EppsNet Archive: Birthdays

How to Tell If You’re Too Busy

17 Sep 2016 /

A colleague shared this on Slack:

Busy Guy

It’s a slide from a presentation given by somebody somewhere . . . it’s hard to read but the gist of it is:

In the past, I’ve worked every holiday, on my birthday, my spouse’s birthday, and even on the day my son was born.

I asked the guy who shared it, “How do the birthdays fit in there? I don’t even remember when my spouse’s birthday is, but I certainly didn’t work on the day my son was born.”

“I think he meant on the nights of the birthdays,” was the reply.

“Was he working on the night his son was conceived? I bet he was. He seems like a very busy guy.”

Now What?

15 May 2015 /
Sather Tower (the Campanile) looking out over ...

We’re in Berkeley for Casey’s graduation tomorrow . . . we got a text from him earlier this week saying “I just took my last two college exams.” Thus ends a journey that began 17 years ago on the first day of kindergarten, which I feel like I remember too vividly for it to have been 17 years ago, but it was.

Now what? I don’t mean for him . . . he’s got a job lined up in San Francisco. I mean for me. I’ve had the milestone birthdays — the ones where your age ends in zero — that seem to depress a lot of people . . . they didn’t bother me at all. But my boy becoming an independent person in the world is really disorienting me . . .

Cheryl’s Birthday

15 Apr 2015 /

My mistake is when someone asks my birthday, I either tell them or I don’t so I’m dismayed to find that the key to world-wide fame is to tell one person the month and another person the day . . .

Cheryl's birthday

Happy Birthday, Vincent van Gogh

30 Mar 2015 /
Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard,...

Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard, 42 × 33.7 cm., Art Institute of Chicago

Vincent van Gogh was born on this date in 1853. He was poor and virtually unknown throughout his life and after years of anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to his brother, his last words were “The sadness will last forever.” Although he would have said it in Dutch.

You can’t say enough great things about this guy. He’s one of the most renowned painters in the history of the world, one of the most recognizable painters, his work is in all the best art museums. If you want to own a van Gogh, get ready to pay $100 million. That’s for one painting.

His life at the time he was living it must have looked quite pointless to everyone including himself, nothing but suffering and failure. And yet, as it turns out, his life has meant a million times more to the world than anyone could have possibly imagined. So you never know.

The van Gogh self-portrait above is at the Art Institute of Chicago. As it happens, I’ve visited the Art Institute of Chicago . . . one of the things I remember about it is seeing a museum guide with a tour group and the painting they were standing in front of was this:

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled, not dated, Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5 cm (38 x 38 in.)

I couldn’t hear what the guide was saying but usually with works like this it’s some nonsense about challenging contemporary perceptions about art and the process of creation.

There’s some crazy stuff in art museums. Here’s another painting by the same person:

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled

Gaylen Gerber, Untitled, not dated, Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5 cm (38 x 38 in.)

In case you’re thinking “Very funny, that’s the same picture,” it’s not. If you look at them very closely, you can see that they’re not the same. I don’t attribute that to any artistic merit or even intention on the part of the painter, just that if you take two canvases and paint them gray, they’re bound to be less than identical in some way.

The man who painted those gray squares will never go insane or cut off his own ear or shoot himself. Why? Because he couldn’t care less. He takes identical canvases and paints them gray. That’s what he does.

If van Gogh saw some of the stuff that’s hanging in art museums today, he wouldn’t be able to stop throwing up.

Happy Birthday, Vincent!

Happy 21st Birthday, Casey

28 Jul 2014 /

On this date 21 years ago — July 28, 1993 — our son Casey was born.

On his first birthday, we took him to Chuck E Cheese. On his 21st birthday, he’s in San Francisco having dinner with his girlfriend so we have to wish him a happy birthday over the phone.

“I remember the day you were born like it was last week,” I say. “I was an integral part of it.”

“Yeah, so was I,” he says.

Right, but he doesn’t remember it like I do. And I don’t want to mention it on his special day, but he didn’t really do anything either. His mom and I did all the work and yet he gets all the glory and recognition. Think about that.

“Happy birthday. I love you.”

David Foster Wallace’s Last House

21 Feb 2012 /

David Foster Wallace's last house

Via Curbed LA on the occasion of what would have been DFW’s 50th birthday today.

What a depressing abode! I’m ready to drive out there right now and hang myself . . .

“Birthdays are just a consumerist plot perpetuated by Big Cake.” — Shelby Fero

Joyeux Anniversaire, Paul Cézanne

19 Jan 2011 /
Still Life with Blue Pot

Today is Paul Cézanne’s 172nd birthday!

Did you know that Cézanne sometimes spent hours positioning objects before painting a still life? He did!


23 Oct 2010 /
Birthday Card

HER: Did you get me a card for my birthday?

HIM: My god, you are high-maintenance!

Happy 17th Birthday

28 Jul 2010 /

My son turned 17 today at the NARCh tournament in San Jose and he went with his teammates to Applebee’s for dinner.

The boys know that he doesn’t like to be the center of attention for things like having “Happy Birthday” sung for him in a restaurant so I’m sure they made every effort to prevent that from happening . . .

Happy Birthday, Virginia Woolf

25 Jan 2010 /

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters.

— Virginia Woolf (Jan 25, 1882 – Mar 28, 1941)

Joyeux Anniversaire, Manet!

23 Jan 2010 /
The Rue Mosnier with Flags

History painting, what a joke! There is only one authentic thing: to paint what you see.

— Édouard Manet (Jan 23, 1832 – Apr 30, 1883)

A Birthday Picture

25 Oct 2009 /

Hi everybody! Here’s a picture my owner made for me on my birthday. LOL!

Lightning's Birthday

The Basics of Humor

14 Oct 2009 /

My wife and my dog both have birthdays later this month . . .

“I was just thinking,” I say to my wife, “doesn’t Lightning have a birthday coming up?”

(Waiting for reaction . . . waiting . . . )

“That was very basic,” she says.

Twitter: 2009-07-28

28 Jul 2009 /
  • A Lesson in Mystique: http://bit.ly/p0zCr #
  • Called my boy to say Happy Birthday. It's not till tomorrow but he's in Australia, where it's already tomorrow. #

Thomas Jefferson: A Birthday Gift

13 Apr 2009 /
Thomas Jefferson

My fellow Americans —

Did you know that I was born on this date in 1743? Probably you didn’t because nobody makes a big deal about it like Washington’s birthday or Lincoln’s.

That used to really bother me but I’m okay with it now.

Anyway — it’s MY birthday but YOU get the gift. Point your browser at the Guess Her Muff website. GADZOOKS! You will not be disappointed!

Sadly, ladies styling their pubes had not entered into the marketplace of ideas in the 18th century. I can’t help thinking what Sally Hemings would have looked like with a Brazilian.


Microblog: 2009-04-05

5 Apr 2009 /
  • RT @Ben373: Being responsible is below my pay grade. 🙂 (The New Yorker) #
  • Temperatures soared into the 80s in Orange County this weekend. Thank god I stockpiled enough rum, Coke and ice to ride it out… #
  • @Ben373 My wife is Asian. Your post gave her the idea of putting birthday candles in wonton soup. I can’t see how that’s going to work… in reply to Ben373 #

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin

12 Feb 2009 /

Charles Darwin's 200th birthday

Why Parents Do What They Do

8 Feb 2009 /
And I know a father who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he’d done
— Paul Simon, “Slip Sliding Away”

This story needs a quick setup . . .

My son’s two-year-old birthday party was a festive event. The whole neighborhood was there!

Birthday cake

We had a bounce house, a clown . . . the only thing that marred the day slightly was that as everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” his mom lifted him up so he could see the cake, and he stuck his finger out and touched a lit candle.

It wasn’t a bad burn but he did cry for a while.

We have a video of this. That’s why he remembers it.

So — we’re having a late lunch today at Souplantation. A kid who looks about four years old runs down the aisle, turns the corner and runs back up the next aisle over.

I ask, “Why is it a good idea as a parent to let your kid run through restaurants?”

My son, totally off topic, says, “Why is it a good idea to let your kid stick his finger in a candle?”

I say, “I don’t know. You didn’t do it again though, did you?”

His mom says, “Maybe you shouldn’t have a birthday party at all if you want to complain about it.”

“A two-year-old shouldn’t have a birthday party?!” he asks in disbelief.

I say, “Mom makes a good point, if you’re just going to stick your finger in a candle and ruin it for everybody.”

A Subtle Reminder

21 Oct 2008 /
Birthday gift

I get a call at work from my wife, who says, “I logged on to the credit union web site and a message popped up and said ‘Happy Birthday!'”

“Your birthday’s not till tomorrow.”

“And I got a Happy Birthday email from Newport Lexus. Wasn’t that nice?”

“It sure was.”

“I hope people close to me don’t forget about it . . .”

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