Monthly Archives: June 2020

Recommended Podcast: The Happiness Lab

A recent blog post recommended the podcast, “Choiceology,” and I have another to recommend.

The Happiness Lab podcast is hosted by Dr. Lauri Santos. It’s a podcast that, like “Choiceology” uses the latest science to probe how our brains may lead us astray. In “Choiceology,” the focus is bias leading us to make poor choices. In “The Happiness Lab,” the focus is on what we think will make us happy, versus what actually will work.

“Our minds are constantly telling us what to do to be happy. But what if our minds are wrong? What if our minds are lying to us leading us away from what would really make us happy? The good news is that understanding the science of the mind can point us all back in the right direction.” – Dr. Lauri Santos

A psychology professor at Yale, Santos was concerned by the growing signs of mental illness and stress in her students, so she created a course, “Psychology and the Good Life,” which quickly became the most popular class in Yale’s 319-year-history. Nearly a quarter of all of Yale’s undergrads signed up within days.

Her course is now available online to all for free. It’s called “The Science of Well-Being,” and as of this writing, 2.6 million people have enrolled in this course.

Like “Choicelogy”, “The Happiness Lab” chooses a specific topic of how our brains lead us astray from what we really need and/or want, and techniques for overcoming those tendencies. In just a few episodes, I have already learned some excellent points and strategies that have made a difference to me.

My one complaint is that Santos’ podcast has a lot of ads. They are short, but about 2x to 3x as many as I typically hear. If you find them a distracting and annoying as I, find a podcast player that features a skip forward/backward 10-30 seconds feature.

I know many people are experiencing higher levels of stress in this time of isolation, heightened polarization, angst, and fear. “The Happiness Lab” may provide you with both immediate solace, and longer term plans for actions which may help you through your day to day worries and stresses.

Mom’s Birthday

Today is mom’s 87th birthday.

The life she has lived, the family she has raised, and the international family she has fostered would be hard to describe accurately.

She has been a mother, a teacher, an activist, an ambassador, and much more.

Still enjoying robust health and an unquenched thirst to learn, she still has much to learn and much to teach us. Many happy returns!

She requests no presents be sent. She’s always happy to hear from you if you care to reach out and send her your greetings and well wishes.

Loving Day

Today, June 12, is Loving Day. It remembers and honors the day the Supreme Court unanimously struck down state bans against interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia.

Such laws are called “anti-miscegenation laws.” They typically defined miscegenation as a felony, criminalizing interracial marriage, officiating such ceremonies, cohabitation, and “fornication.”

Miscegenation comes from Latin miscere (to mix) and genus (type, family, or descent). The last anti-Miscegenation laws in the U.S. were overturned in 1967 by the Loving case.

Mildred and Richard Loving

The story of Mildred and Richard Loving is portrayed in the understated and moving film, “Loving” (2016, 89% Tomatometer) as well as the 2011 documentary “The Loving Story.”

This topic hits close to home for me. My home state, Oregon, was the last state on the West Coast to repeal its anti-miscegenation laws in 1951. Laws varied from state to state, but prior to 1951, Oregon banned whites from marrying Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and Native Hawaiians.

My grandparents, married in 1911, here on their golden wedding anniversary

This was only one year before the Immigration Act of 1952 finally allowed immigrants, like my grandparents, to become naturalized citizens. By then they had lived lawfully and peacefully in Oregon for over 40 years.

My parents were married in 1958, just 7 years after it was legal in Oregon. One of my uncles, decorated for his service in WWII, was barred by law from marrying his wife in Oregon. They traveled to Washington state to get married. Washington banned whites from marrying Blacks or Native Americans until 1868 (the law was repealed prior to statehood).

My parents’ wedding in 1958

The pain of racism and persecution my mother experienced growing up and as a young adult was apparently still keen at the time of my parents’ wedding. We, her sons, learned in recent decades that my parents discussed whether to even have children. They were afraid of the bullying and persecution their “mixed” children might face. They decided to go ahead and ended up having three sons.

They also debated whether to give any of their sons Japanese names. My middle brother almost got one, but then they backed out. I got my mother’s family name as my middle name, and thus am the only one of their children to receive a Japanese name.

Things have changed significantly since 1967. Between 2008-2010, the number of newly-married couples of mixed race in Western states had increased to about 1 in 5 (22%). The percentages were 11% in the Midwest, 13% in the Northeast, and 14% in the South.

Happy Loving Day to you. Due to the pandemic and the protests around the country, I will be taking a quiet pause to think about the Loving family, the case and its legacy, and invite you to do the same.

A few random links to brighten your day

15 year old Jyoti Kumari pedaled over 700 miles with her injured father riding on back from New Delhi to their home town. She has been named “lion-hearted” and invited by the chairman of the Cycling Federation of India to try out for the national team.

The Newport Symphony of which I have been a member for over 15 years, has been posting videos of various musicians during this time of physical distancing. The most recent video features my friend and concertmaster, Casey, performing the achingly beautiful and sad second movement of Eugène Ysaÿe’s 2nd Violin Sonata, titled “Malinconia” followed by the upbeat and joyful Gigue from Bach’s Partita #3 in E, BWV 1006.

South Korea is delivering 10,000 face masks and other protective gear to the Navajo Nation to honor and in remembrance of the Navajo men who served in the war as code talkers.

Deirdre Taylor was rescued from a NYC apartment fire 37 years ago when she was just 4 years old. The firefighter who saved her life was Eugene Pugliese.

Today, Taylor is an ER nurse in Alexandria, VA and during a shift she told an FDNY firefighter her story. That firefighter happened to know Pugliese, now 75, and helped them reconnect.