FRESH BITS 4/10: Interesting Things to Do and Read

Hope you enjoy today’s Fresh Bits: Eight juicy links to help you enjoy this weekend a three bonuses (my current read/watch/listen list).

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes–including you. – Anne Lamott

  1. Italy-based writer/artist Keri Smith started an inspiration per day creative prompt via her Exploration of the Day site, in part to help teachers with interesting student activities during the shut-in. Check out her recent ones (and you can subscribe if you scroll to the bottom). And…I didn’t click to the name at first, but she’s the author of a quite interesting (and niche) fav book of mine: The Wander Society.
  2. Some fun/timely comic art about staying inside and wondering too much. Will this ever end? Will there be a better future out there? Check out It’s Time to Start Talking to Yourself.
  3. I thought when I moved to the Midwest years ago I’d learned the last of the obscure weather phenomenon: thundersnow. Well…yesterday in Ann Arbor, after a few teasing days of 60 degree spring weather, we had graupel. What? Yup, a real thing. And now you know too. You’re welcome.
  4. Social distancing for, what, now three weeks or so? Wimpy, by comparison to this guy:  Tips From Someone With Nearly 50 Years of Social Distancing. Introverts Anonymous poster hero, most likely.
  5. Fountain pen lover? Since we have, ah, a bit of extra time on our hands, why not try ink mixing? Old post, but artist Jane Blundell has a lot of information about mixing inks, especially using De Atramentis inks ideally suited to this ink-stained rabbit hole.
  6. Those who love to travel are particularly gloomy right now. Armchair voyaging ain’t quite the same, but tough times call for clever workarounds. Like this article on Ancient Morocco and Berber ways, until your toes can get the chance again to feel some African sand in between them.
  7. Living long and enjoying life is anyone’s hope and dreams. But how? Maybe the Japanese way of ikigai (roughly translates to “your reason for living” but is more than that) could work for you. The science doesn’t lie; the ikigai-practicing residents of Okinawa have some of the highest concentration of centenarians on Earth. Ikigai intersects four elements together:  your passion, skills, how to earn a living, and what the world needs. Intrigued? Learn more about it here, or, of course, apply some Google-foo and chase it down.
  8. What an amazing time to have discovered Fresh Bits #8:  Blinkist: Weird name, amazing secret. Somewhat like a modern Cliffnotes, the service distills books into 15-minute reads or listens. There are so many non-fiction books out there I’d like to get the meat more quickly. Too often these authors spend, IMHO, way too much time name-dropping and countless stories selling the “why” of their topic. Blinkist is surprisingly deep across many topics (it’s not all business and self-help books). I’ve found their distillations to be on point with excellent, professionally recorded “blinks” as they’re called. And if you’re wondering, the answer is no:  this is not an affiliate link, just a happy user.
  9. What I’m reading this week: Escaping in a little medieval magic, murder, and mayhem at the moment (who couldn’t use a little of that?) via the late Dave Duncan’s Ironfoot, book 1 of his Enchanter General series. As usual, I stumbled onto this series by reading the last one (#3) before realizing how good it was and then subsequently ran down books #1 and #2.
  10. What I’m watching this week: Can’t seem to stop following Sir Tony Robinson through his various TV series. Found this one on Amazon Prime Video that should last me a good bit:  Walking Through History. Combine history with gorgeous British Isles natural scenery, local characters, a walking show, and Tony’s affable personality and it’s an enthralling series.
  11. What I’m listening to this week: I got SiriusXM with my new Subaru last fall and loved it, especially the Spa channel (think of the music you usually listen to when you’re getting a massage…ummm…another unfair victim of social distancing). Anyway, when I subscribed after the free trial, I also added the iPhone app. Realizing I was missing this channel since driving is a one-one-day-every-10-days 15-minute moment now, I remembered the app, and yup, it’s what I have on most of the time now, especially while creating.

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