Category Archives: Just for Fun

Ten for Tuesday


1. Liz Climo is an illustrator on the Simpsons, and her cartoons are simply darling:

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.27.04 AM Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.27.10 AM


2. Bees Are Awesome. This swarm apparently followed a car for two days to try and rescue its queen trapped inside.


3. The Secret Student Group that Stood Up to the Nazis:

On this day, 74 years ago, three young adults placed their heads beneath a guillotine and prepared to die. Their crime? Speaking out against the Nazis with graffiti and hand-printed pamphlets. Their names? Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. It was a violent end to a peaceful student movement known as the White Rose—one that used the power of language to resist the horrors of the Nazi regime.

#resist #neveragain


4. This dude caught a baseball bat as it helicoptered toward him:

In related news, Luis Guillorme is Batman.


5. Smithsonian Magazine is having a photo contest. Peruse and vote for your favorites here. I love this firewalking one from Binh Duong:



6. Every New York Times Cover Since 1852. This quick video shows how and when images began to appear in the paper of record. It’s arresting and oddly poignant, to think about all of the news that came and went. We survived all of the things reported there. Perhaps we will survive today’s challenges too.


7. Eight Changes Made to Richard Scarry Books: to keep up with the times. Love it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.49.55 AM


8. Tilapia to the Rescue!


9. Your Weekly Wisdom from Mari Andrew’s Instagram: I’m making a habit of this.



10. The Impact of a Book

A friend posted this to Facebook, a memory from a year ago. I love this art piece by Jorge Méndez Blake.


What book has disturbed your well-ordered life?


Ten for Tuesday: Pure Unbridled Joy and Hope

I hope I’m not overpromising here. But I think there’s especially good stuff this week.

1. Jake Gyllenhaal sings “Finishing the Hat,” and does it well. (Hat tip to Michael Kirby, my source for all things musical.)


2. ‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children

Radiant. Excruciating.

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

The man is a Libyan-born Muslim man, by the way.

This is Islam.


3. Photos of Waves Crashing in Australia, by Warren Keelan and featured on Colossal.

It’s a beautiful world:


Many more at the link.


4. Mari Andrew’s Instagram feed is full of drawings conveying simple wisdom. Her recent rendering of grief is right on:

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 9.34.40 AM


5. This Dictionary Keeps Subtweeting Trump and Here’s the Full Story. This is about way more than the Trump administration’s creative (some would say sinister) use of language, and how Merriam-Webster is handling it. It’s about creating a social media presence that’s sharp and authentic. The descriptivist stuff at the end is interesting too.

As anyone who studied linguistics in college may remember, most modern dictionaries embrace what is known as a descriptivist view of language. Rather than insisting on the so-called proper usage of a word or phrase (an approach known as prescriptivism), today most lexicographers (i.e., people who work at dictionaries) study the way words are actually being used and make note accordingly. That’s how you end up with, for example, dictionary entries for “they” in the third-person singular form or “heart” as a verb.

Inherent in this descriptivist approach, then, is the notion that a dictionary is a rather passive creature, monitoring the public conversation but not injecting itself into it.

That, of course, is being somewhat challenged by Merriam-Webster having a Twitter account with such a forceful public voice.


6. Mary Oliver reads “Wild Geese.” (h/t Brain Pickings)

Make this poem your mission statement. My personal one is The Journey, but this one’s a close second.

“You do not have to be good…”

7. A Longtime Fitness Editor Does Some Soul Searching (h/t my friend Alison)

Our culture is drowning in listicles and fad approaches to nutrition. The truth is, we know what constitutes a healthy life, and the rest is commentary (and maybe even clickbaity propaganda).

In an email, Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, told me that we overcomplicate everything when it comes to health. He then pointed me to an obituary in the New York Times of Lester Breslow, a researcher who, the Times reported, “gave mathematical proof to the notion that people can live longer and healthier by changing habits like smoking, diet and sleep.” Breslow identified seven key factors to living a healthy life:

Do not smoke; drink in moderation; sleep seven to eight hours; exercise at least moderately; eat regular meals; maintain a moderate weight; eat breakfast.

The rest is commentary.


8. Book Pairings for Every Flavor of Ben and Jerry’s I’ve Ever Eaten, by Tracy Shapley on Book Riot.

Yes, I just posted a link about fitness like three seconds ago. But there’s physical health and there’s spiritual health.

I love that the list is presented without commentary, prompting me to make the connections myself.


9. How Black Books Lit My Way Along the Appalachian Trail, by Rahawa Haile.

I’m still making my way through this beautifully-written essay about books, blackness, femaleness, and hiking. But I feel confident recommending it because it was recommended by Linda Holmes on Pop Culture Happy Hour and she’s never steered me wrong.

For many, the Appalachian Trail is a footpath of numbers. There are miles to Maine. The daily chance of precipitation. Distance to the next campsite with a reliable water source. Here, people cut the handles off of toothbrushes to save grams. Eat cold meals in the summer months to shave weight by going stoveless. They whittle medicine kits down to bottles of ibuprofen. Carry two pairs of socks. One pair of underwear.

…Few nonessentials are carried on this trail, and when they are — an enormous childhood teddy bear, a father’s bulky camera — it means one thing: The weight of this item is worth considerably more than the weight of its absence.

Everyone had something out here. The love I carried was books. Exceptional books. Books by black authors, their photos often the only black faces I would talk to for weeks. These were writers who had endured more than I’d ever been asked to, whose strength gave me strength in turn.


10. “Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes. 

Behold, the only version of #MAGA I’m on board with. Excerpt:

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!


Hughes gets the last word this week.

Ten for Tuesday: Inspiration, Ponderables and Sharks

With only hours to spare!

1. My friend Ashley-Anne Masters is awesome. Loved this quote from her, and the fact that a friend of hers made it into a pillow:


Follow Ashley-Anne on Instagram here.

2. Let’s Put an End to the ‘My Childhood Was Better Than Yours’ Wars. This doesn’t fit the mold of inspiration, but could we please? Please? The world would be a better place:

And I really need my generation to get over itself. According to baby boomers, life will never be as sublime as it was when we played jacks on the sidewalk while waiting for the ice cream man to make his rounds. I guess it’s a leftover part of our general thinking circa 1968: that we knew everything then and would continue the trend.

3. In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington. Fascinating article about Ona Judge, an enslaved person in George Washington’s Mount Vernon who successfully escaped, and how the Mt. Vernon museum tries to honor her story.

4. Meet Joshua Johnson, Diane Rehm’s Replacement on NPR. I really love his show 1A and find it one of the smarter and more decent programs out there:


5. This slow-motion capture of a goblin shark eating its prey is like a real-life food-chain lava lamp.

6. Your obligatory improv link: Math teacher uses improv skills in the classroom.

7. Peter Horton: The First Time I Died on TV. I was an unabashed thirtysomething fangirl and was devastated when they killed off Gary. This was a nice trip down memory lane.

8. Parkour fascinates me, even though I suspect I would break all of the bones if I tried it. But I found this patiently-written article about how to walk on hand rails oddly poetic and soothing.

9. As I wait for edits of Improvising with God to come back from my editor at Eerdmans, this was a helpful reality check about the folly of the work I do.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 9.22.33 AM

Posted by my friend Meghan Florian. Follow her on Instagram.

10. My team, We Run for Planned Parenthood, has raised more than $3200 for quality health care for women! Read more about why I support PP here. Help us reach our $5000 goal here. y

Ten for Tuesday: Concerned Citizen Edition

Last week’s Tuesday Ten was lighter than this one. Feel free to peruse it again if that’s what you need.

If you need some inspiration mingled with motivation to get your butt in gear, today’s post is for you.


1. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965: I just picked up this six-part documentary about the civil rights movement and can’t wait to watch it again. My 11th-grade AP government teacher arranged a viewing of this series after school, and he felt it was so important that anyone who watched the whole thing would get two points on their entire semester grade. I showed up for the grade. I stayed because it was riveting and heartbreaking and convicting.


2. Four Ways to Withstand Chaos in 2017 and Beyond, via the Improvised Life website. I’ll save you a click and say they are gardening, letter-writing, conversations and music. But the post also quotes Seth Godin’s “more-less” list, which is worth checking out. Write your own!


3. “Home” by Warsan Shire. This poem has been shared widely during the Syrian refugee crisis:

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land

Those lines are probably the most famous, but read the whole thing. Poetry, like all good art, builds empathy.


4. Mohsen Omrani’s tweet-thread about a woman who helped him during the incredible chaos that unfolded during last Friday’s travel ban.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 9.24.10 AM

Click the link for more.

Be like Barbara.


5. When Muslims Got Blocked at American Airports, US Veterans Rushed to Help.

“This is not what we fought for, having been in Iraq and working with these interpreters,” Buchalter said in a phone interview Sunday. When he saw an Iraqi family emerge from detention, he presented them with something he hoped would convey America’s goodwill — a Purple Heart.

The best of who we are.


6. “First They Came”: The Poem of the Protests. A lovely article about the Rev. Martin Niemoller and his poem that launched a thousand protest signs. There are many versions of the poem, which speaks to its power, but this one is displayed in the Holocaust Museum here in DC:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

[The words] quickly became popular, from there, as a lyrical argument for civil rights and collective action—and, more broadly, for simple empathy. The quote was that rarest of things: a political argument grounded in religious tradition.

In 1933, Niemöller [said], he and his fellow clergy members included in the founding documents of the Pfarrernotbund the idea that any action made against a minister of Jewish heritage would be considered an action against the collective. As he put it: “That was probably the first anti-antisemitic pronouncement coming from the Protestant Church.”

7. Life Lessons You Can Learn from Improv. This isn’t related to politics at all, but improv is and will be a powerful tool for navigating an uncertain and quickly-changing landscape.


8. A Shy Person’s Guide to Calling Representatives. Very helpful for those of us who hate the phone.

Bonus link: How to call your reps when you have social anxiety. And this one’s illustrated!

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 9.55.49 AM


9. Breathe: A Poem by Unitarian Minister Lynn Unger. This poem kicked off a conference call for faith leaders I attended last week. I don’t want to excerpt it, so click and read the whole thing.


10. 105 Oddball Holidays to Celebrate with Kids (or Anyone). Because life is still beautiful and joy is subversive:


P.S. Our team’s fundraiser for Planned Parenthood is going strong and we’d love your support. Learn more here.


Ten for Tuesday: Beauty, Inspiration and Popcorn

We’re keeping it mostly light this week:

1. A popcorn kernel popping at 30,000 frames per second. Watch it bloom:


2. Productivity in Terrible Times. OK, not everyone who reads this blog is dismayed by the state of the world. But for those of you who are, how can you possibly care about completing your TPS reports amid the spread of crypto-fascism? Good advice here. [Language warning.]

It is not a good idea for you to resign from stable work that supports your family and community because you’re no longer satisfied by SQL queries. The Trevor Project needs your donation more than they need a JS developer proficient in easing animation.


3. The Moana soundtrack. The kids and I have this on high rotation lately. We’re all going to be OK, because Lin-Manuel Miranda.


4. This wisdom from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez:

“Nothing ever goes according to plan. When I hear new filmmakers talk, they [complain] about their film. “Nothing worked, it was a disappointment.” They don’t realize: that’s the job. The job is that nothing is going to work at all, and you have to turn that into a positive, and get something much better than if you had all the time and money in the world.”

Improv, people.


5. The March. Still basking in 3 million people coming together in peace, good humor and defiance on all seven continents:

Demonstrators protest against U.S. President Donald Trump during the Women's March inside Karura forest in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya           NYTCREDIT: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Demonstrators protest against U.S. President Donald Trump during the Women’s March inside Karura forest in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
NYTCREDIT: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters


6. Deeper reading. I wrote the other week about setting up some systems and tools to allow me to read more deeply and without online distraction. I’m happy to say it’s going well. Go to my Goodreads if you’re interested in what I’m reading right now.


7. Miniature dioramas by Tatsuya Tanaka. A favorite:

Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 10.01.22 AM


8. It’s still a beautiful world:

Russia, Siberia, Lake Baikal

Russia, Siberia, Lake Baikal

By the way, this image by Kristina Makeeva and the diorama both came to me via the Bored Panda instagram feed. Definitely worth following.


9. Kitty! We adopted a kitten six days ago, to fill out our household and give Baxter a friend since his brother died four weeks ago of a heart defect. Rey is ten weeks old and just as fearless as her namesake in The Force Awakens. She’s also jet black:


We’ve been introducing the two cats to one another slowly, and it’s been going well. Rey hisses a little, and Baxter gives her a wide berth when she seems nervous. Last night Robert and I were overjoyed to see the two cats playing together! Stalking, chasing, batting at toys together. It’s the happiest we’ve seen Baxter in weeks.


10. The Oscar nominations have been announced! How many of the Best Picture nominees have you seen? For the second year, I’ll be joining my mother for the Best Picture marathon at the AMC in Georgetown. Nine movies in 24 hours. It’s insane and awesome. I’ve only seen one of the nine, Arrival, and am happy to see it again.

From the film Moonlight, which is the one I'm most excited to see, followed by Hidden Figures and Lion.

From the film Moonlight, which is the one I’m most excited to see, followed by Hidden Figures and Lion.

What’s on your list today?