Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Sam's Quarantine Digest #52: May 19, 2021

Hi all,

I am once again a little late - it's been another crazy and exciting week around here! Not only did Luke and I get our first car on Friday, but our new puppy was also born! So about eight weeks from now, we will have a beautiful, snuggly bundle of joy in our new house. That said, I hate missing deadlines, so I will be shifting the Digest to a biweekly schedule to give myself a bit of breathing room, especially now that we are starting - slowly but surely - to regain little snippets of freedom here and there, or at least to relax into our routines a little more as the weather improves, the days get longer and brighter, and the world gets a little healthier and stronger.

I will resume our regularly-scheduled programming in my next email. However, I have a very important message for all of you today. As I mentioned last week, today is The Resolution Project’s annual day of giving, Giving Amplified. You can check out the exciting events for the day (including a discussion with Sheryl WuDunn, one of my personal heroes) here - I'll be dialed into nearly all of them and I hope you'll join me! In addition to that Q&A, another highlight for me will be a spotlight on mentoring where we hear from some of the Resolution Fellows about those who have helped them get to where they are today - you have all heard me talk about the importance of mentoring and role models in my own life, and I will be listening raptly to these stories as well.

Resolution, which funds, mentors, and supports undergraduate students so they can start their own social ventures, is very important to me. As I mentioned last week, I've been involved with Resolution for over a decade, since February 2010. I used to run a nonprofit myself, and I'd always told Resolution's founders that I couldn't join the team because I didn't feel comfortable asking for money for another organization while I worked at one myself. So the very day that I announced I was leaving to go to Google, Oliver responded and said, "So you'll join us now, right?!" And I am so grateful that I did! I've been a member of the Resolution Leadership Council ever since, and I've been able to watch this incredible organization grow, both in numbers and in impact, inspiring an entire generation of young, community-minded leaders along the way. Resolution Fellows have started social ventures ranging from community market gardens to help provide economic security for women in rural Uganda to digging clean water wells in Haiti to developing hydroponic farms that use bird feeders to create fertilization systems for crops - and that's just a sampling of the ventures whose names start with "A"! Resolution has supported hundreds of Fellows and ventures across the world since I've been involved, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this amazing organization!

I hope you will join me today in supporting The Resolution Project! You can contribute through the Resolution website here, or through my Facebook fundraiser here. An anonymous donor has also committed to matching all gifts today, up to $75,000, so your donation may be doubled! And please don't forget to take advantage of any matching programs your employer may offer in order to have the greatest possible impact with your donation today.

I'll leave you with some fun facts about Resolution:
  • There are over 540 Resolution Fellows around the world, working in 82 countries on issues like climate change, gender equality, and access to water.
  • More than 148,000 people have gained access to clean drinking water because of the efforts of Resolution Fellows.
  • In 2020, Resolution launched an emergency relief fund to help 79 Fellows across 27 countries handle unexpected expenses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the last two years, Resolution has opened three innovation hubs in Kenya, Singapore, and Rwanda.
  • 35% of Fellows are working on addressing Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. Thanks to these Fellows, more than 76,000 children have gained access to an improved quality of education.
  • 19% of Fellows are working on addressing Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality, resulting in over 97,000 women and girls supported through empowerment initiatives.

Thank you so much!

As always, 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.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sam's Quarantine Digest #51: May 9, 2021

Hi all,

Today is Mother's Day.  (Love you, Mom!)  My mom has always been my best friend, my closest confidant, my biggest cheerleader, and my most trusted advisor.  So today's Digest is dedicated to her.

As many of you know, I've been a big fan and active supporter of The Resolution Project for a very long time now.  For over a decade, I've been a member of the Resolution Leadership Council, and many of you have probably heard my pitch before for getting involved (if you haven't, or if you need a refresher, stay tuned for next week's Digest).  May 19th marks this year's Giving Amplified, The Resolution Project's annual day of giving.  This year, the Resolution community is highlighting our mentors and those who have helped us become the people we are today.  Please join me by visiting and submitting a story about your First Believer - your superhero, the person who helped you become the person you are today.

I am fortunate enough to have many people who fit this description for me.  From my family, who have been there from Day One; to my bosses, mentors, teachers, and champions along the way who have taught me everything I know and challenged me to do more and do better; to my friends and colleagues and mentees who have all changed me in ways big and small and given me the energy to keep going along my path - there have been so many people who have come in and out of my life and have truly made me who I am today.  (If you're receiving this email, you're one of them!)  There's Congresswoman Lowey, who gave me my first real job and then gave me more and more responsibilities and convinced me that I could achieve anything I dreamed up.  There are Steve Stoute and Mary J. Blige, who trusted me to build something incredible alongside them and believed that I could learn anything, accomplish anything, and gave me the opportunity to prove just that.  There are Ken, and Ted, and Matt, and Iris, and so many other Google attorneys who trained me up from a kid with no legal experience to a budding lawyer, and who helped me take the leap of faith to go to law school.  There are my law school professors who coaxed my inner academic out of its shell and helped me publish two articles in one month.  There are Fred and Jason and Michael, who found me worthy to sit alongside them and find my own voice.  There are my Gunderson colleagues, who helped me through some of the toughest days of my life and taught me so much in such a short period of time. And there's my new boss, David, who saw that I was a perfect fit for my current role long before I did (he was right).  And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

But most of all, and before all the rest of you, there was, and is, and always will be my mom.  She knows me completely, and she loves me just the way I am.  Sometimes she laughs at me, sometimes she shakes her head at me, sometimes she tells me I'm wrong.  But she loves me and she believes in me.  Everything I have ever accomplished in my whole life, my mom was there.  Every time, she knew I would succeed before I did.  With every challenge I've faced, she knew what I struggled with, she knew my doubts, she knew the decisions I made along the way, and she knew what I really thought about it in the moment.  She helped me pick myself up after every failure, she advised me on every difficult decision, and she taught me to love myself.  Not only did she believe in me, but she taught me to believe in me, too.  And maybe that's what a real First Believer does - they teach us how to join them in that belief, and how to grow up into the person we can be.  Mom, I love you so much!  There are no words adequate to describe how grateful I am to have been born your daughter.  Thank you for believing in me!

As always, 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.


Entertainment and Education

  • If you're as captivated by the beauty of spring as I am, check out this webinar on Wednesday on how to level up your garden photography game (no fancy camera equipment necessary).
  • Microsoft and Verizon are teaming up for a panel discussing emerging accessible technologies that are built to make a social impact and are designed for users across a spectrum of different identities, ethnicities, and abilities. Tune in on May 13 for Mind the Gap: Talking Impact, Identity, & Accessibility, featuring Heather Dowdy, Sr. Program Manager of AI & Accessibility at Microsoft and Margaux Joffe, Manager of Accessibility & Corporate Social Responsibility at Verizon.
  • Miss the ballet? Me too. This summer, check out ABT Across America for an opportunity to see an outdoor performance in your city - the ABT will be going on a good old-fashioned road trip, with outdoor shows, family activities, fitness classes, and more offered at each stop along their journey.
  • Ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in the Oval Office? Check out this interactive guide to the art adorning those fascinating walls and the stories behind each piece.
  • I'm in a New York state of mind, and you can be, too. Headspace is now offering free meditation resources for all New Yorkers - just check out their page for New Yorkers here.
  • My dog-in-law, Taku, was featured on Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet yesterday. It's not really a good thing to be an animal featured on that show (Dr. Oakley is, well, a vet, and if you need her help and it's exciting enough to be on TV, that's not great). However, I'll give a spoiler alert here and say that this story has a happy ending. My mother-in-law was on the show, too (Happy Mother's Day, Bonnie!), and she'll be giving Taku some extra snuggles for all of us. Another spoiler alert: He's a very good boy.

The best way to a mom's heart is...

  • Recipe of the Week: Icebox Cake. My mom's favorite cake (ok, maybe one of a few) is Icebox Cake. You know, the one made from Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers and tastes like one giant, squishy, delicious Oreo? You can make this in any shape - it's traditionally log-shaped, but you can build any shape you'd like, and I once made it in a heart-shaped pan for my mom. More good news? You only need five ingredients (and one is optional)! Start by combining 5 cups heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract in a large bowl and use a stand mixer or an electric beater to beat just until stiff peaks form. Spread a layer of chocolate wafers along the bottom of whatever pan you're using (or make a freeform shape on a cookie sheet). Spread a 1/4"-thick layer of the whipped cream over the wafers. Add another layer of wafers, then another layer of whipped cream, and so on until you have about 1 cup of whipped cream left so that you can spread it across the top of the cake. If desired, top off with chocolate shavings (I use a microplane or cheese grater and a bar of semisweet baking chocolate). If you want a more decorative look, you can use white chocolate and you can even make multicolored confetti by melting the white chocolate, stirring in some food coloring, and freezing it back into a gratable form. Refrigerate at least overnight; ideally, about 24 hours. Serve to someone you love; bonus points if you bring two forks. Love you, Mom!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #50: May 2, 2021

Hi all,

This week's Quarantine Digest marks the 50th edition!'s late.  Two weeks late.  So today, I'm thinking about forgiveness for ourselves.  Sometimes, life throws us curveballs.  Sometimes, we have commitments that preclude us from doing other things we want to do.  And sometimes, we just plain get overwhelmed by our to-do list.  And that's ok.  It's completely normal, and most of the time, the person who's most upset by your failures

Particularly as women, we're used to hearing that we should apologize less.  And I do believe that - in the right circumstances.  I do think we should apologize to other people when we screw up and it affects someone else, or when we do something wrong.  However, as my own harshest critic all my life, I do also believe that we should stop being so hard on ourselves and criticizing ourselves, or getting so frustrated when we fail to meet our own internal promises.  I can't even count the number of times I've started apologizing to people and had them brush it off and assure me that they were not upset at my delay, or that they hadn't even noticed it because they'd been so busy themselves, nor the number of times other people have apologized to me and called themselves a "terrible friend" or started pouring out excuses for a slow response to an email or a text, where my own reaction was simply pure delight at hearing from them!

So yes, I'm late in sending this out.  But because of that, it's full of even more wonderful tidbits than it otherwise would have been.  I have no great excuses for the delay this time.  I've simply been busy with other things - things that make me happy, things that stress me out, things that simply need to get done.  In the past three weeks, life happened - I've been working hard to build my new life with Luke in our new home, I've been working hard at my new job, and I've been working hard at trying to carve out time to relax and spend time (virtually or otherwise) with my family and friends (and sometimes just by myself).  And so, with that: To those of you who eagerly await this email each week, I do apologize for making you wait.  However, I've already forgiven myself, and I hope you will as well!

As always, 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.


Keeping Yourself Busy

  • Want to catch up on this year's Best Picture nominees from the Oscars? Check out this article laying out where you can watch each one.
  • Hoping to travel within the country, but missing traipsing through the European countryside ogling castles? Well, turns out we have a few of those stateside, too. All of these US castles are available for stays via AirBnB!
  • Own a grill for the first time, or looking to up your game this summer? Check out this guide to grilling, courtesy of Thrillist and Boar's Head.
  • If you missed last week's meteor shower, you've got another chance this week! Although we're actually nearly midway between the viewings of Halley's Comet (last seen in 1986 and not expected again until 2061), this week's meteor shower is actually debris from the comet. Check out the details here.
  • Governors Island is reopening to the public on June 12. Through October 31st, visitors can view the current season of art exhibits, including commissioned works by internationally renowned artists Meg Webster and Onyedika Chuke and a participatory sculpture installation by Muna Malik.
  • The Public Theater has two shows available to stream right now: One is an audio production called Shadow/Land, a drama set amid the ongoing devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the first of a 10-play cycle examining the ongoing effects of disaster, evacuation, displacement, and urban renewal in and around New Orleans following Katrina. The other is a bilingual audio play called Romeo Y Julieta, featuring Lupita Nyong'o as Julieta and Juan Castano as Romeo.
  • LMCC has launched this year's SU-CASA programs, which features artists and art organizations collaborating to offer free, remote creative aging projects for Manhattan's older adults.
  • Did you know that New York has a wolf conservation center? Me either. But it does, and it's full of webcams!
  • The Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers has reopened!
  • Last chance to order a LovePop card in time for Mother's Day! Don't forget to check out their amazing full-sized paper-flower bouquets as well.
  • Want to try something new for your next virtual game night? Check out this list of multiplayer game apps and websites.

Keeping Yourself Hungry
  • Bored of ordering from the same 10 neighborhood restaurants on Seamless for the past year? Check out this list of 78 new restaurants that have opened in NYC during the pandemic.
  • It's strawberry season! Check out this list of 30 different recipes featuring one of this season's most beloved fruits.
  • Dining Around Downtown is back! You can sign up for a free cooking class with the chefs from some of the best restaurants in lower Manhattan, although donations to the chefs' charities of choice are encouraged! This week is the executive chef of Fulton, and past episodes are linked to here.