Well, it was my birthday yesterday, and I am now, frighteningly enough, a 20-year-old. I always used to justify my more reckless activities by saying, “I’m a teenager, I’m invincible!” or justify my sex drive by saying, “I’m a healthy teenage guy!” Now what will I say?
Incidentally, nobody knew that it was my birthday. Why is this? Because I didn’t tell anyone. Last year in Mertz, people kind of knew that it was my birthday, because we had a hall sign that listed everyone’s birthday. However, Woolman has little hall life, we don’t really seem to have study breaks or anything, it’s not as easy to get together with people and wander up and down the halls as it is in Willets or Mertz. There is no birthday list, and there is no quote board. This is partially because the dorm has so few people that it doesn’t reach the critical mass to be a community, and partially because it is divided up into multiple floors, and it’s not really possible to non-chalantly wander up and down stairs, it’s kind weird to just randomly drop in on people.
I also haven’t been close enough to my friends here at Swat to celebrate birthdays with them. I honestly don’t know when any of my friends’ birthdays are. How do I find out if it’s not written on the hall birthday list? It’s weird to go around asking, “when’s your birthday?” and writing it down. It’s like you’re uber-desperate to go to a birthday party or something… But I would like to be part of a community here where I know peoples’ birthdays and they know mine.
My internet friends didn’t really know my birthday either, I didn’t put it out there because of privacy concerns. The only online birthday greetings I got were from my two friends on Orkut (just ask if you want me to invite you!), where I had put down my birthday for once. It really felt good to get birthday greetings from them, and then I started thinking, “why is it so bloody important that nobody know what my birthday is?” I suppose if I went around using my birthday as “secret information” and using it for passwords and pin numbers, I would of course want it to be an actual secret. But if I don’t do that, what is the argument for keeping my birthday a dreadful secret, when I expose much more personal details on my Livejournal and my website, ones that aren’t available through government records and such? I don’t doubt that if I had put my birthday on my Livejournal, I would have gotten some birthday greetings from my Livejournal friends and others. So, today I end the secrecy surrounding my birthday: It is March Fourth. Kind of like July Fourth, except with less fireworks 😉
Also, Boing Boing linked to this wonderful page, Subway systems of the world presented on the same scale. I wonder if we can tell anything about the differences in psychology and philosophy of the different countries by studying their subway systems? Moscow certainly represents an obvious example of Soviet central planning, it is the most orderly of the subways. Paris looks like the streetmap of an old, organically grown town, and like New York its subway pattern no doubt resembles the layout of its streets. Check it out, and tell me if you can see ways in which the subway systems reveal the psychology of the people who built them! This is kind of a Rorschach test, I suppose…