Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20 1949

Today July 20th is my birthday. I made it to 61 in fairly one piece minus an appendix, tonsils and a gall bladder. My crusty aortic valve apparently is the result of a manufacturer’s defect; however my mother already warned me that the warranty on my parts has long expired. So it will need replacing at my expense sometime in the near future.

All in all I’ve had a pretty good life. I have a very smart and beautiful wife – when we married we contributed to our partnership each a pair of bright, happy and healthy kids from previous spouses. Some of them in turn have begat another four raucous and happy grand kids who we thoroughly enjoy.

I was born in the best place one could possibly hail from: San Francisco, California. It is a remarkable city with a colorful history and a unique feel about it even today which is quite unlike any other city I have known. I’m very proud to claim it as my birthplace.

I am thoroughly happy with the name my parents gave me. I share it with many other Roberts of distinction: Robert Oppenheimer, Robert DuVall, Robert De Niro, Robert Frost, Robert Lewis Stevenson, "Robert the Bruce" of Scotland, Robert Hook (father of microscopy), Robert E. Lee. Robert is of Germanic origin meaning “bright”. It’s a versatile name; I can be Robert when austerity is called for yet be Bob when hanging out with family and friends. My mother once told me she had considered naming me “Steve” – I’m glad she didn’t, my three best friends growing up were all named Steve.

Remarkable events have fallen on my birthday over the years: July 20. In 1960 the first submarine fired a Polaris missile. Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on my birthday in 1969. In 1994 Comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter.

I grew up under the fearful cloud of Communism yet I lived to witness it crumble into rubble in divided Berlin. I have seen two presidents shot, (one killed) the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and noted multiple revisions of the World Atlas as several countries changed their names. I’ve witnessed computers shrink from room size to the palm of my hand, I’ve watched (on black-and-white TV) the first surgery done on beating hearts and had my own life spared more than once by medically cultured bread mold.

I’ve not always loved my work, but I was always paid adequately and never had to give up my weekends or holidays. As a young adult I had aspired to be a movie director. That wish came true when I released my documentary, “Andrus” in 2008. The fact is that almost all of my fondest wishes eventually came true.

The overriding majority of the combined knowledge of all mankind has been accumulated during my lifetime. And I exist amongst the first generation of humans on this planet who may have unlocked the secrets to the very origins of our universe.

My home is situated in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country on this planet. In my lifetimes I’ve known great food, fantastic sex, true friends and shared in the most profound gift of love.

And, for my birthday, my wife will be making me a spice cake with chocolate frosting - My absolute favorite! I couldn’t ask for a better life.


Penny said...

Aww... the grandkids are so cute!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!

Gorilla Bananas said...

I once visited your birthplace and found it enthralling. I'm sure, when you were born, the tourist guides didn't point out gay policemen as one of the sights to behold. Alcatraz must have still been holding dangerous men when you were born. Enjoy the cake!

Orhan Kahn said...

You have a beautiful family - couldn't ask for a more gracious gift. Happy birthday, Robert. Good to see that it is a happy one.

Entre Nous said...

Look Out, It's Mr. Birthday and he knows you're here!

Happy Birthday dear lucky man with those adorable grandkids. I am lovin' the video of the innovative crawling technique.

And don't forget on July 20th, 1976, VIKING 1, launched on August 20th, 1975, landed on Mars!

Enjoy the anniversery of another year wiser.

The Mother said...

Happy much?

You do realize that whining is the current national pastime. You, sir, are dangling dangerously near (gasp) outdatedness.

[Me, too.]

Elisabeth said...

For a skeptic, Robert, you've dome very well.

Happy birthday.

May you have many more splendid and productive years surrounded by beauty and your loved ones.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Penny They are dolls and quite a lot of fun.

Bananas I was living in SF when the three guys escaped Alcatraz; I recall it well. They were never found. My first home was a couple of blocks from the Haight-Ashbury though I was hooked only on a pacifier at the time.

Orhan I do have a great family, though one of them in particular is getting a bit behind in her blogging responsibilities.

Entre Nois Yes Mercer had developed his own style of crawling. Signs of things to come. Indeed I knew about Viking I, that was a big project for my hero, Carl Sagan.

Dr. Mom Fear not, I have lots of gripes still waiting in the wings. Stay tuned.

Elisabeth I attribute much of my success to my being a Skeptic. But truly, I hope to squeeze out still more life from this aging body.

KleinsteMotte said...

Enjoy your special day and the family. Happy birthday.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Happy Birthday brutha! Another great thing that happened on your birthday in 2005 was the birth of my second son, Drew. We are throwing him a pirate party in the park this afternoon. I can't wait! Ahoy matey!

Marylinn Kelly said...

A treat for us to see your family, to be able to say Happy Birthday. Isn't the measure of our wealth the ability to be happy with what we have? You are a very rich man. To your good health and more July 20 milestones.

TechnoBabe said...

You are a blessed man. From the city in which you were born to finding Nancy and combining families to having good health and a good job. My hubby and I wish you a very nice birthday.

Robert the Skeptic said...

KleinsteMotte Expected! I woke up to the smell of spice cake in the oven. mmmm

Awkward Summer-time birthdays are totally rad, lots of outdoor stuff.

So Avast my birthday mates, here's hoping ye and your band of pint-sized scurvy knaves quaff pirate punch to the very dregs and be there plunder aplenty.

Marylinn Indeed, I am truly a lucky guy.

TachnoBabe Thank you for the hardy birthday wishes. I wish everyone could share in fortunes such as mine.

secret agent woman said...

Happy Birthday! ( I hadn't thought about it before, but I've still got all my original parts, even wisdom teeth.)

It's good to take time once in a while to review what you love about your life. And I've always loved that so many people in the world feel like they live in the most beautiful part of the world. I have thought that in several places I've lived (including now). Says something about how amazing and varied the world's beauty is.

Anonymous said...

A brithday is a wonderful time to list the great things in life. You have a long list!
Happy # 61-and I hope that you skeptically enjoy many, many more.

Robert the Skeptic said...

SecretAgent Wow, still have those back choppers! Due to some genetic fluke my sister an I both had only three wisdom teeth each - my mother had none whatsoever. THAT would be a nice trait to engineer into the genome.

I have two acquaintances now who had decided to move to Hawaii, all three came back to the mainland within three years. Just like Dorothy said: "There's no place like home".

BackRow Of one thing I have no doubt, life is truly worth living. Thanks for the well wishes.

I'm Jane said...

Happy Birthday from San Francisco! It is still your birthday on the West Coast for another 10 minutes after all.

Charlie said...

You mighta known I'd show up unfashionably late, so belated Happy Birthday.

And being a tad late doesn't make this post any less great: it is a true testament to your happiness.

I nominate you to give your eulogy at an unpleasant event sometime in the future.

Until then, like you told BackRow, "Of one thing I have no doubt, life is truly worth living."

I agree.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Jane Fortunately I moved north, remaining in the same time zone. I was told there would be no math involved.

Charlie Better later than never, you and I know that!! Thanks, Charlie, glad to see you back in the game.

GutsyWriter said...

Happy birthday and I'm happy to hear that a homemade spice cake can make you a happy man. I am not yet a grandma but hear how wonderful it is to be a grandparent. A close family is the best gift, and it seems you have that.

HMBabb said...

Belated best wishes for many more years of good health and great happiness.

nic said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Can I just say that I think it's awesome that you blog and comment on Kara's blog? And you don't give her a hard time about the naughty words she uses. I'd probably get scolded.

Hope your birthday was awesome.

secret agent woman said...

I only have three wisdom teeth also.

Dave Siedsma said...

Stumbled on to your site, yes, what a long strange trip its been, huh. Hard to believe our generation will soon fade away. My birthday ?, July 22, 1949. Oh yeah, I have no wisdom teeth.