About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

Ding 40!

By Shamus
on Wednesday Aug 24, 2011
Filed under:


So today, I turn 40. Where do I go to get my mount?

This has been an interesting journey. I was born at about the same time as the personal computer, although I wouldn’t be aware of them for almost a decade. Here at 40, I’m writing [approximately] every day to tens of thousands of people all over the world, using a computer that is more powerful than the combined processing of every computer that existed before 1971. I could name a lot of other everyday technologies that would have stunned the people of 1971, but they’re all a bit modest in comparison to the one-two-punch of personal computer + internet. I got to see it happen, which was kind of special. I suppose my great-grandparents have me beat, seeing the rise of sanitation, ubiquitous electricity, indoor plumbing, modern medicine, and the automobile. But this internet thing is a close second.

Anyway. Birthday. For the next week or so I’m going to be doing something different. I’m going to write about my life. It will be a sort of an abridged autobiography, in the form of a series of blog posts.

At one point my father taught a creative writing course at Slippery Rock University. On the first day, he went around the room and had each person say why they wanted to take this class, or what they were hoping to write. At one point a young man said he planned to write his autobiography.

My dad looked down at this twenty-year old kid and said, “Okay, but who is going to give a shit?”

That’s my father. We’ll talk more about him later.

In the meantime, I don’t really have a good answer to his question. I don’t know that anyone is interested in reading my story. It’s not particularly exotic, heartwarming, insightful, or gut-wrenching. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened to one human being, just like everyone else’s story.

My father was also a poet. His work was short and mostly free-form verse. He had a dear friend, Greg, who wrote these epic poems that went on for pages and pages. Dad used to tell him, “If it’s more than half a page, it’s not poetry. It’s therapy.” There’s some truth in that, and I’m sure it applies to a lot of art. Any serious expression of emotion is likely the artist working through or trying to understand something in their own experience.

I will not be offended if you skip these autobiographical posts. I might even be relieved. I’m writing them for my own benefit, and if you get anything out of them, then understand it is an unintended side-effect of my grappling with my own past, trying to set it all in order before it’s forgotten. Life is short, and (statistically speaking) mine is more than halfway over.

So now that we have that out of the way….

Happy Birthday to me! Wheeee!


Here I am, turning 10. It would be a quarter century before anyone would look at this cake and think to make a joke about it being a lie. So I had that going for me. On the other hand, that wallpaper! Ugh.

Comments (178)

1 2 3

  1. Ian says:

    Happy birthday from someone who’s only a couple of months away from turning 40 himself!

  2. theorbtwo says:

    Reading this makes me recall http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=764 , which I very much enjoyed reading. If these are half as good, they will be very interesting.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Indeed! I quite enjoyed those posts. They really did teach a valuable lesson about confidence, making plans, and pursuing what you want. I feel like I learned a valuable lesson.
      Shamus, your life is like a pithy 80’s children’s cartoon!

    • random_physicist says:

      I don’t know if I had read that post before. It was an especially good read because I was just at Seven Springs for a conference, so I could picture how everything went down.

  3. Vipermagi says:

    In that case: Happy birthday Shamus :)

  4. Eruanno says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus!

    (And happy birthday to me as well, I turn 21 today. Yay. Send gifts!)

  5. Eddie says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus! I’m sure you’ll enjoy knowing that you’re now twice as old as me.

  6. Ahluka says:

    Happy birthday! =)

    I enjoy reading pretty much everything you write, so I look forward to the next week or so ^.^

    You better be putting off the Deus Ex posts — I want a chance to play it myself =P
    Besides, reading about it before it unlocks is just TORTURE. Stupid UK.

  7. Happy birthday!

    Congratulations on being twice as old as I am. Twice. As. OOOOOOOOld.

    That’s at least five times as old as Rutskarn!

  8. Dovius says:

    Happy birthday Shamus, let’s hope there’s many more healthy years to come!

  9. SougoXIII says:

    Happy 40th birthday Shamus! I’m looking towards your autobiography posts next week.

  10. Gravebound says:

    Good tidings to you, sir, on the celebration of the day of your birth.

  11. Vlad says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus! I’d like to read your autobiography.

  12. Mumbles says:

    Happy Birthday, dude. I know the big 4-0 is scary, but you’re leveling up like a pro.

  13. Matthias says:

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for making me feel young (no pun intended ;-))

  14. noahpocalypse says:

    Happy birfday!

    I’m interested in reading your autobiography because

    a. You’re a good writer and
    b. I like reading.

    P.S. So jealous! I’d love to have seen computers evolve. That would be so awesome.

  15. Lalaland says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve noticed the years seems to be getting shorter since I passed 30, I take it this doesn’t improve? ;-)

  16. Studoku says:

    When nobody was looking, Shamus was Forty years old. That’s as many as Four Tens. That’s wonderful- Happy Birthday!

  17. Kana says:

    Happy Birthday!
    Thanks for all the great posts you given us in the past Shamus, and all the great ones to come. :3
    It’s always a blast here!

  18. MDCore says:

    Your tenth birthday looks like it happened in a brown shooter. I bet you even played cover-based hide-and-seek. And quicktime-event musical chairs.

  19. Strangeite says:

    Congrats on making it this far. I hope the next 40 are as blessed as your first 40.

    May you grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen the trust in your goodness all the days of your life.

  20. tengokujin says:

    Joyeux anniversaire.
    Ok, I’m done being hipster :p

  21. Factoid says:

    So what is the terminology for blogging your autobiography? Is it a blogobiography? Autoblogography? Internet, we need a word for this, STAT! Happy birthday Shamus!

  22. X2-Eliah says:

    Happy B-day :)

    Eh. In some ways I kind of envy your generation for being able to see first-hand the evolution of the internet and the personal computer..

    I mean, heck, what do we have? Maybe we’ll see the transition to completely cloud-based operating systems, or the univifcation of everything into a single Cloud that uses any device as a terminal.. But that somehow doesn’t seem a) likely, and b) as interesting. :(

    • Mari says:

      Maybe we'll see the transition back to completely cloud-based operating systems

      *Fixed. And yes, I’m old. For the young and curious, google “dumb terminal” and marvel.

    • Strangeite says:

      Be careful what you wish for. I am not saying that the future is dark and foreboding but at the current trajectory the monumental changes in technology over the next 40 years will make the past 40 look like ant hills.

      I have 3 kids and when I think of the future in which they will live, I have but one humble wish. That I will be able to set the clock on the future equivalent of the VCR. I am not positive that the Nerd Rapture that is the Singularity will happen, but I am positive that technological progress is going to advance so swiftly that nobody will be able to keep up and understand it all, but rather the best skill set will be being able to ride the wave.

  23. Packie says:

    Happy Birthday Shamus! :D

    My dad looked down at this twenty-year old kid and said, “Okay, but who is going to give a shit?”

    I think I just found out where Shamus got his snarkiness…

  24. burningdragoon says:

    Cool beans. Happy birthday Shamus

  25. Rob Lundeen says:

    Happy birthday Shamus! :)

  26. ccesarano says:

    If I remember the core rulebook correctly (which I’m sure I don’t), you’ve still got a couple decades before you start getting a -1 to things like strength and constitution. But hey, you get a +1 to Wisdom!

    I think all you gotta do now is roll a will save vs. mid-life crisis.

    As for the autobiography, I think in your case you have the advantage of people already liking what you write about. Now that they like how you think, it is inevitable that they will enjoy knowing more about your personal life.

    I tend to enjoy such posts myself, but that’s partly because the memories you choose to post always seem happy (except for when you worked at…Taco Bell?). It’s nice, considering some of the first memories I “clearly” recall are angry or sad ones, followed later by happy ones.

  27. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Shamus is a Virgo?

    Eh, it doesn’t really surprise me, in retrospect…

    Happy Birthday!

  28. Mari says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus! I for one am curious about your autobiobloggery because I’ve caught some hints here and there about what young Shamus was like and I’m getting some picture of what mature Shamus is like and I really, really want to know how you got from point A to point B.

    Also: Wow. That wallpaper is even more hideous than I imagined. Kudos for not being scarred for life by it.

  29. Kevin says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for all the work you do on this site. I find it very interesting and entertaining. I look forward to the autobiography blog posts. It will be cool to find out how you got to where you are. I’m almost 32, and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

    Have a good one!

    Oh, and by the looks of that picture, when you were 10, the world was brown.

  30. JT says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus – may you have many, many more to come!

  31. somebodys_kid says:

    Happy Birthday! I look forward to reading these posts.

  32. Adam says:

    Lie cake? What?

    Also Happy Birthday, I hit a quarter century shortly.

  33. LB says:

    Hey, Happy Birthday, Shamus. Have a good one, and here’s to the next forty.

    (…Also is this the first post to contain a swear word on the blog outside of Spoiler Warning?)

  34. Eldiran says:

    Not gonna lie, my instant reaction to you saying you’d write a series of biographical blog posts was “Sweet!” Although to be honest I think that’s my default reaction to you saying you’re going to write blog posts, regardless of topic.

    Also, if your least favorite thing about your childhood photos is the wallpapers, that’s a pretty good place to be.

    Happy birthday!

  35. RichVR says:

    Happy Birthday, dude. Fear not the “big” 40. You are a young fella compared to us that have seen 50.

  36. Jacob says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus! Thanks for all the great reads!

  37. Patrick the Obsiquious says:

    You can’t be 40…that would mean that I’m….oh crap. Oh well. I’ve known you longer than most of these……fans?…of yours. You managed to turn out OK. I suppose. I still feel I somehow failed to teach you the cultural signifigance of football. But at least I got you to buy a Cypress Hill CD once….

  38. Pearly says:

    No, they changed it. Now you get your mount at sixteen.

  39. arron says:

    Did the 40th thing myself last November. Have a Happy 40th Birthday! :D

  40. Joerg Mosthaf says:

    Happy Birthday. My turn to ding 40 is next year :)

  41. Ubernostrum says:

    Happy birthday!


    Seriously, angel food cake is the best cake.

    • MOM says:

      I’m sure his grandma made this. It was the type cake she made because she was diabetic and it is very low in clories and sugar. I didn’t have an angel food cake pan- although I have hers now.

  42. Dovius says:

    Seeing as nobody has done it yet, and since I love crappy, over-used gags.

  43. Wtrmute says:

    Congratulations, sir. It’s a big milestone, but don’t let it get to your head; you still have a mid-life crisis to plan ahead! These things don’t happen by themselves, you know!

    As for long, epic poems, I think they’re more poetry than that short, constructivist Modern/Postmodern crap we’ve been fed for the past eighty years or so. But this theory that what makes poetry is the formal constraints imposed on it would sound very odd to the self-absorbed crowd which passes for poets nowadays (excuse the rampant crankiness, it is a pet peeve).

  44. Mathias says:

    And so the 16 (almost 17)-year old part of my brain laughs at you for being twice as old as me.

    …And the part of my brain that thinks smart adults are awesome makes me very, very ashamed that I even brought it up.

    Happy birthday, Shamus.

    • Audacity says:

      Careful pal, I started reading Twentysided when I was your age and Shamus had just turned 36. Now whenever he announces his birthday it makes ME feel old.

      Happy Birthday, Shamus. Thanks for four years of great laughs. God bless.

  45. Rick says:

    Happy birthday Shamus

  46. Eärlindor says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus!

    I was going to make a snide comment about getting my mount at 35, but Pearly beat me to it.

    No, they changed it. Now you get your mount at sixteen

    Blew me out of the water too.

    Anyway, looking forward to your posts!

    • Pearly says:

      Don’t you know, in American realms, the minimum level for the American-faction vehicle mount is sixteen? You can get it at fifteen if you rep-grind, but it takes so much effort, you might as well wait.

  47. Rick Tacular says:

    Welcome to the club. No, go make those doctor appointments before your wife does it for you (believe me, you want to make those appointments yourself) ;-)

  48. Zukhramm says:

    Brown cake, brown walls, brown shirt. I guess those games are more realistic than we thought.

    Happy Birthday!

  49. Fede says:

    Happy birthday Shamus!

  50. Jethro says:

    1971 was a good year, my friend. Welcome to the club.

  51. Burek says:

    Happy birthday and all that!

    Which got me thinking. When we reach 60 do we get epic mounts in form of walking sticks?

  52. Chris Headley says:

    Happy Birthday and I say that we have not seen flying cars but we do have a phone that dwarfs the star trek communicator. Everything is about enjoying the ride and I would like to say the upcoming blog posts will be as interesting as your other posts. Happy birthday once again.

  53. krellen says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus. Thanks for collecting a group of like-aged folks so I don’t always feel so ancient on the internet.

  54. Jason says:

    Someone forgot to ice your cake for your 10th birthday. I hope you have a great birthday.

  55. Meredith says:

    Happy birthday! :)

  56. Nikos Saripoulos says:

    Thank for all your posts… if you’re so awesome right know think what you’ll become in the following years… looking forward to your auto-bio-shock-blog-coverbased-graphy… i would like to take example and learn from your path in life

    Happy birthday

  57. Jack DeCoeur says:

    Hey Shamus, this is actually the first comment I’ve ever left on your site, but you’ve been keeping me entertained for years, so figured I’d stop lurking and wish you a very Happy Birthday and many good ones to come!

  58. Boison says:

    Shamus, you have truly done your part to enrich the world during your time here. At least the few years I have witnessed. I would definitely be interested in your Autobioblogography.

    Are you gonna go all mid-life crisis and buy a Ferrari, and then spend all your time on Spoiler Warning talking about your new car? ’cause that would be aweso- no, wait, awful.

    Happy Birthday, Shamus.

  59. Deadpool says:

    Everyone’s life story is exotic, heartwarming, insightful and gut-wrenching… It’s all a matter of how you look at it.

  60. ZapperDude says:

    Happy birthday mr. Young!

  61. Zombie Pete says:

    40 is the new 30, although you will now notice the incredible acceleration of time. So, keep writing.

    And that cake? That cake is the TRUTH!

    Happy Birthday, Shamus. And thank you for all that you do.

1 2 3

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>