This week's staff picks
Every week, the ASBMB staff shares what we’ve been reading, listening to, watching and doing. As we all weather the COVID-19 pandemic and our new normal of social distancing, we look for ways to cope and connect — and a bit of entertainment to take our minds elsewhere.
This documentary starts with director and amateur cyclist Bryan Fogel deciding to start doping to prove that current testing is insufficient and lands on the doping scandal that led to about 100 Russian athletes being banned from the 2016 Olympics. It was interesting to think about the chemistry/biology of doping tests, the challenges of dealing with drugs in sports, and the political webs that lead to unexpected decisions. I am still wondering about many aspects of this crazy story a week later. Highly recommend!
— Catherine Goodman, JBC scientific editor
I love coffee. I’d put an exclamation point at the end of that, but it wouldn’t convey the right tone. It’s too serious of a statement. Coffee is one of my most favorite of all things. During the pandemic, making coffee has become an anchor in my day. Mayorga Organics and Vigilante Coffee Company are wonderful and offer delivery. Here are my recommendations!
- Mayorga: Nicaragua Río Coco & Decaf Honduras Capucas
- Vigilante: Colombia La Caturrita Decaf, Ethiopia Half Caff & Tin Lizzie Espresso Blend
— Ally Frick, multimedia and social media content manager
I am a member of every sewing Facebook group I can find, and this week I stumbled on a post about Palmer/Pletsch. After doing some research, I discovered that, since 1973, Palmer/Pletsch has published the go-to sewing books for clothing construction and tailoring tips and tricks. All the designers rave about their instruction. Workshops are offered online and in-person.
— Laurie Reluzco, meeting planner
The Game Changers (Netflix)
It’s an award-winning documentary about the benefits of a plant-based diet on sports performance, recovery from injury and overall health. There are many clips on YouTube criticizing the film and many others fact-checking and debunking the critiques, so it is definitively controversial and thought-provoking. Personally, I have experimented with different nutritional styles and, although not officially a vegetarian or a vegan, I naturally lean toward plant-based foods. So, all in all, I enjoyed watching it and would recommend (and there are links to some yummy recipes).
— Quira Zeidan, education and public outreach coordinator
'Landscape of fear': what a mass of rotting reindeer carcasses taught scientists (Phoebe Watson/The Guardian)
What happens when 323 reindeer get killed by a freak lightning event and you just let them decay in place? Four years ago, a remote Norwegian park decided to find out and has since allowed the carcasses to decompose to observe the ecosystem effects of a mass die-off — something that will only increase, everywhere, in a plenitude of organisms, as ecosystems are thrown into chaos by climate change. It turns out that human inactivity let the “landscape of fear” — so-named for the way small mammals avoided the area as it bustled with large predatory birds — experience a boom in biodiversity.
— John Arnst, science writer
Post office delivery trucks keep catching on fire (Aaron Gordon, VICE)
Back when the COVID-19 lockdown began, I hauled out the sewing machine my mother gave me two decades ago. I’d used it only a few times, and it still had its original needle. My lack of practice showed when I started making masks from tea towels, which according to the only literature available at the time was the safest fabric choice. Soon I had a couple of dozen brightly colored but misshapen masks, and I needed to pawn them off on people without actually coming into contact with them. Having never mailed a package from my home in the decade that I’ve lived here, I did some Googling about how to do it and ended up setting up a Stamps.com account, putting a bunch of postage on it, and ordering free shipping boxes and envelopes from the U.S. Postal Service. Once all my supplies came in, I shipped off masks to poor unsuspecting friends. Anyway, this is a long way of getting to my pick, which is about how those iconic mail trucks — you know, the ones with the driver on the right side — are so ancient that they’re catching on fire all the time. Check out these incredible pictures of mail trucks burnt to a crisp, and support the USPS!
— Angela Hopp, communications director and executive editor of ASBMB Today
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René Fuanta, a second-year assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, tries to support his students through a semester of unexpected challenges.