Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. As it is, I think Julie gets more excited about my birthday than I do, but it’s still really nice to be treated specially once a year for pretty arbitrary reason. Here are a few of the nice things about it, some of which may resonate more with you than others.
Julie and I went to Queen House, my favorite Chinese place in downtown Mountain View. We went there last year for my birthday, so I guess it’s becoming something of a tradition. They have really good beef noodle soup and a 3 dishes for $25 (plus rice or scallion pancakes) menu that has good options. I think I have figured out a lot of Chinese restaurant dishes, but they still manage to make theirs taste extra good.
Afterwards, we went to Sno-Zen for shaved ice. My uncle and cousin introduced me to it down in LA, and I have been craving a second shot at it. It’s light and fluffy unlike snow cones (which are just icy), and it’s like ice cream without the heaviness. The owner was friendly and helpful above typical courteous service. I can appreciate that and would absolutely recommend it to a friend.
Baseball Trade Deadline
The MLB trade deadline happens to be July 31st, so I have baseball rumors and news going on through the mid-afternoon. In a sport spanning 162 games and more than half of the year, there are few times with a spurt of action, and this happens to be one of them.
Facebook has spawned what I’m sure is the relatively new phenomena of having endless email or push notifications as people wish you a happy birthday all day. For me, it tends to be a lot of high school friends who I haven’t talked to forever, and though it’s somewhat superficial, I’m glad for the brief moment of connection that may bring back past relationships. I try to send back thanks to everyone in a few sittings over the course of the day with some other appreciative note or response.
Harry Potter and Shared Birthdays
Harry Potter’s birthday was also July 31st. Maybe I’m biased by the similarity, but I can’t think of another fictional characters’ birthday who is more recognized. That’s cool. I would also like to give a shoutout to my friends Andy, Michael, Sam, and the couple others who I very painfully have to say I have forgotten who also share my birthday.
After getting shaved ice, Julie and I went to Target to buy somewhat mundane things like socks and contact solution. Everyone who I told this to when asked about birthday plans laughed, though Julie called me out for doing this deliberately for the laugh. I honestly really like Target: I’m not much for the detail and effort of buying clothes or other apparel, but I do like looking at a lot of knickknacks and other items, and Target is kind of the king of stuff that is totally accessible but not junk. The main goal was to buy new flip-flops, though the only pair that looked serviceable was unfortunately not purchased when Julie pointed out that the style was intended for females.
Gifts… from myself
Most transitions from childhood to adulthood are overstated, but a nontrivial one for me was the ability to get things for myself. I realized when I started working that unlike when I was a child, I can get the things I want on my own. I don’t have to wait for a birthday or christmas for a gift. This greatly affected the way I perceived the ownership of things. Fortunately, it hasn’t led to a spree of consumerism, though it has left me in an unusual spot for gifts. I think I previously blogged about trying to give gifts that one would not bother for on their own.
In my case, item number one was a new wallet. Do I really need a new wallet? Not really. My current wallet hasn’t completely fallen apart, and until I literally had money spilling out of my pockets, I probably wouldn’t do anything about it. On the other hand, the buckle is almost detached, a few sheets have come out, and it’s generally in poor condition. As such, thanks Julie for the new wallet on its way.
The flip side of that is that I usually have the will not to instantly buy the things I want and try to be realistic about how much I will use things. As such, it can be tricky to find the motivation to get things otherwise. Once a year, though, I have my birthday. Last year, it was a car. This year, it will be a set of pizza making supplies I have wanted for awhile: a baking steel, a pizza peel, and Jim Lahey’s book. If you haven’t tried his no-knead pizza dough recipe, you must. It’s very easy and absolutely delicious.
Cheaper Rental Cars
Unless I’m running for president, I believe 25 is the last important birthday as I don’t get charged extra for rental cars. Also, my coworker told me that I apparently don’t have to get insurance on rental cars. What a racket.