The COVID Diaries (Weeks 3 & 4)

Here in rural Lancashire we are still a couple of weeks (decades?) behind London & Birmingham so we’ve not seen the direct impact of COVID-19 as yet, but the indirect impact on day-to-day life is now with us just the same as the rest of the UK.  Without doubt it is strange, but after two weeks under house arrest the ‘new normal’ is getting to be fairly well bedded in.

How to light a campfire

How to light a campfire, a great way to also teach the fire triangle and an introduction to combustion chemistry.

Home Schooling turns out to be a much better experience than I expected. With Junior being six I guess I have it easy.  He doesn’t have exams ahead of him and is missing his friends more than it matters that he missing his formal education.  I am finding that a project based approach, akin to the  Montessori  approach is working well for both of us.  Each week we have a project, or two, which acts as the framework for discovery and learning the skills needed to carry it out (maths, science, dexterity) and record it (maths, English).

We have been blessed with great weather thus far meaning that bike rides (twin solo, or with the tag-along) have been possible and have been a little longer than most folks 20 minute walks.  However around here it’s easy to self isolate on the back roads.

I am delighted that I was able to restock my (mini) alpine garden before house arrest too, and am starting to see the results of old and new.

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Church life has changed again.  My ‘live streamed’ drumming to an empty church  was not only the first but probably the last time this will happen.  Since then church buildings have themselves been closed and now our church, amongst many others, is streaming sections of each service from different members homes.  All credit to the people organising this at St James who are doing a grand job.  Canned music didn’t work as well as it might last week, the difference between performance (what you can get from YouTube et al) and leading a congregation, albeit virtually, is actually very significant.  For Easter we had a multitrack of keys, guitar and vocal, complete with video, from two different homes.  Much better. Next week there should be drums as well.  This afternoon I laid down four drumming tracks for someone to mix into next weeks multitrack song recordings.  I’m feeling the benefit of having an electronic kit.  Whilst it’s perfectly technically feasible to mike-up every drum and cymbal, it’s neither easy nor cheap to achieve this.  I can mix my drums within the Roland ‘brain’ and output the drumming track straight to a .wav file on a memory stick.  In theory this is a perfect recording. I can even choose my ambience!

Home Multitrack Recording setup

I’ve found some voluntary work on the day I’m not home schooling and it’s good both to be busy and to be ‘doing my bit’ for the community.  Finally, the wheat malt I ordered has arrived and I have been able to set up my home office and do some informal development work.  I cannot sell the results as I am on furlough, and then there is also the small issue of being unlicensed.  However, it’ll keep my tasting panel happy and keep my brain and taste buds ticking over.

Isolation Pale Ale

Brewing an IPA – Isolation Pale Ale!

Cheers!

Is computer familiarity what is really needed in rural developing communities?

I read with interest an article on a scheme to bring a mobile computer classroom to rural schools in Uganda.  It is flagged as good for the children as it opens up the opportunity for work involving such technology in the city.  But is this really sustainably good?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but it seems far from be ‘obvious and correct’ to me.  And I don’t say this to be negative, on two occasions on Christian Mission trips I’ve made to developing nations I’ve agreed to help teach basic computer skills – both in Honduras and in Mongolia.  I did as I was asked, but reading this article again opens up the question for me – should I have done this?  Was it really the right thing to do.  I am genuinely keen to hear peoples thoughts on both sides of this argument.

What worries me is the promotion of the movement of people from rural to city environments by such initiatives – so whilst, yes, if they go to the city these skills could help; should they be helped to go to the city?  From what I have seen of rural and urban environments in developing nations (and to a lesser extent in developed nations too) is that a higher morality is to be seen in rural areas than in the city.  So in encouraging urbanisation are we also encouraging a reduction in morality? If we are then this needs to be considered in the balance of costs and benefits of programmes like that outlined in the article above – and in the work I did myself.

I honestly ask the question – would it not be better to teach rural children the skills they need to have a sustainable future within their own communities?  This would provide work and wealth but at a lower moral cost (Matt 6:33)

Your thoughts please…