Good news: Seven things that made us happy today

Leo and an art bot, touring an Everest base camp, analysing Covid-19 dreams, putting manners on our pantry

Bot is it art? Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as painted by AI Gahaku, a Japanese virtual artist. Source photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Bot is it art? Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as painted by AI Gahaku, a Japanese virtual artist. Source photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

 

Mask crusaders

Out for my daily walk over the weekend, I noticed that the 3D Printing shop in Rathmines in Dublin has started to make face masks for use in the coronavirus pandemic – its contribution to the global need for personal protective equipment. People far and wide are trying to source PPE. Now Apple has said it is designing face shields for medical workers that can be put together in two minutes. The first consignment went to a hospital in California last week; Apple plans to ship a million of the shields a week, first within the United States and then outside it as well. You can read about it – and watch Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, show it off – here.

Pantry bliss

With queues of up to an hour to get into a supermarket, and mindful of not making too many shopping trips, we are all rapidly become less wasteful and more resourceful in the kitchen. So while you’re digging into the back of your cupboards and freezers, to use up every last ingredient, why not reorganise your food storage? You can read the New York Times’s tips for putting manners on your pantry here.

Bot is it art?

I had an uncle who was an artist, and I spent many hours of my childhood sitting in a chair holding a book, posing for him. The challenge was not in staying still but in being unable to read the book. Now you can have your “portrait” created, in just a minute or so, by uploading a photograph of yourself to AI Gahaku, an art bot on this website. I tried it first with a photo of my dog, but it can’t do pets yet, alas. Then I tried a photo of a friend in the United States. She came out looking like a randomer from a Jane Austen film adaption, but the whole thing did give me an extremely good laugh – as it will you, when you try it for yourself. You could even do what we did and see how Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, looks in his medical gear.

Keep your distance

We’re wired to be curious. There’s even a bit of the voyeur within us all, as anyone who’s watched Hitchcock’s Rear Window will attest. So how is everyone else coping while cooped up? A Los Angeles-based writer called Meg Zukin wondered out loud on Twitter last month how enforced time at home would affect our relationships with the people we live with. The tweet went viral, and her in-box jammed up with responses from people who wanted to share – anonymously – their experiences. Zukin has used them to start the Social Distance Project, on Instagram and its own website. At first she ask for a donation to charity from people who wanted to see the responses. Now that she has raised more than $5,000 – for food banks, housing support and other Covid-19 relief projects – she has made it free, but you can still make a donation.

Mountain high

Sorry, were you saying something? I wasn’t paying attention. I was looking at the Northern Lights, and exploring Everest’s south base camp, and touring the sand dunes of Namibia. I may not have physically ventured further than the mandated 2km in recent times, but the glory of the internet has transported me to other continents. You can let it transport you on 10 wonderful virtual tours of the world’s natural wonders.

Your wildest dreams

How are your dreams these dystopian nights? Mine last night were of stumbling across a secret illegal circus in Scotland, where tigers and leopards and cheetahs hopped sadly around on their hind legs, shackled. Some had no front legs. One disembodied tiger head skated around the floor, chasing my ankles like a demented puppy. Half-naked migrant gymnasts were sleeping on a concrete floor, handcuffed together in pairs. I had entered the building by mistake because I was lost in a city I did not know, and amid my horror at the scene I kept wondering how I could report on it. That dream is, I suspect, the result of watching the bizarre Tiger King, on Netflix, combined with the anxiety of trying to do my job in these challenging times. Vice has been reporting on how the pandemic is making its way into our dreams for so many of us. You can read the result here – and share the unusual coronavirus-related things you’ve been dreaming about with The Irish Times here.

Pasta perfection

If all that pantry tidying, virtual travelling and crazy coronavirus dreaming has made you hungry, check out today’s Kitchen Cabinet for Keelan Higgs’s favourite pasta recipe, here. Don’t let it worry you that he’s the Michelin-starred chef at Variety Jones, in Dublin; this recipe for linguine with anchovy, chilli, garlic and purple sprouting broccoli, which his dad taught him, uses just four main ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make. (You can use any type of pasta and any type of broccoli, and leave out the anchovy for a vegetarian version, so it’s adaptable, too.) The last time Higgs gave us a recipe it was for this incredibly popular spaghetti Alfredo. We’re confident you’ll love today’s dish too.

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