Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The annual increasing number: 55

I call this my “double nickels birthday”, which means nothing to the Kiwis in my life. It’s just a little salute to my heritage, though it doesn’t have quite the significance it used to.

Still, I think it’s good that I add a nod to my birthplace. The thing is, I celebrate my birthday where I am now, and continue until it’s my birthday in the geographic place of my birth. I mean, why not?

I grew up in Illinois, of course, and the number 55 actually has some significance for me. One of the two North/South Interstates is Interstate 55, which begins (or ends, depending on your point of view…) at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, at McCormick Place. It’s the main route from Chicago to Springfield (the state capital, of course) and on to St. Louis. All of which means that it’s not a road I drove all that often—except for the parts in Chicago where it’s known as the Stevenson Expressway. So, I-55, as we also called it, was an important 55 when I lived in Illinois.

When I learned to drive in Illinois, and lasting until I left, another 55 was important: The speed limit on highways was 55mph—double nickels—which is approximately 88.5 km/h. Once past Chicago, the speed limit is now often 70 mph (approximately 112.6 km/h; the open road speed limit in New Zealand is 100 km/h, which is about 62.1 mph).

So, in a sense, I’ve been practicing for this birthday for a long time. Well, of course I have—it’s called “life”. However, it’s also true that the number 55 was significant for me for much of my life before now.

I read recently that there are some 10,000 Americans a day turning 65 and there will be until the end of 2029, when the last of the Baby Boomers crosses that threshold. Seems to me, there must be about as many turning 55, too.

While the average retirement age in the USA is 61, nearly half of Baby Boomers plan on working until at least 66, according to a new Gallup poll. This has significant implications for younger workers who may find their career paths blocked by older workers who won’t retire. On they other hand, if Boomers DO retire, they could be a burden on the workers supporting them through taxes. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t, I guess.

I’m still a long way from retirement age, but as I get closer and closer I’m keenly aware that I’m getting closer and closer. And it doesn’t seem possible. For me, the saving grace is that I’m still around to be aware of the fact that I’m getting older; far too many of the age-peers I knew never made it this far.

So, I don’t mind getting older, because it sure beats the alternative. But I hope I never get old, if by that one means stale, resistant to change, unwilling to try new things (and especially new technology). The world and life are too exciting to stop and get rusty, I think.

So, I’m celebrating! And that will be the subject of my next post. I’ve got another full day to celebrate my birthday, after all.
 • • • • •
Some notable things from the day of my birth according to Wikipedia:
  • Carl Switzer, who had portrayed "Alfalfa" of the Little Rascals, was shot and killed in North Hollywood during a fight with Bud Stilz, whom Switzer confronted over a claimed debt. Switzer, 31, had recently been in the Tony Curtis film The Defiant Ones. An inquiry concluded that Stilz had acted in self-defense.
  • Legendary movie producer and director Cecil B. DeMille died at his home after a short illness at the age of 78. At the time of his death, DeMille had recently made plans for an epic film about the Boy Scouts, followed by a secret project that he only described as "something entirely different".
  • European Court of Human Rights established.
  • Born: Paulo Miklos, Brazilian musician and actor; in São Paulo, and Alex McLeish, footballer for Birmingham City and later Scotland national team manager; in Barrhead
My Previous Birthday posts:
2013: The annual increasing number: 54
2012: The annual increasing number
2011: The annual increasing number
2010: The annual increasing number
2009: Happy Birthday to Me…
2008: Another Birthday


rogerogreen said...

Happy birthday! When my mother used to play Bingo, it would be G 55, G double nickel.

Logan said...

How did I miss your birthday?! Happy Birthday, Arthur!

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

That's one I'd never heard, but it figures. Lots of people have "re-purposed" the phrase.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Thanks! But since you left a comment, you technically DIDN'T miss it!