A flimsy surrogate; and yet…

faith and the Census

and yetWhen the singer/songwriter/actress Sara Bareilles was on some morning show recently, she was asked how she was faring in the era of COVID-19. She noted that while she was staying connected via ZOOM, et al., it wasn’t at all the same thing. Each substitute was a “flimsy surrogate” for the real thing.

This resonated with me greatly. I’ve discovered that there are actually MORE chances for hearing music, seeing productions, and interacting with performers. It’s actually a bit overwhelming, truth to tell. Broadway World alone has tons of video opportunities, more than I can avail myself of. Search YouTube for COVID music or coronavirus music and you’ll find a wealth of clever items. The OUTKAST parody Hey-Ya “Ro-Na is a current favorite.

But I miss hugging. I am told that I’m a very good hugger. How one measures that, I have no idea.

I miss going to the movies. Will there be movie theaters next year? Yeah, there are lots of films available on my TV, computer, and even phone. Nah, I’m NOT watching a movie on my phone.

Not the Lone Ranger

The problem with masks is that people don’t recognize me. I was at a Farmers Market and I said hello to one of my state legislators. They said, “Hello to you, whoever you are.” If I wanted to begin my life of crime, maybe now would be a good time.

And I don’t recognize others. At the one Black Lives Matter events my daughter allowed me to attend with her – it WAS Juneteenth – some nice young man brought us water. It wasn’t until he pulled down his mask that I recognized him as the son of great friends of mine; I’ve known him his whole life.

Ordering food is an adventure. Which one of the seven online websites should I order from? GrubHub or EatStreet or AllMenus or MealO or something else? There are places, fine sit-down restaurants where I’ve eaten, whose menus just don’t translate well to take-out. And yet: the sushi place I ordered from for my wife’s birthday was quite fine.

Having nothing to do with WGBH in Boston

The problem of ZOOM meetings there seems to be so many of them. And yet: the Olin family reunion – my mother-in-law’s people – wouldn’t have met at all without it. And they’ve gathered for over three-quarters of a century. While some of the regulars didn’t make it, others who had moved away were able to “attend.”

My choir meets every two or three weeks. On the one hand, we miss the singing. Getting details about the music we’re not performing is sad. And yet: one of the choir members suggested we share our joys and concerns. That’s something we’d do at the end of every rehearsal. The addition was profoundly meaningful.

I’ve had the chance to go to the Adult Education class, which I could rarely attend in the past because it conflicted with the choir. I’ve even gotten to facilitate it once, about my Martin Luther King references on the blog. And I’m doing another one on July 26 at 8:45 a.m. EDT about faith and the Census. (If you’re that much of a Census junkie, I’ll email/IM you the ZOOM link.)

My Tuesday morning Bible study group stopped meeting for the summer. And yet: the Thursday morning group, which I began attending, continues on. I’ve even led the discussion once and I’ll do it again next month.

The church service is actually on Facebook. We do communion with, as instructed, with whatever is available. That might mean Wheat Thins and shot glasses of Blueberry Peach Cobbler from our local cidery.

Advances in technology

The opportunity to go into my bank has been diminished. And yet: the ATM at my bank, which had dispensed only twenty-dollar bills since forever is now allowing customers to get tens and fives. So if I need $100, I could get 3 $20s, 2 $10s, and 4 $5s, or whatever combination I want.

I understand my former colleagues are now more productive working from home.

My wife is now enamored with Google Classroom, which she barely used five months ago.

There are some innovations, such as no-touch door openers.

So we continue to adapt.

FTC Disclaimer: I noted links to a couple of products/services positively, but I received no remuneration for doing so.

Embracing the technology, right?

Why did I NEED Venmo?

every-virtual-meeting
Every Virtual Meeting: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License
When I was talking to a librarian friend of mine recently, it occurred to me that embracing the technology is often a cost/benefit analysis. So I’ve been pondering my adoption, re-adoption, or rejection of the same in the calendar year 2020.

Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts: I had Skype over a decade ago. I didn’t use it much, didn’t like it. But since March 15, 2020, I must have used one of them at least four dozen times. BTW, EVERYTHING in the cartoon above I have witnessed.

Facebook: I have no idea how I receive the items I see first in my feed. Lately, I’ve found it necessary to delete people, almost always friends of friends. Actually, I like to keep people I know and disagree with so that I don’t get caught up with too much confirmation bias. I tend to retain the ones I know IRL. But stupid stuff, usually with misspelled graphics, not so much.

Twitter: I still don’t “get” Twitter. My blog posts go there daily, but that’s it.

Cellphone: I eschewed getting one at all for years. Then when I did, it was a dumb phone. I finally yielded and got a smartphone when I lost my flip phone a few years back. But because I often misplace it AND the battery drains too easily, it was often off. And I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Necessity is a real mother

That changed, not because of the COVID-19 but because of my father-in-law’s illness. My brothers-in-law and their wives were discussing issues via text. I wasn’t on the chain, because they didn’t have my number. I learned to have the phone on, and charged, regularly. My wife had a phone from the Pleistocene period, so she traded in her phone this calendar year. The kicker is that while I would receive the group texts, my wife would not. She could get individual texts, though. We don’t understand the issue.

Here’s a problem with being behind the curve. When getting instructions from the manual, or from other people, they operate on the assumption you’re just upgrading. The truth is more prosaic. I HAVE NO IDEA how to fix these things. Fortunately, I have a teenager. Still, I’m going to get ANOTHER phone for me, because the memory is so poor, and because I can seldom see images people text to me.

What’s App?: When I went to a conference in Indiana with kids from my church and others from the presbytery last summer, it was decided that we’d use What’s App. to communicate on the huge Purdue campus. On my phone, at least, it operated slowly, and occasionally not at all. So…

Why do I need this?

Venmo: When I needed to download the Venmo app, I had to dump What’s App and two others. And why did I NEED Venmo? Because the teachers at her school use it. They collected money back in March because they thought a couple of non-teaching staff were going to get laid off. As it turns out, they weren’t. Meanwhile, a couple of teachers are retiring at the end of the semester.

So we (I) had to get the money from Vera, who had collected the first $30 and then transfer it to Chuck, who was collecting for the retirement gift. This took about three hours, my phone is so wonky. Now why Vera couldn’t have sent the money to Chuck, keeping us out of it, I don’t know. Venmo is a sister company to PayPal, which I’ve had for years.

eBay: I’ve had it for years, but seldom use it. I wanted to get cards for our SORRY game. I could have bought a new game, but the rules in Fire and Ice are very different. i figured out my password and got new cards for $5 plus nearly as much for postage. But it’s good. We use them.

Instagram: Even my daughter couldn’t help me with this.

When your blog provider says upgrade

I got this message recently: “Debian and Ubuntu are operating systems that power a huge chunk of DreamHost. And, like any operating systems, they receive regular updates to fix bugs, improve stability, and add features. We will be upgrading your Virtual Private Server from version 14.04 (also known as trusty) to Debian 9.12 (aka Stretch!)”

OK! I have no idea what that means.

Date of upgrade: Tuesday, June 9th
Maintenance Window: 8:00pm-10:00pm Pacific Time
Expected downtime: 5 minutes
You may notice that your sites become unreachable for about 5 minutes while we perform the upgrade. Don’t worry – this is normal!

And I was working on the blog RIGHT AT THAT TIME, losing a bit of work. But it’s all good now.

With chewing gum and duct tape

bad address

chewing gum and duct tapeOne of the challenges of my wife working/teaching from home is that technology can be a PITA. This all happened on 5 May.

She had an appropriate story to share with one of her students from some website. So she set up a meeting with ME to make sure the technology worked. It did not. I could hear her, but not the item she wanted to share. The next day, the same problem; the YouTube video she selected her students could SEE but not HEAR.

Later that day, she found a bunch of links with worksheets she wanted me to print. But almost every link wanted her password; too onerous. I tried to print from her computer on the old printer I lugged into her office. The computer said it was compatible with the printer. Yet no paper products were expelled.

In the end, I copied the files from her computer to her thumb drive. Then I copied them from her thumb drive to an email “she” wrote to “me.” Then I printed the documents. My friend O. says that this chewing gum and duct tape method of doing things is how things work in her house.

Later, my wife talked to a tech support guy at work. He said that getting a YouTube video to show on these platforms is tricky because they weren’t designed for that secondary viewing.

I’ll pick that up

Because she’s doing her teaching at home, we’re getting a lot more phone calls. Most of them are from her classes or the parents of her younger students. When I first answered, the kids were stunned into silence, and would just hang up. But now that I recognize some of their phone numbers and they recognize my voice, it’s much easier.

At the beginning of March, if the landline rang, and I did not know who it was, I’d let it go to the answering machine. But it’s often school employees who have those unidentified numbers, and I’ve ended just picking up the phone. Rarely is it a spammy call, fortunately.

Feb. rambling: Love Me Again

A Touch of Glee

Rebecca Jade.Elton JohnUnaccountable Accounting in the Pentagon.

Facial Recognition Technology and AI Are Tainted With Racial Bias.

Jared’s Plan for Mideast Peace.

Homelessness Czar Seeks to Further Criminalize the Homeless.

Politifact has looked into 42 of Limbaugh’s controversial statements, and found zero of them to be entirely true. Thirty-five were rated Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire.

BUT… Let’s Talk Each Other Down.

Sir Nicholas Winton, the hero who rescued 669 Jewish children on the eve of WWII.

Son rebukes his racist dad who asked immigrant, “Why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”

We can become more prosperous while taking better care of our planet.

Amy Biancolli on Daniel P. Richardson.

Lin-Manuel Miranda gives us a lesson in the slang of Broadway.

Science and technology

TED talk: “Bonk” author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research to make 10 surprising claims about sexual climax.

What it’s like to live without a sense of smell.

Concussion risk in youth football.

The color of your clothing can impact wildlife.

Key challenges, collective insights, and possible futures for the music industry.

Verizon’s latest dirty trick. Planned obsolescence.

Teevee

James Corden: The late-night TV host sees his job as a chance to spread joy and he “comes clean” on the subject of whether he drives the car in his “Carpool Karoke” segments.

John Oliver: asks questions and is interviewed by Ali Velshi and Push Notifications.

In response to a Facebook meme about putting up pictures of sci-fi shows, I posted one from The Wild, Wild West, which we decided was steampunk. Just a couple days later, Robert Conrad had died at 84.

RIP Gene Reynolds.

Pushing Daisies – the great show that never got a fair shake.

Cookie Monster crashes The Washington Post.

One Second from Every Muppet Show Episode.

Mark Twain Award: Jonathan Winters (1999) and Bob Newhart (2002) and David Letterman (2017).

Actor and game show panelist Orson Bean, born Dallas Frederick Burrows, has died. He was the correct response that I got on my first JEOPARDY! appearance. Later, one of the competitors I did not play was happy for that fact, because he had no idea who Orson Bean was.

Now I Know

The Anti-Labor Origins of the Oscars and Why Are There Random Colored Squares on My Box of Almond Milk? and A Creative Way to Pay the Czechs and A Frank-ly Kind Act and The Drones With Brains of Their Own.

MUSIC

Rebecca Jade.Oscars
Rebecca Jade, the niece: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Elton John at the Oscars, 9 Feb 2020. In the video, Rebecca Jade is screen left, in the middle. Also, listen to Miss You.

Overture to Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.

Coverville: 1294: Covering the 2020 Inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 1295: The 40th Anniversary Tribute to London Calling.

Hoopla: A Touch of Glee by George Walker.

Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim – Alan Chapman.

Non nobis domine by Patrick Doyle from Henry V.

Hooked on a Feeling– Swedish Royal Guards.

That time Johnny Rotten called me a “stupid, filthy sod.”

Top photo: copyright Rebecca Jade, 2020

Everything takes longer than I think

dancing snowman

snowmanExcept for the fortnightly link post, I’ve all but stopped blogging in the past couple weeks. There are several reasons for this:

UNO. I’ve started to do genealogical research. It’s very interesting, but it is a massive time suck. In addition to Ancestry.com, I’ve gotten my results from 23andMe. These have lead me onto some fascinating journeys. I’ve since gotten trials with Archives.com and Newspapers.com, and tripped over more things.

The curse when you find one piece of information is that it’s difficult to decide which one to pursue next. Something about high, low road, and Scotland. Do you go for depth or breadth in a certain area?

I wrote a blog post about my findings. I’m going to have to rewrite that one and create another one, or two.

DOS. I had end of the year financial insurance stuff to do. It’s stuff where frankly, MEGO. This, in particular, is the source of the title Everything takes longer than I think.

TRES. I’ve had technological problems. It generated a “well, stuff happens” post. But then one of them became a major snafu. One element is that I’m unable to print from my copier, which has made the first two items on this list incrementally more difficult. So I need to rewrite TWO more posts.

CUATRO. The holidays. It’s hard for me to write when there are people I love in the house. Blogging is a solitary task, and I don’t want to be up in the office when the family is up and about.

This post, BTW, I wrote after I woke up at 3 a.m. Thank goodness for my vaunted writing ahead. About a month ago, I had 55 completed posts. Now I have, ostensibly, 42, and probably fewer since I’ll have to recreate a few. This is not a complaint, just a fact.

A legitimate use of Q-Tips

So expect a lot of movies reviews in the beginning of 2020, four movies I saw in December I haven’t even had time to evaluate.

Lest this entirely become navel-gazing, I want to point out Arthur’s solution to a corrosive problem: “I worked out that one of the batteries had leaked, and, I thought, that was that: I’d have to replace the unit.

“But then I decided to Google it to see if there was a way to clean the contacts, and there is: White vinegar or lemon juice removes the battery gunge from the contact—or so the Internet told me. And, it actually did. I put the batteries in again, and the unit worked perfectly.”

I did exactly the same thing with my daughter’s dancing snowman that she loved as a child. Fortunately, she didn’t play 14 times in a row, the way she used to.