Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year End Roll-Over

I have this problem of reprogramming my brain for the new year roll-over. 

In my days of creating memo's to the files at Accenture, it took months for me to get the date correct.  I discovered how confusing this could be during a deposition, when a lawyer challenged me on a memo that I had written a year before  the event.  He knew I had mis-dated the memo but he wanted to confuse me with the hopes of digging something up.  One hour into the deposition, I finally figured out that I had mis-dated the memo - pointed this out to him.  He just smiled and said -  "I know".  Those lawyers - sneaky fellows :)

Calendars are fairly arbitrary - there is the Gregorian, Julian, Islamic, Hebrew, Persian, Hindu, Chinese, Lunar, Solar .... the list goes on.  I have been watching the History Channel DVD's on "Rome Rise and Fall of an Empire.  Like all conquering nations our calendar is a result of Gaius Julius Caesar (the month of July is named because of his birthday - July 13 100BC). 

Just imagine the stress in your life if suddenly a conquering nation decided to change the calendar - Birthdays, New Years, Holidays etc.   A year end roll-over would be the least of your concerns.

Since it takes me months for the actual change Year End roll over - maybe I like the Chinese system - Feb 14 is when 2010 begins.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Life Club

It's not a country club - no interviews, no recommendation letters, no initiation fees, and no minimums.  It's the milestones of life that gets you into the various levels in the club. 

I reflected with friends over dinner how their discussions about their kids (several years ahead of mine) went right over my head -  drivers permits, first crash, leaving for college ......  the list goes on and on.  Now my peers are beginning to have kids get married, first grandchildren etc.  

Each of these events (and others) are a punch in your life ticket and entry into another circle of people in the Life Club.  You now understand what they were talking about - you relate  --  "Been there, Done that".

In 2009, I entered (partially) into the  "kids go to college" section of the Life Club.  My "empty nester" ticket won't get punched until 2017.  I feel lucky about that and thank Susan for her strategic planning 10 years ago.

The Life Club has no waiting list - you can prepare for any level today.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Something about year end creates the desire in me to create annual goals.  Susan and I used to do this as we would travel on the road during the Xmas Holidays.  It's entertaining to go back and look at those historical goals also.  We would do annual stuff and also long range items. 

The categories one uses for goals is also an interesting exercise.  I just picked up an interesting book at the library - "Who's got your back" by Keith Ferrazzi.  I haven't finished the book but I chose it based on the picture I saw on page 163 - Your Personal Success Wheel.  It shows a wheel with 7 equal parts (categories) - Spirituality, Intellectual Stimulation, Physical Wellness, Financial Success, Professional Growth, Deep Relationships, and Giving Back.  That might be a good set of categories this year to set goals by.

Vistage gives me another opportunity to set goals and we will do that at our January meeting.  I did that last year and reported monthly about my progress in those goals. 

I think goals are important to your emotional, physical and spiritual well being. 

Goal- less in sports means you can,  at best,  end in a tie.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I was just reading the Best 100 Products 2009 list from PC World Magazine.  This is a gadget lovers dream list and luckily I didn't read it prior to creating my Christmas list. 

Number two on the list - Google Voice.  Amazing - this free service is what I dreamed would happen someday to telephony.  Each person would be assigned a phone number (almost like a Social Security Number) and that master number would control all communications to you (and a number that would stay with you for life). You can read about it (or see it) at 

So much has changed with the phone in my 55 years of existence.  My first cell phone (in my 1986 Supra--- and I still have that original number on Susan's phone) was over $1K and I forget the cost per minute.  Now 23 years later I've lost track of the number of cell phones I have acquired and not yet disposed of. 

How much time do we spend on the phone? 

One source I found states that for landlines it is about 480 minutes per person per mth and  for wireless 742 minutes per person per mth and I'm sure there are many surveys that site different averages.  So I decided to look at my phone - yes I reset the timer on Feb. 20th 2008 and it states I have talked 265 hours, 14 minutes and 3 seconds since that date.  So my personal average is 723 minutes/mth (12 hours).  That's over 3000 hours since I have owned a cell phone (125 - 24 hour days). 

Now you know why I refuse to answer the landline phone.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Most Memorable Xmas Gift

What was your most memorable Christmas gift and what age were you? 

Mine was Christmas1962 (age 8) and a Mattel toy called Vac-U-Form (you can buy it now on for $850).  Vac-U-Form was a small plastic extruder like machine that enabled you to heat to a soft state a sheet of styrene plastic that when flipped over a vacuum like device, you could mold small toys and parts. 

My memory is that it was a very expensive toy (too much for my parents
to pay for) and unlikely to be found under the Christmas Tree.  That
feature, my age, and the hours and hours of use could be why it is
etched into my memory banks - and qualifies for the most memorable
Christmas gift.

The hours and hours of use probably relate to the fact that we were not
just showered with many toys.  I observed Ellen (10 this year) and her
after Christmas activities.  On the day she dutifully tried out each of
her gifts for 10-15 minutes each (even played with some of the adult
gadgets received by Jenna, Susan and myself).  I wonder if she will
really spend hours and hours with one of the gifts received - will any
of these 2009 gifts be memorable?

So what makes it memorable - your age, the giver, the cost, the expectation, the surprise, the longevity of use, the volume of gifts, the popularity, the advertising, or some other feature? 

 When all the gift attributes align --- memories get defined.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Top of the Tree

What's at  the top of your Christmas Tree - Star or Angel -  maybe something else - Ribbon, Santa etc?  My imprecise statistical analysis says that 99% are Stars or Angels with Star winning out. 

More importantly did you marry a Star or an Angel? On a mixed marriage, there is a 99% chance that the female wins out on what goes to the top of the tree - even though it is the male who is always responsible for putting the tree up and is the taller person appointed to place the final top ornament correctly centered. 

And whatever you have at the top - it rarely changes over the years.  That same 1950's angel appears on my parents tree year after year. It's like hearing Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas" each year -  a tradition that brings the memories of Christmas' past.

And what was on the top of the Christmas Tree in the final scene of White Christmas?  You better watch it again tonight for the answer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Have you ever got the same design Christmas Card two years
in a row from the same person?   Yes that
is what I call re-carding.  Or a
Christmas letter on the same stationary again – yes you got it -  re-sheeting.
Or how about those Christmas cards with the printed name and
the computer address label – that’s feeling real special. And then there is my
real pet peeve – getting the card with only the children’s pictures - a single photo sheet - no note, no signature.   Hey -
I want to see you – get in the shot!
Take a look at all the Christmas cards you received this
year.  What’s the best looking card, most
innovative, most funny,  etc.  We should have an Oscar awards for Chistmas
Card Design.  That sould eliminate the
With the price of postage at 44 cents and rising, the budget
for Christmas Cards is getting squeezed.
As you create the note, letter and stuff the envelope how much time is
really spent per card?  And for those
received you need to spend time to read them and admire the design.  We must be talking about a billion dollar
So how many cards do you send out and how many did you
 Are you a net card
gainer or loser?  Remember to report that
on your taxes as a short term capital gain or loss.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Letters

Don't you just hate those Christmas Letters you receive with the Xmas cards :)  --- Especially in 8 font New Times Roman with the page packed to the edge of the margins.  On and on about .......   you get the drift.  There's a humorous Utube video of "Ask the Fruitcake Lady" featured on Jay Leno who gripes about those letters -  it was sent to me in response to my 2007 letter.

Yes -  I just sent out the 9th Wisner Family letter and email.  Actually I use the Merry Christmas email as an annual way to have the discipline to update my Outlook email addresses.  The returned emails get deleted (so that's your answer on how to not get sent an email).

I do get a few responses back about the email/letter.  There are people who enjoy the family update, the puzzles inside, or just are willing to put up with my antics. 

I like the tradition of composing the letter as it lets me reflect on what happened in the past year.  It's amazing how quickly you forget an event, and what things rise to the important event top ten.  And since I keep all the past letters, it is a written log of the family journey (albeit through my filter and crazy authorship). 

Really there is only one person who enjoys reading the letter - ME :)  And that's who counts.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Health or Wealth

I watched the cloture vote last night at 1:00am (officially Monday morning) in the Senate on the way to a Healthcare bill by Xmas.  My prediction was that it wouldn't happen but now it looks eminent (another forecasting error).

With a choice of Health or Wealth - what  do you pick?   "If you have your Health you have everything"  

One way to look at this question is to determine how much you would spend to improve your health (e.g. reduce pain, avoid death, etc.) without insurance.  We know that  with insurance 27% of Medicare's budget goes to people in their final years of life - but that's what happens in the end - your health fails and you spend money.  And let's estimate it takes $50K on average for health care at the end of your life (in 2006 the highest city cost was Manhattan at $35K - lowest Wichita Falls at $10K). 

This becomes the hidden question in the Heathcare Bill.  Can we spend money now to lower the end of life cost and/or the total lifetime healthcare cost of an individual? Should we mandate that you spend your money now to extend your life? (e.g make the Health vs Wealth decision for you).

I like Benjamin Franklin's quote on the subject - "Nothing is more fatal to health than an over care of it"

I wish he had been on the floor of the Senate last night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It only bleeds

Rich McCord and I  were talking yesterday about work.  I made the comment "Why should anyone keep beating their head against the wall" and Rich replied Yeah - "because it only bleeds". 

So you have found a technical detail in your work that would dramatically improve the business.  You bring it up and the naysayers begin to beat it down.  You are passionate, young, energetic, risktaking, and willing to go to the mat.  Or you are an engineer and see the beauty in the elegance of the design, the need for harmony in the science.  Time or money is not the object here.  You will make the time and you know the investment of money will pay off.

Fight as you might - the battle is uphill.  But with relentless persistence you get the feature implemented.  And the result?

Your boss gets a bigger bonus and because he is so many layers above you, he doesn't even know why he got the bonus.

Your head is sore, there is blood on the floor.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The real story

As they say (who's the they?)  - "There is your story, my story and then there is the real story".   The challenges of conflict resolution will forever be a part of the human condition.  The ability to decipher the facts and present the "truth" is a multibillion dollar industry - the Legal Industry. 

Even with all the Lawyer jokes, I have great respect for those individuals that believe they can argue the truth, the absolute truth so help you God.  I am forever arguing (after all isn't that what Lawyers do) with my Lawyer friend Jack Painter about relativism vs absolute truth. 

But then again  -  There is Jack's story and then there is Garen's story and then the REAL (Absolute Truth) STORY.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Forecasting Error

In today's world of everything being recorded, we begin to see how wrong the expert forecasters and financial talking heads really are.  I just finished watching the Utube clip of Bernanke getting it totally wrong from 2005 to 2007.

I've noticed in my financial journals many forecasting errors - mine are just not put on CNBC.  Tonight Cramer did a mea culpa on his pre-earnings call recommending Best Buy as a strong buy ---yesterday it dropped 8%. 

And how many people have you talked to about the outlook for the financial markets for 2010?  Any consensus- NOT.
50% say up 50% say down.  .

I forecast that 50% of those predicting will be correct :)

Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

It was the book "Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz that caused me on December 3, 2007 to begin writing  down each day 5 things I am grateful for.  I'm now on Volume 2 and while I have missed some days here and there, for the most part it is complete. So what have I learned?

Because of my rule to avoid duplication (except for people's names or actions) the initial months were easy.  Thankful for stuff, things given to me, my background, journey, recent encounters ....  you get the drift - somewhat inward focused, material and comfort related.   After draining all the personal blessings then the list grows to family, then friends, relationships, community .....   And it gets harder - and broader and in some ways smaller and more subtle.

A sunrise, the smell of winter, a touch from someone, a word of encouragement, a joyful thought, a smile from a stranger.  Yes - it's the little things, the "take for granted" things, the "blink of an eye" events that enter the list now.

There were days I actually pondered - "will the list run out"?  But the blessings are infinite, cumulative and permanent. 

"Count your many blessings, Angels will attend; help and comfort give you to your journey's end."  Johnson Oatman (1897)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Farmer's Values

Today I sat in on a orientation/review session for Gorman Heritage Farm.  This is a 122 acre farm in Evendale, Ohio that is 175 years old (originally the Gormans) and is now a non-profit that SVP Cincinnati selected as an "investee".  Their mission - "To give people the opportunity to explore and learn the history, methods and values of a working family farm in a natural setting". 

So what are the values of a working family farm?  Both of my grandparents were farmers and my parents grew up on a farm.  But I (and my siblings)  can only claim to be a city slicker with visits to the farm. By not living and working on a farm, did I lose those values?

Honesty is what I remember most about my grandfather -  "a man is his word".  Deals were done on a handshake.  Honor was the signature.  Duty was the responsibility.  Hard work was the delivery.  Helping others was the insurance. 

Are farming values black or white ------ red or blue? 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dog or Cat Person

What is your favorite pet - Dog or Cat?  We have one dog and three cats in our family.  I guess if I was forced to a decision, I would be a dog person (after all I feed the dog and not the cats).  Nellie, our black lab, is an outdoor dog -greets me in the morning with great anticipation (that is when she gets fed) and is the first to greet me when I arrive at home. 

The only conditional part of the love is food - otherwise she is always happy to see me.   Contrast this to the cats who are interested only on their terms.  Rocky, the cat,  does greet me every morning wanting attention and almost like a dog will come on command - but that is unusual for a cat.

They have proven that having pets increase your chances of living longer.  Why? It's that unconditional love and also your opportunity to share that love.  And it is the very nature of companionship with 100% approval of who you are - no changes needed.  Dogs may have the advantage of also getting you to exercise by walking them. 

So who really lives longer - a dog person or cat person?  An indoor cat lives 12-18 years and an indoor medium to large dog lives 10-13 years.  That means the dog person is losing companionship 25% more than the cat person. 

Somehow the expression "Help my life is going to the dogs" now takes on a different meaning.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Credit Scores

Your credit score is a complicated and mysterious thing. What does 779 mean?  I think the banks, insurance companies etc like it that way.  My parents always told me that your credit rating is one of the most important items for you to pay attention to and stays with you forever.   I always interpreted that as - pay your bills on time.  But there are funny things you discover about credit:

(1) Not being in debt can be bad - you have no history of credit performance
(2) Having too many credit cards or cards that are open that you don't use is not real favorable (banks see those credit cards as potential liabilities - so having open and unused credit available is not a good thing)
(3) Closed cards is not a good thing - even if you requested it to be closed and there were no issues
(4) New Credit Card applications -  see point (2)
(5) Credit inquiries on your account (e.g. Insurance change etc.) - called "Hard Inquiries"
(6) Public Records on File
(7) Collections on File

Here is an example where automation has created challenges.  Because each of these events are considered independent events by the computer, your credit score goes down. Humans are not looking at these reports.
Let me explain -  Recently I decided to open a Fidelity American Express Card (and quit using the Gold American Express card I received from being on Susan's account - that's another long story of dissatisfaction with Amex). I was changing and adding brokerage accounts with proper titles. At the same time I was doing this, I was considering changing Auto, Home, and Umbrella Insurance.  And about that time I missed a Discover Card payment  4/09 (see my previous blog).   All these events caused Allstate to kick out my application with a form letter.  Unbelievable. 

It's a good idea to annually get your free credit report and keep a file of these.  I don't practice what I preach but my file has a 2006, 2008 and 2009 reports.  Some reports have combined scores - some just detail.  I personally like the Privacy Guard report that Susan ordered the best.

There are some things that are a "permanent record" and your credit report is one of those.  No erasing, no going back TransUnion says I have been on their files since 1985 and it shows a credit card (still active) opened in 1983.  Even a pack rat like me doesn't have that data.

So be deliberate on all your credit decisions - it's like blogging in permanent ink.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Lists

There was a time when the entire family used to get together for Christmas and all the adults would draw a name from a hat for who they would buy a gift the following Christmas.   In order to know what the person wanted we would exchange Christmas Lists which were due by Thanksgiving to my Mom - the central depot and the matriarch of the family.  She would sent out the lists to all and there were no rules other than you had to buy one gift within the dollar limit to the one individual whose name you drew from the hat. But it did not preclude you from buying other gifts for people should you chose to do so (since you had their list).  This methodology assured you would get at least one gift. 

I enjoyed this exercise and took great joy in creating lists that had many items to chose from. People like to give what they like so the more items meant there was greater probability of gifts :)

Also the tradition in our family was that all gifts were wrapped and marked FROM:  SANTA.  In other words, you never knew who your gift came from.  Naturally there were years people screwed up and forgot their name, lost the slip of paper, a duplicate gift was given etc. etc.  But this made it even more exciting in trying to figure out the mystery of who had whose name and who screwed up.

Also this no "FROM" identity allowed  a creative person like me to buy and wrap a gift I wanted to give myself without anyone knowing that I purchased it myself :) 

And who knows - if you still believe in Santa (as I do), then Santa may still be the culprit That's why my list always had some big ticket items just in case.

Never skimp on the Christmas List :)

Buying Confidence

I just got the 2010 Consumer Reports Buying Guide - Best & Worst.  I was interested in what products are important enough (e.g. price, use, need, complexity etc.) to make the list.  Naturally most items are big ticket items - but here are the categories:
Home Entertainment - Bluray,DVD, Digital Cameras, Digital Frames, TV
Kitchen, Bath, Laundry - Countertops,Diswashers, Microwave, Ranges, Refrigs, Washer/Dryer, Toilets
Home & Yard - AC, Drills, Flooring, Grills, Mowers, Paints, Thermostats, Roofing, Vacuum
Computers, Phones, Peripherals - Cells, Computers, GPS, Monitors, Printers
Autos - Tire, New Cars, Old Cars

So about 31 products.  And how many times do you buy these same items?  I would guess in my 55 years I have purchased these items on average 6 times each (e.g. Cars-8 mine only; TVs - 15; DVD/VCR - 10 etc) - so almost 200 times.  SO WHAT?

Different people put so much time and effort into the buying decision (I'm one of those analysis/paralysis types).  Yet the average time we have the product is 3-4 years.  And who do you connect as the expert you talk to about each of these categories? --   Parents, Friends, Work Associates, etc.

We are so influenced by  (1) the person we last talked to (also known as "recentness weighting"),  (2) or our "perceived expert" (randomness of our relationships) we ask for advice (3) or our last experience (I'll never buy a Dell because of the lemon I had) (4) or our research on the web, consumer reports etc.

All of this is fairly random input creates a level of confidence in your decision - to assure you have optimized your "utility" for the cost.  I can guess I have made at least 50% of the wrong decisions in these 200 decisions..

So that qualifies me as and Expert in nearly every category :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Radio Buttons

No, I'm not talking about the computer term for those round circle choices on a web screen.  I'm talking about the buttons in your car.

Car radios have gotten much more sophisticated with scan, seek and automatic button assignment.  Just like most of my electronic devices, I refuse to read the manual and just experiment. Even the buttons are complicated. I wonder how many pre-set buttons are ever changed?  And when did you last re-set a button?

I really need only three buttons - WVXU 91.7; WGUC 90.9; WGRR 103.5; NPR Talk, NPR Classic, Oldies.  While I like XM Satellite in Susan's car, I'm too frugal to pay the monthly cost - but that button would be Watercolors.  I would buy per trip a button/station to listen to for long trips but that service is not available.

Will radio buttons disappear with I-pod streaming (Apple is buying LaLa)?  The problem is you still have to plug your I-pod into the radio before listening (too much effort).  The car needs to automatically detect the on board I-pods (another Bluetooth application). 

So Steve Job's next conquest in music -   The Radio Button 

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snow

Ellen excitingly said it snowed last night before I had the chance to poke my head outside.  And indeed there was a light skift (skift:  an old southern slag word for a light dusting of snow - 1/4 inch or less). 

Cyndee O'Quinn of Channel 9  ABC Weather on December 3 researched the Cincinnati statistics: 

The average date of the first measurable snowfall is Nov 7th.  The records were 10/11/1925 for the earliest; 1/2/1983 for the latest with 0.10";

Last year, during the 2008-09 winter, Cincinnati saw a total of 23.0"
of snow.  Most of it fell within a week and a half during the end of
January.  Multiple snowfalls from January 25-30 measured 11.5" followed
by an additional 5.5" of snow on February 3-4. 

snowfall for Cincinnati is 23.6"  Last year's amount was close to
normal, while the 2007-08 season was slightly above at 26.2" of snow. 
We saw almost half of the yearly snowfall occur in 2007-08 during
one snowstorm.  The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
Airport received 10.7" on March 7-8, 2008 with outlying areas measuring
over a foot of snow.  

Cincinnati has seen some snowy years and
the winter of 1977-78 stands out not only as one of the coldest but the
snowiest.  During this period, Cincinnati received over 4 feet of snow
with a total of 53.9".

Cincinnati's lowest snowfall total occurred during the winter of 1918-19, when only 1.2" was reported.

So why would I care about all this?  Well as the budget guru/ Trustee of the Armstrong United Methodist Church, I have to predict the budget for snow removal at the Church.  And as you might guess, I have been wrong two years in a row! 

So it follows -  "The weather is like the government, always in the wrong"  Jerome K. Jerome

Friday, December 4, 2009

Redundant Storytelling

Last night was full of storytelling. And there is great power in business and personal relationships with storytelling.   Kevin Murray, one of my Accenture colleagues, is one of the best.  But what do you do when you have heard the story many many times before.   Al Cambridge was a good story teller also - and a real mentor to me.  He invested lots of time in my career and as such I have heard nearly every Al Cambridge story. 

So when your boss, parents, grandparents ......  start into that story you've heard one hundred times before, what do you do?   Listen patiently again?  Interrupt and say - "Yeah you've told me that story"?     Well my advice is if it is a good story, just like a good movie, sit back relax and relish the chance to hear a good one yet another time.  If it isn't one of the top 10 stories - interrupt politely and move the conversation forward.

We are our stories............ -  oops that's redundant to one of my blogs.

What about redundant blogging :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I've  never been to a High School Reunion probably because I moved my Senior year to Solon, Ohio.. Last year was the first time Susan or I had ever been to Miami University's Alumni Reunion weekend.  I occasionally make it to the  Annual Wells Family ReUnion. Then there is my annual College Buddy ReUnion during the Superbowl.  And tonight
is the 9th Accenture Alumni Reunion at Arthurs. And I should count Holiday gatherings in the category of ReUnions.

Count up your ReUnions - I predict there will be at least a handful, especially the older you are. We measure time like other things in a relative way - by comparing ourselves to others.  It's comforting to see your friends, family and relationships over a period of time.  And there can be people you don't even know that you see on a regular basis over time (every year we see other Box Seat holders at the Masters Tennis Tournament). 

Big or Small - Annual or Sporadic -  ReUnions remind us of the importance of community, groups, and relationships.

Maybe it's time to attend one of those ReUnions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Presentation Pressure

For all the claims of how productive a computer has made us, have you ever pondered how much time we wasted booting, rebooting, printer problems, network problems ......... the list goes on and on.  I have no less than 9 different wires for various purposes in my laptop briefcase for device connectivity. How many presentations have been foiled by the challenge of knowing which two function keys to hit simultaneously to get the screen to appear?  How often has what you thought you printed - actually printed as you desired?  Have I hit your stress button yet (since in these cases there is no easy button).

For my family, I am technical support.  I know just enough to be dangerous and waste hours of time.  Tonight I looked furiously for an extra printer cable (their have been at least 5 versions of this that I can distinctly remember ....... does serial and parallel ports for dot matrix printer ring a bell).  I needed that wire (not one of the 9 I had with my laptop)  so I could direct connect the networked printer at our house to my computer to get something simple printed for a presentation (naturally the network was down).

There must be a corollary of Murphy''s law - if not call it Garen's Law -  "When you are in the greatest hurry to print - something will go wrong with the printer"

So what is the solution?   Use a Flipchart for all presentations --- or carry 10 wires with my laptop.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Statistician's Birthday

So have you ever checked out what happened in history on your birthday thinking somehow the one day out of 365 that you were randomly born is more important than the other 364?  And if there are 364 people in a room with you what is the probability that someone has YOUR date for a birthday (after all it is YOUR date not theirs)?

Try almost 100%.  In fact the probability is 50% with only 23 people in a room and 99% with 57 people (remember it is month and day only--- not the year).
Errata:  10/2/12 -  I'm embarrassed to say I made the same mistake as Johnny Carson (see Blog Erroneous Company).  You actually need 1679 people in the room to have a 99% chance that at least one person matches your exact day of birth (month and day).  The 57 people in a room for 99% probability answers a different question - "How many people do you need in a room for anyone's birthday to match (meaning two or more 'coincidentally' have the same birth day)".
And how many people were born on the same date as you?  The most common birth date in the USA is October 5th – back up 9 months and you get Jan. 1.  And the least common birth date – May 22.   But the most common birth months are August, July and September.  You come up with the hypothesis. 
And to be really precise – your birthday occurs once every 7 years (just like those born on Feb. 29).  Not counting leap years, the date you were born moves each year to the following day of the week.  Your annual celebration is actually for your birth date – not your birthday.
In Indian Hill Schools, they celebrate the half-birthdays for kids like Jenna and Ellen who don’t get to have a birthday celebration during the school year.  Soon we will be able to send half-birthday cards to each other.
And the most famous and celebrated birthday of all – December 25 (depending on the calendar you use).