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Birthdays then and now

October 26, 2014

My son just turned 8.

He’s a bigger kid than I was. In 1981, I stood 4’1.5″ tall and weighed 54.5 pounds; he’s 4’4″ and 61 pounds.

His birthday party was bigger, too.

The photo below is from my 1981 party, which took place at my home on Lincoln Avenue in Rutland, Vermont. Four friends (the Cassarino brothers, George Parker, and … Joey Nicholson?) and my sister shared a baseball-and-glove cake made by my mom. There were presents and perhaps a couple of games.

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Phil’s 8th birthday, in contrast, was celebrated at the Pacific Science Center with 11 other kids plus 9 adults. An energetic host led us through a carefully orchestrated set of spy- and science-related activities: creating passports, decoding messages, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, and flame emission spectroscopy (in which compounds are identified by the colors they emit when burned). A fancy cake was prepared by a professional baker. In addition, Phil and I assembled customized goody bags for each attendee.

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I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that blowing out the birthday candles — once a climactic moment of any party — now takes a back seat to flame emission spectroscopy.

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