A real extra day – that doesn’t involve groundhogs - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

A real extra day – that doesn’t involve groundhogs

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Mark J. Scarp is a contributing columnist for the Tribune. Reach him at mscarp1@cox.net.

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Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:59 am | Updated: 9:50 am, Wed Feb 29, 2012.

As it is a leap year, 2012 has an extra day that occurs this week, Feb. 29, which doesn’t mean that your life got a day longer (sorry) but your year and your month definitely did.

So, what are you going to do with an entire 24 hours you don’t get three-fourths of the time? From Leap Year headquarters in Twentynine Palms, Calif. (I just made that up, the headquarters, that is, not the town, which is real), here’s a list of possibilities:

• You could go to any number of Presidents’ Day sales, which from the commercials are positioned to continue until Easter.

• Go buy a house, as fewer of them are available to buy. Sales are up, Arizona State University real estate experts report, foreclosures down.

• Pick whatever citrus is still on your trees, even though you are trying to talk your co-workers into taking a third bag of it home. Popping up soon will be their sweet-smelling blossoms, as much a symbol of March here as baseball (see below) or making that appointment for your air conditioner’s annual tune-up.

• You can’t control gas prices, in part because the job of changing those numbers on the signs in front of the stations is always taken by someone else. (A frequent set of joke photos on the Internet has “arm,” “leg” and “first-born child” replacing dollar prices for “unleaded,” “plus” and “premium.”)

So buy gas more wisely, because (sorry again) you’re driving an extra day this month. But frugality at the pump doesn’t do much good if you fail to give much thought to other things you might be throwing money away on.

A comment tossed out the other day on one of the local morning TV shows was surprisingly pithy: It doesn’t do you much good to drive across town to save 10 cents a gallon when after filling up you go inside and buy a $2 bottle of water.

• Look for a new job. Unemployment and new jobless claims are going down. But the jobs that are becoming available are understandably highly sought after; laid-off workers who have given up looking may well be persuaded to start. And people tend to hit the streets to job-hunt in nice weather and some experts say they avoid doing it when it turns cold and rainy. That’s not going to do us much good in the Valley; if you followed that advice, the way the weather’s going, no one’s going to read your resume until the monsoon starts in July.

• The tulips may be beautiful in the upper Midwest and the hibiscus may be gorgeous in Hawaii, but here in the Arizona desert, get out and see the wildflowers. They’re not just in the photos in Arizona Highways; this time of year they really carpet in the desert just outside of town (and many front yards). My Facebook pages contain beautiful pictures of our lush desert scenes submitted by friends who ordinarily can’t stop talking about their kids and pets (not necessarily in that order), so you know this is a big deal.

• Buy some spring training tickets, that is, whatever the winter visitors haven’t snapped up, as the season starts Friday and continues through April 4. Don’t like baseball much? Neither do a lot of people who go to these games, which is more of a rite of spring, sun, breezes, delicious ballpark food your doctor says you shouldn’t eat, people-watching, and (here’s a lost art) conversation.

Baseball’s a sport that either requires a riveted gaze on every square foot of the field, or a turned head every several minutes for a long fly ball. If you’re the latter kind of person, bring a friend you haven’t caught up with in a while and catch up under a blue sky in perhaps the most signature setting in Arizona south of the Grand Canyon.

• If you have a February expiration on your car’s license plate registration, you have one more day to pay the fee, or if you have an older car, get its emissions tested. (Lucky you.)

Our leap day will come and go and look like any other day, but it isn’t. It makes 2012 add up to 366 days. And for this month at least, you get your wish if you’ve ever hoped that if you were given just one more day, you could get done all the things you need to do, like….

• Do your taxes. (OK, not yet.)

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