Monthly Archives: March 2020

Boston Bird Bingo

I took time to make the following game board because I greatly love bird-watching and also love games. I invite you to view it. School teachers or parents might enjoy it as well.

Boston Bird Bingo

I admit that our bird-watching is much better through having a bird-feeder in the back yard, which accounts for probably half of the species we have seen.


Each picture is of a bird or animal seen, heard or smelled in Newton  Massachusetts in March 2020.



  • Study it to learn the local birds and common mammals.
  • Print it out and see if you can see five in a row, column or diagonal.
  • See how many species you can see, hear or smell.
  • Click on the links to listen to the sounds, and then listen for them outside.
  • Print out the second page and see how many names you can remember.
  • Have someone tell you a name, and see if you can find it on the second page.
  • Try taking your own pictures or make your own recordings.
  • Learn the differences between male and female books. Look at the Cardinals! How different is the male and female house sparrow? Which one is shown here?
  • Use the embedded sounds to listen and learn, and then have someone else play them to see if you can identify them. How many can you guess correctly?
  • If you play all of the sounds quickly in sequence and on a recurring loop, you can turn your room into a bird sanctuary with all the sounds going at once. See if you can recognize them as they a sung.
  • These are mostly winter and year round birds just now. Soon arriving will be many migrants, including the red-wing blackbirds, kinglets, flycatchers, warblers, owls, hawks, ducks and geese. Then come the summer resident birds. See how many you can find on your own!
  • I have personally seen 15 wild mammals in Newton MA. Can you think of what they might have been?
  • Start your own life lists!

This blog is posted here.

Feel free to share with your friends. Some teachers might even want to use this.

Boston Bird Bingo

My new COVID19 mantra of March 28, 2020:

Stay at home.

If needed, send out one person every three days to buy food. Wear a mask if you go out. It need not be perfect, but any mask or scarf is better than nothing when around other people.

Maintain 2 meter distance if you do go outside. Jogging is fine.

Wash hands and things you touch compulsively. Wear gloves of any kind when you go out to stores.

Stay connected online to stay socially connected. Don’t watch too many news broadcasts.

This at home quarantine may only have to last for two months if we continue the dance well.

Low cost antibody testing kits are rapidly becoming available and will greatly help the dance.


Randall P. Ellis, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Economics, Boston University


Winter reading 2020

I started listening to Audiobooks while commuting, which lets me get in at least 45 minutes of audio listening a day during my round trip commute, which is wonderful.

My most recent favorites are

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know. Malcolm Gladwell. 2019. Just as I have loved Blink, Outliers and The Tipping Point, I really like this book. Gladwell makes his discussion so vivid with lots of concrete examples. I have actually been enjoying the free Audiobook version, which is free to you if you have not yet downloaded the Audible app. The audiobook has recordings from actual police stops and court proceedings that make it incredibly interesting. Along the way you will appreciate differences by race, sex, foreigners, law officials, liars, cheaters, and above all understand people and make better decisions. 10/10

So you want to talk about race. Ijeaoma Oluo. 2018. I was inspired to read this book on systematic racism in the US by Austin Frakt’s Incidental Economist blogs about it. I was delighted with the Audiobook reading of it which was both deep and easy to follow. It will make you feel uncomfortable, particularly if like me you are a white, high-income male of privilege. I feel like I learned a lot, even if it is hard to change even a little. The image of blacks walking around and getting a constant series of “punch in the arms” from systemic racism is something that will stick with me and perhaps help me pause to try to recognize and minimize the many “mini-aggressions” that she documents so well. Low-cost paper copies are here. I rate it 9.5/10

 The Silent Patient. Alex Michaelides. This bestseller is a psychological thriller about art, psychology, and murder. It is rich in details about love, betrayal, evil, and the ills of psychiatric hospitals. You will be both happy and sad as you listen. I think the book is probably almost as good as the audiobook, although I really liked the voices and emotions of the audiobook. The audio is 8 hours long, but it flies by. I rate it 9/10, leaving me room to have other books above it.

Break Shot, James Taylor. 2019, is only available as an audible book, is an autobiography of his first 21 years of this folk/rock singer’s life, which features stories about his struggle with addictions and depression, six months in McLean psychiatric hospital, the origins and meanings of favorite songs, and how the Beatles and Apple records befriended him to give him the Break Shot of his life, giving him a wonderful opportunity after a childhood of challenges. At only 1:30, it is a quick listen. It is a wonderful audiobook with his singing and his own voice. I rate it 8/10.

Caffeine: How coffee and tea created the modern world. Michael Pollan. 2019. This fascinating overview of the history and uses of coffee and tea is light listening. I learned a lot from it, including that England was once more addicted to coffee than tea, and made the switch to tea because it was less expensive. More importantly, it highlights the role of caffeine in furthering the industrial revolution! Only on audiobook, and only 2 hours long. 7.5/10.

My reading recommendations from last summer were located here.

I also list my favorite reads on my favorites page here.