EVERETT — Jakob Rank talks a mile a minute. Dylan Rank hangs back. Jakob ribs his brother relentlessly. Dylan lets it bounce off.
If you didn’t know them, you wouldn’t necessarily know they were brothers, let alone fraternal twins.
Yet they were born one minute apart, one pound and one inch in difference between them, on Feb. 29, 2000, 16 years ago today.
Or maybe it was just four years ago, but who’s counting?
For leapling twins, you’d think they’d be even more alike than any other set of twins. But no.
Such as the two Everett High sophomores’ plans after graduation: “I want to be an astronomer,” Dylan said.
“I don’t know what I want to do,” Jakob said. When their mother, Diana Rank, prodded him, he offered up, “firefighter?”
Dylan’s into art, history and documentaries about World War II. Jakob: “I like food,” he said. “That’s what I like.”
Dylan offered up another difference between him and his brother: “He’s more like the person to go hang out, and I like to stay home.”
Jakob points out that Dylan plays video games about three times as much as he does. And that Dylan only listens to music that Jakob had already discovered.
Dylan counters that he, not Jakob, was the first to discover the hip-hop artist Tech N9ne.
Despite, or perhaps because of, their bickering, they come across as two normal teenagers whose circumstances of birth are no more remarkable than those of any of their peers.
“They’re pretty good kids,” Diana Rank said. “They don’t get into much trouble.”
Except for when, as toddlers, they would tear their bedroom apart, knocking over furniture and the like. Or when they got caught lighting matches in the car. Or, earlier this month, when Jakob skipped music class because he didn’t want to play piano in front of everyone.
“We really like getting in trouble together,” Jakob said.
“We’re good at football,” Dylan added. “We work together well as a team.”
The twins weren’t really aware of their unique birthdate until they were in middle school, although Diana or their grandfather would occasionally pull a “you have no birthday this year” prank on them when they were younger.
“They used to freak out,” Diana said.
Later, their birthdate was just a curiosity. “I thought it was different,” Dylan said. “I didn’t know there was a leap year right then and there.”
Now they just celebrate on the 28th in the regular calendar years, and the 29th is notable more by how other people react to it.
For example, Jakob’s reading teacher, Deidre Smith-Aikens. “She’s throwing me a birthday party in sixth period with bibs and binkies,” he said.
Or, if one of the teens got into an altercation with another student, a teacher might ask the other not to pick on the 3-year-old.
Or, Dylan said, he could turn the tables on the teaser: He’s a 3-year-old smart enough to be in the 10th grade. What’s the other kid’s excuse?
Diana Rank said she didn’t even know she was going to have twins until she was six months pregnant.
“It was a planned Caesarian,” she said. Three possible dates were given, but one filled up first, and the other one was almost a week later. That left the 29th.
Diana also has a second set of twins who turned 8 on Jan. 2, a boy and a girl named Wyatt and Nova Jean. They’re also quite different from each other, Diana said.
As technical 16-year-olds, Jakob and Dylan are more looking forward to the date when they get their driver’s licenses.
Jakob said he can’t wait, but Ms. Smith-Aikens is unrelenting in some of the teasing.
“Since I’m only going to be 4, she’s going to get a bus pass and stay off the road,” he said.
Other Local Leaplings
Edward Pack, 100 (or 25), is a retired Boeing engineer living in Mill Creek. He grew up on a cattle ranch in New Mexico and was a real cowboy, said his daughter, Elizabeth Demers.
“If you watched ‘Ponderosa,’ that’s pretty close,” Demers said.
Pack had a wrestling scholarship to Las Cruces College (now New Mexico State University) where he studied engineering. He drove to Seattle to work for Boeing immediately after college.
She added that he attributes his longevity to his youth spent in high altitudes and regular exercise, and he’s remained active in his community, and continues to usher at his church.
“His hearing isn’t that good, but his mind is still sharp,” she said.
Leap years aren’t as special, but in regular calendar years, he would celebrate on both Feb. 28 and March 1, Demers said.
“I think that’s what’s kept him young. He doesn’t think he’s as old as he is,” she said.
The family planned to celebrate his birthday Sunday at North Creek Presbyterian Church.
Elissa Blood, 36 (or 9), lives in Everett and writes children’s books under the pseudonym E.B. Jane. Her daughter also just celebrated her ninth birthday… nine days ago, Feb. 20.
“She’s having fun right now because technically she’s older than me,” Blood said last week.
She said she still needs to remind her, “I’m still 35 and your mother.”
Blood said that off-years aren’t very special, but she likes to go all out every leap year.
“The years I don’t have a real birthday are kind of ‘nyeah,’” she said.
But she likes to have age-appropriate parties for her “real” birthday.
“This time it’s extra special fun because I get to celebrate it with my daughter,” she said. She’s rented out a facility and expects more than 100 people to show up. Celebrating like a kid again is fun for the adults, too, she said.
“No clowns. Clowns are bad. But there will be lots of balloons and food and games,” she said.
History of leap years
Leap years are added to the calendar to account for the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun in 365.2422 days. The added day is to make the calendar line up with the seasons, or the tropical year, as it’s known. Otherwise, for example, the calendar would gradually fall out of alignment.
Having consistent calendars and seasons was important for many religions that time festivals to equinoxes or solstices. The Julian calendar, created in 46 B.C.E. by Roman dictator Julius Caesar, inserted one day every four years (usually by doubling Feb. 22 or 23), but that wasn’t enough to prevent observable slipping over the centuries.
The spring equinox, for example, was on March 23 in 46 B.C.E., but by the 16th century, the equinox had fallen back to March 11.
The new Gregorian calendar, created in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, introduced the new system of leap days, which added the most well-known exceptions: one day is added every four years, except those which are divisible by 100, when February has just 28 days — with the further exception of those years divisible by 400, which become a leap year after all. This is why the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was, as will be the year 2400.
The Gregorian calendar also shifted the spring equinox back to March 21. Many Orthodox churches kept using the Julian calendar until the early 20th Century. This is why many Orthodox holidays fall 13 days after their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts. The Orthodox faiths have adopted the more accurate system of leap year accounting, however, to keep from falling further out of alignment with the tropical year.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the calendar is now accurate to within half a minute over the course of a tropical year. Without periodic adjustments in official timekeeping, the calendar would slip out of alignment with the seasons by one day about every 3,300 years.
Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia, Greek Orthodox Diocese of North America, U.S. Naval Observatory