One of the meteorologists on The Weather Channel this morning mentioned, in passing, that today's date is 10-11-12 (or 10/11/12); and it is, for people who write dates that way.

I hadn't noticed the consecutive numbers until I heard it on TV. But why would I? I don't write dates that way. I would write today's date as 10/11/2012 or 2012-10-11. If I wrote out the name of the month, today would be 11 October 2012.

When I was working as a designer for military applications, the standard way of writing dates in each drawing's revision block was "YYYY-MM-DD", which is very logical when you are reading dated notes. And dates written that way sort nicely if you put them in a spreadsheet or database.

Back in the 1980's, I worked in the stockroom of an electronics factory. When new stock came in, we wrote the arrival date on the boxes so we could rotate the stock properly. This, my friends, is where I learned about the shortcomings inherent in excessive shorthand when it comes to dates.

I started working at that job in the fall of 1980. There was still a lot of stuff on the shelves from the 1970's. So a date like 9/15/79 wouldn't be out of the question as something to be seen on the shelves. By the late 1980's, the 1979 stuff was probably gone. But one or two of my co-workers had shortened their dates further by dropping the decade digit, frustrating me immensely. They would write "9/15/7" instead of "9/15/87", apparently not believing that anything could be around long enough for that to be confusing. I disagreed.

And now we are living just after the turn of a century. People are living longer. A hundred years isn't what it used to be. So I always write the full year: 10/11/2012, not 10/11/12. (Which 12? 1912? 2012? 1812?)

Of course if you aren't in the U.S.A., you may very well write it "11/10/2012", and so your consecutive date would be on 10 November this year.

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