Filters

A low creek

I’m not much of one for lifehacks these days. There was a time when I believed that productivity was something that was important. It’s less so now. Now it’s not so much about how much one does, but what one does and with what level of quality. I don’t need more shortcuts or more automation. I need fewer of the things that require shortcuts and automation. And maybe that’s where we are collectively.

Me looking at the news every day will not change the number of new COVID-19 cases found in my county. My behavior pattern is set and will not be altered on a timescale that is measured in hours or anything less than months. Reading about the latest garbage spewed by partisan hacks will not change how I plan to vote. These are all ships that are far from port.

That’s where the filtering comes in.

Some people remember how to use computers. Some people even know about things like “hosts” files. I use this arcana to do things like make sure I never see certain websites. An errant link click doesn’t need to send my mind into a spiral. It can simply send me to a page that says, “Nope!”

But the biggest filter is not opening the browser at all. More reading of books. More experimenting with projects that are meaningful to me. More time with my family (not that this kind of time is necessarily in short supply in these Strange Days).

I’m thinking about music again. Art Music. The kind of music that I wanted to make the last time I lived in this ZIP code. I’m hearing the world in a different way. I’m feeling like some of the filters are really working.

Coming and Going

Map of the USA made of river stones.

Walks in the park are the new going out. In truth, as long as my wife and I have been together, it’s been a staple for us. We’ve always hiked together. At first, in TX with her faithful rottie. Then with the littles, now much larger, and new puppies. But a walk in the trees is certainly nothing new in our house. Having it as the only real outlet or expression of “doing something” might be. And that’s not awful.

We had a small gathering. It was the usual suspects from our bubble with one additional friend from a far away place. We at RIBS! and chatted on the patio. It was nice to be around people and eat food prepared with care.

I’m taking more time to watch the world breathe. A long drive alone in the Jeep did wonders. I visited houses I once knew and graves. I passed over the new blacktop on old roads. My mind had a chance to unwind just a bit. From the road, I could see the breath of the world moving in and out. I could feel that this rhythm we’re in now isn’t new.

Taking A Minute

A shelf with many things and books on it.

It wasn’t all that long ago that taking time off usually meant going somewhere. That’s no longer the case. The word “Staycation” isn’t being used like it was. Now, a vacation where one doesn’t leave home is the norm. I don’t think it will be that way forever. I’m personally hoping for the rebirth of The Great American Road Trip. Barring that, I feel like more and more people are using parks and, when they are able, are making better use of the space they have for recreation.

It would seem that the most critical part for those who are struggling through The New Normal with desk jobs that appear to be largely unaffected by these changes is taking time away from the computer. Turning it off. Really turning it off. Leaving the work phone on the desk charger and walking away. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s required. Being at home is not the same as being “off.”

I’ll be “off” starting tomorrow. There are things to do in the garage. Some wrenching on a vehicle. Some setting up of storage. And I will get to the water. Somehow. I want to take some more pictures. I wouldn’t object to a little fishing as well. I won’t push it too hard. Some reading is also on the agenda.

These are difficult times. But they should also be contemplative. We each need to look inside for strength. In times of chaos, there is room for change.

Back to School

Reflection of a window in a guitar.

Kids are getting ready to start school this week and nothing feels right about it. There aren’t new packages of school supplies waiting to be stuffed into backpacks and placed in their assigned cubbies somewhere. No getting just the right shirt to wear on that first day in a new class in a new school in a new town.

Instead, we check Google Classroom logins to make sure they work. We double check email addresses. We print a schedule and make a PDF of it so we’ll know which order to select the various classroom containers for the next “period” of the day. We consider how to work lunch when it is a 30 minute break in the kitchen.

The logistics of it all are upside-down and backwards.

Stress on a lot of families is about to go through the roof as multiple children log on for school. I feel fortunate – so ver fortunate! – that our family is able to support this without undue financial stress or worse. While it’s more than inconvenient, I am respectful of our position. And I am trying to think of ways to support those who cannot do what we can.

Part of me wonders if school will be in person for spring of 2022 at the current rate of things. And if it’s not, will my son attend a school in which he has never set foot? What a story for him to tell.

Fried

Radio power wires (black and red). One with an incomplete powerpole.

One of the things to be very wary of with radio is how much current one is drawing at a given moment. It determines how much battery is drained in the field and in the shack, well, it can sometimes make for weird smells and smoke. That’s not what happened here. Here, it was just a failure in a powerpole. Something simple. A connector in a system that wasn’t quite right.

It’s in the air right now. Everything feels like one component or another in a long chain is falling over. This is in every person’s life and in the country writ large.

I feel it. I wonder if I can fix all of the little connectors.