Tag: Birthdays

Quote of the Day: Bequeathing a Spirit of Reverence


Those of you who can legitimize the quote mentioned in the title (which is supposed to come from Plato’s Meno), please have at it.  I can’t authenticate it.  However, the spirit of “bequeathment” is entirely appropriate for what I’m about to say, so I’m going with it.

“Pity. Pity he never had any children.”

And at that, Chips opened his eyes as wide as he could and sought to attract their attention. It was hard for him to speak out loud, but he managed to murmur something, and they all looked round and came nearer to him.



I just came across this account of one of my birthdays from when my daughters were little, probably six and seven. I’m not sure where I originally posted it–probably on my old blog–and I have no idea why I backed it up. But I’m glad I did. Although it’s not my birthday, I had a lot of fun unpacking this thirteen-year-old time capsule.

My first birthday present of the morning: I had slept nearly eight hours, without waking up once. It was going to be the busiest of days.

Willie Mays: An Appreciation


Wednesday was baseball great Willie Mays’ 89th birthday and I thought I’d post a brief appreciation of his career. I’ve been a baseball fan almost all my life, and since I grew up in northern California and started following baseball circa 1960, the Giants were my favorite team and I gravitated quickly to their best player Willie Mays.

Willie Howard Mays was born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama. Willie was a precocious athlete. His father was a semi-pro ballplayer, playing for a company team in the local league made up from coal and steel companies in the area. By the time he was a teenager, young Mays was on his father’s team playing against grown men twice his age. And, although he played on his high school football, basketball and baseball teams, he began his professional baseball career in 1947 at age 16 joining the Chattanooga Choo Choos, who were essentially a farm team for the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons, a team he would join within a year. The Black Barons manager, Piper Davis would become a mentor to Willie. He worked with the young ballplayer on his weaknesses as a player and required that he finish high school. Since the Dodgers had broken the color line with Jackie Robinson in 1947, major league scouts from those teams willing to add black ballplayers to their roster began scouring the Negro Leagues for major league talent and it didn’t take them long to stumble across Mays who had helped the Black Barons to the Negro League World Series in 1948 mainly with his great defensive play.

Still Cooking with Fire After All These Years


Happy Birthday to Ann Wilson of Heart, born 19 June 1950. She and her younger sister, Nancy, are the heart of Heart, a band that burst onto the world stage from the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1970s. They were part of the soundtrack of my youth. Wait a minute. 2019-1950= . . . 69. That just can’t be right.

Ann Wilson was the distinctive lead vocalist, while Nancy provided great harmony and kicking guitar licks. Their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, was released in America our bicentennial year, with “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” propelling them up the radio play charts. They struck while the iron was hot, releasing Little Queen in 1977 and Dog & Butterfly in 1978. These women did their own thing, playing neither the tough girl nor the pop tart. They did not need an image manager, as they actually had musical and songwriting talent.

Here is the title track from their first album, performed live on BBC’s music television series The Old Grey Whistle Test:

Quote of the Day: Arrrmy Training!


Yesterday was the United States Army’s 244th birthday, 14 June 2019. For a brief background on how the Army came into existence, and the tie to Flag Day, also celebrated each 14th of June, see “Celebrating the Flag and the Army on June 14th.” On this occasion, consider the Army through the lenses of recruiting slogans and a song. What’s with the photograph? Wait until we get to the song.

Recruiting Slogans in the All-Volunteer Force:

As the Vietnam War dragged on, with abysmal political and senior military leadership until far too late, it became clear that we needed a new solution to military manpower demands. For most of our nation’s long history, we had a very small professional army. In this regard, we were similar to our parent nation, with its “thin red line.” Yet, that very small force, occasionally reinforced with militia and temporarily authorized volunteer units, won the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurgency, and the near-century-long dusty slog of the American Indian Wars. Those are just the highlights and do not include the Marine Corps’ illustrious history, the story of our other elite infantry force. Now we needed a force that would be entirely professional, and yet far larger than the old Regular Army.

Unexpected Gifts: Turning Eleven Away from Home


The bike I rode at our Chiang Mai, Thailand, boarding school was inherited from my older brother. He had received it it already well-used, and he and his buddy Steve had not exactly gone easy on it back when we lived in the village. So it was not much to look at: faded red, maybe pretty once, with worn front basket and backseat long gone. The wheel rims were rusted, I remember, because I used to stare at them and think about rust–what made it happen, how blighted it made the wheels look, and how odd that my brother could rub it off with some compound on a rag. It was like a toothless, blotchy, gaunt, yet sinewy older woman.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed that bike from the time I arrived at the dorm as an eight-year-old. It was serviceable for cruising around the network of side streets (soi is the Thai word for something like an alleyway) and perfectly good for trips to the corner store, where we bought cheap sweets for one baht. It was best, though, for joining the boys in the street in front of the dormitory. We rode back and forth and in circles, refining our stunts. Although it was no BMX, this bike of mine could be coaxed do wheelies. Next, I mastered the skill of riding around with my hands at my sides. I loved the joke, probably from our dorm’s old copies of Boys’ Life, where each time a kid pedals past his mom, he announces a new trick: “Look, Mom, no hands.” He progresses through his repertoire until he says, “Look, Mom, no teeth!” None of us thought of wearing helmets, but nobody seemed to get hurt.

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Alone of the creatures in the world, humans have a need for meaning. One can say this is because we souls, or one can claim it is an artifact of our consciousness. Whatever the reason given, the fact remains that we are the only creatures who seek to put meaning to the world around us. […]

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Today I turn – cough – cough.…well, as my friend of the same age put it, it’s the 39th anniversary of my 21st birthday. I feel weird. I don’t know what it is about the number, but it startles people. When I mention how old I am, their eyes bug out, their mouths form a […]

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Ask Amelia: Birthdays


AskAmelia3It’s a special Saturday, all-birthday edition of Ask Amelia!

My birthday is at the end of January. Always the worst weather and the most depressing time of year. Can I change it to the end of July? — @ThatElJefe

Dear El Jefe,

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What is luck? Is it just a form of probability that we notice? I remember reading somewhere that if one were to have thirty random people in the room, the probability is that two would share the same birthday. One would think that the probability would not approach unity until one had as many people […]

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