Taking a Break From Reality

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says “May you live in Interesting times.” Well as my Mom used to say, “Be careful what you wish for.” These times are indeed interesting and stressful and unprecedented and downright mind blowing. Getting away from it all is not as easy as it used to be. Depending on which part of the country you are in, even hitting the beach for a long weekend is laden with restrictions and roadblocks. Will I have to quarantine when I return? How widespread is the virus? Are people there wearing masks and social distancing? Is there outdoor dining? The list of questions seems endless. And fear of the unknown is prompting a lot of people to just opt for a “staycation.” If you’re one of those people staying put this weekend VM's editors have a few features which will let you “forget about life for awhile” as the Piano Man Billy Joel likes to sing. So sit back, relax and enjoy a few features from our Today's Read vault.

8 Things (Some Free) to Keep You Distracted From Thinking About That Other Thing

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NEW YORK—Good morning. It’s Saturday, in case you’ve lost track. The start of the weekend and time to take a break and relax. Yes, in fact, it might be a good day to get out and ….. oh, wait. We’re not doing that now. If you’re in New York, New Jersey, New Orleans or many other places around the nation, what you need is a distraction—a fun and tranquil diversion—to get you through the weekend. So here are eight things that we believe will carry you through the weekend and take your mind off that other stuff going on out there. At least it’s a start on what to talk about on your next Zoom happy hour. Read More

Creating a Pandemic Playlist

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Since the pandemic began, my VM colleagues have written some terrific and timely Today’s Read pieces aimed at helping readers get through these strange and frightening times. Gwen Plummer wrote how to stay sane during a crisis. Mark Tosh chimed in with suggestions for taking our minds off “that other thing.” Mary Kane share her observations, as well as reports from readers, about our WFH (Work From Home) experiences. As I prepared for my turn to take over this space, I realized what tough acts these are to follow. As I searched for a fresh angle on the COVID-19 crisis, I hit on the idea of curating a Pandemic Playlist, which seemed to offer creative possibilities. Read More

What Are You Reading? The Optical Community Has a Stack of Recommendations to Consider

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NEW YORK—Many of us set out with ambitious summer reading lists, but then reality sets in and we end August with the same stack of books on the nightstand that piled up there on Memorial Day weekend. Well, this summer may turn out to be—unfortunately—the summer when a new reality sets in and that stack of books we want to read isn’t quite high enough. Or only half high enough. Well, it’s still early in July and there’s always hope that things take a turn for the better, finally, in 2020. In the meantime, there are plenty of good books out there to help wile away the time. Here’s a look at what our colleagues are reading this summer, and it’s certainly a list that has a little bit of everything for everyone. Read More

Listen Up, Tune In and Chill Out: People Turn to Podcasts for News and Information

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NEW YORK—Echoing an old line, it seems to be the best of times, and the worst of times, for podcasts and podcasters. Yes, most people have a lot more time on their hands and are looking for new forms of entertainment. But, on the other hand, commuting to work is way down. The train or bus routes that had been one of the places podcasting flourished have almost ceased to exist. The bottom line is that the podcast sector is a bit of an unknown right now as the U.S. market closes in on two months of work-from-home and a shelter-in-place mentality. One thing seems certain, though: news podcasts, including those focusing on COVID-19 developments, are among the most popular subjects among listeners. Read More