Someone with one clock knows what time it is. Someone with two clocks is never sure.

What can be said of clocks can be said of calendars as well. In EI2, we actually have three calendars, so we never know what time of year it is!

The obvious one is the “real” calendar. December is the 12th month, and all the dimestore calendars are running out of pages, so we’re approaching the end of the year. And there’s a certain rhythm to this time of year — the odd few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we simultaneously speed up (trying to meet deadlines) and slow down (to allow for vacations and holiday parties and such). We start scrambling to document what we’ve done for the year, and to prepare objectives for our next annual performance assessment cycle that starts in January. The days are getting to their shortest, and it’s dark by the time we leave the office. That certainly feels like the end of a year.

(Little-known fact: at Atlanta’s latitude, the earliest sunset of the year is this week! Not the shortest day of the year, but the earliest sunset. So the days will start to feel longer by the time we take our holiday break.)

But, for those of us on the Georgia Tech campus, the “real” calendar seems somewhat disconnected from the academic year that starts around Labor Day. The students come back, the traffic gets worse, the restaurants in Tech Square get more crowded, and there’s a certain electricity in the air that starts in September, ramps up through football season, then hiccups through the holiday season but sustains itself all the way through graduation ceremonies in early May. Then there’s a summer slowdown before the students come back again in time for September again.

So are we at the end of the year, or just finishing the first third of the year? In the immortal words of Ron Popeil “But wait, there’s more!”

As state employees, we have yet a third calendar: the Georgia fiscal calendar, which starts July 1st. So, when tracking our budget, December is the end of the second quarter, and New Year’s Day is actually the midpoint of our fiscal year. It’s a good time to take stock of how we’re doing on our revenues, our spending, and our fiscal discipline.

The good news for EI2 is we’re on target. Budgets aren’t as flush as they were three years ago (whoever dreamed that 2007 would be the Good Old Days?), but we’ve managed to adjust our spending appropriately. As we head into the new legislative cycle — synchronized with the January calendar! — I’m pleased to report that we’re listed as one of Georgia Tech’s legislative priorities for the first time in memory:

Georgia Tech's 2011 Legislative Priorities

Georgia Tech's 2011 Legislative Priorities

So, whether we’re halfway through the year, a third of the way, or nearing the end, this is a good time for me to repeat my recurring message: thanks for all you’re doing to hold the line on expenses. The year 2011 is going to be challenging, as we navigate the shoals of the tightest state appropriations environment in decades. As you take some time to be with your families, be sure to take some time for yourselves to recharge your batteries. We’ll be hitting it hard in January. I know it’s going to be a great New Year!