Tag Archives: nytimes

Is the weekend dead?

You might think so if you read this piece in the New York Times.

It has definitely changed, just like so much has changed during the pandemic. I predict the weekend will come back in time. Meanwhile, consider ways to make you day / days different enough so that it doesn’t just feel like one big endless day. It will take some creativity, but it’s worth it.

Your weekend is coming up: find ways to make those days stand out from the others.

Gardening as a form of mental wellness

Gardening is a tricky hobby. I’ve always associated it with older people. Which makes some sense: if you go to a gardening center in spring, it will be packed mainly with old folks. This is a bad prejudice to have. As this article by Samin Nosrat showed me, gardening can be a great activity to help with one’s mental wellness.

She starts:

Last winter I suffered a devastating bout of depression. Unable to do much else, I took to the neglected beds of the vegetable garden I share with my neighbors. Weeding and composting for hours a day, I was regenerating both the soil and something deep in myself. It felt so crucial to my well-being that sometimes I wore a headlamp to extend my work time past the waning daylight.

It’s worthwhile reading the entire article. She makes a great case for the goodness that gardening can do for you. After you finish it, you may want to rush out to a garden center and get started on your own garden and improved mental health.

(Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash)

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Some thoughts on the New York Times and how it is becoming a behemoth

I had some thoughts on the New York Times after reading this: It is possible to compete with the New York Times. Here’s how. – Columbia Journalism Review

In some ways, it confirms what I have long thought: the goal for some newspapers is not to be a regional or even national newspaper anymore: the goal now is  to be a global one. The Daily Mail in the UK recognized that long ago. I know little of what they publish in the UK, I just know that they seem to be able to get a lot of people to read their online articles. In other words, they write locally but think globally. The same with the Guardian. And now I think the same is true for the Times.

The Times, according to the article, knows that most people are only going to subscribe to one paper. They want that paper to be the Times. And they seem to be winning this battle so far. Other papers might depend on click throughs, and no doubt the Times does too, but they also want to ensure that they have the one subscription you or your household pays for.

In some ways, the Times reminds me of a software company. They want to be the one platform you depend on and use every day.  The way Facebook or Google or Amazon or Microsoft want to be the sole platform you use for information or social media or other essential IT.

I think there are ways to compete with the Times, just like there are ways to compete against those other behemoths. You can be a niche competitor. You can provide a deeper and richer experience tailored for a specific audience.  You can be more nimble than they are. You can move to the future markets faster than they can.

None of these things are easy. But they are not impossible.

If you are in the news business, you need to learn how to compete with the New York Times. Because the Times is not going away and it is not getting smaller any time soon.

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On my odd fascination with minimalism

I am oddly fascinated by minimalism. It appeals to me, though I could never adopt it. Visually I like the look of minimalist places (like the one pictured above, from this piece, Goodbye things, hello minimalism: can living with less make you happier? | Books | The Guardian). But then I know I am terrible and I would be hanging pictures and adding furniture in no time.

I suspect the simplicity of it appeals to me too. So much less to manage. But then I would get bored of wearing the same clothes, like this:

Likewise, a kitchen with this many things in a drawer seems great. No clutter, no struggling to find things, or manage things

But then I think that a kitchen is a workshop and like any good workshop, you need supplies and tools to be effective.

So when I read pieces like this, about Japanese hardcore minimalist, it lures me in to thinking about it for awhile. Then that dream fades.

I am not as anti-minimalist as the author of this piece. But I think they raise some excellent points. Then again I have read the book Goodbye Things and thought it worthwhile.

I suspect that my odd fascinating with minimalism will live on for some time.

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COVID comes for the French Wine Industry


And the result, if you are a fan of French wines, is tragic: Of Wine, Hand Sanitizer and Heartbreak – The New York Times.

You can read it straight up, but it’s worth pondering what it tells us about our values right now, and what they were before. Times are tough in the pandemic era, for winemakers in particular as well as all of us in general.

(Image thanks to Sven Wilhelm).

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On the passing of filmmaker Alan Parker

Alan Parker just died. If you grew up in the last quarter of the 20th century, odds are very good you’ve seen one of his films, if not several. You may not even realized you did. He wasn’t a fan of the auteur idea of being a director, and that likely resulted in him not making films in a consistent way. Which is fine, since he made many a good film. The New York Times has done a wonderful thing and put together a list of some of his most well known films and where you can watch them online: Where to Stream Alan Parker’s Best Movies – The New York Times.

If you haven’t seen any of his films, now is your chance. Grab that list and go stream. I may rewatch “The Commitments”, one of the more enjoyable films from that time.

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Brush up on philosophical ideas at The Stone

Keeping up with contemporary philosophy can be difficult for people who are not dedicated to it. Which is why I am happy to share news about The Stone over at the New York Times. As they describe it:

(The Stone is) A forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. The series moderator is Simon Critchley, who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research.

I read a number of good essays there. The ideas can be challenging, but the language used is not. Well worth checking out.

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If your house is in shambles, you’re not alone


If your house is a bit of a mess right now, don’t beat yourself up. As this article showed me, it’s a pretty common problem: My House Has Not Kept Up With the Pandemic in The New York Times.

Now what you do about it is up to you. If you are fine with the mess, then fine. But if you are like me and the mess is getting to you after awhile, I recommend you start setting up a schedule to tackle it. Even bits at a time, starting with an area you can manage. You may find (like I did) that after you clean and tidy a bit, you feel better. Sure, no one may be visiting, but you’ll feel better, and that’s important too

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Sweden: how not to deal with a pandemic

It’s not good to be too confident with making pandemic assessment, but the evidence is that Sweden has failed in their approach to dealing with it. According to this, via Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale – The New York Times:

This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.

“They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

The experiment was Lose-Lose: they suffered more deaths and their economy is worse off.

There is much to be learned from what happened in the Nordic countries. We are learning at the expense of the Swedish people. Read the article for more details.

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Invisible cities: the eruv of Manhattan

What’s the eruv of Manhattan? Well according to the article below:

The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one’s own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath—and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law.

Here’s a map of it:

You might think that it is hard to believe such a thing could last for long, but as this piece shows, it is diligently maintained.

I found this fascinating. There’s many interesting aspects of New York, but this is one of the better ones. For more on this, read: There’s a Wire Above Manhattan That You’ve Probably Never Noticed

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For the few (I hope) young people who think they have nothing to fear from COVID-19

I recommend you read this: ‘Feeling Like Death’: Inside a Houston Hospital Bracing for a Virus Peak – The New York Times.

Sure, your survival rates may be higher than someone much older than you. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t suffer intensively and be weakened for much longer in the future.

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On Reddit finally getting its act together

Glad to see Reddit is finally getting it’s act together:
Reddit, Acting Against Hate Speech, Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit – The New York Times.

Reading the story, you can see how extremely slow Reddit has been to deal with this. And even before they shut down this part of their site, they gave it ample warning:

… the company’s executives have struggled in particular with how to handle “The_Donald” and its noxious content. Reddit said people in “The_Donald” consistently posted racist and vulgar messages that incited harassment and targeted people of different religious and ethnic groups on and off its site.

“The_Donald” has also heavily trafficked in conspiracy theories, including spreading the debunked “PizzaGate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton and top Democrats were falsely accused of running a child sex-trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington.

Reddit said that as of Monday, it was introducing eight rules that laid out the terms that users must abide. Those include prohibiting targeted harassment, revealing the identities of others, posting sexually exploitative content related to underage children, or trafficking in illegal substances or other illicit transactions.

While the site had already banned many of these behaviors, the latest changes take a harder line on speech that “promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability.”

Mr. Huffman said users on “The_Donald” had frequently violated its first updated rule: “Remember the human.” He said he and others at Reddit repeatedly tried to reason with moderators of “The_Donald,” who run the subreddit on a volunteer basis, to no avail. Banning the forum was a last-ditch effort to contain harassment, he said.

“We’ve given them many opportunities to be successful,” Mr. Huffman said. “The message is clear that they have no intention of working with us.”

I mean, the rules (highlighted in bold) were what they had to follow. And they couldn’t. Meanwhile you have Glenn Greenwald tweeting this blanket statement:

Why trust Silicon Valley? Well, for once, they seem to be waking up to the problem they’ve been having. I trust them more now than I have for decades. For too long Reddit has hosted some of the worst parts of the Internet. Glad to see they’ve decided to flush it. Let it crawl off to the chan sites of the world.

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How to be more resilient? Emulate resilient people

To be more resilient, be more like resilient people. And what makes them resilient? According to this: What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others – The New York Times resilient people have the following qualities:

They have a positive, realistic outlook. They don’t dwell on negative information and instead look for opportunities in bleak situations, striving to find the positive within the negative.

They have a moral compass. Highly resilient people have a solid sense of what they consider right and wrong, and it tends to guide their decisions.

They have a belief in something greater than themselves. This is often found through religious or spiritual practices. The community support that comes from being part of a religion also enhances resilience.

They are altruistic; they have a concern for others and a degree of selflessness. They are often dedicated to causes they find meaningful and that give them a sense of purpose.

They accept what they cannot change and focus energy on what they can change. Dr. Southwick says resilient people reappraise a difficult situation and look for meaningful opportunities within it.

They have a mission, a meaning, a purpose. Feeling committed to a meaningful mission in life gives them courage and strength.

They have a social support system, and they support others. “Very few resilient people,” said Dr. Southwick, “go it alone.”

If you want to be more resilient, try and adopt those qualities.

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How to think better about regrets

Can be found here: How to Have Fewer Regrets – The New York Times

People will say they have few or no regrets. I wonder how challenged they were in life to be that way. Chances are you have more than a few regrets. That’s ok. Read the piece and things better about that.

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How to get more cooperation from your kids regarding chores and morning activities

For people struggling with their kids while they work from home, this piece from The New York Times in 2018 might help. I think a lot depends on the personality of the child, but for some of you, it just might be the thing you need. In a nutshell, they did this:

We devised a personalized morning checklist for each child — with their input. And we created a breakfast menu and a lunch menu, just like the ones they give you in hotels. We’re talking the works here. For breakfast the children can have cereal, muffins, eggs however they want, smoothies. You name it! And the lunch menu is equally expansive. Each night the kids complete their menus for the next day’s breakfast and lunch.

Do you need last minute gift ideas?

Then you need this article in the New York Times:

www.nytimes.com/2019/12/18/smarter-living/last-minute-gift-ideas.html

It has a wide range of gift ideas but more importantly, it will help you better think about what to get someone.

Don’t panic, you still have time!

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The iPod Touch lives!


And as someone who is a fan of it since a long time, I was glad to hear about it here:  There’s a New iPod Touch. Yes, in 2019, and Yes, It’s Worth Looking at. – The New York Times

Back in the day when Blackberries were the rage and I needed one for work, the iPod Touch was my way of tapping into the world of Apple. Today if I had to use Android for whatever reason, I’d be inclined to get a Touch again, just so I could do things the Apple way. It’s a great device still, and if you read the article, you’ll see it is not obsolete.

Now if Apple would only bring back the Nano! 🙂

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The challenges of taxing the wealthy

Is outlined here: Taxing the Wealthy Sounds Easy. It’s Not. – The New York Times.

It’s worth a read. It’s thoughtful, even if you may not agree with it. Also, just because something is not easy does not mean do not attempt it.

Taxing drives behaviour. My thought is drive behaviour in the right direction.  Tell affluent people to use their wealth in directed ways that improve our society or tax them so that it can be done. If they disagree, then it is time to make explicit the social contracts in place and ask what has to be changed to make for a better society. Because for most societies in the world, including Canada’s, the social contract can be a lot better.

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Secure Your Digital Life – a relatively pain free guide from the New York Times


I highly highly recommend this: NYT Programs – Secure Your Digital Life in 7 (Easy) Days

You can never do enough to security your information technology, but the more you do, the better off you are.

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How Toronto looks from the City of Buffalo

Torontoians will find this interesting: Toronto’s astonishing growth: Will it matter to Buffalo? – The Buffalo News.

This was a key passage:

For Buffalo, the question now is whether Toronto’s “reimagining” might seep south of the border, as well. Smaller cities in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe are booming, too, thanks in part to Toronto’s spillover. And Toronto and Buffalo, incorporated two years and 100 miles apart, kept pace with each other until the 1950s, said the University of Toronto’s Bourne, who used to assign a project comparing the cities’ trajectories to his undergraduate students.

That history is interesting, Bourne said, because while Buffalo and Toronto share important characteristics, they suffered opposite fates: Buffalo shrinking with the sunset of the Erie Canal and Rust Belt manufacturing, and Toronto swelling when the Quebec separatist movement made it the favored home for Canada’s banks.

As late as the 1970s, Torontonians considered Buffalo a nightlife destination. Many of their restaurants still closed on Sundays and maintained separate male and female entrances.

Torontonians “would come to shop, they would come for jazz – Buffalo was the hive,” said UB’s Foster, who lived in Toronto for more than three decades. “But then people started going the other way, and that hasn’t changed.”

Years ago going to Buffalo for shopping was still a thing in Toronto: not sure it is now. Perhaps some people still go to watch the Buffalo Sabers play hockey. Perhaps the linkages between the two cities will become stronger over time and there will be a good proportion of Torontoians making Buffalo a destination again.

For Torontoians considering going to Buffalo, I recommend this piece in the New York Times.

(Image linked to the New York Times piece)

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How to Harness Your Anxiety


Easier said than done, I know. But worth addressing. And not impossible. Good luck! Anxiety may seem like a tiger, but it can also be a horse: you can get a grip on it, break it, and use it to your advantage even.

How to Harness Your Anxiety – The New York Times

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The World’s Fastest Senior


This is a remarkable story of literally The World’s Fastest (Old) Man, via The New York Times.

It’s almost inconceivable someone in their 70s can be that fast, let alone setting records. Well worth reading for inspiration.

(Photo link: CreditKristian Thacker for The New York Times)

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The U.S. Supreme Court is not what you think


There was much concern from progressives when Gorsuch and then Kavanaugh joined the U.S. Supreme Court. It was believed by myself and others that the court was going to vote 5-4 in lock step on every option, with the 5 conservative judges routinely beating the four liberal ones.

If you are progressive, it is still a concern. But as these two pieces show, the Supremes vote more independently than you or I might think:

  1. The Supreme Court’s Biggest Decisions in 2019 – The New York Times
  2. The Supreme Court Might Have Three Swing Justices Now | FiveThirtyEight

This is not to say it is entire unpredictable how they will vote on matters before them. The liberal and conservative labels are convenient and often useful, but there’s much more to consider than just that when trying to determine how they will vote. Read the two pieces and see if they change your mind.

(Photo by Claire Anderson via unsplash.com)

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A different way to see Paris

Not for everyone visiting Paris, but if you want to see Paris in a way untypical of most visitors, consider this: Paris on Foot: 35 Miles, 6 Days and One Blistered Toe – The New York Times

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The Restaurant That Has Helped New Yorkers Feel Famous Since 1984 and other links to NYC


For fans of NY back when, or people just curious about a very different New York then the current one, here’s a bunch of links worth reading:

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Congrats! You have a day off! What should you do?


Well, there’s a lot of options, if you go through this list: What to Do With a Day Off – The New York Times. My take is you can either tackle those things you have been putting off (hello! Finances!) or you can literally vacate your normal life and take it easy. Either is good. Better yet: consider being productive this time off and extra lazy the next time.

Enjoy your day. You deserve it.

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A gentle program to get you out of your rut in 30 days

A gentle program to get you out of your rut in 30 days can be found here: NYT Programs – 30-Day Well Challenge.

Recommended especially for people who are a) in a rut b) overwhelmed with other things to do.

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Why Play a Music CD? Lots of reasons….


I really liked a recent article about Ben Sisario, the New York Times reporter who covers the music industry. He is talking about what he uses to listen to music, and this quote jumped out at me, especially the part I put in bold.

(I) try to keep an eye on all the major platforms out there, which means regularly poking around on about a dozen apps. My go-to sources are Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud, which has excellent D.J.-style mixes and to me feels more human than most.

At home I have a Sonos Play:5 speaker, which plays streaming music and podcasts, and is a piece of cake to use. I also have Google Chromecast Audio, a little plug-in device (now discontinued) that allows me to send high-fidelity streams to my stereo. It sounds better that way, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as the Sonos.

To be honest, my preferred way to listen to music is on CD, as unfashionable as that might be. You push a button, the music plays, and then it’s over — no ads, no privacy terrors, no algorithms!

Like Ben, I started to listen to music on CDs again too. For a number of reasons:

    1. I have some great old CDs from labels like Deutsche Grammphon that I am never going to download again and which I don’t even want to listen to on Spotify.
    2. I find it satisfying to put on a CD, listen to it, and then it be over. I don’t want to listen to an infinite playlist all the time.
    3. I always worry that some day services like Spotify will simply trim their catalog and I will never be able to listen to that music easily again. For music I love, I want to own it outright.
    4. I worry about how what I listen to on Spotify is constantly fed into their analytic software – what people like to call their algorithm – to determine what I want to listen to. Some times I just want to listen to music in a different direction. I don’t want Spotify to start suggesting new music based on a whim.
    5. I don’t want Spotify or others to know everything about my listening choices. I think we all need a stealth mode for any services we use online.

I still love Spotify, but I don’t want to depend on Spotify to enjoy music.

That’s my two cents. For more on Ben, see: Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’ – The New York Times

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The Widows of the Plaza Hotel

This is a great read: The Widows of the Plaza Hotel – The New York Times. 

If you love New York, hotels, stories of odd balls, and people sticking it to Donald Trump, you will want to read that story. I ate it up! 🙂

(Image hotels.com)

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So you want to become famous on Instagram? You might want to read this first

Why? Because as this article shows, become famous on Instagram is a lot harder than you might think:  I Tried to Make My Dog an Instagram Celebrity. I Failed. – The New York Times.

Yes, I know you are not a dog, but the same lessons will apply.

My guess is that the ship has sailed on become famous on Instagram. Same for podcasts and any other social media that has been around for a few years. You need to get in early, work hard, and take advantage of network effects.

If you do decide to become Instagram famous and manage to pull it off, please come here and mock me and I will update this post. 🙂

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If you want to make a podcast

Then consider this: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Into Podcasts – The New York Times.

It doesn’t appeal to me, but podcasts are hot now, and if you want to give it a go, a good guide such as this one can help.

Good luck!

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Some thoughts on the end of Paul Krugman’s blog and blogging generally

I accidentally went to Paul Krugman’s blog today and was surprised to see he ended it some time ago. To quote him:

A message for regular readers of this blog: unless something big breaks later today, this will be my last day blogging AT THIS SITE. The Times is consolidating the process, so future blog-like entries will show up at my regular columnist page. This should broaden the audience, a bit, maybe, and certainly make it easier for the Times to feature relevant posts.

I remember when the Times (and many other places) finally recognized blogging as a way of communicating and started a big section on their site to blogging.

Is blogging dead? Not really. It’s no longer what is what, but people are still blogging. Does it matter? No. Blogging is writing. Communicating via words on the Internet. We have all these tools and media to communicate. For a time, blogging and blogs were a way to share that writing. Now people are doing it other ways.

What matters is the writing. The format matters much less. I still like the blogging format, but what I like more is that so many people can communicate with others.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to Krugman’s blog: Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman – The Conscience of a Liberal – The New York Times

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How to travel back in time in NYC


One way would be to go to this place: Barbetta. The New York Times has a fine story on it, here: The Elegant Relic of Restaurant Row. Even if you don’t intend to go, you’d be rewarded just reading the piece.

Love that photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times. The sign is “made of opal glass. A forerunner of neon, it is the last of its kind in the city…”.  Fantastic.

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Two good interviews with Jerry Seinfeld

These two interviews appeared in the New York Times in October and August and I was impressed by both of them, especially the first one below:

Seinfeld is smart and insightful and professional. He knows comedy and stand-up well and he’s thought a lot about it.

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The internet says: follow your passion. But what if you have no specific passion to follow?

You can find many places on the internet where you are encouraged to Follow Your Passion. One such place is here: Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started) – The New York Times

Love to cook? Love to write? If those are your passions, then the internet wants you to follow them.

But what if you don’t have specific passions. The NYTimes piece has an answer for that too:

No passions? Cultivate skills instead
While hobbies both enrich our lives and can turn into rewarding careers, those of us who don’t have a particular obsession aren’t hopelessly out of luck. Instead, cultivate skills that will give you a leg up in your field. We all carry a “toolbox” to work in the form of specific abilities that make us better at our jobs. Some experts say leveling up on some of these will improve your job satisfaction more than initial enthusiasm ever will.

It’s easier to improve yourself in an area you are passionate about. But taking pride in your skills and your qualities and working to hone them is worthwhile. If there’s not an area you feel a strong passion for, at least improve in the areas you can.

Passion is a strong word. So is pride. If you can follow your passion, follow your pride and be justly proud of the things you are good at.

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How to get more life out of your old iPhone

Do what this article says:  The New iPhones Look Fine. But My Old One Is Better Than Ever. – The New York Times

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The state of meetings

I’ve had this saved from some time ago but I want to post it for two reasons: The Modern Meeting: Call In, Turn Off, Tune Out – The New York Times.

One reason is just as a placeholder for how work is now in this time period. I will be happy to go back in five or ten years from now and see how much has changed.

The second reason is that no matter what happens in five or ten years from now, people who work in offices will always struggle with meetings. There is no solution to effective meetings: there is only managing your time and how best to be effective in the time you are working and meeting. If you work with people, you will have meetings. Nowadays you have too many meetings and you need to manage them and your time as best as you can.

Once meetings were hard to schedule. There were no digital calendars, no videoconferencing. You had to call or talk to someone and arrange to meet them, they would write it down on a piece of paper, and then physically show up and have the meeting. You likely worked with a limited number of people. And even then, even though they were hard to set up, meetings were a pain. Meetings will always be a pain. If they weren’t occasionally useful, no one would ever have them.

But meetings are occasionally useful. Sometimes they are essential. As long as people work together, there will be meetings. If you are working on many different things with many different people, you will have many meetings. Try to be as effective as you can in them. For those holding the meeting, don’t expect so much of people: get what you can and then end the meeting.

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Everything you need to know for sheet-pan cooking can be found here

Everything you need to know for sheet-pan cooking can be found here at this page: How to Make a Sheet-Pan Dinner – NYT Cooking

It’s a comprehensive review on how make any meal using a sheet-pan. If you are a fan of cooking that is easy like slow cookers then you want to check this out.

How to guides are great for people who like to come up with their own recipes. It’s also great if you are trying to use up various ingredients in your fridge.

The weather is getting cooler. It’s time to start using your oven again. This guide will help with this.

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If you ever wanted to write for The New York Times…

Now you have an opportunity. They have a new column, called Rites of Passage, that is going to appear in their Styles section. What are they looking for?

The editors … want to read your essays about notable life events that sparked change. A “rite of passage” can be big or small, though sometimes it’s the less obvious moments that carry even greater meaning: Making the final payment on your student loan debt and what it represented; finding a first gray hair and deciding not to pluck it; a first crush after a spouse’s death. These essays should be written as personal narratives, so please make sure to tell us how the event unfolded and what it meant to you.

Everyone has such stories. If you want to share yours in the Times, you can get  more information here: How to Submit a ‘Rites of Passage’ Essay – The New York Times

How to get started knitting

This piece in the NYTimes, nyti.ms/2L68a6o, looks like both a gentle and a comprehensive guide to getting started with knitting. It has some non-intuitive advice too (don’t start with a scarf but with a hat). If you are looking for a new hobby, this could be it.