Your Contractual Birthday Obligations

A 17-year-old recently aimed to use her birthday to get two special requests granted. She wrote up a Birthday Contract (even with nifty calligraphy for the title) stating; “It is hereby stated as in this letter you MUST agree to any TWO of my requests no matter how selfish they may be. After all, it’s my BIRTHDAY.”

birthday contract

She also required her parents to sign again under the penalty addendum (man, I wish she’d used that word), stating the consequences of contract violation:

birthday contract

This bold one-page statement of demands finished with the note: “Good parents never back out from their promise (especially on birthdays) [Universal Law].”

Don’t mess with Dad

Dad, however, found some wiggle room. Take another look at that contract violation section and you’ll see he wrote in a “0.” before the 5000 rupee fine. He brought her haul in Pakistani rupees down dramatically. In U.S. dollars this is the equivalent of $77 down to 77 cents (valued on the July day I’m writing this).

birthday contract

There was no place visible on the contract for the daughter — who apparently is interested in medicine more than law — to sign and bind the document. So, she appears to have been outsmarted. All this was shared via her amused brother on Twitter and then picked up in The Indian Express.

It’s an entertaining story, and of course I like best that this girl is not only smart but was looking forward to being spoiled on her birthday.

A Klingon Birthday

One of my writing gigs is to put together quizzes for heywise.com. Writing a foreign language one recently I thought I’d make a joke about Klingon. Well, joke’s on me apparently. There really is a Klingon vocabulary out there and available to the world. I ended up making Klingon a test question.

But, now I need to share with you my findings about Klingon birthdays!

A wiki “teaching Klingon to the galaxy” notes that “no known canon phrase to say Happy Birthday in Klingon. Nevertheless, the existing vocabulary makes it possible to translate the idea quite well.”

Apparently, the most common version is qoSlIj DatIvjaj, literally “May you enjoy your birthday.” Yet, some “people prefer to say this as a command: qoSlIj yItIv Enjoy your birthday.” After all, the Klingons are a pretty bossy race in the Star Trek universe — even I know that!

The site I found went on to share translations of the famous “Happy Birthday” song:

 

DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.
DaHjaj bIQuchjaj [name]. May you be happy today, [name]
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.

Or:

qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.
qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.
qoSlIj DatIvjaj, [name] May you enjoy your birthday, [name].
qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.

There’s another one about having a splendid birthday, but that seems to be taking it too far. I just don’t think “splendid” is a word the Klingons can relate to very well.

Even the Star Trek series didn’t translate Happy Birthday — instead heralding Worf with a Klingon version of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, which was met with his annoyed: “that is not a Klingon song!”

P.S. This blog is in honor of my older brother without whom I would likely have no idea at all about Klingon culture.

A Killer Crossfit Birthday

Men’s Health recently ran a story: “This 78-year-old’s birthday workout will wreck you.” I was wrecked just by the idea of working out on my 78th birthday.

I am someone who enjoys taking it easy on my birthday. Maybe I’ll walk the dog to the park. Or, since I am really enjoying cardio kickboxing class right now, I might do that class — maybe. If it didn’t interfere with my plans for lunch or seeing a movie matinee!

Thus, I can’t fathom each year having a set workout that gets more difficult as I age (and not just because my muscles are getting older too). But that’s exactly what Jacinto Bonilla does. For him, “birthdays are definitely not a day off from the gym.” Well, he is the so-called “grandfather of Crossfit,” so that makes some sense, but check out his reps.

birthday workout

Image Source: Men’s Health

Birthday Workout

Beginning on his 69th birthday, Bonilla created a workout that pushes him to do the number of repetitions of the exercise coinciding with his age. Yes, you read that correctly, he started this tradition at 69! On July 3rd, 2017 he turned 78 and so he did:

  • 78 double unders with a jump rope
  • 78 squats,
  • 78 push-ups
  • 78 pull-ups
  • 78 wall ball shots
  • 78 kettlebell swings
  • 78 deadlifts with a 90-pound weight
  • another round of those double unders (yeah, I didn’t know what those were either — apparently you make two passes per jump instead of just one).

The workout — now known as the Jacinto Storm — has spread worldwide among Crossfitters. Bonilla told those working with him this July in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen: “If you keep it up, you’ll be fine at 78, too.”

Still, even if I wanted to be that fit, I think I might save the Storm for the day after my birthday.

Inspired by Birthday Generosity

Birthday generosity makes me happy. So forgive me for sharing yet more examples of people doing good deeds with their birthdays.

In Lynchburg, West Virginia, a pair of siblings asked friends to bring toy donations to their birthday party. Josie, 7, and Jett, 9, then took the gifts to donate to a local non-profit that helps kids going through the court system — many of the under the age of five. These youngsters have been taken from their homes and had to leave their things behind, so this #bdaygenerosity is certainly appreciated.

Homeless pets were the beneficiaries in Richmond, Virginia, when two boys asked for birthday donations to a pet shelter. Hatcher and Sam asked for gifts they could give to animals in need, and also set up a lemonade stand to raise added funds!

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Adults get in on the action too. A women’s auxiliary in California hosts an annual Birthday Luncheon to collect gifts for the local Children’s Fund serving neglected, abused and abandoned children San Bernardino County. Now it in its 19th year, the luncheon has donated more than 42,000 gifts to the group. In May 2017 alone the group collected 5,417 birthday gifts to give.

Others are inspired to found organizations dedicated year round to the cause of celebrating birthdays. In Charleston, South Carolina, Steffi Green and her husband founded Birthdays for All to celebrate birthdays for children in foster care.

“I never want a kid to look back on their life and be like ‘I never had a birthday,’ ” Green said.

Megan Yunn is similarly determined. Her non-profit Beverly’s Birthday holds about 120 group birthday parties a year in the greater Pittsburgh area for over 2,000 children and guests. The group distributes over 1,300 presents.

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“We all have birthdays, and everyone should know that they are loved, cared for, that they’re noticed and special,” Yunn has said. “Birthdays are joy and hope and smiles. It’s not about lavishness, it’s just about the notion that there are genuinely good people out there and we want to be able to support these families.”

Birthday Beginnings with Chocolate

A friend of mine, growing up in the Dominican Republic, would awaken on her birthday to the song Las Mañanitas and a cup of hot chocolate. I want to adopt this cultural practice of starting the day with my belly full of warm chocolate!

One of my favorite travel memories comes from my time in Paris when our hotel would serve us fresh-from-the-oven croissants and individual pots of chocolat chaud. I am salivating just remembering how wonderful it was to start to the day with this buttery, flaky pastry and my own silver carafe filled with liquid Parisian chocolate? Each of the mornings I spent there felt like my birthday — just being in Paris is enough to celebrate after all.

Hot Chocolate Creativity

Nonetheless, we can’t have this excellent experience every day in most parts of the world. So, instead, I offer the following few exciting hot chocolate recipes for you to try if you want to add this idea into your birthday fun.

This spicy hot chocolate from the New York Times has chile powder too:

Or People shared chocolatier Jacques Torres’s recipe for a minty hot chocolate:

 

For a little added boost to your morning, you could start with a Kahlua hot chocolate such as this one from Damn Delicious:

Another boozy one that is supposed to taste like a foil-wrapped chocolate orange comes from serious eats:

Or, for hot days when you still want some cocoa taste, you could try this Frozen Nutella hot chocolate:

Combining two of my favorites is this chocolate and peanut butter hot chocolate recipe (plus, I love this site’s name: chocolatemoosey.com):

For your entertainment, also, I end this blog with a Minions parody of the best-known Latin American birthday song.

What’s Your Birthstone?

It’s June! Did you know that June birthdays are associated with cultured pearl, moonstones, or alexandrite? This month is also one of only two to have three birth stone options.

history of birthstones

Alexandrite, Image source

May gets Emeralds. April gets Diamonds. My birth month, October, gets boring old Opal. I almost wish I lived prior to 1912 so that I could have enjoyed aquamarine as an option! Although, I found out there’s something called a chocolate opal, which sounds appealing but still does not float my aesthetic boat.

history of birthstones

Chocolate opal, Image source

Why 1912? That’s when the National Association of Jewelers in the US officially adopted a list to standardize birthstones. Nevertheless, the standardization hasn’t taken over entirely. For instance, the Hindu would go with coral for October, or topaz for December, when the Americans and Brits would associate the same gem with November instead.

What’s Your Birthstone?

The full, standardized, list per the Jewelers of America circa 2016, when they added spinel — yes, spinel (pictured below) — to August options.

January — Garnet
February — Amethyst
March — Aquamarine
April — Diamonds
May — Emerald
June — Alexandrite, Cultured Pearl, Moonstone
July — Ruby
August — Peridot or Spinel
September — Sapphire
October — Opal or Tourmaline
November — Citrine or Topaz
December — Turquoise, Tanzanite or Blue Zircon

history of birthstones

Spinel, Image source

History of Birthstones

You may think birthstones are simply a marketing tool, but the attachment of a stone to a birth month dates back to the 1st century AD. Before that, in the book of Exodus, a breastplate of Aaron is described as being set with twelve stones representing each of the tribes of Israel. In the 1st century, and again in the 5th century, writers proposed that each of the stones had a special power associated with its corresponding astrological sign, and the stone could act as a talisman at certain times.

It wasn’t until 18th century Poland when the idea of wearing the stone associated with your own birth month came into fashion with the arrival in the region of Jewish gem traders.

Now that I know this history, I think we should start lobbying to bring back the practice of owning all of the gems for the year. No, I’m not on the gem association payroll, I just really, really like shiny things.

How Your Birth Month Affects Your Personality

birthday month

There’s a Mother Goose poem that suggests the date of your birth impacts your personality:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Astrology too suggests that your personality is dictated by the position of the planets at the exact moment you cry your first cry.

Yet now there’s science, too, that suggests the month of your birth can affect your personality.

How Your Birth Month Affects You

A Time magazine article recently summarized the “small but increasingly persuasive body of evidence that there may indeed be some cause and effect at work.”

There are countless factors in your development as a baby in the womb that can be impacted by season:

Nutrition — Even where food is plentiful the availability of certain vitamins and proteins can be influenced by season

Viruses — A baby gestating during wintertime may be affected by a mother’s bout of the flu or seasonal affective disorder. Low serotonin levels in the maternal brain, for instance, could potentially cause serotonin shortfalls in the baby too.

The season in which we’re born can affect us after birth, too. A 2010 study of mice found that mouse pups (did you know that was their name?) “born and weaned in simulated winter light adjusted less well to a change to summer light, exhibiting poorer feeding habits and activity levels.” Meanwhile, “mice born and weaned in summer light had no such problems adjusting to winter conditions.”

Seasonal Patterns for Humans

Scientists have worked to see if these kinds of findings are true for humans too. The preliminary results suggest yes. Here are some of the Time examples:

Spring: March, April and May babies score higher for general optimism. Yet, at the same time, spring babies have proven more susceptible to clinical depression. According to a study of 58,000 subjects in the U.K. in 2012, May babies are most at risk while November babies have the lowest depression rates.

Summer:  June, July and August babies are more likely to cycle rapidly between high and low moods. Yet this doesn’t reach to bipolar diagnoses — those are lowest among babies born in August.

Fall: Fall babies tend to enjoy the equilibrium suggested by the zodiac sign Libra’s scales. Studies show “people born in fall not only enjoy low levels of depression, but are similarly less likely to develop bipolar disorder.” Nevertheless, the autumn-born “do have a tendency to irritability.”

Winter: Babies with these birthdates face several challenges: “higher levels of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, SAD and depression.” At least they’re likely to be less irritable. Plus, one study of 300 celebrities did find that January and February are good months “to be born if you want to be famous since those months correlate with creativity and imaginative problem-solving.”

Keep in mind, this is a fledgling area of scientific research. Still, if you’re looking for something else to blame for your blues or tendency to bicker, you could potentially point to your birth month.

Related reading:

Bad at Sports? Blame Your Birthday

It’s my special day — mine and some 20M others.