state.

During that time, legislators attended interim study committee meetings around the state, conferences outside of New Mexico and held a brief special session in August.

Those expenditures brought the lobbying tab to almost $520,000 during 2008, according to an analysis of hundreds of lobbyist disclosure reports by The Associated Press. That’s down from about $658,000 spent in 2007, when the Legislature held a 60-day session – twice as long as the 2008 session. The bulk of lobbyist spending occurs during a legislative session.

Much more money went for political contributions.

Lobbyists, along with their employers, contributed $1.6 million to the campaigns of legislators, political parties and other political committees last year – almost twice as much as in 2007.

Nearly $1.5 million of the contributions were given from late April through December, a critical campaign time that included the June primary and November general election.

All 112 seats in the House and Senate were up for election in 2008. No state officers were running for election last year although some held fundraisers. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, for example, collected money for the 2010 gubernatorial race and her political action committee, which makes contributions to other candidates.

The largest campaign donor was a national labor union representing public employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, which gave $114,000. It gave to more than four-dozen legislative candidates and $30,000 of its contributions went to the state Democratic Party and $15,000 to a political committee affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.

There are a host of ethics reform proposals being considered this session, including limits on campaign contributions and a one-year cooling off period for ex-legislators before they can work as paid lobbyists.

Currently, there’s no restriction on how much an individual, company or other group can contribute to the campaigns of legislators and statewide officials such as governor and attorney general.

Steven Robert Allen, executive director of Common Cause in New Mexico, said he wasn’t surprised by the amount of lobbyist contributions “given the way our system works here in New Mexico.”