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A digital hall of mirrors 
Greetings from my shed...
Every day is the weekend for some pickled inmates. Amidst the smell of cut grass and sawdust, corner shop ale and hand sanitiser.
Leave your phones at home so the panopticon can’t see you basking in the sun.
Tired of drinking and almost out of books. We raise a glass or clap in thanks to those paid pittance for running the gauntlet against an invisible foe.
When the stats are forgotten. Do not forget them. Elevate them all.
The daily numbers give no sense of scale. Some will be doing better than you, many worse.
All we can do is look out for each other.
How is your lockdown routine?
For me, little things have replaced the big things. And it was always the little things that mattered.
Rituals are changing. For years I’ve got up and showered before doing anything else. But after all the outdoor work and general labouring this week, I’d not dream of going to bed without a shower. Or more recently, a bath. Many things have flipped.
If my day has been screen or book based I’ve not even made it to a shower. The only time I remember doing that was while travelling.
Not having to fight for survival, flexible rituals have opened up the day to other activities and experiments.
Erratic sleep patterns still demand coffee. And always before lunch. Never after. But that coffee will differ day to day. Espresso, cortado, pour over or iced.
My wife did this weeks shop but familiar objects had been swapped for things almost the same. The squirty cream is now vegan.
These are the little things.
It sits better on coffee than cake and seems to last for ever in the fridge.
The shop had taken so long my wife hadn’t managed to drop off a bag of shopping to her Grandad.
So I went out.
Desperate to leave the house I was faced with a choice but knew what I was going to do. Safe protective car, or risky open motorbike. I took the motorbike.
Besides joggers, cyclists and people who looked like they’d never exercised till that day, I passed a five cars, three ambulances and one police car.
There were no visitors allowed at his sheltered accommodation, so I left the shopping with the warden.
I felt a sort of freedom on the bike. But not the unbounded freedom I normally feel on two wheels. Of course there was the risk I was putting myself in. Which in itself could risk the lives of others. Any nurse tending to an idiotic motorcyclist is not available to save someone that actually deserves attention. So I slowed things right down and stayed on high alert. Even though the roads were almost empty.
I wondered that if I wanted to keep on riding, where would I go? Where could I go? Everywhere is the same. A great unification behind a similar dilemma. There is no direction I could ride that would be virus free. Or anywhere that would happily receive an outsider.
So I put the bike away again. A little disappointed that it did not deliver me to the place it normally does.
I’ll have to make do with the occasional dog walk. Although after today I’m looking forward to a little bit of rain as my normally isolated meander with the dog has changed.
My regular route has taken me down virtually untrodden paths for years. But today it’s now a conveyor belt of activity. Spaced out walkers, furtively keeping distance in front and behind. All on the same loop.
The only thing that will get back the tranquillity of my solitary walk in nature will be some inclement weather, or people going back to work.
I’m not a big fan of guns. When in the air cadets I fired hand guns and rifles. From the 303 to the SA80. But when my friends got gun licences I abstained. In fact our kids have had little no no contact with guns of the toy or video game variety.
So I was surprised when two guns popped up in this week’s shop. Both my son and daughter snatched them up saying “Cool! Guns!”
After a little examination my daughter spotted that under a little hatch in hers was a small tube. Asking what it was I told her that it was needed to carry the water down the barrel and that it was a water pistol.
Then she asked “What’s a water pistol?”
I suddenly felt like I’d deprived her of something every other child on the planet might know.
We of course have had water fights. But up until now we’ve been armed with plunge pumps and squeegee bottles.
I showed her how to fill the gun and handed it over. Moments later she shot her brother point blank in the face.
At least we managed eight years before this moment.
The kids have been asking for a treehouse for over a year. But they were not as prepared as I was to wait for the tree to grow big enough. So I spent the rest of the week, upcycling a climbing frame and treating wood so I could build a den on a pergola.
It’s a bit like a treehouse.
And last night we spotted some ducklings in the garden. Thanks to Facebook word got around and we had a duck hunter from a local waterfowl sanctuary drop by. I gave him a wide birth and him me. But the ducklings had done a runner and he left empty handed.
Today we got reports that there was a gang of rogue ducklings legging it down the high street. I figure if they have made it that far they probably don’t need rescuing.
Remember the soundbite ‘Take back control’? Do you remember who it was aimed at?
Like some of you I have been distracted by the many conspiracy theories floating around the web. Particularly the ones being banned from Youtube etc. In among the weirdness there were a few links that felt like proper news. Like this… ‘Snowden Warns Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build 'the Architecture of Oppression’.
I first heard about the mysterious heart attacks attached to Covid-19 in mid March. But heard little since.
This podcast started with Transom contacting a podcast production student and asking how she was. They knew she was a nurse in the thick of it in New York and the nurse wrote back. Transom asked her if she could record her letter in audio. The result is Pandemic ER: notes from a nurse in queens.
My kids classes took place in a tent for some of the week. The change of scene was not only welcome, I think they’d move in given the chance.
If you are short of teaching material check out openculture.com.
Vsauce also had some great answers to questions that came up in the Earth Sciences class.
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Here is some other stuff I found interesting on the web…
Fancy making your own face mask from an old t-shirt?
Travel the world with RadioGarden.
I was half joking when I suggested we have notes on our driving licences stating that we can drive around delivering to the elderly etc. There are now discussions around Coronavirus immunity cards for Americans.
With our retinal scans, face measurements and fingerprints so easy to steal, there are more secure biometric data points we might want to keep to ourselves. In the future public toilets might be able to identify you from your unique butthole. I wonder how people might try to disguise that particular defining feature to avoid being recognised. Saggy clingfilm stretched over the loo is the first solution that comes to mind. It will be hard for the camera to focus. There are other ideas I’ll not share till I get a 3d printer.
Portugal has given all migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship to ensure they can access public services for the duration of the outbreak.
This is this week’s must read. Rebecca Solnit on how hope coexists with difficulty and suffering.
How productive are you trying to be while working from home?
Relax. Embrace the ‘work less, shop less’ mentality and let the abstracted future come in it’s own time. It’s ok to lie on the grass and stare at the sky. People have done it for thousands of years.
“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” ~ Lao Tzu
A moment of leisure is a moment of pleasure.
Thanks for reading,
Be good to yourself.