Nov 29 2009

Happy Birthday to me: UPDATE

Category: family,friendship,humorsardonicwhiner @ 12:45 pm

So, today is my birthday.  I went and played keyboard for the first service at church, then got out before someone caught on and tried to sing to me.

Since my age for the entire last year was a prime number, I guess that means that I am now, uh, past my prime.


To make me feel better about it, some friends, colleagues and students sent me nice birthday greetings on facebook.  Some were of the normal “Happy Birthday, Shack!” variety.  A couple of them got insulting and called me Dr. Phil.


One even thanked me for teaching her music theory and music technology, which she now uses in her life more than she expected.  That was nice, one of the best birthday gifts a person could give me.

One former student from way back seemed to find great joy in astronomical allusion.  We eventually decided that as long as I live, the galaxy will keep spinning ’round, with all black holes kept tidily in their places.  Or maybe that’s an astronomical illusion.

My 94 yr old mother sent me email asking how long the university will allow me to continue to teach.   Nice, mom.  Real nice.

Then my cousin told me about all the family members she’s seen lately that I haven’t.

It’s always your family that knifes you in the back.

And then there were the nerds.  Lots of nerds.  For example, a fellow faculty member sent me this birthday greeting:

sol-sol-la-sol-do’-ti, sol-sol-la-sol-re’-do’, sol-sol-sol’-mi’-do’-ti-la, fa’-fa’-mi’-do’-re’-do!

I think that last do should be do’…  but I suppose I’m quibbling.

A music major from three decades back, who then worked as a DJ or something at a radio station in Alaska for a time, sent me this:


It took some time to decode that one, since it has a couple of errors in it (the 9–7 sequence should be 12 — 9, and the 2–7–5 sequence should read 2–0–7–5), and it assumes that “0” is the fifth scale degree…  but what can you expect from someone who moved to Alaska?  Hey….  I wonder if he ever met Sarah Palin?

But I digress.

Then there was the current student, a jazzer, who couldn’t resist sticking in a suspended, altered dominant voiced as a Neapolitan major 9, +11, 13 chord over the dominant root, where it would conflict with the penultimate note rather seriously, so he changed the melody down a half-step, the only remaining problem being that the root of the Neapolitan isn’t the ideal melody note against all that extended color.  He seems also to want my birthday to be over very, very quickly, though at least he wished me many happy returns.

Happy Birthday wierd

I am often accused of employing inappropriate logical tools to issues of values, theology, philosophy, etc.  That may be what was behind the next birthday greeting, which I think may be a subtle insult suggesting that I think only in black and white, with no room for shades of gray, nuance, etc.

01000111 01000111 01000001 01000111 01000011 01000010 01000111 01000111 01000001 01000111 01000100 01000011 01000111 01000111 01000111 00100111 01000101 01000011 01000010 01000001 01000110 01000110 01000101 01000011 01000100 01000011

I’m not sure what to say about that, other than that the apostrophe confused me for a moment…  I actually had to consult this table.  In retrospect, it was obvious, of course….  the apostrophe was to indicate the upper octave of “G”.

I’m reminded of a sign on my office door, graciously donated to me by a faculty friend.  It says:

There are only 10 kinds of people.  Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

As for accusing me of binary thinking, all I can say is this:  either today is my birthday, or it isn’t.

Based on the available facts and logical conclusions to be inferred from them…

I choose to believe that it is.


UPDATE:  It has been pointed out to me by a friend on facebook that, while I can do binary arithmetic, I can’t do third grade decimal arithmetic.  To wit: last year, my age was NOT a prime number.  And neither is this year.  Next year IS…  I think.  I no longer trust myself.

Perhaps the logical question is, will I be completely overwhelmed by senior moments (or senior hours) even BEFORE I have passed my prime?

I suppose time will tell.