This week’s FridayQ is about birthdays.
FQ1: When is your birthday? December 20, just a few days before Christmas. It’s the day before the winter solstice, except in leap years. In college, I often had a final exam on my birthday — but when I did, it was the last exam of the semester, so I didn’t mind. (My 19th birthday was a particularly memorable example.)
FQ2: Anything interesting happen on your birthday in history? According to the History Channel, the Louisiana Purchase was completed on 20 December 1803 when France handed over the Orleans Territory to the United States. Exactly 156 years later, I was born in the former Orleans Territory (now the state of Louisiana).
On my birthday in 1860, South Carolina (where I grew up, went to college, and got married) seceded from the Union, the first state to do so. Two years later, on 20 December 1862, Confederate general Earl Van Dorn disrupted U.S. Grant’s strategic plans by attacking Grant’s supply depot in Holly Springs, Mississippi. (I live in Holly Springs, North Carolina.) And while we’re on the subject of the Civil War, here’s a Gone With the Wind connection: Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh got married on my birthday (but not to each other, of course, and not in the same year).
In 1892, two gentlemen in Syracuse, New York patented the inflatable automobile tire on December 20. On the same day in 1945, wartime tire rationing was ended in the United States. So 12/20 has historically been a good day for tires.
The United States invaded Panama on my birthday in 1989. I remember waking up that morning and hearing the news on the radio.
FQ3: Anybody famous share your birthday? Do you have anything in common with them? I share my birthday with the following people:
- Edwin Abbott, author of Flatland. Like him, I am a writer, although my published works are all technical manuals.
- Harvey Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. (Again with the tires!) He founded a huge corporation based in Ohio; I once worked for a huge corporation based in Ohio.
- Dick Wolf, TV producer and creator of the Law & Order franchise. Like him, I have won very few Emmy Awards.
- Uri Geller, charlatan and con man. He and I both speak some German.
- Actresses Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run, An American Werewolf in London) and Nicole DeBoer (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Cube, Mission Genesis, The Outer Limits, The Dead Zone). I’m guessing I share an interest in science fiction and fantasy with both of them.
FQ FUTURE: On your 100th birthday, what year will it be and what do you think you’ll be wanting as a present then? It will be 2059, and I’ll be wanting new tires for my wheelchair — unless it’s a hoverchair.