Ding 25!

By Bay Posted Tuesday Jan 17, 2023

Filed under: Epilogue, Landmarks 37 comments

Dad’s made a birthday post consistently for over ten years, so, on one hand, it feels natural to make one of my own. But, on the other hand, it feels like elbowing into a spot I don’t belong, like my cat trying to “share” my recliner with me. Like, sure, okay, you fit, kind of, but at what cost? Nothing feels natural or right, and you literally have a bed right over there. Derailed cat analogy aside, maybe I’m overthinking it.

The longer I write here, and the more time I get away from the shock of ‘wow, my dad is gone’ the more I think he’d actually appreciate I kept up the torch. I hope. A therapist would have a field day with my recurring dream where he comes back from the dead and reads the site on a toaster he’s using as a computer, and I wake up before I can find out what he thinks of my writing. No really, that keeps happening, and he keeps using different appliances, toaster, hair dryer, air fryer, just plugs into a screen and starts reading. Don’t ask me how, it’s dream logic. I guess dream me is smart enough to realize he can’t read it on his computer since I’ve commandeered it. But honestly, if my father reanimated from the dead some random Tuesday, I’m pretty sure I’d just give him his damn computer back. Not being able to play Skyrim anymore wouldn’t exactly be my top priority in that strange eventIt would obviously be my second priority.

The first time Dad made a birthday post was in 2007. I was nine, and DM of the Rings wasn’t even done yet. The picture of me on the far left up there was taken just a little bit before that time. It’s over ten years later, Dad’s gone, and I’m writing my own. Lately, I find myself constantly getting the song Older, by They Might Be Giants stuck in my head. It’s a song that is both deeply pertinent, and that I heavily associate with my dad.  This video that my dad made when I was a kid was a staple of my childhood. Funnily enough, it was at the core of several lighthearted family arguments. See, often when Dad was working, I would sit behind him and offer an endless supply of child-style advice. Usually, this was composed of things like advising him to use the ‘prettiest’ weapon, or piece of armor or buying/adopting a pet in a game that didn’t even allow it. I ‘helped’ him decorate his houses in Skyrim and Fallout, and deck out several Garry’s Mod maps. But on the day he made the roller coaster video, my advice was actually taken. ‘Add balloons!!’ I demanded ‘Make them all different colors!!’ I begged. I remember because I was so excited he’d taken my advice and that it made it into the video. That fact was my pride and joy! I didn’t have a concept that the video was a hit until years later, but I remembered helping him with it clear as day.

He, of course, didn’t remember my help at all, and insisted until he died that I was completely absent of the creative process. Plagiarism I say! Plagiarism! Who plagiarizes a nine-year-old? Today I set the record straight! Sue my widowed mother for my $1.23 of owed profit!

Obviously, my participation in the balloons in the video doesn’t really matter, but we often playfully argued about the subject.

As for turning 25…? Meh. I looked forward to my birthdays till I turned 21, then…not really.

Of course, 21 in the US is the year you can legally drink. It’s not that I’m a big drinker or anything, in fact, I seem to be strangely immune to the stuff physically, and it usually doesn’t taste good enough to justify itWith the exception of alcoholic root beer, it just really cuts the sweetness.. So, why so excited to turn 21? I don’t know, it unlocked something, that at least felt meaningful. Now, birthdays just feel like a poorly designed leveling system with too many unlocks near the beginning and end, and one long grind in the middle. I guess my next exciting birthday will be 65, the senior discount. Until then it’s just fetch quests and the endless grinding for XP. Not loving the ‘recurring Dad dream’ sidequest or the ‘permanently disabled’ special events, either.



[1] It would obviously be my second priority

[2] With the exception of alcoholic root beer, it just really cuts the sweetness.

From The Archives:

37 thoughts on “Ding 25!

  1. sheer_falacy says:

    Hey, 25 is a special year for rental car companies. I guess at 25 people become better drivers, I dunno.

    And based entirely on the things he posted I am pretty sure Shamus would have liked you continuing the blog. Take this reassurance from a random stranger on the internet for whatever it’s worth.

  2. CrushU says:

    It’s not that I’m a big drinker or anything, in fact, I seem to be strangely immune to the stuff physically, and it usually doesn’t taste good enough to justify it

    This is where I was when I was in college. Then I was introduced to Mixed Drinks, and also Cider. I got to try a bunch of different things and find something that worked for me. I turn out to be a happy drunk, though I’ve only been truly drunk twice in my life (my wedding is one of the two; notable special occasion. … Also because one of my groomsmen kept taking ‘donations’ for the ticketed bar and bringing me more and more drinks.)

    One of the most basic mixed drinks I liked was a White Russian; and it’s like one of the only ways I’ll drink vodka; I don’t even like screwdrivers.

    1. Hugues Ross says:

      As someone with a similar taste in alcohol (which is to say, mostly none) I’d second the cider suggestion. Some are really sour and not that tasty, but there are sweeter hard ciders out there that taste phenomenal! I’ve also found that some meads (a handful of companies out there put mead in cans as a lighter drink, as opposed to the more traditional wine-like niche it usually fills) are also pretty nice. I don’t drink much anymore on account of my meds, but those were my go-tos before.

    2. Will says:

      You may know this and just not like them, but there’s a trick to good screwdrivers.

      So, a bit of backstory. When I was in college, I tended to drink screwdrivers at parties. At college parties, whoever’s providing the alcohol obviously had to pay for it with cash, and so they got the cheapest, most execrable, bottom-shelf, plastic-bottled stuff you can imagine. However, mixers could be purchased using funny money (i.e., meal plan points) from the on-campus grocery, and so were pretty decent; cartons of Tropicana OJ, for the screwdrivers.

      Later, after I graduated and became more-or-less gainfully employed, I went out to a bar with coworkers and ordered a screwdriver. Bars generally make their mixed drinks with pretty good alcohol, but very cheap mixers, because they’re selling the alcohol and the mixer is just an added cost.

      It turns out, for a screwdriver, the mixer is the important part. So that’s the trick: for a tolerable drink, ignore the vodka and splurge on good OJ. Which makes sense, I think, since OJ is a pretty strongly-flavored drink and even bad vodka is fairly mild.

      (This advice isn’t universal; from other college party experiences, I can say it doesn’t work for a gin and tonic, which is actually my preferred drink. Bad gin will overpower a truly astonishing amount of effort to make it palatable.)

  3. Lino says:

    Happy Birthday, Bay! And yes, I’m pretty sure he would have loved your content :)

    1. Zaxares says:

      As a long-time reader, I agree. :) I think you’ve nailed the style of Shamus’ writing that we’ve all come to love, and I’m sure that Shamus would be proud that you’re carrying on the tradition and becoming part of the little community that he started.

  4. Syal says:

    Congratulations on officially being old enough to run for the House of Representatives! Only five more years before the Senate!

    Never liked the taste of alcohol, so I only ever drank socially, but then I would drink until I passed out. I stopped doing that after the last time when my friends reported that they’d been trying to figure out how to explain my alcohol-poisoning death because they thought I wasn’t going to make it. So, one glass of wine at most now. Bought a half pint of peanut butter whiskey when Shamus died, though. Although I couldn’t actually drink it straight so it ended up being a coffee mixer. Not too bad, but… not as good as straight coffee.

  5. SpaceSjut says:

    Happy Baythday!

    (I’ll find the way out on my own.)

    1. Storm says:

      I definitely think Shamus would’ve appreciated your continuing the site, especially some of the smaller traditions like the birthday posts. If nothing else, I definitely appreciate the stuff you’ve done here.

      Happy birthday!

  6. Lars says:

    Maybe a bit late, but Happy Birthday Bay.
    I can’t remember my dreams 20 seconds after waking up, just remember the feeling to really be invested in … whatever.
    Every game should alowe to adopt cats. It would be so funny: a dog looking out the window in Ace Combat or having a pup in Stray :-P
    Looking forward to the next years, where you explain the other photos one at a time.

  7. Eichengard says:

    Happy birthday! As one haunted by dream ghosts for a while, I sympathise but also miss my nightly visitors now they’ve gone.

    Also, please please please let “terrible cat analogies” be the Bay version of “terrible car analogies”!

  8. R says:

    You’re not muscling in. We’re still here for it. Balloons MADE that video.

    Happy birthday.

  9. Grandma S says:

    I was hoping to see “Ding” here! Love the story about the baloons and just for the record I believe your version of the events. Keep up the good work here Bay. Also, I think your auto insurance premiums might go down at 25. That used to be the case at any rate. Don’t run for congress though.

  10. PPX14 says:

    25? You have indeed unlocked something – you may now be a House Representative in the US. Only 10 more years until you are allowed to be President.

  11. Pax says:

    My experience was mostly the same until I reached 29, when I was suddenly struck by the feeling that I was wasting my life, and I had to turn some things around and try to follow my dreams before I hit 30, like it was some kind of final exam.

    When I did turn 30, it weirdly felt like I’d finally finished life’s tutorial.

    1. PPX14 says:

      Haha yes exactly, it’s a shame that the mid-life crisis now arrives at 29.

  12. William H says:

    Hasn’t Bethesda released a version of Skyrim that you can play on your refrigerator yet?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      They have indeed. Unfortunately, given their infamously buggy code, it stops the fridge actually chilling the food inside…

      ..thankfully, modders once again stepped in to do Bethesda’s job for them. You just need to install the Frostfall mod.

      (belated) Happy Birthday, Bay.

  13. Philadelphus says:

    Don’t worry about feeling like you’re elbowing in. I don’t think your dad had a monopoly on “hey it’s my birthday” posts. :)

    For me, I could remember exactly how old I was without thinking about it until I hit 27 a few year ago. Now I always have to stop and think. No idea why 27, that’s just when my brain decided it wasn’t worth storing in L1 cache anymore, I guess.

    I’ve never really been interesting in consuming alcohol (none of my family or friends drank growing up so I never got that “you gotta drink to be an adult” peer pressure that seems to exist), but my days as a lowly teenage utility clerk in a grocery store really put me off it. One of my duties was cleaning up the mess made when customers dropped something while shopping, and beer spills were the absolute worst. They were:
    A) a wet spill, which was always worse than a dry one (e.g., flour);
    B) involved broken glass, which was never fun to deal with;
    C) sticky, so needed a good mopping after (carefully!) cleaning everything up and keeping customers away;
    D) and it turns out I just can’t stand the smell of beer, so it was just a really miserable task all around. (I know, there are other types of alcohol out there – I recently discovered whiskey actually smells pretty nice – but I’m still not really interested in consuming it; with the latest research coming out saying there’s really no safe threshold for alcohol consumption I’m content to leave it to other people to enjoy).

    1. PPX14 says:

      I agree on beer, it boggles my mind that people enjoy the flavour itself.

      I had a similar change at 28 – before 28 I always seemed to after a couple of months think of myself as the age I was going to be next, my mind would get into the frame of reference of being 24 when I was 23, for example. But after 28 my mind refused to acknowledge anything beyond that number, or at the very least thought I was the year below my current age – I’d have to remember that I was indeed 29, or 30. However, after 31 arrived, things seem to go back to normal. Maybe it happens towards the end of each decade. Or maybe the pandemic messed things up :D

  14. DrCapsaicin says:

    Happy Ding! I love that you are picking up the torch and the picture progression in the header is a great touch.

    Out of curiosity, will we be getting a review article on which kitchen appliance is best to read a blog on? Are you limited on the toaster to only when the bread is down? An air fryer seems fine, but potentially loud. A hair dryer doesn’t at first thought seem reasonable *at all* due to the curved surfaces.

  15. mookers says:

    Alcoholic root beer? Wait, what?

    I must find and try this. Unfortunately I live in Australia. Can I just mix vodka and sarsaparilla?

    Happy Ding! I hope you have many more. I thought life began at 30, then 40, then 50… it’s a helluva ride.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    Happy Birthday! (bit late, sorry)

    Man, I can’t remember when was the last time I ever cared about one of my birthdays. I never cared much for parties, and ever since I started working I stopped depending on anyone else for gifts. What else is there? Oh, yeah, the yearly reminder that my body is moving way past its prime and everything I want to do keeps becoming harder. Not looking forward to that one.

  17. Luka says:

    Happy (or, a more truthful wish — meaningful) level up!

    Having recently gone through the process of witnessing my 25th, 26th, and 27th birthdays pass in a blur of life and all its wonderful trappings (scraping through a degree, breaking up with a partner, losing numerous family members), I still find it very valuable to go for a walk and spend the day reflecting on just what the crickey fuck happened over the past year and how I can somehow grow or learn from it. Thanks for wading through those murky waters with us (and for the rad tune).

    1. Jeremy Audet says:

      For a number of years (maybe a decade?), I downplayed birthday celebrations as an unnecessary reminder of time’s relentless march. On several occasions, I spent the day by myself, out on a hike, and reflecting, the same as you. That’s not a bad way to spend a day.

      (By the way, congrats on the degree, and condolences over the breakup and losses.)

      However, I’m coming to appreciate the ritualism of birthday celebrations. I don’t mean this in a religious or spiritual sense. I mean that the annual celebrations are a chance to demonstrate gratefulness for, above all, what gives my life meaning: the people who entangle their lives with mine.

  18. Alberek says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I always get a bit anxious on my birthdays, when I was younger a lot of people used to call me and that. It’s probably better to have a “see this article if you want to be up to date with my stuff”.

  19. RCN says:

    Gotta say, current Bay is the coolest Bay.

    Congrats. The worst part of this ripoff that is “Real Life” is that our generation won’t even unlock the “Congrats, you’re now retired” level tier. Considering all the “feel good” stories about “look at the birthday party this Walmart threw for its oldest employee! Happy 103rd birthday for this good chap! Cheerio!”

    But remember the best part of birthdays.

    That’s one more year still alive to spite the haters.

  20. tmtvl says:

    Happy birthday!

    I stopped caring about birthdays many years ago, when I was somewhere in my late twenties. I’m not overly fond of looking at the past, I’d rather balance it with enjoying the present and thinking of the future.

  21. I admit I smiled and teared up juuust slightly when I saw the title. Been a long-time reader but only rarely comment. Been reading this site since the late 00s and I NEVER KNEW HE MADE THAT VIDEO. Amazing.

    As an aside, I think it’s wonderful that you’re carrying on your father’s legacy like this. I imagine it must be both cathartic and heart-wrenching at the same time.

  22. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Congratulations on completing another rotation around your system’s primary star!

    I will say I had just the tiniest moment of confusion as I didn’t realise how much I associated the “Ding!” format with Shamus.

  23. kincajou says:

    Happy birthday!
    It’s great seeing you gradualloy find your voice on the website as you decide how to make it your own. Hats off for getting to 25 and here’s to many more decades ahead!

    I must say i am impressed with the creativity of your dreams but if there’s something i’ve learned from these many years it’s that if Shamus decided that acessing his website from a toaster or hairdryer was a fun project, by got he’d go at it (and we’d get some fun posts, probably at least one rant against the manufacturer’s approach to “smart electronics” too!). So your dream logic may not be too far off.

    As a side note, first time i get a good look at your profile pic and i must say… nice contacts!

  24. Simplex says:

    Holy wholesome post, Batman!

  25. Taellosse says:

    I experienced a similar attitude towards my birthdays – 18 was a big deal since it meant I was a legal adult, could vote, was theoretically at risk of being drafted, etc. 21 felt significant because it represented the last age-based gateway for legal adult behavior in our country, not because I was eager to start buying booze. After that, I’ve always remained aware of when my birthday has come around, but exactly what my numerical age had reached steadily lost significance – to the point where I often have to do mental arithmetic to be sure I’m citing the correct number.

    That said, I’ve also found reaching new decades in age has remained viscerally significant – turning 30 felt meaningful, and prompted a lot of self-reflection. 40 was similar.

    So happy belated birthday, even if it doesn’t feel like as big a deal as it used to!

  26. Jokerman says:

    You are truly a treasure to your dad, I don’t get much time these days so I’ve just found out, but you have his style with a bit of your own flavour, your dad meant so much to me, but it’s a fraction compared to what you must feel so not much needs saying, but he would be proud of you, that one thing I’m sure of.

  27. johann says:

    Happy belated birthday. Thank you for sharing.

    As for the senior discount, once you are over 40, the servers are so young they can’t tell 40 from 90, and wouldn’t care if they could – you can get the discount well before 65.

    – jb

  28. PPX14 says:

    I just had a thought – it really is quite nice having the next generation continue this website’s content, it seems very fitting, particularly in a world in which things often seem quite impermanent, this feels like a comforting natural continuation in many ways – part of what came before, part completely new – exactly what one would expect of the next generation, and not just because of an arbitrary hereditary line but because clearly your own experience is intrinsically informed by what came before. So thank you for taking on the mantle, I’m often just a dilettante on this website but it’s surprising to think how long I’ve been reading it now, and how much as well – it’s nice to still have it to come back to on a boring tired work lunch to help the day along, read a bit of the new, a bit of the unread archive, and a bit of the old (who can resist looking up the Kai Leng page of the ME3 analysis every so often!)

  29. MelTorefas says:

    Happy (belated) birthday! (Dealing with health stuff and haven’t been up to reading, catching up now.)

    This post made me laugh and cry simultaneously, so… well done.

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