A missed bill payment was the a-ha moment Thomas Sherman was looking for.
Since childhood, Sherman said he’s been frustrated with the traditional Gregorian calendar and the seemingly random setup of months with 30 days, 31 days and February with 28 or 29.
“It makes no sense right now,” said 30-year-old Sherman, who has shaggy hair and a medium-length beard. “I just wanted to make sense of it all.”
That late payment told Sherman that there needs to be uniformity in the calendar. And that’s how his Seasonal Calendar was born.
The new Seasonal Calendar has 36 days per month broken down into four nine-day weeks. The days of the week are named after the eight planets and Pluto, which was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.
Sherman’s calendar features five seasons – spring, summer, autumn, fall and winter. Each is 73 days. Since each month has 36 days, there is a midpoint day between the months. He says it’s a day to take stock of what happened so far that season and where you want to go by the end of the season.
So how did Sherman arrive at 73-day seasons?
“Three hundred sixty-five only has two base units – five and 73,” he said. “It seems like a dead end because those are unworkable units, but it breaks down to be either 73 five-day periods or five 73-day periods.”
It wasn’t until Sherman sat down with a traditional calendar and started numbering days, starting from the winter solstice, that he realized what he’d discovered.
“It was just amazing how it broke down,” he said.
In Sherman’s calendar, winter ends March 3, spring runs to May 15, summer goes until July 28 and then the new season, autumn, lasts until Oct. 8.
“Watermelon and sweet corn are coming in; it’s hurricane season,” Sherman said about the new season, a time that’s seemingly different from the first half of traditional summer.
Fall then runs through Dec. 20.
“It all kind of aligned, and that’s when it got really serious in trying to figure out how to make these five 73-day units into an actual thing,” Sherman said. “I worked out this underlying system and started getting more and more people involved.”
The collection of friends, family and colleagues is a think tank called Galvin Industries LLC. “The theme has always been communication,” he said. “One of the things about [the traditional] calendar is the constant need to clarify communications. It just takes up so much time and energy. You can’t say let’s meet the 25th of every month because it’s constantly shifting.”
In Sherman’s calendar, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays would be set to a certain day of the week and would never float.
Frustration with the calendar goes back to Sherman’s childhood in Alexandria, Va. “I had a whiteboard in my room, which was great because I wanted to always plan out a week or a month,” he said. “But then you have to redo it every month since a week is seven days. That’s a prime number, and you can't do stuff in even periods of time. It’s just kind of madness to me.”
Sherman has filed a patent application on the new calendar and is waiting to hear back from the patent office.
There are repercussions if Sherman’s calendar were to take off. One being what do businesses do with a nine-day work week? “It’s up to businesses to decide what they really want to do,” he said. “I think a nine-day week would work well insofar as you could do a six-day work week and a three-day weekend.”
What about leap years? Sherman said it’s impossible to eliminate leap years because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. Where his calendar differs is that he would not include it in any month or season. It would just exist to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons.
He said it could be put pretty much anywhere in the calendar, but his preference would be in the middle of the summer season. “It’d be one of the longest days of the year,” he said. “Why are we adding an extra day in the winter?”
Sherman graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in finance and a minor in supply chain management. He also took so many geology classes that he was just shy of another minor.
Upon graduation, Sherman realized he could not afford the rents of the Washington D.C., metro area and moved to Fayetteville, Ark., which he researched and found to have the cheapest cost of living in America. After spending some time in Arkansas, he returned to D.C.
He again realized it was too expensive, even working as a government contractor, freelance writing and refurbishing furniture. “I was still barely breaking even,” he said. “It was unreal.”
A friend in Milton offered him a cheap place to live, so he moved to Delaware in 2015. He worked as a tour guide at Dogfish Head’s brewery and started MoonCat Comedy, a monthly open mic night at Rehoboth Ale House.
Standup comedy is another of Sherman’s passions. He started attending open mic nights while living in Arkansas. He’d travel as far as Oklahoma City and Albuquerque to do comedy. “I was the third of three kids, and I always followed my brothers’ footsteps,” he said. “I realized I had never done anything for myself. If I didn’t start trying, I’d probably freak out at 50 and buy a Corvette.”
When he moved to Delaware, he started hosting open mic nights with his roommate in their garage. Eventually, it grew too popular, and they had to find another location. “When I moved out here it was shocking that there weren’t any open mic nights,” he said. “I had been in Arkansas, Oklahoma and all these random little places that have open mics … it just didn’t make sense that there wasn’t anything around.”
MoonCat Comedy is a nonprofit organization. Unlike other open mic nights where the producer takes home all the money, Sherman deposits the money into an account. He uses it as prize money for the annual Funniest Person on Delmarva comedy contest, and whatever is left over will be used to promote comedy in the Cape Region.
“I just love comedy,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best forms of art and entertainment that you have, especially standup because it’s one of the only times the audience and the medium are fully interacting with each other.”
Sherman now lives in Georgetown with his girlfriend, who was initially skeptical of the calendar idea, but is now fully supportive. They recently added a dog to their family.
The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. It was developed as a correction to the Julian calendar. Source: Wikipedia