Episode 57: Anatomically Correct Squids

There’s still a lockdown, we’re still recording from four socially distant locations, and we’re still bringing the high heat: this week, Prof. Sarah McAnulty talks to us about adorable squids and the genesis of the Skype-a-Scientist initiative, and we visit Maxine’s History Corner to learn what UConn students were forbidden to do during the 1918-1920 flu pandemic (hint: pouches were involved).


Tom Breen: [00:00:00] Hello everyone and welcome to episode 57 UConn360. It’s the only quarantined podcast in the known universe that covers the University of Connecticut from every conceivable, socially distant angle. My name is Tom Breen. I’m your facilitator of sorts. Joining me as always remotely from four different locations are Maxine Philavong

Maxine Philavong: [00:00:31] Coming to you live from New Haven.

Tom Breen: [00:00:33] All right. Julie Bartucca.

Julie Bartucca: [00:00:34] Here in Wethersfield.

Tom Breen: [00:00:36] And Ken Best.

Ken Best: [00:00:36] From the Mansfield Center bureau.

Tom Breen: [00:00:38] How’s everyone doing?

Julie Bartucca: [00:00:40] Doing all right. Not as great as last time, but hanging in there. I stole from my husband this comment that things are getting dire because I’m running out of seltzer, which is my favorite thing to drink, and I’m almost out, and my Amazon order of seltzer is not coming for another week or so.

So no, I’m, I’m very lucky to be where I am and all of that. Safe at home.

Tom Breen: [00:01:03] Yeah. Maxine, what about you? What’s the student experience looking like? I think it’s week four of our new normal?

Maxine Philavong: [00:01:09] Online classes have been going okay. A load has been taken off my shoulders because I was able to switch a class to pass fail, so it’s not as intense anymore.

So I think that part is going well for me. I’ve been very into making bread. For the past week, so I made some sourdough starter.

Julie Bartucca: [00:01:25] You and everybody else.

Maxine Philavong: [00:01:27] I know. I think I’m contributing to the egg shortage and the flour shortage, which is not good. But, uh, I made some very good bread last week. I don’t even know my days.

I don’t think it was last week. I think it was earlier this week. But yeah, that’s how I’ve been, I’ve been doing

Tom Breen: [00:01:42] Excellent. I’m glad to hear it. Ken, how are things in the Mansfield Center bureau?

Ken Best: [00:01:46] Well as you know, there’ve been busy, I’ve been writing, I’m doing interviews, a couple of stories that have been posted already, and there’s media requests coming in, so there’s no shortage of things to do, including monitoring the noise outside the window.

Tom Breen: [00:02:03] and here in Manchester, I have painted a face on a volleyball and I have talking to it like it’s a person.

Ken Best: [00:02:08] So you’re a cast away now?

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:10] I was wondering about that scraggly beard you’ve got.

Tom Breen: [00:02:13] And uh, you know, it’s true actually. And, uh, fortunately our listeners can’t see. But no, actually I’ve been feeling like, weirdly grateful, maybe not weirdly.

But you know, uh, for things like still having a job and still being able to work from home and, you know, a low body temperature, all that kind of stuff.

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:29] Same

Tom Breen: [00:02:29] Well, why don’t we, uh, we’re not really gonna do a formal Husky headlines, but there’s a lot of interesting news happening around campus and there’s stuff to be grateful for, which is not really a good segue, but whatever. UConn’s efforts to assist our friends and colleagues at UConn Health had been going pretty well.

There’s some good stuff on UConn today. Take a look. About kind of an all hands effort, not only they make personal protective equipment for UConn Health doctors, but also there’s a drive up testing station at UConn Health in Farmington that’s doing really well and required a lot of people to do a lot of difficult things in a short amount of time.

There is now, if you are a UConn student, there is now a walk up COVID-19 testing facility on the Storrs campus. It’s in the ice cream truck, which is parked behind the infirmary on Glenbrook road. So it’s free. If you’re a student, you can walk right up or drive right up. The drive up area is separate from the walkup area, so there’s no intermingling and you take the test and you’ll get a mask and some advice on social distancing, and then you’ll get your results.

Julie Bartucca: [00:03:29] Do we know how many students are still on campus?

Tom Breen: [00:03:31] It’s more than a thousand I think.

Julie Bartucca: [00:03:32] Wow.

Tom Breen: [00:03:33] Yeah, a lot of international students.

Julie Bartucca: [00:03:35] Okay.

Tom Breen: [00:03:36] Of course, weren’t able to go home.

Julie Bartucca: [00:03:38] Really interesting. I loved the story of the chemistry department, I think. Is it a PhD student? That started kind of an effort to get all the lab equipment, goggles and masks together, and then that kind of blossomed to departments all over campus and barnes and noble bookstore had a lot of PPE that they were collecting and sending to UConn Health. So I thought that was pretty amazing effort there.

Tom Breen: [00:04:01] Yeah, everyone’s really kind of pitched in. I mean, I don’t want to be one of those people who’s like, Oh, maybe this is a blessing in disguise, but, um. You know, a crisis really does show you who you are and a lot of people have proven to be exemplary.

Julie Bartucca: [00:04:13] Absolutely.

Tom Breen: [00:04:14] In this. Ken, you’ve got some news.

Ken Best: [00:04:15] Well, a couple of stories that I’ve been working on. One that was posted this morning, Professor Dave Adkin in the department of communication, working in conjunction with one of his former students who happens to be in China as a professor now. Did some research based on risk communication actually in China. His former student did a look at what happened with communication as the pandemic started to occur and then spread throughout the 31 provinces in China and came up with the intuitive, I think, result that people who pay attention to, to advisories and follow instructions, uh, will then practice safe living and hand-washing and things like that. Whereas those who are with what’s called an optimistic bias will kind of ignore that and put themselves at risk. It’s a very interesting initial study that was conducted in the last week of January, first week of February as this whole thing was starting to get some real attention in the United States, and so that’s on the UConn Today website.

Also, I spoke this week. With two people from the Connecticut small business development center, Joe Ercolano and Greg Lewis, who are working with small business owners in the state of Connecticut. UConn is involved with the small business development center, and they’re getting the kind of questions you might expect, but most of the questions are when are the loans or the financial support coming from the business sector, which is made available through the legislation passed in Congress, and how can we access this and make sure that we’re going to get some help? So those are the things that are going on. That’s obviously something that’s going to continue. I’ll be writing about that hopefully by the beginning of next week.

Tom Breen: [00:06:09] Very nice. As we talked about last time, uh, we have the sort of reduced program as we’re doing it because it’s our new reality, forcing us to do different things and improvise and adapt and overcome. And, uh, this week our feature story is by Julie and it’s about one of my favorite faculty members on at UConn. Julie, why don’t you tell us what you’ve got for us?

Julie Bartucca: [00:06:28] I will. So this was recorded before social distancing was in place. I talked with Sarah McAnulty. So Sarah McAnulty recently earned her PhD and she’s now an assistant research professor in molecular and cell biology who studies squid. Her Skype-A-Scientist project has been covered in our own UConn magazine and across national media outlets.

And she was widely quoted in the press a few months ago when Apple released an anatomically incorrect squad emoji. We talk about that in the interview. So as I mentioned, she came to our studio long before social distancing was put in place. So some are for talk about gatherings at local bars. It was long before all this, but she’s really fun and funny, and I had a great time talking to her.

So check it out.

You are well known for studying squid.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:07:21] Yep. Absolutely.

Julie Bartucca: [00:07:22] Why do you study squid?

Sarah McAnulty: [00:07:23] So we study Hawaiian bobtail squid. This is in a Spencer Nyholm’s lab in molecular and cell biology. We work on these bobtail squid because we want to know how animals and bacteria communicate with one another. And so this squid has a specialized organ in it called the light organ.

And that’s basically like a little pouch with bacteria in it. And so the bacteria bioluminesce, so they create light and then the squid is able to camouflage at night with moonlight coming down from above, being able to sense how much light is coming down from above, and then use the bacterial light to match that light.

And so a predator swimming below looking up to find like little pray shaped silhouettes when the squid has the light to match the moonlight, the predators can’t see them. And so, uh, it’s, it’s a really cool symbiosis. And then it’s really convenient for studying how animals and bacteria live, uh, beneficially, because it just is one species of bacteria that live in this light organ.

And if you compare that to like, you know, a mouse or a rabbit or these other model systems that you often think about in labs. They have maybe like a hundred or more, or sometimes a thousand species of bacteria that live in them. So understanding communication between bacteria and an animal and those models is like listening to everybody talking at a party all at the same time.

With the music going, it’s like really, really hard to figure out who’s saying what and what it all means. But in a squid, you’ve got one-to-one. So if it’s coming from bacteria, you know, oh, that’s a vibrio fischeri talking, and if it’s coming from a squid, you know, it’s the bobtail squid. So it just makes things easier for us as scientists.

Julie Bartucca: [00:09:03] So what kinds of things, I don’t know, recently or throughout your studies, have you discovered, or what are some of the big findings that you’ve made?

Sarah McAnulty: [00:09:11] Yeah, so we haven’t published my, like big findings yet. But broad brush strokes, like we were looking at how immune cells of squid, which are like the white blood cells that you have in humans, how they can tell the difference between the beneficial bacteria and everybody else.

Cause the squid needs to be really good at knowing who belongs in that light organ and who needs to be eliminated, um, because it’s sort of open to the seawater. We don’t really think though that any other bacteria gets in there. And so we wanted to see if the immune system plays some sort of role here. And so, um, I was basically learning how the immune cells read bacteria sort of to determine, okay, who do I have here? Should I destroy it? Should I let it go? What do we do?

Julie Bartucca: [00:09:56] Cool.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:09:56] And so that was what I worked on.

Julie Bartucca: [00:09:57] The thing that you have been very busy with and gotten lots of attention for is Skype-A-Scientist, which is the coolest project ever. Tell me what that is and why you started it?

Sarah McAnulty: [00:10:07] Yeah, absolutely. So Skype a scientist is a nonprofit that I started in 2017. The main project that we do is matching scientists with classrooms and other groups all around the world for Q and A sessions with scientists about what a scientist does and generally what they know a lot about. So, um, it’s specifically designed as a Q and A and not as like a scientists giving a lecture because we want people to feel like they’ve really gotten the chance to meet a scientist and not just get lectured at by one because there’s plenty of opportunities to hear lectures by scientists online, but we want to form personal connections because we’ve noticed, you know, in the last 10-15 years, there’s sort of this growing mistrust of science, right? You’ve got people doing juice cleanses instead of just, you know, eating fruits and vegetables and everything, you know?

And then we’ve got people not vaccinating their children. And so, I think as scientists, we need to build trust up with people. And I think a lot of times the first step there is just getting a chance to get FaceTime with scientists and realize that we’re real people and not how we’re depicted in movies and TV, which is like socially awkward, sometimes evil, crazy haired white guys.

It’s not great, you know? So, uh, we’re trying to break that. Uh, sorta

Julie Bartucca: [00:11:21] And specifically with children.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:11:23] Yeah, so we mostly work with children in the matching. So the Q and A sessions are usually with kids online, but we also do events at bars. Just last night we were in Manchester, Connecticut at Labyrinth Brewing.

We had like a science trivia night and sometimes we have more game nights where, not games like board games, games like. You get up and move and you’re throwing balls and it’s all you learn about science while just getting together with your friends and playing like silly games while drinking a beer.

And we also sometimes go to like science festivals. And, and yeah, that kind of thing. Scientists are normal people that just really, really like one specific thing and got really deep into that. You know, like, we’re not, uh, we’re not socially awkward. Most of the time.

Julie Bartucca: [00:12:06] Kids seeing this through the Skype sessions has to be eye opening to them about what’s available for them as well.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:12:13] Absolutely. And so when teachers sign up for this program too, they can tell us if over half of their classroom is a given underrepresented group in STEM, and then we’ll match them with a scientist from the same group, which we think is super helpful too.

And as a side note, we also, we’re starting to do public art.

Julie Bartucca: [00:12:30] I just saw this on your Twitter! You’re crowdfunding. So cool.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:12:31] So this is a new project. Yeah. I’m super excited about this. So we are crowd funding to do over time, three cities with three artists, three sets of scientists. So the first one we’re doing is going to be in Philadelphia. It’s going to be in North Philly.

Um, and we have three scientists who grew up in North Philly that we’re going to paint onto a mural. Um. It’s going to be great. We got funded in like two days. It’s amazing. And so the artist is a cancer biologist in Philly, and then we’ve got three wildlife biologists that we’re going to put up there.

They grew up in the neighborhood, which is just really interesting. It’s just great. Yeah. And so the next one we’re doing is going to be a native Alaskans in Alaska. Wow. And yeah, we’ll have a native scientist or, well native scientist and a native artist, and uh, we’ve seen to get the funding to get everybody able to do it.

And then we’re also gonna look at, uh, maybe Miami as number three.

Julie Bartucca: [00:13:19] Awesome. I think it’s so great that you study squid because that’s something that’s kind of like attention grabbing anyway. And then you have this passion for science communication and getting science out there, and it’s like. It helps that you’re,

Sarah McAnulty: [00:13:33] working on the cutest possible squid.

Julie Bartucca: [00:13:36] The recent emoji thing was really interesting. Yeah. You were a big voice in that with the biologically incorrect.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:13:42] Yeah. They put a squid’s butt on a Squid’s forehead and, uh,

Julie Bartucca: [00:13:46] and you got quoted everywhere.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:13:47] I quoted on that a lot. Yep. I was like, I’m sorry to anybody who’s professionally mentored me. This is like, what’s the headline is: squids butt on foreheads says, UConn scientists. I’m like, oops.

Julie Bartucca: [00:13:59] Hey, whatever works. How did science communication becomes something that you’re so passionate about?

Sarah McAnulty: [00:14:05] Okay, so my first year of grad school, I was in the Nyholm lab and we didn’t have a ton of money at the time. A lot of times labs would go through the brief periods of of not having a grant.

Totally, totally normal. And I basically just wanted to get my project up and running, and so I was like, I wonder if crowd funding would work for, for science? And so this was a 2014 it was right after my first year wrapped up. And so my lab mate, Andrea Soria, who’s now a postdoc at UNC chapel Hill. We just started a crowdfunding thing all about the bobtail Squibb and we thought, let’s just raise 1000 bucks.

So basically we can, you know, buy shrimp to feed the squid, just like keep the lights on, you know, and, uh, quickly it just took off. Like we raised 5,000 bucks in a pretty short period of time. And this was before I had people really listening to me, um, at all, which was great. And, um, so anyway, while I was doing that, I thought I was doing it like, just to get money for science so I could do science.

And in the process I realized I was having as much fun communicating science as I was doing the science and I was like, I love both, but this is just more fun than I had anticipated. So I kept doing it because it’s kind of nice to have a balance of stuff that you’re doing. So I would do, you know the hard thing in science during the day and then do some science communication sitting on my couch at night.

And it just sort of grew from there. And then in 2017, there was just a lot of anxiety in the science community. There was a lot of, you know, turnover in our country and everyone was sorta not super confident about how everything was going to go, basically. And so, um, there were all these scientists just anxiety spiraling on Twitter.

And I was like, we need to take this energy and funnel it towards something useful instead of just screaming into the void. And so, uh, that’s when I started Skype-A-Scientist cause I figured, you know, let’s give them something to do. They’ll feel better and we’ll do something good with it. And so from there, Skype-A-Scientist has grown into a huge organization and here we are.

Julie Bartucca: [00:16:01] And you mentioned Twitter, which you’re very good at, SarahMackAttack. That’s, I mean, that must be great to have that kind of tool today.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:16:09] It’s amazing. Yeah. Having that amount of reach is great. Although I, sometimes I’m like, when I’m tweeting some like supremely stupid thing as I’m like scrolling through Twitter at night on the couch, I’m like, are you sure you want to tweet that stupid thing to 40,000 people reading? You’re like, shower thoughts right now. You know what I’m like, whatever. I try not to think about it cause then I won’t say anything.

It helps

Julie Bartucca: [00:16:32] with that personality for the science communication thing. It humanizes you.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:16:36] Totally. Yeah. I want people to feel really comfortable asking whatever question they want, even if they think like, maybe I should know that. So oftentimes, like this morning I just, yesterday was at Mansfield hollow flipping logs, looking at centipedes. I don’t know the first thing about centipedes. It’s like I know a lot about squid. I know a lot about a lot of other ocean and vertebrates, but when it comes to forest and vertebrates, I know nothing really.

I know this the same as anybody who’s watching the discovery channel. And so, um, but I took a picture of one where you saw what looked like big mandibles on either side of its face. And so I just tweeted like, basically, what the hell is this? Like, what is going on here? To show, you know, even though I know a lot about one thing, it doesn’t mean I know a lot about everything.

Scientists aren’t super geniuses that know everything about everything. We just know about whatever the thing is that we specialize in. So I want people to feel like it’s a safe space for asking stupid questions.

Julie Bartucca: [00:17:30] That’s great. Um, what’s next for you? What’s coming up?

Sarah McAnulty: [00:17:33] Yeah, so, uh, the mural projects are taking a lot of my time right now and I’m super excited about that.

We basically just need to raise money between now and the summertime when it’s actually nice enough outside to put paint on a wall. I’ve been giving talks sort of all over the country on science communication, getting scientists kinda feeling empowered to start doing it if they’ve never done it before.

We are working on science communication training for our scientists that will be free and available online for anybody to do basic program maintenance isn’t exciting, but it’s a thing that I do a lot of the time, and so yeah, that’s the main, main stuff.

Julie Bartucca: [00:18:10] Thank you so much, Sarah.

Sarah McAnulty: [00:18:11] Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Julie Bartucca: [00:18:14] And if you’re interested, you can learn about Skype-A-Scientist at Skypeascientist.com on Twitter @Skypescientists, because much like UConn360, Skype A Scientist was taken. And teachers who are interested in the program can browse photos and bios of participating scientists at instagram.com/skypeascientist. And I noticed stirring a quarantine and distance learning, they’re calling it. Sarah was on Twitter connecting parents with some of the scientists to video chat with their kids while they were at home, which was really cool. She is really fun to follow on social media, and she’s @SarahMackAttack, which is S A R A H M A C K, attack on Twitter, Instagram, and even Tik Tok.

Tom Breen: [00:18:55] Tik Tok? That’s the new frontier.

Julie Bartucca: [00:18:57] Yeah.

Maxine Philavong: [00:18:57] I love Tik Tok so much.

Julie Bartucca: [00:18:59] I haven’t dipped into that one yet. I’m a little a little afraid.

Ken Best: [00:19:02] I’m still avoiding Facebook.

Julie Bartucca: [00:19:06] Wow.

Ken Best: [00:19:07] Well, I’m going to send props out to Julia. I sent you a five star note yesterday.

Julie Bartucca: [00:19:11] I saw that. That was very nice. Thank you, Ken. Boosted my spirits.

Ken Best: [00:19:15] This is the kind of thing podcasts can do that we can’t do in print, cause her enthusiasm jumps out of the, uh, of the recording.

Julie Bartucca: [00:19:23] That’s very, props to Sarah for being awesome.

Tom Breen: [00:19:26] So, now it’s time once again for everyone’s favorite history segment on our podcast. That’s the only history segment on our podcast, and it’s once again, a collaboration. I shouldn’t say collaboration. It’s basically Maxine did all the work.

Julie Bartucca: [00:19:39] Go Maxine.

Tom Breen: [00:19:40] And, uh, this was something she had mentioned to me.

Now, we had talked many, many episodes ago about Spanish flu at UConn. By the way, just want to point out Spanish flu is the name that the 1918, 1920 epidemic is commonly known as. Total misnomer. Did not originate in Spain. Had nothing to do with Spain.

Julie Bartucca: [00:19:57] That sounds familiar.

Tom Breen: [00:19:59] Um, but

Maxine Philavong: [00:20:00] Didn’t it originate in like, Kentucky?

Tom Breen: [00:20:02] Kansas. Well, Kansas is one of three places that may have originated.

None of them are Spain. The reason it got that name is because Spain was not, they were a neutral country during world war one. And so they did not have press censorship. So all the combatant countries censored any reports of, uh, like flu epidemics among the troops because they thought it’d be bad for morale, whereas Spain did not.

Spain had a free press. Spain was reporting on the flu epidemic and it looked like only Spain had flu. Everyone else,

Julie Bartucca: [00:20:26] I read about that recently, so fascinating.

Tom Breen: [00:20:28] The people in Spain apparently very sensitive about this. They are not called it the Spanish flu.

Julie Bartucca: [00:20:32] Makes sense.

Tom Breen: [00:20:33] But we’d already talked a little bit about it many episodes ago, but, uh, given the time we are in now, it seems like we should probably revisit it if there was something new to say.

And Maxine found a lot of neat stuff. Maxine, do you have anything? Do you want to talk about some of the stuff you found.

Maxine Philavong: [00:20:50] Sure. Um, actually let me pull up the list. So this is actually from the, uh, Connecticut campus volume five and number two on January 10th, 1920. So we were really in the midst of the, um, the Spanish flu or, um, as it’s listed here, influenza.

I found a list of UConn’s precautions that they were sent out to students of what they should take. None of them are exactly like the ones that we have now. The first thing on the list of telling the students to do is: do not spit.

Julie Bartucca: [00:21:21] Good call.

Maxine Philavong: [00:21:22] A few more highlights is do not, do not put fingers in the mouth unnecessarily.

Julie Bartucca: [00:21:29] That’s the 19, early 19 hundreds don’t touch your face.

Tom Breen: [00:21:33] Raises the question of like, what’s the necessary? Putting your fingers in your mouth, eating grapes.

Maxine Philavong: [00:21:41] Some more highlights, uh, I would say is never allow food, fruit, or an empty soiled dish to stand in rooms. So you can’t just leave food out. So if it’s left out for, it doesn’t say how long, it just says don’t do it.

So, Tom, you have any highlights you saw?

Tom Breen: [00:21:57] I really liked some of these, that, and I wonder if it was like a way that the university was like subtly trying to introduce just good habits under the guise of like flu protection. Like, there’s one that was a, each person should bathe at least twice a week.

Julie Bartucca: [00:22:10] Oh no.

Tom Breen: [00:22:13] The throwing about of paper, trash or waste should be prohibited. Like that’s not really gonna. Yeah. Don’t litter. Each person should use a toothbrush at least once daily.

Julie Bartucca: [00:22:23] Oh, I sometimes I think about what it must have smelled like back in the day before hygiene was the way it is now.

Tom Breen: [00:22:31] Yeah.

Julie Bartucca: [00:22:31] That’s once a day and twice a week showers. Oof.

Ken Best: [00:22:37] Well, think about it. Before there was running water.

Julie Bartucca: [00:22:39] Yeah.

Tom Breen: [00:22:41] This is good advice. Even today. If you use another man’s tobacco pouch, do not close it with your teeth. So how many times, you know, it’s like touching your face, closing another man’s tobacco pouch with your teeth. You’re like, Oh, I didn’t realize how many times I did that.

And then this is a good way to avoid it. Getting into a fight. Never cough or sneeze into the face of another. Oh, and do not put pencils in the mouth, which I, you know. Actually, I chew on pen caps. So maybe, uh, from the distance of a hundred plus years, UConn’s hygiene authorities are scolding them.

Ken Best: [00:23:15] Well, some people are still eating crayons.

Julie Bartucca: [00:23:18] You know, that in several years they’re going to be like, people really needed that much of a reminder to wash their hands for 20 seconds? Like, you know, this is, they’re going to look back on this and be like, guys, really? But it’s true.

Tom Breen: [00:23:29] In a hundred years when UConn360 is still going, presumably with different people.

Julie Bartucca: [00:23:33] Bleep bloop! Bleep bloop the robot!

Tom Breen: [00:23:35] That’s right! Bleep bloop the robot. They’ll look back and say like, what are those humans and things must’ve smelled terrible. We’d also talked last time about how everyone, all the students had to line up every day and be inspected by the campus doctor and nurse. Which would be impractical.

Julie Bartucca: [00:23:49] Yes. Where are they taking their temperature like they would do now to screen people, or was it more of a,

Tom Breen: [00:23:55] They were taking their temperature and examining them for signs of respiratory illness, whatever that meant.

Like I guess they were coughing or something they’d say, hey!

Julie Bartucca: [00:24:02] But they weren’t, as we mentioned, I think last time we talk about this, all these people were gathering in one place to do this, which seems kind of counterintuitive to what we’re, what we know now.

Tom Breen: [00:24:12] Yeah, reading about 1918 1920 epidemic, which I think a lot of people have been doing lately.

It’s a. They did a lot of the things we do now in terms of like social distancing, like they closed, you know, theaters and church services were suspended. And like they knew, even though they didn’t really understand viruses, they understood like this is transmitted from person to person so we shouldn’t.

But then they would all at the same time, cities would have these like giant war bond parades cause there’s only one.

Julie Bartucca: [00:24:37] Philadelphia did one, right? And there was a huge spread.

Tom Breen: [00:24:39] Like 200,000 people were at the parade. Like in the middle of this, like horrible. I mean, it’s just, I don’t know what they were thinking.

Julie Bartucca: [00:24:44] Well, some people just don’t know. And back then they didn’t have all this info.

Maxine Philavong: [00:24:48] They did have, um, a suggestion in here that said a thousand cubic feet of airspace should remain between each person. Or allowed between each person. So I think they weren’t trying to practice the social distancing.

Julie Bartucca: [00:24:59] 1000 cubic feet?

Maxine Philavong: [00:25:01] Yeah. It says a thousand.

Ken Best: [00:25:03] How does one measure that?

Julie Bartucca: [00:25:04] That’s like pretty big, right?

Tom Breen: [00:25:07] That’s one thing like a six feet, six feet, I could figure that out.

Julie Bartucca: [00:25:11] Right.

Tom Breen: [00:25:12] A thousand cubic feet of air? I don’t even know if that would be a lot.

Julie Bartucca: [00:25:15] Yeah. That’s just go stand in the middle of a field by yourself, I think.

Tom Breen: [00:25:19] Which is easy back then.

Julie Bartucca: [00:25:21] Right? There were fields to stand in.

Ken Best: [00:25:22] Let’s see if we can find this.

Tom Breen: [00:25:25] The other thing that, uh, Maxine found that delighted me was, you know, they, so they had classes that you’ve done during this time because society didn’t really shut down all, I mean, you know, and also lots of people died back then. So they did cancel some things on campus, including on-campus entertainment, which they did have a hundred years ago.

This is the article she found from a Valentine’s day, 1920. This is the tail end to the epidemic. The winter of 1920. The third number of the entertainment course has been postponed and definitely is one of the means of preventing the possibility of an influenza epidemic here. The committee has been informed that it will be impossible to secure the services of Mr. Gillland, the noted comedian as his tour of the East end shortly.

So I, I can’t tell you how much time I spent yesterday trying

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:06] Trying to figure out who that was?

Tom Breen: [00:26:07] Trying to find out who Mr. Gillland, the noted comedian was. I had no luck.

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:12] In 1920 that was?

Tom Breen: [00:26:14] Yeah, 1920. If they’d given us first name, but no, so. The only vaudeville performer named Gilleland I could find was a Fiddler. Probably not the same man.

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:23] Not somebody that made a big Mark, I guess.

Ken Best: [00:26:26] Well, we do have the answer to the question of how much is a thousand cubic feet. 1200 cubic feet there’s a 10 by 15 storage thing, 17 linear feet.

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:36] Okay. Well that’s pretty, yeah, that’s, that would be tough to, they’re saying now, aren’t they? That six feet might not be enough even.

Ken Best: [00:26:44] 10 by 10 storage feet is 800 cubic feet, so.

I’m like,

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:46] I’m going with that. I’m going with the a,

Tom Breen: [00:26:48] Yeah, the 1920 advise?

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:51] Thousand cubic feet. I’ve just been holed up in my house. Can I make, can I make a request for next time we record? Can we find like a really happy celebration tom’s history corner?

Tom Breen: [00:27:06] Mr. Gilliland isn’t happy for you?

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:08] It is but like we’ve, we’ve looked back on this flu a couple of times. Let’s like find a time when UConn like came together and did something awesome. That’s my request.

Tom Breen: [00:27:17] Okay. Maxine, let’s work on that.

Maxine Philavong: [00:27:19] We can do spring weekend in like 2010, when was that?

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:23] Yes, I could tell you all about it.

Ken Best: [00:27:26] Before or after the fire?

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:30] As my, as my friend said on the local news, it’s 20,000 people uniting under the idea of UConn, quote Ashley Yalof. Rest in peace spring weekend.

Tom Breen: [00:27:41] That’s one way to put it.

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:42] Uh, I was not an employee at the time.

Tom Breen: [00:27:46] Well I think that’s probably it for this week.

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:48] We’re done.

Tom Breen: [00:27:49] Um, do we have any tips for the folks out there and the, in our new COVID reality?

I have one. I got this, I got this from a friend of mine who also works in higher education, although not at UConn. If you’re, if you’re desperate for toilet paper, which a lot of people are, or any paper product for that matter, uh, you can’t find it in the stores cause they’re all gone cause there’s a big run on these products.

Try restaurant supply companies who often sell direct to the public. You go online, just type in restaurant supply company, and they have huge stocks in the stuff. Paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex, cleaners. These are not things that are gonna be selling to restaurants for the forseeable future because restaurants can’t be open to the public, so they’re selling them now to the public at discounted rates.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:28] So you get one of those giant rolls that won’t fit on your toilet paper holder?

Tom Breen: [00:28:33] Depends on the company. Some of them sell individual roles.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:35] Nice. All right. Check it out.

Tom Breen: [00:28:37] My friend who told me about this got a shipment of 96 rolls of toilet paper,

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:40] Holy cow!

Tom Breen: [00:28:40] For like $60.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:42] We are down to about six so I will be, I will be Googling this shortly.

Tom Breen: [00:28:46] Yup.

Maxine Philavong: [00:28:47] I wonder how the bidet market’s doing right now.

Tom Breen: [00:28:50] That’s a good question. I wondered about that.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:51] It’s probably pretty, I saw it, not a bidet, but I saw an ad today for gold bond hand cream that was like, wash your hands a ton and then make sure they’re moisturized. So it’s kind of funny to think about how people, companies, capitalize on what’s going on right now. It’s interesting.

Tom Breen: [00:29:07] I have bought more moisturizing lotion in the past three weeks than probably the past five years before that.

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:13] My hands are like fallen off. It’s all good.

Ken Best: [00:29:15] My question is where are you finding it? I can’t even see it any place.

Tom Breen: [00:29:18] Really?

Ken Best: [00:29:19] Yeah.

Tom Breen: [00:29:19] CVS right there in Storrs center.

Ken Best: [00:29:22] Well, I was thinking of going into Storrs center because there’s probably less people going through than one in Willimantic.

Tom Breen: [00:29:27] Yeah, there’s, it’s deserted right now. And that’s another thing too, like CVS has, I feel like I shouldn’t give this out with my secret stash, but, uh, the CVS in Storrs center has a lot of the products that are hard to find another place.

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:39] Nobody around.

Ken Best: [00:29:39] I think I might make that trip.

Tom Breen: [00:29:40] Anybody? Anybody else learn anything new? Anything fun and exciting?

Ken Best: [00:29:45] Oh, I find a lot of stuff to watch on YouTube that I haven’t watched in a long time.

Maxine Philavong: [00:29:50] Now, who’s your favorite YouTuber?

Ken Best: [00:29:52] Well, it’s not a YouTuber.

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:58] Hogan’s Heros?

Maxine Philavong: [00:29:59] Logan Paul?

Tom Breen: [00:29:59] Logan Paul, absolutely.

Ken Best: [00:29:59] You can get that on cable TV., I’m finding, I’m finding concerts from the Capitol Theater and Passaic from years ago that I used to, I used to have a flash pass for the Capitol theater when I was a reporter in New Jersey, and I saw the Rolling Stones and interviewed Springsteen backstage.

And, uh, saw a lot of people there. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were recording all of those. They’re all in black and white. They’re all recorded. You can few, if you look for capital with an O L, Passaic, New Jersey, you can find a bunch of stuff. I watch an REM concert from like 1992 there.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:39] Really cool.

Ken Best: [00:30:40] And it’s pretty decent sound on my widescreen TV.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:44] Very cool.

Tom Breen: [00:30:45] Anyone else? Should we give our social media information to,

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:49] I don’t know. I don’t know if people want to follow me right now. It’s pretty sad. Did you guys see all my typos? I know you’re not on Twitter, Tom. I have two tweets in a span of two days that had like major typos in them and didn’t notice for like hours afterwards.

My dad pointed out to me it was so embarrassed.

Maxine Philavong: [00:31:07] I feel like every tweet you have has a followup tweet where it’s like a correction.

Julie Bartucca: [00:31:12] They should let you edit them. It’s not fair.

Tom Breen: [00:31:16] I noticed typos in tweets that like get some engagement.

Julie Bartucca: [00:31:19] Right? They were, yeah.

Tom Breen: [00:31:22] Then you go back and you’re like, oh!

Julie Bartucca: [00:31:22] They were two good tweets and they were like, yeah, it was really, really embarrassing.

Anyway, I’m @JulieBartucca on Twitter. If you want to follow me re-tweeting UConn stuff sometimes, and sometimes sad news about Corona virus.

Maxine Philavong: [00:31:37] You can follow me on Twitter @MaxinePhilavong. I haven’t tweeted in like two days, so there’s something really exciting going on there.

Tom Breen: [00:31:43] Ken, what about you find you? Can people find you on your Twitter account, your Facebook, your Tik Tok?

Ken Best: [00:31:48] Uh, none of those. You can find me and UConn today, as you know, because you’re editing all my stuff now. Uh, and, and I, I believe we’re going to be back on WHUS with new programming. I’ve got the, uh, studio set up here in Mansfield center with the wall of sound, uh, ready to go. I don’t have to do anything other than step, take one step and get anything I want.

So hopefully that would be done by the weekend. And of course, WHUS well, we’ll still have the, uh, their version of the UConn360 podcast.

Maxine Philavong: [00:32:21] Ken, I’m going to set up a Tik Tok for you. So during quarantine, you can just learn some new Tik Tok dances.

Julie Bartucca: [00:32:26] I wanna see Ken do the Savage dance. Yes.

Tom Breen: [00:32:28] Yes.

Ken Best: [00:32:29] Not going to happen.

Tom Breen: [00:32:31] Folks out there in listener land, if we set up a Go Fund Me, would you donate to get Ken on Tik Tok? The answer is yes.

Julie Bartucca: [00:32:37] We will donate it all to a good cause.

Tom Breen: [00:32:39] Yes. We’ll donate all to like, uh COVID relief.

Julie Bartucca: [00:32:42] Yes. Tom, are you coming back to Twitter after Easter or are you staying away?

Tom Breen: [00:32:46] You know, it seems like this was the best time to be away from Twitter and I’m not sure I want to jeopardize that, but,

Julie Bartucca: [00:32:51] But you’ll probably come back cause you can’t stay away.

Tom Breen: [00:32:54] Yeah. You can also find me on Instagram too. Just type in my name.

Julie Bartucca: [00:32:57] Uh, you know, what do you need to start doing though? The old main account?

Tom Breen: [00:33:02] Uh, do I should, I should come back to that.

Julie Bartucca: [00:33:04] Yes.

Tom Breen: [00:33:05] All right. We’re good. This is a good, a good episode. I think everyone enjoyed it. If you do enjoy it. Uh, we’re @UConnPodcast.

You can, you can, somebody is on that Twitter account, uh, whether it’s, uh, Julie, or Maxine or me. All right. Well, well, thanks for listening. We’ll be back in two weeks and we hope everyone is being safe and, uh, washing your hands and practicing social distance things and however much you want to do. Not seal another man’s tobacco pouch with your teeth. Thanks everyone.


Julie Bartucca: [00:33:38] Maxine, can you edit this to make sure we don’t sound so miserable?

Maxine Philavong: [00:33:42] Yes.

Tom Breen: [00:33:44] Good luck.