Sunday, April 27, 2014


When we're young, the details of our birthdays are vital to our well-being. What kind of cake, who to invite to the party, and most importantly, how many days until it gets here.

Now that I'm only a kid in my mind, and no longer in fact, birthdays seem to have lost their allure.  I probably shouldn't eat any cake, I don't usually have a party, and most days I can barely remember my age or the date, much less when my birthday falls.

All that being said, yesterday was my birthday. On my 32nd birthday while in the shower, I realized that on that day my age equaled 2 to the fifth power.  I also realized I would never be any number to the fifth power again.

Since that birthday I've paid attention to the mathematical properties of my age, and this year is two to the fourth times three, which isn't bad. However, this year there's a new addition to my thinking about my age.

It's all Oliver Sacks' fault. I recently learned that when he turned eighty, a friend gifted him with a small vial of mercury, because mercury's atomic number is eighty. So I started obsessing about the periodic table of elements.

This coming year corresponds to silver*. I like silver. I can even get myself a gift of silver, either earrings or a necklace. And I have one more thing to think about on my birthday besides cake.

*I wrote this entire post before I looked again at the periodic table and realized that last year was silver and this coming year is cadmium. I know nothing about cadmium. I guess I'll have to learn!

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