Birthdays Can’t Be A Problem!

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Growing up I remember enjoying logic puzzles. The kind where you would draw a grid of all of the people and one other attribute about them to, by process of elimination, determine the solution to the posed problem. Somehow, I am no longer any good at these puzzles. Or, they have become much more complicated (or maybe I don’t remember cheating?).

Recently though I came across a Birthday Problem in the Guardian:

“Ariel, Balthazar and Chastity are great mates, genius logicians and they always tell the truth. Neither Ariel nor Balthazar know the day or the month of Chastity’s birthday, so she decides to tell them in the following way:

First, she says out loud, so both Ariel and Balthazar can hear her: “The day (of the month) of my birthday is at most the number of the month of my birthday.”

Then she whispers the day to Ariel and the month to Balthazar

Ariel says “Balthazar cannot know Chastity’s birthday.”

Balthazar thinks a bit, then says: “Ariel also cannot know Chastity’s birthday.”

They carry on like this, each saying these exact same sentences in turn until Balthazar announces: “Both of us can now know what Chastity’s birthday is. Interestingly, that was the longest conversation like that we could have possibly had before both figuring it out.”

When is Chastity’s birthday?”

I read the first few lines and thought, “this one I can do.” She has to have been born by the 12th day of the December, right? Only that still leaves me with a whole lot of options and the remaining text of the clue did not help me at all!

How does their saying to one another that they “cannot know Chastity’s birthday” over and over again get us to the answer?! Argh. This is why my brother is the logician in the family (really, truly, he is) while I’m the one blogging about birthdays.

What about you? Did you figure it out? If not, the answer is provided here. Wish I could say it made me bang my head to my forehead and say “oh, of course! How could you miss that?!” But, no, I really must have been cheating to do well on these in the past.

This isn’t even the first birthday problem I’ve encountered. Seems wrong to me to make birthdays a skill-testing question.

 

Kids Share Birthday Love with Signing and Singing

My last blog gave two examples of birthday kindness from strangers to little boys. But this one is about kiddos returning the favor for an adult in their lives. And a teacher providing her students with a valuable lesson along the way.

A Tennessee kindergarten class learned how to sign Happy Birthday to surprise the hearing impaired school custodian with the birthday song.

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The custodian, identified by The Tennessean as James Anthony, immediately brought his hands to his head in disbelief, his mouth open in a stunned smile.

The cute video of the children singing and signing to a very shocked Mr. Anthony was posted on the school’s website.

Dozens commented on the video to wish a happy birthday to the custodian, who has served in the county for 20 years.

“Happiest of birthdays, Mr. James! You haven’t aged a bit,” wrote Elizabeth Fox. “What a blessing you have been to the students and staff of many Coffee County schools.”

“I am 34 years old and Mr James was my janitor at Hickerson as well!!!! GOD BLESS this wonderful man!!!!!!!!!!” Jordan Carter commented.

The teacher and students are pretty wonderful too for learning the signs to make this birthday message so special to him.

Pots and Pizza? 2 Examples of Birthday Kindness

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Birthdays often bring out the best in others. If you’re at a stadium and someone starts singing “Happy Birthday” to a stranger a few rows back, you’re likely to hear a chorus of sudden comrades joining in too. People also go out of the way for others. Birthday kindness is the best!

In an example from my local Charlotte newspaper, a Mom was carrying pots of water in 90-degree heat from her kitchen sink to her son’s kiddie pool outside. He and his friends were going to cool off in the pool to celebrate his birthday. 

On the way back from a call, Firehouse Engine 18 happened to see the Mom struggling to fill the pool and stopped to help out. “What was just a simple task for us turned into laughter, smiles, and a life long memory for the neighborhood kids as well as the men on Engine 18.”

It’s the little things that can bring the biggest smiles to our faces!

More Birthday Kindness

In another outpouring of stranger love for a boy’s birthday, take a look at this pic of forlorn six-year-old Teddy. The boy expected a crowd of 32 classmates at his pizza party, but no one showed up.

His mother sent a photo of her son sitting alone with the empty plates and uneaten pizzas to a local Tucson, Arizona, reporter, who posted it to Facebook. It went viral.

birthday kindness

The result?

  • The local iHeartRadio station staged a birthday do-over.
  • Teddy has also received Twitter invites from professional basketball and soccer teams to celebrate his birthday at their upcoming games
  • Music producer DJ Khaled shared the image on Instagram, wished “Young King Teddy” a happy birthday, and promised him a gift.

Now, a cynic could argue that all of these are entities trying to get marketing out a sad six-year-old’s situation, but the grand gestures weren’t the only thing Teddy enjoyed.

His family received kind words and birthday wishes from all over the country and as far away as Canada and Argentina. Mazzini said so many people wanted to send birthday kindness cards to Teddy that she set up a P.O. box.

“Teddy is learning how to read and write, and it would be nice if he had a birthday card from anyone who wants to send one,” she said. All birthday wishes to Teddy can be sent to P.O. Box 18952, Tucson, AZ 85731.

Birthdays a Tradition, on the 13th no less.

birthday luck

foter.com

OK, so there are many people out there who are superstitious about 13, and particularly Friday the 13th. It’s even got its own name — triskaidekaphobia. Now, that would get you a bunch of points in Words with Friends.

The term comes from Greek, where tris means three, kai means and, deka means ten and phobia means fear. A triskaidekaphobia info site — yes, you really can find anything online — tells us:

“The number 13 wasn’t always bad-famed, quite the contrary. In ancient China and Egypt, thirteen was considered a lucky number. It is unclear when exactly [13 did] become an unlucky number.

Some attribute it to the Bible, where the Last Supper was attended by 13 people, and some speculated that the 13th person at the table was Judas, who later betrayed Jesus. However, there is no reference to support this theory.

Another belief is that the phobia of number 13 is caused by it being an irrational number and 12 being the number of perfection.

There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiacs, 12 hours in a clock and there were 12 tribes of Israel.”

Now, all that said, you’re wondering what this has to do with birthdays right?

Birthday Luck

Well, there is a family in Orange County, California that can only look at the 13th as a lucky day. After all, FOUR generations of the family celebrate their birthday on August 13th!
Sarah Peeler shares her birthday with her daughter Lori (which distracts me with the thought of having to go into labor on your birthday — ugh). But the day was special even before that.
Lori’s grandfather and great-grandmother also were born on the same birth date. And Lori’s parents didn’t even plan for the Aug. 13 delivery.
“Several weeks before, we just thought this won’t happen, for sure it won’t happen,” Sarah told ABC News. “Once we reached the week of, we both looked at each other and said ‘I think it’s going to happen, it’s fate!'”

Lori’s birth earned the family a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, for “most generations born on the same day.

birthday luck
Now Sarah’s husband Ryan, and Lori’s dad, only has one date to remember:
“I hadn’t really thought about it, before we celebrated this weekend, let’s have two back-to-back parties,” he said. “Trying to figure it out, I don’t know what the protocol is yet for something like this.”

The odds are estimated to be somewhere in the one in a million range, the family said.  But Ryan for one doesn’t need to push his luck, saying his daughter is: “Better than any lotto ticket.”

Facebook Fundraisers for Birthdays = $$$

 

facebook fundraiser

Image source: Facebook

This blog has looked at birthday generosity and social media etiquette around birthdays in the past. So, it only makes sense to examine a merger of the two: using Facebook fundraisers on your birthday to donate to a cause you care about.

The feature began just over a year ago, and already its earned more than $300 million for various causes, per Facebook. About 750,000 non-profits currently have access to Facebook’s fundraising tools, but the feature isn’t yet available in every country.

Still, the feature itself is easy to use. You can create a birthday fundraiser for an organization that you have in mind already, or use their selection tool to find a beneficiary to support.

Top organizations benefitting from the birthday fundraisers include:

  • St. Jude
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Cancer Society
  • Share Our Strength—No Kid Hungry
  • American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

And just before you shrug your shoulders at this as a way for Facebook to make money off people’s good intentions, the company in November 2017 waived fees. So 100% of all donations made on Facebook go directly to the nonprofits.

Famous Folks and Me on Facebook

This Facebook tool has been used by an array of Facebook users (or the PR handlers posing as celebrities online). The company shared:

Not wanting to make it a popularity contest or anything, but Madonna opened a fundraiser benefitting a Home of Hope orphanage located in a rural, high-need area of Malawi.

Her post noted, “For my birthday, I can think of no better gift than connecting my global family with this beautiful country and the children who need our help most. Every dollar raised will go directly to meals, schools, uniforms and healthcare.” Her fans and Facebook friends helped her surpass a million dollar goal in just two months!

Facebook fundraiser

Image source: Facebook

I did my own birthday fundraiser for my local library system’s foundation this October. At the time of this writing, I’d reached a whopping $15. I did use Madonna’s tally today to suggest that surely I could get to my $150 goal. We’ll see I guess!

100th Birthday Brunch Becomes a Wedding Party

birthday wedding

Source: NYT

On Labor Day 2018, Mannie Corman invited 160-plus people to celebrate his 100th birthday. He even wore a black shirt reading “Vintage 1918; Aged to perfection,” and a matching hat with the number 100 printed in white.

Guests who had flown in from California, Las Vegas and Texas with others from New York enjoyed a crooner singing, a roaming photo booth, and the enthusiastic welcome of Mr. Corman and his girlfriend of seven years, Judith Goldman, 76.

After awhile, the guests were invited to take their seats at the tables in Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn. The centerpieces featured handmade wooden boxes depicting a specific year of Mr. Corman’s century. Before the buffet stations began serving though, a  closed black velvet curtain opened to reveal a flower girl and ring bearer.

Ms. Goldman, who’d added a veil to her white ensemble, and Mr. Corman, who’d added a black tux jacket, entered behind them while “Young at Heart” played in the background. A collapsible huppah appeared and was immediately erected for family members to hold the corners.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/fashion/weddings/a-100th-birthday-celebration-and-surprise-a-wedding-too.html

Source: NYT

Will You Marry Me?

Mr. Corman began asking Ms. Goldman to marry him in 2014. She refused, because she was unwilling to move to Brooklyn. He finally won her over, and they decided to marry. Initially they were going to do so after the birthday party. Then, realizing that they didn’t want to plan another big event, they decided to do both celebrations in one.

“When you go with a girl like Judy, you’re supposed to marry her. That’s the way it works,” Mr. Corman told the New York Times.

The guests were happy to part of the birthday/wedding event.

“I’ve known Mannie for more than 50 years, I never dreamed he would be having a wedding,” Steven Cohn told the New York Times. “It’s fabulous. It’s an inspiration for us. It’s never too late.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, who married the couple and officiated at more than 1,000 weddings, said Mr. Corman is the oldest groom he has ever married.

“People like Mannie and Judith recognize the importance of each and every day,” he told the Times. “They don’t worry about tomorrow. They may think about yesterday, but they concentrate on today.”

What better mentality to bring to your birthday — whatever age you are turning?

At the Starting Line for My Birthday

 

birthday run

Image: foter.com

On the heels of my most recent birthday, I should share a change of heart. I have written in the past about people having gym birthday parties and about a man with a killer Crossfit workout he does on his birthday each year. Both of these I marveled at from a safe distance, confident I would not be hitting the gym on my big day….

Well, times have changed. This year I celebrated my birthday by getting out of bed to go for a run. A 5K race to be exact. The race, fortunately, started at 1130 a.m., so I didn’t have to give up sleeping in. Still, me being at the starting line of a race on my birthday represents a major shift in perspective.

Why? I wanted to do something to embrace a fit and healthy lifestyle. I hope to incorporate that into my birthday routine from now on.

Birthday Sweets and Sweat

Sure, I started out the birthday weekend with a crepe from my favorite spot in Charlotte. And a bakery brownie my husband brought home. Plus a few ciders at my favorite Friday night music bingo event. But, in the midst of the sleeping in, sitting on my sofa reading, and a fine Italian dinner, I wanted to work in something that set me up positively for a fresh new year.

birthday run

As I age, and the people around me age, I am starting to actually understand the birthday as a day to make fresh promises to myself to do better and be more. If I want to keep on having birthdays, ones that I can enjoy on my terms, I need to do what I can now to stay in shape and be healthy.

The good news? Not only did I finish the race, but I actually achieved a personal best of 29:21. And, I’m not going to lie, having completed the race to start the day did help me justify the afternoon birthday cupcake in addition to the dinner chocolate mousse. If I’m only going to live once, I want to do it with fleet feet and a continued ability to enjoy sweets — even sometimes without moderation!

 

There’s a Wrong Way to Cut a Circular Cake?

I love cake, especially birthday cake. Really, I’m typically so focused on what kind of frosting was used (“please not fondant, please not fondant”) and what the inside is (“yeah chocolate!”) that cutting it correctly is the least of my concerns.

Yet I did recently come across an article suggesting I’ve been cutting circular cakes wrong all this time! Who knew?

Of course, it’s a mathematician who has chimed in with the best way to divide (or would it be bisect? That geometry term is springing up in my mind for some reason) a circular cake.

Going with small triangles is not the best plan, according to a YouTube video “The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake – Numberphile.” Drawing on a science magazine article from 1906, mathematician Alex Bellos suggests instead we should be cutting slabs directly down the middle to help preserve the cake longer.

So, you would start in the very middle of the cake and cut all the way through it from one edge to the other. Then you would do this again parallel to your first cut. Now, you have a slab from which to serve people.

You can then push the remaining sides of the cake back together with the exposed edges facing inwards for prolonged freshness.

There is even a suggestion of wrapping a rubber band around the cake. I don’t have the mental elasticity to see how this would work. Wouldn’t an elastic just cut into the cake itself? At least it would an iced cake rather than one enveloped in the aforementioned fondant (ugh).

The next time you cut into the cake you would repeat the two parallel slices across the cake’s center, then bring the now smaller cake back together again.

No matter the shape of the cake you’re sharing with humans, I’m guessing you will have an easier time of it than these pandas. Their birthday cakes are made of bamboo! Although, of course, they get to use their paws.

birthday cake

Birthday Hilarity among Celebs for Thor’s 35th

Chris Hemsworth

Handsome Chris Hemsworth turned 35 last month. The celeb’s milestone birthday prompted a social media outpouring of reactions from other famous folk. On the heels of the last teeth-clenching blog on ICE arresting immigrants on their 18th birthdays, I thought I’d take a lighter approach to milestones this week. C’mon it even has the Rock singing!

So, Hemsworth, who is perhaps best known for Thor in the Marvel movies (aside from being famously gorgeous), celebrated his 35th at home with his family (wife, Elsa Pataky, and their three kids, India Rose, Tristan, and Sasha). He also considerately shared a family selfie around the cake, captioned with the note: ““Immediately after this shot was taken my son viciously attacked me from behind (due to his ninja training) and slammed my face into the flaming candles…I’ll now be playing Deadpool if @vancityreynolds pulls the pin.”

The equally handsome and hilarious (and Canadian too) Reynolds responded.

Chris Hemsworth

Ryan Reynolds

Image source

Happy Birthday Handsome

Keeping the hunk Happy Birthdays going, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson sang and shared his customized version of the “Happy Birthday” song.

“Happy birthday to Thor,
You Australian man whore,
You’re the greatest Chris, that’s a fact,
After Evans, Pine, and Pratt.”

He also referred to Chris as an “Australian man whore” and dissed the handsome Aussie actor for eating birthday cake while the Rock was busy working out in his “iron paradise.”

Hemsworth took his ranking as fourth favorite Chris with good nature, noting he was glad to learn it from the Rock. He added: “Also my kids after seeing this said ‘dad are you friends with Jumanji!!!’. And now possibly think I’m cool. They expect you at each of their birthday parties in the coming years.”

Josh Brolin, Thor’s nemesis Thanos in the movies, also provided a song, but no word on whether he needs to be a birthday party performer in the future. Although Aquaman Jason Momoa commented on the tune, “U missed mine f***er.”

Hemsworth was also treated to a birthday ditty from Leon Bridges. I heard on Sirius Alt Nation that Avengers costar Tessa Thompson, a common friend of both Bridges and Hemsworth, arranged the ditty knowing that the American gospel and soul singer was a favorite artist.

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Hemsworth’s brothers also chimed in with birthday wishes and funny photos of their bro. Liam, of Hunger Games, reminisced: “Happy birthday @chrishemsworth I remember the first time I ever threw a knife at your head, there was this look of pure fear in your eyes. You’ve come a long way from that scared little kid…proud of you. You’re my hero. Love u heaps and heaps.”

Hemsworth tagged his original post #bestbirthdayever but with all the celebrity love and hijinks it’s easy to imagine this one really did take the cake — thus far at least.

Happy 18th Birthday — Have Some Handcuffs

Turning 18 is a milestone in many cultures. Yet, there is nothing celebratory about the way the United States’ current Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are marking the occasion for unaccompanied minor immigrants.

ICE agents are shackling and relocating teens in shelters as soon as they turn 18, according to the Miami New Times. Since April, the report said, at least 14 teens had been taken from the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on their birthdays — when they become legal adults.

“When they turn 18, it’s basically, ‘Happy birthday,’ and then they slap on handcuffs and take them off to adult detention centers,” Lisa Lehner, an attorney with the nonprofit Americans for Immigrant Justice, told the New Times.

The percentage of kids turning 18 in detention and being turned over to ICE has more than doubled since 2014, according to a report by news site Documented, cited on The Hill. In 2017, 2.4 percent of minor detainees “aged out” and were arrested by ICE, compared to 1 percent in 2014, according to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) numbers quoted by Documented.

Americans for Immigrant Justice has filed suit, but Broward County isn’t the only site of these shelter arrests. Janet Gwilym, the managing attorney of Kids in Need of Defense, said ICE agents regularly show up at shelters at 11:30 p.m. on the eve of detainees’ 18th birthdays. At midnight, agents will shackle the now-adult detainees and take them to jail. 

“I believe it’s a psychological strategy they’re using to try to get them to just give up and go back back home, even if they know they’ll be killed if they go back,” Gwilym said.

There are dramatic differences between the environment in an adult facility and a temporary shelter such as Homestead, the activists noted in news articles. Plus, the government is obligated under what’s known as the Flores settlement to seek the least restrictive environment for minors, including alternate housing like placement with relatives or foster care — and to do it quickly. Instead, the new practice is handcuffs and quick shuttling to prison.

I never thought I’d be writing about immigration issues, but this is not the kind of birthday surprise we should keep quiet about.