Birthday Card from NYC Relief – a volunteer service organization

I received this card from the people at New York City Relief for my birthday. It was a nice gesture that I appreciated. New York City Relief is an organization that tries to connect people in need with essential services.

I spent some time volunteering with them in late 2019 and early 2020, before the pandemic really set in, when they used to provide services out of the Bowery Mission. I don’t see the location listed on their calendar anymore.

It was a valuable experience and I’d like to continue, but I’m waiting for the pandemic to die down first. It’s kind of a shame, but we don’t live in a country with a universal healthcare system, and I want to minimize my risk of getting sick with something that is likely to lead to hospitalization. The city is getting busy again, but I think that’s more the result of lockdown fatigue than an actual improvement in the situation.

Birthday Fun and Vintage 1981 Advertisements

So, today is my 30th birthday.  I guess that means I’m old now.  It’s one thing to be in your twenties, but when you’re in your thirties, well, I remember thinking that was really, really old when I was a teenager.  Somehow it doesn’t feel old now though, now that I’m the one pushing past 30.  I think I’ll write a different post about what I’ve learned about life over 30 years.  For now I just want to talk about the day.

Marble checking out pieces of lobster.

This is the first time in years that my birthday hasn’t been on a weekday, so I didn’t have to go to any job or classes.  Instead, I went with my mom to Chinatown to buy lobster and shrimp for my birthday dinner.  Walking through Chinatown always brings back memories of Singapore, especially when I walk past the small restaurants and they have the ducks and chickens hanging in the windows, and I see people ordering cuts of meat over rice, like the “chicken rice” and “duck rice” in Singapore’s hawker centers.  The sounds, the sights, the smells, all very Chinese, obviously, and I couldn’t help but think of my wife, who isn’t here with me to celebrate my birthday this year.  We had a lot of good times together in Singapore, and I’m looking forward to when she’ll join me here so we can make more happy memories together.  Her absence damped my spirits.

Like I said, being 30 now means I’m old.  I got a card from my dad and the text says: [Front] “You’re 30!  You’re Mature!  You’re Responsible!” [Inside] “And To Teenagers Everywhere, You’re Old!”  So, in the spirit of that oldness, my mom gave me a booklet called “1981, Remember When…, A Nostalgic Look Back In Time”.  A lot of cool and interesting stuff happened in 1981.  There was an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, a civil war started in El Salvador with many human rights abuses being committed by the US-backed government, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer got married, and the US Department of Agriculture decided that ketchup counts as a vegetable (WTF?).  One of the best parts of the booklet, though, are the advertisements from 1981 that it includes.  I scanned some to share here:

1981 Meow Mix Print Ad
1981 Meow Mix Print Ad

1981 PreSun Sunscreen Lotion Print Ad
1981 PreSun Sunscreen Lotion Print Ad

1981 Sears Stereo-TV Sale Print Ad
1981 Sears Stereo-TV Sale Print Ad

This one is a little crazy, isn’t it?  In 1981, it cost 400 dollars to get a 19 inch color CRT TV.  Nowadays, when you can find a good sale, you can get a 32 inch 1080p flatscreen TV for 350 dollars.  With inflation, the difference is even higher!  And check out that slammin’ stereo.  That bad boy even played 8 track tapes!

1981 Sinclair ZX80 Print Ad.
1981 Sinclair ZX80 Print Ad.

Personal computers were just starting to become affordable.  This Sinclair ZX80 even ran BASIC, and according to the ad you could be writing complex programs in a week.  With confidence even!  The first computer I ever used was a Commodore 64.  I remember it loaded up in DOS, and through trial and error I figured out how to start the computer games we had for it, which ran on 5 inch floppies.  One was a Superman game that really pissed me off.  Anyway, the Nintendo was a lot better for gaming.

Anyway, my day was enjoyable, overall, but now the day is mostly over and I have some Anthropology homework that’s due by midnight!