The News You May Have Missed: May 2020
The Loneliness of the Short-Distance Runner
A French athlete whose racing plans were foiled by the coronavirus pandemic held his own marathon in his apartment building’s exterior corridor (United Press International, March 24). Elisha Nochomovitz, 32, was scheduled to run the Barcelona Marathon on March 15 before it was canceled. Instead, he ran 26.2 miles on the 23-foot-long balcony outside his apartment in the city of Balma, France. Nochomovitz said it took him 6 hours and 48 minutes to complete the approximately 3,000 laps — the distance of a marathon. The runner, who has completed 36 official marathons, said the balcony run was more challenging because the short track made it impossible to build momentum or speed while running. Nochomovitz said his girlfriend acted as his support team, feeding him M&Ms and Coca-Cola as he ran. He dedicated his accomplishment to medical staff working long hours during the viral pandemic.
As shoppers across the country flocked to supermarkets to stock up on supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and stores began rationing certain items, a police department in Oregon had to instruct citizens not to call 911 if they’d run out of toilet paper (Fox News, March 15). “You will survive without our assistance,” the Newport Police Department wrote on Facebook, even if you can’t get your “favorite soft, ultra-plush two-ply citrus scented” toilet tissue. The department then offered a list of alternatives: “grocery receipts, newspaper, cloth rags, lace, cotton balls, and that empty toilet paper roll sitting on the holder right now. Plus, there are a variety of leaves you can safely use. Mother Earth News magazine will tell you how to make your own wipes using fifteen different leaves. When all else fails, you have magazine pages. Start saving those catalogs you get in the mail that you usually toss into the recycle bin. Be resourceful…. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”
Once toilet paper became a big deal during the COVID-19 pandemic, an artist and a London software-development student designed a website to help families calculate how much toilet paper they would need to ride out the quarantine (United Press International, March 23). Their website, HowMuchToiletPaper.com, prompts users to input how may rolls of toilet paper they currently have in their home and the average number of daily toilet visits in the household. The calculator tells them how many days their supply will last, as well as what percentage of their quarantine time it will cover. Ben Sassoon and Sam Harris, creators of the website, say the average visitor had about 500 percent more toilet paper than needed for the quarantine period. They hope their website will help discourage people from hoarding.
A painting by Vincent van Gogh was stolen from Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands, which had been shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic (New York Post, March 30). “I am shocked and unbelievably pissed off,” museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm said of the theft of the Dutch master’s 1884 work, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, which was on loan from Groninger Museum. “It is very bad for the Groninger Museum. It’s also very bad for Singer. But above all it is horrible for all of us, because art is there to be seen and shared by all of us, for society as a whole, to bring enjoyment, to bring inspiration, and also to bring comfort.” The painting of a man standing alone in a garden surrounded by trees with a church tower in the background has an estimated value between $1.1 million and $6.6 million. Singer Laren Museum has been targeted before in a high-profile theft: In 2007 thieves stole seven works from its sculpture garden, including a bronze cast of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, which was recovered a few days later — missing a leg.
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