If time is of the essence, you can find what you seek in a jiffy (an actual unit of time meaning 1/100 of a second) in the New York Public Library Desk Reference
's chapter 1: "Time and Dates." Once there, however, beware. You may begin by looking up what time it is in Addis Ababa when it's 12 noon in New York (8 p.m. is what you'll discover), but ere long you'll be browsing the perpetual calendar (1775 to 2098), refreshing your memory as to what fortnightly
means (once every two weeks, just as you thought), and skimming the lists of major holidays worldwide. But "Times and Dates" is just the beginning. Section I--"The Physical World"--also contains vast data pertaining to weights and measures, biology, the physical sciences, mathematics, and technology, plus inventions and scientific discoveries. Delving therein you can find how many cubic inches are in a pint, how to diagnose and treat constipation in your pet, which plants are poisonous, what tropism
means, when the next total eclipse of the sun will take place, the URLs for major Internet search engines, and the toll-free phone numbers for major national Internet service providers.
Other sections of the desk reference include music, literature, and the visual arts, religions, philosophy, and museums around the world, alphabets, grammar, and daily etiquette. Life-saving first-aid procedures are described, as are cooking tips, stain-removal advice, personal-finance details, and legal information, plus useful addresses and phone numbers relating to adoption, disabilities, and domestic violence, alcoholism, family planning, and television networks. With sections on travel, sports and games, as well as the United States and the political world, this is an irreplaceable reference of great scope and value. It is the mark of a great reference that the information you desire be readily accessible when deadlines threaten, and endlessly entertaining in your leisure hours; the New York Public Library Desk Reference flawlessly passes both tests. --Stephanie Gold