#100HAPPYDAYS

[100] These 100 Happy Days

The Challenge:

To document, in words or pictures, that which made you happy. Every day. For 100 consecutive days. With the hashtag #100happydays via whatever social media makes you… happy.

The Result:

Beginning on January 7, I made a #100happydays blog post every day for 100 days – culminating in this, the 100th post! Or so I thought… until I went back to look at the list of these posts and saw that I missed two days: March 8 and March 30. In #100happydays parlance, that would be Day 061 and Day 083.

Hmm. Wow. Bummer. AAARRRGGGHHH!  I tried to be so diligent in this task. There were days when I was racing the clock to midnight to get that post in on deadline! (Only very recently did I learn that WordPress lets us backdate posts. But I never wanted to resort to that.) There may be a part of me that wants to go back and fill in those gaps, like touching up holidays on a newly painted wall. But I let go of that nonsense before I got to the end of the last sentence. Were this a quiz, a test or a final exam the 98% grade would make me… happy.

It was still nagging at me, though, so I had a glance at the calendar for those two gaps. March 8 held no clue. March 30, though, was the Sunday of the weekend Eileen was visiting from Boston. I remembered that we spent the afternoon lounging by the pool on the roof of her hotel… and before that we had brunch at The Bossy Wife & Co… HEY! I know I did a post that day because I included a photo of the Bossy Wife logo on their coffee mugs. A quick search found the missing blog post – which I hadn’t tagged “100happydays” so it didn’t show up in that search. March 8? Yup. Also missing the tag.

Well, well. I am so much better than I gave myself credit for! I know… I shouldn’t have ended that sentence with a preposition. That is just the sort of sloppy grammar up with which I will not put! Sue me. I scored 100% on the #100happydays assignment. What do I win?

There was a prize: adhering to the #100happydays regime taught me something valuable. It taught me to train my eye, my mind, my heart, my soul to look for the happiness in each day. It’s there. And not only to look back on the day to recall some happiness… but to anticipate it. To expect it. To watch out for it. Doesn’t have to be a Great Big Pile O’ Happy. And, of course, it usually isn’t. But you know that bullshit about “the little things”? Yeah, so, turns out… kinda true.

happypersonThree and a half months of daily fine tuning my antennae for something happy has made me think a little differently about what makes me happy. And what role does happiness play in our lives. Especially the small bits of joy that really are always right there in front of us. Like stones on the beach. You can walk right over them, focusing instead on the surf or the gulls or a dog romping or a kite…

But what happens when you start scanning the sand for just the right rock? You find it. But you keep looking, don’t you? And then you find another. And another. And maybe you hold on to only one just-the-right rock at a time. Or maybe you slip one or two into your pocket. And they sit on top of your dresser or in a drawer in the kitchen. Or they gather in a giant vase on the living room floor. (The one next to the even bigger vase full of wine corks.) Why? Because they simply remind you that the beach exists, even when you’re not on it.

So it is with the happy. It can’t make the unhappy things in life go away. I knew that. But I may have discovered that the reverse is also true. It’s not a zero-sum game. We can still find some good stuff, even in the midst of the biggest shit storm. It’s still there.

We just have to remind ourselves to look for it. And that’s what #100happydays taught me to do. Look for it. Acknowledge it. Appreciate it. Own it. So, it’s been a great little exercise. Even – especially – for this unapologetic cynic.

And now, back to the shit storm! But I’ll post some happy here and there. People seem to like that.

Go figure.

Day 100 #100happydays

 


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[099] Beagle Freedom Project

Rusty.xmas87I like all dogs better than most people… but I have a soft spot in my heart for beagles. I guess it goes back to our family dog when I was a teenager. Rusty was mostly beagle, with a little bit of basset hound mixed in. That explained his oversized ears. When he was a puppy, everything about him was small-sized – except those ears. They hung in the water when he drank from his dish, and dripped all the way across the kitchen floor. And sometimes when he walked he would step on an ear and face plant. I felt sorry for the little guy – but it was hilarious. Eventually, he grew into his ears. He was a good boy and I have the best memories of him.

Which is why I find the following so… horrifying:

Beagles are the most popular breed for lab use because of their friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities. The research industry says they adapt well to living in a cage, and are inexpensive to feed. Research beagles are usually obtained directly from commercial breeders who specifically breed dogs to sell to scientific institutions.

That information comes from an organization called the Beagle Freedom Project:

bfp.beagleBeagle Freedom Project began in December 2010 when Shannon Keith received information that beagles who were used for animal experiments in a research lab were to be given a chance at freedom. Our mission is rescuing and finding homes for beagles used in laboratory research.

Testing done on beagles in university and other research facilities includes medical / pharmaceutical, household products and cosmetics. When they are no longer wanted for research purposes, some labs attempt to find homes for adoptable, healthy beagles. Working directly with these labs, Beagle Freedom Project is able to remove and transport beagles to place them in loving homes. All rescues are done legally with the cooperation of the facility.

astrazeneca-beagle

Click here for foster/adopt info

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a lab beagle should be aware of the challenges these dogs have. They will not be accustomed to life in a home and will not have experience with children, cats, or other dogs. They will not be house-trained and accidents will happen, although they learn quickly. Many have gone directly from a commercial breeder to the lab, and have never felt grass under their feet or even seen the sun. They will have been fed a special diet formulated for lab animals and may be difficult to adjust to new foods. They will be unfamiliar with treats, toys, bedding and may never have walked on a leash. They will have lived in cages with steel wire floors and may have inflamed or infected paws from the pressure. They may be fearful of people initially and may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained. They are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder and have an ID number tattooed in their ear. Please also be aware that although these beagles are considered healthy, you will be given very little information about the beagle’s medical history, and you will not be told its origins or what kind of testing they may have been used for.

With time, patience, play, companionship, love – and most of all, freedom – these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.

Our hope is that with your help, we can encourage more research labs to release animals and give them a chance at life, instead of destroying adoptable pets.

Please watch this video. It will break your heart… and then it will give you hope.

Of course, not everyone can foster or adopt. There are so many ways we can help:

Click on this logo to learn more about the Beagle Freedom Bill:

beagle freedom bill.logo


Click on this logo to sign a letter to test labs in your area:

sign petition

Click on this logo to learn more and help Build the ROC Rescue & Outreach Center!
Brick by brick

Or click here to make a donation at any level.

And spread the word about BFP – they’re on every social media platform.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about Beagle Freedom Project and helping them succeed in any way you can. They are amazing people doing amazing things for animals who deserve so much better!

Now, watch this! for the best 3 minutes of your day/week/month.

Day 099 #100happydays

 

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[098] Look, Up In The Sky!

There is a total lunar eclipse tonight. The Earth is between the Sun and the Moon, and the Moon is passing through Earth’s shadow.

red_moon_nasa

The Blood Moon

It is called a “blood moon”, because it causes werewolves to lust for the blood of a at the height of the eclipse, about 12:30am PDT, the Moon will be cast in a rusty-reddish hue, caused by sunlight refracted through the lens of Earth’s atmosphere.

It does not signal the end of the world, the end of days, the end times… or the end of anything, really. And this ain’t ‘the rapture’ – so don’t bother going to sleep in your fancy travellin’ duds.

I was going to stay up and take pictures for you. But as I started snapping pre-eclipse moon shots, I learned (and not for the first time) that my little smartphone camera – optical wonder though it is – is not particularly well suited to photographing heavenly bodies at a distance of 250,000 miles. And I’m OK with that, really. Because it does pretty much everything else.

I did take this shot, using a blue filter, that I think is kind of groovy.

blue moon

Speaking of shadows, earlier today I took this shady selfie.

shadow.me

This fabulous tree stands in West Hollywood Park, just outside of the pool. You can see the jungle gym equipment in the nearby “tot lot” playground. Kids don’t climb trees anymore. That’s sad. Because this is a perfect climber.

playground.tree

Day 098 #100happydays

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[097] Eschscholzia californica

pdc.redbldg.loomingI had a plan for this post. The Pacific Design Center complex borders a residential neighborhood on its eastern flank. PDC’s Red Building resembles a ship with its curved “hull” and soaring “prow”. As you walk down Huntley Drive toward Melrose, the massive building looms above the neat little houses and small apartment buildings as if it has slipped its mooring. It’s quite something – unless you’re trying to shoot photos directly into the afternoon sun. Which I was. And that’s never a good idea. So here’s one pic to give you an idea of what I was after. To be continued…

poppiesFortunately, my walking route to that ill-fated photo shoot took me through the terraced parking lot below Sunset Plaza. There is an upper and a lower parking lot built into a fairly steep hillside which is planted out with wild grasses and an amazing variety of flowering vines and shrubs and trees. I think many other places would be quite happy to have this as a botanical garden. (You know who you are.)

So I was snapping away – if you think I bombard you with floral fotos, gentle reader, then you should feel especially sorry for my Instagram followers – when suddenly I spied the elusive flora: Eschscholzia californica! The official state flower of the Golden State: The California poppy. “Copa de oro” as the early Spanish settlers dubbed it: “cup of gold”.

I call it “elusive” only because I just read an article lamenting the devastating effect the drought is having on our beloved poppies. But the cups of gold bursting forth in the Sunset Plaza parking lot don’t seem to be inhibited in the least. So, enjoy these snapshots of poppies and more. (And I’ll bring you that other story one of these days.)

hillside.poppies poppies galore

And there were these huge bushes covered in pink flowers…

masses of pink flowering shrub

And Orange Morning Glory – which is strange,
because 99% of the time it is those thousand shades of blue…

orange morning glory

And all these purple daisies, which I googled, so now I can
call them by their proper name: purple daisies.

purple daisies

Poppies & Company

Day 097 #100happydays

 


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[096] Olympic Swim

ScarletSistersMy friend Myra MacPherson has a new book out, and it looks like the perfect summer read:

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age

A fresh look at the life and times of Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin, two sisters whose radical views on sex, love, politics, and business threatened the white male power structure of the nineteenth century and shocked the world. Here award-winning author Myra MacPherson deconstructs and lays bare the manners and mores of Victorian America, remarkably illuminating the struggle for equality that women are still fighting today.

Myra is in town this weekend for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus, and I was looking forward to catching up with her. When I looked at the FoB schedule this morning, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it to USC for her panel discussion. Rats. (Sorry to miss you, Myra… but I hope I sold a few books with this post!)

1932LAOlympics.pool+coliseum

While in scheduling mode, I was wondering when to get in my swim today. Saturdays in my usual pool tend to get a little crowded with people I generously call “floaters”. Then, the part of my brain that was still at the Book Fest remembered that USC is next to Expo Park – which includes the Coliseum and the Los Angeles Swimming Stadium.

These were built for the 1932 Olympics, and called up for duty again in 1984 for LA’s second bite at the Olympic apple. In the ’90s, the whole thing got mothballed. But ten years ago, the Swimming Stadium was given a $30 million renovation. I’ve heard it’s a great venue for lap swimming, so I’ve been wanting to give it a spin.

Today was the day.

LASwim.frontview

The two rounds of renovation tread very lightly on the original 1932 architecture and design of the Swimming Stadium, permitting this state of the art facility to keep its Art Deco bones. That’s a laudable achievement anywhere, but especially in LA – which hasn’t always put a premium on historic preservation.

LA Plunge

The Coliseum is decked out in USC’s red&gold as the home field of the Trojans.

swim stadium + coliseum

In the most recent redo a massive recreational pool was added (background); this is a godsend to us lap swimmers, as it siphons off the floaters. The 50-meter pool has a moveable divider (visible at left) creating a 25-yard pool at the far end (for diving, water polo and synchronized swimming) and the 8-lane lap pool in the foreground. 50 meters minus 25 yards = about 27 yards: 2 yards longer than the standard 25. So, the configuration of this pool makes you work a little harder for your lap count. But I took comfort in knowing I’d recess.icecream.truckget an 8% bonus at the end of my swim. Before I finish this love letter, let me just say that a six-foot-deep shallow end is a beautiful thing. All that for two bucks, and free parking! I’d swim there everygreentea.cone day if it weren’t a 20-mile roundtrip. But maybe it’s my new Saturday plunge.

Afterwards, I wandered through Expo Park, past the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center (now home to Shuttle Endevour) and over to the USC campus – which was still humming with book lovers. I stumbled upon a quad filled with food trucks, and suddenly felt famished. Funny how that works, eh? I scoped out the shortest line, and was happy to find myself at the very festive Recess Ice Cream truck asking for two scoops of green tea ice cream in a waffle cone.

As I walked slurpily away, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had an ice cream cone. Am I alone in this? Or have we all been denying ourselves one of life’s simplest pleasures for far too long??

USC.jacaranda

Lots of collegiate red brick and blue sky provide a great backdrop for this flowering jacaranda, my view while I waited for my ice cream cone. As I made my way off campus, I bumped into this guy:

USC.NeilArmstrong

And I have to say, if there’s a competition among life-size bronze statues for Best Plaque… this one just might win:

armstrong.plaque

Except for missing my friend at the book fest, today was not a bad day at all.
Olympic qualifying, in fact.

Day 096 #100happydays

Photo credit at top: Ryan Lochte by Martin Schoeller

 


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[095] Jacaranda!

Kim+Me.Robertson.041014I reconnected a couple of years ago with a friend from our high school days who now lives in Northern California’s Silicon Valley with her husband and two sons. Last August, Kim was shuttling her older son back down to USC for his sophomore year; she suggested we get together for lunch, which was really lovely. How do you catch up after so many years? Wine.

A few weeks ago, Kim telegraphed that she’d be down LA way again – this time with her younger son, who has a decision to make about his own collegiate future. So we had another chance to lunch and catch up and spend an unhurried afternoon together. From what I hear, it looks like they are going to be an All-SC family… which guarantees me a few more lunch dates with Kim. That makes me happy. The dogs too. Especially Bernardo – who is quite smitten with this girl! After our lunch (at Lemonade on Beverly), we wandered around, visiting and window-shopping. Some kid was taking snapshots of his supermodel girlfriend near the Ivy on Robertson, and he was kind enough to take ours. We tried to be adult and respectable, we really did. (We failed.)

jac and pineAnother wonderful thing happened yesterday. As we were driving to lunch, I spotted my first blooming jacaranda tree of the season. Spring is really here when the jacarandas burst into blue-lavender-purple fireworks. It starts slowly, with the telltale purple haze here and there. And then, ka-BOOM! They seem to be everywhere. But especially in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They are native to South America and elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, but were brought to Los Angeles a century ago by Katherine Olivia Sessions, the landscape architect for Balboa Park in San Diego. Thank you, Ms Sessions! jac.telephonepole

These aren’t terribly good photographs of the jacarandas in my neighborhood, where they mingle with palms and pines. The sun was too high and the colors are washed out. But I’ll get better at it. As long as we don’t have a freak rainstorm, these blooms last for a couple of months. (They bloom again in the fall, but the big show tends to be in spring.)

And here are a few more snaps of local flora from my travels today. Enjoy!

yellow whatsit

I don’t know the proper name for this gorgeous yellow flower,
so I’ll just call it gorgeous yellow flower.

bougainvillea.rubyred

The ruby-reddest bougainvillea I’ve ever seen.

olive.reaching

I love the way the new growth on this silvery-green olive tree reaches for the sky.

in the tall grass

They’re just clumps of tall grasses planted at the edge of a park…
but there’s such exuberance – even without all the flower power.

To old friends and new seasons.

Day 095 #100happydays

 

 
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[094] And One Of Us Hasn’t Changed A Bit

Lili + Steve  #tbt

This was early ’80s… about 10 years into a 40-year friendship… and counting.

lili+steve.westminster.198?

Everything about this photo makes me smile!
Thanks to Kim for picking up our old yearbook and causing this photo to fall out.

Day 094 #100happydays

 


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[093] Guess We Won’t Be Needing The Stunt Ass…

National Treasures

The U.S. Constitution may be showing some wear and tear after 225 years…

But – Shut the front door! – Julia Louis-Dreyfus
has got it all goin’ on, even when she’s taking it all off!

JLD-RS.Cover

That ass is 53 years old. Just sayin’…

And no, John Hancock did not sign the Constitution… but srsly, who cares?
(RS will redeem itself with its next piece by Matt Taibbi.)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus!
Day 093 #100happydays


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[092] The Lovin’ Spoonful

(Tho I prefer to think of it as rat poison being dispensed by the Prez)

NewYorkerCover.041414

Barry Blitt’s brilliant cover for The New Yorker
14 April 2014

“If you want to say the further and further this gets down the road, the harder and harder it gets to repeal, that’s absolutely true. As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act.”

– GOP congressional aide, quoted by TPM,
on the increasing difficulty of ever repealing Obamacare

Day 092 #100happydays


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[091] Four Things I Know I’ll Never Need

ThingsIKnowIllNeverNeed

 

Eyelash Perm. Srsly?

Day 091 #100happydays

 


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[090] Twins

I’ve logged nearly 150 miles in the pool since November, which is the good news. The bad news? My favorite swim trunks have been degraded to the point of scandal. So, today I found myself in the shopping nirvana that is the Century City mall, in pursuit of a swimsuit. I had done my homework and headed directly to H&M, which had what I was looking for. Sadly, I tried on three different styles in size MEDIUM before succumbing to the harsh reality: I still require the LARGE. You know, I’ve heard that they take liberties with women’s size labels. Why don’t men get this courtesy? What about size labels such as POTENT or BRILLIANT or PROSPEROUS?

[Sidebar] A thousand years ago, I had my first big-city job in New York and bought my first big-city winter overcoat. It was a brown tweed number, trench coat style with wide lapels. I felt very cool while keeping warm that winter. One cold night, I stopped to see my friend Kip at his parents’ house. His father opened the door and gave me a hearty welcome. “Steve! Well, you’re looking prosperous!” Now, I knew I had overpaid for that coat, but in that moment I felt entirely vindicated. I suddenly hoped summer would never come. It was some time before I learned the crushing truth: “prosperous” is a polite synonym for “fat” – as in “well fed” – used by very nice-if-somewhat-snarky New England WASPs. (I lived.)

Anyhoo, success. I found my swimwear for the next several hundred miles. But then it took longer to get to the cash register than it had taken me to get to the mall. And I was nearly asphyxiated when the charming little girls behind me smashed a vile vial of glitter nail polish on the floor. Their mother pretended not to know them while the employee (who would otherwise have been ringing up my purchase, thankyouverymuch) discovered the near impossibility of wiping up glitter-infused nail lacquer from a white marble floor.

And no, I will not model my new swimming costume for you. Maybe next time… when I’m sufficiently less prosperous. Hey – this post is not even about swimwear, or overcoats, or child terrorists. Hello! Focus people, focus!

aerial-centuryplazaThat mall has an immense underground parking structure, and I’m always a little relieved to find my way to any exit. Today’s roulette put me on Constellation Blvd and I found myself looking up at the crisply striped twin towers of Century Plaza against an endlessly blue sky. (Sometimes, the blog post just writes itself.) Here’s an aerial shot to show you how these 500-foot tall wedges stand in relation to each other. The six angles produce ever changing communication between these two giant sculptures.

Once a New Yorker always a New Yorker (no matter how much ankle-deep slush I no longer have to step in) – so the first time I heard someone refer to Century Plaza as “the twin towers”… my reaction could be summed up as fuhgeddaboudit!

My stance on this has softened somewhat since learning that these twinned towers in LA share something rather significant with the iconic Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center in NYC: their parentage. The same architect, Minoru Yamasaki, designed these buildings. What’s more, they were built around the same time. WTC was finished in 1973; Century Plaza Towers opened two years later. And the family resemblance is striking. Yamasaki favored aluminum cladding and narrow dark windows. These two side-by-side shots show the similar design elements:

SIDE BY SIDE 1

Of course, New York’s Twin Towers were far more massive and 2-1/2 times taller than Century Plaza Towers. But as I stood looking up at the interplay of the twins here in LA, I couldn’t help recalling the same strained neck while standing between the North and South Towers of WTC, once upon a time. There was a time when this would have made me sad… but today I found myself happy to visit the California cousins of those noble old New Yorkers.

centuryplaza.landscape

WTC-twin towers

Towering Twins

Day 090 #100happydays

P.S. I have just traveled here from the future! Well, little more than a week after the original date of this post. Because I found another shot in the album from that day. I didn’t use it in this post, as the trees interfered with the clean lines of the architecture. But I like the juxtaposition of the natural and built environments. So I’ll just sneak it in here, and return to my proper place in the timeline.

centuryplaza.trees

 

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[089] Skydiving Into Gotham

There are images that stop me in my tracks, and this is one of them. I just came across it in my Twitter feed. It appears to have been taken from a vantage point several thousand feet above NYC. The lines of perspective are exaggerated as the eye moves out from the center point, in a way that emphasizes the urban oasis that is Central Park – and gives you the feeling of falling into the picture. Geronimoooooooo!

CentralParkNYC

http://twitter.com/planetepics/status/452586483590107136/photo/1

Even with the distortion, though, the clarity is remarkable. I see buildings I lived and worked in, a long time ago. And the places in the park that I loved. Still do. Just haven’t been to them in awhile. The jogging track encircling the big blue Reservoir. The softball fields behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we could let Remi and Jesse romp off leash. Bethesda Fountain on The Lake. The roadways inside the park that were closed to traffic on Sundays in favor of walkers, joggers, cyclists, skaters, breakdancers, etc. Thom and I lived just four blocks behind the Guggenheim on East 89th Street and I’d rollerblade into the park and skate the great circle from midtown to Harlem. Listening to my Walkman. (FYI: this was after 8-tracks and before CDs.) Wearing only wrist and knee guards. I wasn’t young enough (even then) to justify that feeling of invincibility – but I was lucky.

And there’s the Great Lawn of Sheep Meadow where I saw the epic Simon & Garfunkel concert in 1981, and the ill-fated Diana Ross concert in the summer of ’83. It was a sweltering summer evening and a massive thunderstorm fired up just a half-hour into the show. Miss Ross was having none of it, though. She kept going in the driving rain, wind whipping that huge mane of tight curls, her flowing garments billowing like a runaway spinnaker… Ain’t no mountain high enough! A biblical downpour. No one left. It was insane. Half a million people could have been electrocuted where we stood… Ain’t no river wide enough! It was an amazing moment. And then the Motown Diva acknowledged Mother Nature’s superior forces and said she’d be back the next night to finish the show. I remember being swept along in a river of humanity exiting the park that night, soaked to the skin, everyone running for cover into the office building lobbies and hotels along Central Park South and around the Plaza. It was part disaster movie, part carnival. I don’t think they did many free concerts in the park after that. But what a night!

And you know what I love about the internet? I just found a clip from that crazy washed out concert!

 

An extraordinary image of an extraordinary park in an extraordinary city. If you know me or have followed this blog for more than an hour, then you know I love life in Los Angeles. But seeing this image and the memories of people and places and events that it triggers… reminds me of my first home, and my first love. It will always be true…

iloveny

Day 089 #100happydays


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