Pretty much my only goal now is to live to see the next unambiguous date.

To usher in the Christmas season, I took a swig of egg nog last night, only to notice that the expiry date printed on the carton was "10-01-09." Assuming this was Canadian nog, that means it expired on the 10th of January, 2009, and I should probably head on down to the hospital for the stomach suck special right frickin' now. But if it was of American provenance, then it went bad on or about October 1st, 2009, and I should merely plan to spend my day within range of the commode. However, if this was old-country nog from Europe, then I can safely continue nogging it up until the 9th of January in the new year. (Unless the 10 actually refers to 1910 and I have in my possession a very rare and valuable nog -- and am also dead before arrival.)

This is a very bad decade for date formats, and the next won't be much better. How much cumulative brainpower will be wasted attempting to parse inscrutable noggy dates? I'm nearly to the point of patronizing only those establishments that issue receipts using the "17-DEC-09," or "2009-12-17," or even "Thursday, December 17, 2009" formats. Few do.

But if I can just make it to January 13th, 2032, the ambiguity of dates will finally cease, if only for a few weeks. For, on that date, and no earlier, all formats will be clear:

  • 13-01-32 (Canadian)
  • 01-13-32 (American)
  • 32-01-13 (ISO European)
  • 13-32-01 (Mystic Order of Nog)

Assuming Arabic numerals, the twelve Gregorian months, and a Common Era that commences approximately with the birth of an influential east Mediterranean prophet, then there can be no confusion: the year must be 32, or 2032, and once that is chosen, the day of the month must be the 13th, leaving only the month, 1, or January. Ta da!

I should be just shy of retirement on that glorious day -- assuming that Extra Foods does import its nog from overseas -- and still competent enough to enjoy the rush of unequivocalness.


Okay, well I suppose the earlier January 31st, 2031, is also unambiguous, since you wouldn't need to know which 31 was the year and which was the day of the month.

Archived Comments

  1. Meandering Michael on 20091217.Thursday:
    I'm waiting for 10-10-10, 11-11-11, and 12-12-12.
  2. noah on 20091217.Thursday:
    That reminds me of an episode of Fear Factor, where they ate reindeer balls and drank 100 year old eggnog. Where they got eggnog of this vintage from has always puzzled me.
  3. Dave on 20091217.Thursday:
    Michael: I'm waiting for 01-23-45, another unambiguous date in late January, 2045. Less nog, more jog, if I'm to last that long. Noah: my guess is that they picked it up from the nearest convenience store. If you spend any length of time in one, it's amazing what you can find. In high-school, a friend told us to get "anything" for him when we ran to the corner store. "Anything" turned out to be a Santa-shaped chocolatey marshmallow lollipop -- in May -- and an old can of Tab that seemed to have rolled under the cooler.