Useful Diversions for Challenging Times
While it’s important to stay up-to-date on the pandemic news (and you can do so here), 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 podcasts to recipes and book suggestions. And 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 community, please email us!
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.
For the Kids
Did you know there is an actual day devoted to having a Chocolate Milkshake (September 12) and one where you can tell your sibling to Be Nice (October 5)? Find these and other special occasions on this cultural calendar. (Be warned: November 20 is National Pay Back Your Parents Day.)
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.
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).
Staying in touch
Recent postage stamps released by the US Postal Service feature artist Ruth Asawa, the 19th Amendment, Bugs Bunny, nature’s bounty, and Voices of the Harlem Renaissance. See them all 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:
Some Good News by John Krasinski is “a news show dedicated entirely to good news.” Besides reporting on good news worldwide, various podcasts have featured John bringing prom to sheltering high school seniors; officiating a Zoom wedding; and this performance by the original cast of “Hamilton.” (The video starts with the back story, and the four-minute performance starts at the 11:33 mark.)
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!”
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.
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! “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:
- Easy Summer Salad
- Simple Cheese Soufflé
- Salmon Chowder
- Snicker Doodles Cookies
- Gold Rush Brownies
- Honey Bread
- 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.
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!