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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 5/12/20

Good morning!



As the country and the world face difficult challenges and choices in the coming weeks and months, it is hard not to turn the clock back to the beginning of March, when we were in collective denial and were being lied to by our government about this virus, our preparedness, and the implications of this crisis. Regardless of one’s politics, I think it is generally accepted (even by his supporters, who have rationalized his behaviors in the past) that we are governed by a person unconcerned with truth. I find this Jonathan Swift quote particularly apt for times when those not telling the truth can sway opinion and endanger us all, including anti-vaxxers, conspiratorial theorists, and our national leadership:

“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men who come to be undeceived, it is too late.”

In the current moment, we are too late to avert the crisis; perhaps we are not too late to minimize its effects. Let us all be vigilant, so as not be deceived again.


PUZZLING AWAY THE HOURS We’ve all been finding new interests and pass times. I’ve started to do Jigsaw puzzles. I haven’t been interested in them since I was a kid. But as the days march on and I talk to friends about their interests, I find that many are doing jigsaw puzzles (see the above completed puzzle), typically of the 1000 piece variety. And while many of them have discovered puzzles through a surfeit of spare time, it turns out some were doing this even before COVID. What started out as a casual pursuit with Lauren, doing a puzzle that was given as a gift, now involves having two active puzzles—one in the living room and one outside (see above for a recently completed challenge), with other puzzles on deck. If I don’t “get a grip,” I may cover every surface in the house with a puzzle! There are a surprising number of reasons why puzzles may be the pastime of the moment: • First, just like any type of puzzle, it is a challenge that is fun to struggle with and complete • Unlike the pandemic, it has a defined end. Which of us doesn’t appreciate goals that can be completed within a relatively defined period of time? • It occupies the brain. Much like working in the kitchen or needlepoint (a hobby of Andrea’s), puzzling “clears the mind.” I find that, while I’m doing a puzzle, I’m singularly focused, pushing out the worries cluttering my mind and experiencing a holiday from stress • It is a good break from reading, which requires more concentration and analytical power. And it’s a great break from TV, which is always a good thing.



One would think that making jigsaw puzzles can’t be that difficult. But think about it—every one of the 1,000 pieces has to be different from all the others. They must be transferred from a design onto cardboard and cut with precision. Anyway, it’s tougher than one would think. The interest marked increase in jigsaw puzzle demand sparked an article in the New York Times about how Jigsaw puzzles are made: Here’s How Those Hot Jigsaw Puzzles Are Made:

Ellen DeGeneres is a puzzle aficionado and has posted about her 4,000 piece puzzle (yikes!) on Instagram:



Finally, I received last week an email from Catherine Quinlan, the truly remarkable and creative Dean of Libraries at USC, an email containing a link to a Jigsaw puzzle page created by the USC Libraries. It can be reached here: Jigsaw puzzle page. The puzzle page allows the user to solve jigsaw puzzles of images from the University’s collections. A featured puzzle is the Carolina Parakeets puzzle from John James Audubon's Birds of America. A great feature is that you can choose the number of pieces (depending upon your ability, interest and attention span!) and drag puzzle pieces around on your laptop to solve the puzzle.



Thanks, Jessie Kornberg, for reminding us of the quirky, New York genius of Fran Lebowitz:



From my cousin, Chris Cook, the prize-winning Tuba Skinny, performing When the Saints Come Marching In”:

Have a productive day,


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