Musing upon Milestones

So… today I turn 40.

(I’ll give the leap-day jokes a miss.)

Statistically, this is probably a little past the half-way point for me, at least in terms of life expectancy. Since my dad only lived to be 56, and his dad died sometime in his 60’s (maybe early 70’s) I can be accused of optimism if I call 40 “half-way.”

In terms of physical ability I’m also past the half-way point. Oh, I may be able to push back the clock a little bit through healthy living for the next twenty years, but there’s no going back to age 25 (not without blood-nannies, or something similarly techno-miraculous.)

All of this might be kind of depressing. It’s also a very inaccurate way to look at things, since the only person for whom any of this is true is me. It’s a very selfish perspective, and it’s not worth dwelling on. Let’s consider some others:

My oldest daughter has had 12 years of shared experience with me. Even if I only live to be 56, this birthday is still a couple of years shy of the half-way point from her point of view — more if you account for the fact that she doesn’t really remember the first three.

My youngest son has had 5 years with me. If I live to be eighty (look! Optimism!) then the times we’ve already shared as of this point represent only one-ninth of the times we can share going forward.

Sandra and I have enjoyed fifteen years together. If we get another forty, then obviously today isn’t anywhere near the half-way mark.

I suppose the oldest of my siblings, who joins me in her forties next year, can claim that this is pretty close to half-way for the two of us, but she’s the only person I’ve known for that long (okay… there are aunts, uncles, and cousins OLDER than me for whom the halfway point has long since fled… but let’s not dwell on that right now.)

And now let’s consider you, the reader. How long have you known me? Maybe five years? Perhaps eight?

I plan to keep cartooning up until the end. If I hold true to that (and the indications are that I will) then you and I haven’t even hit the 20% mark. I may be “mid-life,” right now, but I’ve got decades in which to continue building worlds in my head and then telling stories about them. This ride isn’t half-way over. It’s barely started.

That’s my happy thought for my Birthday this year.

47 thoughts on “Musing upon Milestones”

  1. Happy Happy Birthday! For all the joy and laughter you bring to me and your readers, i wish that joy and laughter doubled back to you.

    And come to Canada – some of us here want to meet you!! 🙂

      1. Do you know when you’ll be speaking? i’m looking at the site now and there isn’t a schedule (darn website!). i want to make sure i don’t miss you! The hotel you are at is a nice one, and i believe they recently renovated it.

          1. While you are there you have got to go see the CN tower.
            It is rather impressive. However, if you are at all squeamish about heights,while up top, do NOT walk out on the Plexiglas floor. My sphincter nearly ate my shorts.
            It was a rather cool, (if disturbing) view though.

  2. Man, I’m only 23 but you’re making me feel my mortality, Howard. 🙂

    Anyway, happy birthday. And here’s to 40 more good years, or maybe even an old-testament patriarch lifespan.

  3. Happy Birthday!

    As a thought exercise, look at some of the first editions of a lot of the great classic literature. Some of them didn’t sell too well. If you find the number of copies sold for some of them, guestimate at the weight per copy, and compare to pallets of Schlock I but the numbers will look pretty good. Ton for ton, you’ve got a good start on a lasting legacy.

  4. Happy Birthday! We were going to send you a home made post card but Illustrator crashed 🙁 Fortunately, we still have Norbert “The world’s cutest crawling eye monster” as an LJ icon so please except birthday wishes from him in electronic form.

    Out of curiosity (and because we were talking about leap day babies) you are only technically 9 years old as far as birthdays celebrated yes? Can you count that in your life expectancy math? Because that would wrock.

    -JQ of the Smithee Crew

    1. Actually, if you’re counting the number of times February 29th has passed since my birth, I’m celebrating my 10th. People overthink it. We DID have 29 days in February during the Year 2000. I know. I counted.

      1. Algorithms and world wars

        That’s because most people know the first two conditions, but not the third.

        Leapyear when divisible by four
        But not when divisible by one hundred
        Except when divisible by both four and one hundred.

        So 1900 was not a leap year, but 2000 was.

        And only since about 1752 in the US (WWI in the wider world – see my LJ entry at for references)

        Happy day after, Howard! Does sushi excess leave a hangover?

        1. Re: Algorithms and world wars

          Actually, that’s divisible by 400. Any number divisible by 100 is also divisible by 4.

          Anyhow, happy birthday Howard.

          1. Re: Algorithms and world wars

            Oh, drat – you’re right, of course. This is why when I programmed it years ago, I wrote a test harness – and test conditions for the test harness.

  5. I plan to keep cartooning up until the end. If I hold true to that (and the indications are that I will) then you and I haven’t even hit the 20% mark. I may be “mid-life,” right now, but I’ve got decades in which to continue building worlds in my head and then telling stories about them. This ride isn’t half-way over. It’s barely started.

    Wheee! 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday Howard. You, your talent, and your family are a valuable part of our lives for however long you are willing and able to share them with our world.

  7. well, darn it all to heck

    i meant to send you a postcard… and i just got home from work to find it still sitting on the kitchen table. d’oh!

    happy birthday, Howard. isn’t it fortuitous that it falls on a Friday?

  8. it’s boom … no boom today, boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.

    Hippo Birdie Two Ewes Howard.

  9. Congrats, and happy birthday! My aunt Mary is also a leap-year baby.

    I’ve been reading since 2003 or so, so I fall into the same percentile as your youngest son.

  10. The forties are the best! In my humble opinion. And with medical technology advancing, we can expect to live to a healthy 100 at least. I plan on living to be 120 and still be reading new Schlock every day!

  11. Happy Birthday Howard, I’ve been along for the interesting ride for the past 4 or 5 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute. Even the few times you’ve made me want to hunt you down and strangle you for killing off characters.

  12. I guess I should wish you Happy Birthday here too.
    You know when you look at it in the eternal perspective, 40 years is nothing.
    There are some trees that don’t even begin to bear decent fruit at 40 years.
    As well think about how long the universe has been around, let alone God. Of course he created the world in seven days, so I guess the fact that it took you 32 years to start putting out Schlock Mercenary, I will have to say that you are a bit of a procrastinator. ;P

  13. It took me until today to give this the reading that it deserved.

    But I agree wholeheartedly with your better perspective. I feel that all of my life before meeting my lovely wife was just “warm-up” life. The real one that I’m living now is full of children and family. And it’s only about 9 years old. It has a potential future of another 40+ years, leaving me having only lived through about 20% of my life. I’ve got the other 80% to go! Yay!

    And as far as you go, I’ve only been reading Schlock Mercenary for about 3 years, leaving another 97% of my Schlock Mercenary reading to go. (What, you weren’t planning on a century of Schlock?)

  14. heres to many more to come…

    Hi Howard,

    If we reap what we sow, and I know we agree we do, you are nowhere near half way my friend 🙂

    Happy Birthday, and many more to come…


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