My 2019 Birthday Star

I was born 51 years ago today. To mark the occasion, here’s a 51-pointed star. It’s made of {17/7} heptadecagrams repeated 3 times, and with their edges extended as lines, in three different colors. This works because 51 = (17)(3).

Fiftystar: My 2018 Birthday Star

Every year, it is my tradition to make a star for my birthday. This is the one for today, with fifty points for my new age.

star 50

I like the view from age 50. I can see half-centuries before and after right now. To see 1968, I look into the past, which is behind me. If I look forward, I see ideas for what 2068 could be like.

On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday: A Public Service Announcement

This year, in the USA, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is observed tomorrow. However, it is today — January 15th — which is his actual birthday. 

brand_bio_bio_martin-luther-king-jr-mini-biography_0_172243_sf_hd_768x432-16x9

Source of image: http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086

My 2017 Birthday Stars

I turn 49 today. This is a 49-pointed star, to mark the occasion — an old tradition of mine.

49

My first birthday was in 1968 — on the day I was born. A year later, on my second birthday, I turned one year old. Carry this up to the present, and that makes today, when I turn 49, my 50th birthday. For those reasons, here’s a second star, with 50 points.

50

 

Older Birthday Stars, From When I Was Younger

I started this blog in July of 2012, so the birthday stars I made in January 2012 (when I turned 44) and January 2011 (when I turned 43) did not appear here in those years. I found them, though, and will post them now.

The first two are different colorings of a 44-pointed star, from January 12, 2012, the day I turned 44:

birthday star 44 from 2012 Bbirthday star 44 from 2012

These three are different color-versions of 43-pointed stars, from a year earlier — January 12, 2011:

43 star{36_slash_17} schlafli symbol star 2012

43

I turn 48 today, so please visit the post right before this one, if you’d like to see this year’s birthday stars. =)

My Birthday Stars for 2016

This year, I’m continuing my personal tradition of making stars on my birthday with numbers of points which increase each year. I’ve done this for years, and it’s based on a game I started when I turned three, and claimed the three stars of Orion’s belt as my personal property, on the grounds that they were obviously put in the sky for my benefit. Most recently, a year ago, when I turned 47, I posted a 47-pointed star on this blog.

I’m turning 48 today, so here are a couple of different colorings of 48-pointed stars containing segments through the center, {6/2} compound-triangle stars, and {8/3) star octagons, made possible by the fact that 48 = (6)(8).

star 48b

star 48a

Of course, I am turning 48 on my 49th birthday (and if that makes no sense to you, here’s the explanation), so this year I also made 49-pointed stars. They are based on 49 being the square of seven, and so contain seven each of the two types of star heptagram possible, in two different colors. For this star, also, I made two versions.

star49a

star49b

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/]

For John Lennon’s Birthday, the True Story of How I Observed This Holiday in 1983

lennon-306-1391778060

I’ve been a fan of John Lennon for as long as I can remember, and October 9, his birthday, has always been a special day for me. In 1983, when I was a high school junior, celebrating his birthday changed from something I simply did, by choice, into what, at the time, I considered a moral imperative.

In October of ’83, I was a student — a junior — at McClellan High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, and October 9th happened to be the day that all juniors were, according to that school’s administration, required to take the ASVAB: the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. While this is a standardized test, it isn’t like other standardized tests — it is actually a recruitment tool for the United States military.

At the time, Ronald Reagan was president, and we were in one of the many scary parts of the Cold War, with the threat of global thermonuclear war looming over us at all times. If you are too young to remember the Reagan era well, it may be hard to understand just how real, and how scary, it was to grow up with a president who did such things as making “jokes,” like this, in front of a microphone:

Reagan made this extremely unfunny “joke” the next year, in 1984, but the climate of fear in which he thought such a thing would be funny was already firmly in place in 1983, and I was already openly questioning the sanity of our president. My own anti-war attitudes, very much influenced by Lennon and his music, were already firmly in place. For the few unfamiliar with it, here is a sample of Lennon’s music.

So here I was, a high school junior, being told I had to take a test, for the military, on John Lennon’s birthday. I reacted to this in pretty much the same way a devout Jew or Muslim would react to being told to eat pork chops: I absolutely refused to cooperate. “Blasphemy” is not a word I use often now, and it wasn’t then, either, but to cooperate with this would have been the closest thing to blasphemy which I was capable of understanding at that age (I was 15 years old when this happened).

The other juniors got up and shuffled off, like good, obedient soldiers, when the intercom told them to go take the ASVAB. I simply remained seated.

The teacher told me it was time to go take the ASVAB. I replied, calmly, that no force on earth could compel me to take a test for the military on John Lennon’s birthday. At that point, I was sent to the office. Going to the office posed no ethical nor moral dilemmas for me, for I wanted the people there to know, also, that it was wrong for them to give a test for the military on October 9, of all days.

The principal, a man already quite used to dealing with me and my eccentricities, knew it would be pointless to argue with me about the ASVAB. He simply showed me a chair in the main office, and told me I could sit there that day, all day, and I did. To the school, this might have been seen as a single day of in-school suspension, but I saw it for what it really was: a one-person, sit-down protest for peace, in honor of the greatest activist for peace the world has ever known. It was an act of civil disobedience, and I regret nothing about it.

I will be sharing this story with Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, a woman I very much admire, and the greatest living activist for peace in the world today. Yoko, I do hope you enjoy this story. You and John have done great things, and they will not be forgotten, as long as people remain alive to tell about them.

Peace to all.

[Credits: photo from rollingstone.com; videos from YouTube.]

My Antibirthday Occurs at Midnight Tonight

Birthday-Cake

Clearly, this requires some explanation.

January 12 is my birthday, and today is July 13, 2015.

  • Remaining days in January, after today: 19
  • Days in February through June, this year, which isn’t a leap year: 28 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 30 = 150
  • Days in July up to, and including, today: 13
  • Total days after my last birthday, up to and including today: 19 + 150 + 13 = 182

How long until my next birthday, starting at midnight, tonight?

  • The rest of July: 18 days
  • August through December: 31 + 30 + 31 + 30 + 31 = 153
  • Pre-birthday January days: 11
  • Total days between today and my next birthday: 18 + 153 + 11 = 182, also.

Since the number of days between the end of my last birthday, and midnight tonight, is exactly the same as my number of pre-birthday days which follow midnight, it follows that midnight tonight is the one point in time, this year, which is as far away from my birthday as one can get, on the calendar. The fact that antibirthdays are usually points in time, rather than full days, is a consequence of the fact that most years have an odd number of days. Subtract one for my birthday (or anyone’s, except for those rare people born on February 29 — we’ll get to them later), and 364 days remain in most years. Divide this by two, and there are 182 days to fall on either side of an antibirthday midnight, for most people, during most years.

Next year, 2016, is a leap year. What will happen to my antibirthday next year, then, with its 366 days? As it turns out, next year’s antibirthday, for me, will be a full day. Why? Adding “leap day” makes it necessary to subtract two days, rather than just one, to get 364. (An even number of post-subtraction days is needed for divisibility, by two, with no remainder.) My antibirthday in 2016 will be on July 13, all day long, because there are 182 days between that day and both of my nearest birthdays — one in that antibirthday’s near past, and one in its near future.

If we don’t have the same birthday, and you want to figure out when your own antibirthday is, you can follow the pattern above, with only minor adjustments, if your birthday, like mine, falls on or before February 28. Some additional adjustments will be needed for those with birthdays in March through December, though. Why it that? Simple: my birthday occurs before February, and this isn’t true for most people. My full-day antibirthdays occur during leap years only because of this fact. If your birthday occurs after February is over, you’ll still get full-day antibirthdays every four years, but those years won’t be leap years — they’ll be one year removed from leap years, instead. Whether this means such years will immediately precede, or follow, leap years is left as an exercise for the reader.

There’s a small group of people for whom this gets even more complicated: those whose birthdays only happen every four years, on “leap day,” February 29th. Of the people I know well, only one of them, my friend Todd, was born on a leap day, and, just to be a pest, I’m going to assign him the problem of figuring out his own antibirthdays. After all, he has plenty of time for this, since the fact that he only has a birthday every four years causes him to age at 25% of the normal rate. He looks only a bit older than me, having had only a few more birthdays that I’ve had, even though he was born in 1812, and can remember the American Civil War clearly. Fortunately for him, he was still a child in the 1860s, and this saved him from actually having to fight in that war, or any other. It must be nice to have a 280-year life expectancy, Todd!

[Image credit: before turning the birthday-cake picture above upside-down, I downloaded it from this website.]