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!

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