Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

11/11/11 celebrated as a once-in-a-century event

Tomorrow’s date will have a lot of ones in it, and Ronald Gordon, a retired high school teacher from Redwood, Calif., has noticed.

Gordon, a creator of websites and contests, urges everyone to appreciate the upcoming once-in-a-century date 11/11/11, saying it’s a day that comes around only “ones upon a time.”

Because there is no 22nd month on the calendar, 11/11/11 is also the only double-figure palindromic date, in which the number reads the same backwards and forwards.

To celebrate a day he sees as mathematically and historically significant, Gordon is holding a contest for the best short story or poem with the beginning words: “Ones Upon A Day.” The contest has been running since Oct. 21 and will end on Nov. 22, which is 11+11+11 days long.

He encourages people to enter their ideas and visions about this day into his contest for the grand prize of $1,111.11. Gordon said the winners will be divided among the best 11+11+11 entries. There is a Facebook event for the contest, which can be found by searching “Ones Upon A Day Contest.”

After the new millennium hit in 2000, mathematically-specific days like this have been occurring and Gordon has held a particular interest in spreading the word about these unusual dates. He has held contests on these numerical occurrences even before the year 2000.

On Sept. 9, 1981, Gordon challenged schools across the nation to make the largest square root symbol to embrace the significance that the square root of 81 is 9. Gordon was hoping students would make the symbol on something as large as a football field but he did not get any takers for the challenge.

His ambitions to see numbers around the world do not stop there. Gordon has produced several websites depicting all of these wacky mathematical days of the year including and

He also is looking ahead a few decades towards days such as “Romeo and Juliet Day,” on Jan. 2, 2035.

“The math purists have a quarter century to brace themselves for Romeo and Juliet Day on 1/2/35,” he said, as the question of “where four art thou?” arises in the numerical sequence of the date.

Gordon explained how the contests began to grow and span to all kinds of demographics, noting how a kindergarten class won his contest for “Odd Day” on 5/7/09.

One of his favorite math days was when Groundhog Day landed on 2/2/04, another occurrence of Gordon’s “square root day.”

“We cut roots of mundane and goofy vegetables into squares (alright, cubes!) and Fed-Ex’d them to the folks who fed, handled and presented Groundhog Phil,” said Gordon.

On that same day, Gordon went to great lengths of effort to contact the CBS sports broadcasters of the Super Bowl just before 2/2/04. Hoping they would mention what he saw as a major math day. Gordon said, “They broke my heart with a nary nod, but I did give it my best shot.”

Some students around campus did not find Gordon’s mathematical revelations as exhilarating as he did. Sophomore Jeremy Roche says, “I’m going to treat it just like any other day.”

However, James Perrault and Dylan Rayburg believe there will be exactly 11 stages of absolute craziness on this day. Gordon encourages students such as these to enter their ideas and visions into his contest of what is to come upon us at this date for the grand prize of $1,111.11.

Presumably many people make wishes when the clock strikes 11:11 for urban legend suggests it is the luckiest time of the day.

“I’m going to wish big that day,” says sophomore Devin Dondero.

A discouraged James Matthews said, “Every single wish I have made at 11:11 has never come true.”

Gordon claims he is not a man of many wishes, however the only thing he plans to wish for on Nov. 11 at 11:11 is that he will be around next century to see another “Ones Upon A Day.”

Brittney Figueira can be reached at [email protected].

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