My phone rang yesterday. The one with a chord attached to it that sits on my desk at work.
I picked up the receiver and met my newest friend, Lewis Atkinson. He goes by “Lewie.”
If you were born and raised in Tooele, you might know Lewie. He taught history, geography and a few other things at Tooele High School to over 7,000 students before he retired.
We’re both transplants to Tooele from the Pacific Northwest.
In 1962, while attending Brigham Young University, Lewie, who is from Oregon, was recruited by Sterling Harris to come to Tooele to teach.
I didn’t arrive in Tooele from Washington State until 1998.
Not having the benefit of attending Tooele High School and learning geography from Lewie, he gave me a quick lesson.
Tooele is the center of the world, he said.
I think he was commenting on how we both followed different routes at different times and ended up in the same place.
To back up his theory of Tooelean geocentrism, Lewie pointed out that you can get to anywhere in the world from Tooele. And once there, wherever there may be, when you get tired of being there, you can always find a path that takes you back to Tooele.
I like the way Lewie thinks.
I’ve been in Tooele for 18 years and I haven’t grown tired.
Lewie has been here since I celebrated my fifth birthday in the small western Washington community of Shelton.
As that thought passed through my mind an internal reminder alarm went off in my head. Kind of like when you put an important date in the calendar on your phone. Days, hours, or minutes later, an alarm sounds so you won’t forget.
My internal alarm noted that it was June 1 and my birthday was only three days away, on Saturday, June 4.
I’ll be turning 59 this year.
One year less than 60, 59 is an odd age.
Not only is 59 a mathematical odd number, it is also a prime number, and not just any prime number. Fifty-nine is a twin prime, irregular prime, safe prime, super singular prime, Einstein prime, and Pillai prime.
Don’t ask me what any of that means. I stopped taking math when math started using imaginary numbers.
Fifty-nine is also the atomic number of praseodymium, a rare earth element that must have been discovered after my high school chemistry class.
I think it’s safe to assume 59 is just a strange number. At 58 you are still clearly in your 50s, but at 59 you sit on the precipice of 60. Sixty is old because it’s over half of 100.
When you are 50-whatever, you are still less than half of 100 because the first part of your age is 50. At 59 it becomes obvious that you can only use that logic for one more year.
To make myself feel better, I turned to Google to see who else is 60. A quick Google search revealed that Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Liam Neeson, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, and Sting are all over 60.
If I make it to 60, I’ll have some good company: Tom Hanks, Larry Bird, Mel Gibson and Bob Saget all turn 60 this year.
By Googling I am probably showing my age, because I don’t Bing, Wow, DuckDuckGo, or Dogpile.
I bought a pair of short pants last week, the kind that come to the knees. I put them on with a T-shirt and asked my daughter if I was too old and fat to pull off the look.
She said, “No, you just look like somebody’s dad.”
Keeping up is hard to do.
When I grew up, we had one phone in the house and it was on a party line. Now we have a landline in every room of our house and that seems redundant because we each carry a phone in our pocket where ever we go.
My family watched a black and white television connected to an antenna on the roof of our house until I was in junior high. Now we watch an HD smart flat screen that connects either to a satellite or the wireless internet.
I learned and taught map and compass. Now my cell phone talks to me and gives me directions. I just learned Facebook and Twitter. What are Instagram and Pinterest?
The plans for my birthday this year include a show at Hale Centre Theatre and dinner. Time with family is the greatest present.
Before the dinner and show, I’ll be out at the Wendover Airport covering the High Altitude Pi Reaching Outer Stratosphere launch. If you don’t know what that means you can read all about it in the June 6 paper.
Some of my past birthdays have been interesting. My mother was an elementary school teacher. I was born on June 4, 1957, the last day of school. My mother claims she taught up until the day before I was born.
According to Wikipedia — a phrase not used by a respected journalist, I share my birthday and birth year with Yoon Seok-ho, a South Korean television director and producer, and John Treacy, an Irish Olympic runner medalist.
Robert Kennedy was shot two days after my eleventh birthday. On my thirteenth birthday, Tonga gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
I don’t know why I don’t remember that on my seventeenth birthday Cleveland Indian fans started a riot on “Ten Cent Beer Night” causing the game to be forfeited to the Cleveland Indians.
My eighteenth birthday was also my last day of high school. While I was celebrating my big 18, Angelina Jolie was born in Los Angeles.
I tried to see if I shared my birthday with anyone else famous. A Google search for “famous birthdays June 4” brought up a list with several people age 19 and younger who were listed as a “YouTube star.” I recognized none of them.
That’s another sign of aging — people you have never heard of less than half your age becoming stars in a media you didn’t know had stars.
I’m afraid I will spend the next year turning 60 instead of being 59.
Lewie gave some good advice, though. One of his admonitions was to “never have a good day by accident.”
I think I will change that to “never have a good year by accident.”
Thank you Lewie.