Apparently Hugo Gernsback knew this day would come. (Well, maybe not this day.)
The Isolator aside, these are certainly crazy times.
Whether on full lockdown working from home or something short of that (for now), my guess is that soon enough we’ll all acclimate to the “new normal.” That said, it’s hard to believe that it’s been only a week!
And, although there is no question that this too shall pass and we will be all the stronger for it, it’s passing very slowly.
But, while we wait, it’s worth remembering that, even though we’re stuck in place, we can actually be (virtually) anywhere and still do quite a bit.
So, I’ve been aggregating ideas for diversions and maintaining some quality of life.
I polled family and friends (thank you all for your suggestions!) and spent some time searching for recommendations for interesting options. They are below.
I plan to keep updating as I find other good ones, so keep checking back and please share other ideas you have! (UPDATED: 7/23/2020 – after updates are added, they are specifically identified in a separate post.)
And, yes, I know this is an odd post for this blog, but bear with me; I thought it might provide some useful information even if off point. 🙂
Friends and family
Isolation has a way of highlighting the loss of daily personal connections.
It turns out, however, that there’s more to videoconferencing than grandma seeing the baby (though it’s still good for that too).
As good as video one-on-ones are, it turns out that video is even better for groups. I taught my first videoconferenced class and my firm had its first firm videoconferenced meeting. It works great! And, it makes a huge difference.
Videoconferencing – whether through Zoom, Webex, Skype, Google Hang Outs, GoToMeeting, Jitsi, FaceTime, or any of the other options – provides a much better way to connect with people than email, text, chat, or even a phone call. And, many of them have free options. There are also a bunch of free videoconferencing options identified by CNET in “The best free stuff while you’re stuck at home.”
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that people have taken to using videoconferencing for all types of activities: virtual dinner parties, cocktail hours (to my two friends hunkered down in P-Town, don’t forget that invite!), teas, birthday parties, and more.
And, of course, once you’ve had enough, you can go back to your emails, texts, Slack chats, and phone calls. (Or you can have them all going at once!)
MIT Technology Review’s The Download found some a resource for the older generation who needs some technology help to get video conferencing up and running: Bernd Karlsboeck’s very helpful guidance in “Remote user test methods could save seniors from isolation.”
For those who are ready to take video conferencing to the next level, Wired found a virtual reality meeting platform called Spatial.io where “You Can Now Attend VR Meetings—No Headset Required.”
Home Not Alone (with Kids)
Who doesn’t love being with their kids? (Don’t answer that!)
But, it can be hard to know how to keep them occupied when they can’t go play with their friends – especially when they’re young. Fortunately, someone provided some fun ideas for entertaining young kids on Facebook.
A nice surprise was to see a compilation of suggestions from Shutterfly (that was not just a thinly veiled advertisement): Fun At-Home Activities The Whole Family Will Love.
And, KidsActivities.com has a few good suggestions too.
As does Almost Makes Perfect’s list of “35+ things to do while you’re stuck at home with kids.”
Need more? How about 101 Fun Things to do in Isolation.
Becoming Minimalist has added, “25 Things to Do with Your Family While Stuck at Home,” which has some more good ideas for family fun.
If minimalism isn’t your thing and instead you need crafts, Tia Dana – the (best) aunt of a close friend (who is the favorite niece, so I am told) – has “lots of great yarn related products, home decorations and basically a lot of cool crafts and things to keep you busy and smiling.”
While not for very young kids, Psychology Today, in a post called in “Creative Activity and COVID 19 Captivity,” suggests “engaging yourself and your family in positive growth during uncertain times” by each family member becoming an expert on something fun.
For those who have suddenly forced to become homeschool teachers, a “Texas Homeschooling Group Offers Free Digital Lesson Plans For Parents During COVID-19 Outbreak.”
And, a whole bunch more ideas from Fatherly in the post, “The Best Indoor Games for Quarantined Kids and Families.”
On a more practical note, Today provides some ideas in, “Teenagers stuck at home? Here are 13 life skills they can learn now.”
If you’re in need of some more ideas for entertaining kids, have a look at “COVID-19: Games and activities using typical household items.”
Really out of ideas? How about a homemade teddy bear?
A very cool Instagram page of stars reading stories for kids. (Thanks to Marjorie Flannigan MacLachlan (see Random / Other Lists below).)
When all else fails, there’s no shame in turning to the devious games: “Running out of ideas to keep the kids busy? This $5 hack is a bloody SAVIOUR.”
And, here are “7 virtual trips for kids that entertain and inform” from the Boston Globe.
Trustees offers virtual tours, “virtual farm fun,” and lots of other activities for kids and the whole family.
Who as a kid hasn’t played something like Travel and Leisure’s “Spot-the-difference Game”? (Though this one is focused on travel, you can easily create the same game with pictures of things that your child would be especially interested in by Photoshopping in some subtle changes.)
Fracture (a company offers excellent quality glass prints of your photographs) ran a “photography scavenger hunt” last week that your kids can do anytime. The full list of prompts is available here. While Fracture’s scavenger hunt involved letters, you can make your own with all different types of prompts. (And check back at the fracture blog to see if they run another one.)
And, if you want a scavenger hunt where you compete with others – not just those who happen to be stuck in the house with you – The Big Smoke’s “The Stuck at Home Scavenger Hunt!” is available for download and winners are announced every Sunday.
Depending how old your kids are, they may be prime age for “Sir David Attenborough To Teach Geography To The Nation’s Children, Starting Today.”
A blog called kidadl has “loads of free activities for the whole family to get involved in, from STEM experiments and kid-friendly workouts to boredom-busting garden games and epic craft projects and everything in between.”
If you’re still looking for some more things to do with your kids as school winds down, The Wall Street Journal has “20 Ways Tech Can Keep Your Kids Engaged and Learning This Summer.”
And, Mommy Poppins has a terrific “Stay-at-Home Guide: 100s of Activities and Resources for Families on Pause.”
But, who does not love a good water balloon fight? It turns out that everything needs to be a battle. Instead, here are “11 Water Balloons Games Your Kids Will Love” from Milwaukee with Kids.
And, at night, Money suggests stargazing (with equipment), recommends a $64.99 beginner telescope kit, and notes, “Thanks to a slower economy, light pollution has decreased, and you can nab a starter telescope for cheaper than you might think. Even without one, the SkyView app is free.”
But whether indoors or out, during the day or night, a good Escher-like maze is always fun: “Amazing mazes: cities become graphic puzzles – in pictures.”
Wired has a list of their favorite subscriptions for kids. It’s a bit old (from February), but still good!
Zillow has a timely list of “8 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Families.”
Aquariums, Zoos, Museums & More
Though kids and museums frequently don’t mix, the Boston Children’s Museum does have tons of activities and a live virtual tour. Stay out of the gift shop! (Yes, it literally can (virtually) take you into the gift shop.)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the world, has live streaming.
The Houston Zoo has live streaming of various animals – with webcams that virtual visitors control!
The National Zoo is live streaming lions.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is live streaming its red panda family (until May 1).
The Edinburgh Zoo is live streaming penguins.
The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary has a very cool virtual dive with sea lions, which lets you control the view.
explore.org is live streaming through its Tropical Reef Camera. But don’t miss out. It actually has 172 live streams, including cow cams, a Decorah Eagles live feed, a live feed of Tembe Elephant Park, an Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights cam, and a ton more.
The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) has a YouTube channel with some gallery videos, lectures, and other programs.
The Museum of Science (Boston) is live streaming evening courses at SubSpace: Adult Programs After Dark.
The Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago) has a Science at Home program.
The ICA (Boston) has a ton of video content.
I was thrilled to see that the Louvre has virtual visits too!
And, the Vatican tours are awesome!
Take a look at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, with tons of content.
Another not-miss is the Uffizi, which has its own virtual tours.
The Van Gogh Museum is also online with some very cool virtual tours.
The Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) is streaming live tours on Instagram every Friday at 2 pm (CET) and accepts questions through the comments.
The Frick Collection has a wonderful program called “Cocktails with a Curator,” which they describe as follows: “The Frick is concocting the perfect mix of cocktails and art. Every Friday at 5:00 p.m., join us for happy hour as a Frick curator (remotely) offers insights on a work of art with a complementary cocktail. Bring your own beverage to this virtual event. Audiences under 21 are encouraged to join with a non-alcoholic drink.”
- Boston.com has provided a short list of virtual tours some Massachusetts museums and cultural institutions.
- Travel and Leisure has a significantly longer list of virtual museum tours.
- And, if that’s not enough, here are 2500 museums you can visit virtually.
- And not to be left out, CNN has its own guide to streaming art museums and concerts.
- Then there’s Thrillist’s “Weird and Wonderful Live Streams to Transport You Out of Your Home.”
- And on April 23, the New York Times posted an article, “Now Virtual and in Video, Museum Websites Shake Off the Dust,” with good suggestions and some background information to all of these projects.
For those interested in space, NASA at home has some worthwhile virtual tours and apps.
Games (without the Board or Boredom)
Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still play some old favorites: Boston.com has a list of board games that can be played online. (My wife and I are playing Scrabble with our two boys, neither of whom is home at the moment.)
GeoGuessr free maps games. (You’ll need to set up an account.)
Sporcle for trivia.
There are also a bunch of free games identified by CNET in “The best free stuff while you’re stuck at home.”
If you’re thirsty and have time, there’s always wine checkers.
According to the New Jersey Stage, “Silver Creek Entertainment offers free access to games during covid-19 outbreak.”
If feeling stuck inside is getting to you, how about trying to break out at Puzzle Break Newton, MA’s virtual Escape the Room? Note that they are having a special Father’s Day 15% discount offer (with the code FATHER).
If you need to know how to play boardgames remotely, the New York Times offers some advice in “Classic Board Games With a Touch of Tech.”
For the younger among us, Thrillist suggests “8 Drinking Games You Can Play with Friends Virtually.” Have fun – and be careful! (Sorry, it’s the parent in me.)
Escape rooms are fun in person. And, it turns out that they’re just as much fun virtually. Here are the “9 Best Virtual Escape Rooms For Taking A Rad Adventure While At Home” according to elite daily.
Wired has a list of “6 Board Games You Can Play Over Zoom.”
Want to live stream virtual trivia? There are a bunch out there, including Virtual Pub Quiz, which live streams every Thursday at 6:15 EDT, though live streaming starts 25 minutes in advance.
Or, if you prefer to run your own pub-style trivia night, Esquire explains “How To Host A Genuinely Good Virtual Pub Quiz On Zoom Or HouseParty.”
Interested in some college courses? “Here are 450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free.”
One of my favorite pre-COVID-19 educational activities was One Day University, which “brings together professors from the finest universities in the country to present special versions of their very best lectures – LIVE.” Well, like many others, they are now live streaming their amazing programing.
Want to learn how to draw? Take a look at “These Free Online Drawing Classes Will Help You Unleash Your Inner Artist.”
For ages 3 through 18, Outschool offers live online classes over live video chat in a ton of different subject matters.
MasterClass, which offers classes taught by leading professionals in they career (for example, Annie Leibovitz teaches portrait photography), is currently charging only $15 per month for access to all of its classes.
This says it all: “It’s Real and It’s Spectacular: A Free Summer Class on ‘Seinfeld’ and the Law.”
MoMA (New York’s Museum of Modern Art) is offering free online courses. Here’s how MoMA describes them:
Immerse yourself in ideas and see your world in new ways through art. In MoMA’s free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, you will hear directly from artists and designers, look closely at works in our collection and exhibitions, and join a community of learners unlike any other. Enroll any time and complete the course at your own pace.
The band Wilco has posted a recent surprise concert it performed on a basketball court.
The band Radiohead is having weekly live shows on their YouTube channel.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a terrific free Listen on Demand program (which includes video).
Similarly, the Berlin Philharmonic has a free-for-30-days “digital concert hall.”
The Metropolitan Opera streams one encore presentation nightly (on demand for 23 hours) and has many more operas available on demand through a subscription plan or on a pay-per-show basis.
There are also a bunch of free music services – see, CNET’s “The best free stuff while you’re stuck at home.”
If you feel like you need to go back and watch some old concerts, Thrillist has put together, “The 15 Essential Music Festival Performances You Can Watch on YouTube.”
Digital Trends has a regularly updated list of live-streaming concerts: “Watch these virtual concert livestreams during your social distancing.”
Boston Magazine identified that jazz pianist “Yoko Miwa Keeps Her Flame Burning in Quarantine” Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 (EDT).
On April 18 (from 2:00 to 8:00 PM EDT), don’t miss One World: Together At Home (streaming on tons of services) to support frontline healthcare workers and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The BBC arranged for a group of renowned artists to cover the Foo Fighter’s “Times Like These” and released it as a single. In alphabetical order, the artists are: 5 Seconds of Summer; AJ Tracey; Anne-Marie; Bastille; Biffy Clyro; Celeste Chris Martin of Coldplay; Dermot Kennedy; Dua Lipa; Ellie Goulding; Foo Fighters; Grace Carter; Hailee Steinfeld; Jess Glynne; Mabel; Paloma Faith; Rag’n’Bone Man; Rita Ora; Royal Blood; Sam Fender; Sean Paul; Sigrid; YUNGBLUD; and Zara Larsson. International proceeds will go to the WHO’s COVID-19-Solidarity Response Fund.
Accordingly to Rolling Stone, “Over 200 celebrities, entertainers, artists and leaders will appear on The Call to Unite,” which will stream live on unite.us, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and elsewhere for 24 hours starting May 1, at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Donations to GiveDirectly and Points of Light will be encouraged.
If you need a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s, revisit them starting with a three-minute reprise at THE HOOD INTERNET presents 1980.
If you’ve never seen a concert at Fenway Park, whether because you have no interest in crowding in with tens of thousands of people or it’s just too far away, now’s your chance to do it with ample space. It turns out that the Dropkick Murphys and Bruce Springsteen are staging an historic Fenway Park concert with no audience called “Streaming Outta Fenway.” They ask that donations be made to Boston Resiliency Fund, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity, Greater Boston by texting “DONATE” to 404-994-3559.
The band, The Arcadian Wild, has a weekly live stream called “An Excellent Evening.” It starts at 6:00 PM EDT, but goes live at 5:30PM “for soundcheck and little preshow hang, so feel free to tune in early!” Tickets are $5 or $10 – but you can have as many as 3 or 10 people, depending on which of those you choose!
If you are looking for something fun to do Friday night, June 12, folk singers, Heather Quay & Jon Svetkey a.k.a. The Yellow Room, will be playing a virtual concert for the Second Friday Coffeehouse, starting at 8:00 PM EDT. Any tips/proceeds will benefit Belmont Against Racism.
Starting July 1, Tanglewood will be live streaming virtual concerts. Some will be free, some will be inexpensive ($5 to $12), and multiple stream passes are available as well.
While we won’t be having live fireworks on the Charles this year, you can still catch A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes on Saturday, July 4, at 8:00 PM EDT.
Prince’s Sign o’ the Times Super Deluxe Edition will be reissued on September 25 and will include over 60 previously unreleased tracks and two concerts.
In addition, other lists of virtual concerts and options have been compiled by several websites. Here are a few:
- NPR’s list of virtual concerts
- Thrillist’s, “All of the Concerts You Can Watch From Home Right Now”
- Opera American has a list of streaming operas and musicals
- Billboard’s, “Here Are All the Live Streams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis (Updating)”
- BostonUSA lists Concerts In Boston, which includes some terrific performances
- Vulture suggests that you “Watch These Livestreamed Concerts During Your Social Distancing”
- What HiFi? says these these are “22 of the best live music streams and virtual concerts to watch online”
Broadway (and Other) Shows
Broadway HD streams broadway plays and musicals. (It’s free for a week, then paid subscription afterward.)
Today Tix has posted a terrific list, “How to Watch Theater Around the World from Your Home.”
Well, not technically itself a broadway show, but this was cute, “The Broadway Coronavirus Medley.”
Also not a broadway show, but it is a cute take by a family on Les Misérables meets COVID19.
The New York Post reported that “Andrew Lloyd Webber will stream legendary Broadway shows free online,” and he did here.
And, of course, who doesn’t love Lin Manuel Miranda and my personal favorite, Hamilton? Well, while you wait for the October 10, 2021 Disney release of the move, Hamilton (which will have the original broadway cast), you can watch Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway on Amazon prime video. Updated: Great news – Disney has announced that the October 10 release date has been pushed up to July 3, 2020!
While not the actual show, some of the music (and a behind the scenes video) from Jagged Little Pill, including “Head Over Feet,” is available on YouTube.
Hamilton has now been out for just over two weeks. So, Thrillist suggests that we all “Stop singing ‘One Last Time’ already and listen to Dream Boston,” “a new series of six-minute audio micro-plays from local playwrights.”
Movies / TV Series / Videos
There are a bunch of free video services identified by CNET in “The best free stuff while you’re stuck at home.”
If you need some ideas of movies to watch, the Orlando Sentinel posted, “Movie series to binge-watch while the coronavirus has you stuck at home.”
If you’d prefer to binge watch TV series, Looper has a good list, “The best shows to binge watch if you’re stuck at home.”
Fstoppers posted what purports to be “Footage From Victorian England Enhanced to 4K and 60 fps.” If it’s legitimate (which it appears to be), it’s really cool – and there are a whole bunch more, including, “A Trip Through Paris, France in late 1890s / Un voyage à travers Paris, 1890.”
There is no loss of recommendations for great shows to binge watch, but I am offering a sleeper that doesn’t show up often, but which I loved: Chuck.
Thrillist is always good for random ideas, including this list of “Obscure Streaming Services to Get When You’re Bored With Netflix.”
For the SciFi fans, Syfy is running the entire Battlestar Galactica series (the good one!) available here for free.
NBC arranged for all-star event – Feeding America Comedy Festival – with tons of comedic superstars to raise money for Feeding America.
MIT Technology Review’s The Download recommends the Campaign Against Living Miserably (a/k/a CALM) Comedy Club, which is live-streaming at @theCALMzone on Twitter at 3:00 PM BST (British Summer Time, i.e., add 5 to EDT).
A definite don’t miss is ImprovBoston, which is streaming live improv shows for families and others. Check the schedule.
Cooking, Cookies, and Other Food Options
A friend/colleague, Heather Krauss, has an amazing recipe for banana bread (reproduced it at the very end of this post) that is better than any of the recipes I’ve tried in the past. As Heather noted, she found a recipe online that she liked, and then tweaked it. So, a thank you to whoever posted the original! And, for what it’s worth, I recommend even more bananas and an extra egg, just because.
So, when Heather recommended these free online cooking classes, I had to pass them along. (Apparently because of COVD-19, they are free through at least April – and note that I am optimistically not putting the year!)
TODAY for #Hamilton inspired #RecipesForThePeople we are making a dish in honor of my mom & dad…My mom would make Sugar Omelettes for dessert when I was young. They were both nurses… so this goes out to all the nurses out there! We @WCKitchen love you!
Once again, Thrillist provides some fantastic suggestions, this time for those in Boston: “Where to Order Your Work From Home Lunch in Boston.”
How about wine tasting? Well Glamor has this recommendation: “Pull The Cork is bringing wine tasting to your house via Instagram. Order one of Pull The Cork’s Isolation Wine Tasting Kits (available to buy for £45) ready for a live Instagram wine tasting on Friday.”
If you have the time to experiment, try cold brewing coffee. Here’s “How to Make Cold Brewed Coffee at Home.”
While we’re on the subject of coffee, have a look at wirecutter’s favorite places to order coffee online.
Looking for really good quality meat? A recommendation from a friend is Alpine Butcher in Lowell, MA, which is now shipping around the country.
Missing Panera? How about Panera Grocery for pick up or home delivery?
Looking for takeout or delivery in Boston? “These Boston Restaurants Are Now Offering Meal Kits and Grocery Items.”
Assuming you’re not going to the supermarket, Boston Magazine offers these “Innovative Ways to Buy Fresh Produce and Groceries in Boston Right Now.”
If you like cheese (I can’t imagine who doesn’t), how can you improve it? Well, several years ago, friends (from Switzerland) exposed us to Switzerland’s (and France’s) best kept secret: Raclette. (Okay, maybe it’s not so secret, but it’s still amazing.) Basically, heat cheese, put it on a starch (usually French bread or small potatoes), and add side dishes to taste (cornichons, pickled jalapeños, broccoli, you get the point). You’ll need a reaclette maker (there are different types), cheese, bread, and the add-ons. For more information, see Raclette Corner. Enjoy!
Don’t feel like making a big production out of your cheese? How about some cheese you can enjoy room temperature with wine (or any other way you like it)? The Cheese Shop of Salem, Massachusetts, has tons of great cheeses, related products, and great staff and advice – and they offer curb-side pick up, local delivery, or shipping (if you’re not nearby). We just ordered a ton!
Gracie’s (a favorite restaurant of ours) in Providence is live-streaming complimentary cooking classes every Friday night at 7:15 PM EDT. And, if that’s not enough, each Saturday (initially, at least, at 7:00 PM EDT) they will be hosting a virtual wine lesson and conversation via Zoom with their sommeliers. Here are the details:
We’ll post the week’s theme on social media on Tuesday of each week, and the first twelve guests to register via email will participate in that weekend’s class. We will hand deliver the wine of the week to your doorsteps on Fridays for the Saturday class (ticket price is only the cost of the wine). Please email email@example.com to sign up and receive Zoom access.
If you’re looking for some significant variety in your diet, Thrillist explains “How to Eat Your Way Through 21 Countries Without Leaving Boston.”
Really bored? Here is Thrillist’s “Weekend Project: The Laziest Guide to Making Pickles” (or really any pickled vegetable).
Or maybe try brewing mead.
Need some fresh seafood? Try North Coast Seafoods.
Another fun option – particularly as grilling season is now officially kicking off – is Traeger Kitchen Live, a weekly live stream on Thursdays at 6pm EDT hosted by Traeger Grills featuring professional chefs and pitmasters walking through their favorite grilling recipes, while sharing tips and tricks and answering questions in real time. Past streams remain available, and include reverse-seared steak and stuffed burgers with pig candy bacon by Diva Q, and smoked brisket with burnt ends and glazed BBQ half chicken by Matt Pittman. Thanks Sarah for telling me about this!
If you miss Barbara Lynch’s food, you can live stream “Stir at Home,” which offers (10-person max) virtual dinner cooking parties and (larger, up to 20 households) virtual cooking demonstration dinners.
Once again, Nicole Daly came through with a cool cooking recommendation: Prepdeck, which “brings chef-approved mise en place techniques to the home cook so you can prep ahead, stay organized and enjoy a stress-free cooking environmentorganizes.”
Love Borough Market in London? (I do.) Well, check out their cooking club! (Thank you Travel & Leisure!)
MIT Technology Review’s The Download identified CNET’s article about making butter, “I’ve reached the ‘making my own butter’ phase of quarantine.” Go for it!
Branching out (for some of us, who were previously relegated to eggs, pancakes, and grilling), it may be time to try this “Weekend Project: How to Make Indian Pickles or Achaar” from Thrillist.
Like butter, eggs make most things better. In that spirit, Bon Appétit offers “91 Egg Recipes That We Always Crave.”
And, for dessert, Thrillist’s “Weekend Project: How to Churn Homemade Ice Cream.”
Pubs and Dining Out (Virtually)
The Green King Brewery in England (which runs, among others, the Eagle in Cambridge, England in the 16th-century coaching inn where DNA was discovered) has a virtual pub called “The Lock Inn.”
The Irish Post notes that “THE WORLD’S very first virtual Irish pub has opened its doors to the public.” The pub itself is ThePub.ie. Enjoy!
Photography and Video
Photo Talk has posted a list of “12 Photo Projects You Can Do From Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
And, if you need more, TechRadar posted, “52 photography projects: a great technique to try every week of the year.”
Some other good ideas from Digital Camera World are in their post, “Stuck at home: 11 fantastic photo projects to try indoors during the Covid-19 crisis.”
A little hokey, but good for beginning photographers, “Clever Indoor Photography Tips for Beginners.”
Fstoppers is always good for some quality photography advice and tutorials, and, during the current state of emergency, they don’t disappoint, “Fight Boredom During Corona Isolation With Photography, What To Do During Corona Outbreak Part I.”
Another excellent place for photographers generally is Digital Photography School, and, not surprisingly, they have their own “Great Photography Ideas for When You Are Stuck Indoors.”
I have been a huge fan of Tony & Chelsea Northrup for several years, and, in a recent post, they provide some excellent suggestions for “$0 Home Studio Hacks,” i.e., getting yourself set up quickly and cheaply for your in-home pictures.
Following up on Chelsea Northrup’s idea of cheap studio hacks, Fstoppers suggests trying Thomas Heaton’s “Getting Creative at Home With Cheap and Cheerful Macro Photography and Your Wife’s Fish Tank.”
Feel like playing around with an existing picture? Try “AI Gahaku,” an AI “artist” that applies old art styles to a picture of you.
As described by CNN, “The J. Paul Getty Museum has challenged the public to recreate famous paintings in the museum with household items. For inspiration, the Getty Museum archive is available to view online and includes books, artworks and videos. You can also view the Twitter thread of masterpiece recreations.” Enjoy!
On a similar theme, MIT Technology Review’s The Download identified a “Facebook group where Russians post art, isolation style,” as they put it.
And, if you want to see a curated group of the recreations, Bored Panda says, “People Are Recreating Paintings In This Dutch Instagram Account And Here Are 30 Of The Best Ones.”
If you’re in need of creative inspiration, Nikon compiled a series of suggestions from its Nikon Ambassadors for “Staying Creative at Home.”
Fracture has all sorts of terrific photography-related ideas on their “fracture blog,” including on-line photography courses, mistakes to avoid, Paris museums making over 100,000 high resolution images available to the public, scavenger hunts (see above in the Home Not Alone (with Kids) section), and more.
Still bored? Check out Bored Panda’s, “50 Fascinating Pics Of Rarely Seen Things.”
Nikon is streaming all Nikon School online cases (which are terrific!) for free through May. Enjoy the learning!
Need some quick inspiration? 500px has “5 easy and actionable ways to find new photography ideas.”
Want to make a movie? Start with the trailer. Here’s a how-to: Shelter Inn project 5 @DemonMotors.
When all else fails, pets and other creatures are always a good fallback for photographers. Nikon offers “Tips and Tricks for Photographing Cats, Dogs, Birds and Bugs.”
For those who prefer photo challenges and assignments, try “10 Flickr Groups you must join right now.”
We’ve looked at various ideas for projects and other other interesting works that people have put together, but we haven’t looked at tools for making them yourself. Here are two:
- The first is Moovly. I have used it to make a video that will be coming soon. It has tons of excellent resources and is easy to use. The rendering is a bit spotty, but the service team is terrific.
- The second is PicsArt Online Video Editor and Maker. In contrast to Moovly, this editor focuses on using your own materials and seems designed to make home videos from your own photos. (It was identified to me by the staff at PicsArt, and while it looks promising, I have not tried it.)
Need some ideas for improving your pictures of the kids? Fracture’s post, “Take Better Photos Of Your Kids (With Your iPhone),” is a good resource with some good suggestions.
As noted before, comet NEOWISE is putting on quite a show in the northern hemisphere. If you’re new to night photography, Thrillist has a helpful guide for “How to Photograph Comet Neowise Before It Disappears for More Than 6,000 Years.”
Without the commute, when will you listen to your favorite podcast? (I don’t have an answer.) But, if you’re looking for something different, here are a few podcasts that you may not know about:
- Stuff You Should Know. Just what it sounds like: amusing and interesting stuff to learn about.
- Mac Geek Gab. Also properly named. Really needs no more of an explanation. But I’ll give it: 2 guys discuss all things Mac. Learn a bunch (they say at least 5 things) each episode.
- The Maccast. More of the same, but less of a discussion.
- Planet Money. An NPR show about all things economy and economics related.
- Fro Knows Photo.com. For a rant on issues that irk this photographer (Jared Polin), it’s pretty entertaining – and sometimes informative. (It can be completely mindless sometimes, but still entertaining.)
- You’re Wrong About. I have not listened to this yet, but it sounds interesting from the description: “Mike and Sarah are journalists obsessed with the past. Every week they reconsider an event or person or trend that’s been miscast in the public imagination.”
- How I Built This. Not literal building! It features interviews with people about how they built successful companies (like JetBlue, one of my favorites!).
- Battlestar Galacticast. An episode-by-episode deep dive by BSG star Tricia Helfer and TV writer/journalist Marc Bernardin.
- Making Sense with Sam Harris. Neuroscientist, philosopher, and author, Sam Harris, covers the human mind, society, and current events.
- Mentors and Moguls Podcast! Entrepreneur Heather R. Stone takes a deep “dive into the stories of struggle and triumph of successful business leaders, athletes and creatives.” This week’s episode is about my friend, 12-time Olympic medalist and former world record-holder in three events, Dara Torres.
- Wind of Change. An investigation into the song that ended the Cold War (“Wind of Change” by the Scorpions) supposedly written by the CIA.
- The Latest on the Law: Updates from the Boston Bar. Boston’s legal experts promoting professional excellence in the law.
Ever wonder, “What’s the Most Popular Podcast in Your State?” Well, wonder no more. Nerdist tells you.
For a longer list of options, Glamour has posted, “It’s your isolation podcast playlist: our round-up of the hottest listens right now.”
While you might think that it’s hard for podcasts (all spoken) and photography (all visual) to mix (I do, and I listen to them!), 500px identifies “15 photography podcasts you should listen to.”
The New York Times has identified five podcasts that let you “Travel The World With Your Ears,” including “Rough Translation” from NPR, which addresses the question, “How are the things we’re talking about being talked about somewhere else in the world?” Enjoy!
Now that you don’t have a commute, there’s even less of an opportunity to claim you don’t have time to exercise. So, here are a few resources:
- The Fix Personal Training. This is the personal training website of a very close friend and colleague, Paula Astl, who is probably in the best shape of anyone I’ve ever known. And she’ll train you outside at a safe 6+ foot distance!
- If you’re just working out at home by yourself, here is the WSJ’s “Five Home Workouts to Do During the Coronavirus Outbreak.”
- If you’re looking for yoga, here is some online live streaming and video.
- The Society of Health and Physical Educators offers the “Paper Plate Tabata.”
- If recorded fitness videos are your thing, take a look at danichinitz_fit (the daughter of a friend). With over 60,000 followers, you know she’s doing something right!
- I will admit that when I think of exercise, I definitely don’t think of Consumer Reports. (Maybe that’s just me.) Yet here is their, “How to Exercise at Home During the Coronavirus.”
Should you cut your hair? Wired has interviewed some hairdressers who advise against it, but say, “So you really want to cut your own hair. Well, here’s how.”
If you’re feeling less than satisfied by that, Elle says, “If You’re Going To Cut Your Hair At Home, Read This First.”
If you’re looking for more guidance, LifeHacker tells “How to Not Eff Up Your DIY Haircut.”
And, Good Housekeeping tells “How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home Like a Pro,” complete with suggested videos.
Similarly, Boston Magazine recently posted, “Attention, Men: Here’s Everything You Ever Needed to Know about Giving Yourself a Haircut at Home” – and it’s very helpful!
Travel (Virtually … or Not!)
Do you miss Pike Place Market? Need to see the fish toss? Enjoy!
Need to see what’s happening in other parts of the world? How about EarthCam’s Times Square webcam?
If you feel like seeing New York City isn’t enough of a NY fix, how about listening to it? “How Does a New Yawker Tawk?”
For a long list, The New York Times has a terrific list of “52 Places, Virtually.”
And, Thrillist also has its own “Virtual Travel Experiences That Let You Explore the World From Your Living Room.”
Wish you could hike the Pacific Crest Trail? Well, “This Guy Hiked From Mexico To Canada And Filmed One Second Each Day. Here’s What He Saw In 3 Minutes.” And, if you’re looking for all three of the Triple Crown of Hiking, here is “The Continental Divide Trail in Four Minutes” and “The Appalachian Trail in 5 Minutes.”
Missing the national parks? Miss them no more! Here are “The 5 Best Virtual Tours Of National Parks & Wild Lands” according to mbgplanet.
Or get lost in hours of 360-degree virtual, guided tours of five national parks: Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Dry Tortugas in Florida.
English Heritage will be live streaming “Summer Solstice at Stonehenge: Live!” It will be on Saturday, June 20 at 8:30 PM – 5:30 AM UTC+01. That’s 5 hours ahead of EDT, which means that it starts at 1:30 in the morning for those on the U.S. east coast.
I have been wondering when someone would set up the equivalent of walking tours and now someone has finally done it: Secret Virtual Tours. They have a live online tours of Paris, as well as live talks about specific sites like the Tower of London, the Louvre, the Uffizi, and the Sistine Chapel. Enjoy!
An African safari is on a lot of people’s bucket list. Well, wait no more. WildEarth is live streaming – on a daily bais – safariLIVE, “an award winning, expert hosted LIVE safari, broadcast directly from the African wilderness into your home.” Those on the west coast may enjoy the sunrise safari at 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT, while those on the east coast can enjoy the sunset safari from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon EDT.
Travel and Leisure shares “Hotels Around the World Are Live Streaming Their Views to Make You Feel Like You’re on Vacation.”
Travel and Leisure also has a list with quick links to “Bucket-list Attractions Like Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal.”
With the country – including the national parks – slowly reopening, Thrillist is keeping track of the status of all of them.
Thank you Thrillist for the 4th of July focus: Take a virtual tour of the U.S.S. Constitution.
Or you can do self-guided tours (again, thank you Thrillist) of Boston’s Freedom Trail and others.
Feel like sitting around, staring out the window? How about staring out a window somewhere else in the world? Enter WindowSwap.
I was approached by NerdBear in connection with their list of “25 Video Games That Allow You to Travel and Cure Wanderlust.” It’s not quite true virtual travel, but it does look like a terrific “collection of games for different ages where you can explore the U.S., Nepal, Peru, the U.K., Greece, Japan, and many more.”
News that Doesn’t Suck
Okay, as of April 6, gotta love John Krasinksi even more (is that possible?), as his Good New Network brings, “Zoom Surprise: Some Good News with John Krasinski Ep. 2,” with a truly awesome surprise – so be sure to watch to the end! And, continue watching each week, including when “The Office Cast Reunites for Zoom Wedding: Some Good News with John Krasinski Ep. 7.”
“People Are Sharing Stories About Their Dumbest Dogs And We Love Them.” Need I say more?
I wasn’t sure where to put this, but how can a Zoom date with Keanu Reeves suck? It can’t. So, here’s what you need to know: “Keanu wants to go on a Zoom date with you — for a good cause.” Bidding closes Monday, June 22, and is currently at $16,600. According to CNN, “All proceeds raised from ‘15 Minutes of Fame with Keanu Reeves’ will go directly to the children’s cancer organization, which focuses on giving kids empowering experiences.”
Coping with the New (Ab)Normal
Everyone has a different threshold for stress and anxiety. But, to the extent that you are looking for information about it, Consumer Reports has a nice post on “How to Ease Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Harvard Medical School offers the advice about “Eating during COVID-19: Improve your mood and lower stress.”
Technology Review also has some advice about “How to stay sane when the world’s going mad: New online tools aim to help treat people’s anxiety before it reaches a crisis point.”
And, the New York Times has some good advice in “How to Manage Your Loneliness.”
While people have been turning to video conferencing as a way to maintain social connections, it certainly pales in comparison to being there. So, Wired has some suggestions options in “ Zoom Not Cutting It for You? Try Exploring a Virtual World.”
In addition to the psychological and economic implications of COVID-19, the extended work-from-home requirements can cause physical discomfort as well. The Washington Post has some good advice in “You’ve been working from the couch or the dining table and now you’re in pain. Try these tips.
Random / Other Lists
Who doesn’t like a good (or bad) lawyer joke? If you’re in the mood, see Lowering the Bar.
Continuing on the lowering-the-bar theme, I had been wondering whether to stand when speaking (as we do in court), but then saw this, “Florida judge: Get out of bed, get dressed for Zoom hearings,” and realized that whether lawyers stand up “in court” is not really the court’s primary concern at this point.
While we’re on the subject of lawyers, if you are a lawyer and are looking for on-line resources, here is a robust listing from Bob Ambrogi. (For those who don’t know Bob, he’s provided the legal community with tons of on-line resources (and more) since there has been an “on line.” I did one of my early presentations with him way back then, something like “Find it Fast and Free on the Internet.”)
And, before leaving the subject of lawyers, another good source of things to do, “A Guide to the Great Indoors” (completely unrelated to lawyers), comes from a former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett colleague (i.e., the lawyer connection) turned real estate broker, Marjorie Flannigan MacLachlan. Originally posted on March 30, Marjorie says that she will be updating it weekly, so do check back.
A site called “Hunker,” describes itself as follows: “Hunker believes good design should be a part of everyday life—and that you don’t have to be an expert to make it happen.” They’re right, and they have some great articles. Take a visit! (Thank you Travel and Leisure, which explains that Bombay Sapphire created “‘a multi-platform learning experience’ called Create-From-Home in partnership with several other online brands to inspire at-home learning as coronavirus-sparked quarantine rules across the U.S. and the world are keeping everyone indoors.”)
Not surprisingly (though it was to me!), I was not the first one to come up with the idea of compiling lists of things to do for people stuck at home. So here are some others:
- Boston.com has this list of suggestions for indoor things to do this weekend (updated as of March 20).
- USA Today has “100 things to do while stuck inside due to a pandemic.”
- BuzzFeed has “14 Things To Do While Stuck At Home During The Coronavirus Quarantine.”
- The Simple Dollar has “15 Useful Things to Do When You’re Stuck at Home.”
- Reader’s Digest (they’re still around!) has “18 Utterly Useful Things to Do When You’re Stuck Inside.”
- CNET has a list of “The best free stuff while you’re stuck at home.”
- Reviewed has a terrific summary of “the 15 most popular hobbies to start during the coronavirus pandemic,” with links to lots of options.
- Boston Magazine offers “Things to Stream This Weekend in Boston.”
- Thrillist has come through again with “Everything You Can Do in Boston This Weekend” (the weekend of April 25/26) and its more general list of “50 Fun Things You Can Do at Home Right Now in Quarantine.”
- The BBC created a page, “Culture in Quarantine: TV, radio and digital schedule,” “to keep public access to art and culture as great as ever.”
- Glamour offers ideas for “Another Bank Holiday in lockdown! Here are 52 really fun things you can do at home during isolation this weekend.”
- Thrillists’ latest list of “Everything You Can Do in Boston This Weekend” (the weekend of July 18/19).
A particularly cute list is a video, “100 things you need to try at home!,” by TheSorryGirls.
And, don’t forget that Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day! BestLife has a list of “13 Quarantine Mother’s Day Ideas That Are So Creative” and the New York Post has other suggestions in, “Mother’s Day 2020 activities: Things to do during quarantine.”
Remember, it’s not just you. Here is a WSJ article that might help, “Zoom, CNBC and Jigsaw Puzzles: How America’s Shut-In Families Are Spending Their Days.” Similarly, IFL Science (which, although more click-baity in recent years, still has great content) offers an example of an experience that people may think is unique to them, but is not, in “Having Weird Dreams Since The Pandemic Began? You’re Not Alone.”
And, if you’re feeling really alone, watch this: Astronaut Chris Hadfield Space performing Space Oddity (David Bowie).
Or if you’re stuck apart from someone you’re dating, HuffPost offers, “15 Date Ideas In The Age Of Social Distancing.”
Or if you’re “stuck” home with your significant other, how about “Date night during quarantine: Best date night ideas during lockdown”?
While we are stuck at home, we have time to think about the many people who have been, and will continued to be, devastated by COVID-19. It’s nice to see that people are thinking about how we can provide practical help (if we’re not the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, first responders, people staffing the markets and other essential services, and others personally sacrificing their safety), there is at least one tangible way for some small businesses that are otherwise not likely to survive (and all of the people affected by their closure). A website in the Bay Area (of course they could come up with such a creative, thoughtful idea!) sprang up called, SaveOurFavs, which basically helps to try to solve cash flow shortages by enabling people to essentially pay now for future purchases. I will post other altruistic efforts here as I learn about them.
While it may be a little late for this information, the places I have been ordering food and supplies from are the following:
Given that getting your groceries can oftentimes be a challenge these days, Consumer Reports has provided some helpful “Tips and Tricks for Getting Groceries During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
As we settle into working from home for the long haul, Wired has identified “Everything You Need to Work From Home Like a Pro.”
If you’re feeling really adventurous and happen to have the parts lying around, try Jimi Simmons’ making a guitar out of an old skateboard deck.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, how about trying the Cannonball Run like the people in this: “Whoosh! That Car That Just Soared by Might Be Heading for the Coast.” Just to be clear – it’s a bad idea!
Country Living has a great article, “26 Fun & Useful Things to Do When You’re Bored,” that starts, “Like, so bored you resort to Googling ‘What to do when you’re bored.’” The article has wonderful suggestions, including my favorite:
Go antiquing online. From First Dibs to Everything but the House to Chairish, there’s no shortage of online resources to indulge the thrill of the hunt (even when you can’t go to a flea market)—and chances are their vendors could use your support now more than ever. Don’t miss more boutique-y sites like Mate Gallery for nautical antiques, House of Antique Hardware for vintage fixtures, or Hannah’s Treasures for vintage wallpaper.
With the nice weather upon us, now is the time for Good Housekeeping’s “The Ultimate Guide to Gardening for Beginners.”
And, don’t forget that Sunday, June 21, is Father’s Day! So, if you did forget, or are just procrastinating, here are “9 Great Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts That Will Arrive In Time” from Thrillist.
Rumor has it that the comet NEOWISE is putting on quite a show in the northern hemisphere. According to National Geographic, “One of the brightest comets in decades is passing Earth. Here’s how to see it.”
This was just too good to not post…
Thank you Vicki Cundiff (fellow lawyer, adjunct prof, trade secret junkie) for sending it my way!
For a brief diversion, my all-time favorite YouTube video…
Another of my all-time favorite YouTube videos …
But, if that’s not enough for you, this is the video “songified.”
Wondering why we never tried this: Doggo having fun.
Absolutely amazing stuck at home climbing!
Missing skiing? Here’s an idea.
How about some in-home gymnastics?
For a day in the life, see enjoy…
This is not a political statement, just a funny video… A Spoonful of Clorox – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:
And, am I the only one who is constantly reminded of this when I am out walking and see other people? …
Once again, this is not intended to be political – it’s just funny a funny video: Donald Trump x REM – Losing My Civilians . . .
My favorite Zoom meeting of the week…
But, as told Hannah, while that is very funny, nothing beats Misheard Lyrics’ video of Pearl Jam’s Yellow Ledbetter:
Make me fries!
Hats off to this one. (Sorry for the dad joke, but this weekend is Father’s Day after all.)
And, thank you to MIT Technology Review’s The Download for the socially distancing dog.
But, by far the most amazing is this: “A Decade of Sun”…
Don’t miss buttercup’s good advice!
Tired of being in the midst of this? You’re not alone – some birds are tired of their lives.
World’s Best Banana Bread…
- 1-1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. sour cream
- ½ c. butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1-3/4 c. (I use 4-5) very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)
Brown Butter Frosting:
- ¼ c. butter
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp. milk
- Heat oven to 375F. Grease and flour 9×13″ pan. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.
- Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, for frosting, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a delicate brown with light brown bits and remove from heat immediately.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting).
- Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm cake (the frosting will be easier to spread while the bars are still warm).