The Earth is indeed a well-traveled ball of rock and iron. Since New Year's Day 2012, all seven billion of us have traveled 940 million kilometers in a great oval around the sun. For our home planet, that's 940 million kilometers every year for the past 4.6 billion years. Bear this in mind the next time you bitch about having to drive a few miles to the grocery store.
We begin our next long journey today, New Year's Day. As with so many of the features of our modern calendar, the Romans came up with the idea of starting the year anew in the month of January, named for the god Janus. But January 1 wasn't always the start of the new year. By the Middle Ages, the Roman calendar was forgotten and the new year began on December 25, March 1, or even Easter Sunday, whenever that happened to be.
Pope Gregory helped straighten the whole thing out (guess who the Gregorian calendar is named for) in 1582. Gradually countries across Europe adopted January 1 as the start of the new year, and the Gregorian calendar in general.
January is National Mentoring Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Polka Month and National Soup Month. This month we observe Universal Letter-Writing Week, Snowmobile Safety and Awareness Week and No Name-Calling Week...you losers.
Notable baseball birthdays this month include A.J. Burnett (January 3, 1977), J.P. Arencibia (January 5, 1986), Jeff Francoeur (January 8, 1984), Mike Pelfrey (January 14, 1984), Albert Pujols (January 16, 1980), Brett Lawrie (January 18, 1990), Andres Torres (January 26, 1978) and Julio Teheran (January 27, 1990).