Editor's note: As of August 1, 1998, the e-dating scheme is obsolete and no longer in use, for reasons which are beyond the scope of this article. I won't tell if you use it, though.
First of all, I must warn you that the e-dating scheme is not a way to get girls or guys to go out with you. Still here? Good. Well, you ask, then qu'est-ce que c'est? I shall explain.
Back in 1994 I came up with the idea for a new calendar. (At this point in the text I was going to insert some interesting facts about calendars from the Oxford English Dictionary. Unfortunately, I'd probably get harassed for doing that, so.) I decided my calendar would keep the same structure as the Gregorian one (the one used today in the West) but that it'd have a different base. Id est, our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus Christ (whom, I am told, I resemble); I decided my calendar was to be based on the discovery of e. Yes, you heard me, the letter e.
That November day in H-Anatomy and Physiology, I set the date of the discovery of my favorite letter at April 1, 1991. Now, as best as I can remember, e was actually discovered on Easter of that year, but I figured starting at day 1 of some month was easier to calculate than some other day. A few years later I bothered to check when Easter occurred that year--and it happened to be March 31. So it's pretty damn close regardless. (Eventually I'll get around to writing A Brief History of e, so this'll all be clearer.)
Consequently [Kralor hates that word] April 1, 1991 became the first day of the first month of the first year in what I called the Age of e. "Age of e" is abbreviated "ae" or "[ae]" (pronounced ay-ee), and always comes before the date. "ae" can also stand for "anno e," if you prefer. Even "advent of e" is alright. Dates before April 1, 1991 are in the period "Before e" or "[be]".
So the new year falls on April 1, which is nice because when you yell "Happy New Year!" people'll just laugh it off as an April Fool's joke. Coincidentally, the old Julian calendar, supplanted in 1582, also had its new year on April 1.
So there are a couple different ways to write down a date. Personally I always use year.month.day format, like the Japanese do, because it seems logical to me. For example, today's date (April 4, 1998) can be written as
corresponding to Year 8, Month 1, Day 4. "[ae]8.1.4" is just as valid but I prefer the leading zeroes. In general, nowadays I tend to leave off the "[ae]", as in 8.01.04. Another nice way to write it, so you don't have to remember the month number, is simply 8 April 4th, or 8 Apr 4 or 8.Apr.4.
Note that for any year 1991 or later, you can just subtract 1990 and get the e-year as long as it's at least April. So for 1991 to 1999 you can just take the last digit. If it's January, February or March, just take that last digit and subtract 1. Don't worry--these things become second nature when you do them for four years or so. Another example, this time February 5, 1993 (my sister's 8th birthday):
OK. Dates before e came onto the scene are a little more tricky. I decided not to have a year zero, which slightly complicates things but is consistent with the Gregorian calendar. Besides, the year zero before e doesn't make much sense, because, well, I just don't like it. So the years before e start with one. That means April 1, 1990 is
Equivalently you can write just [be]1.Apr.01 or [be]1 April 1. In fact, if your ass is as lazy as mine, you can write a minus sign instead of the [be] like so: -1.01.01. That fits in nicely with dropping the [ae]. You know, negative, positive, and all that cacalaca.
These years are calculated by subtracting 1991 (not 1990!) because of the missing zero year. If you think of "[be]" years as negative, which they are (how can years without e be positive? Well?) then the calculation works like the [ae] years, where you have to subtract 1 if the month is between January and March. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention--to get the month number is really simple; it's probably easiest to just start with April as 1 and count. Yes, you can subtract, but it's a bother. I just memorized the damn numbers. Ahem. Let's do a simple example, May 20, 1977 (my birthday):
1977 - 1991 = -14
May is month 2
20 is day 20, of course
or [be]14 May 20
Personally, I almost always write the Japanese/Chinese ideogram for the day of the week directly after the date; i.e. monday is moon, tuesday is fire, and so on. So you'd better go learn Japanese right now so's you can use this system!
There you have it, the e-dating system. Kakkoii, ne. Yep, I thought so.