Vegan birthday to you!

The most faithful readers of this blog might have my birth date marked on your calendar. Or you might not. Anyway, this year my birthday party was vegan—almost.

Indeed, I’ve been mainly vegetarian for a couple of years. The modifier means that in festive dates I might eat a typical dish with meat and that I usually eat a can of tuna a week. I don’t consume dairy, but I do eat eggs. My reasons to be a vegetarian are a combination of the ones you can imagine.

It may seem a hard sacrifice, but variety and creativity have increased in my diet. Should you be curious about it, I started as a weekday vegetarian, which is a very good compromise to get the best of both worlds—like Hannah Montana.

Back to my birthday, the guests didn’t know about the vegan food. There are people with lots of prejudice and willing to mock those who don’t hurt anyone. However, nobody pays attention to the ingredients when the table is ready laid. Some won’t even notice that none of the ingredients of the pizzas and the cakes are of animal origin until they are told.

You won't miss the cheese, not its texture nor its flavour

You won’t miss the cheese, not its texture nor its flavour

In order to make a vegan pizza you can buy the dough or make it yourselves. You just need to pick ingredients excluding meat (fish meat is meat), eggs and cheese. Don’t you worry about cheese; there is vegan cheese. But instead of resorting to imitations, you can do what I do and spread hummus on the base before spreading tomato sauce. Toppings may include pepper, onion, fresh tomato, mushrooms… and don’t forget about spices and a trickle of oil.

The vegan cake is a bit more complex, but not too much. Mix 250 g of flour, 150 g of sugar, 1 packet of baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir and add a trickle of olive oil and 250 ml of soya drink. Keep stirring until you get an homogeneous dough. Let it settle for 30 min and put it in the oven (inside a mould, please). About 25 min at 170 °C should be enough.

To add flavour, use chocolate or vanilla soya drink. If you choose chocolate, you can melt black chocolate with almonds and add it to the dough. If you prefer vanilla, you can spread margarine and grated chocolate on it after baking. Nuts and cinnamon are always a nice addition, both before and after baking. These are basic tips with great results.

To keep focused on the theme, avoid placing a platter of cold meats between the pizzas. Nuts and crisps will fill the gaps in the table nicely—I forgot my crisps in the cupboard though… By the way, that almost in the lead of the article refers to a potato and spinach omelette (with 3 eggs) I did serve.

What is the birthday paradox and why does it make me special?

Despite being 365 possible birth dates, a group of 23 people is enough to have a 50 % chance that someone share their birthday. With 70 people it raises to 99.9 %. Why?

At least, I had a cake just for me at home [photo: A♥]

At least, I had a cake just for me at home [photo: A♥]

In a group of 23, there are actually 253 pairs to compare: the first person with all the rest (22 comparisons), the second with all the rest except the first—that has already been considered—(21 comparisons)… adding up to 253 comparisons (23 × 22 : 2). This approach alone makes that 50 % less paradoxical.

Ignoring the 29th of February, the other 365 days would be equally likely to be someone’s birth date. The probability of two people not sharing birthdays is 99.7 % (364 de days out of 365 don’t match, 364/365 = 0,997).

The chance that no comparison be positive comes from multiplying the probability of a negative by itself as many times as pairs exist: 0.997253 = 0.500. That is, there’s a 50 % probability that nobody share birthday, meaning the other 50 % corresponds to at least one pair sharing.

Note that this is the probability that any pair share. The probability for a specific person comes from 1 − (364/365)n, where n is the number of people. For 23 people, that’s 6.1 %.

Why am I rambling about this? Remaking the numbers for 28 people—the approximate amount of people in my school, high school and Translation and Interpreting university classes—, I’ve had a 7.4 % probability of sharing my birthday three times. And it happened every time.

Multiplying the three probabilities, we get that the probability of that happening to me three times was 0.04 % (0.0743)—which makes me quite special since it only happens to 1 in every 2493 people. Moreover, I’ve also shared my birthday out of class. But there’s no need for more calculations; my ego’s been feed enough.

By the way, today is our birthday.

AZAD, Kalid. Understanding the Birthday Paradox. Better Explained. [viewed June 2014]

Birthday problem. Wikipedia. [viewed June 2014]

Birthdays danceathon

Did anyone say “birthday celebration”? Count me in!

Although a search of the term birthday in this blog would surely show several posts against birthday celebrations [you’re very welcome to check it], mine was a full birthday weekend seven days ago. In any case, those posts are mainly against celebrating my own birthday; but still, I’m entitled to celebrate whatever I please, aren’t I?

This song would suit both nights. (Youtube)

This song would suit both nights. (YouTube)

On Friday, a swinger — meaning a friend from the swing lessons as well — summoned a few chosen ones to the a jam session it the centre of Barcelona as a birthday gathering. She wasn’t actually excited about being thirty-censored, though. Despite having had the meeting planed several days in advanced, the whole group just got together one hour after the appointed time and 900 m (0.5 miles) away from the designed spot. What’s wrong with swingers?

Saturday night was the turn of pop music. Two of the chemists I spent New Year’s Eve with turned twenty-a-lot in January and February — and a third one is joining them today —, so we had some of the best hamburgers in the city and a mojito and, after stopping in a bar for a second mojito, went dancing. That turned out to be a revival night for almost every song was older than the previous one; which we loved, in fact.

So, just tell me if you ever want me to dance with — or for — you in your birthday. You might be the next lucky one.

Birthdays anthology – 3

Now you’re about to know what happened when I completed 27 cycles around the sun.

After having tea on Tuesday I resolved to be awake at the exact time of my birth once more. However, going out on Tuesday is not like going out on Friday and my friends were working the following morning. Therefore I just went to a couple of bars where I held meaningless conversations. In the last bar there was a transsexual offering some playbacks as short breaks in her vulgar and hilarious monologue. Her jokes witnessed my goodbye to number 6 —for the next ten years at least.

May them burn for many years.

On Wednesday, I got up relatively early to go buy some presents for myself. This is by far the best way to like all the presents, moreover, there are truly love-motivated and not an obligation. In the afternoon I planned something for the next day, but that night I was going to dance swing.

With short notice and very few guests, on Thursday I had a humble birthday supper at home with balloons on the ceiling and even a video jockey. Unbelievable as it may seem, I didn’t cook hot sandwiches. We laughed as much as we talked and I got to blow a candle on an ice cream pot that we shared before moving to a bar for the last drink — although two guests had to leave for valid reasons. It was a wonderful night to end my birthday celebrations with the ones who really love me. Are they sweet!

Birthdays anthology – 2

Here you are more of my birthdays!

When I was living in Badalona, my flatmate went to our hometown the day before my birthday. However, she left a note on the living room cupboard ordering me not to look in it before midnight. At twelve o’clock I opened it and found a present. I was to turn 24 in two hours and a half and, since she had inaugurated my birthday, there was no way I could get into bed. Therefore I dressed slightly seductively, took the underground and started wandering around the centre of Barcelona. Two girls and a boy who saw me offered me to join them in case I was alone. I’ve always been flexible with the no-talking-to-strangers advice.

Still burning.

My 25th birthday wasn’t celebrated with the usual magnificence of the quarter of a century. Who said I supported the decimal system? That year I was working on my master in analytical chemistry and, before leaving the laboratory on a Friday, I asked a guy in the inorganic chemistry department with whom I had friends in common to go out that night. Luckily, he’s an easy guy and the night was great. Like other times before, I confessed about my birthday at some random moment of the night, at that point he was nevertheless unable to process that information.

Last year the celebration was less impressive for I was absorbed by several things and I just ate out with a workmate.

In spite of that, this year I decided to make the most of the completion of 27 cycles around the sun. You’ll soon know how.

Birthdays anthology – 1

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I’m not a great fan of birthday parties; at least not the traditional ones. That’s why I offer you a collection of my celebrations.

I remember having just one birthday party in my childhood. I was about ten. It wasn’t the most amazing event ever, but just an afternoon snack with six or eight friends. We didn’t even play video games, the most impressive thing you can do at that tender age.

Can you count them?

The void connects that with my birthday in Portugal. That time I was to have a drink with a couple of Brazilians when someone phoned to tell them about an improvised party to celebrate the birthday of two girls. They didn’t want to leave me alone and I was thus invited to join the party; therefore a new birthday was to be celebrated since I had turned 23 the day before.

One year later I was living in my east of Eden. My birthday was on a Saturday and my flatmate was going to our hometown on Friday. When I got home there was a note on the living room cupboard the content of which is going to be revealed in my next post.