August 19, 2020 – Happy Birthday, my friend

A very good friend of mine turns 70 years old on August 19, 2020. I too turn 70 the following month, in September of 2020. As you can imagine, I’ve had great fun at his expense, chiding him unmercifully on every previous birthday, about his advancing age. And what can he do? Facts are facts, he’s older than me (by 42 days) and as much as it may appear to be true, I am not really catching up on him. For his birthday this year, I sent him a card and the enclosed greeting. Now I’m sharing it with you. I hope you like it:

Dear Steve,

Today, on August 19, 2020, you turn 70 years old. I know, this seems near impossible to comprehend. Being older than I am, I’ve always looked up to you – sort of like a father figure. But today, it needs to be said, you’re looking more like a grandfather figure.

Seventy years old (70) just sounds, well, old – really, really old. Have you tried looking at it in terms of dog years? If a dog’s first human year equals 15 dog years and each year after is 4 dog years for each human year, you would be 296 years old – in dog years. Yeah, okay, maybe not helping?

So, how about looking at it this way — using roman numerals? Using the DD.MM.YYYY notation, you are a mere XIX.VIII.MCML I sense you’re feeling better already… gramps.

Although the 19th of August lacks any truly significant historic events such as the start or end of major wars or pandemics, discovery of important vaccines, emancipation or enslavement of any significant group of people, the birth or death of a person anyone wishes to remember, August 19 does indeed turn out to be an important day in history after all. While it did require a through reading of human history beginning in 295 BC, I was able to compile the following, in chronological order, of actual, real, genuine historical events that coincide precisely with your birthday:

  • 19, 295 BC – The first temple to Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility, is dedicated by Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges during the Third Samnite War. Funds for the temple came from fines imposed on Roman women for sexual misdemeanors. I am not making this up! Imagine how much more money they could have raised if they’d taxed men, instead!
  • 19, 43 BC – Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later known as Augustus, compels the Roman Senate to elect him Consul. His egregious political behavior leads to the first recorded campaign finance reform legislation.
  • 19, 1153 – Baldwin III of Jerusalem (no relation to Alec Baldwin) takes control of the Kingdom of Jerusalem from his mother Melisende. His time in office is marked by a host of controversial laws, including making it illegal to hold salmon under suspicious circumstances, outlawing stink bombs, making it illegal to whisper in the temple or swear out loud in public, requiring fried chicken to be eaten only with fingers and hands, and making it illegal to pick lint off someone else’s robes. Apparently, he had no issue with picking your friend’s nose.
  • 19, 1504 – In Ireland, the Hiberno-Norman de Burghs (shortened to “the Burkes”) and Anglo-Norman Fitzgerald’s fight in the Battle of Knockdoe. Soon after, “Muckanaghederdauhaulia” is founded or, in Irish, “‘Muiceanach idir Dha Sahaile,” This small town in County Galway translates to “ridge, shaped like a pig’s back, between two expanses of briny water.” It’s eventually become a favorite everywhere in the “try and say that five times fast,” game.
  • 19, 1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots, 18 years old at the time, returns to Scotland after spending 13 years in France, where she attended French cooking classes. Refusing to discontinue wearing a beret, she irritates the castle staff by speaking to everyone in a French accent.
  • 19, 1612 – On this day, the “Samlesbury witches”, three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury, England, were put on trial, accused of practicing witchcraft. One of the most famous witch trials in British history, the solicitor representing them had never ever, even once, cleaned his wig.
  • 19, 1666 – The second Anglo-Dutch War was brewing and on this day, Rear Admiral Robert Holmes leads a raid on the Dutch island of Terschelling, destroying 150 merchant ships by smearing them with bacon grease and setting them on fire, an act later known as “Holmes’s Bonfire.” Look it up!
  • 19, 1759 – The battle of Lagos, a Naval battle during the Seven Years’ War between Great Britain and France occurred on August 19. Soon after, pantyhose is invented in France and the war was soon over.
  • 19, 1795 – George Washington issues the first presidential pardon to the members of the Whiskey Rebellion, setting an important precedent for pandering to crybabies mad about paying taxes.
  • 19, 1812 – The American frigate USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Exceeding its $100,000 estimate to build at well over $300,000, it began the legacy of all government contracts taking twice as long and costing at least 3 times the projected price.
  • 19, 1909 – The first automobile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 12,000 people attended. The oldest driver to ever win here was Al Unser Sr. when he was 47 years and 360 days old. So, almost 48 – more than twenty years younger than you!
  • 19, 1960 – The Soviet Union initiates the Sputnik program: Korabl-Sputnik 2, launching a satellite into space with two dogs (Belka and Strelka), 40 mice, two rats, a variety of house plants, a chess set, a gingerbread house and toy airplane made from popsicle sticks.
  • 19, 1964 – not much of anything happened.
  • 19, 1965 – Japanese prime minister Eisaku Satō becomes the first post-World War II sitting prime minister to wear white platform tennis shoes.
  • 19, 1970 – After downing an American U-2 plane and sentencing the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, to ten years imprisonment by the Soviet Union for espionage, the term “Cold War” was used for the first time, given how much colder it was in the Soviet Union. After the long running “cold war,” it was concluded that although violence never solves anything, it turns out it’s a fine fix for quick, short-term conflicts in many situations.
  • 19, 1974 – Gerald Ford pardons Richard Nixon, reasoning that holding a former president to the same legal standards as an ordinary citizen would be an unbearable trauma for the nation.
  • 19, 1980 – Saudi Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar makes an emergency landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Later the pilot was found to having been “just this close,” to finally solving his new Rubik’s Cube puzzle.
  • 19, 1987 – This day was the first recorded and documented acknowledgement that the 80’s was “a decade that really sucks.” This was the year the movie Three Men and A Baby beat out Fatal Attraction and Beverly Hills Cop for biggest movie of the year. It was the first ever movie/Disney Happy Meal tie-in, including Muppet Babies Happy Meal Toys. The biggest song of the year was by the Bangles — “Walk Like an Egyptian.” The first cell phones came out – they were the size and weight of bricks, had a $150 monthly service fee and cost 50 cents per minute to use. Televangelist Jim Bakker paid Jessica Hahn $265,000 in hush money from church coffers. The DeLorean was the bright and shining light in car design but the Chrysler LeBaron and Capri were the biggest sellers.
  • 19, 1989 – Radio Caroline, the offshore pirate station in the North Sea, is raided by British and Dutch governments. At the same time, a blizzard hits the northeastern seaboard of the US and crews take ten years to dig out Rhode Island. A study finds that Medical Marijuana is effective for treating long-term pain over Jerry Garcia’s death.
  • 19, 1999 – Puerto Rican activist Elizam Escobar is pardoned by Bill Clinton after it is discovered that being Puerto Rican is not illegal.
  • 19, 2000 – Archaeologists discover a cave with the earliest known built-in shelves.
  • 19, 2003 – The Concord Public Library becomes the first of many institutions to ban The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for its unfair and prejudiced depiction of alcoholic fathers.
  • 19, 2012 – A crippling Blizzard earned the name Snowmageddon, after world leaders addressed the storm during a meeting and begged for it to bring about Judgement Day at last.
  • August 19, 2016 – A Florida man, Reza Baluchi, had to be rescued by the Coast Guard AGAIN after his third attempt to reach Bermuda in a giant homemade bubble. Baluchi previously tried to make the trip in 2014 and again, last April, but had to be rescued both times. I know how much you love these nautical stories and so am attaching the video about it.
  • August 19, 2019 – A Florida man, Michael Owns, 61, was caught on surveillance footage grabbing two packs of rib-eye steaks – worth $56.35 – putting them in his pants and walking out of the store. A loss prevention officer apprehended Owens as he exited the store. The steaks were recovered but weren’t allowed back on the store shelves.

Above everything else, I don’t want today to get you down. How about spending some time reflecting on what you were in your past life? Today’s science is now able to determine, based on the correct spelling of your full name and birthdate, the precise individual you were in your most previous incarnation. I spent the big bucks ($5.95) and learned through this incredible service that their research says your most recent life, the one before this one (is this clear enough?), you were born somewhere around the territory of Western Australia in approximately 1150. Your profession was teacher, mathematician and/or geologist. I do not know how you feel about this, but you were a female. You loved marmite and kept a kangaroo named “Kurt” as a pet.

You aren’t alone, my friend. Many people were born on August 19, 1950. It turns out experts are now able to estimate with some certainty, that exactly 266,848 babies were born on this day. That is the equivalent to 185 babies every minute. So, not feeling quite so special, are we? Just be glad they didn’t all cry at once.

As your near and dear friend, I wanted you to be energized, enlightened and happy on your “oh so special day,” which is what led me to this extensive research and study. It was all for you!

Happy Birthday, dear friend!

Steve