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What would you do with an extra day? With Leap Day, you have one

Thank Julius Caesar and the Catholics that you've got one extra day this year to do all those things you said you'd do if you had more time.

Pope Gregory XIII fixed the Julian calendar in 1582 and gave us the leap year system we still use to this day. The Gregorian calendar almost accurately accounts for the quarter day difference in a solar year and calendar year by tacking on one extra day every four years.

The universe has conspired to give you that extra time you've been crying for. What will you do with it? You've got 24 whole hours to tackle that mess you call a house, or actually get out and do something in the city you call home. You've got one whole day to take care of yourself or try that one thing you'd always said you'd do.

If you're drawing a blank as to what to do with your extra day, let us be your guide. Here are a few suggestions.

SEE YOUR CITY

You read about cool things happening or new things opening, but you only get out to see your city when out-of-towners visit. Well, now you've got a whole day to see all that stuff you've been meaning to check out.

A tour of the murals of St. Petersburg is just one offered by the PedalPub, a group bike that is also a rolling bar.

"The primary thing we get is people who want to go to all the new breweries in downtown," says Drew Pomeroy, PedalPub manager. "We also try and capitalize on the new murals all over. People really enjoy that."

For more athletic cyclists, there's also a waterfront tour that passes landmarks such as the Salvador Dali Museum.

"There's a little bit more exercise required for that one and generally our groups like to drink without getting too worn out," Pomeroy says.

Groups as small as eight can book the entire 16 seat bike, and individual seats are available for riders who don't have a crew. pedalpubstpete.com

Tampa residents have a whole new way to see downtown with the opening of the Yacht Starship Pirate Water Taxis this weekend. The 50-foot boats will be making 14 stops along the Tampa Riverwalk beginning at the Tampa Convention Center. Passengers can hop on and off or take the whole tour on one of three vessels, Pirate Pat, L'atitude Lindsey and Captain Jack. piratewatertaxi.com.

TREAT YOURSELF

You haven't had a manicure in months and the knots of tension in your shoulders can officially be called a defining feature. Use your extra day to de-stress by taking a spa day.

Spafinder Wellness 365's 2016 trends report says there were more than 22,000 spas in the United States making more than $16 billion annually in 2013. That equals a lot of choices. Apps such as Zeel help customers find massage therapists in their areas. And there are salons and spas on just about every corner.

The best way to find a salon is via recommendation from friends and family. For those whose whole circle is slumming it, try reading reviews on online review sites such as Yelp for the spas in your area.

If you'd like to get out and find a new spa the old-fashioned way, remember to assess the condition of the spa by how you're greeted upon entry, and by the cleanliness of open areas.

Spa trends for this year include some wild new frontiers including wellness festivals and adrenaline rush/Zen experiences, the Spafinder report says. Taking your extra day to treat yourself is just a few minutes of research away.

BE DARING

Remember how you wanted be a fighter pilot? Well you can still learn to fly, even if it's only for one day.

Tampa Bay Aviation and other local companies offer experiences for novices to train on the ground and then take to the skies with an instructor in a Cessna 172, Cirrus SR22 or a Robinson helicopter.

"We give about 15 minutes of on the ground instruction and then 45 minutes of flight time for the plane, or 30 minutes in the simulator and then 30 minutes of flight time in the helicopter," says Katie Gannon, a Tampa Bay Aviation employee studying for her pilot's license.

Customers go up and learn the maneuvers and even get to hold the controls solo for a time — an experience on many bucket lists.

"Banking a turn for the first time can be a little nerve-racking," Gannon says. "How long it takes to get comfortable up there just depends on the person."

Five to seven people a day have been making flight dreams come true at Tampa Bay Aviation this year, and up to three people can take the Cessna flight at a time.

"Our customers are divided half and half," says Michelle O'Keefe, another pilot in training at Tampa Bay Aviation. "Half of the customers are trying to prepare for commercial licensing for their careers and the other half are recreational people who have been thinking about learning to fly for fun or to improve their commutes."

Before booking a flight school, ask about its safety record and request the N-Number of the plane you'll be taking up. That will help you make sure the aircraft is registered and airworthy. Visit faa.gov/aircraftinquiry.

FINISH THAT NOVEL

Your fan fiction about when Harry Potter stumbled into Mordor has been collecting dust on your Tumblr for ages. There's no time like the present to turn that dream into your first book through the miracle of e-publishing. Who knows? You might be the next E. L. James.

Several sites are designed to help you format and price your book for sale to the masses. CNet says the key to getting your work out there is pricing it cheaply, making it good quality and creating an arresting cover.

Distributors such as Amazon have their own software, pricing and royalty rules, but the payoff gives you a global audience for the jewels of your mind.

Read all you can about self publishing platforms such as Lulu and Smashwords before choosing the partner that best fits your dream. Once you've picked your platform, remember that free books spread faster than all others and 99 cents is the price point that's most attractive to people looking to invest in a new writer, CNet says.

GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER

Tampa's Organizing Queen said Leap Day is the perfect excuse to reassess your mess.

"I tell my clients, stay focused," says Betty Arnold, 75, who was an administrative assistant organizing others before starting her own business after retiring.

Arnold's three S's are the key:

Schedule. Map out time on your planner to get organized.

Small. Pick manageable projects, one shelf or one drawer at time.

Specific. Stay focused on the task and don't let anything (children, phone, TV) distract you.

If you're going to do a project on Leap Day, Arnold recommends choosing the room that most troubles you. If they all trouble you, pick the bedroom.

"This is the place that needs to be organized for peace and quiet and rest and intimacy," Arnold says. "I recommend no electronics."

When organizing a room, start by bringing three boxes, Arnold says — a box for donations, a box for trash and a box for things that need to move.

"Touch everything in the room and decide if it's important in your life right now," she says.

Donate things you aren't using, trash things that are damaged and unusable and relocate things that have no business in the space you're organizing.

"If there's a good cup on your dresser, put it in the kitchen with the other cups," Arnold says.

But most importantly, stay in the room you are organizing until the job is done. That means bringing all the materials you need at the start. If it all becomes too much, call in a professional.

"There are more professionals now than there ever were and they have little time for cleaning or organizing," Arnold says. "A professional can help it make sense for you."

What would you do with an extra day? With Leap Day, you have one 02/23/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 4:49pm]
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