On your nth birthday, you turn n – 1 years old.

birthday cake

As a teacher, I have had variants of this conversation many times. The specific details, however, are fictional, for this changes, somewhat, each time it happens.

  • Student: Guess what? It’s my birthday!
  • Me: Congratulations! How old are you?
  • Student: I’m seventeen!
  • Me: Well, happy 18th birthday, then!
  • Student: Huh?
  • Me: Look, on that one day, 17 years ago, when you were born, that was your birthday. That day has a better claim on being your birthday than any other day, because it’s the day you were born. That was your first birthday. But you weren’t one year old yet. You turned one year old a year later, on your next birthday . . . your second birthday. A year later, on your third birthday, you turned two years old. Do I need to continue?
  • Student: So I’m 18? I can buy cigarettes without a fake ID, and vote, and stuff?
  • Me: No, not for another year, because you’re only 17 years old — but you have had 18 birthdays. Say, here come some of your friends. Use this bit yourself, if you want to, and have fun with it.
  • Student, to other students: Hey, guys, it’s my birthday! I’m 18 today!

…At least I try. Also, sometimes, the educational outcome is better than in this fictionalized example.


[Image source: http://www.decorationnako.tk/birthday-cake/]

At 47, My Age Is a Prime Number Again =D

For some reason, I like having my age be a prime number of years. Today, I turn 47, so I get to have a prime-number-age for a whole year now. This hasn’t happened since I was 43, so I made this 47-pointed star to celebrate:


I also make birthday-stars for composite-number ages as well, just because it’s fun, and you can find at least two others on this blog, on January 12, in past years. Also, I wouldn’t want to have to wait until I’m 53 (my next prime age) to make another one of these.

At the moment, I certainly don’t feel 47. There are times when I feel twenty-two . . .

There are also times when I feel six.


At the moment, however, I feel about thirty. For that reason, I put the 47-pointed stars on the thirty faces of a rotating rhombic triacontahedron, because (a) it’s my birthday, (b) I want to, and (c) I can.

Rhombic Triaconta

Image/music credits:

  1. I created this using Geometer’s Sketchpad and MS-Paint.
  2. “When Yer Twenty-Two,” by The Flaming Lips, via a YouTube posting.
  3. Two panels from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, by Bill Watterson. (Calvin is perpetually six years old.)
  4. Created using the image at the top of this post, and the program Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator, which is available here.

Your Toes Are Younger Than Your Head


Your Toes Are Younger Than Your Head

Unless, like a bat, you sleep upside-down, your toes are younger than your head.


Because, having spent more time slightly closer to the center of the earth, they have endured a slightly stronger gravitational field strength. This, in turn, due to relativistic time dilation, slows time down for your toes, relative to your head. With a slower passage of time during all periods when you were upright, less time has passed for them — and so they are younger.

Image credit: http://www.bestpodiatristnyc.com/british-hammertoes-are-wonky-toes/#sthash.xKDfxbgJ.dpbs

How To Age Slowly

This is the day I turn 45, and I still get carded when I buy beer. Those are my qualifications to write on this subject.

My first pieces of advice are to avoid tobacco altogether, and to moderate use of alcohol. I’ve seen people age prematurely, due to both factors, right in front of me (over a period of years), and it’s frightening. It’s also unnecessary, since these are both choices.

We also choose what we eat. My choices are limited by food allergies, though, forcing me lower on the food chain. I cannot eat mammals (nor shrimp) with becoming seriously ill, so I simply don’t eat beef, pork, etc. Perhaps this helps. It certainly cannot hurt.

Dysfunctional relationships make people unhappy, and unhappy people seem to age more quickly. I have found leaving bad relationships to be a most effective way of initiating (temporary, I hope) apparent reverse-aging, with the result that I look younger now than I did five or ten years ago.

I also feel younger. Are there aches and pains? Yes, there are, but they were worse at 35. I have chronic pain from a fall, and the resulting neck injury. Ten years ago, I was begging doctors for prescriptions for painkillers. Now, ibuprofen, stretching, and the occasional visit to my chiropractor give me the relief I need.

I think I would look 65 (or be dead) if I had not sought mental health treatment years ago, so getting such help, if you need it, is part of my advice. The problem here is often that people fear the stigma of mental illness, and delay seeking help, or avoid it altogether. Fighting back, to weaken that stigma, is the reason I write publicly on such subjects.

Another idea is a birthday ritual I have which, I must admit, can’t seriously be suggested as something that helps me age slowly, but it can’t hurt, either, and it’s fun. I make a star-design every year on my birthday, based on my new age. Here, therefore, is a star-design with 45 points:


There is also an anti-aging attitude some people adopt, and I am one of them. This is a voluntary, deliberate refusal to stop being, in some senses (if not others), young. This can manifest itself in many ways; perhaps my star-ritual is one of them. Life is a game, of course, and I happen to like games — a lot.