I don't usually put personal stuff on this blog for a lot of different reasons, but today is a rare exception.
You see, today is my mom's 80th birthday.
She's been a huge influence on me. Of course, your parents are supposed to be, for better or worse, but in this case I'm going with better. My parents were really great about encouraging my siblings and me to pursue the lives we wanted (including letting me keep my giant 10" Newtonian telescope in the corner of the living room for years -- visitors thought it was a water heater), and that resulted in all of us going after unusual or non-standard careers. And, come to think of it, all of us have made major career changes at some point in our lives; I consider that to be a positive aspect since it meant we were unsatisfied with the way things were going and, rather than settle, we went off in new directions to find what it was we wanted.
My oldest brotheris an electrical engineer has a degree in computer science and now runs a computer and networking consultant business in Atlanta. My other brother's the chief engineer for construction in a Maryland county public school system. My sister has a Masters degree in music and sang opera, for criminy's sake! And me, I've had a handful of weird careers myself. Writing stuff while wearing pajamas may be the most mainstream of them.
So my brothers and sister owe a lot to my mom. I know she reads this blog (though the fire-eating and tattooing and gun-shooting stuff may have her reading this from behind the couch), and I also know she would love it if everyone here sent their best wishes to her.
Happy birthday, Mom.