Quarantine Newsletter #4

Hello everyone!
I hope y’all had a wonderful week last week. I truly enjoyed the roller coaster thrill from checking my text messages in the family chat. Would I see a gory photo from another injury to a loved one or would it be a sweet mothers day message? Naturally, I’m pleased to see either but it was an exciting week.
Are you guys clicking the links I send? Honestly, my writing is only so-so at best and a solid 30% of my jokes only land if you click through to the links. So I’m worried you aren’t getting the full experience. I’m just extrapolating based on Sam never clicking through. RUDE. Maybe everyone else does. But if they aren’t seeing much use, I can scale it back to the most relevant ones. (I love links though. So addictive to my weird brain. Many are the hours I’ve wasted chasing blue links on the internet.)

Fun Activity

“Hey ladies and gents! Morgan here to share a fun activity! Today I’m going to explain how you all can watch paint dry. All you need is a place to paint, paint, and a paintbrush! If you don’t have paint, you can substitute with toothpaste. If you don’t have a paintbrush, you can substitute with your finger
Step one: put paint on paintbrush
Step two: smear paint from the paintbrush onto the wall, paper, brick or shoe
Step three: sit back and get ready for a WILD ride.
While watching paint dry, you may find your mind wandering. This is totally normal. You might be wondering “what will I make for dinner tonight”, “what did my dream about speeding chipmunks mean” or “ what will my lasting impact on the world be after my passing”. While all these thoughts will help you pass the time, check back in frequently on your paint to note the stage of drying.
A common mistake is people using their finger to check if the paint is dry too early and getting paint on their finger. Avoid this by using your partner’s finger. No partner? Use your big toe!
Alternately: if you are looking for a different kind of fun, check out this Facebook post I made! LINK TO THE GARFIELD PARK BURRELLO FAMILY CENTER PAGE POST ABOUT DICE. I CANT FIND IT ON MY CELL PHONE”

Book Recommendation

I have another weird recommendation for y’all this week. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. It is technically a comic book but the asterisks and footnotes take up literally half the page at times so I’d count it as ¾ a book and ¼ a book with pictures.
Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage were a Victorian era mathematician and inventor respectively. They teamed up together to develop Babbage’s Difference Machine, an early precursor to computers. (Did you know early computers and jacquard looms have much in common? Read to find out how) Ada Lovelace is the daughter of Lord Byron (yes that one) and her life was constantly shadowed by his sexy madness. (I defy you to sum him up any other way) Babbage is wonderfully frustrating, as he could see and invent things no one else could, but shot himself in the foot endlessly. In real life, their partnership goes nowhere and the invention of the computer is delayed by a century. But the book? The author tells/draws you the true story, commiserates with you on the tragedy of it all, and then remembers that she can write whatever she likes and sends you into a pocket universe where Lovelace and Babbage team up to have adventures.
It is exactly as silly as it sounds but it is…also not? I promise? If the whole concept of a pocket universe horrifies you, I swear, its still worth reading. Just ignore the pictures.
I loved this book so much I took breaks from reading, to make it last longer. It feels like those long, slightly tipsy, conversations with your smart friends at parties about something you never thought deeply about before. (Did you guys discuss history/science at your parties? Or is it just my nerd friends…) I’m always drawn to the Victorian period. (the outfits, the writing, the absurd hypocrisy) Partly because I know it well enough to judge an author on how they portray the setting/behavior, but also because this time period was the birthplace of science as we know it now. Nearly every facet of science was born then and its great fun to see how an author acknowledges this.
In a lot of ways this book was millennial cousin of “Devil in the White City”. More fun and flashy, same depth of research and understanding of their respective times. This book draws heavily from and often cites their primary sources as they sketch out the larger than life personalities that shaped early science. Reading this book felt like chatting with a friend fresh out of their Victorian Poets and Mathematicians class. (that’s a made up class but if anyone finds the syllabus for it, lmk)
Available for like $5 on digital reading apps and for free on the library app. Expensive-ish if you actually buy it at the bookstore. God, I may just have to buy it.
Look at how much the Guardian loved this book, if you don’t trust me. And if you don’t trust the “lame-stream” media maybe this rando reviewer on Goodreads named Nick will earn your trust?
“Let me just acknowledge right now that I’m not even trying to be objective: Sydney’s comic always hit the sweet spot of my sense of how the world ought to be. Her riff on the (factually rather grim) story of Lovelace and Babbage and their not-quite creation of the computer in the 1800s is brain jazz. It’s filled with digressions, anachronisms and sketch protrayals of famous Victorians, all riven through with an ebullient goofiness. This is history as I wish it was: bright, caring and full of zing. It’s also the modern world through a Padua prism, with jokes about Twitter and Venn diagrams sprinkled into the dialogue. That said, there’s also a truth here, as you can immediately see if you dip into Babbage’s own writing: Sydney’s portrayal of him as a Dickensian steam-age petrolhead with cranky uncle basenotes is spot on, and Lovelace – whose true historical upbringing was like something from a Warren Ellis comic about the Fascist precursors of the Superman concept – was every bit as quirky.
There’s something else going on, too, which is worth mentioning: this is a book about the creative process and the creative mind, with its fancies and magpie distractability, its excitements and sloughs of despond. I recognise the protagonists in myself and my friends and family, just as I do when I read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing or G H Hardy’s remarkable A Mathematician’s Apology. Creativity varies in its output according to any number of personality traits, but the process seems to be remarkably similar across disciplines: great artists, great activists, great poets, and great scientists share a veering perpendicular humour, and it’s alive here, in this book.”
If you just want to learn more about Ada Lovelace.

TV Recommendation

This week I want to recommend the Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel. Particularly the Gourmet Makes and It’s Alive videos. They are viewable by clicking through on the blue links to their YouTube homes but also through an app on Apple TV. I discovered these while waiting for the America’s Test Kitchen app to load and in four short weeks of quarantine, I’ve watched every episode of Gourmet Makes.
Tons of articles have been written about the inexplicable appeal (its actually very explicable, we love watching smart people problem solve) of watching the host bumble their (incredibly skilled way) through recreating junk food. The personalities of the chefs are the main draw, in fact, this show has a fervent fan base on the internet. But I would argue that the draw is the teamwork based problem solving. Everyone in the kitchen pitches in to help Claire (Gourmet Makes) temper chocolate, set up a dehydrator, or pull taffy. Ideas are bounced and discarded, comfort offered, and criticism taken. (or not…) Watching someone incredibly smart figure out how to exactly recreate the shape of a Pringle? High quality television. WARNING: You will need snacks to watch however.

Movie Recommendation

We have some movie recs from Hannah W. who also GRADUATED today!
During this quarantine, the Woodhouse family has implemented a forced family movie on Fridays. Will LOVES it, it’s his favorite night of the week because he gets to take a break from his video games. Here are a few of our favorites.
The Mission Impossible Movies (minus the second one)- The past few weeks we have entered into the world of IMF agents and get away cars all around the world. Though action is not my preferred genre (rom com all the way), these have been excellent. They are quick paced and action packed and a nice way to forget that we are currently living in a pandemic. You also forget that Tom Cruise is definitely a crazy person because you are too focused on him hanging on to the slide of flying planes. You will love the second installment if you like movies in ALL slow motion. We did not and turned it off 30 minutes in.
A Hundred Foot Journey- This ADORABLE movie is about food, culture, family and love. So basically, it’s all the best topics. It’s on Netflix and is a serious feel good movie that everyone will enjoy.
Mama Mia 2- A BOP in both music and content. Cher, Lily James, and young Bill are really all you need in life. When the boys were golfing, the girls re-watched this masterpiece. Ask Susan Woodhouse about her dance moves.
Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement- Need I say more?”

Podcast Recommendation

I think this might get more traction than movie recs? If you haven’t heard of podcasts keep reading. If you know, skip on down to the next paragraph.
Podcasts are the online answer to talk radio. They are available through specific (free) apps or through music streaming apps. You can listen through your phone, iPad, or computer. You can download them and listen to them on the go. Personally I listen when I’m cleaning or cooking, to keep me company while I do something boring. Sam likes to listen to podcasts on car trips. They can cover any topic imaginable in any way imaginable. Some are funny in tone and content, some are funny takes on serious topics. Some are entirely serious. Some are stories voice acted by a cast of many. Many are informative podcasts. You can learn about car repair to finances to baking. Most podcasts are released in episodes that can range from an hour or more to twenty minutes. Usually there is at least one host but this format is often collaborative. I cannot stress enough the sheer diversity of podcasts. Anyone who buys a $20 microphone and a computer can put one together and, jeeze from the number out there, I think everyone has. Lots of reputable media also have fascinating podcasts or just plain news podcasts available. It’s a great way to dip your toe into podcast listening by subscribing to some of NPR’s long list of podcasts. Stuff you should Know is another greater starter podcast and it has been in production since 2008. If you have questions or want to start listening, feel free to reach out to Morgan or I for more detailed instructions. Unless you are under 30, in which case I expect you to Google it.
This week, I want to recommend my all time favorite podcast, I’ve been listening since about this time last year and I cannot get enough. It is called “This Podcast Will Kill You” or “This Podcast” for short. It is about disease. Each episode has the two hosts (both named Erin) dive into the history, prevention, and mechanics of one disease per episode. They are currently covering COVID-19 and running their regular episodes at the same time, so if you need a safe place from pandemic news, just skip the ones labeled covid. The two hosts work/ research in epidemiology and they charmingly explain the obscure terminology and history of disease. The tag line of the podcast is “wash your hands you filthy animals!” love itttt.
Humans and disease has a long filthy history together and learning about syphilis/prions/Diphtheria is a wonderful vehicle to track human progress. I’d like to particularly call out the vaccine episodes for filling me with an incredulous sense of human achievement. It’s educational, relevant, and inspiring. Check it out.

Recipe Recommendation

I made the cake I recommended last week and it was really really good. Here is the recipe again. It comes together super fast once you grate the apple and is start to finish maybe an hour. It was wonderful with raspberry sauce and also plain as a breakfast treat. Honestly you probably have all the ingredients in your home already except for the ricotta cheese. This week, I’m making blackberry fluff, mostly because I already have all the ingredients here.
And I’m drinking water ok?

Good news

If you have a twitter, or know how it works might I suggest clicking here? This bookcase assessment twitter has been really bringing me a lot of joy over this past week. As talking heads are filming their segments in their houses, bookcases have become the backgrounds of choice. This twitter account evaluates the credibility accorded by the books. Both hilarious and biting, this has become my new homepage so when I open my computer, I can see something that brings me joy.
Also Morgan had her 26th birthday this week. Don’t they just grow up so fast? We celebrated yesterday with a boozy brunch. Nathans birthday was back on the sixth and we also had a socially distanced party for him. I’m sorry, I forgot to write it up Nathan!
I received a pretty little painting of a fall forest from Bea G. Morgan got a cheerful watercolor of Odie, the best dog you know. Sarah B and Marie are mastering day drinking with panache. Lily B. made a beautiful pizza, nearly brought me to tears. Emily B. went urban rooftop exploring so start saving up bail money for her.
Most importantly, Hannah W. graduated from Miami of Ohio today. She gave a wonderful speech during the online graduation ceremony. We are all so proud of you! She will soon be moving to Cincinnati to teach fourth graders math.

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