Useful Diversions for Challenging Times
While it’s important to stay up-to-date on the news of the world, it’s also mentally important to take some time away. Here we offer some updated interesting and amusing diversions for all ages, from videos and music to recipes and book suggestions. We invite you to join us in spreading joy: if you have a link to a diversion that you’d like us to consider sharing with our readers, please email us!
Viewing suggestions from the electronic mailbag
Thanks to Bill Berner, Senior Partner at Sand Creek Investment Partners, for this contribution:
Recently my wife and I have seen three films through streaming services that we both thought were exceptional. While each touched us deeply, and each has been watched twice, my favorite to see again is: ”Navillera” – a series with ten episodes. This work seems to contain many of the human emotions around family, career, art, success & failure, in each of our individual lives. The setting is Seoul, Korea. The principal actors are an older Korean gentleman and a much younger man attempting to reach the heights of ballet. The older man has retired and the younger man is working to get to the next level. Many themes drive the story, but a major one is the older man’s youthful, unfulfilled dream/desire. Fortunately it is subtitled, as our Korean is less than fluent, much less. (OK, non-existent.)
The second film is about the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (author) and Max Perkins (editor). It is called “Genius,” and is set in the late 1920’s into the 30’s. One of the pleasures of the film is its ability to place the audience so effectively in that historical period. It is a raucous, sometimes disheveled scene because of Wolfe, brought back into focus by the usually calm, and often quiet Perkins. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway have minor roles. An aside – whenever I hear the word “Genius” I think of the last CD made by Ray Charles, “Genius Loves Company,” duets with Charles and other leading singers. Now I have a second reminder, Perkins & Wolfe.
The third film is “Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” a documentary on the life of poet, songwriter, and singer Leonard Cohen. If either my wife or I were asked for our five favorites songs, both of us would place Hallelujah on the list, several different versions, and there are many. Enjoy the pure pleasure, joy, and sorrow of good film.
Several books might be interesting in the hours when concentrating on the problems of the day can be set aside. In no order they are:
John Adams by David McCullough is a well-researched and sober biography of a true American patriot who worked tirelessly and effectively to realize the stabilization of the United States. His dedication to the cause in the climate of intense partisanship was unsurpassed and an inspiration for all of us today.
Chekhov Becomes Chekhov by Bob Blaisdell is a meticulous and scholarly description of Anton Chekhov’s life as an accomplished author and young physician in the years 1886 through 1887. Czarist Russia and its population provided Chekhov with a myriad of opportunities to explore human nature with deep compassion and remarkable insight.
An Immense World by Ed Yong is a contemporary discussion of many “superpowers” that permit animals from small flies to elephants, from small fish to birds of prey, including the naked mole rat, to sense the environment they live in and to survive. The observations Yong makes are woven into a fascinating set of examples of investigations by zoologists and ecologists that make us think about the wonders and complexity of our world.
Drone deliveries for life-saving medical supplies…in minutes
An igihe.com article describes how this fascinating Mark Rober YouTube video takes viewers to Rwanda to witness the transformative impact of Zipline, a company that designs, manufactures, and operates delivery drones through distribution centers across the world.
The best lemonade you’ll never get to taste
Whatever the weather, enjoy this video of a tiny and perfect glass of lemonade being made thanks to Andrea Love’s outstanding fiber arts and stop-motion animation skills.
Staying in touch – 2023
The US Postal Service Forever stamp releases for 2023 include animals (Endangered Species and a Love stamp with a kitten and a puppy, because who doesn’t love kittens and puppies); artists (Roy Lichtenstein and Tomie dePaola); authors (Toni Morrison and Ernest J. Gaines); and more. See the current releases at the USPS Postal Store. (The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.)
We now return you to our previous amusements:
There is no “I” in “cello”
For those seeking a brief and entertaining musical interlude, check out Stringfever’s version of “Bolero,” featuring eight hands and one cello.
Puzzles are a great way to completely zone out and still feel that sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from the finished product. Artist Sarah Jane Lapp presents jigsaw puzzle experiences both online and off.
Staying in touch
The US Postal Service stamp releases for 2022 include tributes to the centennial of the birth of Charles M. Schulz, featuring his beloved “Peanuts” characters; the abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems in the National Marine Sanctuaries; the James Webb Space Telescope now orbiting the sun; and various new winter holiday stamps. See the current releases at the USPS Postal Store. (The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.)
We now return you to our previous amusements:
Reasons to be Cheerful, a website founded by musician David Byrne, shares inspiring stories that remind us, “Hey, there’s actually some positive stuff going on!”
Did you know May 13th is National Frog Jumping Day? And if your garden was productive, August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. Find these and other days to celebrate on this National Day calendar.
Zoo Penguin walks
At the Oregon Zoo, watch as Nacho the Penguin Meets Marine Mammals (1:48)
A spontaneous penguin walk through the grounds of the St. Louis Zoo in December 2018, back when hanging out in large groups was okay. (1:46)
Storyline Online streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
Science Demonstrations and videos
Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s website for science videos and demonstrations that can be done at home
With a Netflix subscription, you can enjoy British documentary nature series, “Our Planet”
Staying in touch with the family
If you have an iPhone or other Apple device, you can read stories, show pictures to, or just talk with your grandchildren by using FaceTime. Just click on the FaceTime icon (shown) or have them call you and click “accept.” Other low-cost or no-cost ways to connect via video-chat include Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangout.
To make your own audiobooks for your grandchildren to listen to anytime, record yourself reading their favorite stories with these LifeHacker tips.
Working from home
If you miss the background noises of a traditional office, visit the Sound of Colleagues, where you can select and combine ambient sounds such as the coffee machine, people talking, and even the office dog.
Just because no one can see your desk doesn’t mean you should let it get messy. Fold an origami box for your paper clips and rubber bands from a piece of paper! A letter size ( 8.5″ x 11″) sheet will make a 3-inch cube.
Everyday life as sporting events
With sporting events cancelled, rugby sportscaster Nick Heath narrates real life.
For kids and kids at heart
Rube Goldberg fans, unite! The clever folks at Joseph’s Machines and Sprice Machines present “How to Pass the Salt While Maintaining Proper Social Distance” (4:26)
What have you been stirring up in the kitchen during this quarantine? Here are some of the editors’ favorite comfort food recipes:
- Chicken and Fruit Salad – new!
- Simple Chicken or Shrimp Curry – new!
- Coffee Cake – new!
- Banana Bread – new!
- Easy Summer Salad
- Simple Cheese Soufflé
- Salmon Chowder
- Snicker Doodles Cookies
- Gold Rush Brownies
- Honey Bread
Are you waiting impatiently to renew travel plans postponed due to the pandemic? This book list of ‘epic travel disasters’ may be just what you need.
On a calmer note, here is a lovely essay on the common swift, the mysterious birds “who never come down,” by Helen MacDonald.
- Tightrope, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, PhD.
A review of select LeCarré novels as non-bedtime stories.
Some of our favorite “comfort food” mystery books and shows.
Music, old and new
Meet Yogetsu Akasaka, a Japanese buddhist monk who combines traditional chanting with beat-boxing. His YouTube page features a Heart Sutra Live Looping Remix (or pick from one of his daily live streams, now numbering over 100).
Some musical favorites: American country folk singer-songwriter John Prine; choral music composer Morten Lauridsen; and jazz artist Wynton Marsalis.
Comments, thoughts or questions? Email us now!