Seventy And Two

Today’s my birthday. I’m seventy-two, which on my planet seems extremely strange since I believe I’m actually in my thirties … but I digress.

Anyhow, I’ve gotten heaps of lovely birthday wishes from friends all over the planet. I wanted to comment on an oddity in that regard. I keep seeing the following meme in various guises:all i really need to know kindergarten.png

For me at least, that’s total hogwash. Maybe I didn’t pay attention, but I can testify that I didn’t learn much in kindergarten. Care to know where I learned all I really need?

From my family and my friends.

For starters, I learned a whole lot from the four main women in my life—my grandmother, my mother, my gorgeous ex-fiancee, and our daughter. Those four put me on the right track and keep me on it. Here’s an example of how that works these days. My gorgeous ex-fiancee says:

“How does some popcorn sound?”

I say: “Hey, that sounds good!”

“Sounds good to me too”, she says, “how soon can you make it?”

My daughter, on the other hand, specializes in the look that says what she used to say out loud to bring me back to earth but no longer needs to vocalize, which is her famous line:

“… in your dreams, Dad …”

Then there are my brothers, men I’ve fought with and fought for during my entire life, good men who taught me a lot. And of course, I’ve learned heaps from all of the cousins, nieces, nephews, inlaws, and outlaws that make up the rest of my family.

Next in line regarding people I learned from are the women I’ve lived with during my wandering peripatetic life. I can’t thank you enough, y’all are awesome.

Following them on the list are all my shipmates, male and female. Going to sea with someone, whether it is for fishing, for boat delivery, for diving, for surfing, any time spent on the water with shipmates is always a time when I learn something.

Then there are my friends who are people of color. In Fijian there’s a lovely term for mixed race people—”kai loma”. “Kai” means people, and “loma” means the center of something. In addition to all the usual things I’ve learned from people of color and from people of the center, I’ve also gotten lessons in how to live in a world that thinks skin color and such things actually make a difference … big props to them all for meeting the hatred of occasional fools with joy and laughter. Well, most of the time at least, and you can’t ask for more than that. Y’all have been an inspiration to me.

I can’t forget my friends from high school. I went to a school where kids cared about each other, and we’ve maintained that throughout the years. To all of you, my great thanks and best regards for a lifetime of friendship and support.

Finally, there are all of the rest, folks met once on a freight train but still remembered, Facebook friends, people I lived with in the LSD house in Hawaii, workmates in dozens of businesses, and all the friends, lovers, and good folks I didn’t mention above … your laughter and support is and has been important as well.

Anyhow, I just wanted to appreciate those folks who wished me well for making it to three score and twelve, because all I really need to know I learned from my family and friends. You all have my profound thanks for your endless contributions to my life.

Best to each of you on a gorgeous clear night, and hey, happy birthday to me!


38 thoughts on “Seventy And Two

  1. Happy Birthday, Willis! I agree completely on this stupid idea about kindergarten: we learn important things all our life (what’s the point of school, university, vocational training, apprenticeships, and so on, if not). I also agree on all the others we learn from. Richard Feynman: “Although my mother didn’t know anything about science, she had a great influence on me as well. In particular, she had a wonderful sense of humor, and I learned from her that the highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.” (My edition) “The making of a scientist”, in Richard Feynman, “What do you care what other people think?”, London, HarperCollins, 1993, p.19.


  2. Willis, you practise (d) yoga, and wrote just now about learning. I’d like to send you something I wrote about my yoga teacher, Janet Downs. I was working in a bilingual school here in Guadalajara, and the Principal asked us to produce something for the Teachers’ Day celebration on “My Teacher”. You know how many did so? She and I, out of about 60 people. That’s the link to her obituary, but I’d like to send you my piece. How?


    • Peter, I have enough trouble dealing with my own writing. Let me encourage you to do what I did, and start your own blog to provide an outlet for your own writing. Post up a note here on the “Tips & Notes” page when you have some of your writing up, I’ll definitely come and take a look.



  3. Many Birthday wishes from one who never went to kindergrten, so I too learned from my friends and family.. not a bad way to go. Really enjoy reading your life adventures, they bring back so of my memories during those same times.. right now I am a lap ahead on our journey around our main heat source.. Keep on truckin and writin..


  4. Congratulations, and may your birthday be followed by many happy ones. We live in interesting times. There is a saying “May you live in interesting times” which might be a Chinese curse, or an Irish curse. I lived in very stale times for years, and interesting ones are better.


  5. We didn’t have kindergarten in my rural school district. Hmmm… maybe that explains a lot.😜

    Happy birthday to you. Birthdays are a convenient marker and a good time to reflect. Sounds like you’ve mad good use of yours.

    My birthday is very close to Christmas. From my youngest years, it always got lost in the Christmas hustle and bustle, including myself! There have been more than a few years where I’ve been surprised to find that my birthday was yesterday or the day before.

    Something my mama taught me: every day on Earth is a gift. Appreciate it and use it to the fullest. I was young when she was drilling that principle into me, so maybe that’s how I came to see everyday as my birthday or perhaps more like my birthday is no more precious than any other day.

    You’ve heard the saying (from idiots, frankly), “He who dies with the most toys (or money) wins!” I’ve never thought that. I’ve always thought that it’s “He who dies having had the most true friends, wins.” There’s also the saying that to have a friend you must be a friend. From this post, it sounds to me like you are winning, Willis.

    Best wishes for many more trips around the sun.



  6. There is a saying that has stuck with me for about 50 of my 70 years –
    “life is just a series of experiences”
    Willis, you’ve certainly taken lots from your series of experiences.
    Happy birthday, and keep on having those experiences.


  7. All I learned in kindergarten was that I didn’t like school. “Twenty years of schoolin’ And they put you on the day shift. Look out kid.” It seems others have some thoughts along that line. Just to be clear, learning is super, lots of schools and teachers, not so much. Although there is nothing better than a great teacher.

    So I never paid any attention to the “all I learned in kindergarten” stuff. Reading that poem now, I have no regrets. I’m sure he means well. Maybe he influenced the previous POTUS.

    2003 update:

    “To begin with, did I really learn everything I need to know in kindergarten? Do I still believe that? Here is the original essay, followed by my editorial reaction.”

    “As I write this I am sixty-five years old. Not so old, really, but I have been around awhile. Kindergarten is a long way back there. What do I know now?”

    “The essay answers the questions asked sooner or later by every one of us who once stared out a classroom window wondering: Why am I here? Why do I have to go to school? We are sent to school to be civilized—to be introduced to the essential machinery of human society.”

    Well …. no comment.

    Except that it reminds me of the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann from the twenties.
    And the most fantastic spoken parody of that, “Deteriorata” by the National Lampoon in 1972. Classic!

    The background story and lyrics to both pieces here:

    Listen to the Deteriorata recording here. There are others on YouTube but with crappy video imposed.
    Avoid Crappy Videos. (That line is not in Deteriorata because it is pre-MTV, pre-YouTube.)

    Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
    and Happy 72!


  8. Happy Birthday !!!

    Age really is nothing more than a number.

    I enjoy the results of the application of your analytical abilities on many topics. Keep up the good work.


  9. So if you’re celebrating the 72nd anniversary of your birthday then you have lived the date 73 times. Time for yet another adventure?

    Happy Birthday!


  10. Thanks Willis….please know we your friends from near and far are all blessed to have you as our friend.
    Your ole highschool friend and proud member of Enterprise Highschool Class of 1964.

    Remember your example there helped me to become an (A) at Santa Barbara City College….when I rebooted my college after burning out as a young Sambos Restaurant Manager Trainee.


  11. Back in Polk County, North Caroline they use to say “It ain’t yer age, it’s yer mileage.” I’ve got you beat by approx. 4.068493151 years. But, it’d be hard pressed on the mileage. Hope you survive yours better than I have. I’ve had so many joints replaced my better half says she’s going to have me cremated and make a wind chime out of the parts.

    Happy Birthday Willis


  12. Happy Birthday, Willis, from a guy who’s behind you by @ 20 months and arrived in much the same world-view space as you by a totally different network of highways, byways, and navigation tools (tho’ dead reckoning is dead reckoning whether you’re afloat or aloft!). I envy your data analysis skills, and send my strongest mental vibes for you to keep adding the solar rotations! Right behind ya’, bro!


  13. Happy belated birthday, youngster!

    At seventy-three-plus, I can get away with saying that. My birthday wish for you is that I will still be able to remind you of my unshakeable seniority over you for at least twenty more years, and that you will keep on educating and entertaining all who live in wonder and appreciate the truth even after I am gone.




  14. Happy Birthday!

    Interesting. We did not have kindergarten.
    Not that it matters. The brain and learning are a funny things.
    Because I started 1st grade at age 5, I would have been 10 in grade 5; 11 in 6th.
    Grades 5 & 6 were in the same room simultaneously and I don’t know which it was when we had a drawing exercise. I learned something about perspective.
    I must have learned something in the first four or five grades, but I don’t remember learning anything.
    The art/perspective thing is the first thing I remember learning, and I can still “see” exactly what I drew, and how it was wrong — nicely explained to me by a young nun.


  15. Happy Birthday, Willis! You’re nine years ahead of me; I’ll catch you up eventually 😉 And I can state with absolute certainty that everything I’ve ever learned in my life, I learned in kindergarten.

    Did I mention I never went to kindergarten? =D


  16. To experience gratitude is one of life’s great gifts and fortunately for the two of us we experience it daily. Thanks for sharing your life with us as well as your genius. Happy birthday!


  17. I would like to thank you for the many posts you have provided in an effort to bring science to climate science.

    I just turned 66 and on my planet 🌎 that also feel strange to me.

    My email address is
    It came about because of my poetry which I hope will be published in a work Entitled The Children’s Book of Quantum Physics.

    My other email is
    I am still waiting for the associates. 😂

    If you ever get the time I would appreciate your sharing with me why you went at David Evans so hard. I admire you and love to read about your adventures but I almost stopped reading your posts because I thought you were much to vicious. Maybe I was wrong. I am glad I kept reading because you have provided some of the best posts before and since then.

    I have been reading the climate war correspondence for a long time. I recently retired from a major automotive company. I worked in the Environmental Dept. At least a decade ago I suggested at a staff meeting the Global Warming folks had it all wrong. You work keeps me believing I have the right of it. If you ever get to Kentucky please let me know. I would like to treat you and you beautiful finance dinner.

    😂😘 bob


    • I don’t remember going hard on David Evans, although I certainly may have. I thought his 11-year notch filter theory was total nonsense, and I likely said so with a deal more vehemence than he deserved … I also was attacked savagely and threatened with legal action by Lord Monckton during that same discussion, which didn’t improve my mood.

      But at the end of the day, I’m sure I could have been more genteel. Mea culpa.

      Thanks for the invite,



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