Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #14, June 13, 2020

Hi all,

Sometimes we all just need a break.  And sometimes the best way to get one is to escape to another time and place.  We all have different ways of doing that - different ways of finding our “flow” or blocking out the stress in our lives, in order to process things and prepare ourselves to face the world again.  For some of us, that pause comes from watching a movie, or doing a workout, or falling into a great story.  If you’re looking for some suggestions, here are some of my favorites, and some that my friends have sworn by recently.
  • The Great British Baking Show: This is one of the best shows of all time.  Seriously.  There’s something about that show that is calming and comforting, and for an hour, your biggest concern will be that your favorite baker just slightly overcooked their choux buns.  You can find nearly all episodes on Netflix.
  • Animal Crossing: This game has taken over the planet during the quarantine.  If you haven’t tried it yet, consider giving it a chance.  And don’t forget that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has offered over 406,000 images of artwork for your virtual wall in this game - no matter what style or artist you love, you’re sure to find something to make your house in this game feel like a home.  Not a bandwagoner?  I got very into Stardew Valley a year or two ago, which is very similar, and has a few more adventure-y options to go with the friendship-building activities that Animal Crossing includes.
  • MindTravel: Murray Hidary creates some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.  Participating in one of his meditation events is truly transporting.  I’ve never been much of a meditation person, but MindTravel is an entirely new type of experience for me.  Can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • Video games: There are so many to choose from - pick a mood or a genre and the systems you have, and I can try to give you a recommendation.  Some of my personal favorites that can suck you into a new world include Viva Pinata, Katamari Damacy, Minecraft, Cook Serve Delicious!, Spyro the Dragon, Assassin’s Creed, and even Civilization.  Just don’t get mad at me when you glance at the clock and realize that six hours have passed without you noticing - that’s the whole point!

Previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


P.S. - Apologies for the delay this week!

The Serious Stuff
  • VOTE! In New York, we have a little over a week left before the primaries. You can still request your absentee ballot until Tuesday, June 16th (check "temporary illness" as the reason for your request - it's allowed under a recent executive order from Cuomo). If you're not yet registered, the deadline has passed for the primary, but act now and register to ensure that you can vote in the main elections in November. Don't miss your opportunity to participate!
    • Make sure you research who and what you're voting on, too. For example, if you want to see what policing laws are currently like in your city or state, check out Campaign and Voting.NYC include information about who’s on the ballot and links to get more information about where they stand on important issues.
  • As promised, I received a few additional resources for those of you interested in engaging with the issues you've been hearing about through the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests. If you haven't already, please check out the resources I sent out last week - these issues are incredibly important, and there were a few articles in last week's message that can serve as helpful starting points for these conversations.
    • Looking for ways to discuss these issues with your children? Check out this board book for very young children, written by Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How to Be an Antiracist.
    • Finding it difficult to find common ground with the protesters?  Here’s one thoughtful approach: 10 Rules for Engagement for White Jews Joining the #BLM Movement.
    • Macy's hosted an internal town hall meeting for its employees and made some excerpts from the discussion public, featuring comments by Dr. John Fitzgerald Gates, Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion and Clinical Professor of Management at Purdue University, explaining some of the main themes from the protests.
    • See here for an extremely provocative piece written by a former police officer.
  • Keep seeking out the beauty in moments like this. For example, this giant mural stands as a tribute to all of the lives lost to Covid-19, and depicts Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo, one of the first medical professionals to succumb to this virus while helping affected patients.

The Silly Stuff
  • Yankee Stadium is no longer open for huge sporting events, but its massive parking lot isn’t going to waste - instead it’s being converted into a gigantic drive-in movie theater this summer!  Sign up for the waiting list here to purchase tickets as they become available.
  • Looking for some competitive spirit to shake things up?  Check out this “Punderdome” event next week.
  • Dance Week at Lincoln Center is a retrospective series celebrating more than 40 years of performances, including Ballet Hispanico, the NYCB, the ABT, the School of American Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  The events were expected to take place last week, but many were rescheduled for later in the month.  Check out the details here.
  • is now offering a weekly arts event list with some really great options.  Whether you’re a suburbanite or a city-dweller, check out these virtual events to keep you cultured, even from home.
  • NJPAC has finally gone digital.  Check out NJPAC in Your Living Room, including talks, performances, and dance classes.
  • Capezio has introduced Capezio at Home dance classes (all on Instagram Live) - see the schedules at @Capezio.
  • At the New York Times, there’s a tradition that when people travel to a new place, they reach out to a local reporter for recommendations on where to eat or stay, which landmarks are worthwhile, how to get around, etc.  A handful of editors have made their notes on their local favorites available to the public in a compilation titled Notes From Our Homes to Yours - check out local recommendations for when things reopen, or treat yourself to a virtual trip and imagine all the fun you’ll have once you’re able to travel again. 

The Yummy Stuff
  • What started as a recipe exchange at Winston & Strawn turned into this digital cookbook full of delicious dishes to try.
  • Recipe of the Week: Vanilla Ice Cream: It’s getting HOT outside.  All I want most afternoons is a scoop of really great vanilla ice cream (with Nutella and sprinkles and sometimes even no-bake cookie dough, of course).  This recipe from Barefeet in the Kitchen is pretty good, and it’s incredibly simple - all you do is mix together all of the ingredients together and either simmer it until the sugar dissolves for best results or just throw the mixture straight into the machine if you’re in a rush.  Pour 1 cup heavy cream, ¾ cup sugar, and 2 tsp salt into a saucepan.  Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves; remove from heat and add ¾ cup cream, 1¼ cup whole milk, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract.  Stir to combine and pour into ice cream maker; churn according to machine’s instructions.  Enjoy as-is or over homemade blueberry pie (see below for recipe).
  • BONUS Recipe of the Week: Blueberry Crumb Pie: Stir 6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup cornstarch, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp lemon juice together in a bowl; set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour filling into pie crust; dot with 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. Combine ½ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark both work), 1 tsp cinnamon, ¾ cup flour, and cup unsalted butter in a bowl, then sprinkle crumble topping over the pie (be generous!). Bake for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees F, wrap the edges of the pie with aluminum foil to prevent too much browning, and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes (you should be able to see the filling bubbling gently for at least the last 5 minutes). Allow to cool and thicken for 3 hours at room temperature before serving.

The Self-Care Stuff
  • Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app, is offering a full year of their premium subscription for free to anyone who is unemployed.  Sign up here.
  • Zappos (the online shoe store) has converted their customer service line into more than just questions about your orders - you can now call and talk about anything you'd like (even just to have someone with whom to chat casually).
  • We're all anxious to get a haircut - see here to get the skinny on when hair salons will reopen and what it will be like when they do.
  • Eataly's La Scuola is offering private online group cooking classes for pizza, pasta, wine tasting, and even Italian mixology, and they'll deliver the ingredients to all participants within the five boroughs of NYC. Call 212-539-0205 to schedule.
  • Downtown Alliance is hosting a cook-along series with chefs from restaurants in downtown Manhattan, including one with Chef Michele Iuliano from Gnoccheria in two weeks. See here for the full list and to register.

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