24 Hours of Happy Project: 1:56 am to 3:59:59 am

Pharrell-promoting Amazon link time. I searched for his name on Amazon and came up with a children’s picture book of Happy with the song lyrics illustrated with pictures of kids. The Amazon preview looks cute, so this is my choice for today’s link: Happy by Pharrell Williams

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I hadn’t decided to make these into blog posts yet, so there’s some big gaps here. We spend 1:56 to 2:23:59 in the American Legion Hall.

2:24 East on Selma from Highland to the block between Wilcox and Cahuenga then south on Cahuenga to Sunset and east on Sunset to Gower

2:56 Sunset and Hillhurst* then inside the Vista Theater**, which sits where Hollywood Boulevard becomes Sunset Boulevard then inside the Caffe Vita cafe then back out onto the street about halfway along that block. We next start at the other end of the block, down by Fountain, and head back up northwest to the Vista and then south on Virgil then back up to where we left off after Caffe Vita (the restaurant that’s there, El Chavo, is being torn down or otherwise renovated in Google Street View’s pictures from June of 2017).

3:20 It looks like we might be somewhere else. I can see a Chick-Fil-A in the background and the dancer passes a round yellow sign with a smiling mouth in the bottom half. Never mind. We’re going back up Highland now, on the other side of the street, and then we make a right onto Selma on, again, the other side of the street.

3:24 Remember the Vista? We’re here on yet another side of the street now. I think we’re going west on Sunset. I take it back. We’re heading northwest on Hollywood. I think. Yes. Definitely northwest on Hollywood. The Auto Zone should be on our left. There’s the U-Haul on our right. We are going to leave this part of Los Angeles someday, right?

3:32 Farther northwest, starting near . . . Rodney Drive?, this time on the other side of the street. We have a rhythmic gymnast this time, which is a nice change. Then when we reach Vermont, we make a right rather than crossing the street. We get to Vermont and Franklin, then turn around and head right back up Vermont. Palermo was open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays in 2013. That’s good to know. And no, I haven’t been to Palermo. Neither the city nor the restaurant. It’s just that it’s almost 4:00 in the morning 24-Hours-of-Happy time and the area we’ve covered is bound by a polygon 5.93 square miles in area. At this rate we’ll need 338.6 Hours of Happy to cover the whole city.

3:56 Where are we? No clue. I can see a McDonald’s in the background. That oughtta narrow it down. Wait. There’s a 76. I wonder if we’re back on Vermont. Nope. Apparently not. No. Wait. Yes. We are back on Vermont just south of where we started out. Our dancer, who looks kind of like a young Lalla Ward (though that may be because I have a head cold and have been at this for two days now), just danced across the entrance to the northbound 101. Yay! With 10 seconds left to go.

And that ends the first four hours of Happy and our polygon is now 6.43 square miles. We now need only 312.3 Hours of Happy to cover the whole city.

I take it back. I forgot about the Alexandria Hotel and the block between 7th and 8th on Hope. So we’re up to 11.42 square miles. So 175 Hours of Happy.

*This one started out as “IDEK. There’s an Auto Zone and a brick wall and the word “Food” in neon”

**This is where Pharrell makes his 3:00 appearance and my original comment is “How many Egyptian-themed movie theaters are there in Los Angles, and why aren’t any of them turning out to be the right one? The word “family” seems to be written above the marquee.”

24 Hours of Happy Project: Explanation and Midnight to 1:59:59 am

Okay, here’s the deal. I don’t want Pharrell to be all, “Hey, this lady’s using my work as a naked cash grab!” But then I don’t want to avoid the cash grab completely. But, it is important to me that Pharrell at least have the possibility of making a bit of money off of this.  So, every post will have an Amazon link to something that will potentially put money in Pharrell’s pocket at the beginning. If it’s something that I’ve spent some of my own money on (the DVD of Despicable Me, for example), I’ll link it through my Amazon Associates ID. If it’s not (Britney Spears’s Britney album, which has the song I’m a Slave 4 U, which Pharrell wrote and produced, on it), I’ll post the naked Amazon link. I’m currently toying with buying Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories album, but haven’t decided yet. I guess we’ll find out if I buy it or not when I get there.

So I guess we’ll start with Britney, since it’s on my mind.

I hadn’t decided to do this as blog posts at first, so these first two hours are just my notes on where we go and what we see. Things get chattier and more detailed in future hours.


Midnight Mobil – Vermont at Melrose

12:40 – 4000 Fountain east to Hyperion then north to Glendale then south on San Fernando to Fletcher then northwest on Fletcher to Glendale to Rowena (?)

12:56 between 7th and 8th on Hope

1:00 a.m. Beats me. We’re indoors and the only words I can read look like maybe The Plump Gander? The Palm Court? That looks like a distinct possibility. There’s a Palm Court Ballroom in the old Hotel Alexandria in downtown LA that looks a lot like the room that Pharrell is dancing around in. If only I could see the ceiling. . . . Well, until I find something better, that’s my decision.

1:04 Hollywood American Legion Hall*

1:12 Outside American Legion Hall heading south on Highland to Mel’s Drive In

1:32 Back farther north on just south of Highland and Johnny Grant then west on Hollywood boulevard to Sycamore then back east on Hollywood to Highland and back south on Highland again to Hawthorn

1:56 Back at the Hollywood American Legion Hall, apparently.**

*2035 N. Highland

**You’ll see the term “apparently” a lot in these posts.

Weird Al Yankovic Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, San Antonio, Texas

Note: I wrote this the night of April 27, 2018. There was some kind of maintenance thing going on, so I was unable to post it then. It’s April 28, 2018 right now and I’m trying to dig up something usable from the few photos I took at the concert. I prepared my regular camera in hopes that it would take better pictures than my cell does, and then left the camera in my car. If I come up with something I like I’ll edit this later.

Alex and I went to see Weird Al Yankovic at the Tobin Center last night. The last time I saw Weird Al live was in 1987, when he was touring with the Monkees. And even though he was “pulling out none of the stops,” to quote the back of the tour t-shirt*, it was still an awesome concert.

I’m behind on his songs, so I only knew maybe one in three (Alex didn’t know any), but I was able to follow most of the ones that I didn’t know.  I was really glad to be able to hear Bob live (my other favorite of his from the ones he did was One More Minute, which he did in 1987, as well).

The straight cover he did last night was Viva Las Vegas and the full parody was The Saga Begins. He also performed Jackson Park Express, which I hadn’t heard yet, despite having bought the Mandatory Fun album. I figured he probably did Jackson Park Express every night, but looking back at the set lists, I find he hasn’t. It’s a really long song, nine minutes, but I found the song engaging so the time seemed to fly by.

An interesting thing I discovered once I got home. Al described some of his “style parodies” as coming from a “what-if” game. And one of the songs he introduced this way was Dog Eat Dog, which he said was “what if I were David Byrne and I’d just gotten an entry-level job in an office” or words to that effect.  David Byrne is, as I write this, decompressing after having performed at the Tobin Center. I wonder if Al chose Dog Eat Dog specifically because he knew that Byrne would be playing the same stage the next night. . . .

*I think he pulled out one of the stops (maybe even two). There were flashy light things going on (which made it difficult to get anything like a photograph of him from the nosebleed seats) and he had a smoke machine.

The 2018 San Antonio March for Science

On April 14, 2018, San Antonio held its second annual March for Science. The 2017 march wasn’t as well attended as I would have liked and the 2018 march had, from what I could tell, even fewer people. I haven’t yet been able to find any official numbers of attendees for this year, though.

2018 March for Science attendees
Some of the marchers. You can probably see what I mean about the sparse attendance.

We started out at Thomas Jefferson High School, the third-oldest high school in the city (the first two were evidently the Main Avenue High School (which is where CAST Tech High School is today) and Brackenridge High School (which is on Eagleland in between St. Mary’s and the San Antonio River)). A large number of famous San Antonians attended Jefferson High School including the Castro brothers — Joaquin (a US Senator) and Julian (the former mayor and who was Obama’s HUD secretary) and two Nobel laureates — Robert Floyd Curl, Jr (namesake of Floyd Curl Drive in the Medical Center area? Perhaps) and William E. Moerner.

Jefferson High School has a lovely building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thomas Jefferson High School San Antonio, Texas, 2018
Jefferson High School. I actually like this one pretty well.

The Motorsport team from San Antonio College was there showing off the car that they were entering in the Shell Eco-Marathon in East Petaluma, California.*

The opening remarks were given by Ron Nirenberg, the current mayor, and then we marched down to Woodlawn Lake Park, sort of buzzed the park a bit, and then back to the high school. The march didn’t get much attention in the media, so only a couple of people came out to watch us (we also were watched by, and waved at, some roofers who were working on one of the houses in our path). I listened to the speech by the faculty sponsor for the Motorsport team, took some pictures of the building, and then hung around until I started to see people leave.

It was a very enjoyable march. It’s nice to get out with people who share the kinds of interests that I have. I just wish that there had been more promotion of the actual march, so that more people would have turned out for it and maybe we would’ve gotten more spectators.

*They won first place in a design award and fourth in the actual race.

Our Final Day in California

Okay, let’s cast our memories back. Back, back, back. Farther than that. Okay, are you to 1978 yet? If not, we’ll wait.

Are we all here? Jimmy Carter is in the White House (I’m a big fan). David Berkowitz is tried and sentenced (I am a bit of a true crime geek). We had three popes, including the eerily prophetically named John Paul I, who really did put the “I” on his name (also a religion geek). And the top-grossing movie for the year? Grease.

If you’ve seen Grease, you’ll probably remember the drag racing scene. Remember the street they’re racing on? That’s not a street. It’s a river. The Los Angeles River, specifically.

There was catastrophic flooding along the Los Angeles River in 1938 and to fix the problem, they completely destroyed the river’s ecosystem. They dug the river deeper and widened it and covered the whole damn thing with concrete, as if that doesn’t add insult to injury.

In past visits, I’d seen the river occasionally, and it was just as heartbreaking an eyesore as you’d expect. I couldn’t believe that there ever had been a healthy river there.

In recent years, however, I’d been hearing that they’d been working on restoring the ecosystem. I’d heard rumors that there was enough water in some places that people were actually kayaking. This, I wanted to see with my own eyes. I spent quite some time trying to figure out exactly where the improvements had been made and how to get there. Finally I found an article in the Los Angeles Times giving directions that involved parking by the tennis courts in Griffith Park and walking behind the soccer fields. There, you’ll find a bridge over the Golden State Freeway which will lead you to the river. So, we did just that. It certainly was an experience, and on an early Monday afternoon in late July there aren’t a whole lot of people out and about, which made Alex very nervous. We got some fantastic pictures and got to watch an actual blue heron in the water of the river.

After a few blocks, Alex had enough. So we took what turned out to be the Alex Baum Bicycle Bridge back to Los Feliz, took Los Feliz back across the 5 and returned to our car. I’m glad I got the chance to see the revitalization of the river, even if it was kind of creepy and deserted, and I hope to get a chance to explore more (maybe on a weekend when there will hopefully be more people there) on future visits.

Also, coming back on the bridge is why I began my 24 Hours of Happy project. I was watching the video for Happy and noticed that Pharrell is on the Alex Baum Bicycle Bridge at one point. The end of the video directed me to the 24 Hours of Happy site and then I found the individual hours on Pharrell’s iamOTHER channel at YouTube, and it was all downhill from there.

Los Angeles River between Glendale and Los Feliz, 2017
Look at that. From this angle it almost looks like nature. And someday it will hopefully look completely like nature from all angles.

But back to our final day. Traditionally when someone from our pharmacy goes on a trip, they bring something back for everyone else in the pharmacy — magnets, food, pens, whatever. I hadn’t found anything yet, so I looked up souvenir shops and found that most of the best ones are in Hollywood. We hadn’t been to Hollywood yet on this trip, so we figured why not?

We found a parking lot not too far from Hollywood Boulevard and hiked for maybe a quarter or a third of a mile. But what a quarter or a third of a mile! We walked down the Walk of Fame looking at all of the names and watching the people looking at all of the names. I noticed, by the way, that Betty White’s star and that of her late husband, Allen Ludden, face each other, which I thought was sweet. We also went past the establishment formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theater. You may be familiar with Grauman’s. It’s the place where all of the actors’ hand- and footprints are in the squares of the sidewalk. I dragged Alex from actor to singer to director just agog and I managed to restrain myself and only take one (not very well framed) picture of Bette Davis’s square. Finally Alex dragged my attention to the task at hand and we continued to the souvenir store. I resisted the temptation to stop by again on our way back to the car, but we needed to get on our way to the airport to return to Texas.

We got our souvenirs and made it back to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Unfortunately we were seated on the “wrong” side of the plane, by which I mean the side that faced out onto the ocean. As it took off, the plane circled around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and from that side of the plane I could have maybe gotten one last picture of Cabrillo Beach, the lighthouses, Seal Beach Pier and the Queen Mary. Well, now I know. We need to be on the left side of the plane on our flight back next time.

And there will be a next time. Not in 2018, and maybe not even in 2019, but someday.

Early Morning, April 4

Well, okay. It’s late at night on April 4*, but today was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and so far no one I know has so much as mentioned it. I was expecting to be up to my eyeballs in King tributes and . . . nada.

I actually went and looked up the date on Google just to make sure that I was remembering it correctly.

So, to get this out of my system (since I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day for obvious reasons), even though posting videos that aren’t my work isn’t my style at all (and to keep the boys of U2 happy, here’s a link to (a remastered version of) the album the song came from at Amazon: The Unforgettable Fire )

 

 

*And actually closer to the time of King’s assassination than in the song. King was pronounced dead at 6:05 pm Central Time and it’s now 10:39 pm.

P.S. Oh, My God. Bono was such a *baby* 34 years ago!

How Many Ways Are There to Get to Downtown, Anyway?

When we first moved down here, Thomas and I drove downtown and then paid to park. We really wouldn’t have considered any other way, despite the fact that almost every time we went into downtown Chicago, we took the train.

In the last month, I’ve been downtown four times and I haven’t had to pay for parking even once.

We start on February 10. When trying to figure out how we’d get to the Howard Jones concert (which was awesome), I drove to the Pearl and walked downtown down the River Walk. I was both trying to figure out how to get to the concert and also trying to figure out how many tries it would take to get Foxy into shape so that we can take her downtown before we reach the end of her life. I measured our walk with her on February 4 and then decided to increase our range by half that amount every two weeks. I finally came to the conclusion that it would take us nine tries, which would get us to downtown the last week of May (we have since missed one two-week period of walking with her, so it will now take us until early June).

I explored a bit, because I wanted to get all the way into downtown.  I checked out the Southwest Center for Art, which was originally the old Ursuline Academy. I went on a tour of the Southwest Center in 2001, and Thomas has those pictures. So I decided to take some of my own pictures while I was in the neighborhood. I also checked out the Central Library (and got my library card renewed until 2020).

Once I got to the Tobin Center, I checked out a few parking lots and a parking garage, but while I was walking, I passed a bus stop which was less than a block from the Tobin Center and was a route that runs close to my home. I called the number on the sign and discovered that we could realistically take the bus down and maybe take the bus back as well (turns out that we were just a tiny bit too late for the first of the late buses, so we took a cab home).

The clock on top of the Ursuline Academy building only has faces on three of its four sides. The north side has no face because the school was built in what was then the far north part of the city. From what I’ve read, the only people farther north were Native Americans, who had their own methods of keeping track of the time.

After discovering that we could take the bus, I explored a bit more. I walked through to Travis Park, which used to be home to our Confederate Memorial. They took the monument down in September of 2017 and I hadn’t had a chance to check it out yet. Then, while I was there, I remembered a statue in the parking garage of the St. Anthony hotel, so I asked the concierge about it. The concierge said that a previous owner of the hotel (Ralph Morrison, I guess) had bought a lot of art from Europe and put it in the hotel and that statue was probably one of the pieces he bought.

February 15 was the concert, and we took the bus. We caught the bus about half a mile from our house then got off a couple of blocks from the Tobin Center.

February 17 was the Asian New Year Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Alex and I took the bus again, but this time it was our usual bus, which leaves one of the transit centers and goes directly downtown. We drove to the transit center and took the bus from there.

Then today was his and/or my fourth trip since February 10, which was another walking trip. This time, rather than starting from the Pearl, we started from the Blue Star Arts Complex and walked north to downtown.

So there you have it. Walking south, walking to the bus, driving to a different bus, and walking north. That’s four different ways I got downtown and I didn’t have to pay for parking even once. If you want to get picky, of course, there are five directions here, because of the cab.

And I intend to get downtown one more way in the not-too-distant future. It’ll technically be back to driving, but still won’t involve paying for parking

Furbaby Update

We’re almost out the door. I just have to get dressed and we need to put our suitcases and provisions in the car (we’ll be driving for about 14 straight hours, so we’ll need to be able to eat on the run) and we’re out of here.

So one last thing before I go. Our eldest furbaby, Alex’s diabetic cat with IBD, may very well now be Alex’s cat with IBD. When we were in California, his glucose was normal all week, despite not being given any insulin. And then, for the weeks since, we also didn’t give him any insulin. For those playing at home, that means that as of today he’s gone exactly one month without insulin.

black domestic medium hair cat with burgundy knitting on couch
Alex’s baby, circa 2003, with some of my knitting. I need to get back to knitting someday.

They tested his glucose today, and it was picture perfect. We’ll need to test his glucose again in another month and then every two or three months for a while, but it sure looks like he may no longer be diabetic.

I’m Feeling a Bit Under the Weather, an Update

So apparently there was an abscess in my tooth, but it was too small to see on February 20 when I went to my regular dentist. A week later, when I went to the endodontist, it was clearly visible.

So, yesterday (March 2, 2017), I had a root canal. My mouth is still a little sore. It’s more or less like a bruise, where it only hurts when I bite down on it. I’m mostly treating it with ibuprofen and soft foods. It looks like it could hurt for another few days. Maybe a week.

Apparently, if you hurt before you get the root canal, it increases the possibility that you’ll have pain afterwards, because it takes a while for the area around the tooth to adjust to the new status quo.

I’m still going to be visiting parks and things while I convalesce because moderate exercise can help wounds heal faster and I have a doozy right now. Someone just scraped out the entire contents of my tooth and filled it with porcelain, after all.

Also, I’m out of eggs in Pokemon Go and I need to replenish my supply.

I’m Feeling a Bit Under the Weather

I was about a hundred words into my next My Travel Memories post (on Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta) when I, well, let’s start at the beginning.

In July of 2016, I had pain in one of my molars (#19, for those who care about such things). I had just gotten dental insurance for the first time since 2009 but I didn’t have a relationship with a dentist yet. After this, I got a dentist. She x-rayed the tooth and didn’t see any kind of infection or anything like that, so she decided that it was probably referred pain from tension in the masseter.  She recommended that I take 800 mg of ibuprofen and see if that helped. It did.

Fast forward to his past Saturday (February 18). I was eating apples and almonds for lunch when the pain came back. This time, though, the ibuprofen didn’t help. Sunday night the pain interfered with my sleep.

So I called my dentist to see if she could fit me in for a quick exam. There still wasn’t any sign of an infection, so she concluded that I probably have a cracked tooth and gave me a prescription for painkillers and the phone number of an endodontist so that he can pull off the crown on that tooth and examine the tooth for cracks. She also gave me a prescription for antibiotics, because sometimes a crack can have bacteria in it and the bacteria can cause pain. I discussed it with one of my pharmacists because I didn’t want to take it if I didn’t need to.

The next appointment they had was a full week later. So I got more painkillers and, when on Wednesday night the pain spread up to my ear and was just excruciating. I decided that perhaps the time had come to fill that antibiotic prescription. I took my first antibiotic on Wednesday night and by Thursday morning I was feeling 500% better.

Then I noticed a small swollen area on my gum on that side. So apparently there were bacteria in there, but not enough to show up as an abscess on the x-ray.

I’m feeling much better now, so hopefully I can go back and finish that blog post.  I haven’t decided if I am going to leave those first hundred or so words, or if I’ll rewrite it. Let’s see what it looks like when I tackle it tomorrow.

As an aside, in my paying myself to study foreign languages project, I hit the $100 mark this week. I’m going to add that money to the next CD that I purchase, so that I can continue keeping track of my income from this project. If I were to put it on the stock market it wouldn’t increase at an easy-to-track pace.