Free Virtual Event on Real Happiness

The Atlantic is hosting a virtual event on happiness (doesn’t a virtual meeting on happiness seem like an oxymoron, like military intelligence>) this coming Thursday:

“In just one week, The Atlantic will host a free virtual event that explores what it takes to be happy and how to build a more meaningful life.

“On Thursday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, hear from happiness experts such as Deepak Chopra, the founder of The Chopra Foundation; Angela Duckworth, the founder and CEO of Character Lab; and the author and podcast host Gretchen Rubin.

“Here are just a few sessions you can join once you register:

“The Science of Happiness” with the Harvard professor and “How to Build a Life” columnist Arthur C. Brooks and The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg
“Revisiting ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?’” with the psychology professor Jean Twenge and Atlantic staff writer Alexis Madrigal
“Navigating Loneliness Amid a Pandemic” with the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Atlantic staff writer James Hamblin
“The Role of Faith” with the global spiritual leader and humanitarian T. D. Jakes and staff writer Emma Green
Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a morning barre3 class, a Headspace guided meditation, a live performance from Jordan Fisher and the Global Company of Dear Evan Hansen, and much more. See the entire agenda.

“Register today to reserve your spot and receive tips and resources, like happiness exercises from Arthur Brooks and a curated reading list, sent to you before the event.”

Details are here..

How were you virtually happy this week? (Any kind of happy, really.)

[Full disclaimer: I have no idea if this will be helpful or not. My murder mystery party class is looking good, though.]

+9

83 thoughts on “Free Virtual Event on Real Happiness

  1. To be honest, it looks more annoying than anything. But maybe that’s just me. I’m really struggling with happiness these days, and having “experts” tell me how to be happier would probably just make me cranky. Now cranky, that I’ve mastered.

    A couple of things did make me pretty darn happy this week. A friend and I had planned to go to BoucherCon (mystery convention) in New Orleans at the end of August, but after our favorite author pals bowed out because of the pandemic, we decided we didn’t really want to go either. Instead, we found a (fancy) cabin in the woods by a lake that we could rent for 5 nights and still hang out together. While I was sad about the con, I was also happy to find a replacement that at this point in time is probably more my speed. Plus, she can bring her dog.

    I also finally decided to go (all things still being okay by then) to Coastal Magic Convention at Daytona Beach in Florida. A fun, relaxed, reader-focused convention, it takes place in a hotel that is right on the ocean. In February, which is right about the time when New York State winter is breaking me. I’ve been a few times before as one of the many guest authors, and it is always fun. Plus, well, ocean.

    But my HUGE happy this week was getting an email from a local teacher who also sits on the board of the animal rescue organization (Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans) that inspired my new Catskill Pet Rescue cozy mystery series. She read the first book and loved it, and ordered ten for all the English teachers in the Middle School. Together, they apparently decided it was suitable for kids that age, and so they are ordering a copy for EVERY 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade kid, plus their teachers. About 550-600. Which meant the book had to go back for another printing. And all these local kids (and maybe their parents) will have a copy of my book, and possibly even read it. Plus they are ordering it through the local indie bookstore, so it is a synergy between the schools, the rescue organization, the bookstore, and the local author, aka me. How wonderful is that? (They got a grant from a woman whose mother, who died recently, was a local author and artist, and animal lover, and who wanted her money to support the things she valued.) This might give the book a much needed sales boost, and it is definitely giving me a much needed happiness boost.

    +57
      1. I know! Teachers and kids, animal rescue, indie bookstore, local author…it’s just a win, win, win, win. So much happy here. (And if the huge buy of books helps to convince Penguin to continue the series, well, that would be great too.)

        +14
    1. Talk about supporting everything you love at one time! That is so inspired and it couldn’t happen to nicer person. And I hope the local indie bookstore gets some repeat business out of it, too.

      May you get a whole new generation of fans out of this.

      +10
    2. That’s great, though if your book is going to be read to a new demographic, you might want to set up a few web pages for children, with printable stickers or bookmarks, suggestions of possible activities and points of discussion for teachers etc

      +12
      1. The woman who put this together is a middle school teacher and involved with STEM programs, as well as being the vice president of the rescue organization (I may develop a complex). She is actually working on bookmarks, plus a note to put into each book with a few sentences from the woman who donated the funds, me, and maybe a teacher. And there is talk about short video that can be played by each teacher to his or her class, instead of the large assembly that might have happened pre-Covid.

        +11
    3. This is so brilliant I can’t even think straight! (If I were the mother who died recently there would be dancing in heaven.)

      +8
      1. I think your book is going to delight the families and teachers reading it. I’m so glad that they’re getting this opportunity!

        +9
    4. Loved the book and plan on keeping up with the series. I believe sometimes goodness grabs goodness in this world; having watched your writing career evolve, this goodness is deserved.

      +9
      1. Thank you. I keep telling people that this is Karma at work. I did a good thing simply because I wanted to do it, without expecting anything in return. And now it is coming back to me in ways I never anticipated. (Us Witchy types call this the Law of Returns.) It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it is pretty amazing.

        +7
  2. This sounds interesting. But, following the law of calendar day magnetism, I’ve got a scary medical procedure that day. It was also the day I normally meet with my therapist, which I’ve had to cancel because of the procedure.

    Really though, why is it that once an appointment gets made, suddenly all other appointments/events are on that same day?

    +12
      1. I got all my annuals planted, thus completing the April transition from a spring bulb garden to a summer annuals garden. Well, one of my snapdragons under the fig apparently lost its birth control so I have dozens of six inch plants to move to sunnier spots but now I’m basically down to weeding, watering, and spraying with an organic spray to keep the bunnies and deer away. Both fig trees are producing first crops—off the old wood—and it looks good for a second crop off the new wood in august. The red roses are about to bloom in profusion, the second set of bearded iris are about to bloom and a set i planted a year or two ago are about to have their first flowers. The mini swamp garden is coming along nicely with the cat tails and yellow flag iris in a muddy patch about 3 feet by 6 that can’t grow anything else so we are going with the water flow, literally.

        And we finally found, bought and had delivered the rocking bench we decided to give eachother for our anniversary last summer so we can sit on the front stoop and enjoy the garden.

        We’ve also been making a lot of fresh spring garlic pistachio pesto garlic which I highly recommend and since it’s champagne mango season also sticky rice with mango.

        We are finally fully vaccinated and starting to have friends over for dinner, and planning a road trip to see our son and other family. Now if only DH would recognize that a trip to Armenia for a friends wedding is a plane trip too far…

        +11
  3. I’m fretting about still feeling low-energy and light-headed – even had a Covid test just in case, but it was negative. Also my iPad’s battery seems to be failing in sympathy; and there are other computer gremlins.

    But this week had some excellent happy-making things, too: after not hearing a dicky bird after my Zoom interview with the gardening publisher in February, they emailed to set up another Zoom to talk about a possible project – on Thursday. (I’m now therefore deep in researching buying a replacement for my 10-year-old iMac.)

    And I’ve finally got round to the mending – lots of socks, my gardening trousers and shirt, my rain jacket and best of all my 50-year-old Girl Guides sleeping bag, which frayed open along one edge a while back, and had lost most of its quilting. I thought my 1954 Singer sewing machine would struggle, but it didn’t hesitate at either sewing the slippery nylon or quilting the kapok stuffing. So I’ve got my cosy throw back (I removed the broken zip a long time ago).

    And this morning I planted my French beans, sweet peas, and the first three tomatoes (in the greenhouse). Discovered that despite the recent chilly weather, the soil’s really warm – so I feel it’s finally safe to plant and sow direct. I’m going to start on the garden this afternoon.

    +15
    1. TThey built those old machines to last. My Bernina is from 1983, and it’s still a champ. It weighs a ton, but it’s sturdy as all get out.

      +16
      1. The Singer is their ‘Featherweight’ model. Dad gave it to Mum for their first anniversary. It doesn’t zigzag, but I loved it much more than her later plastic swing-needle one.

        +12
        1. Like old typewriters, I have my mother’s Singer from the fifties and my Pfaff 1222E, Mom made the most amazing clothes on that Singer. She made a fabulous navy tailored box pleat skirt with nipped in waist jacket with a silver satin lining. I wore it in high school. Still have the silk velvet long sleeve dress with lace collar and cuffs. Hoping the granddaughters will want to wear it.

          Culling the old patterns and saving Vogue designer classics. Wish I had saved more like the black crepe dress with hand sewn zippers in the long sleeves and the 120 loops and buttons. Loved that dress.

          +16
          1. This dovetails so nicely with comments I’ve wanted to make, that I can’t resist. A “book” I forgot to mention on Thursday, was the very first “Grantville Gazette,” technically an e-magazine. I spotted it in my Kindle library with its original cover, a Rubins painting (a nude of his later wife). I’ve lost track of how many main and side novels there are to the Ring of Fire series, and I know there are over a half-dozen anthologies of short stories and the occasional novella. But when Eric Flint solicited stories for the first anthology, to be printed befor or concurrent with the second novel, 1633, and titled Ring of Fire, there were more submissions – publishing quality submissions – than the anthology would hold.

            The solution, with permission of publisher Jim Baen, was the e-magazine. Was it a success? Well, it;s published bimonthly, pays professional rates, and there are over 90 issues.

            But I was reading issue 001. Again. The first story was “Anna’s Story.” In the first book, 1632, in an early scene, a young German girl being chased by two of Tillys soldiers for the purpose of rape, tumbles over a berm into Grantville’s Chief of Police, Dan Frost. The soldiers shoot at Dan with their arquebuses – Dan returns fire with a police .44 semi-auto, killing them utterly. The girl is not seen again in that novel. She is the Anna of the magazine’s first story, and it’s a bee-youty-ful story.

            The fourth story is “The Rudolstadt Colloquy.” I learned so much from this one. I learned, first, that Virginia DeMarce is an amazing author. Second, she invented some of the series’ most amazing characters, like “Old Benny” Pearce the 80 yo travelling musician and his apprentice, Minnie Hugalmayer, who becomes a major supporting character in the series. And Leopold Cavriani et Freres de Geneve, also important in future books. The Colloquy itself is this big religeous conference supposedly between the Lutherans of Flavian or Phillipist flavors. Orthodox versus differently orthodox. Loved this one, too.

            Third story was “The Sewing Circle” by Gorg Huff, and that’s the one inspiring this post as a response. Or something like that. This is an amazing story on so many levels, and introduces more characters important to so many stories in the series. At base, it’s summarized thusly: In a town from the year 2000, hurled back into Germany of 1631, there are many marvels which the “downtimers” will pay much to possess. But once they are sold, they are gone, and are irreplaceable. Four teenagers, with some help from one of their grandmothers, brainstorm to see what they can make or build as something… replaceable. A renewable resource. Grandma (Delia) Higgins owns a really old Singer. Family Fable says it was upgraded from treadle to electric. They decide to build treadle-powered sewing machines. It works, and they become wealthy! (It’s a little less simple than implied, and a great story.)

            Characters. Sarah Wendell, graduates and works for the Fed, Financial Analyst and Advisor, eventually raised up to be a Princess of Austria and marries Carl Von Lichtenstein.
            David Higgins, first CEO of Higgins Sewing Machine Co, Analyst for “Other People’s Money” mutual fund and investing company, eventually a Major in the USE Army Third Division.
            The Partow twins, Brent and Trent, are the mechanics of the company, and will found a “Menlow Park” type place for future inventions.
            Judy the Younger Wendell and about half a dozen of her friends, use their Barbie dolls as collateral (or sell them and use the cash) to buy into the HSMC. They call themselves “The Barbie Consortium” and have their own stories and a book and become, like Sarah, princesses of Austria. With Sarah, they rescue the Austrian economy, many books down the road. They call Prince Carl von Lichtensein “The Ken Doll.”

            There are other stories in this issue, but none as amazing as these.

            +8
      2. I have my grandmother’s old Singer which probably qualifies as a genuine antique by now. It’s cast iron with a fancy gold and floral design. It has a foot treadle that moves the needle up and down. It resides upside down in a wood cabinet and it flips up when it’s time for use. I’m sure it was the bee’s knees back in the day, and it still works great; my mom used it to sew canvas and other heavy duty fabrics.

        +3
    2. Hi Jane,
      Apples software update 12.5.2 is causing battery problems on older versions of their devices. They have now released 12.5.3 which I’m going to update to today and see if that fixes the problem.

      +6
      1. Thanks, Tess; but that seems to be the recent update to my iPhone 5s, which has been fine. My iPad is up to date, on iOS 14.5.1.

        +5
        1. I came across a website that suggests forcing a restart with the iPad because sometimes the update does not register all the apps. You put the iPad on to charge and then hold both buttons down. I noticed that my iPhone and iPad were taking longer to charge after the updates. Really annoying. If that doesn’t work, then go into the battery settings and see if the update has caused an app to use more battery life than normal. Hope this helps.

          +5
          1. Bless you – I really do appreciate the suggestions. But a restart was one of the first things I tried, and I’ve been watching my battery usage like a hawk. I’m afraid I may have to try a factory reset, which was why I was anxious to back up to the iMac (I ration my use of iCloud). But at least I’ve backed up my pictures, which are the most important apart from my Scrivener files, which I sync via Dropbox. I’ll try yet another restart, just for luck!

            +5
    3. Have you had your thyroid checked? I’ve been blaming my extreme (even for me) exhaustion on a combo of stress and this last year, but it turns out I have low thyroid levels. Still waiting for the meds to kick in and get me off the floor, but they are supposed to make a substantial difference.

      +11
      1. Thanks for the suggestion. It’s not that bad; and more a combination of low energy plus light-headed + queasy if I move around a lot. Possibly labyrinthitis? I’ve had similar stuff before, but not for quite a while. Hoping it’ll go away soon; it’s so hard to pin down I really don’t want to go to the doctor about it.

        +8
        1. I would second a thyroid check if this light-headed/fatigue continues, Jane. But also wondering if you got a Covid vaccine at all and if so, if it’s the Astra one and if the symptoms came on afterward. If that’s the case, may be worth a chat with your doctor just to be sure it’s not related. Apparently some side effects can come on weeks later and not just immediately and some need tending.

          +4
          1. That’s interesting. Because that’s what I thought it was – I had a similar, shorter delayed reaction to my first jab. Pfizer rather than Astra Zeneca, though. I’ll have a rummage on the Zoe Covid Symptom Study blog, see if there’s some info I’ve overlooked. Thanks.

            +5
      2. Took some years to get the meds right. Found out I needed both cytomel and Synthroid. Reduced the synthroid once the cytomel was prescribed. Have all three tested. T3 T4 and TSH. If you can.

        +4
    4. I wanted to tell you that I heard (on MacBreak Weekly) that someone somewhere is making black clings or stick-ons or something to cover the white bezel on the new iMacs. You aren’t the only one. I failed to retain the company’s name.

      +6
      1. I was wondering how long that would take! But if I do get work on illustrated books, which are designed by spread (2pp), I think I’ll need a 27in screen.

        +5
  4. I started my coop for my Horticulture program this week and it is making me very happy. I’m working on a small family flower farm. I get to be outside and learning lots about flowers and how to grow them.

    I volunteered one day at a local Flower Market which my employer is part of. People were happy to see the flower growers back – we helped make other people happy,one bouquet at a time. I dropped off a bouquet to one of my neighbours who is struggling and she said it made her day. She dropped off a book of poetry for me today that includes one of her poems.

    +3
  5. The biggest happy for me this week was stumbling across news that researchers have just figured out a way to use gene therapy for my rare disorder, and they tried it, and it worked (in mice).

    Now I’m on a mission to understand gene therapy. I hadn’t been paying attention to gene therapy, because what little I knew about it was that it was much harder (impossible) to turn OFF over-expression of a protein (and my disorder is one of over-expression), than to turn ON expression of a protein. So these scientists went about it in a roundabout way, and instead of turning off all the bone cells that produce FGF23 which is problem in the kidneys, they found a way to make the LIVER produce an antibody to FGF23. So the bones still produce the FGF23, but then the liver block it from causing problems in the kidneys.

    It’s probably, as best I can tell, about ten years away from being approved for treatment of humans (the research was in mice, so next they need to do a lot of years of clinical trials, and then the 2+ year FDA/EMA processes). But so, so encouraging. This is a once-and-done treatment, not the six times a day of the old multi-pill treatment or even the once-a-month injections I get now.

    In lesser but sort of related news, I got some positive reinforcement for some of my patient advocacy work, which hardly ever happens (and part of the reason for advocate burn-out).

    +25
    1. The possibility of a permanent solution in the future as well as the unexpected thanks should help stave off burn out for quite a while. I am so happy for you and hope the new treatment sails through trials with flying colors!

      +12
    2. All the Whoo Hoo coming atcha, and the mice too. And a big Yay for science.

      +8
    3. Of course, I was reading yesterday that most mouse research is done on MALE mice, which may skew the results . . . . who’d have thought it?

      Though I suppose they tend to steer the female mice towards the breeding side.

      +1
  6. I’ll skip the virtual happiness seminar for a half-way decent book any day. Like Deborah, I’d find it annoying.

    Started digging out some ground cover I established on a front bank. It’s coming up the hill too high. So I’m taking some of it out and moving it to the other side of the stairs. I need to get that bank covered so that I can stop mowing it. It’s tough work but I’ve made a start.

    Next up, the PA primary which will keep me busy for the next 3 weeks. Hope it all goes well.

    +13
  7. my happiness this week was taking in a stray mother cat and her 2 week old kittens . They were living in a shed of a grumpy old man who was threating to kill them.. I really did not want more cats but took them anyway . there are 5 adorable kittens and a super mom cat so kittens are always full of joy and newness . and the mother cat is very young and adorable but she was living off what she could watch in the woods, so was very underweight. she ate 4 cans of cat food the first day.. so she has is now in a much safer place. and she and kittens bring much joy .. not sure if the link will work.. hope it does.. https://www.smugmug.com/app/photos?imageKey=pcspSWP

    +21
  8. I’ve been hiding from reality with roamance novels and reddit. I think I’m addicted. So I’ve been unpacking it.

    Turns out, I miss helping people and making a difference. Was a telephone counselor for our version of the Samaritans for 5 years. Took a 4 year hiatus. And then I volunteered at a youth group for about 9 years. I need to go back to mental health care where ALL my skills are best utilized.

    Now to develop the plan of action. I’m content knowing that I have the skillset. I just have to develop business knowledge.

    +18
  9. I registered. It’s free, I can get a free Barre class, Angela Duckworth made grit famous, why not?

    I also went back and am almost finished the Coursera course on happiness. Doing the gratitude journal daily now!

    I’m a happy person but always want to maximize it.
    Other happy news: finally got my second shot but am not too tired to celebrate my son.

    Just have to nerve myself up to work on my novel now …

    +15
  10. This week it was nice enough to start bringing winter clothes up to storage in the attic and bring down the summer things. I’m now three days in of donating what I know I’ll never wear again. Seriously, when I opened a zippered bag and saw that the padding on the hanger was turning to dust it was way beyond time. Between dragging bins downstairs, emptying the rack and today checking the closet I’m pooped. Four bags worth people. It pretty much started after reading in a novel about a contractor who mentioned the weight of continually adding stuff to the upstairs. So I’m doing my part now, my husband has to get the boys together for the heavier items like the bicycle that doesn’t work anymore. This should have gone into Working Wednesday but by then I would have moved on.

    +16
    1. Slowly going through the bins with summer clothes too. We have way too many clothes aside from the vintage stuff.

      +9
  11. My happy this week was that our Morgan club had an in-person meeting for the first time in over a year. Everyone is now vaccinated (geezers abound) so we felt we all could go without masks. So that was three, count’em – THREE – car trips in the Morgan this week. It ran like a champ so we are pretty confident of attending some rallies away from home this summer.

    On the non-happy front, the sewer guys says the new sewer the city requires us to put in (as part of the neighbor selling his house) must be hand-dug and they think it will take three weeks ?! WTF for a 40 foot trench? Even if it is 30 feet long it should not take that long) and cost a bunch of money and they are not prepared to give us a firm bid on the work. We are now back to the drawing board and have to talk to the city again and get some more bids. Plus the neighbor is having the side of his house touched up (our side) and the painter just this morning started scraping the house without putting any drop cloths down and there are paint chips, some of which are likely to be leaded on houses as old as this, all over my flower bed. Plus he walked all over my plants and ferns and they are now mashed and broken. It had been looking really nice. My husband went out and yelled at him. The neighbor came over and apologized. Big deal.

    Still the Morgan is good to go and my cat Dmitri, now 10 months old, needs a hug. He still thinks he is a sweet baby even if he is turning into a hulking monster of a cat. So there are some bright spots.

    +11
    1. Even hulking monsters can be sweet babies when in private. My 16 pounder was the ruler of all wildlife for blocks around, but he still liked to sleep across my feet in the winter.

      +10
    2. Jeez, now I miss our +8 Morgan although it was the most difficult car I ever drove, no power steering, no trunk or backseat to keep stuff (you had to decide whether you wanted to take a person along or a shopping basket), and putting the roof back on always ruined my fingernails. And still it was so great. One summer, we went to see the castles along the Loire river for a week – I had the time of my life, that car made me feel like a movie star.

      +13
      1. Yes. It’s like you are putting on a parade. People smile and wave and shout “great car” or variations thereof. It really lifts your mood.

        +11
        1. Ours was midnight blue, it looked really elegant (also, my husband took care it was never dirty). Before we bought it, we went to Malvern Link and visited the factory. (Must have been the mid-Nineties.) That was absolutely crazy – you were allowed to walk around on your own to watch the workmen assemble each vehicle by hand, no conveyor belt in sight.

          Funny story included: afterwards, we had lunch at the local pub, and when I came back from the restrooms, a man asked me: “Did you enjoy your visit?” For a moment, I was taken aback but then I realized he was one of the workers who had recognized me, and he didn’t mean visiting the loo but the Morgan Motor Company ;o)

          +12
  12. Did my taxes, always traumatic. But I’m getting money back! I’m stunned.
    Had dear friends visit for an afternoon, haven’t seen them in person for several years. We’re all good at partying, but now one has aphasia, and one Parkinsons, so we’re not as noisy or bouncy as in former days. When they arrived I hugged my friend for about a minute. It was a great visit, and when they left we lay around and watched golf for hours and did nothing else.
    We’re planning a little trip to NYC together, so that’s something to look forward to. This week with a job secured and taxes paid, I can do some stuff around the house. Which at the moment sounds good. Ask me on Wednesday.

    +16
  13. I just got an email saying that the coffee grinder I ordered is ready for pick up. I will be especially happy to start using it because the substitutes I have been using don’t do nearly as good a job. And due to covid, I can’t take the coffee back to where I bought it and have them grind it there. Once the coffee leaves the premises, they won’t touch it.

    +14
  14. So I walk into our library and while examining the usual monthly table display discover it is devoted to titles with the word “May” therein. Of course, my favorite is a book with red cover and red hearts, “MAYbe This Time.”

    We had heavy drizzle this morning! Closest to rain we’ve had in a year. Making for real happiness, the garden is all abloom, especially the roses. With money not used for travel, we invested in a fix and enhancement to the existing irrigation system. Turns out, what the garden needed is enlivening water, and now it is receiving a judicious amount and showing gratitude.

    This morning we drove forty miles north to fetch a native penstemon bought but not delivered. We took the coastal route back and became reacquainted with a long sweep of ocean spectacle, Encinitas to La Jolla, making for one successful Sunday drive.

    +13
  15. I had the first Zoom session with a friend who is turning from academic writing to memoir. We are going to write and [gently] critique each other’s work. It’s gotten me back to a memoir I abandoned a few years ago, and words are coming easily for now. So I’m happy about that. Today an artist friend and I met for the first time since March 2020, and it was good to see her and the art show we attended.

    +14
  16. I’m annoyed that the happiness event is, of course, during a full on work day for me. Feh.

    Anyway, I went to a cardmaking class with two friends, now that we’re all “all clear,” something we haven’t done since February 2020. It was fun. The weather is pretty nice too.

    And much as I’m stressed out over Shrek recordings tonight and tomorrow, after that I can chill out for a few weeks.

    +15
  17. Happiness is getting the 4th asthmatic family member 1st Pfizer shot, WOO! And getting to start doing things outside the house again. Normal stuff like derping around garden centers. And then dragging home half the nursery.

    +9
  18. I’ve been a little too busy even to list books on Thursday, but am happy that Friday is successfully over — my last ladies’ group meeting on Zoom before we go dark for the summer and begin again in September was Friday morning. So naturally on Thursday I get back from a trip taking my cousin to sign her will, and when I sit down to check mail, people are recalling conflicts with the meeting (not unusual) but this time including the speaker. I really didn’t want to end the season with a barely-there meeting, so I cast around on my computer and found the file for a program I did for a different group in 2017 on the White House china and silverware. Took the rest of the evening to transfer it to PowerPoint and add in the Obama china and some odds and ends of non-state china, like the log cabin design for William Henry Harrison and the china John Quincy Adams bought when he was the Ambassador to Russia. Although the Trumps didn’t add to the White House china collection — the WH Historical Association thought Melania’s choice too expensive for them, and Trump didn’t want to pay for it with any funds he had access to — I did actually find a web page. Of course, it’s a spoof; the china is a pattern called “cobalt net” and it’s the pride and joy of the Imperial Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, associated with Catherine the Great. Anyhow, the ladies liked the program, the season ended well, and I only slept about fifteen hours once I finally hit my pillow!

    Also happy to have signed a contract for an anthology. My cousin and I will deal with full-length books when we have to — we haven’t officially heard from the publisher about cancelling them, just a heads-up from the agent, so sufficient unto the day, and so on — but we’ve agreed to go ahead with the anthology, which we’d have been publishing from the trust in any case.

    +12
    1. And the anti-theft device has arrived and I have an appointment with the muffler shop at eight Tuesday morning to have it installed. At the least, it should probably deter would-be catalytic converter raiders into preferring easier targets.

      +5
      1. Addendum to the anti-theft device installation:

        I got myself and the device to the muffler shop promptly at eight this morning, when they opened. I expected to spend a couple of hours waiting, so I had the new Bujold at the ready, as well as plenty of other titles.

        While I was reading, one of the staff said that they had a news reporter from Channel 5, KPIX, there to report a story on . . . . theft of catalytic converters. Would I mind if he took a picture of the underside of my car with the device, as long as he didn’t film the license plate or other identifying details? Of course I said I’d be delighted, and I hoped his story encouraged car owners to look into anti-theft devices once they knew they exist.

        Next thing I knew, they’d completed the work on the car, and while I was paying, the reporter popped in to ask if he could speak to me for a few minutes. Turned out he wanted to speak to me on camera, which he proceeded to do.

        I did manage to pitch the fact that anti-theft devices DO exist now, so your car doesn’t have to be a lamb staked out waiting for the wolf pack to drop by, and that the cost to insurance companies should encourage said companies to encourage policyholders to install them if desirable.

        Don’t know how satisfactory I was as an interviewee, because while the car is now on its fourth catalytic converter after three attempts to steal it, I think he’d have liked it if I’d been angrier about it. The thing is, I spent decades working in an engineering department which dealt, when necessary, with fire, flood, earthquakes, and the very rare explosion, so this seems small-time to me, AND it’s “just” property damage — no one was injured or killed. So theft is just “stuff” to be dealt with. And, of course, while my avatar picture is quite nice, it was taken decades ago and I’m now a wizened old crone instead of photogenic as a kitten.

        +1
  19. I’m not on best terms with “happiness” as a concept. I rarely feel happy. So the Yale coursera course is better titled imo: Science of Well-Being.
    I like to be well-balanced, I love that I know have a better grasp of what helps me feel well-balanced which probably amounts to being happy.

    After I’d recommended the Yale course (thank you, Jenny!) to colleagues some weeks ago, I learnt that two of our professors already completed the course and two of my colleagues are doing it right now, too. One is ahead of me (must have rushed through the course, because he started later than I did) and one has my pace. I’m looking forward to exchanging views and our experiences.

    What made me kind of happy was watching Endgame with my daughter. She insisted. And it’s so rare for a teenager to want to watch anything with dear old mum…
    I didnt’t buy the concept, though, of a whole world being steeped in sorrow for 5 whole years. Humankind just doesn’t work that way. We move on rather speedily in general, at least that’s my impression. Look at all the catastrophes and crisis in the past.
    We can get sucked into profound sorrow and grief and some stay there longer than others. But even in dark moments, more often than not there’s the impetus to move on, to look into the future, or survive with a bit of humour (even if of the gallows variety).
    But hey, those films are modern fairy tales anyway.

    +10
  20. I’m a little late to the party – since it is Monday – but I just saw the cutest bunch of goslings! Video here:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CO-zWk5Ho1x/

    I had just walked into the store when they came around the corner, so I stopped and watched – and remembered the video option on my phone!

    This just made me very happy!

    +9
    1. My god, how could there be that many and only one Mama? I mean, there were different ages in there, but still .. .

      +7
      1. There were at least two adults – one leading the pack that I missed in the video. But yes, there were a passel of chicks!

        +5
  21. What is happiness? To quote a wise man:

    To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

    That is all.

    +11
    1. Cohen the Barbarian preferred

      “hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper”

      +5
    2. You used to get mad when I lamented. What a difference a couple of decades makes.

      +8
  22. Planting the garden with my 22 year old son made me so happy this week.

    I gave him a quarter of the garden to plant whatever he wanted. All 20 of his plants are different kinds of peppers (mostly of the hot variety). I probably won’t be partaking in the fruits of his labor come harvest time. lol.

    +8
  23. I was in Cancun for a week. Let me tell you, it’s really easy to be happy when you’re on the beach with a good book and a fruity drink!

    +7

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