Vaccinations, Mysteries of Science, Vanilla IcePublished Sunday, 28th March, 2021
Spring reminds me of optimism – everything's coming back to life after a period of downtime – and around work and writing, I've been doing a lot of reflection on where we've all come from since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak last year.
As I mentioned months ago, I've been learning more about astronomy this year, namely the moon and the cycles of time it goes through. I find comfort in the idea that no matter how bad your present is, you're never far away from a new cycle of time: 29.5 days in the case of the moon. Native Americans call this last full moon of winter the Worm Moon after the worm trails that would appear in the newly thawed ground.
A syringe symbolises the end of the pandemic and the slow-at-first-then-all-at-once return to some kind of normal. Newly thawed ground. With so much talk of the vaccine being a literal passport, I hope both you and I are able to get our hands (arms) on one soon and then the 'See you soon!' I type at the end of every newsletter might begin to have some truth to it...
Here's what else I've been doing this month:
I don't believe in guilty pleasures so have no problem telling you that I fell back into Canadian band Marianas Trench earlier this month. Astoria, the title track from the album of the same name, is really good. Featuring Bohemian Rhapsody guitars, Bowie-inspired vocals, an R&B breakdown, and even some barbershop, the six-minute Jesus of Suburbia kicks off an album that continues in the same vein, co-opting Jackson 5 hooks and more.
I wrote about Apple's HomePod Mini in my last email and have since put one in every room I can. Like all smartspeakers, it depends too much on TuneIn so I find launching some radio stations – particularly BBC ones – troublesome. When it fails, I just listen to something else. As somebody that works in the radio industry, that deeply worries me. As a consumer, I couldn't give less of a shit.
In the world of podcasts, Stuck at Home, the daily lockdown podcast for kids began one year ago. It blossomed into Activity Quest – the weekly activity programme. Both have been submitted to the British Podcast Awards in a range of categories, so I've got my fingers crossed there. I've also been working on something new with The Week Junior team called Mysteries of Science. The first episode comes out on April 1st (no, it's not a joke) and is all about the Loch Ness Monster. Follow the podcast right now so you don't miss that when it lands.
I love listening to audiobooks and was surprised to find you can't buy packets of Audible credits. Instead, you sign up for 'two books a month for a year' and they bill you £110 for 24 credits. ~£4.50 for any book you like is great! It's unclear whether when those are spent you're able to buy more.
I've been reading (listening to) A World Without Email this month by Cal Newport. I am not somebody that believes every waking moment of their life has to a mission in productivity but Cal's tips have proved remarkably useful.
Tools that I've been using, both Cal-recommended and non, include:
- Focus for YouTube, which blocks everything other than the video, from recommendations to comments, the subscribe button and even the homepage.
- Notion, a database for everything. I particularly love the taskboard view.
- Calendly, which allows me to schedule calls without the annoying back-and-forth email exchange.
- HEY for Work, which I've mentioned far too many times already. This'll be the last, promise.
Queued up to read (listen to) this month, I've got: Around The World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and Why We Get The Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman. If you've got any recommendations, tap reply to this email and let me know!
Bad Movie Club with friends Jack and Jess continues on Discord every Friday night. This month we've watched National Treasure 2 (6.5/10 on IMDb), The Kissing Booth (6/10) and its sequel (5.8), Fateful Findings (4.7) which is reminiscent of The Room (3.7), and Cool As Ice (2.9) staring Vanilla Ice. I know the format of this newsletter is recommendations but these are more just FYI.
Less bad things I've watched this month include Snowpiercer which is still streaming weekly on Netflix – a double-bill to end its second season expected Tuesday – and the very bingeable Calls on Apple TV+. Holy shit, you have to watch Calls. Please!