The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, Debtember 23, 2003

A tunnel from the past

Subject: FAU Steam Tunnels?
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 10:45:39 +0000

Greetings, I stumbled across an ancient post of your's via the powers of Google while searching for information on the FAU steam tunnels:


I then used Google once again to find your apparently current e-mail and decided to contact you. I am an “Urban Explorer” living in Miami, FL. I run the website Urban Exploration Florida ( Check out the site if you want a bit more background on what I do and to check out some pictures.

Anyways, a friend of mine stumbled across this map of the FAU tunnel system:


I was quite suprised as I had given up all hope of finding steam tunnels anywhere in FL due to us being so close to sea level. Well anyways, since you have apparently been in these tunnels at some point I was hoping you may be able to provide some information on them before I make the hour long drive up there to see them for myself. Any info at all would be greatly appreciated such as how you got in, at what time of day did you go, did you run into anyone while down there, how tight is security on campus, do they have any motion detectors or camera's in the tunnels, etc. It seem's that it's been quite a while since you were there, but a bit of old info is better than no info at all.

The Internet never forgets.

Not that I mind. I think this is great.

It was 10 years ago when a group of us descended into the tunnel system at FAU for a night of exploring. We weren't the first (we found graffiti from 1976) and we definitely aren't going to be the last. And the guy's site, Urban Exploration Florida, is quite interesting.

Can't wait for him to get his trip to the FAU tunnel system documented.

Update on Wednesday, Debtember 31st, 2003

Commentary and pictures are now available.

Leap Day … it's not the day you think it is

I don't recall exactly how the conversation turned towards leap days, but it did. I think it may have been something to do with birthdays and being born on February 29th, the 29th being the leap day once every four years.

“But it's not,” I said. “It's actually February 24th.”

“How is it the 24th and not the 29th?” asked Spring.

“It has something to do with the Roman calendar,” I said. “But I'll have to find it on the Calendar FAQ.”

And here it is, from the Calendar FAQ, § 2.7.1:

2.7.1. How did the Romans number days?

The Romans didn't number the days sequentially from 1. Instead they had three fixed points in each month:

“Kalendae” (or “Calendae”), which was the first day of the month.

“Idus”, which was the 13th day of January, February, April, June, August, September, November, and December, or the 15th day of March, May, July, or October.

“Nonae”, which was the 9th day before Idus (counting Idus itself as the 1st day).

The days between Kalendae and Nonae were called “the 5th day before Nonae”, “the 4th day before Nonae”, “the 3rd day before Nonae”, and “the day before Nonae”. (There was no “2nd day before Nonae”. This was because of the inclusive way of counting used by the Romans: To them, Nonae itself was the first day, and thus “the 2nd day before” and “the day before” would mean the same thing.)

Similarly, the days between Nonae and Idus were called “the Xth day before Idus”, and the days after Idus were called “the Xth day before Kalendae (of the next month)”.

Julius Caesar decreed that in leap years the “6th day before Kalendae of March” should be doubled. So in contrast to our present system, in which we introduce an extra date (29 February), the Romans had the same date twice in leap years. The doubling of the 6th day before Kalendae of March is the origin of the word “bissextile”. If we create a list of equivalences between the Roman days and our current days of February in a leap year, we get the following:

7th day before Kalendae of March 23 February
6th day before Kalendae of March 24 February
6th day before Kalendae of March 25 February
5th day before Kalendae of March 26 February
4th day before Kalendae of March 27 February
3rd day before Kalendae of March 28 February
the day before Kalendae of March 29 February
Kalendae of March 1 March

You can see that the extra 6th day (going backwards) falls on what is today 24 February. For this reason 24 February is still today considered the “extra day” in leap years (see section 2.3). However, at certain times in history the second 6th day (25 Feb) has been considered the leap day.

Why did Caesar choose to double the 6th day before Kalendae of March? It appears that the leap month Intercalaris/Mercedonius of the pre-reform calendar was not placed after February, but inside it, namely between the 7th and 6th day before Kalendae of March. It was therefore natural to have the leap day in the same position.

So there you go … February 24th is the leap day, not the 29th.

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