I haven't felt like writing much for the last year. This busy year hasn't really prompted much to write publicly about. But perhaps I should try to provide some sort of update, since I haven't written anything here for a year or so.
With the continuing pandemic, I haven't done anything of musical consequence for the last 12 months. Live performances are off the table. I've tried to record things now and then, but I simply haven't had the time or space to make it happen. Recording songs takes space, time, and energy, and I simply haven't had much of any of those. So I can't write much about making music.
I've done a lot of photography instead. Briefly in March, I had space and time to shoot some photos with some friends and models. My partner's father retired from his law practice, and he let me use his downtown New Westminster office in a heritage building. In that space, I thought I could practice taking photos of silhouettes. So I did.
Above, I met Alaska through a Facebook group. We had a pleasant couple of hours shooting photos and trying to make things interesting. I'm happy with some of the results, and less happy with others. Altogether it was a learning experience.
A few days later, I shot some photos with Noelle, a friend from University. We had a good time, although again it was a learning experience. Most of the photos therein depended on continuous light, and I learned a little more about how to work with the light available to me.
And I also took some photos with Marty, a friend from my high school days. Crazily enough, I don't think I'd seen him in all that time, but we'd always kept-up with one another online. I'm very glad these photos seemed to work out, and glad to reconnect in person.
Beyond the photo stuff, I spent most of July working on creating some Indigenous curriculum units for my school district. I wasn't happy with what I made by the end of the month, so I worked through each unit in the classroom and re-made them in a more user-friendly format. It took me a long time to get the units finished, and I had to teach myself how to use Microsoft Publisher, but I'm pleased with the results. I take some pride in how I made units I could utilize in my own classes, and perhaps other teachers can use them too.
Beyond those little blips, I don't have anything else to update in a public forum like this. I've essentially disappeared from my social media feeds, and it feels good. I still use Instagram, but don't bother to post a picture a day; I use Facebook exclusively for Messenger and Marketplace; I've deleted thousands of tweets and posts on multiple platforms.
âBut I wish I had more to say here.
I made another covers video for my YouTube channel. This time, John Hartford's "Gentle on my Mind."
"Gentle on my Mind" is simply one of the finest songs ever written. It's sentimental and chock-full of imagery. I think I've always loved it, always known it, that it was part of the ether growing up.
It surprises me sometimes how much songs like this fade from mind from pop culture, how something that seemed ubiquitous can become somewhat ephemeral. But the song's still out there, getting covered now and then by the likes of R.E.M. and Alison Krauss.
My uncle, Monte, wrote a comment on the bottom of the YouTube video:
There’s a personal connection to this particular song. My late aunt Lil, was John Hartford’s book keeper, when she & Uncle Evert lived in Sherman Oaks. John continued to send her Xmas cards yearly, after they retired to Redding [California].
So there's a weird little family connection to the song too, which I wouldnt've known if not for posting this video. Neat.
I know that things are rough on the other side of the border, and that we've been dealing with a pandemic, but I don't really have anything to add to the conversation there. Although I listen to the news constantly and it fills me with both trepidation and anger, I have nothing to say about it. I hope for some meaningful peace on American streets soon.
I've been working from home for the last month. I've found it difficult; sometimes I feel like I'm floundering. The things that make teaching worthwhile—joking with students, a-ha moments, problem solving—just don't come off the same through a computer screen. Some of my students have produced some really excellent work in this quarantine; still, it's tough to internalize it when mediated through a screen.
This may be the way of the future in education, but it seems inefficient. Education is already an inherently inefficient system—packing a bunch of kids into rooms isn't exactly practical—but keeping everyone behind a screen, well, it just doesn't seem to work as well. It feels less like I'm teaching the content, more like I'm teaching the platform. I find this uncomfortable because it muddies the waters between content and training. I know we all need to be confident when we move from platform to platform, but it also seems a little hard on the brain, which seems to tire as it bounces between platforms, sorta' like flipping channels too quickly on a television set.
I'd like to believe that, if we'd started the year with the assumption that online education would be the norm, we'd do better. Our school is already accustomed to Google Classroom for the students, which is acceptable, but limited. As soon as the pandemic hit, we had to lean far too heavily on Google Classroom. Albeit robust, it's also a limited mode. Perhaps more importantly, it makes me an agent of Google's advertising: I, the teacher, use Google Classroom, and thereby suggest that Google/Alphabet, the corporation, is good. When activities cannot be easily created and submitted through Google Classroom, students get discouraged, and this discouragement reinforces that Google is good; they feel that assignments that can be completed on Google Classroom are easier, and therefore better. I don't like being a vector of corporate propaganda in this way. I hope we can adopt a better, less corporate, system soon.
Many people, at the beginning of quarantine, said "What will we do with all this time?" They had big goals to learn new things, to use the time in productive ways. I aimed to restart my self-directed piano and French lessons. However, admittedly, this hasn't worked as well as I'd hoped it would. I've played piano, but not very much; I've done some French, but I certainly haven't made it a daily habit. When I likely have time during my work-from-home workday, it's also hard to focus on personal goals when I know I'm supposed to be working at my job. And then I apply some more guilt on myself for not using my time more productively, even for myself. I feel very tired a lot; motivation has been hard to muster.
A few years ago, I finished my Masters In Educational Leadership, with the intention to find my way into school administration. However, I haven't found my way into that field yet. I realized at the beginning of this quarantine that this could be a good opportunity to find some ways to capitalize on this unique opportunity. But instead I got kinda' bogged down in the process, and now I wonder if I'm administrative material at all. As the school year starts to close, I still wonder if I've mis-aimed my goals. It wouldn't be the first time.
But overall things are ok. Not having to drive to school has saved hundreds of dollars in gas costs. I'm getting by and hope to enjoy teaching again soon.
And really, I can't complain about anything.
Recorded a video for the "Coronaoke" Facebook page.
I chose "Someday Soon" because I'd never really paid attention to it before I heard people sing it at karaoke in Agassiz. And when I first heard it, I didn't like it. But it grew on me. So it felt a fitting song to choose to post to a group of people who miss doing karaoke.
I kinda' miss karaoke too, but mainly I miss going to pub jams. So I did this recording and kinda' did a pub jam with myself.
I haven't written here for quite some time—I haven't felt like I've had much to say—but I think I'll try to think a little through writing here.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, I haven't been very social. This has been largely because I've been quite busy. For the last week I've been preparing for school as a distance learning teacher, for example. I've never taught distance learning before and look forward to the challenge, but I also dread being a vector of corporate branding; our school has regrettably depended upon Google's "Classroom" platform. But strange times lead to strange bedfellows, like me and the Google platform. For the time being, in our district, Google's the only feasible way to make the information work.
I've moved in with my partner. This means I've moved out of Agassiz and to New Westminster, close to Vancouver. We moved here at the beginning of March, expecting me to commute to Agassiz for work for at least the remainder of the year. However, the pandemic offered me a solution on this front: stay home... in New West. This will save an enormous amount of time and money, both of which are hard to come by.
I'm happy to have moved in with my partner. It's a bit of a surprise that it worked out. I had kind-of given up hope mid-February that we could find a place to live that fit our mutual professional and personal needs. But then... we found this. And it worked out. And I'm grateful.
The pandemic, however, also decreased the availability of gigs and supplementary work. I had done regular music gigs in Harrison Hot Springs until September, and then followed that with a few months of dog-walking. However, both of those opportunities have disappeared since the pandemic hit, so I have to live without the extra influx of cash each month, which I admittedly got used to. So be it; I can do it.
And that's all. Just for the sake of an update.
Stay safe. Wash your hands.
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