The Periodic Calendar’s Maker Faire Debut

After two days of exhibiting the Periodic Calendar at World Maker Faire in New York, it ended up taking five days for my voice to come back!  But that’s what happens when you talk pretty much non-stop for eighteen hours.  This was my first time being part of Maker Faire and I took it seriously when the schedule called it “SHOWTIME”, for a show is what I tried to give the wonderfully smart, curious and friendly crowd this remarkable event brings in.


If you’ve never heard of it before, Maker Faire is the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth”.  A manifestation of DIY culture with a heavy technological bent, makers are the new garage bands.  And as we were getting started on Saturday morning, I was a little intimidated looking around at my neighbors.  3D printers were spitting objects out in every direction, Google was a few spaces down, NASA was around the corner and there I was talking about something printed on a piece of paper.


Why was I at Maker Faire?  …  Because I’m a conceptual maker.  While I might not be handy with tools and can pretty much guarantee that anything I take apart is done for, I love deconstructing ideas as much as I enjoy putting them back together again.  In fact, I’m driven by the idea that humanity’s problems are mainly in our head at this point.   So lack of hardware aside, I felt like P-Cal fit right in with the diverse range of innovative works being showcased at the New York Hall of Science last weekend.


…  Or so I continued to explain to wave after wave of visitors.  The first two hours I thought I was going to pass out from the combination of nervous excitement, a fruit smoothie and a tight hat.  Eventually I got the hang of speaking in a loop.  I found myself in the midst of a verbal marathon, complete with the buzz of a time ball two spaces to my left announcing the top of each hour.

A few hours into it and I couldn’t imagine stopping.  It didn’t matter if there was one person standing in front of me or twenty, everyone that came close got a sincere earful about what I’ve learned so far in the process of creating and exploring the Periodic Calendar over the last year.


The crowd was full of questions too and it was particularly fun helping kids find their birth elements.  What year was most common?  1999.  Yep, fourteen year olds and younger were taking to the Periodic Calendar like fish to water.  Watching their faces light up as they got how P-Cal flips around our perspective of time, I felt like a magician.

There were plenty of adults with big smiles on their faces too when the revolutionary/ridiculous simplicity of P-Cal hit them, from the Englishman who was taught to always include the day of the week with the date back in school to the mathematician who just said “Yeah” about a millisecond into my explanation.   And of course some reported not understanding a word of what came out of my mouth, although I assured them that the Periodic Calendar is the last calendar they’ll need for a reason.  It takes seconds to learn, but will perhaps require decades to get the hang of.

By the end of the day on Sunday, I was ready to collapse.  But as if all the interactions and all the new P-Cal Pioneers roaming the Earth weren’t enough, I was surprised by two honors that absolutely made my day.  I knew the Maker Faire audience enjoyed the show, but would the Maker community think I was truly a fit?  Happily the answer to this question was made clear when I was bestowed with ribbons for Editor’s Choice and Educator’s Choice by the staff of Make magazine!


I couldn’t ask for much more than that and when asked if they would see me next year, my answer was a resounding “Yes!”  I learned so much this first outing that I’ve already got a bunch of new ideas for next year’s presentation.  And hopefully I’ll get a spot as part of the mother ship of all Maker Faires in the Bay Area next May!

Thanks again to my co-pilot Cara, to everyone who came out and to everyone at Maker Faire for making it such an incredible experience.

P-Cal Fun at the Mensa Annual Gathering

While there has been radio silence here on the blog over the last three months, behind the scenes it has been anything but quiet.  After spending April digging into the implications of the Periodic Calendar on our perspective of history, I dedicated May and June to the development of the hour-long presentation I had been invited to give at the Mensa Annual Gathering in July down in Fort Worth, TX.


Although my fifteen minute presentation at Electric Works earlier this year was a fantastic experience, this appearance at Mensa was my first long form talk and there was more than a little pressure involved with preparing to face an audience from a high IQ society.  Over two months I developed a little over 150 slides of material before paring it down to a fast and fun 120.  It covered everything from my history of making calendars and the history of calendars themselves to a thorough breakdown of the Periodic Calendar system, comparing and contrasting it with our current calendar, before closing with a finale centered on our misguided history of talking about history.  And despite being quite nervous leading up to it, once I got in the room, all of my preparation paid off and I found myself excited to be back in front of a crowd talking about one of my creations.


Happily, I not only survived the trial by fire of the Mensa brain trust who turned out for the show, but got a strong, warm response in reply.  There were a lot of questions in the crowd and the discussion continued for quite a while afterwards as a few Mensans hung around to get into some finer points of the Periodic Calendar with my six foot display copy.  Of course I was already warmed up for such a conversation after spending the day at a table talking to folks as they went back and forth between other events at the Annual Gathering.  This crowd definitely “got” the Periodic Calendar and I had a blast engaging with such a smart and friendly bunch of people.


What’s next?!  Well, I returned home hungry to hit the road again and am pleased to announced that my wish has already been granted.  The Periodic Calendar has been accepted as an exhibit at the World Maker Faire next month in New York and you better believe we’ll be there!!!  Get your tickets today and stay tuned for more details once we know where the P-Cal table will be situated at the Greatest Show and Tell on Earth!

April, Historically Speaking

Without compiling the events for the other eleven months, it’s difficult to say how one month will stand out in comparison.  After a month of working with April’s history, however, I’m not surprised T.S. Eliot called it the cruellest month.

April is not only home to the Boston Marathon bombing, but also the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres.  It’s the month that has seen the Titanic sink, Martin Luther King, Jr. get assassinated and Chernobyl melt down.

It’s also quite a month for wars involving the United States…

April-US-Wars-700(click to enlarge)

Not that it’s all bad.  As most of the months will certainly be, April is a mixed bag.  It’s the month that we first heard about the double helix structure of DNA, and completed the Human Genome Project.  In April, Albert Hofmann pedaled his bike into new dimensions during the first LSD trip and CIA director Allen Dulles launched the MKULTRA mind-control project.  Fidel Castro first declared himself to be at war with Cuba in April and is also the month he eventually resigned from the Communist Party of Cuba.  April is when the United States made the Louisiana Purchase from France, bought Alaska from Russia and welcomed Hawaii as a territory.  Not to mention that it’s the month that Nixon released the Watergate tapes and Bush and Cheney had their unrecorded hearing on 9/11 in the Oval Office.

It also seems to be a busy month in the history of space exploration…

April-SpaceHistory-700(click to enlarge)

… though we’ll need more data to say.

No month will ever be defined by a single event nor even a group of them, but what can be said for the months, historically speaking?  Looking at a single day in history feels like having blinders on and I hope in the coming months to continuing laying out our past within the new format of the Periodic Calendar.

What will May be like?  Stay tuned!

This Week in History w/P-Cal – Week³ of April

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve tried to start a series with “This Week” leading off the title.  The first was an experiment with headlines from the New York Times I did last summer and which had completely slipped my mind when I started working on This Week in History with the Periodic Calendar a month ago.  Obviously I want to organize information in time…  I’m just working out the format and focus it will take.

Anyway, below I’ve included some events from week3 of April, but now that I’m working with a sample of historical data for the whole month of April, a week suddenly seems as paltry a portion as “This Day in History” seemed to me last month.

April-Week3_700(click to enlarge)

Rather than weekly posts, this might turn into a monthly endeavor and eventually, I’ll go ahead and call it now, a landmark coffee table book.

By further expanding our scope and focusing on sagas from Aprils past, we get a sample of what lies ahead…

April-Sagas-700(click to enlarge)

While the particular day of the week an event occurred on isn’t always conceptually significant, a stable chart would seem to trump an inconsistent one every day of the week.  Below we have the same events as portrayed by 2013 calendars.  Note that only the Titanic’s story remains in place, due to 1912 being a Tuesday Year, just like 2013.

April-Sagas-regcal-700(click to enlarge)

Next year of course, 2014 calendars will tell a completely different story, whereas the chart based on the Periodic Calendar remains the same no matter what year it is.

This Week in History w/P-Cal – Week² of April

I don’t know if I’ve got the time and resources to continue the video portion of this weekly presentation…

… but am going to work to keep these charts going at very least.  Anyone interested in where this is going, here’s a taste in the form of the first two weeks of April’s historical timeline as never seen before…

April-TwoWeeks-sm(click to enlarge)

This Week with the Periodic Calendar (or, Dear World, I Think I Might Have Broken Your Calendar)

I knew from the beginning that the Periodic Calendar would disagree with our current calendar on birthdays and anniversaries in most years, but when considering one date at a time, it seemed more like a technicality in P-Cal’s favor than a reason to get out the pitchforks. As soon as I started looking at whole weeks of history, however, the inconsistent nature of our old calendar suddenly became a problem for which the Periodic Calendar seemed to be the solution.

… Or at least, that’s what it looks like to me.  Though I believe that the Periodic Calendar truly represents a new way to look at time, I’m still learning about it myself.  In an attempt to highlight the ramifications of this new calendar system, this week I am excited to present the pilot episode of a series in which we will explore both history and the Periodic Calendar a week at a time…

The quickest way to see the difference is to line up this week as represented by each calendar…


With our regular calendar, we only see one dimension of the week.  Mention April 1st and Monday April 1st represents them all, ignoring the fact that most years April 1st is not a Monday.  Meanwhile, the Periodic Calendar captures this lost information via the band of Gregorian Isotopes running across each element.  The isotopes tell us what day of the month each element exists as given the type of year.  2013 is a Tuesday Year and so you’ll notice that this week according to our old calendar, ie. April 1st-7th, is represented by the orange isotopes.

Now consider the historical events laid out in the video as represented by the Periodic Calendar…


… and compare it to how our regular calendar would place the same events in 2013.


The events in orange originally happened in a Tuesday Year, so they match in both versions.  However, in 2014, our old calendar will move every event to a new day of the week and it will be the Wednesday Year events that line up.


In total, there will be seven different versions of history created along the way, whereas with the Periodic Calendar, the arrangement stays the same no matter what year it is…


While initially it might seem meaningless to worry about what particular day of the week something happened on, which day of the week would you rather have a holiday on, Wednesday or Friday?  Would you rather tomorrow was Saturday or Monday?  When you think about it, we are able to derive far more information from the day of the week than our ever-shifting days of the month could ever offer.

For more on the conceptual importance of the day of the week in regard to an historical event, check out my post about Pearl Harbor.  Otherwise, stay tuned for episode two and see if I figure out how to explain it all better next week!

P-Cal Lands a Full Page in the SF Chronicle

The Periodic Calendar’s debut in the printed press has manifested in the form of a full page feature in the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Super Bowl Sunday Style section!

P-Cal in the SF Chron sm

I had a great talk with reporter Patricia Yollin after the Electric Works’ presentation, and though I stole a little of the spotlight with mentions of my other exploits, P-Cal was the star of the show!

From the article:

Joey Sellers has been obsessed with time for as long as he can remember. Now he has created something he considers timeless: the Periodic Calendar.

“This is the last calendar you’ll ever need,” Sellers said.

He could be right. Modeled on the familiar Periodic Table of Elements, Sellers’ colorful invention has rewired the Gregorian calendar. It attempts to look at the fourth dimension in a new way and strays far afield from a conventional calendar.

For starters, there are seven types of years, categorized according to which day of the week they begin. Year types repeat in a 400-year pattern, and days of the month are represented by Gregorian isotopes.

“It’s a perpetual calendar,” Sellers said. “We have the rest of our lives to figure it out.”

Even if it leads to perpetual confusion, that shouldn’t matter, according to Sellers. “It’s awesome to look at,” he said in a video. “Whether you use it or not, it’s going to look good on the wall 365 days a year. Sometimes even 366.”

Read the rest at SFGate!

It Was Electric!

After eighteen years of writing and making things to little avail, the presentation at Electric Works was like arriving at a forgotten destination.  Me in front of people talking coherently about something I created?  It doesn’t sound like the reality I know, yet according to multiple reports, that is what happened on Sa³ Jan 19 here in San Francisco.

What I can objectively confirm is that the 6 foot vinyl banner of the Periodic Calendar was a mighty sight to behold.  Also, my chalkboard display breaking down how many three-day weekends the federal holidays yield in the seven types of years completely betrayed the fact that my handwriting is generally a poor show.

EW materials

And look, … people!  …  Awake people!  …  It was standing room only!


Of course that picture was taken before the crowd got angry and started chanting “Heretic!” while throwing fruit and vegetables at me for claiming that there are 438 elements representing 365/6 so-called days.  …  Aside from that however, the audience remained not only friendly and alert, but were brimming with questions about the inner workings of the Periodic Calendar.

Thanks again to everyone who came out and to Electric Works for hosting this inaugural event.  Based on the interest in what has been unearthed about the calendar in the first few weeks of its existence, it seems I’m not alone in thinking the Periodic Calendar has some surprising and perhaps even valuable insights and perspectives to offer the world.  I look forward to sharing more, both in person and here on the site, as we continue to explore this new way to look at time.

Meanwhile, we wait with baited breath to find out what the San Francisco Chronicle, who was also in attendance, thought of the proceedings.  Check out the SFiS section of the Su1 Feb 3 paper to read the verdict!

Monday’s Child

Monday’s Child, a fortune-telling nursery rhyme from 1838, a Monday Year…

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.


Saturday’s child couldn’t make it.

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