1. Tiny Bubbles. There’s something about penguins that is comical and fascinating at the same time. They’re so awkward on land yet in the water they’re graceful and elegant. To get out of the ocean onto the ice is a combination of both qualities. They propel themselves at three times their natural speed and then land on the ice in a big thud that nearly knocks the wind out of them. Two National Geographic photographers went to the Arctic to capture the process and found out something very interesting in the way the penguins use the bubbles of oxygen to their advantage.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9mbCNs47FI?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

2. Speaking of bubbles. This is the happiest thing I’ve seen all week. I dare you not to smile. Double dog dare you.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnagemulucw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

happy-poster-preview3. And speaking of happy. Last weekend, sidelined by the beginnings of a cold, I watched a documentary called Happy. Filmmaker Roko Belic shot over 400 hours of footage all over the world—from the swamps of Louisiana to co-ops in Denmark and the streets of Japan—to explore what really makes people happy. Six years in the making, the film is full of insight from happiness researchers, positive psychologists and real people from every demographic, all asking the question: What lies at the core of a human being’s happiness?

Ultimately he finds that many of us have gotten things backward. A lot of us think: when I have a spouse/dream job/mansion/baby (insert your personal desires), then I’ll be happy. The film takes us around the world interviewing everyday people and psychology researchers to show that is never the case. The most satisfied people use happiness to achieve those other goals. In other words, be happy first.

I found two of the interviews really poignant. The first was in a Kolkata slum. A man named Manoj Singh points to his home, what I would describe as a lean-to with a tarp covering it, and he says. “This is a good house. We get a nice breeze. It keeps the sun off. The only problem is during the monsoons when the rains come in.”  His son, who waits for him to return home each day from his job as a rickshaw driver, and his baby daughter’s face regularly fill him with joy. When the interviewer asked if he was happy, he didn’t hesitate for a second. “I feel that I am not poor because I am the richest person,” he says.

Another interview took place in a boat tooling around the Louisiana bayou. The guy’s house is just on the other side of the levee. At dusk he watches the wildlife because he says, “The stillness speaks to me. Nature is good medicine. This is my happiness.”

What do you think lies at the core of a human being’s happiness?

4. Vacation makes me happy. Whenever I travel somewhere new, I try to read a book or two about the location. Not a guidebook, but a work of fiction or memoir set in that city. I find it gets me in the mood of the place in a unique way. Do you do that also? (Or am I the only book nerd enthusiast here?) Sometimes it can be difficult to find such a book, depending on where you’re traveling. For the spring trip I’m planning, I came up empty time and again. Then I came across this website: Books Set In… which does just that. Type in the place and you’re off with a list of books.

You savvy folks may have noticed that I didn’t mention where I’m going this spring. I’m going to leave that a s-e-c-r-e-t for now. There will be a contest and a giveaway coming shortly. Stay tuned!

5. The details. Most people describe snow as a blanket, covering everything in a pristine (for a while) layer of white. Of course there is truth to that, but snow also highlights. It calls attention to the details that often go unnoticed or ignored. Here are a few photos I took during our last snowstorm.

I love how the snow has settled on the peaks and valleys of the ornamentation on the outside of this brownstone.


Look how it gets into the crevasses of the stones on this old church so that you can see the unevenness of each level.


It coats each leafless branch of this tree so that you really see them individually. Amazing how tiny snowflakes can do this.


The snow makes me take in my neighborhood in a new way, right down to the iron gates . Usually I look but I don’t see, as the zen saying goes.


Have you had the opportunity to see your town or home in a new way? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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