Although I have had occasion to use modern technology in these times of social distancing and house arrest, even accepting that there are many thousands of words in an average dictionary, I haven’t a hope in Hades of selecting sufficient words to satisfy the blog master if I just describe my personal experiences with technology. So, I have decided to fascinate you with some lowdown about my terribly interesting life. As some days would make incredibly repetitive reading with shades of ‘Groundhog Day’ I will jump from day to day, that is maybe a morning one day or even two days and an afternoon from another day. So, sit back and enjoy an impressive patchwork quilt view of my life in Lockdown.
So, where to start?
At the moment I haven’t a scoobie where I’m going to go with this.
Perhaps the best place to start could be getting up in the morning! With not a cloud in the sky from sunrise until the stars come out at night, this braw weather has encouraged me to get up at the crack of eight o’ clock every morning, (well the days are long enough during these turbulent times, without getting up at dawn!).
Our afternoons are passed mostly eating, dosing on the patio, reading, dosing on the patio, eating. This is because of the aforementioned braw blue sky which allows Ray and me to sit on our little patio at the front door. We can do this from about high noon, when the sun starts to hit our patio, until 5.20pm when the sun goes behind the trees in the main car park. We are then reminded that it’s still only April and the evenings can be chilly, and we have to put clothes on, sorry, more clothes on.
Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself, talking about the afternoon when we haven’t even spoken about the morning! What do I do in the mornings? Well it varies and depends on what day it is, not that that should matter with everything in the world being cancelled, abolished, aborted, closed or whatever. Well it does vary: some mornings I help Ray with the housework for an hour or so after breakfast. Actually, I should be honest and say that I do all the housework to let Ray take it easy because she deserves a rest, but I won’t, because Ray might be reading this later and she suspects the truth!
Some mornings I take an hour out to practice my Ukulele playing. I don’t think I can be really practicing enough because each time I pick the Uke up I feel I can play it less efficiently than I could the time before. Some of the chords never seem to sound right even though I’ve practiced them over and over and over again.
However, when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere I enjoy playing the chords I
know that go with the songs I like, and that boosts my moral a bit. I do know that, with practice, the chords will eventually sound better’ish. What is not getting better, as quickly as I would like, though is changing chords in time to the music. And then there are the chord patterns. Without the correct chord pattern, the song / tune just does not sound right. It really does make all the difference in the world if you can change chords fluidly and follow the correct chord pattern for the song. I suppose ‘keep practicing’ is the answer!
Anybody teach virtual Ukulele lessons?
This Blog was planned to complete my trilogy on modern technology by sharing my actual experiences of using the technology and you probably think I’ve just been chuntering on about Ukulele playing. And so I have, but that is because modern technology has become seamlessly integrated into my daily life in lockdown; mainly in the form of ‘virtual meetings’. So here I am, the young professional that I am, with my business bag and my virtual friends.
I ‘meet’ various people during the week, don’t ring 999 and report me yet because when I ‘meet’ I do so in a virtual sense. Some mornings I meet with the committee of a Men’s Club of which I act as secretary. We use ‘Webex’ which is a very popular means of communication in business circles, along with the likes of ‘Zoom’, both of which were mentioned in my previous Blog.
Taking part in a ‘Webex’ meeting is quite straightforward – the person who would normally ‘chair’ the meeting, the ‘host’, sends out invites, and on receipt of such an invitation, and at the time the invitation identifies as the meeting time, you accept the invite, (just click a box, green usually), which takes you into the system.
If it’s your first time using ‘Webex’, you do have to download the ‘Webex’ App, but this is straightforward and clear guidance is given. Once the App is downloaded, you select to join the meeting using audio and video facilities. Now in the meeting you will see your colleagues faces neatly labelled and placed in boxes on the screen.
Every two weeks virtually the whole club meets. When I say virtually, I mean not just the members with internet access and those who overcame, with a bit of tuition, their suspicions that is was all beyond their capability, but also one or two who join using their land line telephones. They can hear everything that is said but cannot see obviously, and we cannot hear and see them.
It’s a great resource and goes a bit towards helping the members, who are all of retirement age with many well over it, to ‘mix’ with - i.e. to see and speak to - friends and colleagues. It makes a great deal of difference to their way of life, their thinking, their mental health. What these days we are urged to call our wellbeing.
Afternoons follows mornings, and because we have had a week of back to back sunshine and since I described what happens on our patio near the beginning of this narrative, that’s all I’m going to say about the afternoon.
Where are we now – oh yes, at the last third of the day in the life of Lockdown Me, the evening. Like the other sections, evenings also vary, so I’ll just let you know what has been regularly happening lately.
What we did in the evening used to be straightforward – we watched TV. What we watched used to be pretty straightforward as well. Depending on what day it was it would be ‘Emmerdale’, ‘Coronation Street’’ (‘Corrie’) and ‘EastEnders’, or ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘EastEnders’ or Emmerdale’ and ‘Corrie’ or any combination of the three. You will obviously realise that I had to refer to my wife in order to get that information. However, I still have to remind Ray of what is on where, (which channel), and when – once I read up on it in the TV magazine of course!
Since social distancing came along, the production companies of the Soaps have had to refrain from making their programmes. This is in order to keep their cast and crew safe from the virus. Following on from this, with not as much ‘Corrie’ available, the public has turned to modern technology to make more contact with their friends and family, in an advanced manner.
We are no different from the public! Every Thursday we are invited to take part in a virtual meeting of family and friends to have an evening of virtual entertainment – in the comfort of our own living room. On this occasion the means of communication is ‘Zoom’ which works along the same principal as ‘Webex’ which I talked about ‘this morning’. With ‘Zoom’ you get invited into a meeting and, like ‘Webex’, once you have downloaded the ‘Zoom’ App you go through the normal procedures and join the meeting.
One of the games which we play in our Thursday evening virtual ZOOM meeting of fun and jollity, is Bingo; one of the houses even has a Bingo machine and we play for prizes too! Households take turn-about each week supplying the prizes for our Bingo games – no expense spared. Our postie was bemused one morning when he found an Easter Egg, one of our prizes, on our doorstep beside a Toilet Roll, another of our prizes.
To finish our evening slot - on a Sunday evening Ray and I start up our new toy, our ‘Portal’, which works using ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘Whatsap’, and gives you a video and audio connection with everyone you invite. We then contact our other close family throughout the country and have a good blether – no games during this virtual meeting, just a lot of catching up and laughing.
Anyone who is your ‘friend’ on ‘Facebook’ can be invited to take part in these virtual meetings.
Since lockdown and the lack of soaps, Ray and I have also become more knowledgeable. For example, we have noticed that we have been watching more programmes about nature and wildlife. In fact I’ve just learned that during the 18th and 19th century a popular sport was shooting Gannets on the Bass Rock. Their numbers before the 20th Century were down to about 3,000 and now the count is back up to around 180,000! Fantastic!
Well, space beats us and I must sign off. Please look after yourself, both of you if my other reader is also reading this Blog! I am sure we will still be in lockdown if and when this Blog gets published and I hope and pray that everyone is heeding the advice of the experts and are staying safe and well and not falling foul of this dreadful virus. Keep safe!
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
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